August 31, 2013

Sabbath Silence for August 31st

Here are a few new Nature and Verse graphics for you to enjoy!


May you and your family have a most blessed Sabbath day and a lovely Labor Day weekend!

August 29, 2013

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind

Of all the inspirational fiction books that I've read (even the ones I chose for fun) this summer, I think this one might be my join me in reading my review of:
Into the Whirlwind (Kindle Edition)

This novel is set in Chicago in October 1871--the year Chicago was forever changed by the Great Chicago Fire. This book thrusts you INSTANTLY into the inferno with it's opening paragraph and that is ALWAYS a sign of a good book!
A wall of fire towered over Mollie. The city of Chicago had been burning for hours, the scorching wind stirring up firestorms that barrelled down the narrow streets and illuminated the night sky. It was getting hard to breathe. Smoke and ash hung in the air, coating Mollie's throat until her thirst grew more painful than the blistering heat. The crush of people jostling to flee northward made it hard to even keep standing. The city Mollie loved so well was being destroyed... (Camden, 5)
See?? How can you put it down after reading that?! I couldn't!

This book starts on the day of the fire...but then backtracks to five days before the inferno began and reintroduces the main characters and what events led them to be together on the day of the fire. It catches back up to the day of the fire and then continues on from there.

Mollie is the owner of a specialty watch factory who inherited the company from her now deceased father. They sell to a big department store in town--one of the few places which takes their handmade expensive fine watches. One day she gets a visit from the store lawyer who announces she has just days to decide whether or not to sell her company to the store. Her employees are all broken veterans of the Civil War--men who fought side by side with her father, so she worries about their employment status should she sell. And her own...what will she do if she sells when it's all she's ever known? And then she discovers a secret about the department store which changes the ball game...and she and the young lawyer begin going head to head...

Now add to this the sparks between Mollie and the lawyer Zack (who we learn has been in love with Mollie for quite awhile), the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire, the rebuilding of the city--and Mollie's company--in the aftermath, and the arrival of competition from a northern factory which uses machines to make fancy watches like Mollie's and you've got yourself quite the story!

I appreciated the vivid descriptions of life for the citizens and business owners after the fire--the author states at the end that she tried to make it as close to fact as she could in that aspect.

The plot never really slows down and I felt that there was great buildup of each character. You don't learn everything all at once about them--it's revealed in pieces as you go through the book and I find that much more intriguing.

I absolutely recommend this book to any historical fiction lover out there---but especially those who also enjoy inspirational fiction in general. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House as part of their book review bloggers program through Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday for August 28th

Wordless Wednesday on Only Passionate Curiosity


Mini Salted Caramel Apple Pies--YUM!
Fresh picked Winesap Apples, pears and some peaches!


August 27, 2013

Chats On the Farmhouse Porch for August 27th

Happy Tuesday! It's time for a bit of randomness this week...
Everyday Ruralty
1. Do you remember your first day of school?
No, I don't. However, my mom does very vividly and can describe it for me. I think it's kind of something that the parents remember more than the kids.
2. Do you decorate for the different seasons? If so, have you decorated for fall yet?
Hmmm. Not like hardcore decorations. I do like to decorate my side door as that is the door my piano students come in. So I like to have seasonal window clings and door hangers. But that's about the extent of it.
3. What food do you associate with fall?
That first heavenly pot of chili and soup! I adore cooking in fall because I do all those yummy dishes. I also think of the scent of apple pie. And pumpkin pie. And all sorts of baked goodies. And spices. Hmmm...okay, I'm ready for fall!
4. Do you order books online, buy books in a bookstore, download books to a device, or frequent the library? If not interested in books, how do you get your music?
I am a weekly visitor to our library. We have an excellent one. But now that I'm doing Blogger Book Reviews I'm getting quite a few free new releases from publishers. I really don't like downloading books because I don't have a reading device...just Kindle for my laptop. And I NEVER download or buy music. Never have.
5. When was the last time you realized that you had just been talking to someone really special?
Is it a cop-out to say last night talking with Love-Of-My-Life? LOL! Seriously though I do enjoy those moments when you meet someone new and then walk away thinking about how much you enjoyed your conversations.
Well that's it for the chat this week! It was nice to have some randomness for the morning! Have a most beautiful and blessed day! It's our 2nd day of school here on the farm and it's supposed to be 90's all week long...and I have about 50 lbs of tomatoes in my kitchen to process today. So I am going to be a busy girl!

See you here tomorrow for another week of Wordless Wednesday!

August 26, 2013

Poppins Book Nook~ August 2013: Fairytales!

If you are here for the first time, let me give you a run down on what the Poppins Book Nook is all about. We are a group of Homeschooling Bloggers who work around a book theme each month. On the last Monday of the month we come together to share with you what books we read about that theme...and share any activities, field trips, crafts, ect that we might have done relating to that theme! Because our books are for ages PreK to 12th, visiting each blog in the blog hop lets you get a plethora of ideas for your children regardless of their age!

Last month's theme was all about Ocean/Beach (you can see my post here), but this month it's all about the a much loved theme of Fairytales!!

