Homeschool Conference!!!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nature Backpack...take 2

Okay...just have to report back that our outing to the MK Nature Center was FANTASTIC!!!

BUT I forgot to mention a couple of goodies that you MUST add to your backpack.

Grab some baggies (ya know the ziplock type) probably do a few of various sizes.
They are PERFECT for all the little treasures your kiddos will wish to take home.
Acorns were a big hit for us this outing...and Leaves, leaves are ALWAYS big for my kids.
We didn't keep any bugs, we just took pictures...let me tell ya, those ladybugs are fast little buggers!  But we got it...and here's the proof.  ;) 



















And
another one that I forgot to tell you about that I love is our
Magnifying glass ~ these can provide hours (or possibly moments for little ones) of entertainment.  Might really be worth having more than one...they are cheap ~ check out the dollar store!

Another thing we did this time out was to have a Scavenger Hunt of various items to be looking for.
A friend of mine put the Scavenger Hunt together by simply going to the website of the Nature Center we were visiting and copying and pasting all that was there to see...FABULOUS!  The kids felt so satisfied and successful at the completion.  :0)

Check out a couple of our photos from the day ~ so happy!!!
Here's my FISHERMAN!!!
He's got quite the gift of catching.

Me and my littlest ham!

The STREAM SIMULATOR was great fun!
I thought I might NEVER get a few of my kids to do anything else...
I'm sure had I allowed them to stay, they'd have spent hours recreating the various ways this stream could run...a huge hit was building the dam and then destroying it.
GREAT IDEA MK Nature Center...Thank you!

And my little fisherman went crazy with Fish Photos...
I decided to share just ONE of his favorites!

It just does something good for a body to be outside exploring and soaking in nature...perfect day!
Can't wait for our next outing with our Nature Backpack!!!

If you don't have one...make it happen...you won't be sorry!  I promise  :0)

Gluten or Breathing???

Well, as hard as this transition may be...
I prefer breathing over eating all the bread and goodies my heart could desire...
cause really,
what good is it going to do me if my tongue and throat swell closed again??? 
Won't be any enjoying going on at that point!!!
And not being broke out in a million lovely red spots is pretty enticing in itself!

I'll be honest...
I was MORE THAN DEVASTATED
at the thought
of NEVER indulging in all these goodies again. 
Actually I was just flipped out about how to REALLY make this happen for the rest of my life...
HOW???
It just feels so BIG and quite daunting!

AND THEN
a dear sweet friend of mine came to my rescue!

Geri Gropp is an angel in my eyes!!!
She came to my home, made me breakfast, brought me a little care package of a few things I might need and the next day came and picked me up...we shopped for a few hours while she taught me all her tricks (well, I'm sure not all of them, but some GREAT ones!)
I don't know that I could have received a better blessing at this time...
AND she was soooo happy to help me with this.

Just tonight, I cooked up some biscuits to eat with the yummy shredded beef and creamy horseradish that I made...I'm smiling!!! 
They were really quite yummy...
IF I didn't KNOW they were gluten free, I would never have guessed! 
Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tomorrow I am going to attempt the brownies or chocolate cake...I'll give you an update!
Gotta have some delish chocolate happening in my world!!!  This is one I WILL MASTER very, very soon!!!

For any of my friends who are searching for some answers to help make your body and the bodies of your precious family a little healthier, I highly suggest you run out and pick up this book:
 
Eating Gluten Free Presents
More From
LIFE
TASTES GOOD
AGAIN
by Betsy Thomas & Kirsti Kirkland
Eating Gluten Free, LLC
I also see that they have a website and a blog...gonna have to check those out!
www.eatingglutenfree.com    www.lifetastesgoodagain.blogspot.com

I picked this little treasure up from Jakes Gluten Free Store on Fairview (between Eagle and Cloverdale) 
I particularly like this book BECAUSE they share many secrets on how to put together different FLOUR MIXES...takes so much of the guess work and the trial and error away! 
Jakes had a pretty fine selection of "stuff" to choose from. 
I will say none of it is very cheap, but for some things, it is the only place to make your purchase.  
Most of the things we needed were found in the bulk section of Winco...prices weren't terrible. 
I was able to order in bulk from them and I am READY to get going on this adventure.

I've known for such a long time that I REALLY needed to do this, I've been told repeatedly to GET AWAY FROM GLUTEN, but that isn't always as easy to do as to say.
I have dabbled in and out of it...just not seriously enough ~ UNTIL my little ER visit....nothing like one of those mornings to wake you up and make you take life a little more seriously!!!

Another place I would encourage you to take a little jog on over to is this GREAT BLOG...www.lovinlivinhealthy.blogspot.com.  Geri has devoted the past four years of her life to living gluten free and she is an inspiration to me as I begin down this same road. 
Thanks again Geri for giving me hope and not making this so SCARY...love you to pieces, girlfriend!!!

IF you are gluten free and you have some recipes that YOU JUST LOVE...PLEASE SHARE!!!

Food is meant to be enjoyed and I would love to enjoy some really great stuff!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nature Backpacks...Every Mom Should Have One!!!

Our first official field trip of the new school year is tomorrow!!!!

