Homeschool Conference!!!

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

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Never take TODAY for granted...

I spent a little of my afternoon with a dear friend...
My sweet hubby was cleaning her carpets and I was in the area after one of my business meetings so I stopped by to say Hello.

This friend of mine is an absolute inspiration.
She exudes beauty in all forms.
Her light explodes from her eyes as she speaks to you.
Her gentleness is enveloping and refreshing.

She hides her pain well.
I see no bitterness in her.
I feel only the best when I listen to her.
I know the pain is there because she has expressed it to me, but even then...she does so with such grace.
She lost her husband and only son in an accident a number of years ago.  She has never remarried and has raised 4 beautiful daughters on her own; two are still home with her.

Her home is welcoming and peaceful...
She is peaceful...

I was not peaceful.

I was while in her presence,
but, my heart ached for her...
And tonight as I sit here thinking of her
I wonder how she is...
I mean how she REALLY is.

Is she always so strong?
I can't think she is...
I hate to think of the quiet moments in her own safe place that she lets go,
that she yearns for her husbands arms around her again,
for her sweet son and his laughter filling the air,
the moments when she goes back to the days they once filled.

I can hardly stand to think of the empty place her heart holds for them...
wouldn't it have been more than enough to bear to have lost one of them?
Why two?
Why should any mother or wife have to endure such pain and heartache?

I wish I could take it from her, I wish I could bring them back for her...

I feel like she and I are so much alike,
yet we've known each other for such a short time.
There are those people in your life that when you meet them, you just KNOW you were meant to share something special with them.
I have been lucky in my life to have had this happen on a few occasions and I treasure those beautiful friends I have been blessed with!

I had to chuckle to myself when I walked into her home and saw this sign prominently hanging in a place she would often see it.

This is one of my very favorite signs that hangs in my home!
It brings peace to my heart and empowers me.
I guess it gives me permission, if you will, to bE me...

It really didn't even surprise me to see it in her home,
again, I just chuckled;
it seemed so fitting, so perfect.

She has done such amazing things with her life
even when life didn't go as she would have planned.

I have to wonder if I would be as strong as she is.
She has faith that is unwavering and beautiful ~
one more reason she is such an inspiration to me.

As I left her today, I wanted to wrap her up in a hug that could fill her cup to overflowing.
I looked at the photos on her walls of her handsome little son and her husband, whom she obviously adored and I felt an emptiness in my heart for her...

As I returned home this evening, I looked at my sons and my daughters and my hubby and was completely overcome with gratitude for the blessings they each are in my life.

There are far too many days that I just waste away,
days that I may not express my love and adoration for those I love the most in this world.
I take days for granted,
assuming there will be another
and another
and another...
there may not be...

Life is fragile,
it is uncertain,
it is precious...

I know my life is a gift.
I know the days I have with my children and my husband are a gift.
And I hope that I will never again take my TODAY's for granted.

My heart is with my friend this night...
she will be in my prayers.
The prayer I wish most for her is that she feels the love of her Savior wrapping His arms around her and giving her the comfort and the solace that she may need.
I know she waits for the day she will be reunited with her son and her husband ~
what a joyous occasion that will be.

As for me,
I will be more intentional about seeing those joyous occasions that happen daily right before my eyes and I will treasure each and every one.

Never again will a day go by that I will not be thankful and mindful of its blessing...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Playing with money...

Who knew teaching "Math" could be so much fun???
That's right...
for the past month, we've immersed ourselves in what may well be the most applicable math a child/adult might ever need ~ Money Management!

We've played with money, made deposits, written checks, learned to balance and track our spending and saving habits, we've learned the value in setting goals and the beauty that can be had honoring those goals and reaping the rewards of our efforts and sacrifices! 

I was excited to have the opportunity to review a program that I KNEW would be of benefit to each of our matter the age!  
With six kids aged 19 down to 7 still at home, 
there were some definite variations in the approach that was used while implementing
  The FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program in our family.  
The beauty of this program is that it really is possible to teach ALL ages what they are ready to learn...

Your little ones need little lessons 
on money management, 
the exposure is fantastic and they LOVE the time spent playing with money!  
While your teens and tweens REALLY need to gain a great understanding and appreciation for money management.

First things first...
To do ANYTHING in the Lytle House, you gotta have a little FUN!!!  
So, we began our journey down the road of Money Management by having Dad and the boys build us a little bank...they cleverly named it "Home School National Bank"!  Pretty darling!

While the boys did their thing,
the little girls started "making money"...
our littlest one thought it would be a fabulous idea for us to run to the Office Supply Store to pick up a new printer that would print color pictures better ~ 
she could see no good reason why 
"copying" money 
and making your very own 
wasn't the best idea in the world...
We had to have a little talk about that!   :)

Many a day, I would walk by to see "banking" happening -- 
This may have been my favorite!
Teddy Bears can ALWAYS save the day 
when no one else wishes to play...

There is much to love about this Money Management program and the FamilyMint website...

**I saw an almost immediate paradigm shift in the thinking of my children as they learned better to see money as a limited resource and as they began to prioritize their wants and needs based on what they have.

