Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our ThanksGiving Day

I really love celebrating Thanksgiving Day. I have a thankful heart and this holiday is closest to the most God honoring holiday that exists.  We all have SO much to be thankful for! Did you know that the word "thanks" appears in the King James Bible exactly 500 times?  We should be thankful every day and not just on Thanksgiving.  But it's great to take a day just for thanking God, isn't it?

Sticky Situation

This year we decided to invite a couple of families from church to share Thanksgiving Dinner with us in our home, but neither family gave us a firm answer and it was going on 10 days since I'd asked them.  They may not have realized that leaving an invitation to a major holiday in the air for so long is actually very rude (and a bit insulting), but we needed to solidify our plans so I would know how much food to buy.

Good Etiquette + Prayer = Blessings

We prayed about it and just when I was going to call these two families to get a definite answer, some friends of ours called us late in the evening (about 8:30p) and invited us to spend Thanksgiving day with them. We were all so excited to get this invitation because we had spent Thanksgiving with them last year and had a wonderful time and were sort of hoping we could do it again this year.  But because I had two families to do a final check with first, I told her I'd give her a definite answer the next day.  

The next day, in the span of 30 minutes, both of the ladies from the families we'd invited to our home for Thanksgiving called me with favors to ask (one for babysitting and the other for a ride to the airport, which I was happy to oblige them both on).  During our phone conversation, I waited to see if either one would mention the very-soon-approaching holiday invitation I had given them and neither did.  So I had to.  I told them since I hadn't heard back from them about whether they were able to join us or not, we accepted an invitation to a friend's house for the holiday.  They were both fine about it, so all was well again.

With that issue behind us, I felt relieved that I did not have to all the cooking this year and that we would be able to share the holiday with some good friends again.

No Movies or TV on Thanksgiving

We never include television or movies on Thanksgiving which I really am thankful for. It is with us enough in life, and I am so glad that we never include it on our day dedicated to thanking the Lord.  

We brought a couple of sides to share and had a great day of fellowship.  Dinner was around 1pm and we had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry applesauce, green bean casserole, rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, apple crumb pie and cherry lattice pie.   After dinner, we all walked down to the local playground for a fun game of foursquare.  Later on we gathered to sing some hymns and chat.

Last year we also cooked our own turkey with all the trimmings the day after Thanksgiving so that we could have the benefit of delicious leftovers all week, but this year I decided not to because I've been dealing with some tendonitis in my right elbow so it would be too difficult.

So instead, we will do a fancier Christmas dinner this year.  Usually we have a really good meal for Christmas but not the super fancy holiday style meal (similar to Thanksgiving).  So that's the plan.  Maybe we'll even get to host some friends this year. We'll see.

Right now, it's time to pack up all the fall decorations and put up the Christmas cheer!  I'm so excited to decorate my new living room this year!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Homeschool and Life

When my children were little, we were home most of the time.  We didn't know any other homeschoolers and we didn't belong to a homeschool group. I wanted to find one for the social needs of my oldest who is now grown and married, but I came up empty handed no matter how much I searched.  So she ended up missing out on some of the things I would have liked for her.  Like a keepers at home group for girls that so many homeschool groups are starting nowadays.  She would have loved that.  But since we didn't really have that opportunity, I tried to provide her with as much as I could myself.  

My other children are boys and in their teens and they have a whole other need. Boys were not made to sit at home cooking, cleaning and knitting with mother.  God gave boys the desire to conquer. Their needs are opposite that of girls.  And once they pass puberty, it is a definite NEED for them to have some sort of life outside of mama's skirt.  I always chuckle quietly to myself when I meet moms of kids under 12 and their short sighted vision of keeping their kids influence-free.  The cloistered homeschool family is unhealthy because they mistakenly think that shielding their children from others until the wedding bells chime will somehow prevent their children from any exposure to evil.  Or perhaps limiting their exposure as much as possible.  

I am all in favor of limiting evil influences and protecting my children.  But parents need to understand that even if a child grew up without any evil influences at all, he would still be in danger because evil lurks within.  Not one of us can escape the resident lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life. 

I kept my children close to me and very, very protected all of their grade school years.  Even around family members.  I have always been the most careful, overprotective mother you'd ever meet.  But at the same time, I was constantly letting out the ties little by little. You can't just keep them close and then one day when they turn 18 let them l discover the world around them.

Some moms will say, "My kids discover plenty around the house with me."  Ok, that is fine.  I was my children's best friend, too.  We are a tight knit family and always have been.  But a mother's need and the needs of her children are two very different things.  Some mothers have high social needs and you will see them OVER doing the social thing and way too early.  Other moms are homebodies and they are the ones who enjoy just being home, keeping home, cooking, cleaning, not big on social functions, etc.  

