Homeschool Conference!!!

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

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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bucking the NORM... Embracing the Unique!

There is no one right answer, 
no perfect mold, 
no one-size-fits-all form of education that is sure to work for every person. 
So many feel that they must conform to the norm, but just because the majority is doing it still doesn’t make it right or best. 
Every family is different and unique, so embrace your uniqueness and go for what feels like the best fit for education for your family and each of your children. 
Give up being “normal” just so you can fit in with the crowd. 

Yes, you will stand out. 
Yes, others may think you’ve totally lost it. 
Yes, some days you will also think you’ve totally lost it! 
Yes, you can customize a unique education for each child within your responsibility without ruining your kids
Your kiddos are counting on you to be sensitive to their needs and their individuality, and to bravely and courageously buck the norm if need be! 

Time and again, I am confronted with inquiries of WHY on EARTH I would wish to keep my kids home for their education instead of sending them on their merry little way to the local school. I have nothing against the schools; I may not love everything they do, but that is NOT the reason I have chosen to have our kiddos home with us. 
It’s because I choose to embrace each and every moment with them; 
to focus on their strengths 
and to help them overcome their weaknesses; 

to help them see that there is nothing out of their reach, 
and no one knows them better than I do, so no one can do that better than I can.
Often there is some doubt and hesitation on the part of well-meaning family and friends, but I’ve decided to be happy in spite of that. 

I’ve also dealt with the opposing side of this, as we’ve seen that the most fitting situation for a certain child or two might be to give them a shot at a Math class or an elective in the public school . . . 
Some homeschooling families quiver and shake at these ideas, feeling that they are abandoning their decision to homeschool if they even allow their kids to step foot in a public school setting, or any foreign school setting. It may as well be a conversion to the Dark Side. 
Instead, I know I’m being open to inspiration for my children as individuals. 
Their needs change, 
or our circumstances change, 
and life changes; 
I need to be willing to be ready to accept new experiences. 
Again, there is no one right way to do any of this; there are many ways, and we just do our best to do our best in the circumstances. 

I wish to arm you with the 
courage to invite those difficult conversations 
and share with others the unique opportunities you are offering your children, when they’re truly interested. 
I wish for you to kick the idea of “normal” right out the window
and show others that may question you that you have found something that is a better, happier fit for your family (whatever that may look like). 
I wish freedom for you from all doubt and fear

Revisit WHY 

you chose to walk down this path in the first place, and you will feel centered again.
Others won’t always understand your choices and decisions, AND THAT’S OKAY
Soothe fears and worries when you feel you can, and even include them, if possible. 
Maybe throw a huge “Back-to-School Party” and invite those wary and questioning souls to join you. Your excitement and preparedness will speak volumes and may prove to be just the peace and comfort they need.

Don’t make a place in your heart for anger or resentment; 
this is your time to enlighten others, and, if they won’t be enlightened, to be happy with the plans you’ve made with your family anyway! 
As you “stay the course” and follow the path you have chosen, others’ hearts may change . . . 
and if they don’t, you can still enjoy the magic that happens when you do what you know in your heart to be right for that unique family of yours. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Oh, That's Glamorous..."

Add a large side of sarcasm to the above line
and that's the lovely response I received recently while at one of my business meetings.

I'm certain she didn't mean to be so...
So downright rude as she made her remark after asking me the standard
"So what do you do?" question.
To which I responded something to the effect of,
"Oh, I own a carpet cleaning company...blah, blah, blah, blah."
I know it truly doesn't sound that "Glamorous", but it is my life and I'm pretty okay with it. :)

And to give her credit,
I am certain she would have loved to have eaten her words as soon as they left her lips,
but the fact is once words are spoken they are there,
can't erase them,
can't erase the good
or the bad they may cause.

I felt squeamish and uncomfortable with this more-glamorous-than-I woman standing in front of me...
I honestly couldn't tell you what she does or even what she looks like.
I was a bit shell-shocked...
but only momentarily.
I joked back with her agreeing that no, carpet cleaning in itself may not be glamorous,
but it sure has afforded me a life that is
and just how much I love the company that my husband and I own.
That was about all that I said to her and went on about my merry business of meeting and greeting others in hopes to NEVER have that same response.