They are becoming mighty Good Stewards of their money
BECAUSE they now VALUE IT so much more than before!
The ability to Track their money and actually see deposits and withdrawals coming and going made a BIG difference to them.  Prior to our FamilyMint Experience, the money just came and went with very little thought.

**Are there days that you feel your children are never satisfied,
days they seem to wish for EVERYTHING in the WORLD???
This is normal and guess is FANTASTIC that they express these desires as children.  WHY?
Well, it certainly isn't because it's a cake walk for Mom and Dad to listen incessantly  to all the crazy "I want, I want" requests...
but it is wonderful for the simple reason that it is so much better to learn as a child that we just can't have it all, than to wait and learn this painful fact as an adult.
FAMILYMINT helps parents teach their children the ins and outs of setting Goals.
Some kids may not even be familiar with goals; a goal, simply put is something you want to achieve that requires effort on your part.
It is imperative for our children to comprehend that it is not enough to just want things; we must work to make things happen in our lives.  Without hard work and effort, "wants" are nothing more than wishes or dreams that never become reality.
Goals are the prioritization of our wants and needs.
And this program so beautifully handles the dirty work of teaching this to your kiddos!!!
With one simple acronym - SMART, your kids will have it down...
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Relevant
T = Time-bound

**I love, love, love that I have new tools in my "Mom Tool Box" that I can pull out when one of my kiddos comes to me wishing for something.  I no longer need to make the decision or be the bad guy when I must say no.
I can simply say to them, "Great idea...why don't you create a goal for it!"  or "Do you have the money for it?  If so, then I believe you will be able to decide if that is how you'd like to spend your money."
I no longer have the decision power, I've turned that over to my kids.
I have in turn empowered them with "the tools" they need to make choices now that will only serve to benefit them later in life.

**I so greatly appreciate the awareness FamilyMint has brought to me...
with our older kids, I didn't take the time, nor did I even think to, to spend time delving into the ins and outs of Money Management.
I am going away from this experience a better, stronger, more prepared Mom
and the outcome will be even greater --
Kids who will become Well-Prepared, Self-Reliant, Money Managing, Empowered Adults!!!
And all this just by allowing them to take on the responsibility, and if necessary, facilitating a way for them to earn money so that they can learn to spend their money wisely.

If you think about it...
by facilitating a money earning experience
and then facilitating the opportunity
to take care of needs and wants your kiddos may have
such as the desire/need for new shoes or pants, maybe a new shirt or two, etc...
you've opened up a whole new world of learning for your kids.
(if you have get the whole NEED for new shoes!!!)

You will likely find that your children will tend to be much more thoughtful about what purchases need to be made when it is their money.
Kids are happy to spend money all day long ~
BECAUSE they don't realize it is a LIMITED RESOURCE
UNTIL they OWN IT!!!

**  Are you ready for a BONUS???
 FAMILYMINT is by far the VERY BEST tool I have seen for assisting in the process of earning the Personal Management Merit Badge for Scouts!  With three boys all in the Scouting Program, this is huge bonus for me as a mom.  Can you see me smiling???

**  Now on to the "Tech side" of things--
 I love the LOW-Tech side - the workbook and the worksheets that are available for hands on learning.  My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the many Fun Money Facts that are listed throughout...
Along with the workbook is the High tech side
The FamilyMint Premium Online Access
AND there is even a mobile app! - optimized version for when you are out and about...instant access at your fingertips at all times!!!
They work in beautiful is that?!

Our kids think it's pretty fantastic that they have "Accounts" online just like we do for our family and business accounts!
I've not used the mobile app, but will be when it's time to go out for those
Spring Shoes that will be NEEDED in a most desperate sort of way any day now!

Special Introductory Bundle Offer

from 29.99

Includes our 60-page Money Management Certification Program workbook plus a LIFETIME subscription to FamilyMint Premium.

Add additional workbooks to your order at 50% off the retail price.

Be sure to Check out a couple of great resources on their website!!!

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Debt
21 Simple Ways for Kids to Earn Money

NOW for the Cons of FamilyMint...
Just give me a minute or so...
I've come up with one.  Yes, ONLY ONE!!!
I LOVE COLOR and there wasn't much color happening.
Color adds an aspect of FUN for me...but since that was missing we just added it on our own.
I just threw in the white board and splashed color on it; that, along with our bank did the trick!
Certainly NOT a deal breaker for me!!!

My final "Report Card" for FamilyMint ~ A!
Give me a little color and I'd scoot it up to an A+.

FYI:  For anyone in the Midwest...FamilyMint will be an exhibitor in Cincinnati, April here for details.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Growing up is hard, Mom...

Through tear stained cheeks and quiet sobs,
my daughter uttered these words
and my heart broke into a million tiny pieces...

The only reply that seemed appropriate at that moment came quickly and with little thought,
"You are right,
Growing up is hard,
I'm so glad I get to do this with you."

