Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I just want to be obedient! Why does it have to be so hard?!

HOMESCHOOLING!?  Me?  You've got to be kidding me.  Lord, I think you have the wrong person. 

Ha, ha...sure, LAUGH it up.  I did.  CRY.  Because I am.  Sing praises for He is good..."Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (Eph 3:20).  I did not think or ask for this...

When God speaks to me, I usually can pinpoint exactly where and what I was doing...but not in this case.  I think I was in denial, when around 3 months ago, I felt God leading me towards homeschooling.  When I felt that little nudge, I remember praying "Lord, am I feeling this right?  I really don't want to and I know that I am not personally capable, but I will obey if that is what you want.  BUT, you are going to have to make this really clear.  I need some signs...I need some clear direction...I need my husband to feel the same way." 

So I waited.  I received many signs to follow as I sat and watched God at work.  I trusted He was moving in my spouse, so I waited longer to receive more signs.  Then I received a peace that passes all understanding.  I never knew what that meant until now.  Peace, that the Lord had my back.  He would equip me...He would bless our family...He would make this awesome.  I knew that I had to keep it to myself for awhile until I could sort it all out.  I researched for 2 months and spoke to many moms who homeschool.  I knew that it would still not be easy.  There were going to be hard days...days I will wonder what God was doing...days like this when I first starting writing about it all. 

I read in bible study while waiting for signs.  Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss Lie #28 "Children Need to Get exposed to the Real World so that they can learn to function in it." Points from this section:
  • God never intended that you and I should know evil by experiencing it for ourselves.  His desire is that we should be "wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil (Romans 16:19)
  • the challenge of every Christian parent is to bring up children who love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength; who have a vibrant personal relationship with the Lord Jesus; and whose lives will be bright and shining lights pentrating the darkness around them.
  • Children will cultivate an appetite for whatever they are fed in their earliest, formation years. We should want their "want tos" to already be shaped when they get to the real world -  loving the Lord and wanting to do what we know will please Him.  Not having an appetite for anything that isn't consistent with the word of God.
  • Raise up a generation of young people who are not conformers but transformers
I continually have to read these over and over.  When I started thinking about all this, I was very overwhelmed with her going to school for 8 hours of the day, when before I hadn't really thought about it.  Why did she need to go that long?  When would I have time to talk with her about important issues and guide her to build her character?  I went to Kindergarten orientation wondering what they were going to be doing with my child all day when she could already do everything on the syllabus but tie her shoe and read.  So I trusted God and didn't sign her up.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the school or the school administrators there.  I thought it was a wonderful school and met many nice administrators. 

Do you think that I just make all this up?  Homeschooling was no where on my radar until 3 months ago.  I mean... NO.WHERE.  I never thought negatively about homeschooling for other people, just "knew" that it wasn't a right fit for me.  I was excited to send her to school and have some free time for me (selfishly).  I was excited for her to be so tired that she would actually go to bed at a decent hour.  But the Lord totally transformed me during this process and He actually gave me a huge FEAR...a fear of not obeying and the consequences of that.  I wanted to obey but I knew I had a few road blocks. He also gave me a new love for my child and an excitement for this new adventure (yes, you read that right...excitement). 

I was thinking about the story of Abraham and Isaac.  God told Abraham very clearly to sacrafice his one and only son.  Without question Abraham traveled to the place God told him to go and prepared to sacrafice his son.  Right before he was about to do it God said "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son".  I was starting to hope that with my obedience to God like Abraham, He would say "Just foolin...send her to school".  So far this has not happened and I continue to see signs of this being what He has planned for us.  So I continue to research and at this point plan to be doing school at home for next year. 

Today (april 10th is when I started writing this) has been a hard day on this battle of deciding and following God out of fear and obedience.  I shared with a friend this evening how I was feeling and she stumbled across this article on CNN that was posted this morning (4/10).  The link to it is here:  Why I chose Homeschooling.  That again, gave me peace and reassurance.  Is this going to be easy even though God called us to it?  No...it won't be.  But I know the reward is much more great than choosing to disobey.  For those I have told so far, I have had major support and blessing. 

There are still days when I "mourn" the loss of her not going to kindergarten...especially when all of my mommy friends are talking about their kids going to kindergarten next year and how much free time they will have.  It will be hard sometimes...but I have to be obedient no matter what.  I do also worry about the loss of her "right of passage" and pray that its never something that crosses her mind or causes her to rebel.  I hope that she can see through this the love that I have for her...to dedicate that precious time with her to help her grow, mature, and build a godly character that God has for her.  I cannot do this on my own and I hand it fully over to God and trust Him with it. 