I should actually thank her on a couple of accounts:
First, I need to find JUST THE RIGHT WORDS to make this wonderful little family business of ours sound deserves more credit and I will choose my words more wisely from now on so that I leave a lasting impression on others.
I'm liking the ring of "I own the WORLD'S GREATEST CARPET CLEANING COMPANY!"
Sounds a little arrogant, but I bet it will catch some attention. :)

I left that meeting with "those words" ringing in my ears and ended my evening with positive thoughts replacing them...
"Oh, that's glamorous" just doesn't sit well.
No I'm not some fancy shmancy super model with the "career" that backs it up.
I don't sell any products to make me beautiful,
I don't sell fancy houses,
I'm not an interior designer,
I don't own a sweet little boutique on the edge of town,
I don't...
I'm not...
(fill in the ideal glamorous job here...the list could be endless)

But I am pretty fantastic in my very own way, sometimes I just have to remind myself of who I am and knock out those ugly thoughts that so easily flood my mind.

I wonder had I said to her,
"Oh, I'm a writer/author and psychology junkie!
I am a parent educator with a focus on teaching families how to embrace mutual respect, resiliency and self-reliance!
I am raising a large family and enjoy my days teaching my children and many others that come to our "school" each week (when I'm not running our business)!
I'm a wife to a man who thinks I am about the most glamorous thing that ever walked the earth and he makes me feel it day in and day out!
I am ....!!!"

As I left for my drive home that evening, I replayed in my mind the many people I had visited with, yet, SHE kept coming back to me...
Yes, I was bothered...
I was even a little irritated and felt a little less-than compared to all those that are selling the "glamorous items" in life...
And then all of a sudden, I was talking myself out of these ugly feelings and talking my self up!
That's what we need to do at times, talk us back up!

I wasn't about to let this one little line change me for a second...
time to move on and look at all that is full of sparkle and shine in my life!
I have one ROCKIN' GLAMOROUS LIFE...and I am so happy to be living it!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Transfer Time...

My time has come to leave the beautiful Tri-State area... 
so long Hancock / Warfordsburg / Berkely Springs / Buck Valley / Paw Paw (that I never actually went to) / Needmor. 
It's been real. 
Hopefully Virginia has this many trees, because Fall is coming and I expect leaves!!! 

Last week we went out metal detecting with Karrie, and I found a rabies tag off of a dog! 
And what I'm pretty sure is a spear head from the Indians of long ago.... Dave thinks it's just part of a plow though. 
Also, a beer can. 
That's gotta be worth something. 

This week we had exchanges, and it was so fun! 

Sister Boman went to a new area for a few days, and I stayed in Hancock with a different sister. We both received a lot of inspiration on how to move forward in our area. And even better than that, we learned how to get along with each other better. We had been having a tough week together, but we learned on exchanges how to love each other even if our personalities clash at times. I love Sister Boman!

And then came call outs 
(meaning, we found out what will happen with us at transfers this week!) 
We were so sure we would both be staying in this area, 
BUT they are leaving her here with a new sister to train and moving me to a new area with a new sister! 

I'm training in an area I've never been to!! 
So on Wednesday, 
I'll have a new house 
and a new car 
and a new companion 
and a GPS 
and I'll be training 
and driving 
and running an area all by myself.... 
Heavenly Father has a lot of work for me to do this week.

As exciting as call outs were, 
I cried and cried when I had to tell Miss Haylee that I was leaving. 
She had just set a baptism date, 
and then a few hours later I was telling her I had to leave and couldn't finish teaching her! 
But I'll be coming back for her baptism and I am so excited!! 

I know Heavenly Father called me to Hancock for two reasons: 
1) Starting up the weekly Book of Mormon study for the ward. 
2) To meet Haylee. 
That girl is amazing and I love the holy living snot out of her. 
It makes me so happy to know that in a few weeks, she'll be able to enjoy the blessing of being baptized and having the spirit with her full time! 
I will write her for the rest of my life. She is incredible. 

Brooke had her baby this week!! He is beautiful. 
She comes home today, and I'll get to see him before I leave!! Hooray! 
Quote of the week:
"Now, I know Hancock isn't known for perverts, but they're coming. 
*we turn and start walking away* 
They'll be here soon! 
*Sister Lytle and Boman walking away ignoring the drunk mans last words* 
We died laughing when we turned the corner. 
He was too drunk to even walk, and he had a mouthful to tell us. 
We laughed our heads off :) 

Love you all! 

