Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pregnancy Photo Shoot: The Butler's Waiting on a Baby

About a year ago one of my most favorite friends, Lori Faber, took these beautiful pictures as we were waiting on a baby.  As I'm getting ready for that little baby's first birthday, I'm so very thankful to her and for these pictures.  It's a fun spot in a tumultuous time that I am over the moon about that stage being over.  So, now enjoy some pictures of my wonderful yet ridiculous family! My husband is a lot of things, but when it comes to pictures he's the worst and then I can't stop laughing at his shenanigans. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Who Will Balance You?

I witnessed something just really petty and mean-spirited this weekend and left feeling disgusted about it.  As I tried to process it, all I could wonder is how a person could stoop so low and considering the circumstances not have moved on and grown up.  Do you ever just shake your head at people's unwillingness to even try to grow? Sometimes I catch myself excusing some people as if they were young and still learning.  I guess that's because I feel like I'm young and still learning, but I am 38.  Not old (unless you ask my kids), but certainly not young in the traditional sense anymore.  So a lot of my peers aren't that young either.  We're adults and some of us aren't acting like it.  

This is why balance is so important to me.  We are gravitational beings.  We WILL gravitate to one side or another.  The question is are there people and circumstances that will bring us back to center when we near the edge of extreme?  If you are a rule follower that struggles with having the right attitudes, do you have emotionally sensitive people in your life to help influence you for good?  If you are a passionate dreamer, do you have logical and financially wise people to keep you from ending up destitute?  Whatever your current state, do you have someone who is different than you that will give you a different perspective rather than just the friends who will agree with whatever you say?

I am a very strong-willed and difficult person to deal with sometimes.  It's true and a fact of (my husband's) life.  Can you believe that he makes me beautiful and kind?  His differences - although still strong-willed and difficult sometimes - complement me and draw out a better version of me.  And I do the same for him.  It is because we can be extreme opposites, but in our love for each other we are learning to appreciate the other side to everything which causes us both to land closer to the middle.

I pray that you never are so wrought with personal angst and drama that you despise someone who is young or weak.  It is usually here when we make foolish choices and start filling our hearts with regrets.  If/when it does happen, I pray that you will find someone who can balance you.  And in that balance may the Lord be glorified and His will be completed.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Wait For It...

Facebook has a brought a lot of negatives into our daily life, but one of the more positive ones is the ‘On This Day’ feature that shows you posts from years past.  Especially when it involves my kids, I always catch myself thinking, “Wow, look how little they were.” or “I completely forgot about that!”  What it really shows me lately is how far I’ve come.  If you know me, you know I can take things really hard.  And I’m just going to be honest – the past 4 years have been really hard in one way or another.  In each category of my life, I could write a book on how hard it is to be successful there.  Housekeeping, parenting, schooling, marriage, gardening, friendships, health/weight maintenance, losing a loved one, financial security, job security/changes and the list could keep going.  Life is hard.  And sometimes it is so hard that it to declare it a failure seems like the only sane option.

If the first try or first few years of something is supposed to indicate your ability to succeed in it, then I think my entire adulthood would be considered a failure.  The first year I begged Mr. Butler for a vegetable garden, I had no idea what I was doing and  didn’t produce much to speak of.  Without our faith and commitment to God, I’m certain Mr. Butler and I would have thought divorce was the only solution on multiple occasions.   I have a certain firecracker of a daughter that at one time I thought I would never sleep or take a nap without considerable fight.   I can remember driving a very specific route several times a week to my parents’ house about 3 years ago because I was riddled with illogical anxiety and needed help caring for myself and for my kids while Mr. Butler was at work.  As I would drive I wondered if I would ever feel normal again or be able to even consider having another baby. 

This morning I woke up a little late because I was sore and tired from working in a garden that Mr. Butler helped me get ready for planting in spite of my past failures. This was a couple of hours after he left to go to the gym before work so that he doesn’t miss out on time with us after work.  I woke up to chattering in the other end of the house from children who slept all night and a sweet babe that really almost wasn't, in my mind.  The morning was spent calling out instructions and guidance in school related stuff, listening to the big kids take their turn at piano practice, and even a little more garden work.  Normal stuff full of routine, security and hope.  I'm so thankful that I didn't give up on all the hard stuff.  

If your life is hard right now, my best advice right now is to just wait for it.  Things don't magically fix themselves usually.  And even the ones that do, it rarely happens over night.  But those really good things are worth the wait, worth the hard struggle, worth the hard work.  The best punch line, the best relationship and the best result does not come quickly or easily.  But if you just wait for it, you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

CursiveLogic: A Cursive Handwriting Method Review

Cursive handwriting.  Who knew such a pretty yet simple skill would become the object of such debate in the world.  Whether or not you think it should be mandatory, I think we can agree that it is a neat skill to have.  It is certainly not something that is a huge sticking point with me so I have never made a big deal about it with my kids.  However, my 7 year old has been begging to learn cursive since he was 5.  So, why wouldn't I encourage him?  And we have included cursive in various forms every so often, but it was usually just letter by letter practice just like when he learned the print alphabet.   Our latest review is a completely different yet logical approach to cursive handwriting from CursiveLogic.   For our review we received CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack, a consumable all-in-one workbook and The Art of Cursive, a coloring book of cursive.  In addition to these two books, I was also given access to a webinar that walks you as the parent/teacher through the concept behind and various steps involved in this handwriting method.

Cursive Logic New Edition

What Makes It Different:

Instead of learning each individual letter and practicing them individually, the logic behind CursiveLogic is to create a more efficient and intuitive method that prevents boredom and accelerates learning.  The creator noticed patterns in the cursive alphabet and then started grouping letters together based on shape and teaching each group as a bunch.  This focuses on connecting the letters together and jumping right into words rather than isolating letters for a long period of time. It also makes special accommodations for left-handed writers by spiral-binding at the top rather than either side of the notebook.

