What I’m filling up with

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit drained these days.
Turns out, even introverts need people!

My husband is home, and thankfully is still working. It’s a tricky situation in our little house, but we have found a sort of groove with it, and the kids have adapted.
What has been the hardest is being home, inside, and away from family. It’s especially hard on my kids, which breaks my heart.

This new isn’t normal. This will change, but we don’t know when, and man can these days feel long.
So, what do we do?

Fill up! and fill up with truth.

Here’s what I’m doing to help fill me up, and maybe it will inspire you to fill up too: (the first one daily, but the others are scattered throughout the week pretty much)

  1. Bible – There is no way I, or you, or anyone on the planet who can make it through life, much less through stress, suffering, change, hurt, brokenness, without God’s Word. (I’m currently reading through Exodus, and seeing how God provided for his people is amazing, even through the law!)
  2. Sufficient Hope: Meditations and Prayers for Moms by Christina Fox – Having a solid, bible central devotion has helped me immensely. This book is perfect because it’s relatively short, full of scripture, has questions at the end, and has a prayer written out at the end of each little chapter. The prayers are my favorite, because they are so solid, often praying the words of scripture, and give me words to pray when I’m out.
  3. Friend-ish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion by Kelly Needham – Maybe an odd choice for being secluded away from friends, but man has this time also revealed some of the idols that have crept up in my heart, especially in the area of friendship. This has been a very convicting, and comforting book always pointing to the truth.
  4. Risen Motherhood Podcast – Hands down, my favorite podcast. No matter what, these ladies are always pointing to the truth of the gospel, from make up, to marriage, to parenting, and everything in between that falls into the realm of motherhood. Go listen. So good. The resources page on their website is also fantastic.
  5. Journey Women Podcast – In the same idea and purpose as Risen Motherhood, but aimed at young(er) women. Topic and interviews to encourage and point women to God in our journey through life.
  6. Foundations Podcast with Ruth and Troy Simons – This is centered on biblical parenting, and I have just started listening to this with my family (husband and kids).
  7. Biblicaltraining.org – I’ve listened to a few good classes and seminars for free on this site. I love learning and this free resource is great for that. They also have some certificates you can earn (these are not free).
  8. “Marks of a Healthy Church”, teaching series by Ligonier Ministries – This has been a balm to my soul, though I’m missing my church soooooo much right now, I’m enjoying this series about church. Ligonier Ministries also has a ton of other free teaching series, and other resources too.
  9. Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This is what I have been reading to my children everyday at lunch time, and they remind me when I miss! They are into this routine of ours. Their little hearts are anxious and scared in this time too, recounting promises, hope, and truth of Jesus is just what they need now, and all the time! It helps Mommy’s heart too ๐Ÿ™‚
  10. Any/all music by Keith and Kristyn Getty and/or City Alight – definitely favorites right now for our whole family.

There you have it!
I’m also reading some fiction for book club, an audio book for fun, and have at least three more books I’ve started, and set down for now. Trying to be better about finishing what I begin. ๐Ÿ™‚
What are you filling up with?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Help! My little girls have hair like mine, and I don't know what to do!

That title is not a tease, it’s true. I have thick, straight hair. My two girls, have (so far) thick, straight hair. Although one is a blondie and one a redhead, their hair is just like mine, and in the winter, that means knots and static. Endless knots and static!

All the blurry pictures… It’s like a requirement at this age ๐Ÿ™‚

You’d think that me having my hair this way, I would have figured it out by now, I am 28 years old. Come on!
But actually, I know all the problems with my hair, not really any solutions.
I’m not a “do up my hair everyday” kind of person, honestly, I never even use my blow dryer. Air dry, brush, have a hair tie handy just in case, and done…

Now, curly hair, I got that in the bag. (I hope my youngest has curly hair, she’s still little enough that it could happen!)
Odd, I know, but here’s why:

Yes, this is my sister. No, we don’t look much a like, but we are related, I promise.
Oh, and my kids call her Tante (German for ‘aunt’), and it makes me so happy that they do!

This is my sister. I have spent hours doing her hair, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and we chat about her hair all the time (not mine, there’s nothing to say!).

Ok, I’ve got to give myself a little credit, I’ve learned a lot the past few years. Like the magic of a headband on an almost bald baby.
What clips are good at keeping fly aways, well, away!
What thickness of hair tie works for my girls, and since they are like me, we moved pasted the little tiny plastic kind a while ago.

Maybe it’s just general ineptitude I feel, as a parent in general?
Any other parents feel that way? Like someone has placed you in charge of these little people to teach and train, but you feel like you are the very last person who should be in charge? I still need help! I still need my mom!
But maybe that’s the point, for us to see we cant, that we do need help.