Now with our crazy August schedule and the fact that we aren't doing school during the summer, our Poppins Book Nook activity has pretty much just been READING! Yep, just good old reading some books to match the theme!

We have two great FairyTale books to recommend for this month--they are absolutely BOY approved--no princesses or fru-fru stuff! LOL!

Our first book we kind of stumbled upon, but it ended up being a definite favorite! 

This book is a classic because not ONLY is it a re-telling of the famous fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, but it's a re-telling with an Appalachian feel! The language is absolutely backwoods and hick! And the great thing about this is that it makes for a great read aloud story! We had to chuckle because living right at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains we HEAR this language quite a lot from the characters living in the "hollows" around our town!
The first time I read the story I tried to read it straight...but the NEXT time I read it with a "hillbilly" swagger and it just flowed off the tongue and the boys howled! Here is an example...instead of what the giant says in MOST versions of the story, the giant in THIS book says:
"Fee Fi Pickles and Cracker
I smell the toes of a Tadwhacker."

So not only is this a great book for fairytales but if you were studying the Appalachian mountain region I recommend this book as a great way to examine the language...because as crazy as the language seems it really IS what many of the residents in the region say--especially the further you go into the mountains.

The second book we read was ANOTHER retelling of a popular fairytale--this one of the Three Little Pigs.
The Three Ninja Pigs
This retelling of the popular story takes place in Japan. It's very clever in how it introduces the reader to three different forms of martial arts as well as teaching the lesson of diligence and perseverance. And yes, even your girls will like it as the THIRD pig IS a girl pig. LOL! The illustrations are gorgeous and it's just a very fun read. It's written in rhyme which makes it fun to read-aloud. If you have little "ninjas" in your house, I think they will love this book!

I was really hoping to get to my "ultimate" fairy tale resource but it just didn't happen...

This book is about 2" thick and has all of the classic fairytales first written down by Hans Christian Anderson! I plan on incorporating them into our reading this year. Not only are they original forms of the stories we know and love, but they also teach character and morals. I purchased this book when I was a teenager because I knew it was a treasure for my bookshelf!
This month's Poppins Book Nook is very special in that we are given all of you a chance to win your own copy of
This is a fabulous book to have in your collection for your bookshelf so make sure you use the Rafflecopter widget here to get entered to win!
Ready to add your own posts about Fairytale themed books?

August 25, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal for August 25th
In my life this week…I have been busy working on my "How Do I Teach" series that I shared last week. I am so honored that so many of you stayed with me during the week to support the series! If you missed it, you can click HERE to start the series posts!
In our homeschool this week…all we've been doing is preparing our classroom and pulling together our curriculum. I discovered this week that I was missing half of my math curriculum which was a problem. LOL! But I've got it all now so we can get set for our first day!
My favorite thing this week was…getting all the materials and starting to organize it for school! It's exciting to see the new stuff and get the new supplies!
My kiddos favorite thing this week was…doing our art curriculum (for a review) with my mother-in-law. We enjoyed using our paints and other mediums.
I’m cooking…things with peaches, apples and pears! We just got a harvest from my husband's uncle and I'm enjoying all of it very much! The peaches are amazing!
I’m praying for…a good start for school. We will start on Monday! (eep!)
A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…
One of the photos from our 10 year anniversary shoot...I love it!



August 24, 2013

Sabbath Silence for Aug. 24

Have a most beautiful and blessed Sabbath!

ps. Did you miss my blog series this week? You can CLICK HERE to check it out!

August 23, 2013

The Necessity of Me-time and Blog Series Wrap Up

Thanks for joining me on day five of the encouraging "How Do I Teach..." five day series! As I introduced on Monday's post, this week I'm spending time discussing a question near and dear to many homeschooling mom's hearts--
How Do I teach and Still Fulfill My Role as Wife and Mother
Today is the fifth and final day of my week long series and I'm so thankful that you have been sticking with me this week! We've addressed a lot of issues in effort to help all us homeschooling mom's juggle the demand on our time, not just as a teacher but that of a wife and mom. We've just got one last area to touch on in this series...
Necessity of Me-time
With all the responsibilities from the roles as wife, mother and homeschooling teacher, it is easy to forget about taking time! We get so busy in caring for the needs of our family that we sacrifice a lot of the things or time that we could use for ourselves...and this is NOT bad...but I think it is still NECESSARY to grant yourself some "ME-TIME".

Now I'm sure some would say "What? When am I going to FIND the time for Me-time?" Or "I really don't need it. I'm fine without it." Or you might be referencing the posts that I've made this week and say "Wait. You already tell me that I need God-time...AND to make sure I get quality time with my on EARTH am i going to work in time for ME too?"

Well, here's the thing about "Me-time"...It actually DOVETAILS with both of those things! There may not be a need to schedule in additional time! 
My definition of Me-Time is simple:

Me-time is the time you take to give yourself a moment to recharge your inner self.

