Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015 - Hello 2016

Goodbye 2015 - Hello 2016! I'm looking forward to some really great things this year - like more blogging, more reading, a more active lifestyle and more time spent in prayer.  Whatever your new plans or ambitions for the next year are, let's all remember to balance them.  Is this important to God, or just me? How will making this choice (or ignoring this problem) affect my family and future?  Do I have all the facts? Am I showing genuine love?  It's easy to get caught up in a crowd and what they think is important this year - much like the fashion industry sets the tone for our shopping choices.  But always, always, always, dig deep for what is true and what is good - not just what is popular with the age. You likely won't find the true and good if you're not looking for it to begin with.  

Wishing you a very joyful and proactive new year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Simply A House

There is a certain mystery as to how some inanimate object can be meaningless while simultaneously  facilitating the birth and growth of a family.  This house that we are about to move from in two days is just a house.  It was very good to us but there is much about it that I won't miss.  It is simply a house.  All of the important elements of my family are either coming with us or are greater at the new house.  And yet I have been preparing to grieve this house ever since we first seriously discussed moving (since before Miss Z was born).

This house sheltered a couple of naive newlyweds while they learned the hard work of marriage.  The neighborhood beckoned us on hundreds of walks and the horses nearby replenished our souls.  The walls of our living room witnessed both of the births of my children - their first cries and the most intense feelings we had ever had.  Our first gardens, birthday parties, skinned knees, tricycle rides, snow days, and puppies.  This house is just brick and shingles, but somehow it has attached itself to the identity of our family.  Because of all this, I have been praying for the next owners.  Mostly my prayers have consisted of a desire for the next owners to love the back yard and the unique neighborhood to be a safe haven for them like it was us.  It feels silly in one way, but it helps me grieve I guess.

If you have ever met J, you know how much this kid loves to hit a ball.  From the moment he turned 2 and was given his first baseball tee, he was begging Mr. Butler to play ball with him in the back yard.  The hours and hours they have spent in that yard will always be burned into my brain.  It just makes me love the house and yard more because it housed the growing of us.   The new house has an even bigger yard and will witness many more just as significant milestones, Lord willing, so the house really doesn't matter at all.  But sometimes in life, especially as we transition, it is difficult to let go of something until we can acknowledge it's significance.  No matter how glad I am to move on, I am so thankful God blessed our quick and (my) emotional purchase of this old house. So, to attest to some really great moments in our house, here are the pictures to prove it!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Healthy December: What's On Your List?

Healthy living can become a nagging annoyance in our minds if we don't continue to educate ourselves about our changing world.  MANY corporations and entities are motivated by money and ignore health ramifications for as long as possible.  It's not a conspiracy theory, it's a historical fact that is still alive and active today. So, what? So, the status quo of living life in the most convenient way possible all the time is not good for us.  Just because a company sells something doesn't mean it can be trusted.  Like people, some companies lie or don't care what is best for you.  Never assume and always do your research.

That is why making some healthy goals for each month is important in our house.  I can't assume that what everyone else is doing is going to magically help me reach my goals.  And neither can you.  Unless everyone around you is mastering the goals you have for yourself, it is unlikely that you'll absorb them by osmosis.  And even then.  ;)

This month is December packed with holiday goings on and end of the year activities, but also I'm moving in two weeks!  Of course everything is crazy so why not just give up?  Remember, shoot for the moon and land in the stars?  I want to reinforce healthy habits no matter what the circumstances and know I'll be that much better off than if I had quit.  Here's my short list:

-Write Every Day.  This is inspired by the book below.  I need to be in a better habit of writing.  It doesn't matter if it is a novel or a single comment.  Just writing as a way to further process my life.  Does your husband or friends not want to listen for as long as you need to talk?  Then you need to write my friend.  It's not about having lame friends or support necessarily, but about your physical and emotional need to process.  Being healthy is more than just eating vegetables!