We will be heading down to the MK Nature Center for a tour and a little "play time" with their Stream Simulator. 
I soooo love this nature center...
the best part? 
My little girls have been begging me to take our Nature Backpack, full of all our outdoor goodies, out all summer long, BUT that hasn't been possible. 
So tomorrow I plan to make the most of it and hope they get their fill with their nature journals and all. 
A BIG HUGE Thank You to my friends who are picking us up and making this a possibility for us ~ we are so looking forward to a day at the park!

For those just dying to know what special goodies are contained in our fun little backpack...
do let me share!!!  
Who doesn't just love a good show and tell?

First and foremost ~
must be one of my very favorite quotes that I've attached to the side of our trusty lil' bag...
"Every child should have  
mudpies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hay fields, pinecones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets ~
and any child who has been deprived of these
has been deprived of the best part of his education." 
Luther Burbank

Second, check out the cuteness of this backpack ~ and how appropriate...an adorable tweety bird ~ We are all about the great outdoors here.  :0)

Third, the contents of this wonderful little bag:
In my opinion...the very MOST important parts of this bag are the natural journals...for that is where all the magic begins and takes place...to look through a child's eyes might be one of the greatest treasures of life!
A great set of watercolor pencils is awesooommmeee...the kids LOVE these!  And the only time I EVER let them use them is on these special days.  :0)
Also have a great set of colored pencils and
Some sketching pencils.
If you have little ones, they may love to have crayons (WARNING!!!  This comes from experience, so listen closely...NEVER, EVER, EVER leave your Nature Backpack in the car with a big ol' pack of crayons in it for days on end...I'm sorry to report the contents will suffer)
Don't forget to throw in AT LEAST ONE handy little pencil sharpener...YOU will NEED IT, I promise!
A couple of little gummy type erasers are nice for those perfectionists you may have...I'd far prefer they didn't feel the need to have to erase away, but I'd prefer erasing over tearing out the page due to frustration.

Okay, now for the Educational Part of the backpack...
You MUST invest in a few books ~ they will be treasures and you can pick them up a little at a time...no need to run out and make a gigantic purchase ~ unless of course you can and you wish to, and if so, by all means RUN AWAY and have fun doing it!!!

Here are some of my favorites:
A great Field and Guide for Plants and Flowers
"  "  for Wildflowers of North America
"  "  for Rocks and Minerals
"  "  for Birds
"  "  for Butterflies and Moths
(I have a variety of these, some are The Simon & Schuster's Guide to...,
another that I have really enjoyed are the Pocket Guides by James Lagomarsino.)

I'm thinking you probably can't go wrong, just open 'em up and if you like what you see, go for it!

We have the GREATEST Field Guide book for Birds ~ I'm a little afraid we may have worn it out...it is an audio field guide, titled The Backyard Birdsong Guide  A Guide to Listening by Donald Kroodsma...FANTASTIC and so FUN!  I need to put a new battery in and hope for the best!

Another Super Fun one that I LOVE to use are the Fandex Family Field Guides...
we have one of Wildflowers, one for Birds and one for Trees.  I love the way they fan out with a beautifully colored visual at the end with info packed for all you may ever wish to know...great for identifying those things we are unfamiliar with!

I have also thrown in a few little books and sticker books that are intriguing to kiddos...some from Magic School Bus, and others that are just the right size for little hands, packed with stickers they love to look through.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive...it is just a great start and one that we have really loved. 

The big reason for keeping it all together in the backpack is that it is quick and easy to grab and go out for a fabulous outing...no need to be running around trying to gather all the supplies...they are already gathered ~ LOVE IT!

Hope this gives you a hankering to put together something fantastic for you and your kiddos to enjoy...this is a great activity year round...not just during fair weather...so prepare for days that will be treasured and remembered forever! 
And when it's cold outside, throw in a thermos of cocoa and a few cookies and just watch the magic happen.  It's the best way ever to fight off those winter blues!

I'd love to hear your ideas for great things you like to do outdoors (or indoors) with your kiddos....
Show and Tell is so much more fun when there is more than one of us doing it...
YOUR TURN!!!
  :0)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A little preservation...

So what do Egyptian Pharaohs, dead chickens and jam all have in common?

They all happen to be the main event of the beginning of our school year!!!

We are digging into the history of ANCIENT EGYPT.
We are mummifying Chickens
and we are making a big delicious batch of Raspberry and Strawberry jam!

The Chickens and the Jam are to show a variety of ways we can "preserve" things.
We also brought in a Mortician ~ he gave us his whole ta-do about how bodies are preserved now in comparison to the ancient ways.  Mighty fascinating.

I still have to say that I cannot for the life of me understand WHY ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would EVER wish to have such a yucky job!!!  But that is beside the point...he was fantastic!  And I guess some one's gotta do it...right?

Well, the chicken mummification is a process...one that will come with some photos soon.
The FUN part about it is that we are actually mummifying TWO CHICKENS...one is the RICH Chicken and the other, you guessed it, the POOR Chicken. 
More to come on all of this and just HOW we began this lovely little process...
stay tuned!

Tomorrow morning is our Jam making day!

I am pretty sure I am one of the luckiest people on the planet!!!
I have the most amazing group of women who bless me with their presence twice a week as we gather our families together for CO-OP!!!