For those of us endeavoring to work in morning God-time...that is easily "me-time" as well. If you are working on adding in quality time with your spouse that's just one-on-one...that also can be "me-time".

But I also think it's good to have some portion of your day--10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour--whatever you can spare to do something "frivolous" (for lack of better word).

Have you read any good books lately? Do you have a show you enjoy? Maybe you are musical and like to play your instrument? Or nails--have you given yourself a manicure or pedicure lately? What about a trip to the hair salon for a trim?

These things are not related to your roles of mommy, wife or teacher--but they are things you enjoy. At this point in my life, these things are LUXURY items. LOL! But you know what? Whenever I am able to do one of them, I feel good. It recharges that "inner Lisa" who finds it easy to lose herself as she tackles the day to day responsibilities.

Here are some things that I do as "me time"...

During school I try to allow myself 15-20 minutes every day to just sit down and read a good book. I might only get a couple chapters in, but that's okay. For that period of time it takes my mind off things I'm dealing with and transports me to another time and place. I set the timer too which keeps me accountable.

I am a musician. I play the piano, so some times while the boys are playing toys, I will put dishes in to soak or laundry in the washer or dryer and then come play the piano a little bit. Music really helps my mood so playing it helps me stay relaxed. Again, it's not long. Maybe even just 1 or 2 songs. But allows me to stay in touch with things I love.

I love funky nail polish. So every now and then I buy a fun color and then work in time (usually Friday evening) to give myself a pedicure. Now that only takes a few minutes. But it's something that helps my mood.

I am a huge chip junky. I'm not especially fond of chocolate (I KNOW! CRAZY, HUH?) so I prefer salty snacks. Sometimes I will buy me a tiny bag of chips and pour myself a glass of sweet tea and then take a moment to go sit on the porch and just enjoy being outside. 

I also adore flowers and have quite the flower bed around my porch. So some days I use the time weeding and trimming my flowers as "me time". Same thing with my vegetable garden.

Notice that none of these things requires a lot of time...but each of them is something special that I enjoy apart from my children, housework or husband. I find that if I have a week where I'm just go-go-go and not allowing myself these small "me time" pleasures, that I can get weary. 

I asked some fellow homeschooling moms what they do for their "me-time". Here are what some of the responses were... 

Diana: "I get up early enough to get both God-time and me-time in (thanks to the hubby who I see out the door at 6am). So by the time the kiddo is awake in the morning, I've had a couple hours of alone time. Some is spent in prayer & Bible Study and some is spent doing the internet thing and/or blogging and/or digital scrapbooking and/or reading (depends on the day as to what I feel will fill my me-tank). I don't start on any household chores until after the kiddo is awake - it keeps him asleep longer (we live in a small place and I don't want the noise of the washer or vacuum to wake him) AND I can do chores while being interrupted, but me-time needs to be quiet time.

Kimberly: "My me-time is spent while my munchkins are cleaning up their toys or after they are in bed for the night. I either spend the time reading or catching up with family/relatives."

Eva: "I get up with hubby at 5:30 to have my time with God, prayer and Bible study. Then I try to have "me time" for sewing, knitting, reading, whatever, while the kids are having quiet time..."

Jessica: "Husband watches kids and I get to go study or do something on my own at the local frozen yogurt or coffee shop. Every Sunday he works out and takes them with him and I get to meditate/ clean house/ grocery shop. I sometimes hire a local church teen or preteen to be a mommy helper 1-2 hrs a week and get to work/study/clean or whatever. Many churches have free "mommas day out" or free "mommy and daddy night out" also."

Me-time is going to be different for every mom. Here is a response I had from one friend when I asked her about "me time":

Stephanie: "I do not view it as a reasonable expectation in our house. Sometimes I try to take a shower or use the facilities but even then privacy isn't guaranteed. It's a crazy way to live but they'll be gone before you know it and I know I'll miss the constant interruptions."

For her, "me time" ISN'T a necessity and maybe it's not for you either...but I find that for MOST of us moms we like to have tidbits of time when we get to remember who WE are when NOT defined by our status as "mommy" or "wife". I really DO think it's's a way to remember that "I am a person too!"

One of my good friends Anna, wrote a beautiful post about this very thing that I would love for you to check can find it here: Where My Treasure Is~Mothering Monday "Oh Yeah...I'm still a person!" It is an excellent read!!

I put forth the challenge to you--

Find a few minutes every day, or every other day or at the very LEAST every week to do something for YOU
It will go a long way to help deal with the feeling of being overwhelmed that us homeschooling moms are so prone to!
Well, that wraps up this blog series. Through the course of the week we talked about some ways to help keep from being overwhelmed while trying to homeschool AND fulfill our other roles as wives and mothers. We talked about the importance putting God-time as a #1 priority each day and how it can help keep everything else in balance. I challenged you to find a way to bring vibrancy to your marriage by spending quality time with your spouse thus strengthening the "power of two". Yesterday I reminded you that it's possible to give yourself some freedom from the "burden" of household chores by "sharing the wealth" with your family members--including even the littlest in the house-- and finding a routine you can follow. And today we talked about how just working in a few moments of "me time" can do wonders for your emotional health.