-Read a Proverb a Day.  There are 31 chapters for 31 days.  It's easy and simple AND it clarifies the walk of a Christian beautifully.  It reminds constantly to ask what is the WISE thing to do, not just the right or wrong.  I'm reading it to my children too!
-Make my Healthiest Lifestyle Mandatory.  Exercise.  Lots of Water.  Plenty of Space (days) between Less than Healthy Choices.  I know what will feed my brain and emotions.  I know what will feel good in a moment, but fill me with regret and discomfort for hours to come.  Just because there are more options available doesn't mean my body will act any different.

How are you going to make this a Healthy December?

Monday, November 23, 2015

You Need a Plan, Stan

I'm still in shock.  When you spend years talking and planning for something, the actual realization of it all sometimes sneaks up on you.  We are moving next month!  We didn't intend to until next year some time, but THE house that fit ALL the criteria for a reasonable price fell into our laps.  It was a fast, scary decision, but it was a good one.  We're really excited - except for J.  He wanted our next house to have an upstairs and the new one does not.  Sad story, but he'll get over it!  Anyway, we're really excited, except for the impromptu packing and planning right before the holidays.  We close in 3 weeks or so!  It is all so surreal that I sometimes take unnecessarily long pauses before I decide to do something because "wait, I'm moving in a month, should I bother with this?"  Still, getting to start anew with a better space for our family's needs and more outdoor space is pure joy!

The interesting thing that struck me was how valuable having a plan  or a goal has been and continues to be.  Some people scoff at the idea of a plan because 'things NEVER go as planned' and 'you CAN'T predict the future', right?  That really assumes that in having a plan I expect the plan to be exactly carried out.  There's a fun saying that goes something like "Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss you'll land in the stars."  Sounds sweet, but that is the kind of planning I do.  Plan to lose 15 pounds.  Even if you only lose 10, you still lost 10 pounds!  We had a list of must haves for the new house and did not intend on making an offer on a new one until we were ready to put our current home on the market.  Since we had such specific guidelines, when the right house came along we knew it and jumped on it!  Technically things didn't go according to plan because our house isn't ready and even if it were, it's November.  But, see the stars we landed in? We found the perfect house with all of our important criteria and hit a major milestone in our little family.

When Jude was first born, I knew I wanted to try homeschooling.  Even when he was 6 months old I started planning for his next stage of development like a teacher.  Did I do everything perfectly and become super organized with every craft and developmental activity instinctively designed for his current needs? Nope.  But it was the beginning of my own shaping as a mother and teacher.  The idealistic plans that sometimes never even came close to reality got us in the ballpark and made me aware of what needed to come next.  Plans point us in a good direction and often give us a big push off the couch.  If you're off  the couch and moving, then you're lapping everyone on the couch, right?  Maybe you really desire a stress-free holiday or a holiday season where you save money rather than overspend.  Plan for those things.  Want a deeper relationship with your spouse or a de-cluttered house by next year.  Think ahead and schedule things toward that end.  Even if/when you don't stick to the plan perfectly or life happens, you'll still be better off.  When we plan, we think through the problems and possible solutions - something I often don't bother with until it's too late.

Since we're moving in the middle of the busiest month of the year, I'm still struggling to get a handle on a good plan for how to manage it all.  But see - at least I'm thinking about it all beforehand and not having a panic attack the week before because I hadn't considered any of it before.  There will still be panic attacks, I'm sure, but they won't be a surprise!  In most every case, something is better than nothing and starting with any kind of plan (even if it doesn't come close to reality) is far better than not having thought any of it through.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Taking Home With You {A Homespun Holidays Review}

This past week, my husband and I decided to buy a new house.  Though we have considered this move for years, the real life expectation was not for another 6 months at least and as a result, our entire household has erupted into a blind tizzy.  It has certainly pushed me into protective mama bear mode, looking for ways to draw us together in the midst of the biggest change my children have ever seen.  Days before all of this I had prepared to write a review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew considering the ebook Homespun Holidays:Fall and Winter from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and suddenly it became clear.  While the holidays would not be normal this year because we would be packing around Thanksgiving and moving right before Christmas, we especially needed to draw close to each other - not necessarily a house or location.  Whatever home has come to mean to us, we needed to find ways to take it with us outside of any walls.

