Educating the Whole Hearted Child

I’ve been patiently waiting for the new edition of this book to come out and can’t wait to read it over the summer.  Clay and Sally Clarkson and their heart for family, parenting and Jesus have been incredibly influential on me.  This book is a tremendous handbook for Christian home educators.  And this new edition I’m sure will be ever better than the previous ones with many more years of parenting and educating under their belt.  If you want to enter their giveaway for the book, hop on over to I Take Joy, Sally’s blog.  If you don’t win it, you can buy it soon on Amazon or go to Whole Heart’s online store.  You won’t be disappointed!

Daily snapshot

Yes, its almost noon and these boys are still in jammies in the back yard.  But it is summer after all…

Yes, that is my green tupperware full of almost grown tadpoles that all died last week when the bowl got tipped over.

Yes, that’s a trashed mattress in the dirt pile that Kyler is reading on with his special blankie.  That’s how we roll.

And yes, that’s Caleb’s campout fort in the corner of our yard.  Complete with Star Wars Visual Dictionary, several baseball bats (don’t ask what they’re for), fake flowers hung overhead, and his favorite stuffed animals tucked into the branches.

I think I should do this every week…just so I remember.






#446 – a baby who decided a few weeks ago that crying all day was over rated and he’d prefer to smile

#447 – incredible inspiration and wisdom on keeping your home in order

#448 – learning to live with the sting of regret and making the choice to live today well

#449 – sore ab muscles

#450 – a sunny NW day, worth the 8 months of rainy, cloudy wait

#451 – the chance to share God’s leading and power in front of others and doing it without choking

#452 – getting through crazy May birthday season

#453 – the way his 33 year old heart puffs with pride when I tell him what an awesome job he did

#454 – possibilities

#455 – Daddy and son campout on the horizon

#456 – how freeing it is to pay with cash and have a budget, thank you Dave Ramsey

#457 – gazillions of new ideas for next year for school

#458 – parents who, though married over 3 decades, still pursue growth and change and challenge and Jesus with passion

#459 – a date night

#460 – weeks late berries coming on finally ready for harvest this next week!

Daily snapshot

Last week I glanced around and realized someday I’m not going to remember this moment.  So many little moments combine themselves to make each day and lack of sleep leaves me foggy at best many days.  I’m usually thinking of the next thing that needs to be done or even the next five things that need doing.  It’s hard for me to slow down enough to enter into simple, sweet moments with my children.  But I am certain that the times I do are what make okay days into great days or bad days into tolerable ones.

So I grabbed my camera and took just one picture of my five all just doing what they do one rainy morning in June:

I realize its not going to win any awards in photo journalism.  Totally fine with me.  I just want to remember the candid, messy moments that I know are fleeting and will give way to grown children sooner than I’d like.  I loved it so much, just looking at it later that night, pondering all the little nuances of it, that I might do it every week.  Just aim to capture them all living out their sweet days doing what they do….

  • Phineas in his bouncy, where he only likes to be if there are siblings busy around to watch and listen to
  • Boys reading in their zones on the couch, careful not to cross the ‘middle line’ of the book pile
  • Toys on the floor
  • Rylee getting books for her little sis then sitting to read to her
  • what a nice chance it is for me when they are all happy like this to grab a cup of coffee or change the laundry real quick!

Today as I thought about this picture and just the idea that time will just keep on moving and its up to me how I spend it, I opted to play UNO with the 7 year old who has asked me to play every day for 5 days.  I built a lego duplo set with the 3 year old who was lonely in her room and needed help.  It doesn’t really matter that UNO drives me nuts, his whole face lit up when he beat me, fair and square.  And listening to Audrey explain the exciting lives of the lego horses to me, pretty sure it was the sweetest thing I’ll hear all day.

Choosing honor

I couldn’t write about this last year around this time, it was a bit too fresh.  But as I anticipate Father’s Day again and think about ways to honor my husband for his commitment to our family I can’t help but remember.

Last year was the first year he didn’t have a dad to call or hang out with on Father’s Day.  Though no words had been spoken I knew that must hurt and that the pain ran deep.  So I intentionally, thoughtfully planned out ways we could show him how much he meant to us.  The kids and I spent a whole day working on an 8 foot drawing of an oak tree.  We cut out tiny paper acorns and wrote on each one different things we loved about him.  I printed out a poem about oak trees and how strong they are and why they can weather great storms.

You get the idea…we worked hard.  We invested a lot in making him feel blessed.  But that’s not my point.  The same day, in the afternoon, I checked our bank account and he had made a very significant purchase that day.  One that we had not entirely talked through or agreed about.  My cheeks burned red and I had a lot of things I wanted to say.  I was tempted to throw the giant tree in the trash because I was so mad.

This is the juncture that every person has found themselves in one time or another.  This is the point where a critical choice has to be made.  More often than not, its me on the other side and I’m the one in desperate need of grace.  But this time it was him.

Give grace or seek vindication?
Let love win or let anger spill?

I felt more than justified to burn with my words and trash my whole “you’re an awesome dad” night.  But God’s way won out, for once I simply bowed to what I knew was right and chose to give honor regardless of the day’s circumstances.  His choice bore no impact on if he was worthy of our special night.  I get to choose to respect who he is regardless of if I feel like he’s earned it that day or not (thank you Love and Respect book, for that wisdom!).