I hope that you enjoyed our discussions and that they encouraged you and gave you some ideas on how to answer the question...

how do I teach and still fulfill my role as wife and mother

I hope to keep seeing you around my blog in the future!


August 22, 2013

Share the Wealth (aka. Don't Make Yourself a Houseslave)

Thanks for joining me on day four of the encouraging "How Do I Teach..." five day series! As I introduced on Monday's post, this week I'm spending time discussing a question near and dear to many homeschooling mom's hearts--
how do I teach and still fulfill my role as wife and mother
So far I have discussed how by first putting God as your #1 focus will allow you to be in the right balance to take on the responsibilities that you have as a mom, wife and homeschooling teacher. Yesterday we talked about how your husband needs to be in that #2 spot in your life--and offered up ideas on how to keep the romance alive between you to give you the support you need.

And that brings us to today's discussion...
don't make yourself a houseslave
Let me start with a confession...

I am messy.
I leave things out.
I "miss" the clothes hamper and don't go pick it up.
I leave shoes scattered all over the house.
I can operate just fine with a dirty bathroom, a floor that needs mopped, and mirrors with spots.

I don't LIKE messy.
I get on my boys for leaving things out (like me).
I get on my boys for missing the clothes hamper and not picking it up (like me).
I get on my boys for leaving their shoes scattered around (like me).
And they too can operate just fine with a dirty bathroom, a floor that needs mopped, and mirrors with spots (like me).

My husband cannot. And there is the rub. He is the "Felix" to my "Oscar" nature. He loves things in their place, clean and orderly. He will follow behind me and pick up my trails. He is ecstatic when I give the house a scrub down or decide to organize. Or if he sees me cleaning the kitchen after I dirty it up. The scent of PineSol brings him joy because he knows I only use it if I mop the floor.

Do you see where there is a problem? Do you see where BOTH of us can get overwhelmed? He by my messy-ness. And me having to fight my nature to try to bring the house up to his "standards" and always feeling like I've failed thus making me overwhelmed.

But remember what I said in yesterday's post?? He didn't marry me for my housecleaning skills. He married me for me. And He KNOWS how hard it is for me to do housework because frankly--I hate doing it. But at the same time, I KNOW that my messy-ness is a character flaw that I deal with every single day as I battle to keep it under control and set a better example for the boys, which means I push myself in an effort to eradicate it. And that's not necessarily good either.

So being a team...we've learned to Share the Wealth to keep me from turning myself into a "houseslave".

What does that mean?

It means that we sat down and worked out the things that we agree to "let go" and the things that are always done. This means that somethings are on a once a week or month or yes even YEAR cleaning schedule while other things are a daily list. The next thing we did was decide who was going to be responsible for what. This is key---Your husband should not expect you ALONE to do EVERYTHING involving taking care of the house.
(If he does, then you need to have a serious heart-to-heart with the man)

#1 Delegate
I've done a poll of my homeschooling friends and it seems that MOST of our husbands do at LEAST 10% of the household chores. That's 10% less things we have to mess with!

So pick a few chores that HE will always be responsible for in the house. For us it is garbage and vacuuming. I never have to ask him to take out the trash. It is HIS job. Likewise he is in charge of vacuuming the 3 rooms of the house that have carpet. 

[Yes, my husband manages the vacuuming and let me tell you, he is VERY attractive with a vacuum!]

He also is in charge of breakfast every Sabbath. ONE day a week, I do not have to worry about what to fix for my family. It's nothing fancy. He puts the same thing together every week (potatoes, eggs, toast) but it's delicious and I didn't have to do it! He even volunteered to do it!

I want to stop and mention WHY this is actually very incredible for our family. 
My husband was raised by a father who believes (yes he STILL does) that the woman SHOULD do everything. Her place in the marriage was the house. The end. She cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids and met his needs. Period. His role was to have food to eat when he wanted it, attention when he demanded it and then to just be left alone until he wanted something. 
(Did I mention he's NOT a Christian?) 
Thankfully, my husband was also raised by a very loving Christian mom who explained to him the way a woman WANTS to be treated and how God desires husbands to treat their wives. And for THAT I will FOREVER be in her debt. My God-fearing husband STILL goes head to head with his father about the fact that he (Love-of-My-Life) helps out in the house.

Anyways--to return to the subject at hand...with him cooking one meal a week, taking care of the garbage, the vacuuming and a few other oddball jobs, it takes care of "10%" of the chores...but you know, that's not all we delegated!

Now that our boys are ages 7 and 3, THEY have increased amount of chores to be responsible for. My seven year old is in charge of sorting, folding and putting away all his own laundry. I spent a day teaching him HOW I wanted it done and then expected him to do it. He has done it brilliantly and was heard this week teaching his brother how to fold. And sure enough, my THREE YEAR OLD came to me proudly displaying a well folded inside out T-shirt of his own. Guess who's going to be learning how to fold from mommy next? LOL!