As the title suggests, this book is full of fall and winter holiday ideas and resources for your family.  The information has been separated into Fall and Winter sections and further divided into Fun or Food.  Even within that there are a variety of options like crafts, traditions, books, recipes, menus and even some advice for when not to cook!  This collection of ideas comes from several TOS staff members and includes their printable holiday recipes at the close of the book.  Since I will be emptying the contents of my current home in the midst of a usually house-focused and traditional time of the year, I decided to pay extra attention to the family-centered suggestions the book offered in an attempt to fill in the gaps my holiday season is likely to have.

One writer turned the annual burden of leaf raking into a working family tradition with a yummy reward in Family Leaf Raking Day.  With all of the packing and moving we have to do, I am turning the daunting task into another Tree House Adventure, where we are all participating and celebrating together. I see Gingerbread Pancakes or Peppermint Cocoa in our future!

As a homeschooling family, a new house is also a new school building.  Change is hard for everyone, but my 2 year old and 5 year old are especially vulnerable to confusion or difficult-to-communicate emotions.   Even as adults, when things are different, we tend to focus on what's bad or 'just not the same'. So, for the week of Thanksgiving, we are going to use the "I'm Thankful for You" Treat Bags idea (kind of like Valentine boxes) to appreciate each other and the blessings God has allowed us.

There were a few holiday traditions that were not new or revolutionary. Some things I already try to do,  like decorating the front porch for fall. Some activities I don't see as particularly valuable, like a few of the crafts are out-dated or just not that exciting.  Still, it is a neat compilation of many of the things that characterize this fun time of year!

When you choose to homeschool, there are many extra responsibilities you take on, whether you realize it or not.  Your home provides the main source of routine and consistency, even if it is inconsistent.  This packed little book has drawn my attention to all the ways holiday traditions can create consistency in the middle of changes.  We are creating a home - not just a house - that will go with us wherever we may be.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Healthy November Challenge

Whenever conversations drift to losing weight, saving money or any healthy habit, all hope is lost if it's around the holidays.  And it is true that from about October 15th to January 1st, there are a lot of delicious distractions and (can be) expensive traditions.  What I find in my life, though, is that there is always a good reason not to stick to the budget or continue my healthiest regime.  Every season, every semester, every holiday, every age brings something that makes it harder to treat my family with kind words and self-restraint or practice mercy and forgiveness especially when they don't deserve it.  Finding the right(write) balance to me looks like balancing out the excess, the busyness and the peer pressure with a premeditated plan of healthy choices I can make no matter what else I'm not able to completely control.  I can always control me.

So, the Healthy November Challenge is born.  Mr. Butler and I have selected a short list of things that we are prepared to commit to either until Thanksgiving or for the month of November.  Things like praying together twice a day and enforcing a stricter bedtime for ourselves.  We have a few food related ones, but not enforceable on Thanksgiving. ;)  This list is posted on our fridge, signed by us with the expressed reward of a dinner at Vast, a fancy shmancy restaurant at the top of Devon Tower here in Oklahoma City.  We've never been (for obvious reasons), but it's so hard thinking of rewards that aren't food based or money based.  So of course we chose both!

Honestly, though, one day - even one meal - does not ruin a healthy habit.  It comes down to that one day followed by the next and the next until you have no healthy habit, but an unhealthy habit with an occasional good choice.  That's what keeps you from a goal or success.  Thanksgiving or any holiday is one day.  Choosing to let plans for that one day or multiple parties determine whether you'll make wise choices is completely in your hands.

Finally, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to healthy success is feeling alone.  When every meal you eat around other people is flooded with poor options or no one in your circle of people thinks about how much things cost, life can get pretty discouraging.  Doing whatever is convenient then ultimately rules the day.  NEWSFLASH: The convenient thing is RARELY the wise thing.  So, why don't you join us in this challenge this month?  Let's encourage each other and be better off by December rather than regretting most of November!  Share your commitments, experiences or rewards with me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #healthynovember or in the comment section.  If there is enough participation, we'll do a couple of fun giveaways later this month!

