Half way....

Wednesday, May 27, 2015



















 

They're half way to being officially adults!

Eli & Jud celebrated 9 years of life recently.
It's hard to believe that my babies could possibly be this age, but alas the calendar doesn't lie.  The years are flying by & before I know it they will be young men.  How I hope that we are training them to be strong men of God!  That is my earnest prayer.

  It was a relatively normal birthday celebration for the twins this year. We don't do parties very often, although having 14 people for dinner could surely count as a party!!!  As is tradition, the birthday day began early just as dawn was beginning to make it's appearance. We began with a "birthday hunt": a treasure hunt with clues that lead them to their gifts.  Every year I try just a little harder to make their clues that much trickier, but so far they've always been able to find their gifts!!!  
Their big gift this year was a trampoline.  It really is a shared present as the other 5 children have enjoyed it just as much as these two.  I'm so thankful that these two boys do not mind sharing, but then they've shared their whole life so I should expect they would be good at it! Their favourite thing at the moment is asking who was the first baby (identical twins split early in their development).  I always reply that they both were there as one (which, if you think about it is very confusing to two obviously individual people)!!  I love biology & the mysteries only God truly knows!

The birthday cakes were A LOT OF WORK this year.  Thankfully the children have the day off homeschool for birthdays.  Thankfully the extra kiddos were at school or daycare on that day.  Thankfully I'd made the cakes the night before & began decorating early.  Thankfully I had  the almost 3 hours free to decorate the cakes to the twins specifications ( thanks to pinterest for the elaborate ideas.... I may never show a birthday child pinterest ideas again). They were both very happy with their cakes & didn't notice the imperfections that were screaming out at me. Combined I used five (FIVE) whole blocks of chocolate!!! I don't want to think about how unhealthy they are for us.  It's a good thing birthdays only comes once a year!!

The day ended with our close friends coming over for dinner to help celebrate!  The boys had chosen takeaway Indian for dinner (which gave me the night off from cooking).  It was followed with cakes & icecream. 

Happy Birthday to our amazing blessings Eli & Jud.  We couldn't be prouder of you!!

Blessings



Letters from a foster Mum - the reality

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Friends

I know  it's what we're meant to be doing.  You know how, deep inside, you feel that this is exactly what you were made to do, what your life has been moulding you for.  That's exactly how I feel about foster care. But my, oh, my, it is without a doubt the most difficult thing I have ever done.  This journey is more turbulent than any I have traversed, the seas more torrent, the mountains more steep.  My emotions are scattered a million ways and not one day passes when the doubts rise high as I see how very inadequate I am for this role.


A mother's day present from one of the precious kiddos currently staying with us!
We have had extra family members for quite a while now.  They will not be here much longer & we will be very sad when they leave. They are the most precious kiddos possible.  We have quickly grown to love them. Yet, they can be so very difficult  at times.  Our home which was once quiet & peaceful  (well...relatively with 4 kiddos residing here), now has regular times where we are dealing with defiance, disobedience, screaming tantrums & deep sadness.  Not that there is anything wrong with the sadness - in fact had I been through what they have I'd act in exactly the same way - NO - I'd act a whole lot worse I'm sure.  Our bio children are bewildered as to why the children act the way they do.  They have never seen such actions. Being children, they don't have the empathy of adults. They simply don't understand. And there are moments which are particularly trying for the whole family, yet there are moments when it all makes sense too.

One such moment occurred on a recent evening.  Dave was away & the children were all a tired.  This had been a challenging evening for this particular little one and he was acting out. Most evenings are not like this at all, but he had just received some difficult news the week before.  Everything (it felt like at least) resulted in a temper tantrum.  His tantrums take on the form of what I would expect from a  two year old (although he is years older than that): throwing himself on the ground, screaming, kicking & beating with his hands.  After each episode he would them self-discipline himself by hitting himself even though I tried my hardest to gently dissuade him from this practice.  Needless to say, it was very draining for the whole family & for me in  particular. As I sat on the floor beside him during one such episode, the screams turned to sobs & the anger turned to pure sadness.  I sensed the change & I reached out my arms to him.  Quickly he climbed onto my lap & began crying & crying - the anguish was real, the heartbreak coming through so strong.  "I just want to go home to __________(people at previous home)"  he said between sobs & my mother-heart; at that moment it broke. As I held him, I cried along with him. The sadness this one little life has endured.  The pain that his little heart holds.  He did not ask for any of this. He is the innocent victim in his whirlwind life.  He's told where he needs to go & what he is going to do.  He's told who he's going to live with & who will be his new family. I cannot offer much security to him as I don't even have the answers myself.  No wonder he is trying to control what he can. Those tantrums, they all begin to make sense.