Sister Lytle 

Her last words to me today:  
"I'm going to Shenandoah Valley and I will be driving a 2013 Chevy Cruise! 
Woooohooo! Just found that out!"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flea Spray and Dogs are NOT BFF's...

Danielle's news...I'm a few days late posting, but I added pictures for you!!!

As we all know, family is the
And this week, I got to go to TWO FAMILY REUNIONS with my MTC family! 
My life is fantastic! 
I have missed those dorks so much! 

(I was able to go on to the blog for Danielle's mission area to find some photos...yay!!  She looks so good!  And btw, I'm pretty certain she wasn't saying these darling sisters were the "Dorks" she was missing...I'm guessing that would be the guys.  Just goin' off Danielle's normal language.)  :)

On Wednesday last week, we had our new trainers meeting, and when we walked into the doors, Sister JJ attacked me with a hug, and it felt so good. 
A few moments later I saw Elder Moore and Elder Knudsen plowing through the crowd of missionaries in front of them and nearly crawling over the top of the piano toward me. 
Not hugging them was the hardest thing of my life (and I'm not exaggerating that at all.) 
In 22 1/2 months, I can hug those boys until their eyes bulge out. 
But they might not be "boys" at that point anymore... they're going to grow up! 
My little brothers won't be as little anymore! 

Seeing everyone at that meeting was so good. 
Sister Little and Sister JJ and I had a really good group hug... it made the world feel so right. 
Even though 8 of my people are in different areas of the mission, it's so fun to have one of my "brothers" out in Hancock with me. 
But that meeting felt like going home for the weekend, and it made missing my Idaho home a little bit less, because I got a taste of how good it will feel when I come home and get to hug my real life brothers and sisters! And actually be able to hug you three boys back home! 
(Oh this makes me miss her so much...I can't wait for her hugs!!!)

On Friday, we had the Orioles vs Rockies baseball game, and my purple hair bow made the Rockies win!   Yay for me! 

Before the game, we went to a ladies home and gave her dogs a bath. This lady is fairly special needs and an absolute hoot. 
Pea Wee Underfoot and Little Bear had quite the bath, and I found out that flea spray and dogs are not BFF's, but it was still pretty funny. 
The game that night was super fun too~ and I got to see my family again!

I forgot to tell you all, but apparently people think I'm a brown kid... seeing as though they gave me a SPANISH PLANNER! I love it. But it's somewhat confusing having it all in another language. It makes me laugh though every time I look at it. 
I had Elder Bills read the first few pages of it in his Spanish Radio Announcer voice the other day... he knows no Spanish, which made the experience even better. 

Brooke will have her baby on Friday! And we are SO EXCITED! 
Haylee is reading the Book of Mormon, and the weekly scripture study that we just started is a major hit. Hooray! 
Brother Sanchez had his nephew in town the past two weeks, and we were able to be there and teach him some lessons, and the spirit was amazing. 
The gospel is so true, and it brings so much peace to peoples lives. 
I'm amazed as I watch it heal the hidden wounds of those around me. 

You all should check out the Maryland Baltimore Mission blog! Sister Richards puts all kinds of pictures of us up on it! And I should be there this last week!

While looking though the ward list, I found a few really funny email addresses... and I wonder if the members know that people actually read them. 
A few prime examples are: crazyladylikeafox, and keepingcovenants@myactive. 

I made it a personal goal that sometime in the eternities, I will hug everyone in existence
It's a good thing I've got forever to work on that goal. 
For now, I'll just work on all the women in the tri-state area. haha:)  

"Oh no, never mind... brain fart." 
"TECHNICAL FOUL. Don't use the F-word in ward council!"
*singing* "The wise man built his house upon the ___?" 
"Farm?" (Yesssss.... this little kid knows where it's at)
"Sisters, Hermanas, *throws a gang sign* Duces." *Brother Schriever exits the church building*

I love you all! Have fun in the Boise Smog! 
I'll keep on enjoying the beautiful rain and clear air here :) 
You're all the best. 
I really do love and appreciate you all!
Sister Lytle

Monday, August 12, 2013

I can teach the gospel AND I can teach riding! Boooyah!

The latest news from Danielle (Sister Lytle)...Enjoy!