Cursive Logic Sample Page

Who It Is For:

The origin of this program was born from the desire to teach an adult quickly who desired the ability to sign his name.  So, it is the PERFECT solution for adults learning or even improving their cursive handwriting skills.  However, it is also ideal for kids ready to tackle cursive but might otherwise get pretty tired of letter repetition or a slow-moving approach.  It moves quickly, explaining the necessary steps for good shape and connection and dives right into writing words the first week.  It is also a multi-sensory approach that is suited to all learning styles because it includes color, movement, verbal and auditory tools, making it a more efficient use of the students' time and energy. 

  The Art of Cursive Logic
The Art of Cursive book is a really neat addition to CursiveLogic's method.  This book is full of beautiful handwriting quotes and coloring pages.  The coloring pages, though, are made up of cursive letters in varying sizes and locations.  The book begins with an explanation of each letter group so the coloring book could stand alone in teaching cursive if you chose to do so, especially for adults.

What We Thought:
My 7 year old, like I mentioned before, had some cursive experience coming in, but very little in connecting letters into words.  From the beginning, the full-color pages and use of color coding seemed really interesting to him and kept his attention.  His handwriting proficiency always waxes and wanes with his interest level anyway, but after a couple of days he was very successfully connecting letters and starting to ask about how he would write different names.  The first half of the book focuses on lower-case and the second half is upper-case so we have more to work on but it has proven to be a much better teacher than me so we're happy!

If you are at all anxious about teaching cursive, I highly recommend giving this method a try, especially with the webinar they provided.  It gives you all the tools you need as well as a better way to teach it!  If you decide to try it yourself, you can get 20% off the workbook and webinar with code CREW2018 until March 31st.

Cursive Logic New Edition March 2018 Discount

Follow CursiveLogic on Facebook: 
Check out what other family's experiences were:
The Art of Cursive & Quick Start Cursive {Cursive Logic Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Pencil Grip, Inc.: A Magic Stix Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc.

We are beginning to be spoiled by The Pencil Grip, Inc. and all of their fun and creative products! This time we are reviewing their 24 pack of Magic Stix Washable Markers.  The category of arts and crafts supplies for children is a tricky business.  On the one hand, as a mom/teacher I have no time for stuff that doesn't work or do what I need it too so I need it to be durable and effective.  On the other hand, I don't want to spend a fortune on something that is intended to be consumable and need to be replaced periodically.  There is a plethora of brands and types of markers, paints, etc. so for me to intentionally go out of my way (as in purchase something other than what I find at Walmart or Target) to add something to my supplies, I need a motivating reason be it price or quality, preferably both!

Magic Stix Washable Markers

The Magic Stix Washable Markers make some claims right on the package.  One is no odor, which may or may not be a big deal to you.  Some people are really sensitive to smells and chemicals that require them to be picky about things like this.  Also, something I hadn't considered until lately is the role of sensory issues and smell.  If your child is known to have sensory issues, a no odor marker might be a highly coveted thing.  The other guarantee they make is that their markers won't dry out if the cap is left off for up to 7 days.  I know several other reviewers who have really put them to the test by leaving the cap off for over 40 days and the markers barely faded, if at all!  Especially for busy homeschools or classrooms, long-lasting supplies is a big deal.  Caps being left off is a constant problem and this certainly cuts down on the amount of markers you would lose.

With most markers you can buy in the store, the packaging tends to not last very long, especially if you are rough on things like our family is.  Cardboard or the flimsy plastic gets messed up or tossed within a couple of weeks easy around here.  This set of 24 markers and also their set of 12 came in a hard plastic container that has a latch on either side of the handle making it extremely sturdy.  Each marker has a spot so it is obvious when one is missing, cutting down on losing markers. The kids have dragged the box back and forth to church and no evidence of wear so far.  

Between the 4 year old coloring in her coloring books with them to the 7 year old watching 'how to draw...' videos and then using the markers to color his pictures in, they have covered a lot of ground.  Throughout all the different uses, so far, I haven't received any complaints and they are still the preferred marker set.  If you are looking for a higher quality, longer lasting set of markers, we highly recommend giving the Magic Stix a try!

Keep Up With The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Social Media: 
Check out what other kinds of projects these markers have been used for:
Magic Stix Washable Markers {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tools for Growth

Our life is a round-robin affair of working to get money to get food to eat to have energy to work and it goes on and on.  Because of how mundane that concept sounds, it is so easy to fixate on our things or the right equipment or the right curriculum in my case sometimes.  From food to books to appliances, it is so easy to forget that all of this is intended to be a tool for something greater.  If nothing else, it is a tool for growth! Why does that matter? For me, I get stuck in mental and emotional quicksand over making a right choice or holding on to too much unnecessarily. 

In the homeschool world, it is a common occurrence to find yourself with a really expensive set of books that all your friends claim to be the best for this subject or that grade only to find out your kids hate it or it just doesn't work for your teaching style.  It is so tempting to force it to work because of how much money was invested in it!  But when you consider what it is - a TOOL for education, rather than the POINT of education - it is much easier to be reasonable about the situation.  Thank goodness for sale/swap sites and the internet where next time you'll know what questions to ask about the next curriculum need. 

In an even bigger picture, I'm learning that those horrible moments in your life, the darkest days that are full of struggle bring the most growth, hands down.  Those dark days were tools for growth and good when we keep Jesus on the throne and not throw in the towel.  Consider everything a tool for growth today and see if your attitude brightens up just a little!