Another beautiful mothers day present from another precious little one!
And that is exactly the reason we are doing this difficult job.  Not because we enjoy dealing with the tantrums, the behaviours, the defiance (oh no, who would like that).  We do this job simply because these are little people who are hurting.  If we can be a safe place for them then it is worth it. If we can provide them with happy memories of someone who loves them then it is worth it.  If we can introduce them to a God who will never leave them or forsake them - definitely worth it.


As for being inadequate....  I am entirely inadequate.
No doubt about that. 
But God, in His Sovereignty, He makes up for the simple bumbling of this human.  He is entirely adequate. This parenting job is far more difficult than anything I could cope with on my own.  The things we are dealing with are simply heartbreaking.  I am so thankful that when my strength is used up, when I want to fall into a heap, that God is there to carry me through.


Blessings



A stroll or two around the farm...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
























Sometimes I sneak away from this busyness of this household & take my camera for a walk around the farm.  It's a rare occurrence due to the necessity of another adult being home, but when I get the chance I'll signal to Dave (the other adult :) ) & slip away to enjoy these minutes of blissful silence. I need those times of peacefulness to recharge & regroup.  Always, always I come back ready to jump right into this chaos that so defines my life at the moment. 

The land here at Sunnyside is slowly turning a beautiful green as the temperatures cool & the seasons change.  This is my favourite change: from the 'golden brown' to mottled green ( to become bright green as the season continues Lord Willing).  It is the boost that my soul needs after looking at only brown for far too long over the summer months.  For whatever reason my whole outlook lifts when I am surrounded by green.  

On my walks I bask in the fresh air & the accompaniment of peaceful birdsong.  It is these very moments that refresh my soul. These times when prayers of thanksgiving just bubble out of me! 

  Sometimes I do have little ones who come searching, torch in hand, to find me as I walk back in the evening from locking up the chickens or checking on the other animals (always with permission).  It seems that I am  missed when I slip away. I've never regretted the selfishness of taking these moments - my sanity needs them after battling with a highly spoiled toddler, high needs younger children, frustrated older children who don't understand & the general difficulties of trying to mould two families into one which is the very real  world of foster care. 

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy (Review)

It is so easy to make homeschooling complicated.  I am the very worst of offenders at this.  I love to make sure we are ticking every box, completing every page, doing every problem.  However, it seems that the compromise for that busyness is losing the peaceful, gentle education that I long for my children to have.  A couple of months ago we added three extra children  to our household for a while.  With this addition the mere thought of continuing homeschooling in that busy manner was completely overwhelming me.  I knew I had to prioritise what was important for this busy season.  Thankfully I  was given Stephanie Walmsley's Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course by Successful Homeschooling Made Easy to review.  It was exactly what I needed at that point in time. It gently guided me back on track to the homeschool I want our family to have and is achievable even while juggling those little ones.
Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
The Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course is an online course for all homeschooling parents.  It is written by Stephanie Walmsley who is an experienced homeschooling mother of  five grown children. The course is sent directly to your email weekly for 26 weeks.  Each week Stephanie sends an email with the download link for the lesson.  The lessons are approximately 14 pages long and come in pdf format. Occasionally there are bonuses as well.    I have received 9 weeks of lessons & one bonus so far.  My review will reflect what I have seen of the course.  I will continue to receive the rest of the course weekly ( & let me add that I eagerly anticipate these emails).  I personally found it useful to print out each lesson & then place it into a binder. I then chose a quiet time when I could work through the lesson with a pen & highlighter ready!
Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
The Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course is designed to bring you back to the basics of why you homeschool & to get you to assess how you homeschool & how it can be improved.  It is especially designed for new homeschooling families, although I found it to be extremely beneficial for our experienced homeschooling family. This course begins gently & invites the homeschooling parent to examine what real education is.  They will begin by making a basic schedule & gradually introduce various subjects as the weeks progress.  Stephanie includes many practical ideas within the lessons.  Each lesson is different & has a  specific topic it will focus on.  These include basic scheduling, various academic subjects, bringing your children home from school,  your goals & dreams for your homeschool, choosing curriculum & even housekeeping while homeschooling. Each lesson is simple to read & easy to follow. Within each lesson are pertinent questions which will make you examine your idea of homeschooling.  Stephanie does not promote a particular way of homeschooling, but instead encourages you in this important job. Her aim is to equip you to homeschool your family  in the way they need to be homeschooled.  At the end of the lesson is a short assignment for the week.  These are simple to complete & are useful in implementing what you have learned in that lesson.