Each has such a unique set of gifts and talents that they bring to the table, making this the BEST co-op ever!  We have a very large group of kids, but it works beautifully!

So excited to venture down this crazy road again with such fabulous women!
We'll be studying
World History
World Geography
Science
and the History and Significance of Mathematics along with all the Mathematicians!
The kids also have the opportunity to prepare a topic each month in which they will "STAND AND DELIVER" to the crowd...I absolutely LOVE this part! 

Well, I am going to venture back to my bed and give sleep one more shot.
Toodle-ooo...

Days of our Lives....

So are you ready for the next episode of my Soap Opera???
I'm thinking I should at least have a big ol' box of bon bons to go along with all of this drama!!!

Saturday evening was our annual opening social for the homeschooling families in our area...great night, by the way...thanks to all who came!!!

Well, as we were driving home that evening, one of my sons commented on how stuffed up his nose was and I replied back to him that it was probably all of the smoke in the air and that it was also bothering me, my chest was actually hurting.

By the time we arrived home and got the kiddos all in bed, I started itching a bit, then a lot and then a tremendous amount!!!  Checked myself out and I was COVERED in red spots all over!  Not good!!!  And not attractive in the least, I was a scary sight!

I was feeling pretty lousy and wiped out, because of still dealing with this vertigo issue I have going on.  I wanted to just drop into bed and sleep the night away, but at my husbands request, I drank a large dose of Benadryl and then headed to bed.  I did anything but sleep the night away, I tossed and turned and itched and scratched and THEN I found myself having difficulty swallowing and my eyes were more than a little difficult to open (and not due to the lack of sleep I was experiencing)  I climbed out of my bed, went in a downed another big dose of Benadryl and tried to get a little more sleep.  By the time my hubby woke in the morning, maybe a little before 8, he looked at me in a rather horrified manner and said I looked like I had swollen up as large as a balloon.  At this point, I could no longer close my mouth, due to the immense swelling of my lips.  It was difficult to speak, because my tongue was swollen and my throat and glands were enormous and quite painful.  I don't even want to express what I looked like, suffice it to say, it was not a pretty picture!!!

Guess, where I was lucky enough to spend my Sunday morning??? 
Yep, in the ER!

They haven't the foggiest idea WHY this happened ~
and to be just down right honest...
I don't think they even cared WHY.

Their concern was treating the symptoms.
So as I lay in this special little room designed for a child ~ which I might add, I rather enjoyed!  It was refreshing to have something enjoyable to look around at...it was a fairly picturesque room with the whole Universe thing going on, even the ceiling tiles had some excitement happening!
Anyway, as I lay there, I speak to one doctor and then 2 different nurses and then had the pleasure of meeting up with the Respiratory Therapist who insisted I have a breathing treatment.  All the while, I am being a bit of a pain in the tooshy...I didn't wish to be here and I was a little upset that they didn't care WHY this was happening.  They didn't even seem the slightest bit interested in the why.  At a certain point, after asking a multitude of questions as to why they needed to do what they were doing, this dear man I am married to said, "STACEY, PLEASE do as the doctor says and quit arguing with him.  I want to take you home, just take the pills, take the breathing treatment and listen to them."  Then he smiled at me.  I proceeded to swallow all the pills and obediently breathed in that little breathing treatment. 

The long of the short is that I am now taking Steroids for the next week and a Super Benadryl type of pill several times a day. 

Those silly doctors still don't know what is wrong with me...BUT GUESS WHAT???
I do...
Am I am not feeling so happy about it.
I've wanted to pretend this wasn't very real.

But I tested it out.
NO I am not the brightest light bulb in the package.
But you must understand...
the only true way to KNOW if something is...
is to give it the test.
So I did today
and much to my dismay, I am worse tonight, so I just downed a couple more pills.
And now I am sulking and itching and scratching and swelling up again.
But not too bad, so no worries, just enough to prove what I had to know.

Ya wanna know what the nasty little culprit is???
Well, remember when I went to the Styx concert on Friday evening,
I not only indulged on amazing music, I also indulged my taste buds with a yummy funnel cake.  I ONLY ate half of it, I shared with my sweet hubby.
And then at the opening social on Saturday, I ate a hot dog and I had a piece of pie.
What do all of these little goodies contain that I have been told to stay away from???
GLUTEN...
Dang stuff anyway.
Why does it have to be in stuff that tastes so yummy?
I've been so good and then I decide to just have a few morsels of yumminess and this happens...

Well, I came to this conclusion today and decided that the ONLY REAL WAY TO KNOW was to test it out, so I ate half of a delicious hot bun that was brought over to me from a friend.  Oh my goodness, it was bread heaven. 
BUT NOW, it is a sad moment.
The moment of truth that I didn't want to face...

I guess the good thing is that I have my answer
AND
I didn't even need some fancy doctor to tell me,
Which is a good thing
SINCE HE COULDN'T!!!

So...
A new adventure awaits me!
I shall never have gluten again, it is not worth this!

I had to tell you,
Well actually I had to tell me
and if I tell you (whoever "you" are)
then I am accountable.
And when you are accountable
you can't mess up
you can't fudge
you can't tell a little white lie
you just gotta do it
cause you said you would
so I said and I would
and now I will.