Can you please be in prayer for or family over this?  Prayers that we continue to follow God and be obedient to His will in our lives (even if it changes and makes us look silly, or even if it is uncomfortable for us)...prayers that we make the right decision on curriculum, prayers for our kids (who as of now are very accepting to doing school at home)...and prayers for me.  I don't want to be sad about it...it's not a loss, but a gain!  I do trust Him, but I am still fearful and overwhelmed!

Currently where we are at in this process (as of April 24th) is that we have told our family and some of our friends (mostly ones who homeschool).  We have met with one couple to see what they do and what they use as far as curriculum and asked for their insight on why they chose homeshooling and what it has been like for their family.  I have met with several other friends and discussed the same things with them.  I have plans to meet with a few more.  I am also deciding curriculum and preparing a "place" for our school room to be (this has been the fun part).  I have narrowed my curriculum choices down a lot and we just need to decide on one as a couple based on expense and some other factors (mostly Reece's ability and learning style, organization/ease of use for me, academic).  We have a little bit of time on this but feeling like we need to make a decision soon.  For our family, we will be taking this year by year...for now it looks like Reece will likely be home for kindergarten and 1st grade.  We will continue to assess and seek God out during the process because we know that He wants what is best for us and will continue to direct our paths if we chose to listen and obey. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reece's birthday

On Reece's actual birthday, we just had cake here and she got to open her presents from us.  She got to invite her little (older) buddy, Dylan, over from next door to join us. 

A Wal-Mart cake with a polly pocket on top!

 Then on Good Friday (the next day), we took them to Miller Park Zoo.


Making Easter Eggs...

Making ones you can eat for Easer dinner

 We went to Mimi and Papas for the traditional easter dinner and egg hunt with their cousins.  Before the hunt!

 Show us all their eggs!

Reece's 5th Birthday Celebration

Reece had her 5th birthday party about a week ago.  Since she turned 5 and it was her golden birthday, we let her invite friends over this time.  She pretty much got to invite anyone who has invited her to their party in the last 5 years.  So there were 15 kids (17 counting mine).  Everyone had a good time I think and it went smoothly.  All the kids were so kind and listened well.  Reece loves Belle from Beauty and the Beast so we decided to have a Beauty and the Beast party.  This turned out to be a great theme since both girls and boys came.  We had several sibling groups.  We transformed the basement/playroom into a dress up/ballroom/party room.  It worked out great although tight quarters.  It was nice not having to worry about pleasing adults at this party, but it will be at least 5 more years before we have another one like that.  Or at least, we'll have her just narrow down the invite list next time. 

Beauty and the Beast cupcakes
 The rose and party favors
 Close up
 The first thing we did at the party was make a craft.  The boys made these masks and the girls made tiaras.
 Then we took some pictures with our princess visitor that came. 
Back row left to right: Rylee, Maya, Princess Lauren, Elliott, Emmett, Lauren, Parker.
Middle Row left to right: Elizabeth, Kennedy, Jack, Hunter
Front row left to rigth: Bo, Baylee, Molly, Reece, Eliana, and Hayley.

 Beauty and the Beast cake pops for part of the favor...
 We watched a princess sing along, had cake, and then Reece opened some presents.  Since it was cold and rainy out, we did pin the crown on bell.  After that, it was free play until the parents came. 
 Reece wearing her new night gown and clip on earrings.  She really wants her ear pierced!!  She says "I'm 5 now!" 
 Brody is also enjoying Reecey's new things!  Jewelry from the Pretty, Pretty Princess game.  I will definitley be hanging on to this picture forever!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Organizing/Cleaning Issue 1

I was invited to speak at MOMs group last week on the topic of cleaning/organizing - Spring Spruce up for our Homes.  After talking with a lot of women on this topic, I discovered a lot of women struggle in this area - including me.  I am very passionate about helping other women and moms even when it's something I need help with also, but especially when it's been something I have struggled with in the past and have mostly overcome it.  God grows us in certain areas to be able to share things and help each other grow. 

I decided I am going to break down my "speech" into several sections and post about them in the next few weeks.  This may help us slowly get on track and out of the chaos that some of us are living in!

