May Minded (suggestions for easing an overwhelmed mind)

“Homeschooling Mom Brain”

This picture is a good representation of my “homeschooling mom brain” in May. Each rock stands for little bits of information, events to remember, things to get done, material that still needs to be taught, connections that still need to be made, library books that need to be returned, summer scheduling that still needs to happen. And let’s not forget the recitals, costumes, award ceremonies, and planning for next year. I think there are a lot of other teachers and parents who can relate to this post as well.

May is like August, but in reverse. It’s gearing down instead of gearing up. Time to get things finished rather than started. It’s a major month of transition and anticipation. As the kids get older, time flies by faster, and the quicker the month of May comes and goes. If your brain is feeling overwhelmed, fragmented and “May-bilized,” here are a few suggestions that may help:       

Do nothing!

This may seem like the worst advice with all the things that need to get done, but it’s actually good advice and will help you get more things done in the end. Often in the franticness and hurry, we forget (or more truthfully, we make excuses not to stop) to take breaks and rest. We wear ourselves down to nothing and expect to be able to keep up the ridiculous pace we set. That’s silly! Rest renews energy and refines clarity. Your to-do list, tasks and text replies can wait. It’s about priorities, and priority should be given to rest.  So, shut off your phone, find some time to stop, and give yourself permission to be still.     

Take a hike!

There are constant reminders around my house of the things I have to do or should be doing- schoolwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry. Very often I need a change of view- literally and emotionally. Sometimes, others realize I need some new scenery before I do. My husband is great at gently suggesting I would enjoy a walk to get out of the house and get some fresh air. A fifteen minute walk, by myself, can be rejuvenating. Switch up the scenery, get some exercise, and I think you may see the things you could be doing and the privilege of the things you get to do with more clarity.  

Do something scary!

Gaining confidence through conquered fear is great for personal growth and productivity. Fear is a chain that keeps us in familiar territory and wants us to function in the same old patterns. It also adds a level of stress that gives unnecessary weight to things we need to do. Often fear of inadequacy, failure, uncertainty, and change come with times of transitions. Doing something scary can break through chains of fear and set you free in confidence. The more fear broken, the more confidence gained, the more freedom acquired. Freedom opens up opportunities and new ways of doing things.     

Find new people.

Sometimes we are around our people so often we take them for granted. When we meet new people, we increase our sense of belonging and can be reminded of our purpose. Spending time with new people bring different perspectives, refreshment, and make us appreciate our “family tribe” with greater gratitude and satisfaction!  

Have fun!

There’s a place for fun on everyone’s to-do list. Add some fun back into your days with silly songs, funny YouTube videos, a good knock-knock joke, play with the kids. Learn to take yourself less seriously. And laugh often! Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner. 1

Now for the truth disclaimer! Resting, stopping, and taking breaks is very hard for me to do, and it may be hard for you too. BUT I know it’s the best thing for me (and you) and it’s especially important during a busy time. I often have to coach myself to ignore my to-do list, give myself permission to sit down, and focus on quieting down.

I was reminded of these things this week when our family went away to family homeschool camp. I went to camp with an overwhelmed mind and it took time to wind down. But once I was able to unwind, we did nothing but rest, took hikes, did scary things, meet new people, and had fun! I left camp relaxed and my mind was free to think clearly.

Stepping away from everything gave me the perspective that some of those “rocks” I was dwelling on were not as important as I thought. And some of the “rocks” were things to be appreciated because we are blessed we get to do them. I realize not everyone has the luxury of taking a few days away, but just trying one of two of the suggestions above can really make a difference to be more relaxed, rested and ready to enjoy May and what’s to come.


Teeth Unit (K-12 Curriculum Review)- Love at Home Education

There’s been a lot to do about teeth in our home. Four teeth pulled, impressions of teeth taken, a new retainer, a broken and fixed retainer, three visits to the dentist for regular cleanings, and one missed visit from the tooth fairy (oops!) All this happened within one month’s time!

So when Sarah at Love at Home gave us the opportunity to use her mini unit on teeth, I jumped at the chance to add some more education to our recent real-life experiences.