If there is one thing I've learned as a parent to older kids,
it is
that when they wish to talk to you ~
you must NEVER be too busy to listen
and you MUST listen with your WHOLE HEART!
Don't miss a thing
open your mind...
be ready for whatever they might say
be okay with whatever they might say
and love them with all you have
even after all that they might say...

Growing up is hard on kids
and on Mom!

Together we'll make it through all the hard times
and our relationship will only prove stronger in the end!

(To better ensure that your kiddos will come to you when they are older, be sure to listen to them when they are little ... what they wish to share is BIG and IMPORTANT even though they may be small ... be available to them in heart and soul, not just in person ~ they really will feel the difference)

Enjoy the ride, goes by so very fast!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I LOVE looking at everything in life with the knowledge that
we have a CHOICE!!!

We do not have to live the life of a puppet!
There isn't someone out there saying what we must do,
which way we must turn,
when it's time to begin
or time to bring it all to a close.
You are NOT attached to strings that another must pull!

We get to call the shots...
We get to say how our life will be,
who will be walking through our days with us,
and how we wish to live our lives...
We have the right to decide which dreams to chase,
and which goals in life are truly priority.
It's a beautiful thing to exercise your right to make choices for yourself...
If you haven't tried your hand it...YOU really should!!!
You'll LOVE it, I just know you will!

As I pondered this little photo at the top of the page,
I REALLY wanted to be able to announce to the world that
I have had it totally together and that I
choose #2!!!  Sounds good, eh???

The honest side of me will now take over and share
The Rest of the Story!

I have typically found myself quite guilty of CHOOSING #1...
Forget Everything And Run!!!
I am the MASTER
(yes, I own that title!)
at forgetting,
and when all these things fail to do the trick,
when I can no longer escape inwardly,
I have chosen to RUN like the dickens!!!

I am courageously tackling #2
in a much more consistent manner!

Face Everything And Rise...

I look at it this way...
"It "
(whatever the it is at the time ~
whatever Fear I am forced to deal with)
is likely to hang around for quite some time...
Sooooooo ~
If I just go ahead and take a deep breath,
muster up a bit o' courage from deep inside 
and face that ugliness head on...
I will RISE above that hard challenge
and chalk "it" up to one more thing 
I've not let stand in my way...
It is time to Face those Nasty, Pesky Fears
and let 'em know I refuse to RUN anymore!

So, now it's your turn...which do you typically choose???
If you find yourself consistently choosing #1,
I invite you to join me in Rising above it all...
Give up the Run, friend...
it's all too exhausting
and far from rewarding!

I wish I could give credit to the attachment above...
but I haven't the foggiest idea who it came from...
so to whomever created ~ Nice Work and Thank You!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm a Grammy again...

Here is our latest addition to our family...
Just minutes old in this photo!

Little Ryker Chad Hopkins...
born Monday, March 11th at 7:21 p.m..

Healthy and happy!!!

Weighing in
at a whoppin' 7 lbs 10 oz
and 20 1/4 inches...

This little man was born to our daughter, Shealyn and her husband Matt.
What a beautiful job she did in bringing this sweet little one into the world!

I really MUST tell you what a special, sacred experience it is to be at your daughters side during the birth of your grandchild...I've been able to be with them for all three babies and each of them is just as delightfully special as the next!

And to witness the love that Shealyn and her husband have for one another warms my heart...I captured the most beautiful moment on camera just seconds after his arrival.
Pure bliss for two people!
There are few things in life that rank as high as seeing your children happy!

Late last night,
I pondered how grateful I am that my health has returned to a point that I could be with Shealyn during this time; that I am able to be the Mom she needs and the Grammy that her little ones need ...  I feel truly blessed for all the good that exists in my life!

Tonight...I am doing the Happy Grammy Dance...YES, there is one!!!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I am blessed so richly...
I still have little ones at home to snuggle up and love on each day
I have little grandbabies that I can add to the mix!
Photo: Happy kids!

My Rocking Chair Nights might NEVER have to end...LUCKY ME!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Play Little People, Play...

LOVED this so much...It is from

Play is hard work
and worth every moment of effort it takes!

Play little people, play...

Play Momma, play...
your children will always remember the times you stopped EVERYTHING else just for them.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Becoming ME...

This Journey 
is a 

It is a magnificent experience
to allow

Even more spectacular
is finding
that you
is there...


Don't know why I waited so long to let ME out...
I'm pretty alright ~
and to think
I was hiding myself all these years
trying to be the person
I thought
would wish me to be.

It's so much more fun
when you embrace yourself
and just live
and feel free...
free from all the stuff
you've always told yourself...
free from all the stuff 
you believed others thought...
free from all the junk 
that makes you sad...
free from all
that is ugly 
and rotten 
and simply not worth your time.

IF YOU haven't thought about YOU
and the magic and wonder inside...
I challenge you to go for it!

It's high time you 
ALLOW the Beautiful, Wonderful YOU
 that is inside 
to jump out and 
shake this world up a bit!!!

Then be sure to send me a quick note ~
I can't wait to hear about YOU and YOUR STORY!!!

Happy Becoming to YOU!  :)

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