Dearest 208 dwellers,

I live in the land of area codes. 
Everyone has a different area code here because these states are too dang close together! 

Saturday night we had an appointment with one of our members but he called us before we got there and told us that he had a friend in from VA beach and that he wanted us to teach him, so we agreed. 
When we got to Brother Sanchez's home, 
we found the elders (still cooking dinner) 
and his friend/nephew, Jerard. 
Now, this was my first "real" lesson, and it was on the spot, so that was a little scary. 
And THEN the zone leaders where there as well!! 
We were fed dinner (which we were not planning on, the elders dinner was just running late, so we wound up eating there too... talk about full bellies!) and then we were asked to teach Jerard. 
It is amazing how Jesus Christ can heal the wounded and the weary. We hardly said anything to him, but that lesson was powerful and the spirit was so strong. 
Brother Sanchez had forgotten about his appointment with the missionaries, and had not planned to share the gospel with his nephew. But the Spirit told him time and time again that day that he needed to invite Jerard to listen to a message, and it's a good thing he listened. 

Jerard was going though a really rough time, and to watch him come to peace with his Savior and to remember His love for him was a beautiful thing. 

Today we went out to the barn with the Bricker-Hoffman family, and I got screamed at by a PIG! 
It was the funniest thing of my life. I think poor Ruth might have a heart attack tonight from being so mad at us. But I loved every second of it! 
I got to watch Haylee start a baby horse today, and it KILLED me not being able to ride! 
But instead I gave a riding lesson. 
I can teach the gospel AND I can teach riding! Boooyah! 
Nothing smells quite so good as being around horses. I forgot how much I missed that. But I was able to get my horsey fix in, and it was wonderful! 

We have such a fun week ahead of us! 
On Wednesday, we were going to go to the Temple Visitors Center with the Bricker-Hoffman family, but instead we have our New Trainers Meeting from 10-4...blahh. But we will reschedule that! 
And THEN!!!
On Friday night, the entire mission is going to an Oriels Baseball Game for Mormon Night! 
And of course, our Bishop is calling EARLY meetings that weekend. Haha :) this is the life. 

"Did y'all get the copy of that?" (Bishop)
"Did you just say "y'all"" (Ward council member) 
"What's wrong with "y'all'?"
"You're from Samoa"
"Yeah, Southern Samoa."

"Because that's what Jesus would do; when she handed Him that diet coke, He would have said, "Oh, thank you!"" -Sacrament meeting speaker (from the stake) Who knew Jesus likes diet coke?

Aimee had her dad pass away this week, and when we went to see her, she was reading out of the Book of Mormon (it's still her first time reading it) and she told us that when she opened it up, it was on the part where Lehi was dying. She told us of the peace she felt and how healing the Word of God can be in the hard times. It was incredible. Heavenly Father really does love us individually.

I love you all!!
Sister Lytle

This week, I received a text message with this photo of Danielle and a little message about her...

I was told what a wonderful missionary she is and how much they love her!  The girl in the middle is one that they have been working with ~ Hailee.  Danielle asks us to pray for is so fun to put a face with a name.  :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August is upon us!!!

It’s that time of year again…

You know, the time when all thoughts of the homeschooling mom turn to 
school days, 
and dreams of school supply shopping.  
There might be random moments of admiring the beauty of NEW crayons and markers in their fancy little packages, planning, planning, and yet more planning; 
what to do for the rapidly approaching new year, 
how to do it all, 
how to possibly do it better, 
organizing those wonderful school supplies, 
when to start, 
what is most important, 
which curriculum to use, 
which method to give a shot, 
to co-op or not, 
this field trip or that, 
strict schedule or flexibility, 
still searching for a magical way to sneak hiring a maid into the budget, 
piano lessons or art,  
how to “socialize” these kids to the liking of this person or that, 
P.E. or drama, 
sharpening all those wonderful new pencils that STILL have erasers, 
how to teach the big ones and little ones at the same time, 
how to dream up the perfect chore chart so your house doesn't fall apart leaving you living in squalor, 
dual enrollment options or at home full-time, 
pondering whether or not they will be prepared for college/life . . . 
the list is endlessly long!

Add to that, the impending doubt and feeling of doom that will surely hit as you are trying to formulate                        "The 

         School Year" 
for you and your kiddos; all the while giving it your best shot to STOP those moments of self-defeat before they have the chance to take over!