Sarah offers secular and faith curriculum on a number of topics. Her unit studies include multi-level activities that are easily adaptable for various grade levels. I really appreciate resources that all my children can use and benefit from in one lesson. I also appreciate the value for the cost. Sarah’s resources are reasonably priced and completely ready to use.

We started our teeth mini-unit by reviewing several key teeth vocabulary words. I like Sarah’s printables because they are clear to read, easy to understand, and the pages are not filled with “clutter.” (“Clutter” is too much of anything not needed for the lesson. i.e. cartoon, doodles, fillers)

After discussing dental vocabulary, we discussed the differences between milk and permanent teeth, the different types of permanent teeth, and the importance of taking care of them. The teeth unit includes interesting information and also suggestions for several integrated subject activities, like a polling and recording activity that involves interviewing.

To go along with this unit, I made a “mouth” sensory box with black beans and tooth shaped alphabet cards. My Kindergartner pulled the teeth with tweezers (great fine motor activity) and put the teeth in alphabetical order. Afterwards, we flossed and brushed the teeth.

Tooth Sensory Box and Fine Motor Activity

Learning about the different types of teeth reminded us of our visit to the Montshire Museum. We had attended a pop-up learning experience about animal teeth and their function. I love learning networking like this, when my children make connections to information they’ve already been introduced to or know something about.

Learning about teeth (and skulls) at the Montshire Museum

Next, we talked about the parts of a tooth. We drew and labeled a tooth picture using the unit’s diagram. We added red embroidery floss to represent the blood vessel.

Finally, we wrapped up the lesson with a few great books, including one of my childhood favorite’s Doctor De Soto.

A Few Favorite Teeth Books:

The amount of information and the type of activities is just right for a mini-unit. It is a very nice complete unit that could be used alone, or as a jumping- off point to more in depth research.

Thank you Sarah for letting us try your Teeth Unit Study! Click the link to get your Teeth Unit Study– Teeth Unit Study for K-12

Love at Home Education has many other great unit studies to choose from. Check them out at this link: https://loveathomeeducation.com/product-category/products/


It’s a Boy!

Six years ago, I experienced one of the most challenging events of my life- the birth of my son. His birth was the start of a journey through one of the deepest, unknown valleys I have yet to walk. It was a time that should have been one of the happiest moments in my life, but it will forever be marked with fear and grief, joy splintered by shattered expectations, and one of the most incredible seasons of seeking God and fireproofing my faith.

For months, I prayed and prayed for this child and on May 6, 2013, I was waiting to meet the little man I had fervently prayed for. I had spent the night in a hospital bed wondering when he was going to leave my warm, snug womb. Very true to his personality, he was making his entrance in his own time, in his own way.

Around hour eighteen of labor, the rhythmic machines I was connected to by the snaked and twisted cords, started making louder, more quickening sounds. A blur of multicolored scrubs, nurses and doctors rushed into my room. My head felt woozy and dazed. My oxygen level started to drop. I felt far away, like I was watching all this happening through a screen. I could see the worry on the face of my usually calm, level- headed husband.

Something wasn’t right. A wave of fear washed over me. My mind was unable to keep up with the noise and movement. My body was weak from the pushing and pain of labor.

The doctor said something about a C-section, followed by a push and a rush to the operating room. The white, blinding lights glared down at me. The curtain blocked my view. The medication blocked my pain. The fear attempted to block my faith.

I can not remember when my son was pulled from my womb nor do I remember hearing his first cry. I remember seeing nurses and doctors work on him and then on me. I remember someone bringing him close to my face so I could see him, to kiss his sweet face. Then I remember them whisking him away from me to the NICU.

I was wheeled back into the very same room I labored in. I felt an incredible amount of grief as I waited for my body to regain feeling. One kind nurse took pity on me and wheeled my over-sized bed down to the quiet, darkened halls of the NICU.

I saw my son through the glass doors of his hospital room. He was so tiny lying in a closed bed, hooked up to machines that made gentler noises than the hours earlier in the labor room. He looked so helpless, so alone.

The nurse positioned me as close to him as my bed would allow. She lifted him gently out of the enclosed plastic bed, placed him and all his connecting wires securely in my arms. Only hours before we were warmly connected to each other with a living life line, and now we were separated, connected to cold machines. I felt so disappointed, discouraged and then so guilty.

