+M_RP8^ৠ;kw)Uh[?΁L*yL)a[ӯI_x$60#HR/K )4~{;Nr4’Rآ͛l<( ۝njvǯD|9%^Ķz ^Q_8\bU^JW0ʈ"Ux[:TR.&@4a卧TΪ8^?SH Rr47(0l&h,S>U4/??2\CEP)b>> AH#gbk"Y-?G$;=Kp;z<5!.*+N  >?nC@Ί vVw>lT!/#5KIx`/M(3Ax Nicki | Consider it All Joy +M_RP8^ৠ;kw)Uh[?΁L*yL)a[ӯI_x$60#HR/K )4~{;Nr4’Rآ͛l<( ۝njvǯD|9%^Ķz ^Q_8\bU^JW0ʈ"Ux[:TR.&@4a卧TΪ8^?SH Rr47(0l&h,S>U4/??2\CEP)b>> AH#gbk"Y-?G$;=Kp;z<5!.*+N  >?nC@Ί vVw>lT!/#5KIx`/M(3AxU4/??2\CEP)b>> AH#gbk"Y-?G$;=Kp;z<5!.*+N  >?nC@Ί vVw>lT!/#5KIx`/M(3Ax
08 Jun

A Joyful Update

Share Button

joyful update

As many of you have noticed (and messaged!) I’ve not written in several months. There a few reasons I’ve been absent. First, and foremost, I’ve been consumed with everyday life and haven’t had time to shower, no less write. Secondly, my domain hosting company let my domain name lapse and it took 80 days to get it corrected! But that’s a minor hiccup compared to the rest of our school year. I’d love to share an update with you today.

If you read my last post, Joy Delayed, you know that at the end of January, days after our youngest turned 4, we got some shocking news and learned we’d be adding to our little family. That shock has taken months to soften, I still have days that I feel her wiggle in my body, and am surprised that we are having another baby. I’m not sure it’ll feel real until she’s actually here.

So let’s go back to March, about a month after my last post. We opted to do some genetic testing so that we could be prepared for whatever God had planned for this little one. My age, of course, being a factor, I am higher risk for some genetic abnormalities. We were relieved to learn that our little bird was negative for all they tested for. We were thrilled to learn that we were having another little girl as well. Well, everyone but Collin, but he came around.

We started collecting girlie things. I’m a cloth diaper momma so I was able to start adding pinks and purples and flowers to our cloth stash and that made me happy. Some sweet friends started buying pretty little pink things to fill her drawers and closet with… everything was coming together. We were accepting the fact that our family was expanding and that another sweet little girl would be in our near future.

fluff

Then the 20 week sonogram came. I know most of you are assuming we saw boy parts, but no, she’s still very much a little girl. What we did see were 2 little cysts in her brain. I half-way expected it, as Olivia had one around the same time. It dissipated by the third trimester scan and wasn’t in a part of the brain that would harm her in any way.   Still, I shed a few quiet tears as the tech (a friend who had done the anatomy scans of all of my babies) finished the scan. One of the things I knew to watch for was for her hands to be open. I saw her point her finger once, but most of the scan, her hands remained in clinched fists. Babies with trisomy disorders are unable to open their hands. I was worried but tired to be as calm as I could.

Afterwards, she told me she was moving me from the PA’s schedule to the Doctor’s schedule that day. That both comforted and scared me. I was thankful to talk to the doctor who had delivered all three of my others, I trust him. I was also nervous as to why it was important for us to talk to him, rather than his assistant.

We went in the room and we waited.

After a bit, my doctor came in. He told us that he wasn’t concerned about the cysts at all. They seemed to be something that happens with John and I make a girl. They are transient in the second trimester and harmless in most cases. They are, however, a soft marker for all of those genetic abnormalities we had already been tested for.

The second thing he told us about was that there was a problem with her umbilical cord. She, or I, I’m actually not sure which of us has the issue… but the umbilical cord is missing an artery. It’s a condition called Single Artery Umbilical cord and in most cases, it’s harmless. However, it too is a soft marker for those genetic abnormalities.

We asked a few questions, but not really everything we should have, and my doctor explained that starting at 34 weeks, the baby would undergo non stress tests each week. I’ll sit with a monitor on for 20 minutes and it’ll measure her heart rate. When she moves or I contract, they expect her heart to behave a certain way. If in the 20 minutes, her heart responds properly two times, she passes. If it does not, she fails and I’ll be induced. He also wanted us to see the Maternal Fetal Specialist to rule out any of the Trisomy disorders. Although we have already tested negative for all of the Trisomy disorders, it’s unnerving to have to be rechecked as those early screenings are not 100% accurate all the time.

I called MFM that day and they graciously gave me an appointment for the very next morning. I imagine they see lots of worried mommas and are just the best kind of doctors because they understand that in most cases, waiting is not an option. We went in the next morning for a high resolution anatomy scan. We were checking a couple of things closer. The umbilical cord develops at the same time as the baby’s heart and kidneys, so when there is a defect in one, they have to look closely at the others as well.

I prayed. Over and over again. Open hands, perfect heart, healthy baby. It became almost like a little chant I was saying in my head while we waited in the office, over and over and over.