Don't use the busyness of this month - or any month - as an excuse to make unhealthy choices! 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Learning Review: Kumon Practice Books

Workbooks and worksheets get a bad rap as mindless, rote busywork intended only to occupy  kids and give adults a break.  In my few years of living with a homeschooling mindset, workbooks have found their place in our learning and I owe a lot of it to Kumon Practice Books.  In the beginning of trying to teach your child anything there always seems to be at least one large panic point, where you fear your child is waaaay behind and it is all your fault.  That was the point in the journey with my oldest where I tried out Kumon's 'My First Book of TRACING' and discovered the very gradual nature of learning we often ignore or forget about.  Especially at young ages, this learning isn't a race or full of legitimate deadlines.  Learning is a process that we feed. describes the Kumon method like this:

"Kumon workbooks are based on the "Kumon Method", an educational philosophy that aims at unlocking the full learning potential of each individual child. The Kumon Method introduces learning concepts in an incremental, step-by-step approach, allowing children to master new skills easily and without anxiety or frustration. As a result, children gain confidence in their abilities and are motivated to learn on their own."

What I loved:  
The illustrations are fun and vibrant with color.  There are a variety of subjects and age levels available.  There are clear, yet flexible age suggestions that makes it easy to determine its appropriateness for my needs.  Price has been reasonable for a supplemental resource.  Most importantly, every page builds on the last, making the skill building gradual and fun!

What it lacks
There could be a better mix of games and writing practice as well as a larger number of games in the mix.  Repetitive practice is important at certain skill levels, but a greater variety could be used to better engage the fast-paced learner.

During the preschool years with my oldest, no matter what curriculum we were using, we would invariably get bogged down every 3 or 4 weeks (at least).  Taking a break with one of these books always provided us with the change of pace we needed while laying foundation for another important skill.  My son always celebrated and thought he was being rewarded when I pulled a Kumon book out!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Treehouse Adventures: Live. Love. Explore. Together.

A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
A street house, a neat house,
Be sure to wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all- 
Let's go live in a tree house. 
― Shel SilversteinWhere the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein

Have you ever had a treehouse adventure?  There's something magical and exciting about the feeling you get as you're about to embark on this grand, albeit pretend, concoction of whims and problem solving.  Sometimes it's clouded in secrecy or surprise.  Other times it is a battle you fight with comrades.  In every case it is something that brightens your spirit and strengthens your roots.  I've discovered that this special place and feeling is what I want my family to experience regularly when we're together.  

Checking out a fuzzy caterpillar.

I want our family to be a free, secret you and me, cozy as can be house where we can all find the things we need from each other.  A tree house away from the hard world where we play, regroup, have heart to hearts and prepare for the battle ahead.  When personalities clash or down time is crowded out by schedules, families find it hard to connect and enjoy each other.  Like so many other things, if we don't set out to intentionally create a vibrant spirit that binds us to each other, it isn't likely to develop easily on it's own.  With our time sucked into electronics, meetings, umteen practices or events separate and way from our family, there is little time to invest in each other the way we were designed to - the way we need to.

The spirit/vibe/nature/dynamic of our family effects us the rest of our days.  Being a part of this family will mean more and more every year.  The impact on others will sink deeper and deeper, like a vine gaining strength the further it goes.  I think that is worth getting it right, don't you?  

So we have begun Treehouse Adventures.  We might not necessarily say it out loud, but every time we go on a trip, take a walk to visit the horses, read books together or even take on the most mundane projects together, we are investing in our family, every one investing in each other.  I know that a lot of families and communities do stuff like this all the time, but perhaps never label it as anything.  Doing things together is what's most important, but I think verbally and outwardly acknowledging it to each other highlights the importance and value of it all.  

There are many complaints about the deterioration of the family and communities that value one another.  We complain that our spouse/children/friends aren't filling our needs or taking part in our lives.  We complain about poverty and crime.  We complain.  And then we go right back to our phones or televisions and expect the change to come from somewhere else.  I'm guilty of this all the time.  But our families are the first place we will learn from.  If we're demonstrating and nonverbally advocating disconnection, then so much is lost before it has had a chance to start.  We should not and shall not ever get rid of distractions and sources of disconnection, but intentionally seeking treehouse adventures within your friends and family life helps us to make good use of the connected opportunities we do have.