My seven year old is also responsible for the classroom and their bedroom. Every day before they leave to go outside and every night before bedtime, everything MUST be put back where it belongs. If it is not and it's a toy, mommy confiscates it. It doesn't take long before that encourages them to put it away themselves. He makes his bed and his brother's bed every morning, he collects all their dirty clothes into the hamper, he hangs up all the towels for their bathroom, he puts away their bathtoys, and yes he CLEANS HIS OWN BATHROOM!

What? A 7 year old cleaning a bathroom?
Why not?
I give him a spray bottle filled with vinegar hand him a rag and tell him "Go for it!" He easily takes care of his toilet, walls, floor, tub, sink area. Is it perfect? No. But it's a whole lot less for me to have to do! By the time he's done I pretty much just clean the faucet and mirror. He's absolutely capable of it, so why not delegate him the job?!

My 7 year old is also responsible for helping his brother put away the dishes and emptying the food scrap bucket every day. Once a week he gets handed the duster and dusts the living room.

Do you see how MY list of chores is dropping?

And the 3 year old isn't off the hook either! He helps his brother with the dishes and laundry. He puts away all the dishtowels and dishcloths for me. He is given the "Swiffer" and takes care of the floor in the living room. He handles the dustpan when anyone sweeps. And he's responsible for pulling clothes out of the dryer and into a clothes basket.

I've also started him on the cooking. He's learning to crack and whisk eggs. Measure out bulk ingredients and stir batters.
don't make yourself a houseslave
We will be re-evaluating their chore lists soon to see what adjustments need to be made. They are absolutely capable to contributing to the family and are EXPECTED to do so. So by delegating them chores, that takes off at LEAST another 10% of the chores...bringing the total I don't have to do up to 20%! 

What about your own children? If you have children at LEAST of the age of 2, then they are ready to help. Make a list of the chores you do every day and see what you can sort out and DELEGATE for each person to do. Some may be individual efforts, others might take a team. You will need to help them at the start, but they will pick it up quickly!

Delegating jobs leads to the NEXT lesson that my I have learned...

#2 Let Go and walk away
What do I mean by this? Well, when you delegate a job you did to someone else, they are most likely NOT going to do it the same as you did. So don't delegate and then try to take it back when you see them doing it differently--when it's not wrong. My mom and I fold clothes differently. But she's thankful for my assistance so puts them away the way I folded them--even though it's different. She doesn't refold everything I folded.

Same thing for your children...if they are going to help they won't get it right all the time. They will forget or do things differently, but don't let that be the reason you don't give them jobs.

One of the jobs I'm considering delegating next is WASHING the dishes...but I'm worried "What if he breaks something? What if it doesn't get clean enough?" And then I have to remind myself--"I still break things. I still have to rewash things." How will he learn how to do it, if I never let him do it?

It's the same for bringing my boys into the kitchen to help me cook...I know they won't get it right. I know I will have to help them, but it does them no good if I never let them try. I want to teach them HOW to cook things and that requires me to give up some control.

Same thing with the bathroom scenario...I hand Little Britches the supplies and then walk away and only come back when he tells me he is done.

And yes, the same thing for my Love-of-My-Life when he helps me. He doesn't do things the way I would do them...but his way isn't wrong. So I just have to let him be. 

#3 Get into a routine or schedule
Remember the old songs about the days of the week and the chores that go with them? It's not something old fashioned--it's very handy! The women who created them were in a routine to keep from getting overwhelmed doing it all at once.

I can handle cleaning in bite size I have certain days of the week that I do certain things. Rather than go on and on about how to do this, I recommend you read this week's "How do I teach..."series by Proverbial Homemaker on "How do I teach and Keep up with House?!" She tells you step by step how to do this very thing. I highly recommend her post from yesterday called "Keep up with the House: Morning and Evening Routine" as she gives excellent suggestions for creating yourself a routine.

I am a huge fan of cleaning charts. They are all over Pinterest and I have quite a few saved to my Pinterest board "Around the House".

But I have a few favorites that I will share with you:
*Detailed Job Cards for Kids (Madsen's Memories)

I have the 15 minutes a Day one and the editable chore chart (I edited to fit my own chores) laminated and on my fridge! At a glance I can see what needs to be done and what I've already done. By portioning it out by day I don't feel the need to try to do it all at once.

The #1 thing I think that mom's forget to do is DELEGATE and share the "wealth" of chores involved with taking care of a family household. I know that I can swiftly get in the habit of taking back the chores I gave to my boys and my husband and then I get all flustered about all that I have to do and become overwhelmed again as I try to do 100% when I really only need to do 80%.

You don't win any prizes by turning yourself into a house slave and keeping all the chores and responsibilities to yourself. Think of yourself as the head supervisor. Or as they used to call it the "Housekeeper". She ruled the roost and had final say on everything...but only did a portion of the jobs herself. So figure out what you HAVE to do (because it's things no one else can) and what others can do with levels of guidance. This is really going to help you find a way to manage your 24 hr day more wisely and keep you from getting burned out.