It wasn’t suppose to be this way. Everything I thought this birth was suppose to be, wasn’t. Every way I wanted it to go, it went a different way. My birth plan was completely overrided by unexpected events.

Guilt was a heavier weight. I felt guilty for not being more thankful. I had made it safely out of surgery. Shouldn’t I be happy? My faithful husband hadn’t left my side. Shouldn’t I be grateful? I had a community of people praying for me throughout the whole day. Shouldn’t I be rejoicing?? My son was alive! Shouldn’t that be enough?

I knew things could have been worse, so much worse, but I was caught up in the grief of “what could have been.” It’s amazing how feelings can powerfully cloud the truth. How fear can shame you into believing lies. I was weak in mind (and body) and trying to process the whole day. I was grabbing at anything to comfort me. Self-pity, discouragement, and lonesome lies were easier to find than truth.

It took four years before I was able to look at the first pictures taken of my son in the operating room. Four years. Up until then, every time I tried to look, I felt physically sick. It was too painful, too traumatic for me to be reminded and revisit that place, even in pictures.

One day with the healing that time grants, I felt brave to try to look again. It was then I was able to see things differently. A miracle of life was birthed in that room, but that was not the only thing.

A struggle, a season of suffering was birthed there too. A season that led to a bolder, braver, more faith-filled wife and mother of three. Walls I had pridefully built, God tore down. The need for control and plans to be craft-fully perfect was replaced with an invitation to trust and obey. God gave me fresh vision to see some of the plans for my life that He had written, and with His leading they were better than I could imagine.

A heart for fervent prayer was also birthed that day. Over the next long months, in the darkness of the weariest, loneliest nights, my friend Jesus walked with me, talked with me, wept with me, comforted me, and asked me to trust him time and time again. When I couldn’t pray, the Holy Spirit took over and He taught me what it meant to seek and wait.

It wasn’t a perfect time. It was a hard, difficult time. I endured lessons of failing and overcoming, patience and endurance. As my precious son grew in a stronger in a physical way, I grew stronger in a spiritual way.

We named our son, Jonathan, which means God’s gift. And God has used Jonathan as a gift that keeps on giving not only in my life, but in the lives of others as well.

From the very beginning of his life, he’s been loudly making his opinions known. He’s bold, brave and persistent. He’s playful and joyful, and his laugh and his giggles are contagious.

He’s makes me question my parenting skills more than any of my other children, but he has helped me know and stand firm in my convictions. He’s curious and asks the most interesting questions and this encourages me to research and know the most interesting answers.

On top of all these things, he has a heart of compassion. He is not afraid to go up to someone who looks lonely, say hello and even give them a hug. He can strike up a conversation with a stranger, and he asks the most poignant questions that goes straight to the heart. He teaches me more about child-like faith. Oh, and his prayers. He thinks nothing of laying hands and praying over people, and often we are following his lead in bowing our heads at any give moment, in any place, for any certain thing.

I am so thankful I get to be Jonathan’s mom. I’m so thankful for the son who God has made him to be and how Jonathan is growing up to be strong in so many ways. I am thankful for this journey of motherhood with him.

Although I wouldn’t want to go through the challenging beginning again, the valley of the sleepless nights, I can confidently say all of it was for my own good. It taught me a lot about myself and even more about God’s faithfulness and His love. God’s love is a strengthening, restoring, renewing, never fails, type of love!

If you are going through a valley, or a time that hasn’t gone the way you had hoped or planned, don’t give up. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. Maybe in a few more steps ahead, you’ll be able to look back and see something in the situation that wasn’t there before. A bit of new bravery, a root of resolve, a lesson learned. Often the best of what’s to be found is hidden in plain sight, but requires a fresh perspective to see.


Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

Happy Birthday, Jonathan! You are a precious gift more than you ever might know! xo


Washington, DC with Kids – Tips and Kid-Approved Places

We just returned from a short, wonderful vacation with family in Washington, DC. Free of scheduled nap times, the extra bags and strollers that come with babies and toddlers, we really enjoyed this trip with our children ages 11, 9, and 6.