Hairstyles to the glory of God! Who knew ๐Ÿ™‚

Soli Deo Gloria

Made to create

Something I have noticed about children is that they are instinctively creative. They like to do things like color, draw, paint, sing, dance, make messes, invent new tools or contraptions, and pretend millions of different world and games.

Why is that?

I think it’s because children don’t feel the pressure to impress, they just do what gives them joy.

My son builds machines, monsters, and robots with his Duplos for hours, simply because he likes to build and loves to show me what he makes. He just learned a new skill of drawing faces, and he loves to draw “silly” faces. Future comedian on our hands I’m telling you.

My middle daughter sings, and sings… and sings… and sings. There are very few moments of the day when she is not singing. She simply loves to do it. She also loves to play pretend with whatever is in her hands at any given moment. From pretending her grapes are those infamous monkeys jumping on the bed, to dancing her Moana doll across the coffee table. Her new favorite pretend game is pretending our couch is a ship, which is sinking and they must stop it! (She’s got a flair for the dramatic, for sure.)

Even the baby is in on the scheme. Play any song, and she’s bouncing to the beat in an instant. Sometimes she will even coo along with you if you sing to her.

Children do what they like to do. They do what brings them joy.

I’m not sure when, but somewhere along the way, adults lose this ability to just do creative things we love. Adults feel the need to qualify why we do anything to see whether it’s worth doing. On top of that, adults add an (often) unachievable standard of quality required for this creative endeavor to be worth our time.

When we add these qualifiers on to creativity, we limit what it can be and we belittle the one who made us creative.

First, creativity is expressed whenever something is made and there is enjoyment when making it. So, this would include things like writing, cooking, drawing, decorating, singing, playing an instrument, any visual art, dancing, and much, muuuuuch more.

Second is an element that I call a “shared experience”. What I mean is that thing is made and enjoyed, is also shared with someone else (whether they are a “fellow creative” or are an “audience”). Part of the joy in making is sharing. Experiencing art at a museum, a home cooked meal, a music recital, a “Pinterest-worthy” party, or a theatrical production are intended to connect people and for people to enjoy.

Now, we experience and do creative things imperfectly. When does a great artist know when he’s finished, or does it need one more dab of paint? Is a musician ever satisfied that their performance was excellent, or could this one portion have been played better? Did the audience respond as predicted in the play, or was there a disconnect? You see what I mean, it’s never perfect, but this is what leads me to my third point about creativity because it answers this question: Where does creativity come from?

Third is that creativity comes from God. Take a look a Genesis chapter 1 for a reference here. God created the universe. From whence there was nothing, God spoke, and everything came. This point, that creativity comes from God, also gives support and reason for my first two points. We know that God enjoys his creation, because he doesn’t need it! He was complete, the Trinity was perfect in relationship and love and purpose without us. He chose to make the universe anyway, and he made it intricate and beautiful. You don’t make things detailed and beautiful unless you like it.

More than that, God called it good. Now, this word doesn’t just mean well done, or wholesome, or the opposite of bad, it also means complete. When God spoke the universe into being he did it perfectly, completely, without leaving anything out on the very first attempt.

Of all the creatures and matter in the universe only humanity is created to be like God. This is why we are creative creatures, and why every human is creative, because we are all made in his image.

So, what do you do that is creative? How are you imaging your maker?
It’s doesn’t have to be anything formal, or “crafty”, but think about it. What do you make that you enjoy making?

As always, all for His Glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Beginning Slow – home education

It’s officially August, and my son turns 4 at the end of the month. (Cue heart swelling, and tears!)

Like really?! Oh my goodness, I love this boy, and he is growing so fast!

My son is suddenly getting really interested in books, building with Legos, and he always gets excited about anything to do with numbers, sorting, or patterns (i.e. basic math concepts!).

So, this week, despite me having a cold, we unofficially started homeschooling (unofficially, because he is not even old enough for TK).

It’s super basic, easy to do, no curriculum, and takes maybe 15 minutes to “do school”. With a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old, so this is about as much as I can handle.

I don’t know if homeschooling is what we will be doing for all of our education years. We will take it one year at a time!
Although, I will say, my husband is a huge fan of homeschooling.
At the same time, he’s at work all day and won’t be the one really teaching.
So, we will see!