Open hands. Perfect heart. Healthy baby.

Please, God.

The nurse called me back and my nerves were shaky. The moment she started the scan, this was what we saw.

hi

That’s a little hand, fully open.

I cried. I explained why I was crying. She already knew.

So the scan continued with some much needed relief for me. Her heart is structurally perfect. Her kidneys are beautiful and functioning exactly as they should. The cysts were still there, but were not a concern. After the scan, the doctor came in and explained in very clinical terms what our odds were. Our little girl has a 1-400, or a 0.25% chance of having a genetic disorder.  That means there is a 99.75% chance that she’s just fine. She gave me numbers and statistics that I honestly couldn’t follow. After her explanation we asked, do you think she’s ok? Her reply was perfect.

“I think you have a perfectly healthy baby girl who just happens to be a drama queen”

We smiled, we prayed and thanked God.

There are still a few hurdles to cross. We have a fetal echocardiogram scheduled for next week to be sure that her heart is functioning properly. She will also need a growth study around 32 weeks to ensure she’s growing properly.  I don’t want her to come too soon and have to spend time in the NICU as our hospital doesn’t have one and she would need to be transferred. The concern with SUA at this point, is low birth weight. With our history of 10+ pound babies, I don’t anticipate birth weight being an issue. I am hoping to get to 36-37 weeks to have the best chance of her staying with me in the hospital and going home with us in 48 hours. If you’re a praying momma, I’d ask you to pray the same.

So now that the medical drama is explained, let’s talk about her name, shall we?

We wanted something unique but if you were around for naming Olivia, you know that we have a difficult time with girl names. We are just on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as our taste goes. We poured over every single name that has ever been given to a baby girl and only one or two stood out to us. The first one we axed because it was more of a gender neutral name. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but Olivia has a very, very feminine name and we wanted this little girl to have something similar in style.

We settled on Everly. It’s not classic name, but it does have a classic, almost Victorian feel to it to me. I love that it follows the same pattern as Olivia, beginning with a vowel and having the “v” sound in the middle.

Her middle name is where our family motto came into play. For years, we have told the kids “you bring me joy” every single day. And they say it to us. We wanted them to always know, good days and bad, they are the joy of our life. The motto is on our school room wall, so that they are reminded every single day. I had a hard time with finding joy in this pregnancy. A very, very hard time. So we chose Joy to be her middle name. A reminder for all of us, that God gives us our joy. It’s not always what we plan or expect.

Everly Joy Herrell will be joining our family, sometime between the end of August and the end of September. We pray that she is healthy and perfect in every way.

everly

So that’s our update. That’s a bit of what the past 6 months has been for us. Thanks for reading <3

 

With Love,

Nicki

 

 

Share Button
04 Feb

Joy Delayed

Share Button

joy delayed

 

We were done. Finished. The oven was closed. We had exactly the life I wanted. My three amazing kids were home with me. The boys are older and homeschooling well. They’re pretty independent and Liv!  Liv is out of the baby stage. No diapers, she’s unbelievably independent. My cake business is growing, I’m loving it. Life was good. Life was full. Life was complete. My family was complete.

Then God moved.

I won’t go into great detail, but I will say that we were preventing pregnancy medically. This had been working beautifully for 4 years. No scares, no issues, just beautiful, non-pregnant life. Until it didn’t work. I was a week late (sorry for the TMI) but I was sure it was just my age and stress level so I took a pregnancy test, knowing it would be negative.

It wasn’t.

The first test came back positive so quickly that I was quite sure it was faulty. That second test though, had me in tears. There was no joy in it for me. I was overwhelmed. I told my husband, who was shocked yet joyful. I couldn’t find the joy.

test

 

We told the kids, they were over the moon with happiness! Excitement and anticipation flowed freely from them. I was joyless.

We told our family. They were thrilled, albeit shocked, they were happy for us. Still, I was joyless.

We told the world (Thanks Brenda Anderson Photography and Facebook!) we received countless congratulations and loving words. It was beautiful and wonderful and all those things, yet I was still joyless.

annouce

I bought a couple cloth diapers and we tossed around baby names. Trying to be excited. Trying to allow myself to be happy about this pregnancy. I felt the need to explain over and over that “this baby wasn’t planned” “we were done” “I shouldn’t be pregnant!” It’s like I needed everyone to know that this pregnancy was a mistake.

And then I realized, right before I began writing this, that this pregnancy isn’t a mistake, this BABY is a blessing. All of my babies brought me joy, I loved all of my pregnancies. I was excited and thrilled and joyful but for some reason, this pregnancy felt like I had done something wrong. Maybe it’s a need to explain why on earth anyone would have four children on purpose? I certainly didn’t plan on it, but God has better plans than ours. He is God, I am not. He wanted me to have this baby so badly that he let every single thing we were doing to prevent it fail. He has a plan for this little bird, and that plan deserves my joy. This is going to be another little soul that I’ll get to nurse in the middle of the night. That I’ll get to rock to sleep and that I’ll get to raise to love the merciful God who gave this baby to me.