I am mighty hopeful that I will be able to sleep at some point tonight.
I forgot to mention that STEROIDS and I DO NOT GET ALONG!

Have you ever downed half a bottle of diet pills?
How about 10 pots of coffee in a 20 minute sitting?

My body is pretty certain it may have done both...and it just keeps going and going and going!

I have hardly been able to sit down today, I can't relax, I can't be still, I can't rest
AND I AM TIRED, so very, very, very tired
at least my eyes and my mind are tired,
but my body
is having a it's own private little party going on!
I wouldn't even be surprised to hear a giant "Woo-Hoo" come flying out of me.

Four more days of Steroids...
If I dont' get some sleep before this is over,
it might get ugly.
Someone may need to come rescue my family
and take them to safety
because they may not recognize the crazed woman living with them.

I NEED SLEEP.
and with that, I will try once more.
Good night world...much love comin' at ya!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Kind of Crazy!!!

I had the best night Friday!

My hubby took me took the Western Idaho Fair to see their ROCK concert...
yes, I know I am the Mom and I should be a little more reserved and not go hang out acting like a teenager, BUT I just cannot help myself! 
Actually, why should I have to grow up and not do the things I love? 
There really isn't anything at all wrong with still being a little crazy, when I leave I feel so happy and renewed, my cup runneth over! 
Now, I may need to remind you or possibly inform you that "my crazy" isn't all that terribly crazy...
no adult beverages involved...
just a whole lotta hoopin' and hollerin'
and dancing and singing my heart out...
used to be a whole lot more jumping up and down, but not as much this year.

One of our little girls, Cassie, recently asked me if when she gets bigger if she can go to a Rock and Roll Concert...I quickly, no hesitation whatsoever...responded to her, "OF COURSE you can, sweet girl ~ EVERYONE deserves to go to rock concerts in their lifetime and I'll even take you!"  Oh, she just beamed...it was fantastic!

For some who may not have Rock and Roll pulsing through their veins this may all seem a bit crazy to you.  But for someone like me...I can't wait!  This year, I was a little worried about how I might be able to go and enjoy and even stay for any amount of time, due to this stupid vertigo that has decided to hang around to be my best friend or my worst enemy, take your pick! 
But it was STYX...how could I miss that??? 
And it was free, except for the $7 ticket to enter the fairgrounds..
AND I had just missed seeing JOURNEY and LOVERBOY because of this lovely new friend hanging around with me.  So I was bound and determined to make it to this one! 
I had even resigned myself to hanging out with all the fuddy duddies who wish to sit in the grandstands...I'll just never get that one! 
IF YOU are lucky enough to be at a concert filled with music that just makes you smile and dance and sing and scream, you cannot do it from a seat a mile back, YOU REALLY MUST be close enough to almost reach out and touch those Rock Stars.  You gotta feel like you were really there...gotta make a little eye contact!

Now here comes the exciting part of my story...
Remember how I said I had resigned myself to hangin' out with those who don't wish to be crazy? 
Well, it was soooooo packed that there weren't two seats available anywhere.
At first a wave of panic came across me...
was I really going to have to miss another concert? 
NO!!! 
I decided to stand for as long as I could and that sweet man of mine was happy to stand right behind me and hold me up and steady. 
So to the floor we went...
and went...
and went,
until we were right there,
no trying to focus way off into the distance...
NOPE, right there, IN THE FRONT!!! 
I was pretty reserved to begin with, but then as we became packed in like a ginormous sardine can,  strangely I felt a little more secure...it's pretty hard to fall over when there is no where to fall and with my adorable hubby behind me holding me tight, I was able to do all the moving and shakin' I wished. 

By the time the concert was over,
read that line again...
by the time the concert was over --
YES, "over!"
I made it through the whole thing standing!!!! 
How Amazing and Wonderful is that?!
Anyway, by the time it was over, my voice was also approaching the "over" stage,
but you couldn't have wiped the smile from my face.

Thank you, WESTERN IDAHO FAIR, for bringing such fantastic concerts to us.

CHEAP TRICK last year ~ Oh, they were so, so, so rockin' fun...LOVED IT!
and then STYX this year...(big smiley face!)

You could totally out do yourselves next year, and bring in my all time favorite ~ JOURNEY!!!
PLEASE, Please, please!!!  I would love you forever!
So sad I had to miss them this year at the Idaho Center Amphitheater.
I might even kiss your feet for doing such a fabulous thing! 
(Providing they were clean
and not nasty
and I only had to kinda blow a kiss
and not actually make physical contact with my lips)

Still smiling...
and still feeling like a teenager ~
maybe that's one of the reasons my teenagers think I'm pretty okay...
gotta love life and live it to it's fullest!
I intend to, and no Vertigo is going to stop me!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Peaceful and Pleasant...

I wrote a few days ago, I think the post was titled "What to do?"...
Well, I figured it out...
actually, I was blessed while in the shower with exactly what I needed to do.

I know it might seem strange that I get all the answers I am so desperately in need of --
always in the shower! 
It's the only quiet place I can find in this crazy life I live, so I'll take what I can get!

I REALLY needed to know how to help this sweet boy of mine,
how to touch his heart,
how to reach him,
how to understand what he needs
and why he needs it
and how I can help to make these things happen for him. 