Life is so hard sometimes in so many ways.  Let's bring more good into our families, our marriages, our moments and experiences - overcome the evil with good!  What does your treehouse adventure look like today?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Commitment: The Missing Ingredient

As a child, I gained the reputation of being strong-willed.  In common conversation, that is usually heard as a bad thing - and yes it can be - but it is really a characteristic that most people these days are in need of.  Having a will that is strong is important, as long as it is pointed the right direction.  The struggle as a parent of the strong-willed is teaching them to direct it appropriately.  Being strong-willed against wearing your seat belt is not appropriate.  Holding firm with that strong-will in the face of hopelessness or peer pressure - very fruitful direction.

As an adult, my strong-will is no less complicated at times (I can be stubborn, hurt easily and inclined to hold grudges), but it has given me a great blessing that I never would have anticipated.  A strong-willed, highly sensitive, creative introvert is set up to find friendships difficult.  So sometimes the comfort of principles is easier to obtain. (There he goes, off to write that hit song, "Alone in my Principles"-That Thing You Do)  While I stink at maintaining friendships, I seemed to have been blessed with several helpings of commitment, especially when the principles are close to my heart.

I hate cleaning up.  I'm a lousy housekeeper mostly because it seems so futile and doesn't change the world enough.  That's probably the reason that I left the dishes on the table after lunch with almost half of an omelet left (that would have been a great snack) while I put the kids down for a nap.  Of course, when I returned Grace (the dog) is just finishing the crumbs up.  I was so mad, but at who?  I couldn't be mad at anyone but myself because I knew she is inclined to do such things and I did not clean up in a timely manner nor have I worked to train her out of such behavior.  Most of our complaints as adults (especially parents) is stuff that is changeable, but not easily changeable.  Sure we could do things differently to ensure a certain outcome, but frankly we're not that committed. And some things, in some seasons in life, aren't worth the extra effort.  If that's the case, great, but can we tone down the complaints about it?  

Over the past 2 years, my life has been full of really difficult challenges.  Not a complaint, just something to note.  Health issues, time management issues, financial pressure, and personality conflicts galore make quitting (or not even trying to begin with) the best looking option most days.  This past month, certain things have really started to turn the corner and I look to be decidedly out of the valley.  God is good and I'm so thankful for answered prayers.  In addition to God's grace, I think my stubborn strong-willed self has done me some favors.  I'm very committed to natural health.  I'm very committed to pleasing God completely.  I'm very committed to the health, education and good behavior of my children.  I'm very committed to the outdoors and all they provide.  If I wasn't emotionally bound to all of these ideals, quitting would be my job.  A professional quitter.  Because quitting is easy and life is hard.

As a child of the 80's, I've always been tempted to find the spot (job, relationship, method) where everything just flows.  If life didn't flow, then I must be in the wrong job/relationship/method.  There is truth in committing your life to God's ways and then that way will be blessed.  Still, in that commitment, there is mountains of work.  My intention is to encourage you to revisit the things that are important to you, the realities that you want for your life.  Then don't quit.  If this way doesn't work, keep at it and find another way.  It won't magically fall into place most times.  But over time with plenty of work and constructive planning, a harvest is reaped.  

I love that my son is learning to read.  By this time next year, he should be reading books all on his own!  I think of the 5 years Mr. Butler and I have spent reading to him and around him.  Imagine if we had only done so for a couple of months?  Good, worthwhile things take time and all-in commitment.  Everything takes more time than you're likely to expect.  Don't give up yet.  And next time you get frustrated with someone's (maybe your own) stubborn will, remember it must need to be pointed in a different direction!  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Honor the Past by Honoring Others

I'm not a person who has a past riddled with pain and tragedy.  I've lost 3 grandparents, an uncle, and then a handful of friends, but nothing so personal as a spouse or a child.  This week marked an anniversary of a sweet Roscoe's passing and then we received word of a sweet family's loss of a precious little girl.  Miss Z is just a little bit older than Carly and that combined with my overactive empathy bone, I'm just over here sobbing during nap time.