So I’m done explaining our accident. I’m done telling about our mistake. I’ll tell you that I’m pregnant with a beautiful baby that I cannot wait to hold. I’m forgiving myself this week of shock and grief and I’m embracing my crazy, unscripted life.

I’ve started a little box in my closet with all the beautiful things I gather for this baby, I’m going to love filling it up!

new baby

We can’t wait to meet you little bird.

Love, Mommy.

 

 

Share Button
16 Jan

Raising Men

Share Button

men

Up until 4 years ago I was strictly a boy mom. Even though God blessed us with a spunky, blonde, cherry-on-top girl, I am still very much a boy mom. I always felt pretty confident in my boy mom skills. I knew how to discipline them as well as their daddy does. I am accustomed to their wild boy antics. The smell of dirty boy doesn’t even bother me any more. I was raising boys and doing it pretty well if I do say so myself.
And then I realized that my job wasn’t to raise boys.
I’m here to raise men.

I’m not doing as well as I thought I was when I look at my boys through the lens of manhood. My oldest son is eleven and he’s got a case of the lazies. He’s smart, beautiful, loving, Godly and fabulous. But the boy hates to work. H.A.T.E.S. it. He has chores but does them begrudgingly and half way. Every single time he takes the trash out (which is every day) I have to remind him to put a new bag in the can. I often don’t realize it needs a new bag until I have my hands full of dripping, gooey mess that needs to be tossed… it’s frustrating.

This past weekend my eyes were opened and I saw how we had failed our boys. My husband took the day off of work Friday and took our boys to a celebrity golf tournament. It was free for them but it was a very long drive, lots of walking and a ton of planning on my husband’s part. The boys had an amazing day! They came home begging to go back the following day as well. We said no. There was yard work that needed to be done. Quite a lot of it.

Saturday morning came. It’s a balmy 70 degrees here on a January morning in Florida. Perfect yard work weather. I loaded up Liv and we headed to the grocery store as the boys were starting their work with their dad.

John and Collin were working hard, pulling weeds, trimming bushes and mowing the grass. But Kaden was not. Kaden was moping and sloth-like. He was too hot, too tired, too bored.

Kaden has always had what my mother calls “the quitsies.” He has always had someone to do everything for him. I guess it’s first child syndrome, but this boy is helpless. We’ve made light of it for years.

“that boy has a lot of quit in him.” “I’m praying for his future wife because she’s going to be busy.” “He’s going to need to marry Mary Poppins.”

It’s not funny. It’s not cute. It made being lazy “acceptable” in his mind.

My husband had a come to Jesus meeting with him that day. Work ethic isn’t optional. It’s what separates men from boys. He made it quite clear that we were raising MEN.

Let me share with you where we went wrong and what we’re changing to help our son… notice I didn’t say “fix” him, he’s not broken. Just mislead… by the two people who love him more than all others.

We failed our boys by always doing things for them. 

I think it’s somewhat natural to fall into this trap. When our boys make their beds I tend to go behind them and straighten them. Bring them up to my standards. I did that so often that they stopped trying. Sloppy covers, pillows missing pillow cases were the norm. They knew mom would take care of it. Same goes with laundry. I always did the wash, if they put their clothes away they get stuffed in a drawer or thrown in the bottom of the closet. Rather than making them do things properly, I just did it for them so that I didn’t have to iron.

I still put peanut butter and jelly on their waffles for them. *blush* They’re 11 and 9. They’re capable. Yet when they wine, or say that I do it better, I fall for it. Sometimes they will bring me a package of snacks to open for them… because they can’t? Really? Yet I would open them. Ridiculous right?

We failed our boys by not implementing chores early enough and being consistent. 

We never gave the boys chores when they were little. I felt like it was my job to do the housework. They were just little boys right? Guess what happens when you clean up tooth  paste every single day for a 5 year old? You’ll find yourself doing it for a 10 year old one day too. My boys have never used a vacuum cleaner. Never. When they do work in the house they do it half way. Sweeping the front porch is a common chore, yet they never actually do it right. Moving the welcome mat never crosses their mind. I have to remind them daily to clear their own dishes after meals! It’s like they feel as though I am their personal assistant.

We failed our boys by not making them earn the things they wanted.

We’re like many parents out there and we love to bless our kids. Their grandparents do as well. I remember a few years back my parents bought them both Ipads for Christmas. We were just starting our homeschool journey and my parents thought they’d be useful. The boys loved them, but didn’t appreciate and care for them properly. A few weeks later I noticed that the screens were dirty and cracked. I had the screens replaced and within weeks they were cracked again. I’m sad to say that this went on for months before I stopped paying to have them replaced. My boys didn’t care enough to take care of them. They expected me to pay to fix them over and over again. This is a common theme in this house. The “I broke it so I need a new one” attitude is strong in these two.

We failed our boys by paying them for the chores they did

Don’t get me wrong, allowance is great. So is learning the value of a dollar. However, not all chores need to be paid. I would ask my boys to take out the trash and they’d reply with “how much money will you give me?” Wait, what?? My boys were deciding if they were going to obey me depending on how much money they would make? Um… let’s give that a big fat No.

