Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Mom Time

Being a mom is a very important job. The most important job we have once we have children. It takes a lot of time and energy and attention. And every moment is worth it. I love being with my kids and it always makes me sad to hear parents sorry when school comes to and end and rejoicing when summer vacation is over. For me, it is just the opposite. I miss my kids a lot when they are gone on  trips or in classes.

But, that is not to say that moms don't need some time for what what a good friend of ours calls "Self Care". It is good to get time to refresh, step back and renew. Sometimes that is a solitary time. Sometimes it is with adult friends.

When my kids were young, I wasn't able to get away very often. But now, as my children are older, I can step away and get "Mom Time" a little more often. Once a month, I go to lunch with a group of friends. It's a nice time of fellowship, support, encouragement and refreshment in our very busy mom lives.

Maybe you don't have the time or resources to do a lunch club. Maybe that's not your cup of tea. But, there may be something you do enjoy or can do that would give you a time of refreshment and encouragement. Moms need friends too! Maybe you can take a walk with a neighbor after supper, meet for coffee or Bible Study on a Saturday morning, grab a phone call during nap or even just chat on the bench at the park. Maybe your friends will gather across the miles on an email list or facebook group as those of us on this blog do.

Dear Daughter, I hope you will find some special friends to walk this seaason of life with. Whereever and however you gather, I hope it is a time of building up and refreshment.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Home: Love Your Neighbor

Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." ~Mark 12:29-31

In the hustle and bustle of today's 24/7 internet connectivity, we sometimes forget to look up from our cell phones and screens to notice and participate in the life that surrounds our homes.  We prefer to connect with the comfortable and passive  - friends and family on Facebook, for instance.  We desire to love and serve, but we tend to prefer to do it when it's safe, convenient or comfortable.

Let me encourage you to be brave and step out in faith.  God has placed you in community for such a time as this.  That older widow across the street?  Invite her for a cup of tea.  The young family on the right?  Bake cookies and bring them over with a smile. Take the time to love them. Let the love of the Lord empower you to love those that live next door. Dear daughter, notice your neighbors and actively participate in the community that God has placed you within.  Don't mind your own business!  Say hello over the fence.  Be a friend.

Three weeks ago, my neighbor, Roy, noticed that our mutual neighbor, Melody, hadn't taken her trash cans back up to the house after pickup.  This was not her usual habit, so he brought the cans up for her and knocked to see if she was okay.  He discovered that she had fallen during the night and needed an ambulance.  We were so grateful that he had checked on her!  She's back home now and healing well.  Yesterday, I saw Scott from two doors down mowing her yard. It is such a beautiful experience to see people living out, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  It is a privilege and a blessing to be a part of community.




Daughter, do you know at least five of your neighbors? Do you know their names and have their phone numbers? What is happening in each of their lives? How can you pray for them?  Introduce yourself. Show interest. Connect intentionally.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

Grateful for grace,








Yvonne Ferlita has been married for nearly twenty-five years and is mother to four children ages 22, 20, 16 and 11 years old. She is a follower of Jesus and gratefully relies on His grace. Having overcome perfectionism, she has embraced the imperfect excellence found in the ordinary life God has given her. Yvonne has homeschooled her children since 1998 and has helped them enjoy their unique gifts, while overcoming various learning and life challenges. Her therapy is writing, crocheting, swimming and laughing. She and her family reside in Brandon, Florida surrounded by four orphaned cats and a lovely, but bossy, labrador retriever. She blogs to encourage at Not Perfect - Just Ordinary.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Making Memories across the miles




Family is special and important. We try hard to keep in contact with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. But, it is not always easy when family lives far away. When my children were very young, Jacob wasn't even born yet, my parents moved 900 miles away. But we wanted the kids to know them and have a relationship with them. So, we got creative. Besides letter and special packages (They were always sealed with a label that said "Somebody in Texas loves you." which led to my parents being nick named Grandma and Grandpa Texas.) we also made use of the telephone. We had unlimited minutes on our cell phones after certain hours, so the grandparents could call and read books to the kids over the phone. As you can see from the page I scanned from Jacob's scrapbook, his grandpa often read Hank the Cowdog  to him. If we could, we would have a copy of the books for the kids to read along with. This was a very special time for the kids and  their grandparents and a wonderful way to bond across the miles.

Now we have skype and facetime and lots of nice and easy ways to see each other across the miles. If you have family that is not close, find time to connect in some way so that your family can seem closed even if they are not.

My parents now live 5 miles away but the bond they built with my kids was already there from the time we took to build a relationship when they were far away.