So over the next few weeks we are going to look at specifically ways to organize and clean our homes.  I am going to break these down into rooms of our houses and give examples and pictures of how I organize and clean each room.  We are also going to take peek into our hearts and see if we can spurce them up a little as well :)

I'll start off by saying that I am not a huge fan of spring cleaning.  In the past when I have done this, I have been overwhelmed with where and what to do.  And to top it all off, it's always so nice outside  during spring time, that I drop everything to just be outside with the kids.  I have cut way back on things that I consider to be "spring cleaning" and have added those into my regular cleaning/organizing plans.  There are a few things I still do around spring but I tend to do those things in January or February so that I can actually enjoy spring.

When many of you think of the Proverbs 31 woman, you don't really think of clean and organized, but the verse says she is virtuous and capable.  How do you think she got that way?  I looked into the word virtuous and found a couple of other words they used to describe it - 1) being potent and 2) being effective.  How many of us actually think that what we do in terms of keeping house is potent and effective?  3 years ago I would have laughed at that question.  Having a 6 month old and a 2 year old, I was very overwhelmed when it came to house work...this coming from someone who "plans" just about everything...yet I had no plan when it came to cleaning and organizing my home.  So at nap time, I began planning one.  This came about around the same time I started getting up before dawn to work out and have quiet time, so I was one busy lady.  I started making lists of everything in my house that needed to be cleaned or organized.  Then I made a chart or a schedule of what to clean when.  I was telling some of my friends about this when somneone said that the "Fly Lady" had already "invented" something like this if I didn't want to reinvent the wheel.  So I looked into her plan and started it right away.  As she says "You are never behind...jump in where you are".  I didn't agree with everything in her plan, but I did them anyway because I knew it was a place to start.  So for today's session, we will start there. 

First, I will say that there are probably two types of women when it comes to cleaning and organinzing.  There is the one kind of woman who looks around a room, agrees that there is a lot to be done (cleaning and organizing wise), but is completely overwhelmed with where to start and can't remember what she did last.  There is another sort of woman who just does all of it all the time - maybe even every day - and can not let go of their perfectionism which is driving them to also be overwhelmed for a very different reason.  They have too much to do...they are burnt out...they feel they can't get it all done in a day but do it anyway.  I mean, how many of you vacuum every single day?  When letting go of some of our perfectionism (speaking from experience) you'll find this is completely unnecessary and not really what God has called us to do.  You will rarely find a woman who has this in balance.   So when looking at this topic, lets try to let go of some of our perfectionism and remember the things that are really important.  Yes, we want order in our homes, but let's not be too obsessive, okay?  I love most of the Fly Lady's plans, but do I do them every day when and were she says?  No.  We have to let go, and be okay when we don't get to check something off our list! It will be okay...and some things matter more that day.  But it's a great place to get started and rolling and the more you do them, the more you'll find you can let go because so much will be in order and clean.  And honestly, you'll have more time in the long run for things other than cleaning and organizing.  It seems like a lot at first, but once you get past some of the hard work, it will really be worth it.  For my house, we are mainly done with our "chores" by 8:30 or 9 and ready to have fun the rest of the day for the most part.  Some days require more work than others but that's okay when you aren't getting burned out and having fun the other days. 

So...The Fly lady...who is she anyway?  Fly lady, like me, shares this idea of being clutter free and she has some excellent routines to help us stay on track.  She says that most of us are living in CHAOS – which means “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.”  Wouldn’t it be nice to always feel good about inviting someone over?  Not feeling like we can’t because our house is too messy…Fly lady can help.  Fly lady uses the “SHE” system – Sidetracked Home Executive…that’s you, sisters…as a basis for organizing her home and her life.  She adds humor, spunk, and a dose of common sense to her advice, but be prepared – FlyLady does not allow whining. She had a no-nonsense approach to getting your house and your life in order.  She mixes housekeeping advice with insights about life and love and anything else that is on her mind.  This list is whatever FlyLady decides it should be – its her list.  She expects subscribers to decide if they get anything out of it or not.  You can go to her website at www.flylady.net and sign up – it’s free.  You can go to her website and get what you need each day, or you can request to joining.  When joining (its free) she will send you emails each day with steps to a cleaner more organized house (the same stuff you can get on her site if you are disciplined to go there each day).  I’ll warn you…you’ll get about 15 emails a day, but you only really need to read the ones that say “Flight Plan”.  These Flight Plans are emails explaining one task or mission each day that takes about 15 minutes a day.  Even if I get nothing else done that day, I can always have 15 minutes to get that one task done.    So this is where I started 3 years ago. 