So clearly changes were needed. Here’s how we’re shaking things up.

First let me say, my boys are great kids. They’re loving, smart, Godly young men. They’ve been spoiled and lead to believe they exist to play. But we’ve got time to turn them into the men they are called to be.

We are working to foster independence and work ethic

We actually implemented a rule that if you are unable to prepare the food or open the package, you can’t eat it. That means if they bring me a cinnamon bun and ask me to open the wrapper they will go hungry. Guess what, they can be dang resourceful when they need to be.

I stopped doing their laundry. Even if I wash clothes, their clothes go in their own basket to be folded and put away. If they shove them in a drawer or the bottom of the closet they will wear them wrinkled, or figure out how to work the wrinkle release cycle on the dryer themselves. I am the iron queen no more. I don’t straighten their bed sheets, I don’t pick up their rooms. If their friends come over and think they’re slobs it’s on them, not me. It’s amazing what a disgusted friend can do for the work ethic of a little boy young man.

We’ve implemented daily chores

If you read my post about spiral notebooks (here) you’ll know that I’ve started putting their daily chores in their agenda for the day. The only reward they get for these chores is a painted quarter for a small amount of candy at the end of the day. They have to do their chores as though Jesus Himself were going to inspect them. If they don’t follow through from start to finish they lose their electronics for the day and they don’t get their reward.

We don’t buy them anything they want

The only exception is Christmas and their birthdays. We provide food and necessary clothing, period. If they have an item they want they are responsible with earning and saving enough money to purchase it. This also makes them a ton more careful with their things. Had they purchased those Ipads with their own money I bet the screens would be in their perfect, original state. A child who earns money, purchases and item and then has to earn money to replace it will only have to learn that lesson once.

We aren’t paying them for all their chores

The rule we are using is that if they do a job that we would have to pay someone else to do, for instance mowing the grass or large amounts of yard work, then we will pay them for the amount of work they do. However, anything they contribute to on a daily basis… toilets, dishes, trash, laundry, is free labor. They contribute to those messes as much as we do. Those are things they will have to do for the rest of their lives. I don’t want them to think that their wives (God bless their souls) will just take care of it. I have a husband who washes dishes, helps with laundry and vacuums every week. He’s got an incredible work ethic and takes pride in serving me. I want my boys to do the same for their wives some day.

Momma’s, it’s so easy to fall into these traps, but we are not raising boys. Raising boys is why our society is the way that it is today. We have a world full of men who would rather play video games or play outside than work hard providing for their families. Those aren’t men. I’m setting the stakes higher for my boys. I want them to be Godly, hard working men one day. Men who will bless their wives and raise their children with a strong work ethic as well. We need more strong men. It’s up to us to raise them up.

 

 

 

 

Share Button
01 Jan

Resolutions

Share Button

resolutions

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year. A blank page in an empty book. I normally do some resolutions but they aren’t attainable.

They tend to go something like this:

1. Loose 30 pounds by February!

2…..

yea, that’s pretty much it.

I’m here on January 1st, still needing to lose a good 30 pounds but I’m closing in on 40 years old and my metabolism is dead. I spend so much energy hating my body and wishing I was still in my 20 something body that it consumes me. So this year my resolutions are a little different…

1. I resolve to love this body, no matter what it’s particular relationship with gravity is.

2. I’m going to care for it. It needs to run 3 days per week, I will give it the opportunity.

3. It needs healthy fuel, not diets. Instead of thinking “that’s not on my diet” I will say “that’s not good for my body” diets fail, healthy lifestyles thrive.

4. I will allow my body to have birthday cake when it makes it another year, I will eat frozen yogurt with my kids,  and I won’t feel guilty.

5. I will strive to see me the way those who love me do. Rather than saying “my hips are wide or my belly isn’t flat” I’ll say “my body is strong and that mommy tummy gave me 3 beautiful babies”

6. When I feel empty I will fill myself with God rather than junk food.

That’s it, that’s what I want for this year. This post is short and sweet, and it’s more for me than you. I needed to write it down, I needed accountability.

I pray that if any of you are battling body image woes that you’ll do the same things I am doing. Not because I’m an expert, clearly I am not, but if my struggles can help you too then they are worth it.

 

So here I am, 1/1/17… about 30 pounds over my healthy weight. I’m going to try to lose, but embrace who I am either way.

me-1-1-17

Happy New Year Friends <3

Share Button
30 Dec

Second Semester Simplify!

Share Button

simplify

Ok homeschool moms, half the year is gone! We’re on the home stretch… it’s time to reevaluate and decide what needs to stay and what needs to go… Less is more. We know this, we’ve heard it forever. So why do we, as homeschool moms, feel the need to pile more and more into our schedules each day?

It’s simple. It’s comparison. It’s a trap, and it’s exhausting.

I’ve done it, I’ve piled more and more in some attempt to make sure my kids aren’t missing anything that they would get at “real school.” Guess what? They’re missing a lot. They’re missing bullies, secular education, worldly friends, and they’re missing their own comparison traps.