Stephanie has obviously done a lot of research before compiling this course.  Throughout the lessons are many quotes, studies & examples from people of all walks of life who are experienced homeschoolers or have an interest in the homeschooling lifestyle (yes, my highlighter is well used). I especially found there to be so much wisdom written within the lesson & I only wish I had this course when I first began homeschooling as I have made far too many mistakes over the past six years we have been homeschooling.  I found Successful Homeschooling Made Easy useful in gently guiding me to reassess my priorities & look at my long term goals.  As I continue to work through this course I am finding it both encouraging & informative.  I look forward to the next lesson!   
A Preview of the course is available HERE.
Successful Homeschooling Made Easy  can be found at:
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Just to note: 
Stephanie has other courses for homeschooling parents which also look very interesting.  More information can be found HERE.
Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review

 
 
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The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance (Review)

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Long time readers of my blog know how important I think it is to cultivate romance within your marriage.  Let's face it: marriage is indeed hard work.  It takes time & effort.  When you add in the additional role of  'homeschooling mother' than it can be even more difficult to find time to kindle that romance.  However, the rewards of a good marriage & the wonderful foundation it provides for your family, are well worth everything you put into building this important relationship. Recently I was asked to review The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance from Real Life Press.  This is a book written especially for homeschooling mother about this, the most important of all inter-human relationships.
Real Life Press Review
The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance is written by experienced homeschooling mother Heidi St. John.  Heidi has been married to her husband Jay since 1989 & they have seven children.  The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance is written for all homeschooling mothers who are married.  Throughout the pages Heidi encourages you to focus on your marriage rather than prioritising it behind homeschooling, parenting & even ministries.  At the beginning of the book Heidi introduces the theme of finding 'that girl' (she's the romantic girl we used to be when we were first married - before the busyness of life & the cares of a family took over). Within the pages Heidi takes you on a journey of rediscovery of 'that girl' who is still deep within.  Heidi invites you into her life & explores with you what true romance in marriage really is.  She is transparent as she shares from her own life.   Heidi uses her years of experience to encourage you to build your marriage into something of beauty.  Intertwined throughout the pages is godly advice, stories, personal experiences & Scripture quotes (which I particularly love).  I especially appreciated the stories that Heidi shared about her grandparents long, strong marriage. 
Real Life Press Review
I received a digital PDF download copy of The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance.  I downloaded it to my Ipad & was able to read the bulk of it while sitting with 5 of my kiddos waiting at the doctor's surgery (it was a long wait & I am a fast reader).  The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance is 176 pages long & has 10 chapters.  Each chapter covers a separate topic which is relevant to Christian married homeschooling mothers. 
While The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance is quite a short book, I personally found it very applicable to my life. I especially appreciated how easy it was to read.  Heidi writes in a style that keeps you focused & eager to continue.  I know I have personally found that juggling the role of both wife & homeschooling mother can be tricky & I know there are times when I've lost focus on what is the most important.  This book serves as a reminder of making sure I have my priorities in order.  It challenged me to make sure I am not living a parallel life to my husband, but am intentionally making the effort to spend time with him regularly. 
Heidi St. John can also be found at:
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Real Life Press Review

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Wordless Wednesday...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015



These clouds from last week.... so beautiful!
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