Monday, July 30, 2018

Hard is NOT Impossible

The two big kids have are taking swim lessons at the local YMCA right now.  Throughout their lessons, there are water aerobic type classes going on at the other side of the pool.  I have never seen so many active people over the age of 80 in one place.  It has been so encouraging to me. 

See, I have a good amount of weight to lose since the Race Car, but my weight-loss hasn't progressed the same as with my other two.  My last pregnancy was so hard on me physically that the past 3 months of exercise has resulted in better fitting clothes, but no huge changes on the scale.  It's very frustrating if you're a slave to that scale.  Thankfully, I'm not.  And every morning I'm witness to a large population that stereo-typically finds it too big of a challenge to stay very active, sometimes a slave to their age.  Thankfully, they aren't.

I met a wonderful woman who was just now learning to swim at 70+.  Talk about a mountain that could easily be dismissed.  One of my biggest fears after the Race Car was born was not ever returning to my healthier weight, but to just adjust to a new normal.  15 months later, I understand how easy it is to accept limitations.  I have a Ferris wheel full of responsibilities that makes it difficult to prioritize my health.

The baby woke up to eat at 5:30, as usual.  I really, REALLY wanted to go back to bed afterwards, but I didn't.  Instead, I did a little work and got my workout started.  It was hard, but not impossible.  Sometimes we (I) forget that hard and impossible are not synonymous.  So, thank you to everyone who does hard things.  You are an encouragement to me.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Smart Kidz Radio: An Educational Radio Station Review

Smart Kidz Radio

As a parent of small children, I am in the fire of trying to properly filter the world for my children.  There are so many negative messages, many of which we can't completely get away from.  So the latest review from the Homeschool Review Crew certainly speaks to a concern I have as a parent.  Smart Kidz Radio from Smart Kidz Media is an educational radio station just for kids!

Smart Kidz Radio

With a free account set up, you can access their streaming content through a browser or the Smart Kidz Radio App (soon to be available for download).  The content that we heard included new songs we had never heard before that focused on constructive and educational topics like managing emotions, getting along with others, character traits, hygiene, healthy habits and all kinds of positive messages for kids.  After most songs a DJ/announcer would advertise the Smart Kidz Bookstore or announce the next song.

Smart Kidz Radio
In the Podcast area there are several fairy tales and other classic stories that my kids really enjoyed. From what I understand soon they will be offering On Demand content like this (only new and regularly updated) available with a paid subscription.

What We Thought:

I really liked the concept of having safe, educational and productive media for my kids.  There just isn't enough of that in our society right now so I fully support ideas like this! When we listened (on our laptop in the living area), my kids were curious about what it was and enjoyed having something new to listen to for a while.  Since it was ALL new, it became background music for the most part after the third or fourth song.  That being said, it was background music that I didn't have to worry about negative messages seeping in unnoticed.  I think if a few familiar songs - even if they were redone in a unique style - would keep my kids a interested a little longer.

The topics and messages of the music were very positive, but like all media parents have to pay attention to make sure what their children are consuming aligns with the values of their family.  I never heard anything I disagreed with, but there were a few ideas that I felt would need more discussion to make sure it wasn't taken the wrong way.  Self-image is an important topic, but depending on the needs of the child, it might cause someone to focus too much on self, for example.

I will be very interested in the On Demand section to see just how much more content - especially stories and audio book type of material - becomes available.  My kids LOVE to listen to stories.

If you think this might be something your family is interested in, check out Smart Kidz Media on Social Media and read what other reviewers had to say!

Smart Kidz Radio

Social Media Links:

Facebook:   @smartkidzmediainc
Twitter:   @SmartKidzMedia

Smart Kidz Radio Homeschool Reviews
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Monday, July 23, 2018

Balance Is NOT Having It All Together

I recently ran across this video that was hilarious and so relevant.  Balance is really important to me and something I think we should all strive for, but this video really helped me define my terms better.

When I promote balance, it doesn't look like having everything together all the time.  It means putting plates down for a while and picking up others.  For me, balance  means I don't stay anywhere permanently.  If you forever work and never play, there will be bad side effects, just as there would be for playing and never working.  

This week I have titled "Mean Mommy Week" because it has become clear that the kids aren't just gravitating up to our household standards.  Mr. Butler and I are having to insist on obedience and proficiency, ignore the loud reluctance and resistance, and administer consequences every. single. time.  This is necessary and the timing is crucial.  Will we live in this mode permanently? Praise the Lord, NO!  They will learn and improve, knowing that they will otherwise have to face constantly consequence.  Eventually, we can relax more and enjoy days a little better, but not yet.

Balance, I think, is filling in the gaps eventually.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Happy Birthday miss Z!

From day 1, this beautiful brown-eyed girl has surprised us, kept us on our toes and brought so much joy to our family.  

She loves her people with so much depth.  

 She's a girl after my own heart when it comes to beautiful things and the outdoors.  In the last year, her imagination has stretched and grown so that her adventures are only getting better!