And it came...
what is funny is that I really knew this all along, it wasn't some incredible NEW knowledge, it was as it most often is, quite simple.

ASK HIM!

Just sit and talk with this wonderful little young man that I have in my stewardship and ask him what he wants...then give him the privilege of following the Spirit and asking in prayer what he should do, what he feels would be best for him. 

The situation at first was one of a bit of sarcasm when I told him that he was in charge of making his own choice and that the only stipulations were that he must pray and then follow the spirit and then be peaceful and pleasant with the choices he made because he would then own them.
Upon announcing this privilege, his little sarcastic voice blurted out, "I already know what I want...", as quickly as it sprung from his mouth, I nipped it mid-sentence reminding him that he could not tell me his decision until the next day AFTER and only after he had truly prayed, weighed all the options, looked heavily at the pros and cons for both choices...THEN he could give me his answer.

Empowerment in little chunks is super powerful in BIG chunks for our kids and in turn, for us.

He was delighted (yet, didn't want to show just how elated he felt inside) that I believed in him enough to make these choices for himself.  A huge boost was added to this sweet boys self-esteem.  There is something special that occurs inside when you know that others REALLY believe in and trust you.

I am pleased to announce that this little man of mine has got one good head on his shoulders; he was able to spend the time he needed to re-connect, to find his answers, and to consider what would be the best situation for him.  He and I sat together after his pondering time and he expressed his feelings in a most positive way, coming to a conclusion that both he and I were very pleased with. 

AND
the best part???
HE IS HAPPY!
He is peaceful
and
he is pleasant.

And to think all I had to do was to trust that he knew what was best
and the biggie --
trust that he would make the best choice and
not the choice that may have been the funnest or the easiest for a teenage boy.

So thrilled and so happy to be a Mom
and to have had the opportunity of this teaching moment for our son.
He knows how to call for help and he knows where to call for that help...
the knowledge of using the Spirit is powerful and life changing.

Signing off peacefully and pleasantly...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Challenge for ya!


Okay, if YOU are a homeschooling momma
or if you are a mom who doesn't choose this crazy choice in life...
this post is for you...
well I guess if YOU are a Dad and you have kiddos,
this is also for you...
Now that we've got that all covered ~
let's move on to MY CHALLENGE FOR YOU!

Ready?

This is a good one...

It just might change your life...

And it just might change your relationships with those special little people you brought into this world...

And it just might make you take a step back and look in awe at those same kiddos...

I would challenge you,
okay I will even BEG YOU
to take some time to sit down with your kids
(if you don't already do this on a daily basis, you are missing out, your kids are amazing people!) 
anyway, sit down with those kiddos and ASK THEM,
yes take the time to ASK THEM what they love...
ask them what they'd like to know about. 
What intrigues them? 
What are they just dying to know more about? 
What is something that they've always dreamed of knowing or doing or seeing or exploring or just dipping their toes into?

IF YOU are a homeschooling family.... PLEASE, yes I am begging you again....PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make this the most important thing you do this summer (just before it comes to a close)...

Sit down and make a list of all the things they will ramble out. 
You will learn so much about who they really are, some of the things they spout out may take you by surprise, some will come as no surprise at all. 
But the point is, when you know what floats their boat, YOU can reach them in a whole new way!!! 
HOW DOES THAT SOUND? 
Fantastic? 
You bet it is!

I so firmly believe that our kids really know who they are,
they know what they need to know,
they know what they are to become
and they know deep down what they need
to make these things come to pass...
WE just THINK we KNOW it all...but we don't! 
SO go ask them and don't be afraid of their answers.

Hand over some of this power to your kids,
I assure you that you will come out pleased
and your kids will be walking around on Cloud 9
BECAUSE
MOM BELIEVES in THEM and TRUSTS THEM to make some decisions for their future.

Okay, so the challenge again...
Just spend a little time, make a list
~ oh yeah, I forgot this part ~
FAIR WARNING!!!! 
This list may end up being pages long or could quite possibly fill an entire huge white board...
YOU won't likely be able to cover each and every one,
BUT you will have a start and YOU will know where your kids hearts are.

That's it...

Now when you accomplish this little challenge
and I know you will because you love your kids just that much...
I want you to treat you
and all of those little buggers you call your kids


to a big ol' messy ice cream cone!!! 

What a perfect way to end an amazing day...

Much love to you all!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What to do???

Do you ever have the feeling that you may be letting one of your kids down? 
Is it possible that you may not be meeting their expectations?
Has it ever crossed your mind that perhaps you might need to adjust your way of thinking to better fit theirs?
During your quiet shower moments,
do you think to yourself that maybe, just maybe,
YOU might be the problem?

I have one son who I completely adore
(well I adore all of them, equally I might add)
but this one son and I seem to butt heads more than I wish we did.  It breaks my heart.  I think we have some serious power struggles happening and I am beginning to realize that it is up to me to make some changes. 
After all, I am the adult, I am the parent...
I cannot expect this young person to bend to my ways just because I am the mom and they are my ways.  I feel that I need to be more flexible to meet his expectations.
(Contrary to what some may believe, I do not for one single moment believe that I am allowing him to WIN the power struggle by bending...isn't that what a Mom is supposed to do?  Aren't we to do all that we can to figure all these little people out and to help them live happy, successful lives?) 
Okay, enough of that, back to being more flexible to meet his expectations...