In both cases, the mother who doesn't learn to see her children as individuals with God given needs and desires misses the mark.  Providing outlets for the needs of each family member is quite the balancing act.  But either way, after puberty hits, kids need to start flapping their wings a little.  Providing them with opportunities to play, compete and have some carefully controlled adventures with other homeschooling families is absolutely essential to their happiness and well being at home.  

Some of the most miserable homeschooling kids I've ever seen were teens who had no adventure, no friendships or acquaintances, no vision or goal.  The Bible says where there is no vision, the people perish.  Think of how that older child feels.  Teens have all the drive and determination of an adult but in an immature and untested body and mind.  They need space to spread their wings and give and contribute to the world around them.

What to do?

Getting kids involved in helping with charities, missionaries and evangelism is good. But they also need  fun stuff, too.  My boys are 13 and 16 and we have added quite a bit of outside activities to our plate this year, more than any of the previous years combined.  And they are thriving.  They spend one hour on Wednesdays playing field games like kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, etc with a group of other Christian homeschoolers. They spend 3 hours on Tuesdays in a Christian Speech and Debate club run by some good friends of ours.  And they are starting their own Chess Club for boys 12-19.  The meetings are at our house and we are hoping it will provide them with the opportunity to form some Godly friendships and camaraderie.

Eventually, I would like to see each of my boys go on a real evangelistic mission where they will be able to take the gospel of Christ to those who've never heard.  But if they don't start wading in the water now, they will never be ready when the opportunity comes along.  

So I see two extremes:

1. homeschooling families that hole away from the world producing socially inept, insecure kids.

2. homeschooling families who are practically taxi drivers constantly on the go with activities for every child. 

I've known both of these groups to also be outspoken and adamant in their positions to the point of being on the rude side.  Those who seek balance as I do are typically quiet and peacefully go on their way.  We do not sell our life to others nor do we apologize for it.  Our children are well adjusted and genuinely happy because that is the normal result from a balanced life. 

I refrain from telling others what to do unless they seek me out for counsel or guidance.  But I will share what I do that works for me when/if I'm asked.  This blog post is not meant to tell you what to do, just to share my observations and experiences.

But what I would really like to see more homeschooling moms who are looking to God and their husbands for counsel and guidance.  That's the best place to start. After you know the general direction you're going, God always seems to provide those who trust in him with the right opportunities and help. 
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21 KJV)
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. (Psalms 48:14 KJV)
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (Psalms 37:23 KJV)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)
And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16 KJV)

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Clean for the Holidays

    November is here! Are you getting ready for the holidays? Getting the house cleaned up before company arrives, or parties begin, can be a bit overwhelming, so I always try to start early making sure there is "a place for everything and everything is in its place".  A few tips:

    De-clutter before you clean.  

    Cleaning is a chore all by itself, but when there is tidying, pick up, and de-cluttering to do at the same time as dusting, scrubbing, and mopping, it can be overwhelming.  If that's the case, I think it's advantageous to just tidy, pick up, and de-clutter on one day and leave off cleaning till the next.  One day can just be "trash & tidy" day where you take time to put things up, throw out trash, tidy up corners, table tops, toy areas, shoes and clothing, newspapers, dishes, etc.  It can actually make you feel better when you SEE how nice everything looks. 

    Next Comes Cleaning 

    Save the cleaning for the next day and then only clean.  The picking up and tidying is already done.  Now you can focus your time and energy on the washing, vacuuming, and dusting.

    First, look UP. If you see cobwebs dangling from the the ceilings, chandeliers and corners of the walls, you can take care of them with a telescopic duster.  If you don't have anything fancy, just use a broom covered with a kitchen towel.  Our house looks homey when every eye level surface is dusted and polished. And it's okay to leave super high and super low places that are hard to reach and less visible for spring cleaning.  They tend to be much more labor intensive and time-consuming.  


    If you've got a little get-together, or company coming this weekend and you don't have time to clean everything,  just spend the next two days de-cluttering and hitting the basics (floors, dusting, and bathrooms).  Tackle what you know you have time for, where the results are most visible, rather than attempt more than you can do and get frustrated before you even start. :-) 

    My favorite tool for dusting flat surfaces like end tables, and dining room tables is a microfiber dust cloth because it grabs and holds the dust. I get it slightly damp first and it works even better.  And for tables with inset glass, a streak-free glass cleaner makes the job faster so you don't waste precious time buffing out hopeless streaks. 

    For floors, I must say that a new cleaner I found at Walmart called "Bona" worked extremely well.  I'm not a fan of chemical cleaners and usually clean with natural ingredients (vinegar, lemon, baking soda) the majority of the time.  But for an extra boost of shine, Bona's the way to go.

    Most importantly, whether you're cleaning just for you or entertaining friends and family, enjoy your clean house!  There is nothing so delightful and soul soothing as a clean and cozy home.

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