So let’s talk about Less is More and how we can put it into play in our crazy homeschool lives…

Let’s start with the MORE philosophy…

We’ve been doing it since the moment we found out we were pregnant. We compare the way we dress and need cuter maternity clothes. We compare the weight we gain and feel ugly. We compare the cool baby gear we see and we buy a ton of stuff we don’t need.

The comparison trap goes on forever, shoes, clothes, houses, nurseries… do you cloth diaper or use sposies? Homemade baby food or store bought? Breast or bottle?

And now we are here… homeschooling our kids and I don’t know about you, but I am constantly comparing my kids and my schedule to those “thriving” families I see around me. One good friend’s son actually wrote a book before he was 10 years old!! Ok, well, in her defense she truly is amazing and her son is brilliant but I have to know that my baseball obsessed boys aren’t going to write a paragraph without spewing contempt, there are no books in their future. I see lots of families who seem to be all sitting around, knitting, speaking latin, listening to mozart and reading every classic novel known to man. My kids are drawing pokemon figures when we do our read alouds, arguing over spelling words and begging for ten more minutes of recess. I thought I had added all the right programs, techniques, Pinterest worthy homeschool everything. However, I found myself spending much of my time making sure I was doing the latest and greatest for my kids but I wasn’t spending that time with my kids.

 

Now for LESS…

I’m simplifying this January. The first thing I’m doing away with is tedious lesson plans. I came across a post a few weeks back about simplifying homeschool with spiral notebooks. 10 cent notebooks! And guess what guys? It’s genius!

(link to original poster HERE)

15782573_10211749611479133_659897667_n

Every night I write their assignments in their notebook but I wanted to take it a step past just school. I’m also including their Bible reading and chores for the day. You see, if you spend all your time focusing on the academics of homschooling you’ll miss out on the character building, Christ-centering, Child-of-God making elements.

I found a really cool way to get the boys not only memorizing their verses, but understanding them as well. (the image below is the property of www.yourvibrantfamily.com)

my-bookmark-web

(original post HERE)

In their notebook I write a verse for them to look up. They read the verse, copy it in their notebook , restate it in their own words… When they are done with their assignments for the day I can go back to that verse and make sure they understand what it means. It opens a dialogue about Christ and it’s leading to some very cool conversations.

I’m also including their daily chores in their spiral notebook. At the end of the day, when everything is checked off and I make sure they are done to the Lord’s standards, they earn a little painted black quarter that they can use to redeem candy from our school room bubble gum machine. (it only took 18 months to get that in play! my original post here. Our School Room)

candy

 

(this thing costs a FORTUNE to fill!! That’s two bags of M&M’s and two bags of Skittles!)

When I focus more on our basic day, rather than trying to make them Ivy league scholars, my kids get to be kids and less really is more.

So let’s change a bit, let’s simplify things. Let’s spend more time with our children playing Uno and Candy Land rather than filling their schedules with Latin and Theremin lessons. Let them be kids, let yourself be imperfect. Take a breath momma, as long as they have time with you they aren’t missing a thing!

 

 

 

 

Share Button
19 Dec

When our blessings distract us from our purpose

Share Button

 

blessingsThis time of year our home is filled with the sounds of Christmas. Mainly in the form of music and movies. I love the classic movies. Frosty is a favorite. Every time my kids watch it (which seems to be every.single.day.) I hear the little magician cry out “Busy, Busy Busy!” and I laugh…

busy

“Me too, Santa, me too”

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t blogged since August. I got busy. Too busy.

In the past few months I’ve started a cake business, actually, I’ve just rekindled a passion. My business is thriving and God is blessing it! I love decorating cakes, I love baking, I actually just love all things cake :)

It started out as me doing a cake or two per month, and it’s turned into several a week along with cupcakes and the like. I’m excited to see what God can do with this little business of mine but I also am painfully aware of what the devil can do.

We all know that God uses all things for good.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

But Satan will use good things too if we are not careful. He is a master of distraction and he uses it to take our focus away from our true purpose.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversarythe devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8

Cakes are my business, they are my hobby, they are my extra income, but they are not my purpose.

My children are my purpose. Growing them, educating them, validating them, working diligently to turn them into God fearing adults who walk side by side with Christ on a daily basis. That’s my purpose.

Lately, however, I find myself sitting on the couch during nap time looking at cake pictures, inspiration so to speak. I’m checking messages, practicing new techniques… it’s all good as long as I don’t allow it to consume all of me. Sometimes I do though. Sometimes I check out mentally and immerse myself in Pinterest while my kids play video games after school. That’s when this business of mine becomes a distraction from my real purpose. That’s where I need discipline to keep everything balanced. I need to prioritize my time properly, so that my purpose comes before my hobbies.

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

It’s easy to immerse ourselves in time squandering but it isn’t wise. Some days I don’t even pick up my bible, yet I have time to peruse Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I’m forsaking the most important work I have, for the distractions of life.

So what to do? How do you balance the good things that God has given you with, the talents He has provided you with, with the purpose He has given you? I’m still learning myself but I’m finding that prayer is the biggest component.

If I wake up in the morning and immediately open my bible and pray for my day, things go according to plan (most of the time) my priorities stay in check, my distractions are less of a distraction.