The pain we endure, directly and indirectly, is usually ugly and for little profit.  I know nothing of a parent's painful loss so I will not pretend to offer some cheap quote that presumes simplicity and order.  I never actually met either child and I'm a blithering mess over them both.  Clearly I've not mastered simplicity and order.  Still, my heart wants to do something and so I write.

So, as an introverted mother who is homeschooling, gardening, working (from home) part time and a lousy housekeeper in the first place, I've seen why moms need a break from their kids.  It is challenging to be everything to everyone in every situation.  But today as I weep for families who have lost, I'm convicted to honor the little innocent souls who look to me and every other adult to make sense of their world.  It's so easy to communicate annoyance to our kids.  They pester and whine and argue.  It's so tempting to diminish their needs or experiences because we have weightier matters to worry about.  They are messy and complicated.  But so am I.

While we have today with tiny fresh souls (or even the jaded, old souls), let's do more than just survive a moment.  See it through the window of the future when, whether through loss or maturity, these trivial moments will cause your heart to swell with yearning.  Give those you love more honor today.  The past cannot be changed, but you can honor it through the relationships you feed today.

Right before Miss Z was born, we planted a peach tree in our yard.  My parents used to have one before their home was hit by a tornado a couple of months before that so we were hungry for it.  This year was the first season we had peaches.  The tree was full and we had already had 5 or 6 - delicious!  The other day I went to pick a few and I felt disoriented.  There wasn't a peach on the tree.  Not even on the ground half eaten!  Apparently, squirrels can and do wipe out a harvest over night once everything is really ripe.  I cried and Mr. Butler was ready to kill some varmints.  The taste we received of the sweetness of peaches wasn't enough.  It was delicious but it was over too soon.  These precious babies' lives were only beginning to charm us with their purity and joy.  And yet.  So, what can we do? What I can do is desperately try to live this way:

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord
Blessed be Your name

Monday, July 20, 2015

Family Matters

Family is a funny thing.  Some of us complain about what's missing from ours.  Others cut out the family we don't want to claim as ours.  And most of us just don't appreciate it much until much later in life.  As I think about how I want my children to appreciate their family experience, it's convicted me that I must model that for them.  

Last weekend I attended a family reunion and had a moment of reflection that just hasn't left me.  What does being family mean?  Different things to different people, of course.  One thing it really is, though, is a group of people who share experiences.  There are people, places and events that were shared over time and no matter the course of their life later, those common elements will remain.

There are billions of strangers that even if you meet you likely won't share more than a glance or a few words.  With your family, extended and immediate, you share hundreds of instances and events before you're even born!  Especially in childhood, there are only a certain number of people who will witness your many milestones.  Within each family group, there are certain people or items that have great significance (simply because you all were there together) that will hold no value to anyone outside of the group.  That commonality that you share with family members matters.  I believe it matters more than we think.  No matter where you are today, those people were witnesses in your life and the life of those you both love.  It matters because of that, I think.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in most circumstances (not talking about abuse or criminal behavior), our various family circles deserve a little more love than we tend to give.  We forget that they were there too.  Sure, not all experiences are going to be the same, but the commonality of places and people means that their different experience might help us find better perspective sometimes.  With my own little family, I know that one day J & Miss Z will have conversations about their parents, probably complaining about how awful we are in some way.  And they will have the best tools in each other to better understand what's happening.

Family, big or small, near or far, isn't just some obligation to fulfill.  It is an obligation, but within it are endless opportunities and tools to grow and gain a better, richer experience - even separate from them completely.  In the past I've let myself get so caught up in how family makes me feel or how much I agree with them on this or that.  Discussion and principled debate has it's place but it shouldn't overshadow the respect we all deserve for being witnesses to each other's life.  Even more so when they were supportive and active witnesses.  May we work a little bit harder on loving for others' sake and honoring because of history's sake.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Is It Just Me or Does This Feel Harder Than It Has To Be?