In the past few months, I have realized that I would still like to adapt Fly Lady's plan to make it my own.  I have felt things were left off her list or things were on it that I didn't need to do.  So I have made my own revised plan that I will be sharing over the next few weeks which include dated cleaning charts for each room.  But for today, I will leave you with her  routines/plans - daily, weekly, monthly...which you can also check out for youself on her site. 

When you start the program you will begin by first - shining your sink every night.  It sounds kind of crazy but as you start to do some of these things, it really starts to make sense.  She says shining your sink will lead you to clean other things in your kitchen because let's face it, we are women and we'll want the rest of the kitchen to match this shiny clean sink.  Also, each month she starts a new routine for you to add each day establishing a habit.  If you were to start this month, you would be making your bed every day.  While some of us just can't stand the thought of an unmade bed, others of us make our beds right before we get in them at night :) She recommends making your bed right when you get out of it so as to lessen the risk of you climbing back in.  Just a suggestion...but for me, once I am up, I am up and on to something else.  I usually make it a little later (which I'll talk about in another post).
Daily morning routine (pinned on my fridge in a sheet protector, marked off with dry erase marker - can use a cute picture frame because you can use dry erase markers on glass too)

~Get dressed to shoes including Hair/Face, brush teeth (she recommends a lace up shoe so that you are not tempted to take them off and sit back down)
~Make Bed
~Swish and Swipe (wiping down bathroom sink and toilet and quick scrub of toilet - no need to use cleaning products)
~Empty Dishwasher
~Reboot Laundry (a load a day keeps the CHAOS away)
~Check your calendar (where do you need to be today?)
~Check your control journal (a journal created by you to keep things under control - see her site to see how to create one)
~What's for Dinner? (take out freezer meal or think about what you are going to have and prepare accordingly)
~Drink your water
~Declutter something for 15 minutes
~15 minutes of loving movement (exercise)

Before Bed Routine
~Lay out clothes for tomorrow
~Check your calendar
~Put things needed for tomorrow at the Launch Pad (place you determine to put things that you need for the next day)
~Where are your keys?
~Spend two minutes clearing off a Hot Spot (a hot spot is a spot or spots in your home where you tend to pile or dump things.  Everyone's spot is going to be different but a common spot would be a kitchen counter, coffee table, or dinning table)
~Shine your sink
~Wash your face/brush teeth
~Go to bed at a decent hour (because you are getting up early!)

In addition to the daily morning and night routines she has 'day of the week' routines:
Weekly home blessing - spend one hour doing basic cleaning things for the week.  Her list is as follows:

~Vacuum (middles only)
~Quick dust
~Quick mop
~Polish mirrors/doors
~Purge magazines/catalogs
~Change sheets
~Empty all trash cans (we empty all our small ones - bathroom ones mainly) into the big ones until those are full)

Planning day - work on planning grocery lists, menu for next week

Anti-procrastination day - doing things that we put off (make doctor appointments, clean fish tanks, work on projects)

Errand day

Clean out car and purse

Family Fun Day


In addition to her weekly home blessing, she has you focus on one room a week to do a detailed cleaning.  So it appears that the weekly home blessing is not that much cleaning, but then you add in the detailed cleaning of one room to help with that.  It "feels" like this would mean your whole house wont be clean all at one time (which I know is a "problem" for you perfections out there), but after doing the program for almost 3 years I would disagree.  Once you catch up on the routines, essentially your whole house is ALWAYS clean...you just focus on the details of each room once a month - you are still doing the basic things in that room each week (vacuum, mop, dust, trash).  The zones are broken down like this: Zone 1 - Living room, entrance, dinning room. Zone 2 - Kitchen.  Zone 3 - Bathroom.  Zone 4 - Bedroom.   She'll often throw in an extra room like laundry, office, guest bedroom as well.  When we focus on the zones, those are the flight plan emails I was telling you about.  She'll give you a 15 minute task to do in each room (baseboards, walls, clean under furniture, etc).  We'll talk about each room in further posts. 

I think that is the basics for Fly Lady routines and for today's post. If you haven't heard me talk about this before, you might be overwhelmed...you still might be even if you have heard it before.  I would encourage you to check out Fly Lady's site and get started.  You have to start somewhere.  Let's face it, we can all walk into a room and find tons of thing that need cleaned or organized....the question is where do we start and what do we clean next?  That is what I will talk about in the next post.