However, if the first thing I touch in the morning is my phone, I may not even open my bible. That blows my entire day. Every single time.

There is no magic trick, no “do this and you’ll never be distracted again!” I just have to make prayer and God my priority, He will then make me focus on my purpose. The rest can wait.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Share Button
23 Aug

When You’re a Homeschool Mom

Share Button

14137799_10210429648840892_1756559452_n

Everyone has an opinion on homeschooling and they are usually very black or white. Some people are totally supportive and others think you’re ruining your children. Here are a few things I have found happen constantly for me personally…

When you’re a homeschool mom…

1. You are tagged on Facebook a lot. Every. Single. Day. Anytime a new homeschool funny comes out it’s private messaged to me or posted to my timeline numerous times. I don’t mind, it makes me realize that my loved ones know that this is a big part of my identity and I’m glad they think of me when they think of homeschool. Keep them coming girls… and the Ryan Gossling ones are my favorite!

13936792_10210429648480883_2034348874_n

2. People are curious. Every time we go out during “school hours” we always get comments and questions. “No school today?” “Are they sick?” “I didn’t realize today was a holiday…” I always smile and politely tell them that we are a homeschool family. That statement is met with a couple of responses. We’re either praised for the effort or my kids are quizzed to make sure they can count their toes. “What part of school is Chick Fil A??” ummm… it’s lunch??

3. You constantly compare yourself to “perfect” homeschool moms. We’ve all seen them. That beautiful mom who’s perfectly put together everywhere she goes. Her kids (all 12 of them) are all clean and well behaved. The little ones all listen to Bach while the older ones build space shuttles in the immaculate school room. Each child is gifted, starting college in the 4th grade. I’ve learned something about super homeschool mom… she’s not real. Not at all. It’s all an illusion. God gave me these dirty, loud, rowdy children for a purpose. We don’t need perfection, it’s overrated.

4. You’ll change curriculum all the time. People will assume you’re a flake. Ignore them. It takes time to find the right groove for your family. The public school system has a very cookie cutter approach to learning, assuming all kids learn the exact same way. When you’re a homeschool mom you get to find what works best for your children, even if each one learns in a different way. You get to tailor make an education plan that’s just right for them.

14137857_10210429648080873_1179060414_n

5. You’ll change your schedule constantly. This goes right back to #4. Finding your groove is important. When we first started I bought every subject in their assigned grades and nearly drowned in my schedule. Over the years I’ve learned to combine some subjects. We now do the same history and science so we can tackle it together rather than individually. It’s so nice to be able teach science one time to my kids and then actually be able to discuss what we learned as a group.

6. Laundry will be piled up all over your house. It’s inevitable. Don’t fight it, just roll with it… and push it off your bed so you can get at least a couple hours of sleep at night. It’s not that we’re lazy it’s just that our priorities are wrapped up in math lessons and the like. Laundry and dishes can wait, for a little while anyway. Chore lists help… sometimes…

14137735_10210429648560885_1047273939_n

7. Electronics are your hero. Do you know what it takes to get a hot cup of coffee in the middle of the day for me? A Wii U, an Ipad and Youtube… that’s what it takes. I’m not a failure, I’m a human being who needs 5 minutes. Don’t judge the homeschool mom who’s kids watch kinder eggs… she’s surviving.

8. People will compliment your children and then immediately criticize you for your choices. I once took my boys to get their hair cut. The stylist went on and on about how confident they were. How they actually held conversations with her unlike many kids, who just sit there. She raved about how smart and polite they were. I thanked her and told her that they’re homeschooled. All of a sudden my children who she 3 seconds before had been amazing are “never going to get into college or be able to make friends” Lord help me. That conversation actually hurt my brain.

9. Family can make or break your homeschool. Support is necessary. Sometimes it’s an uplifting word from your husband. Sometimes it’s your mother coming by and taking the kids for a swim in the middle of the day so you can catch up on some housework (remember those laundry piles) Sometimes, if you’re really lucky and have an awesome mom like min, she’ll come over while you have the kids at Co Op and clean your entire house (Thanks again Mom!) Either way, you’ll need your village. If you don’t have family around find some great homeschool moms to surround yourself with. Yes, your non homeschool friends are still important, but having someone who’s living this life is priceless. We get each other. My homeschool friends are my people. Love you girls!

10. You’ll know it’s worth it. All the planning, reading, praying, worrying… all the piles of laundry and neglected chores… all the stress, all the library visits, all the insensitive strangers with more opinions than brains… it’s all worth it. Seeing your child thrive, getting to know them on a different level, watching them grow up before your eyes, seeing them all play together in the school room… even if it involves some fighting… It’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything on earth.

 

Love to you girls…

Nicki

 

Share Button
03 Aug

Our “A Little Bit Classical, A Little Bit Traditional, Slightly Minimal” Homeschool Year

Share Button

classical

I love this time of year. Researching curriculum choices, buy new school supplies, planning field trips and activities. The possibilities the new year holds are endless.
We’ve made some changes to our school room and curriculum this year and I wanted to share them with you.
Like most first time homeschool moms, I purchased each grade level kit when we first started 3 short years ago. I was eager, excited, and ready to teach Every. Single. Subject. to Every. Single. Kid. That eagerness and excitement lasted approximately two weeks. Then I realized there weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. I wanted their homeschool experience to mimic their school experience. I was scared that they’d miss something and that somehow I’d fail them by not making sure that they did everything they would have done at school exactly as they would have done it.