I do want to share the #1 thing that has helped me deal with conquering my messy-ness is the phrase:
If you got it out, put it back. If you drop it, pick it up. If you made a mess, clean it up. If you open it, close it.

Seems simple right? But when you are battling a nature of messy like mine, I have to keep these words running through my head and it REALLY does help. And by keeping the basic messy-ness at bay we reach the best of both worlds where "Felix" and "Oscar" can dwell together in peace. (wink)

One last thought...for those of you who don't have children old enough to IS harder. But if you have a husband who is there, and if you can get him to at least help you with the 10% I discussed earlier it will help you out a lot. And then remember that your baby WILL get old enough to help out before you know it. The baby stage IS the most demanding on a do what you can, delegate what you can, get yourself into a routine and just let go of the need for perfection! If you strive for everything to be spotless you are going to wear yourself out. Save spotless for special occasions...I save it for when my mother comes to visit. Hehehehehe.

Before I go, here are some more links about chores for children...

Where My Treasure Is: Chores for Preschoolers
Homeschool Curriculum for Life: Free Printable Chore Charts for Children
Homeschooling Just Next Door: Chores with Purpose
Adventure Hollow: The Chore Jar for my Sanity
It Takes a Village: Chores- Take #4899937722

Now that we've covered setting our priorities with God as #1, giving our husbands quality time and sharing the chores among the family, I have one last VERY important thing that needs to be considered when finding ways to keep yourself from being overwhelmed from all your responsibilities as wife, mother and homeschooling join me on our last day of the "How Do I Teach..." Blog series as I discuss the importance and necessity of "ME-time"!

August 21, 2013

The Power of Two: Keeping Your Marriage Vibrant

Thanks for joining me on day three of the encouraging "How Do I Teach..." five day series! As I introduced on Monday's post, this week I'm spending time discussing a question near and dear to many homeschooling mom's hearts--
how do i teach and still fulfill my role as wife and mother
Yesterday we began our discussion by talking about how checking our priorities is a huge part of eliminating that feeling of being overwhelmed--ESPECIALLY by making sure your #1 priority every day is God. Making time for God is the absolute best thing you can do to have everything else fall into place in your life. By including Him, you give yourself the foundation you need to help you fulfill your roles as wife and mother--even with the responsibilities of homeschooling your children.

Today we are going to talk about how to work in more time for one-on-one with your husband who should be in that Priority #2 slot... 
Keeping Your Marriage Vibrant
Let me start with a HUGE disclaimer:
I am not, nor have EVER been a marriage counselor. Anything you read on my blog is absolutely without a doubt my very own opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt and not as a "This will work--do it". I am just offering up suggestions or ideas that maybe you haven't thought of with them as you will.
I love my husband truly, madly, and deeply. We have a crazy "how-God-brought-us-together" story that everyone loves and one we like to share (just not sharing it right now! But I promise I will soon!). My husband is my best friend and my boyfriend. We are two sides of the same coin. We read each other's minds, can summon each other with just a look and are madly and passionately in love with each other. We celebrated 10 years together in December so we have a few years of experience under our belts now. Of course I know many of you have MUCH more than that, but we are quite tickled that we've hit our first big marker.

One thing that people always seem to notice about the two us is that we love to be together as much as possible and that we always have time for each other. 

And THAT is what I want to talk about today...
My husband and I have what I think is a very vibrant and blessed marriage. We try to keep it fresh and fun. We recognize that we are stronger together than apart--we believe in the "power of two". Two people working together get a lot more done than working alone.  The power of making each other #2 in our lives (#1 belongs to God). As a couple we also try to fulfill our responsibilities to each other, given to us by God, to the best of our abilities...

"Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
Ephesians 5:33

I know without a shadow of doubt that he loves me and he knows that I respect and will submit (as God designed!) myself to him. Each of us puts the other above themselves and that's what makes it work.

For me--that means never allowing myself to get so overwhelmed by my daily routine that I forget to spend time with my husband. Or, when I know he's on his way home from work, I hurry and make sure that I have at least brushed my hair and sprayed myself with something smelly good so that I'm not looking all frazzled and worn out--even if I FEEL that way

But I don't want him to come home to a wife too tired to spend time with that means tweaking what I do and letting some stuff go so that I can give him...ME. 

He married me for me
Not my child rearing skills. 
Not my housekeeping skills
 (good thing! LOL!) 
Not my cooking 
(though he begs to differ sometimes) 

He married his best friend who cheers him when he's sad, who loves him unconditionally through all his strengths and weaknesses and who is his biggest cheerleader ever...He works so hard for our family (he's out of town every Monday-Wednesday working 40 hrs in 3 days) that when he comes home I want to greet him with a smile and a kiss. I want coming home to me to be the #1 thing he anticipates while he's gone and that means that I have to keep myself from getting overwhelmed in daily stuff so that it doesn't carry over into my relationship with him!

This was especially true after I started homeschooling 2 years ago...suddenly I lost about 4-6 hours of my day..which meant juggling and reworking my daily routine and sacrificing some things that I "need to do". Because spending time with my husband was infinitely more important than keeping the bathroom spotless or the floor mopped or the windows washed or the furniture dusted. 

