Sunday, January 31, 2016

When Marriage DOESN'T Change Everything

One of the most common pieces of advice to couples looking/planning to get married is to remember that getting married doesn't change the other person, it simply magnifies the seemingly small things.  If she always questions your opinion on things, getting married will only make it more pronounced.  So, if you find something(s) annoying now, they will grow to be a major issue later on, so choose wisely.  I agree and have been party to such truths.  

Today I'm here to propose that it is true for many other aspects of life.  Things like having more time, making more money, moving to a different town, losing 50 pounds, or any other change that we say we want and secretly (or sometimes in the wide open) hope, nay DECLARE it will fix everything, are in need of this same reminder.  Just as getting married is a wonderful thing, - we celebrated 9 years this past fall - but not going to fix every relationship problem, any of these other changes of life circumstance will not fix poor habits, bad attitudes or foolish behavior.

Since we are in a new space with some great new to us perks, I can say that moving has not automatically made me better at housework or managing money.  Now, I'm working on it and have a few goals on the horizon I would like to achieve, but I am still me, no matter where I sleep at night.  My new closet?  It can house loads more than my last one and yet I still have to work at hanging up my clothes at night.  We have a great school and piano lesson room.  Doesn't mean I don't still struggle with time management and organization.

So what?  Improving our life situation, whatever that means, is healthy and right.  Expecting it to magically change who we are, change the number of hours in a day or make all the hard things easy is natural but naive.  Instead of blaming these circumstances for our success or failure, let's get to the root of our problems.  How many divorces today come from people thinking the problem is that they married the wrong person when it's often the other way around - they aren't being the right person themselves!  Whatever our circumstances, we are what we repeatedly do and that means habits and discipline.  As February begins, let's set some goals and reset some healthier habits!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Lesson on Enthusiasm

There are days when the maddening nature of the to-do list gets to me and I would really like to just be left alone!  The victim in me screams at every new expectation that comes into view and collapses into a pitiful mess that can be pretty ugly.  It was in this state that J walks into the kitchen as I'm cooking dinner and says, "What are we having? Are you going to make a salad?" To which I reply with a sigh, "I don't know. I haven't really decided yet.  I'm pretty tired."  I knew we probably needed one, but hadn't made up my mind to spend the energy yet.  As I'm contemplating it all, J says "I'll 
do it.  I need a cutting board."  Before I could even argue with him, he was well on his way making a salad.  Now, granted, this kid loves his salad, but more notable is his enthusiasm to learn and to help, especially in the kitchen.  He definitely humbled this momma.

We all get tired and unenthusiastic sometimes because life is heavy.  Today, though, I was reminded by this rambunctious 5 year old that it all starts in your attitude and perspective.  When we believe there is more to learn and experience, then we can face it with a smile! I suggested at dinner that maybe J should be a chef and he said, "Maybe.  Or a horse man."  The kid loves his horses.

The kids came out the other day all dressed up.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Healthy Choices Matter: Let's Be Well

If you are a local friend of mine or follow on Facebook, you've probably heard me mention my association with IN.FORM through my work with The Herb Garden.  It is a weight-loss program put together by Nature's Sunshine that works and promotes health, not just a smaller waste.  If you are interested in more information about it, let me know.  That isn't the purpose of this post though.  I want to talk about how the choices we make with our body (and as parents our children's bodies) has a direct effect on their health, sometimes long-lasting, even if it feels like it shouldn't matter so much.

In the realm of health, medicine or science, there is a lot that I don't know and am never intending to diagnose or cure anyone.  Every circumstance is different and there is no way I could or should expect my thoughts to apply everywhere.  I have had a lot of experience and exposure through my own health, the health of my children and my work with The Herb Garden that has convicted me of some important things that the average American either does not know, acknowledge or put into practice.

Dinner time is one of our favorites!

With so much disease that often doesn't make sense, it behooves us to remedy the issues that clearly do make sense.  Let's do what we can!

Weight-gain is a health risk, not a body shaming opportunity.  At best, we all have different ideal weights.  Our genes decide how big our bones are, so we are never supposed to be the same size as whoever the chosen queen or king of culture is today.  How good or bad we look AND how much we care about that, is largely up to us.  Regardless of that, unhealthy weight-gain is a health risk.  That means it changes the way our body works.  From little things like shortness of breath and tiredness to a greater risk of diabetes, stroke, cancer and depression.  How you eat and how little you move can, in some cases be the deciding factors between developing these diseases or not.  If that applied to you or your family member, why wouldn't you make some changes?