Jen

Friday, 25 July 2014

Meal planning with an app

Like Yvonne, I also have a binder full of recipes I have collected over the years from family, friends, magazines and even the internet. It has many favorites that I still use. But, lately, I started to realize that I consulted the internet for recipes a lot more than my books. If you have a tablet or smart phone, you too might find yourself keeping more and more info there. I recently found an app that makes it very convenient for me to store recipes, compile a menu which in turn generates a grocery list. It also has a pantry inventory so that when I go shopping, I can see what is already on my shelves (a handy feature as I tend to buy extras because I don't know what I have!)



This app has a feature where you can import recipes straight from the web. So now, when I hit pinterest or browse food sites, I can quickly add a recipe to my collection. This makes it much more likely that I will use the recipe, rather than it just sit nicely on a pinterest board. For recipes that I already have in books or cards, I can just type them in and add them to the collection. 


While I did have to pay a few dollars for the app, I have found that it saves me money in the long run as the menu generated grocery list keeps me on target at the store. I love having the database of recipes to help give ideas for what to add to the menu and it is very handy to have all my recipes at my finger tips. 


You can print your shopping list and your menu, or you can keep them on your device and check off items there. While I usually print my list if I am headed right to the store, I do find it handy to have it on the devise so that if I find myself out without a list, I know just want I need. 


The app I use is Mealboard, but there are others out there that I am sure are good as well. The key is to find a system that you like and that you will use. Whether it is the treasured binder full of handwritten and typed recipes or an app, as long as it is working for you and helping you provide good meals for your family, it is a good tool! 


Jen

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bible-Centred Youth Ministries

 
  • Instead of addressing teens’ questions, most church youth groups focus on fun and food.  The goal seems to be to create emotional attachment using loud music, silly skits, slapstick games -- and pizza.  But the force of sheer emotional experience will not equip teens to address the ideas they will encounter when they leave home and face the world on their own. A study in Britain found that non-religious parents have a near 100 percent chance of passing on their views to their children, whereas religious parents have only about a 50/50 chance of passing on their views.  Clearly, teaching young people to engage critically with secular worldviews is no longer an option.  It is a necessary survival skill. —Nancy Pearcey (from her article, How Critical Thinking Saves Faith
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having fun. It's something I do a lot and wish I had time to do more! It's something which characterized our parenting style from early on.
There's also nothing wrong with eating  food as part of youth group activities. In fact, there's a lot right with it! It can convey hospitality and help to break down barriers.
I don't want any of you to read this post and set up a false argument about what I am saying. I am NOT about to say that fun and food for teenagers in a youth group context is wrong. I don't think the article says that either.
I do think that with much youth 'mission', there's a serious, gaping hole at the centre, and that's good quality Bible teaching. Without that, your children stand a very good chance of shrugging off their faith, like too-tight, unfashionable clothes, when they leave home, go to university or just grow up.
When you are deciding which church, or para-church activities, such as summer camps, to encourage your children and teenagers to get involved in, look for signs of Jesus/Gospel/the Bible being right at the centre. I don't mean a 5 minute-vaguely-religious talk tacked on to the end of a hectic evening of games and caffeine-laden drinks, either.
In fact, I believe that the 9 Marks of a Healthy Church needs to also apply to a healthy youth ministry. You may not be able to have all 9 elements present at every event, but as many as possible and always, always, always the Gospel of Jesus. This is a great tool for measuring the healthiness, by which I mean effectiveness, of any child or youth ministry.
Hey, there's nothing wrong with going bowling, eating pizza or hanging out, Dear Daughter! Let your children have fun while learning about their faith.
 
But it won't help your child to develop their faith, if everyone forgets why they are bowling in the first place.
Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Of Peers and Mentors

A peer group is a wonderful thing. Our peers can support us, especially when we are living a lifestyle that is, in some important way, counter-cultural. Perhaps we are Christians, perhaps we have decided  to educate our own children or perhaps we have decided that it is right for our families to raise our children ourselves and not to send them off to long hours in nurseries whilst we work outside the home.

Whatever it is that we are doing differently to the surrounding culture, we are likely to need peer support. Our peers will encourage us, challenge us and help us to feel more 'normal'.

My home educating peers, for example, were the ones with whom I was able to share my frustrations and small triumphs on a weekly basis, as we met up whilst our children were engaged in sports activities together. We met for years as our children grew up together. Occasionally, we still meet up!
Some of my home educating peer group, all now successfully completed that job! Between us, we have children at university or in paid or volunteer employment, enriching their communities. Three of us are also now grandmothers.