I remember reading in an article once (from Good Morning Girls maybe?) about how a woman worked herself to the bone trying to make the house presentable every week--to keep it spotless for her husband. She also cooked three hot meals a day including fresh bread and desserts. She did this with young children in the house AND homeschooling responsibilities. She even made a list of things she thought her husband would want and asked him to circle the ones most important to him for her to do. Because she thought this was what he wanted--what he expected from her...until after seeing the list, he told her he was okay with dust, cold cuts or leftovers and store bought bread if it meant he could spend more time with HER.

So what about you? 
Have you put household chores, homeschooling or even your children above your husband? Have you lost that spark and spontaneity that you had when you were first married before all this other stuff came into the picture? Are you so frazzled from pouring so much of your time into your children's needs or the household chores or education planning that "spending time with your husband" involves you sliding into bed next to him every night after he's already asleep because you were putting to bed all the children--then doing one last load of laundry--or cleaning the kitchen one more time? Is he getting mere leftover scraps of your time instead of the cherished #2 spot (remember that God's got #1!)?

Honey, I am guilty of it too!!! Yes, even though I said that I've juggled things around, I still fall into the same traps...thankfully my husband is not shy about taking things out of my hands and telling me "do it tomorrow" or to just call me on it and tell me "I just want you to sit with me awhile."

So what can you do? Well I asked several of my friends--some homeschooling, some not--what they do to keep their marriage vibrant...and I am going to share their responses with you in hopes that something they share will work for you!

Carrie: "I remember that the number one best thing I can do for my kids is to have a healthy marriage- I was raised in a family with my mom and step mother put me (and then when they came my siblings ) FIRST (before my step-father) all the time and it was really obvious and difficult and sister has denounced the whole idea of marriage and my brother isn't so keen on it either b/c our parents marriage was fraught with tension. My go-to tendency is to put my kids first and I have to really consciously stop and try to put my husband/marriage first. We do Friday night tea/bible study/talk in front of the fireplace or outside on the deck and that has been really great for us and we try to get away overnight once a year and try to do mini dates whenever we can.."Ooh we have doctor's appointments--let's get a babysitter and go for lunch afterwards" kinda thing."

Diana: "My mom lives really close and so we can pawn off the kid for regular date nights (whether a real date or at home). We also stay in contact during the day via text/messaging. Even if it's just sending little hearts and "I love yous". It's nice to have a simple reminder of each other throughout the day. It also gives me the reminder that while I may be frustrated at home, he's working so that I can BE at home. It also gives him that focus to get through the rough parts of the day."

Rebecca: "We also have a good network of people (praise God!) that we are able to schedule a weekend date once a month, which I find to be imperative. I'm in a little different place than most of you in that I am a 50 year old with a 5 year old boy who is bundle of energy and my energy and patience level is just not what it used to be! I've also learned through life's circumstances that there are some things I have to learn to let go, and that's okay."

Tina: "Date night, usually pizza and a movie at the house, don't feel the need to go out like I used to...LOL.....also love dancing around the living room , and sometimes after our son goes to bed, we like sitting up and baking cookies and watch a TV show together ....our idea of grown-up fun!! haha"

Megan: "We've never had a weekly date night, in fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of times we've gone out without kids since we started having them 10 years ago. But I do think we still have a great relationship. Almost everyday when my husband wakes up (in the middle of the afternoon, he works nights) I take him his coffee and we sit in bed and talk. We talk some about the kids, plans for the day/week, how things are going for him at work, the news, politics, everything. It helps to keep us connected as husband and wife, not just mommy and daddy."

Jennifer: "My husband and I work very consciously to never put the kids between us, physically or emotionally. One example is in church. We have 3 little boys 7,4,and 2. My husband and I will sit it the middle of the aisle and have the kids on either side of us. The same goes for snuggling in bed. When all of the boys pile in they have to pick who they want to snuggle with while mommy and daddy are in the middle. My husband is also very good about making plans for date night. I tend to get bogged down with the kiddos and he steps back and realizes before I do that we haven't been alone in a long time. I am also a huge advocate for having a healthy sex life! When you and hubby are connected physically then EVERYTHING seems to go more smoothly."

Teresa: "With my husband working 3rd shift, most of our time together is either right after he gets home and right before he goes to work. We do get to spend the Sabbath together, but also like to socialize. What I've found throughout the week that makes my husband happy, is not "forgetting" him for dinner. I've made dinner before and waited until he got up (so he got enough sleep) to fix him a plate, but planning dinner and waking him up to make sure he eats it with us seems to make him feel special. I also try not to let my emotions get the best of me when I miss him. I get sad without realizing it and will begin to be blunt with him. To combat this I've started asking him to involve me in his wind down time or at least come and join the family in the living room for some quality time before he gets ready. He seems to have a better day at work when we spend quality time together as a family (even if he doesn't see it or admit it :P).We've only been married for a little over a year and are still working on quite a bit of this."