She's smart, funny, soft-hearted - especially for animals and possesses logic and reason that makes her daddy proud!

 The mountains we are climbing together are so much more pleasant with her in our life! 

Happy 5th Birthday miss Z!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bible Study Guide For All Ages: A Curriculum Review

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

Bible study, like any other subject, has a wide range of approaches and usually just as many opinions about it all.  When it comes to curriculum, one of the things I appreciate most is when authors leave all the controversial opinions out or at least up to the parent/teacher's discretion.    Bible Study Guide For All Ages dives straight into the content of the Bible provides multiple avenues to learn, remember and understand what the Bible says.  This a program I had never heard of before, but will be sticking with for a while as the result of his review.   

For my two big kids (7 and almost 5), we received the Primary (1st & 2nd grade) level which included Primary Student Pages, Primary Teacher Guide, Bible Book Summary Cards as well as the Wall Maps and Timeline set. There are a total of 416 lessons altogether, but we received 1-26 to get us started. The company was very generous in all the things we were given to look at!

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

Student Pages -  Each child used a set of the Primary Level Student Pages.  They also offer a Beginner, Intermediate, & Advanced Level Student Pages depending on the age and grade of your student.  The student pages are consumable and full of multi-sensory learning activities designed to enhance understanding and memorization of scripture.  The primary level includes activities like fill in the blank, coloring, review questions, timeline exercises, and character building ideas.  The pages are easily pulled apart which makes the teacher in me panic a little.  There's no real reason to keep them attached because once they are used you don't revisit them.  

Primary Teacher's Guide -  This is a spiral bound book that walks you through each lesson step by step.  It is easy to follow and gives directions for every element, even the optional ones like the music CD and the Timeline.  

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

Bible Book Summary Cards - These come in two sizes and we received the large,  8.5" x 11" ones.  With just a few specific pictures, each card provides visual reminders of the books events on the front and a list of review/memory questions on the back.  The cards are a fun tool for comprehension and retention.  

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

Wall Maps and Timeline set -  This includes a timeline, three maps, and the figures to go on each.  These are really big!  If you don't have much wall space, it won't be useful to you.  However, if you have a place for it, it is a fantastic educational tool!  I know my understanding of Bible time and locations would have been much different had I grown up with something like this around.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages

This picture is so true in our household.  They are usually pretty enthusiastic about anything Bible related, but Bible Study Guide For All Ages has made our Bible study time easy and fruitful in all areas! Even though miss Z was on the young side, she surprised me with all the information she was remembering.  With so much interaction and application of the scriptures, our daily conversation was considerably changed for the better!  We reviewed the Primary Level, but remember there are 3 other levels that may work slightly different.  Be sure to read through the rest of the Crew's reviews to get a feel for the other levels.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

The Lies of Racing Thoughts

I sat in the stands, focused on my son's baseball game.  One moment I'm so proud of his courage and love for this game.  The next moment, as our pitching efforts only brought about walks and a slew of runs for the other team, my thoughts had literally jumped off a cliff. This is so not fair.  We should never have signed up for this.  We should absolutely find a team more on his level. It's just humiliating. All the racing thoughts had made my skin flush with heat. It was definitely a fight or flight moment of my own making!  Since I was just a spectator, there was no fighting or fleeing, only more thinking, thankfully.

The truth is the only problem with that scenario the other night was my thinking and pride.  My son is 7 playing on a 10 and under team at the YMCA.  If you're unfamiliar, the YMCA's purpose in sports is foremost to introduce kids to the sport, encourage sportsmanship and give everyone a chance.  A typical week includes one practice and one game and the season is 8 weeks long.  This is a clear alternative to the heavily competitive leagues that take up a lot of money and a lot of time.  So everything that took place absolutely fit into the context we signed up for.  J has gotten a lot of playing time in new positions.  He's learning about teamwork and emotionally processing losses.  We are busy but not so tied to baseball activities that we can't do anything else.  It is exactly what he needs right now.

So, why were my thoughts and emotions spinning out of control?  Because part of being human is desiring to be the best - or at least good enough.  Whenever there is comparison or competition we notice where we rate and hope it's at the top, no matter how unrealistic it may be.  But there isn't a real honest need for me or my child to be the best in any of this.  He needs to learn and that comes from adversity.  He needs to honor God with his whole life and that means never letting anything else rise above it.  He needs to be a joyful person and that can go away quickly when we lose sight of what's important in our family.

Too often we let racing thoughts - full of lies - determine how we respond to other people or what we spend our time and money on.  The honest truth behind the WRITE Balance is taking the time to write something down in order to consider it's value or truth before acting.  The way we feel should always give us clues as to what's going on with us.  However, that does NOT give them authority to make decisions without feedback.  How much of our life are we living because the hair is standing up on the back of our necks?  I don't want to be left out, I don't want to be disrespected, I want, want want....but if we were to write it down on paper and really face it?  Maybe we would choose differently.