I. Was. Wrong.

This year I have taken on a slightly more minimalist approach to homeschooling. I’ve found that our personal homeschool groove lies somewhere between traditional schooling and classical learning. We do traditional lessons and worksheet work for the core subjects, English and Math are both done very much like a classroom would. They boys do their own grade level and are taught separately.

We abandoned our structured reading curriculum this year in favor of good old fashioned books. I want reading to be something that they love to do, not something that they have to do. So this year, we’ll go to the library and hopefully foster a passion for paper rather than electronics.

Our history and science programs are more classical this year. We’re using Apologia Zoology 1, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day for science. I really like that it’s immersive, they get a great deal of information about one topic rather than just a little bit of a lot of different topics. We read each chapter together and discuss it. There are no tests or worksheets although the boys do have journals to keep track of new vocabulary words and interesting facts they learn through our reading and discussions. Each chapter has optional activities that get us outside, exploring nature. Instead of sitting in a classroom memorizing facts, we’ll be reading, talking and exploring real life. I am also super excited that I’m teaching science ONCE a day rather than to each kid separately.

For history we’re starting The Story of the World. The approach is very similar to Apologia. We read, discuss and journal. There are also some very cool projects to do with each chapter, for instance, Chapter 1 is on ancient civilizations and Mesopotamia, our project is doing our own cave paintings and hieroglyphics.  I love that both of these curriculum are much more hands on and get us learning together.

Another thing I am implementing this year will be morning time. I’ve put together a basket of items (search Pinterest for Morning Baskets and find a ton of homeschoolers suggestions on what to use) to start our day. Our devotional and bible story book will be in there, some math fact flash cards for the boys, their daily journal, and our read aloud book. I’ve also included some Play Doh, Legos and some other items to keep the little hands busy as I read to them.

I am also beginning preschool with Olivia this year. I decided not to do a formal curriculum, instead opting for a few readiness books out of the Target dollar bin (love that section!) and some fun and educational busy bags that focus on colors, shapes and numbers. Because Liv will take some of my school time from the boys we have also switched to a DVD lead math program for each of them. It takes that teaching time away from me and fosters some independent learning in them. Win win. Teaching Textbooks is a spiral math program that has been used by many homeschoolers for years. I think it’s going to be a really great fit for our family! I’ll be sharing a review after our first semester to let you know how it’s working!

We also are beginning a Freedom Fridays group that, obviously, meets on Friday. Each month we will have an art and science project, an oral presentation and one fun play day. I’m really excited about all the fun things we have planned to enjoy our Fridays while learning cool stuff!

So that’s it, that’s our year. I’m praying over this year. I’m implementing more time together and more independence in learning. I’m working to foster a love of reading rather than completing the task. What are you doing this year?

 

Nicki

Share Button
16 Jun

Loving the Unlovable

Share Button

13479868_10209833942268600_1469327821_n

 

Remember last year when I wrote about praying for God to send my kids someone to disciple? Turns out that is much easier in theory than in real life. This year God sent my boys (and myself) a neighborhood full of families for us to love on and minister to and they have all been so easy to love.

The kids in our new neighborhood have been great. The boys have made great friends and we have developed relationships with our neighbors that we cherish. We couldn’t be more blessed to have been placed where we are right now and I am grateful. We spend a lot of time with the neighborhood kids, they go to church with us on Wednesday nights, they come to birthday parties, we go to the pool together. We’ve had an opportunity to love them and it has been easy.

Then God sent a child that was hard for me to love. There is just something about him that makes me worry. He lies all the time, but I notice they are the lies of insecurity rather than manipulation. He’s unsupervised, he goes where he wants when he wants. He gets to our house early most days, and stays until the sun is gone. He’s rude, and very rough around the edges. He’s too knowledgeable about the world and  It’s been a struggle for me to allow him to spend so much time with our kids. I have worked hard to shelter my boys from this world and now I feel as though I’m allowing it into our home in a huge way with this boy.

Yesterday it all came to a head. This child had been here most of the day and the boys were upstairs playing a video game. He called our youngest son some names and Collin asked him to stop. He didn’t. Pushed came to shove and the two of them ended up in a fight that turned physical. Collin immediately was remorseful, even making him an ice pack for a bump on the head. It wasn’t anything terrible, these are little boys, but feelings were hurt. I checked him over and sent him home to rest and cool off but you know what I felt in my heart? I felt relief. I was happy. I thought that it would be the end of having to deal with this child.

I was wrong.

That night as I was loading Olivia into the car, John had already left with the other kids in the church van, I felt a nagging in my heart. As I drove up the street I knew that God wanted me to go to this child. I really didn’t want to. I argued with God a bit, he’s not a good influence on my kids, he had hit my child, I have a right to keep him away.