The way he flourishes and smiles when I opt for holding my tongue or choose to offer an affirming word never ceases to amaze me.  I really should have it down pat by now but somehow its still hard sometimes.  The patience and grace to keep learning are certainly still critical to marriage survival.  I’m fairly certain my long-time-married-incredible parents would even agree, it is a never ending process.

Like most things in life, I may not have a choice in just what happens but I get to choose how I respond.

I can choose forgiveness.
I can choose honor.
I can choose to hope.
I can choose love.

Little hands

Its not every Sunday we make it to church together.  Saturday night emergency room trips that last till 2 AM, sick ones who are still sound asleep when its time to go, pride-filled mama who chooses to hold a grudge and opts for a pity party alone at home instead of communion with others….these are all recent Sunday morning happenings around here.

And even when we do make it, I’ve been known to utter under my breath “this has got to be more trouble than its worth” while kids run down church halls, a baby cries out when all is silent, one more person says something less than kind about our large family.  Though I probably don’t really mean it, it is undoubtedly hard getting 5 children out the door without major crisis or marital conflict.  Perhaps its just me but we’ve just not got it quite down yet.

Yesterday as I stood next to our oldest son and Audrey twirled around on my other side, I happened to feel her brush against me so I opened my eyes during worship and looked down.  Her little hands were lifted up just like her mama’s were.  She had clapped when I’d clapped, sat when I’d sat and then she figured she’d raise up her tiny arms when I did the same.  Made my eyes well up and was instantly a powerful reminder of the gravity of my actions, attitudes and words on the lives of my children.  Oh that it was always something beautiful that she was learning from me but the truth is it isn’t.

Though she doesn’t understand just what it means, I get the chance to tell her later.  But really, she doesn’t care much – she just looks up and sees me and its as simple as that for her little three year old self.  I am growing into a belief that children should not be sequestered to fancy kids programs and left completely, purposefully out of the corporate worship service.  I believe there is something powerful and crucial when families can worship and experience God together.  Of course this can happen in homes but that doesn’t have to be the only place.

So come next weekend, we’ll do it again.  We may not have the perfectly dressed kids or the best mannered ones or even be on time.  But we’re learning how to be a part of a church family in the midst of our total imperfectness.  And it feels good.

Food inspiration

So since Phineas was born, I’ve not quite found my way back to routine weekly menu planning or early morning waking up before kids to read and pray or well, lots of other regular things.  But meal planning is part of my sanity and it really helps for happier weeks around here.  People around here like to eat.  Every day.

Not planning meals leaves me bored in the kitchen and busts the grocery budget because I end up at the store more often.  The combination of stumbling upon Bountiful Baskets for our produce and getting back to planning was a lovely one.  I got the ridiculously large basket of produce the day before I do my planning/shopping for the week.  It inspired me completely, I just stared at it and imagined all the yumminess it could be made into.

If you are pondering joining a CSA or the like, I say go for it, it might be just the inspiration you need!  The great part about getting a produce box is you end up with stuff you might not normally.  Which means either waste it or get creative and find new things to make!

Here’s what’s cookin’ this week with our basket foods noted in bold just for fun:

  • Chinese Chicken Salad – cabbage, green onion, almonds, chicken, fried maifun noodles (instead of ramen since we’re going gluten-free for two kids)
  • Fish and Chips – homemade potato fries and almond-flour-breaded cod (since it was one sale!) with sweet cabbage salad and honeydew melon for dessert
  • Enchilada Bake (from the freezer) – with cucumber salad and nectarines
  • Chicken gravy and mashed potatoes – with steamed broccoli
  • Hamburger Zucchini Stir fry over brown rice
  • Korean Eggs rolls (cabbage and veggies)

Should be fun…three of those are new recipes (usually I only try one new one a week) so we’ll see how it goes!

Bountiful Baskets

In my search for a CSA to get produce through, I came across the Bountiful Baskets website. I really didn’t understand it exactly or know what a basket included but for $15 compared to the $45 one from the CSA we used to buy from, it seemed worth trying out just once. I waited until a Monday, which is the window when you can “contribute” to a pool which is used to purchase the produce. Then today I drove out into the country to pick up my basket. I brought a couple small grocery bags and Phineas. How much food could it really be after all? Turns out a lot. And the nicest people, a sweet volunteer held Phineas and walked him around while I loaded up my stuff. Here is my fresh loot:

2 heads of cabbage
1 bunch of radishes
7 nectarines
7 white peaches
1 honeydew melon
1 bunch of bok choy
5 cucumbers
3 zucchini
5 granny smith apples
1 bunch radishes
5 lb bag of potatoes
2 big bunches of bananas

Granted, it’s not organic, though many locations have organic available for a bit more cost.  But with all the eaters in this house, we can’t possibly eat everything organic.  I try to skip the important ones or opt to pay more when it matters more – like berries, grapes, peaches, etc.  Regardless, it was all very fresh and except the bananas, none of it was flown in from out of the country – it was all from the US.  And they aim to source as local as possible depending on the season.

All in all, I was astounded at how much good food I walked away with for only $15.  Nothing on the website really tells you what is actually in an average basket.  It was a more than pleasant surprise!  I don’t have the time or the dedication to be a super-awesome coupon mom but I do like a good deal on food we actually eat.  My experience thus far with coupons is that they are great deals yes but they are rarely for food we use.   If I could find a coupon for a 20 pound bag of short grain organic brown rice now that would be nice…or possibly one for raw milk fresh from the farm?  Unlikely indeed!