For now, this is our little routine:

  • Bible story: currently reading the Jesus Storybook Bible.
  • Alphabet flashcards (literally 3×5 cards that I wrote the alphabet on): we just go through and say the letter’s name and the sound it makes (short vowel sounds right now). He’s already got about 80% of the alphabet memorized!
  • Read, read, read!
  • Counting: cars, Legos, fingers, toes, crayons, shopping carts, trash trucks, everything!
  • Bible verses: I have verses written down, and in a frame on our dining room table. They can’t read it, but seeing it and hearing it read over and over basically helps them memorize. I don’t have a schedule of what verses and how long it should take us or whatever. I just pick a verse that fits our lives at the moment and we work on it until it’s memorized, then I pick new ones.

Ta da!
That’s all we are doing. I try to do most of that in the morning, and maybe a little in the afternoon (all the kids nap from about 1-3pm).

Sincerely,
This reluctant homeschool mom!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Library Review – July Favorites

We only managed to get to the library once this month, and with August fast approaching I thought I’d round up a few of our favorites.

First off, we have a new coffee table! This is where our library books “live”, as my son says. Alongside legos, water bottles, snacks, and anything else being played with at the moment. With our new table also came two very cute Queen Anne chairs. My grandmother had them and fixed them up for our kids to use. They love the new set up! My two-year-old daughter loves to wander over and sit with a book at the table.

Also, this is my two-year-old’s favorite way to sit, in my lap, with her legs on top of mine. How cute!

The Books: What they were and Who liked them

These were the runaway winners in my kids’ eyes. I was really hesitant about the Llama book because it’s a Netflix series now. I’m not sure why, but if there is something that is popular (like when a book becomes a tv show or movie) I automatically dislike it. Maybe I’m a little hipster, maybe I’m just a snob. I’m not sure, but my kids picked it off the shelf, and I generally don’t say no to books they pick, until my bag is full!
Well, we loved it! I won’t ruin if for those of you who haven’t read it, but let’s just say, if you have kids it is humorously relatable! And just cute! It’s definitely on my book wish list now!

999 Frogs was another surprise. My kids picked it because, well, frogs! And it ended up being a very sweet story about friendship and teamwork.

This was the classic favorite. Both kids liked it (the baby doesn’t have strong enough opinions about books yet, she just likes to chew on them), and it is the first Tomie dePaola book that they sat through. I love Tomie dePaola books, but they haven’t liked any of the ones I have picked out. My son actually grabbed this one off the shelf! I was so excited. I think their favorite was the caveman sounds, and of course, the dinosaur.

This was the parents’ favorite. I read it aloud when my husband came home and he cracked up through the whole thing. The humor is definitely for a little bit older kids than mine, but anything read with a funny voice is funny! Pretty sure my husband read it later after the kids went to bed and laughed through it again. This is another one to go on the wish list, and if my brothers are reading this, act surprised if you get it for Christmas!

This is the honorable mention, because it recalls a very dear memory for me.

When I was born, my parents were living in Minnesota, but my grandparents still lived in California. My Nana wanted to make sure that her grandbabies knew the sound of her voice, so she wouldn’t be a stranger to us, so she recorded herself on tapes for us. We mailed home videos and cassettes back and forth across the country. On one of those cassette tapes, Nana told the story of the little seed. It was so long ago, I don’t remember it all, but I remember her voice talking about a little seed growing into a flower. This book reminded me of that tape. Later, I discovered why she had told that story, because she is passionate about things that grow. Her yard is full of growing things, she is always giving plants, and she knows the names and the care for almost any plant in southern California.
So, this one makes the list purely for her sake. Thank you, Nana (I know you will read this).

What are you reading?
Meet any new “friends” among your book stack?
Gotten to introduce an old “friend” to someone? That’s one of the most special things in the world.

Soli Deo Gloria

Education Opportunity – Limitless Learners Contest with Education.com

Ok friends, this is exciting!
Education.com is doing a contest for students Kindergarten through 5th grade (in the coming school year), where they can win $500 towards their future education, PLUS $1000 for their elementary school or library.
How awesome is that!?

Disclaimer: The pictures below are from the Education.com website and correspond to the links provided. They are not mine.

Click here to go to the contest page for ALL the details: https://www.education.com/contests/

Here are the basics of the contest rules

Students will need to do the following by October 31, 2019 to apply:

  • Obtain a completed consent form signed by the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Respond to the following prompt in the appropriate format (listed below): Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!
    • Kindergarten students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write about what is happening, or ask an adult to write a sentence or two describing your picture.
    • 1st grade students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write 1โ€“3 sentences about it.
    • 2nd grade students: Write a short story (5โ€“8 sentences) and create at least one picture to illustrate it.
    • 3rd grade students: Write a short story, journal entry, or comic strip.
    • 4th grade students: Write a short story, journal entry, poem, or comic strip.
    • 5th grade students: Write a personal narrative, short story, poem, or comic strip.
  • Submit the above to our judges (via one of the following two ways):
    • Via email to contest@education.com.
    • Via standard mail to:
      Education.com
      401 East Third Avenue
      San Mateo, CA 94401
      Attn: Limitless Learners

Ta Da! Such a great opportunity!