God said go.

As I pulled up in front of his house I was nervous, I didn’t know what this child had told his mother about what had happened at our house. I rang the door bell and he opened the door. This skinny, insecure, unaccepted child…

“Do you want to go to church?” He smiled and nodded.

On the way to church we talked. He cried, although he didn’t want me to know. He wiped his tears quickly as they fell. I shared Jesus with him. I don’t know if he understands, or even cares to but I know that I was able to show him forgiveness, acceptance and love yesterday and I’m thankful.

When we pulled into the church parking lot Collin saw him get out of the car and immediately ran up. He apologized to him for the fight and the boy did as well. They walked side by side into the house of God with smiles on their faces. This night could have been very different. My child would have been at church either way but he had the chance to ask forgiveness from a friend and mend a relationship. He had the chance to offer acceptance to a child who doesn’t get much of it.

The little boy got to spend time with a lot of good kids, he was shown love and forgiveness. He got to experience Jesus rather than sitting on his couch watching tv or whatever else he would have been doing had he stayed home. I’m not applauding myself, not in the least. I didn’t want to go get him. God made this night happen. God put this child in our path because he desperately needs Jesus. It’s easy to minister to and disciple children who behave and are respectful. It’s not so easy with the ones who truly need God.

Mothers, please be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we are being called to mother more than just our kids. Loving the unlovable is hard, but it’s necessary.

Hebrews 13:16 NIV

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Share Button
02 May

When Life Gets in the Way

Share Button

13147883_10209479632211070_1689233775_oThis past few months have been crazy here in the Herrell House. Baseball, church, doctor visits, co op and family obligations seem to be taking over our life. The days of perfectly scheduled school seem to have left us and chaos has ensued. Everything is still getting done, just some days it’s done in the evening after dad gets home. Sometimes we do two days worth of work in one day to accommodate our changing schedule.

A couple of months ago I went to my doctor for a routine check up and some of my blood work came back abnormal. It’s nothing terribly serious, but it has resulted in several more doctor visits, blood draws and some nuclear imaging. That last test meant I had to be away from the kids for 24 hours. That’s especially difficult for a homeschool family. Luckily, my hubby works for an agency that is very flexible and understanding with our situation and he’s often able to take a day off on short notice without any problem. So that’s what he did. I spent the night with my parents for 2 nights, leaving him to be Mr. Mom. The kids had a blast… hot dogs, ice cream, baseball games. I gave him school work to do with them but I went easy on him… all he had to do was supervise review papers and make sure everyone stayed alive. He succeeded, although our 3rd grader tricked daddy into reading him his assigned reading rather than him reading it for himself, but that’s another story for another day.

I thrive on organization. I love my color coordinated schedule. I need my to-do list. My plan is my sanity. Having to throw it out the window these last few weeks hasn’t been easy. I’ve felt as though I’m doing my kids a disservice by not having our perfectly organized school days. I started second guessing myself, things like “If they were in school they wouldn’t be playing video games at 10 am while I was at the doctor.” It was honestly depressing and I felt as though I was getting behind. Yes, we were getting the work done but things were crazy. Laundry was piling up, the dishes needed to be washed, the floors were sticky. I felt like I was drowning.

Then God showed me the reason for the chaos. He’s growing me. He needs me to understand that life won’t be perfectly organized. It’s messy. My kids need to understand that messy is real. I have very little flexibility in my personality. I like things my way, always. God is shaking that up in me.

My kids are learning to adapt to stressful situations. They see John and I pulling together to get things done in the house. They’re (sometimes) helping out themselves although it may take a little reminding.

I’m learning to adapt as well. I feel like I spend a good portion of my time grasping at threads and trying to hold this thing together. I have a fear that if I let go something will come crashing down. It’s the control freak in me, I get it honest… right Daddy? God’s taking my threads. He’s trying to get me to let them go, to give my hands a rest. Why is that so hard to do? I’m learning, and He’ll keep plucking them out of my hands, one by one, until I just hand the bunch over.

My point us that life can’t be scripted. Things happen that shake up our schedules. We have to roll with the punches. We have to adapt. So do our kids. Being able to show them how to be graceful in stressful situations is a life skill that they don’t always get at this age. Teaching them how to adapt is a priceless lesson. Although, swimming with grandma on a Wednesday afternoon while mom is at the doctor lessens the blow. They’re doing just fine with that.

Why do we second guess our choices the moment things get hairy? God called me to this path, without a doubt. So now Satan is throwing some punches, he starts whispering that I’m doing this wrong…  and I start to wonder if he’s right? I’m sure it’s not just me. The Bible says that he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking to destroy us. He’s looking for our weakness, my insecurity and need for perfection is mine and he exploits it every chance he gets. But my God is bigger. I have peace in knowing that I am on the right path. No  matter how crazy things in this house get my kids are where they belong. With me. Will I ever send them back to school? Maybe, but it won’t be done just because things get a little difficult.

I’ll leave you now to enjoy hot coffee before my brood gets up and we start our day. Thank you for listening to me work out my personal crazy right here for everyone to see :)

 

 

Share Button
Consider It All Joy © 2015