Top 10 Posts of 2015

It’s somehow 2016, and I know I say this every January, but how on earth is last year already over?

Our family had a pretty good year altogether–if you don’t count a rocky December, but I’ll talk about that in another post. Our year consisted of several road trips, lots of school, and some pretty exciting milestones from Junior.

Here are my Top 10 Posts of 2015…which post was your favorite?

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4.
Niagara Falls and Upstate NY with Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,

30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.
10 Reasons Having a Child with Cochlear Implants is Awesome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
1. Sharing Secrets…A Look Back at Diagnosis Day

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The Destructive Habit Christians Buy Into…and how it’s ruining us

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God designed the church to be a great source of encouragement, edification and building each other up for His glory. But lately I have noticed a nasty trend of denying grace and promoting works and self, sadly, even within Christian circles. It’s breaking people apart…physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

For me, I think it all started in a Christian Mom’s Group, where a debate on some hot parenting topic got out of hand. Where opinions became dogma and “because God convicted me to do something, YOU must do the same regardless of what God has told you to do.”

The discussion elevated into condemning judgment from both sides, and at the end of the day, a divided group went back to their homes, more determined than ever to prove their side of the argument, even if they had to break relationships to do so. Grace was dead that day, as each person sought to make their own personal experiences the sole bringer of truth for everyone else.

In the book of John, after Jesus describes the death Peter would eventually face, Peter asks Jesus “What of him?” pointing to the apostle John. I can see Jesus looking at Peter, his God-light eyes full of love for this headstrong fisherman. He replied with a truth that transcends the ages: “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”

What is that to you? As for you, follow me.

Such a simple truth that could transform our lives and bring us more joy and peace! What is it to you if people make different decisions on topics the Bible has no specific commands about? What is it to you if someone breastfeeds or doesn’t? Vaccinates or doesn’t? Cloth diapers or doesn’t? What is it to you if a mom down the street doesn’t want to homeschool, feeds her kids Goldfish and non-organic apples, gets an epidural, and is done after 2 kids when you want 12?

What is that to you? Are you following what God has put on your heart? That’s great. Maybe she is too. And maybe…just maybe…what God has convicted her to do is completely different from His plan for you. As for you, follow me.

The Bible commands us not to be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world. The world criticizes, judges, breaks down, and condemns.

The same thing I saw in that mom’s group, and the same thing I see whenever someone brings up one of those touchy topics I mentioned earlier, even (especially) among Christians.

The same thing I felt when, after diagnosed with an endocrine issue that made breastfeeding an absolute nightmare, I chose to bottle feed. The decision came after my husband and I prayed about it and I felt God’s peace to give up nursing so I could better care for my baby. But, even after sharing the peace I was given, I was reprimanded more than once for “poisoning” my child. It broke me and sent me reeling. I felt abandoned by the very people who were supposed to be lifting me up and encouraging me.

What is that to you? As for you, follow me.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have opinions. No, very much the opposite. Strong opinions keep us firm in our convictions and allow us to stand up for our faith. Ialso believe that debate can be healthy when voiced in a respectful and responsible way. But we get ourselves into trouble when our opinions become the only truth.

God put us all on different paths, on different roads. He gave us all different experiences that mold and shape us into the people we eventually become. Among subjects where there are no specific Biblical commands, it’s up to each person and each family to figure out what God wants of them. And only them. A map of California, while having the same universal legend and cardinal directions as any other map, isn’t going to do much good in New York. No. You’ll get hopelessly lost trying to use someone else’s road map for your own God-ordained path.

What is that to you? As for you, follow me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some spilled Goldfish to clean up before we leave for church.

Book Review: 52 Uncommon Dates and a Giveaway

I recently posted Date Night on a Budget, which seems to go along well with my latest book review, 52 Uncommon Dates. As you can guess, this book is filled with 52 different dates you can take with your spouse, that don’t fall into the typical dinner-and-a-movie routine. The book is written by Randy Southern, with an introduction from Gary Chapman who explains the importance of reading your spouse’s “love language” in order to form a more intimate bond.

I like the layout of the book. Each date starts with a Bible verse, tips to make it happen, conversation starters for the date, and how to incorporate your spouse’s love language into your date followed by a bunch of Bible verses that discuss the theme of the date. There were some really interesting dates: going to a garage sale together, taking a bike ride together, building with Legos, going ice skating, a date that needs to stay entirely in the car, and watching a sunrise together. Because of the pre-date and post-date content in the book, each date had a purpose of building true intimacy instead of just going out to pass the time.