When the morning begins with smoothie on the ceiling, you want to say why me, but that happens right?  When you're running late, but ridiculously trying to make it work anyway and dinner is delayed by un-popped corn and rice spilling all over the counter and floor,  the words "I quit!" begin to form in your mouth.  When there aren't enough hours in the day and you can't seem to find time to put up baby pictures of your almost 2 year old daughter, you start to feel really defeated.When you spend way too long trying to decide which brand of an unnecessary (yet super cool and handy) new gadget to buy, required to purchase said gadget before it is in hand, wait at the front of a story with hungry and tired kids too long only to be told that it isn't actually in stock and you'll have to stand in the customer service line to return the chunk of change you just gave them for nothing apparently and little miss starts screaming "Noooooo! Caaaar!" - well then the muscles in your neck begin to cramp, and the tears can't be stopped.

This afternoon I read something that I'm ashamed to say shocked the daylights out of me.  We are homeschooling our kids and since J is only 4, we haven't exactly gotten the hang of things yet.  So, I was reading an article on balancing school and keeping up with the house duties - something I'm really struggling with.  The first tip was to delegate.  Yes, my kids can help with a few things, but a large amount of time it is me teaching them to do things and taking twice as long to do so.  Not really helpful in the time department.  The rest of the article was helpful, but at the end were comments.  Several of those comments were from older homeschool moms stating that when their kids were small (like mine), they hired help to keep up with the house!  That there was no way they could keep up with small kids.  Forget the question of whether or not someone could afford such a thing.  My question is, how did I not know this already???  You mean I have been killing myself over here pathetically trying to keep up with EVERYTHING and you guys are saying it can't be done?

I felt justified and deflated all at the same time.  On the one hand, I knew that it was all too much for one person to reasonably manage, but I also felt discouraged at the thought of being given an impossible task.  I need completion and accomplishment for peace of mind and when I'm constantly feeling behind, my mental facets begin to crumble.  With all of the things in my life, it's difficult to complete projects or feel any sense of accomplishment when certain things (dishes) never end.  On the other hand, my insides are screaming, "I KNEW IT!" with a song of victory behind it.  Being a mom - any kind of mom (working, work at home, homeschooling, SAHM) requires tons and tons of time and energy, but certainly when they are small.  Trying to make things run smoothly and cleanly has been driving me mad for a while.  Understanding that no matter which way we organize or plan, running a household with small children is hard and requires a lot of (exhausting) work.

That realization, while perhaps simplistic, made me breathe a little easier.  It didn't change the amount of work that still has to be done in more time than I have to do it, but at least now I know it's not just me.  So, in case you're in like me or in some unavoidable circumstance that seems overwhelming yet maddeningly necessary, it's not just you.  It IS really hard.  In a lot of ways, it IS unfair.  But that family you're working for or that goal you're headed toward, it's totally worth it.  When my kids are grown and as a joke happen on to my writings, I hope they realize that it was ridiculously hard some days, but achieving the goals Mr. Butler and I have as a family are worth every bit of it.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Balance of Herbs for May 18th - 24th

Herb talk is not the only thing I intend to blog about, but it has been the first on my list (of trying to be more consistent), so you'll have to bear with me! 


-Become a member this week through me and get your choice of a free bottle of Lemongrass (15 ml) essential oil or Valerian Root (100 caps).

-Buy $20 of product from me and you'll receive 2 free empty amber bottles that are great for storing your personal essential oil blends in.


Herb Talk

One of our free items is Valerian Root and it is a powerful thing to have in your cabinet.  Here is a little bit about it from one of my favorite clinical herbalists, Steven H. Horne.

"Valerian is one of the herbal kingdom’s powerful nervines.  The root of this plant has been used since the 2nd century AD and continues to be one of the more popular modern herbal remedies for insomnia, stress and mild pain.  

Unfortunately, it’s not one of the more pleasant smelling herbs.  The smell of valerian has been described as something akin to “moldy cheese” or dirty socks.

Despite its putrescent odor, cats seem to love the smell of valerian.  It intoxicates them much the same as catnip does.  Valerian root has also been used in rat traps to attract the rats to the poison.  It is no wonder that the Pied Piper is purported to have used it, along with his flute, in his extermination efforts."