Now saying that is a bit funny, because I am quite flexible and like things to flow, I actually really enjoy flying by the seat of my pants. 
BUT this son of mine is not like me. 
He NEEDS structure,
he NEEDS to know what is happening at all times.

Several years ago, our family was traveling to see all of the counties in Idaho after doing a great year of study.  Our goal was to visit all the areas we had learned about and to fully experience it all.  I am thrilled to say that we did meet our goal. 
BUT it was painful for our son!!! 
WHY? 
Well, because we were just going with the flow, stopping on a whim, reading every sign we came upon, stopping at everything that looked of interest to any one who was in the car. 
The problem was that for a son who needs to know when he is eating and where he is eating and what time he is eating and exactly what will he be eating; for a son who needs to know where he will be sleeping that night and if it will be a hotel or a motel and what city or little town it will be in; for a son who needs to know which counties we will be visiting that day and how long we'll be in each one; for a son who NEEDS to know these things, I failed
I failed BECAUSE I failed to see how very REAL all of this feels to him. 
Instead, I simply hugged him and told him not to worry, I assured him that he would eat yummy food many times a day and that he would have a nice place to sleep and that all would be okay,
he smiled and tried to be okay with this,
BUT DEEP DOWN,
he was not. 
And he still is not. 

He hasn't changed. 
I haven't changed.
He can't change because it is part of WHO he is;
and because I am his momma,
I MUST CHANGE to make life feel safe for him.

This poor boy of mine...I keep wondering why everything takes me so long to get...he is 13, it's not like he's 3 and I'm getting it all figured out, I've been trying -- desperately trying -- to figure him out all these years and I keep comin' up with nothin', well not nothin' but darn close. 

Now...I am dealing with planning for a successful school year knowing that I must be more flexible to meet his expectations, yet I am not even certain that I REALLY know what those are...

What are his expectations?
What does he want?
What does he need?
What makes him happy?

Can he help to build his successful year? 
Can he help build the structure that he needs?
Can I meet his expectations and more importantly, can I meet his needs?

Sometimes loving your kids with all of your heart just isn't enough.
We have to be able to "get" them...
What is it that makes him tick?
What is it that drives him?
What is it that makes him feel safe and secure and happy and productive and successful?
What would help to minimize his overwhelming feelings of discontent?
What would help him to feel like he is accomplishing everything his heart desires?

He is brilliant, has no troubles with school at all...scores incredibly high on all tests.
He doesn't like change, yet is bored with the same ol' same ol'...
He can read and internalize and then verbalize his thoughts and feelings about most things I put before him. 
Yet, he suffers from feeling ??? 
well, what is he feeling??? 
Frustration, anger, fear....
I see all of these in him,
yet I don't know why these feelings exist so strongly...

I wish so badly to be all that he needs.
I KNOW that I have it in me, I am his Momma, I was given what I need to raise him to be the very best he can be...I just haven't found it all in myself yet.  Just keep digging, I guess...and keep praying for sure...and never give up and never believe that I cannot find all the answers to these very tough questions, they are there somewhere.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Potatoes and Rocks and Shiny Stuff!!!

The creativity has been amazing around here...

If you are dying to spark some creativity in your lil' gang,
all you need is a little cement mix,
a few red potatoes,
a variety of little stones
and some shiny stuff (everyone loves shiny stuff!),
a rainbow of paint colors,
a front yard with rocks and more rocks and more rocks...
oh, and the magical ingredient...a touch of imagination!

After being home for most of the summer while I've been unable to drive, our kiddos decided to do something with themselves instead of wandering about being "Bored all the time"  :0) 
How often do you hear that line at your house???

Anyway, my kids spent an entire afternoon and evening as happy as could be just painting away and creating.  They started out painting potatoes...
I know it sounds a bit strange, but they asked and I figured, why not? 
After several hand fulls of red potatoes I decided we best be moving on to less tasty items to turn into masterpieces...how about rocks! 
OH MY, the real fun began when they started painting all the rocks out front, so sweet! 
I wish I had a picture of the whole thing, but the sprinklers came on before I snapped one, darn it!!!



As you can see, I only have a couple "hams"...the rest of them hide from the camera,
I felt pretty lucky to actually get Wyatt to smile for the camera! 
The girls LOVE to have their pictures taken,
but there's something about being a teenager that stifles that excitement...
I have to be a little sneakier to get them in the shots!!!


We also had a load of fun making a stepping stone and adorning it with all sorts of goodies...
the biggest problem was that a little too much water had been added to the mixture,
so some of the little treasures sank under the surface ~
this made for a couple of unhappy little girls. 
Who wants their treasures to be hidden under cement?
They lose all their shine and sparkle...
The tears subsided when I said,
"well, we'll just have to give it another shot!!! 
Practice makes perfect, right?!" 
Who knew there could be a lesson in following directions while being creative? 
I think I've come to a conclusion,
I've only been a MOM for more than half of my life and I'm just getting this one,
but here it is:
KIDS NEED to be able to be kids
they NEED to create
they NEED to get dirty
they NEED to get wet
they NEED to try
and they NEED to fail
and they NEED to see that both are okay...
they NEED to laugh
and
they NEED
a Mom who will laugh with them...

and Moms NEED kids to keep them happy and laughing and living!