There is so much to see in DC it can be overwhelming to know what to do and where to begin. My kids and I sat down to talk about our trip and gave “kid-approved” rating and highlights of the things we saw. We are in no way travel experts, but I hope this post will offer a few tips and ideas if you are heading to DC.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US and OUR RATING SYSTEM:

Library of Congress

WHAT WE SAW AND HOW WE LIKED IT:

WWII Memorial

Our MUST-SEE Recommendations:

Botanic Garden

A few suggestions of PLACES TO EAT…

Our family ate at Ted’s Bulletin four times on this trip. It’s a great family restaurant. They serve breakfast and lunch, and have a wide variety of choices. We have many different diets in our family- gluten-free, vegan- and we were all able to find something to eat and enjoy. The service is excellent. (And they make homemade pop tarts which are a delicious treat!)

Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian

“Mitsitam” means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. The museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe enhances the museum experience by providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy the indigenous cuisines of the Americas and to explore the history of Native foods. The Cafe features Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains. Each of the five food stations depict regional lifeways related to cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary dishes. Selections include authentic Native foods such as traditional fry bread and corn totopos as well as contemporary items with a Native American twist—think buffalo burgers!” – National Museum of the American Indian Website

We had lunch here twice! (When we find something that works, we stick with it. 🙂 ) The first time I had a chilled cherry soup with three-sisters salad. The second time, I had vegetarian chili with fry bread!! (Ahhh, fry bread, where have you been my whole life?) The food was delicious and it wasn’t as crowded as other museum cafes.

Hirshhorn

A FEW TIPS BEFORE YOU GO:

1.) Make a tentative daily schedule of the places and things you want to see.

2.) Many museums have floor plans, exhibits, and maps online. Download and print museum maps ahead of time. Some museums list their must-see exhibits and offer additional educational items to print. As attention spans decreased and weariness increased, I was glad I took the time to look over the maps and buildings so I could direct my crew to what we wanted to see and save energy.

3.) Even though we used Google Maps for walking directions when needed, a printed copy of the National Mall was helpful . I used this one from the National Park Service.
https://www.nps.gov/state/dc/upload/nps-map-washington-dc.pdf

4.) Some buildings and tours require prior arrangements and reservations. The U.S. Capitol Vistor’s Center offers advanced reservations. I would highly recommend contacting the offices of your representatives and senators for booking a tour. We had an excellent tour by one of Representative Ruiz’s staff members. If you you are hoping to see millions of dollars being printed, tickets are available and required for a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Admission is free but tickets are on a first come basis. The ticket booth opens at 8:00 AM (click the link for more information.) United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives offers advanced tickets.

5.) Save some money by bringing and refilling a water bottle. And if visiting DC in the spring or summer, be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella for showers and pop-up storms.

NOTE: you will need to go through security at every museum at least once (sometimes multiple times.) Pack a light bag and help keep the security line moving by taking off backpacks and unzipping bags for security guards to easily look through items.

6.) The Metro, Public Transportation, and Uber saved time and tired legs. You can purchase a SmarTrip card online or in the Metro stations.

METRO
Museum of the Bible
Washington Monument from WWII Memorial


National Day of Prayer- 2019

Today is the National Day of Prayer! A call to unite together in prayer for our country and those who live in it. This annual spring observance was established by President Truman in 1952 and in 1988, set as the first Thursday in May.

For sixty-eight years, Americans have gathered together to bow their heads and ask God to guide, protect, heal, and bless our country.

In his 1983 prayer declaration, President Ronald Reagan said,

“From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.”

Four reasons why we should we pray today (and everyday)…

Prayer connects us to God. Being a follower of Christ means being in relationship with Him. Relationships require communication and prayer creates communication pathways.  It is a great privilege to pray. Our prayers do not need be perfect, wordy or beautiful. God loves when we come to him as messy, imperfect, broken people who desire to truly seek Him and His heart. When we come to Him with our praise, thanksgiving, hopes, dreams, requests, and needs, our relationship with God grows stronger.