Mandie: "Ways we try to connect at the end of a day include: 1. Surprising the other with a special treat to share (could be sushi, fresh chips and salsa from Chipotle, or sometimes I pick up fun stuff from the store like a special cheese and crackers or an artichoke or other special veggie/fruit/ice cream treat); 2. Having a show that's just for you two. It's fun to race to get the kids in bed on Sunday evenings in order to be on time for "our" show - The Amazing Race. Now we live in a place where TV isn't available without getting cable, so we own the DVDs but we still try to keep the anticipation alive even though we can't technically be "late"; 3. Physical touch and/or closeness (not necessarily sexual) is very important to my husband. So, my inviting him to be with me somewhere means a lot to him. This can be just doing our evening activities in the same room, or if we are watching our show making sure to cuddle up to him on purpose. Or if I need a shower and hadn't gotten to it that day, inviting him to take one with me almost always gets accepted heartily. LOL!"

Tammy: "I think it's important to remember this: You both "worked" all day long, you're both tired, and you both have equal obligation to one another to, at the minimum, acknowledge and respect each others 'work'....There are days, where the best either of us can do is acknowledge the day was crazy and cuddle at the end of it. And that is OK, it's a phase of life--but we do have plenty of evenings where we have adult conversation, drink wine together, laugh, and bond once the girls are in bed. I think having a sense of humor is key--and treating each other as team members in your family...At least for our marriage, remembering we are partners and being willing to help the other in anything that the other needs--breeds the sense of intimacy, trust, and connection that every marriage can flourish under."
I think all these ladies have great ideas for keeping your marriage vibrant!

Let me share some of the things that my husband and I do...

I make sure that I am the first one to greet the Love-Of-My-Life when he gets home. Even when I'm up to my elbows in flour or dishwater. The minute he comes through that door, I clean off and greet him with a hug and kiss. The boys have learned that THEY get to greet daddy AFTER mommy does. My husband loves this and it cements his place as #2 in my life.

If I have something to do where I can sit down with it, I make sure and do it NEXT to Love-of-My-Life. So whether it's lesson planning, fixing a button, folding/sorting laundry, or even just reading a book or typing on the laptop. I make sure I sit next to him. It seems simple, but he enjoys it very much.

Sometimes our date night means we actually get a dinner and movie while my in-laws watch our boys...sometimes date night is us alone doing GROCERY SHOPPING! LOL! One time we didn't have time for dinner out, so we just grabbed fried chicken from the store and gobbled it in the car. We were greasy and giggling at our "dignified dinner" but it was so much fun. Not all our dates are outside the home. Sometimes we just put the boys to bed and then go out on the porch and sit together under a blanket and talk.
By now I'm sure some of you are thinking--"I would do more to be with him, if I wasn't just so tired from having to DO everything." or "but I get no help at all! He wants me to do everything AND still drop everything spend time with him!"

I'm going to address some of that in tomorrow's post...but for right now let me remind you...

It takes two to tango.

For it to work...for your marriage to have vibrancy and be fresh and fun and alive---BOTH of you are going to need to put forth effort. It will not work if you are already exhausted from a full day of being teacher and mommy and maid AND he expects to come home, sit on the couch and have you wait on him hand and foot because HE'S tired. Or he comes home and just wants to be "left alone"--and that means no kids, no you.

And that is where putting God-time (like I discussed yesterday) as a priority comes in handy.
Pray about it.
Pour your heart out to God about your desire to have a vibrant marriage. Ask Him for guidance so you can talk to your husband about it. Ask Him to open your husband's heart to be one of giving and sharing of burdens and responsibilities. Then have a heart-to-heart with the man you love...

Explain to him how you want to and feel the need to spend more time together as a couple but are just overwhelmed with everything. See if you can work out ideas to make changes to make it happen. 

Sometimes husbands are more than willing to help--if they are TOLD there is a need...Yes, even if it's blatantly obvious to you or if you've dropped a million hints. They can be a little dense about the obvious sometimes. Ahem. I know mine can at least.

Most husbands would adore having non-frazzled wives to take out on dates, have "at home" dates with or to just sit on the couch see if you can communicate a plan to make it happen.

Perhaps he could take over dinner clean up so you could get your children moving in the direction of bed. Or maybe HE can take over getting them ready for bed so YOU can clean up or finish up things. 

I know that when I'm cleaning up the dinner stuff, my husband takes over getting our boys into the bath and cleaned up. Oh how they frolic and play with daddy when it's bath-time. Then Love-of-My-Life takes over reading their bedtime story. This gives me a moment to just sit and rest my feet before I join them for prayers.

We are a team. We understand the "Power of Two" and are both doing our best to support each other...even when I'm at my most frazzled and stressed, I know that all I have to do is ask and he will help me out.

Here are some posts from other bloggers about this subject: 
Adventures in Mommydom: A Treasure Hunt Date Night
My Nearest and Dearest: Adding Romance to Movie Night
and for a host of ideas check out 

Thank you for joining me today! I hope you will return tomorrow as we dive into the aspect of our responsibilities as a mom and caretaker of our households!