Yes, AUGUST is upon us!!!

The time to finalize it all . . . tie up all of your loose ends.

Time to rally the troops and get them excited about the upcoming school year, time to gear up and be ready for that big 1st Day Back to School!

Not to be a total downer, but I just have to tell you the truth, at least the truth as I see it. 
That 1st Day back will quite possibly be a 
major disappointment 
if you set the expectation in your mind 
that it will be the perfect day
that your kids will perfectly love everything you put before them; 
that you will behave yourself as any perfect mother would, 
and that your house will remain in perfect order 
and dinner will magically appear in a most perfect sort of manner 
on your perfectly set and prepared dining room table.  

Oh, and lest we forget – 
your perfectly charming husband will appear at dinner time with the most perfectly arranged bouquet of flowers and decadent chocolates in gratitude for all you do for this perfect little family of yours! 

Dreamy, I know!!! 

But snap out of it . . . 
because you can’t live in a dream world and survive the job of a homeschooling momma!

After 18 years of homeschooling, 
I’ve yet to experience one of those “perfect” 1st days that I always manage to dream up in my mind . . . I guess it’s my reality check each year . . . it tends to set me back and force me to my knees in search of new answers and new ideas . . . and generally instills in my heart a desire to slow down, watch, listen and focus on the FIRST things I had planned before ADDING in all the extra fluff that I thought would make for the perfect homeschooling world. 

Please be easy on yourselves this month . . .  
Yes, you NEED to plan, 
you REALLY NEED to buy some of those wonderful NEW school supplies and look at how marvelous they look in their boxes—
after all, it won’t be long before most of them are lost, so enjoy it while you can!  
And you need to be ready for a new year . . . 
but do your best to not over-plan 
or over-expect or over-do.  

Know that every day will not be perfect
every day will not be dreamy
but every day can be a new adventure 
and you can enjoy that adventure right alongside those amazing kiddos you have.

Wishing a Happy August to you -- 
happy planning, happy shopping, happy organizing and happy YOU time when needed.

Best Wishes ~ Stacey

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cupcake vs. Cake, The Ultimate Companionship Battle

Spent about an hour back and forth with my sweet Danielle this morning...she sounds wonderful!
She is still just as full of spunk and energy as ever.  I have no doubt she is keeping everyone on their toes in Hancock, but it sounds like they love her, not to my surprise at all...she is quite lovable!!!
Today, I am going to pack up the BEST CUPCAKE SUPPLIES EVER to send her way...
time to end this battle properly!  :)  
Be sure to enter into "The Contest"...
I'll be reporting to Danielle if it's Cupcake or Cake.  
Let the games begin!!!

Dearest Idaho people, and others,

I'm a month old as of Saturday, the 3rd!! 
Time flies!
This week was wonderful and we saw so many little miracles. 

This week I also found out that 
my companion is a psycho
She doesn't like cupcakes! 
Who is she?? 
Since that confession of hers / argument of ours, 
we have been holding a cake vs. cupcake poll. 
It's about 50/50, but I'm obviously the right one here. 

Also, as a result, one of our friends out here is referring to me as Sister Cupcake
I love it, and Sister B hates it. 
Which makes it all the better :) 
other than that little spat, we are getting along well here. 

Miracle of the week:
We were given a challenge at Zone Conference that was quite intimidating, and we were hesitant to try it out. But we decided to have faith that if the Lord gave us counsel to do something, that we would do it. When we applied the training, we were soooo nervous. But it worked! And we were hitherto humbled. And it just made me realize, that when we are asked to do something, that the Lord will always prepare the way before us if we will have the faith in Him.

Quote of the week: 
"Oh Sister Lytle, you're not our 'friend.' You're family here.
You heard Abe, I don't have to be nice to you! 
You're my sister now!  Kind of... you're just a special sister I guess. 
But I still don't have to be nice"  (Hailey is one of my favsies)

Sorry this is so short this week, but I love you all and will write you a long one soon!
Sister Lytle / Sister Cupcake

So, here's the deal...just write me a quick "Cupcake" or "Cake"
and I'll do the reporting to Danielle...She will LOVE it that we are joining in!!!  (Feel free to write anything else as well and I'll pass it on for her...thanks for joining in on the fun!)