Prayer is an act of obedience. God’s word calls us to pray and our response in an act of wholehearted obedience. Prayer should be done with joyful enthusiasm. The Bible says, “Obey him gladly” (Psalm 100:2a TLB).2

  • “This, then, is how you should pray …” –Matthew 6:9
  • “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
  • “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” –Ephesians 6:18
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Philippians 4:6
  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” –Colossians 4:2
  • “Pray continually” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” -1 Timothy 2:1 1

Prayer equips us and empowers us through the Holy Spirit. Prayer gives us the courage to take the next steps in faith. As we seek the Lord’s guidance in our lives, for our callings and passions, the Holy Spirit will reveal, teach and illuminate the Truth. In a noisy world filled with loud voices, the voice of the Holy Spirit is a quiet whisper. Prayer helps us to slow down and listen. When we hear His voice, we can confidently embrace the Truth and walk in the power and freedom He gives.

Prayer Unites. Prayer builds community and brings people together for a common purpose or action. It joins us in the Lord’s presence and helps us to open our eyes and heart to the needs of others. Praying together focuses our eyes on the Lord and helps us to put our faith, hopes and dreams in His hands. Prayer helps us make unified steps toward where the Lord is leading us. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:20

prayerinworldmotherteresa

So on this National Day of Prayer, I challenge you to find some time to dedicate to prayer. Maybe it’s 15 minutes, maybe it’s an hour. Maybe it’s praying on your own, maybe it’s praying with a friend or co-worker, maybe it’s praying with your kids. However long, whoever it’s with, wherever you choose to pray, connecting with God’s heart is most important. I believe the time you spend with God in prayer will be both powerful and beautiful.

If have a desire to pray and are unsure where to start, use the file I created (link below in green) or send me a message. I would love to mentor you in how to start a prayer life with our God.

Ways to Pray for An Hour on National Day of Prayer
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER -WAYS TO PRAY FOR AN HOUR PDF (link below)

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER -WAYS TO PRAY FOR AN HOUR PDF FILE


Gardening With Kids

This month, the kids and I are studying gardening. Although it’s not warm enough to plant outside in New Hampshire just yet, we are learning and preparing for next month when we can. We’ll be covering all things seeds, soils, sustainability, and much more. My plan is to update this post throughout the month sharing the resources, books and the creative activities we will be using.

WEEK 1:

BOOKS- Week 1

BOOKS- Week 2

LESSONS

Preschool- Kindergarten

Upper Elementary (3rd- 5th grade)

START WITH THE SOIL

Lesson on Soil Texture and Structure

https://communitygarden.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ACGA-Lesson-1.pdf

Jar Soil Texture Test

WEEK 2

SONGS:

Water Cycle Rap

Your Past has Passed

This quote!


The other day I was talking with someone about a situation and they said “I remember when you responded like this….” The response she was referring to, my response, was NOT something I was proud of. It was the kind of thing you wished could be buried away, forever forgotten, never to resurface again. Ugh!! I couldn’t deny it, it was all me, so I laughed uncomfortably and opened the door for revived shame to beat me down.

After dwelling on and rehashing the situation for a good amount of wasted time, I had had ENOUGH. This was a past situation. I couldn’t go back and “fix” it. My perspective has changed since then. I have learned and grown since then. My heart is in a different place now. And I am confident I would approach the situation differently. Repeating these truths broke the cycle of the worry and regret. I am (and always will be) a work in progress and progress is a present thing.


Friend, your past has passed. Don’t give your past tolerances, reactions, words, mistakes, and actions the power to haunt you. And don’t use them as an excuse to keep doing the same thing over and over again. We’ve all made poor choices, some which come with weighty consequences. Don’t let consequences hold you in the shadow of shame and guilt. Care about what you can change. Today is a new day. A right-now opportunity!

You can….

  • set a new boundary
  • change your perspective
  • make a new goal
  • choose a different reaction
  • answer with kinder, gentler, or if necessary, more assertive words
  • stand up for your convictions
  • walk away
  • try again
  • ask more questions
  • take a break
  • learn from your mistakes
  • say no to unhealthy choices/influences
  • make a new friend
  • ask for help
  • choose joy
  • take a chance
  • start something new
  • forgive others
  • combat lies with truth
  • give yourself grace
  • keep moving forward one step at a time

All these things require courageous intention. Keep trying, keep learning, and keep going! ❤

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13-15

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.- 1 Timothy 4:15