Before I can accurately share my opinion of this book, I have to explain my husband a little bit. He’s very much a military man…which means he likes routine, and doesn’t like to share his feelings. Ever. He has amazing strength and wisdom, and I am grateful for how much he balances me in my emotions, but I have to admit that he was not interested in most of the dates, and really wasn’t a fan of the conversation starters or references to love language. I think he finds it all a bit frilly. But, that’s just my husband, and I love him for who he is =)

That said, I did like the ideas in the book. I’m not sure it really works for us in this stage of life (we don’t get the chance to get out without the kids much, and we’d probably prefer to go places and do things we know we’re going to enjoy to take advantage of the time away.) But, I think it still offered some good advice and ideas, and I’m sure there are many couples who could benefit from reading this, and incorporating some of the dates for their next evening (or morning, or afternoon) away. I think this book is probably best suited for couples without children, or couples with older children. It would be difficult to do some of these ideas when you’re parenting littles.

*Moody Press provided me a copy of this book as well as a giveaway copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Giveaway is Now Over. Congratulations Laura for being our winner!

Homeschooling…A Day in The Life

One of the most common homeschooling questions I get is “How long does school take every day?”

Well, there’s a short answer and a long answer to this one. I’ll start with the short answer first: As long as it takes!

The long answer is a little more involved, but it really depends on the age of your child and your teaching style. Obviously, a 4 year old will have much less structured school time than a 12 year old. Since I’m only homeschooling a first grader, I’ll share my experiences in school work thus far:

For preschool, plan to spend 30-60 minutes on “school” per day (I say “school” because it’s really just a few structured activities and games at this age, and not a formal curriculum.)

Kindergarten-1-2 hours per day

1st grade-3-4 hours per day

Here is a typical school day for our family. It’s not super traditional, because Junior needs a lot of attention, and we just can’t get everything done while he’s awake.

7am-Wake up. The kids come into my room and watch Sesame Street while I take my time waking up, showering and getting dressed.

8am-Breakfast

8:30am-Clean up breakfast dishes, load and unload the dishwasher. Kids play in the family room.

9:00am-Speech Therapy with Junior. Either with an in-home therapist or just with me. Stinker gets free time while we work with Junior.

10:00am-Errands or appointments for the day. If there is nothing to be done, Stinker starts on independent work she can do herself, like a reading page or handwriting worksheet while I keep Junior occupied.

11:00am-Reading aloud time while the kids have a snack. (Right now we’re reading Little House on the Prairie and Stinker loves it!)

11:30am-Outside play time

12:00pm-Lunch

12:30pm-Clean up lunch dishes, put Junior down for a nap. Start school with Stinker.

12:45pm-Math Lesson for the Day

1:15pm-Bible free reading (Stinker and I both sit with our Bibles and read to ourselves) and Bible study for the day.

1:30pm-Science Lesson for the Day

1:45pm-Art or Geography…I alternate them every other day

2:00pm-History Lesson for the Day

2:15pm-Reading Lesson for the Day, and Stinker reads aloud to me

2:45pm-Spelling Lesson for the Day

3:00pm Get Junior up from his nap, kids have a snack (Sometimes he’s awake before 3pm, but I’ll run upstairs and give him some toys to play with in his crib while I finish up with Stinker)

3:30pm-Kids play in the play room or outside while I make any necessary phone calls or answer emails

4:00pm-Start dinner while kids watch TV or a show on Netflix

5:00pm-Try to clean up so my husband doesn’t come home to a disaster. Operative word: Try

5:30pm-Eat dinner

6:00pm-Finish any outstanding schoolwork with Stinker while my husband plays with Junior

7:00pm-Start getting the kids ready for bed

8:00pm-It’s finally quiet! I clean the kitchen (or thank my husband for cleaning the kitchen), and sit down for the first time that day. My husband and I usually watch a show or chat.

10:00pm-I hop in bed and read for a while until I finally fall asleep and do it all again tomorrow!

So, all told, Stinker (1st grade) does about 3 or 4 hours worth of school work on any given day. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on how much she drags her feet, but most subjects take about 15 minutes to complete. Math and reading are a little more involved, so we spend about a half hour on each of those. This isn’t how everyday looks, but it’s a good guideline for what I try to do.

The best part about homeschooling is that you can create your own schedule based on what works for your family. As Junior gets older and is able to participate more, I will probably try to get all our schooling done in the morning when minds are fresher and take the afternoons off.

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