What you eat directly effects how well your body works.  It is common in our culture to get cranky and rebellious about diets or some nut job trying to tell us how to live our lives.  It is common, but it doesn't benefit us or our families.  How many vegetables you eat in a day determines how many vitamins and minerals your body gets.  The levels of nutrients your body maintains impacts your immune system which often determines whether or not you get every cold in a 5 mile radius.  Or things like skipping breakfast and trying to work until lunch on nothing but a donut.  Protein is involved in EVERYTHING in your body, so not getting enough can lead to increased infections, irritability, weakness, loss of muscle and certainly hurts brain activity.  Not the best plan before a test or big meeting.  Now don't get me wrong, everyone is different and therefore effected differently by different foods, meal times, etc.  But, once you start paying attention, you can tell what foods helps you live a better life and what perpetuates health problems and bad habits.  And with your children, they are often even less equipped to understand the messages their body is sending them.  It's our job to teach them.


Where there is disease or a health issue, a change in diet or lifestyle has to be made to see great improvement.  From the big diseases like cancer and heart disease all the way down to allergies and respiratory conditions, if you are hoping for improvement, the very least you need to be doing is eating a colorful healthy diet and moving!  Especially children that struggle with asthma or crazy allergic reactions, in general a change in diet and lifestyle can go a long way in correcting struggles like this.  And in case you didn't know, sugar is in everything and in the doses we typically get, sugar makes everything worse.  Sad story, but undeniable fact.

We all have different struggles and different priorities, but feeling well enough to do the things we love is probably something we share.  I love the herbal remedies and nutritional education I've received through The Herb Garden and Nature's Sunshine, but even if you don't share that appreciation, cooking and eating at home, drinking more clean water, including more veggies and healthy fats, and making physical activity part of your life are simple straight-forward things that will change your life!  And just imagine if our children and grandchildren grew up understanding how valuable wise choices about their food and activity were!

It's easy to dismiss things like eating better and moving more as 'not that big of a deal' or 'not the most important thing'.  And I get that.  It is hard.  And making healthy choices doesn't always fit right away with your budget or schedule and it doesn't feel like it should matter so much.  But when there is hardly a person who doesn't have a major health complaint or major disruption to their life because they can't get out of bed or they are depressed or they are just in so much pain or they can't focus or breathe or cancer is continuing to show up everywhere - It is just becoming very clear that like it or not, it DOES matter.  Moderation, absolutely.  Enjoy your food - YES! But living like it doesn't matter and then wondering why our bodies seem to be against us, well that just isn't wise.  None of us can control the genes we were given or be master of all environments or circumstances, so health issues will come.  I just hope we can all understand more how our choices can benefit or hurt those issues.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Erasing the Past: A Guest Post by Mr. Butler

Today I'm happy to share with you a post from Mr. Butler on the process of getting the old house ready to sell (something he has been working long hours on lately).

Erasing my past.  That's how I felt when I painted over the trees in J's bedroom.  A week of my past gone in 3 rolls.  Nothing in the house looks the same as it did in July 2006 when we toured it once, then made an offer at Chili's the next hour.  Gone are the blue and pink tiles replaced with wood and stone.  Paint covers 40 year old laminate panels and flower beds and "children" trees decorate a space once bare of everything but weeds.

We made that house a home, but we've moved on.  I no longer desire to move back for convenience sake.  I love where we are now and will love it once Spring hits and there are more "light hours" in the day to enjoy; days where I don't have to go from work to do "old house" projects. But the past is past.  Not erased, but diminished.  Like those trees overlaid with white paint.  There, but not there.  Except those trees will be revived any time I see an illustration of a fall tree, maybe not vividly, but they are there forever.

Scary new things are now home and will be for a while.  I'll do my best for this old house to set it up for success (just like kids), but I can't control what happens when it's mine no longer.  I only get to control some things: same as all the rest of the things in life.

Monday, January 11, 2016

3 Things I'm Learning About Learning

Since I recently started reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew - which is a great privilege and a lot of fun - my community of homeschooling families has grown and taught me or reinforced a few things.