It's time to go buy some more cement, we've got more learning to do,
more shiny moments to remember
and with any luck at all
we'll come out with a stepping stone that adorns all the sparkly stuff that smiles are made of!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gold Stars 'n Billboards

I'm wondering if I missed my other "calling" in life...
My first calling is Mom, but I can't help but feel that there is another.

It seems that no matter where I go, no matter the situation, there is most often someone who needs to talk, someone who just needs a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or a friend to comfort their heavily burdened heart.  I'm beginning to think I must have a sign that is invisible to my eyes but one that blinks in obnoxious bright colors with an open invitation to the weariest of hearts that I am the perfect source of comfort and counsel and that ALL details should be dumped for the sorting.

Now I want you to know that I do not mind this, I just find it fascinating and more than a little curious.  I am starting to see this as a blessing in my life, it is still very odd to me, I don't know that I will ever understand WHY these people come to me...strangers, people I've never met, never spoken to....and yet, it is as though I am an overpowering magnetic force for them...I just suck 'em all in!

I can be anywhere, seriously anywhere and IT happens.
The grocery store, walking down the street, sitting at a scouting activity, or while picking up school supplies for my kiddos.  Some are significant, others more casual.  Today was one that may stick out in my mind for some time.

My hubby had a job and since it was a Saturday afternoon and since I make his schedule, which means I made him have to work on a day he could have had off, I felt like it was only right that I go along for the ride and keep him company, so I did.

Well, we arrive at this beautiful little home and my husband starts cleaning the carpets and the next thing I know I am in a DEEP conversation with the young man who owns the home.  He was simply showing me around and I commented on how lovely his home was; it was being prepped for sale, so I inquired if he and his wife (which he'd already mentioned when referring to the choice of paint colors on the walls) had found a larger home or if they were still looking. 

That's where it all started. 

He asked me, "Do you believe in God?" 
I felt a smile immediately come across my face as I told him that, "YES...I sure do..."

I guess that made it safe for him to talk with me???

We proceeded to discuss his marriage, the lack of love he felt for and from his wife and the fact that LOVE had never truly existed.
He said they had met and quickly married at the age of 21...there was all sorts of excitement and hooplah with the planning and such, but the Real stuff just hadn't been there.  He referred to her very kindly and never spoke ill of her at all...rather, he spoke of her in a very tender way, one of concern.  He mentioned that he felt they were more like great roommates and friends, not a great couple.
One of his primary concerns that he needed addressed was
if I felt he was less of a Christian
if he chose to go through with his divorce. 
He was so concerned about what their friends and family were saying regarding divorce and how that was not something a Christian would do...
they mentioned to him that the Bible says they cannot and should not end their marriage.

Well, my advice to him was two fold...
to begin with the most important thing to me was to have him reconsider whether or not there had ever REALLY been a true love present in his heart for her...
BECAUSE if it had been there,
and had just lost some of its luster and awe,
if there had been a full flame at one time --
that a spark could always be re-lit and it could be even better and brighter and more magnificent than ever before...
sadly, after listening to him,
I can honestly say that I think both he and his wife deserve more than what he can give to her,
she deserves to be loved
and he deserves to be with someone he can love.  

I felt ever so grateful that they did not have children together;
I found myself telling him that the very most important thing that he needed to consider was the possibility of ever bringing children into their lives and how vital it would be that those little people could see and feel the love that their daddy had for their momma. 
Again, it just wasn't there for him, so this is best...they both need and deserve more!

Secondly, I addressed the "Christian" comment...
(this may not sit well with some of you, and if it doesn't I am sorry, BUT I FEEL this quite passionately!)...
so I asked him if he felt that God put him on this Earth to be unhappy? 
I asked him if this life is just to be a test to see how much he could endure or if he believed that God had something much bigger in mind for him? 
Did he believe that God wished for him to find joy and happiness in life or to just wade through day after day? 
We don't receive a Gold Star at the end of this life for making it through...we don't have to stay in a situation that isn't right. 

I believe with all of my heart that our Heavenly Father looks down and just like we, as mothers and fathers do, wishes for His children to be blissfully happy...to be living each day as if they'd just received a big Gold Star. 


(think back to being a little person, wasn't it just the best to be the recipient of one of those fantastic stickers?  I think He'd like us to feel that same glee inside as often as possible)



It is true that marriages aren't perfect, and I know that every day is not really going to be a Gold Star day, BUT I DO KNOW ..."Men are, that they might have joy"  (2 Nephi 2:25) and I believe that a great deal of responsiblity lies with us to help bring about that joy in our own lives.

Going back to my little friend today...
I don't know if I gave him all the right answers
or if I gave him any of the right answers,
but what I saw was a young man who walked away with his shoulders a little higher, with his smile a little brighter and his heart a little lighter...
he told me that he knew God had brought me into his life today and he thanked me for spending time with him.