To read more about Valerian, go here.
Wondering why herbs and why NSP?  Go here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Balance of Herbs for May 11th - 17th

Did you know that plants (herbs) are the original medicine? Many prescription drugs have parts of plants at their core.  As science chugs along, there are of course changes made and synthetic components added.  One of the things I love about herbal supplements and formulas is how much of their original state is maintained or combined in a gentle and complimentary way, rather than forced for convenience or sheer experimentation.

Would you like to know more about gentler alternatives for any health issue you might have?  There is so much information I can share with you if you're interested.  Want to look around at what kinds of products are available? Go here.  This week, May 11th - 17th, if you decide to become an NSP member through me, you will receive your choice of a bag of Love & Peas, vegan protein powder OR a 32 oz bottle of Liquid Chlorophyll

In the coming weeks there are going to be a lot of opportunities for learning about healthy living and natural alternatives over at The Herb Garden.  June 1st there will be a free class, Toxic Invaders & the Importance of Fighting Them Head On where you will learn several remedies for fighting illnesses of all kinds that don't require prescriptions and can often eliminate the extra trips to the doctor.  

Questions? Wondering if there is an herb for that?  There probably is! :)  Just ask - I'd love to help!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Value of a Slow Life

In December, our family had the pleasure of visiting Ft. Walton Beach, Florida on an unexpected work vacation.  Mr. Butler had work stuff going on during the week so the kids and I had normal life with a phenomenal view!

The 6 months prior to this trip had been too full.  I overextended my physical body, jammed too much into our schedule and refused to accept no.  This negligence in listening to the needs of my body and family resulted in some major health problems that forced me to slow down and absolutely quit some days.  Seriously, not a good time for anyone.  But I started getting better and this trip slowed the freight train I'd been traveling on to a nice snail pace.  It was just what I needed, but it had to end.  Every time I get busy or stressed I can't just take a relaxing vacation.  So, as I prepared to return home and over the next few weeks of the busy holidays, I contemplated how simple abundance could begin to describe my life.  I couldn't change the era in which I was born.  I couldn't deny stress existing in my life from time to time.  

But there are some things I absolutely can change.  Things like organization.  When things have a place, a schedule, a plan, it simplifies things.  Staying on top of household management reduces my stress and strengthens my ability to handle other stresses when they come better.  So, first Monday back after the holiday and thanks to God's mercy I'm well and getting (and keeping) life more organized.  

I have power over how often I pray and study,  My communication barriers extend into my prayer life.  When life gets complicated or hard, I tend to shut down. That means even from God.  But of course that's the worst time to do so and it doesn't have to be.  Simply expressing to God (and others) what I need help with is a struggle but it's also the lifeline to moving past the hurdle.

The most challenging thing I have control over is how I value a slow life rather than idolizing the quick and urgent.  The contrast of our modern society with 50 or 100 years ago is constantly made, but then brushed aside with acceptance of 'life is just busier now'.  But I'm beginning to realize that this urgent busyness is just another temptation of our age like overspending, materialism or pornography.  Just because the neighbors have drunken parties until all hours doesn't mean I have to.  Same goes for so many things, yet because a lot of people feel compelled to demand neck-breaking speeds and packed schedules I feel like I have to as well?  The urgent and hectic will always find its way into your life, much like sorrow or sin, but we shouldn't give it a room to stay in as long as it likes.  

My instincts have always valued slow things like nature, growing your own food, building your own things and doing life for yourself rather than outsourcing the hard stuff.  All of that takes time, though.  After a very hectic and dysfunctional 6 months, I am convicted about the way I want my family to do life.  There is always a lot that can and should be done and I am learning that putting it off only makes life harder.  Still, working hard does not mean working stressed, rushed or frantic. Simple abundance starts in my heart and in the way I do life today.  

Today I wait with smiling eyes.  Today I try again with hope.  Today I ignore the billions of other people that pretend to be in my back yard.  Today I honor the ones set before me with focus and intentional love.