1) The education of a child is so much more than learning a skill or being exposed to certain things.  No matter the location - home, private or public - successfully educating a child requires knowing them, supporting them, and connecting with their unique talents and tendencies.  As a parent, this means that I will always have the most important job as their biggest advocate.  When I think about my kids' futures, I want to see adults who love God, but also have self-control, an appreciation for mankind and nature, a hard work ethic, and the ingenuity to problem solve without giving up after the first try.  Yes, that training will include math problems and science experiments, but more so it requires a continual relationship where we live life together in all types of life situations.  If homeschooling isn't on your horizon, this means your job as advocate is even more important.  I'm convicted that we have such power as parents but we so easily forget or fail to honor it.

2) No family has the same needs, limitations, strengths, funds, opportunities, joys, struggles or anything the same.  Try as we might, there just isn't a fair comparison out there.  Temperaments are different.  Health issues are different.  People are just different.  That means the how, when, what and why we learn is different too!  And we cause a lot of trouble (for ourselves AND others) when we expect things based on being the same.  Because we just aren't.  The sooner we can accept that (of ourselves and others), we can have better relationships and make wiser decisions for our families.

3) Learning is FUN!  If we aren't experiencing fun as we learn, then somewhere something isn't right.  The most important skill we can learn is the ability to learn and the LOVE of learning.  While every assignment or task may not be the most fun ever, when you love to learn, there is fun in every day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mixing It Up with

When a homeschooling family's life gets complicated, there is likely to be some improvising.  This past month or so I had the opportunity to review the Yearly Membership from and it came at the perfect time!  With a surprise move followed by holidays galore, routine and regular schooling was difficult at best.  Getting to explore brand new (to us) videos and classes provided a fun way to continue some schooling when we were really out of sorts! is the curriculum site for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and provides some extensive resources for anything homeschooling related.  Seriously, ANYTHING.  One of the first places I explored was the Planners & Resources section.  I always enjoy another planner option!  There are 6 different planners, including a special needs option and various school age options.  While that was the initial draw for me, the planners were only a small portion of that section.  Encouragement articles, Recordkeeping, Meal Planning help and the list continues.  With the choice to homeschool permeating every aspect of your life (whether you like it or not!), I appreciate how much this website is a resource  for more than just curriculum.  It can be pretty frustrating to me how interdependent all the aspects of managing a household and homeschooling become on each other - like choosing between laundry and lesson planning because the exhaustion won't allow for both - and so often the biggest hurdle isn't finding just the right curriculum, but perhaps just managing life is.  I'm newer to this lifestyle, but it is clear that the authors of this website know the complexity of a homeschooler's life and are trying to fill needs as they can.  I like that.

In the List of Lists section!
In my life and now in my children's lives, nature and the outdoors is a really significant aspect of our lives.  As an extension of that and my awareness of kids' needs to run and play, screen time is kept at a minimum around our house.  When it has come to making choices about curriculum, I've been very proactive in not contracting my kids learning time out to the computer or ipad on a regular basis.  An internet based homeschooling resource is by nature going to have screen-heavy options and depending on how I used the resource as a whole, that certainly isn't something I love about it.  Still, the video series, From Aardvark to Zucchini, from the Letters, Shapes, Numbers and Animals class was a really neat change of pace for my preschooler and kindergartner.  The videos combined learning about the alphabet with talking about prayer.  I appreciated the positive messages that are often hard to come by these days.

Coloring Abraham Lincoln

There are, of course, many non-video resources available. ABC with Me highlights a different person in history for every letter of the alphabet and provides some activities, along with good information on their life.  We had a fun while totally random conversation about Abraham Lincoln after trying out the first lesson.  Everyday Easels and Elementary Art are two classes that I ended up not having time to really invest in, but am going to make a part of our ongoing work.  Since I'm a music person, focusing on art is probably one of my weak areas.  These lessons are very straightforward, but rich in research and history at the same time!  It makes them a fantastic supplemental resource.

SchoolhouseTeachers Review 2016
All in all, is a great companion for the homeschooling family.  Whether you are in need of a whole subject curriculum, just a little extra help in an area or ready to mix it up entirely, all the various options are a valuable asset. There's just no way to plan or prepare for everything in each child's educational journey, but having a group of resources like all in one spot can really fill in those gaps.
As a part of this review, from now until January 31st you can purchase a 1 Year Subscription for 50% off with the coupon code: CREWFOLLOWER. Review 2016

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