So...I will add him to my list of people I will pray for and I will thank my Heavenly Father for the blessing that he has given me...this amazing billboard I carry about on my head brings some pretty phenomenal experiences my way.  I really do love people and I find it a privilege to spend a little time lifting their hearts.

Wishing you a beautiful Sunday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

You don't have to be a victim anymore!

After one of my last posts,
(Is it Safe to be Joyous?)
I've had several interesting conversations...
This morning a dear friend of mine called and we talked at length about many things.  I am very grateful for her call and feel that there are things that I learned, recognized or came to terms with in myself.

She made a comment to me, can't quote it, wish I could...but, it was something along the lines of:
You don't have to be a victim, you do not have to give power over to anyone who has ever wronged you in the past, he (whoever he may be in each of our lives) cannot have power over you unless you choose to give it to him.

WOW!

Okay, I know it is a no-brainer again...BUT sometimes you just need to hear someone say those words out loud for it to "click"!  And this morning it did just that, CLICK...

I have allowed myself for the majority of my life to be a victim.  Even though, the things that gave cause for me to be victimized/abused were well over 20 years ago, I have held on to them, I have held on to the fear...I have allowed it to keep me in this place for far too long.

I have allowed this person that I made my escape from to continue to control me and my emotions for a ridiculous amount of time.  So in saying that, I have never fully escaped, I have never fully removed myself, I have stayed (at least a small part of me) in that same helpless, scared little state.

Another thing that we discussed was being a child...

And something amazing happened ~ I saw this person(s) in a new light ~ I could see them as little boys and my heart broke for them.  There were things in their lives that caused them to choose to be ugly, to choose to inflict damage to another...
something in their past that damaged their little hearts, that hardened them, that caused them to be without feeling or remorse.

I have never been able to fully forgive or to let go of some hard things from long ago, but with the thought that they were once little children, little boys, much like my own ~ sweet and tender and so easily influenced for good or for bad ~  my own heart has been softened.
The best part is that it takes the "Scaryness" away...when I can picture a little boy hurting and struggling and suffering, I can feel sorry for that little person and I can more easily understand WHY a person would do the things that they do.

NOW, PLEASE know that I am absolutely NOT condoning or excusing abusive behavior...I COULD NEVER bring myself to that point, I am simply saying that this is helping me to overcome being a victim.  When I DECIDE to take myself out of that role, I AM FREE!

I decide now to end this, to rid myself of the fear that has been with me...to be whole and complete and trusting.  I can even say I am in a place that I feel I would be able to pray for these individuals, that is a huge step in the right direction for me.

On another note:
I have spent a great deal of time considering just grabbing my trusty ol' notebook or journal and keeping these thoughts and feelings to only me...I have felt there may be times (Okay, I KNOW there have been times) that I've revealed too much here, but for some reason I feel this is what I am to do.  Who knows, maybe someone "out there", maybe you?, needs to read this...needs to see that someone else went through horrific things in their life and they are proof that life can be beautiful and wonderful and fulfilling and that there really is a Happily Ever After waiting for them...

No one ever has to remain a victim...free yourself...seek for the peace you deserve.

With Love,
Stacey

My Work of Art

As I considered what to share with you, I recalled our summers in the past . . .
One of our favorite times of the summer is the day when we all sit and share
--either by stating or blurting out or jumping up and down in excitement--
the ideas we have that we’d love to learn about for our upcoming year.
The list is always quite lengthy and includes everything from
how pencil sharpeners work
to what people in India like to eat.


A few years ago, I purchased a canvas that I had plans of filling with the varied ideas of our family. I had hoped to have each child express their desires on this canvas. I could picture it in my mind hanging as a reminder of all the dreams we each had for our year.

It is with those thoughts that I write this message to you on this beautiful sun-filled, dreamy day!

Do you see your family as a work of art? Do you recognize the worth of this beautiful piece you hold in your hands? Do you see how each detail that is added provides a new layer, a new depth, a new insight? Is this a piece of work that you stand back and admire? Is it a piece that is still in the making? Is it perfected? Does this work of art speak to your soul and make a smile cross your face? Does it motivate you to do more, to be better?

Take a moment and think of your homeschooling as a work of art.
This work of art is all that YOU make of it . . .
it is all that YOU put into it.
When you look, can you see the magical piece of work that you have poured your time, talents and love into?
Is it a place you long to be?
Is it inviting?
Do your children long to join you?

A simple acrostic that may be of help to visualize the creation of this fabulous Work of ART follows:

A is for Attitude

R is for Relationships

T is for Teaching

When we focus on keeping things in this order--Attitude, Relationships, Teaching--it can be a wonderful thing! If you are anything like me, you may have a tendency to put the Teaching ahead of the attitudes or the relationships, but when our Attitude or the attitudes of our children are not “right,” there will surely be conflicts in our homes and our Relationships will suffer for it . . . teaching must come last, it must be the last priority. This does not mean teaching cannot happen on a daily basis in a most fantastic sort of way . . . it can and it will when all things are in order. It is so much more important to keep an eye on where our Attitudes lie and if we are putting our Relationships with our kids above the education and the Teaching of them.

May your Work of Art speak to you and to your children . . . and may it be a constant reminder of the beauty that homeschooling can be!

(Written as Presidents Message for August Newsletter for DHSA)