My kids are not old enough for this contest, but Education.com has some great (and fun) resources for Pre-schoolers, too!

I’m excited to try some of the worksheets with my son, like this one!

Education, to the glory of God!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Family Vacation – Big Bear Lake, CA

Mountains, forrest, lake, great weather, small town feel with (all the amenities), and family friendly to boot! I’m not even kidding. We just spent a week up in Big Bear Lake, California, and it was a blast.

First of all, I love spending time with my family. There is literally nothing I’d rather be doing. We are so blessed to have such a close family. My siblings and I are so close, both in age and in relationship. It’s really a blessing. This past week, it was so sweet to see my kids playing with their cousin, she’s not quite 1 yet, but she is walking and she followed them all around. They kept calling to her to “catch me!” and she’d laugh and toddle down the hall after them.
The range of properties available to rent out in Big Bear is amazing too. We were able to fit my entire side of family under one roof, and we weren’t on top of each other. From little cottages to three story cabins, they have it! We stayed in the lovely, Evergreen Manor and all four generations enjoyed the house. I asked around and our favorite thing about this home in particular was the space in the living rooms and kitchen. My son loved that everyone had their own room, and that he could go from room to room and spend time with each person every morning.

Gorgeous! And this is just what we saw on the drive up!

Second, this location is awesome. I love the mountains, and this lake is in the heart of a beautiful valley about 7000 feet above sea level, so it’s just perfect to me. While we were there, the hottest it got was maybe 76 degrees, and the low maybe around 38 at night. My husband and I were day dreaming about living up there! So beautiful.
But not just that, the town itself is so cute, and really has everything.

  • Coffee shops (nearly 10 of them, including 2 Starbucks, but I like to stick to the places were the locals go, like Moonridge Coffee Company)
  • Breakfast places (a place called Dank Donuts was a personal favorite)
  • Restaurants (we had some good Thai food, and followed the locals to a burger joint that always had a line out the door called Get the Burger)
  • Groceries (we stopped by the local Vons at least once a day)
  • Parks and playgrounds
  • Hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities (skiing and such in the wintertime)
  • Ice cream parlor! (skip the Ben and Jerry’s and head for the local store “North Pole Fudge Co.” with their own ice cream and fudge! Yummy!)

You get the picture, there’s a ton to do for the whole family!

I think our favorite thing we did all week was the boat tour around the lake. Over at the Pine Knot Marina, the offer a tour of Big Bear Lake on a paddle wheel boat called Miss Liberty. During the ride around the entire lake, the skipper tells you all about the activities along the shoreline, the history of the lake and the valley, and even points out some lake front properties belonging to celebrities (don’t worry though, the boat if far enough away that everyone still has their privacy).
While on our tour, we passed by the home of Noel Blanc, son of Mel Blanc who was the original voice of many beloved cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and Barney Rubble. Noel Blanc was home as we passed by and came out on his deck with a mega phone! His father trained him to do the voices of all the characters he created, so Noel spoke to us like Bugs Bunny! He was super friendly, and turned out to be family friends of our boat’s skipper. Very cool! Really showed us the small town feel of this often popular resort town.

A close second for our favorite thing we did was visiting the Big Bear Alpine Zoo I’m an animal lover, and my kids, being so little, are big animal fans too. The zoo is all rescued animals, some are in the process of rehabilitation, others are permanently injured as to need human assistance for survival, or were found at such a young age that they never learned the skills necessary to be successfully released. It’s super cool!

We did tons of other family activities, too! Like game night after the littles were asleep, playing at the park, a water balloon fight, scavenger hunt, and a talent show! Ever seen Dan in Real Life? They do a family talent show in that movie and my family does it now, it’s super fun!

We want to go back during the wintertime! Although, I’m a little nervous doing snow with our kids so little. I’ve never done it before! Any tips, I’d welcome it!

How are you spending your summer? Hopefully surrounded by family doing fun, unique, “summer-only” kind of things!
Like boat tours with Bugs Bunny!

Special thank you to my family who helped me with all these pictures! I was usually holding a child and wasn’t able to get many pictures at all!

Soli Deo Gloria!