We knew that, in many ways, we were pioneers. We knew few mothers from the previous generation of home educators. Firstly, this is because there were actually fewer of them. (Home education has grown enormously since the mid 90s when we began.)

However, also, it is fair to say that the older, experienced generation of mothers had dropped out of the home education scene, moving on to other things, such as caring for elderly parents, or grandchildren, or the need to earn an income, after so many years of financial sacrifice.

Whatever the reason, they tended not to be available to my peer group as mentors.

So, when we were faced with difficulties, like when some of our children were diagnosed with disabilities or when we were concerned about how to help our teenagers sit examinations, in some ways, we had to make the new paths we needed ourselves, metaphorically clearing a route through the jungle, hacking away with our machetes, calling out encouragement to each other along the way.

What we wouldn't have given for older mentors, further along the path, having cleared part of the route for us!

I was very mindful of this lack of mentor mothers during our home education journey. So, when my children had completed their home education and were at college, I deliberately remained involved in the HE community, willing to listen, to help and advise younger mothers, if they wanted me to.

Few did. In fact, it was almost as if mothers like myself were not wanted at all. In certain places, my presence was considered suspicious. I was, apparently, no longer a home educator and, so, no longer welcome. The irony being that some of these very groups, which people now consider a vital lifeline of peer support, I actually set up myself, as a pioneer.

'The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.' Proverbs 13:14 (ESV)

I am noticing that most women don't seem to want mentor mothers around. Let's put that another way: when women get to a particular stage in life, they are not as welcome as they once were.

Perhaps it's our fault. Perhaps the way that we try to share our experience and wisdom is too overbearing or clumsy. Perhaps, though, experience and the wisdom acquired by painful pioneering is not recognised as valuable. Perhaps it's simply that older women themselves are just not valued.

If God blesses you, Dear Daughter, with a long life, you will one day stand where I stand now. How do you wish to be seen, as an older woman? How do you view the older women around you?

In the home education community, I would ask younger women, even if you do not feel the need for a mentor mother, do not despise the women who walked that path you are walking down.

Some of us sacrificed a great deal to clear it for you.
Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Relationships: Sacrificial Love



Little girls often dream of marriage. They imagine their own knight in shining armor galloping into their lives to whisk them away to the land of Happily Ever After. In these youthful fantasies they disregard any notion of trouble or tension, believing that fairy tale, romantic love will catapult them over any dark or dreary detail. Many times, we girls treasure that delicious picture up in our hearts, and fail to allow our inner selves the freedom to grow up into the reality of adulthood. The fairy tale becomes our own secret idol.

Daughter, I encourage you to cast off the idol. It will only serve to discourage you.  Marriage is a blessed union. It is a gift from the Lord in so many ways, but that does not mean that it is an effortless fairytale. Your prince is a sinner, and so are you. Building a stable and happy marriage is hard work, but the fruit of that hard work is worth every moment of sweat and labor!

In marriage, our ministry to our spouses is love. Romantic love does come into play, of course, but the kind of love I am speaking about is sacrificial, or agape love.

Agape love is defined here as:
"Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not."
Needless to say, agape love does not come naturally, nor can we muster it up on our own. In order to walk out life with sacrificial love, we wives must be surrendered to Jesus. Sacrificial love grows in direct relation to the trust that is developed within the depth and breadth of our relationship with Christ. We cannot sustain a sacrificial love if we have not actively participated in the gospel - the sacrificial love of Jesus, each and every day. So daughter, read the Word of God and speak the truth to yourself everyday. Ponder the richness of His love for you. Romans 5:8 says, “...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How might we let this truth fuel our love for our husbands?
Read 1 Corinthians 13, below, replacing the word love with “Sacrificial love.”
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

See that last sentence, verse 13? 
Faith – in Christ.
Hope – eternal. One day there will be no tears, no pain, no sin. We will be fully renewed!
Love – sacrificially, like Jesus.
Abide in these.
Faith in Jesus and hope for an eternal future with Him helps us love sacrificially. We can be patient when our husbands don't resemble the knight of our dreams. We can create boundaries with sacrificial love, doing what is best for our marriages, rather than what is easier for ourselves. The love of Christ is the foundation of all hope and faith and it is the secret to successful marriages.
Grateful for grace,






Yvonne Ferlita has been married for nearly twenty-five years and is mother to four children ages 22, 20, 16 and 11 years old. She is a follower of Jesus and gratefully relies on His grace. Having overcome perfectionism, she has embraced the imperfect excellence found in the ordinary life God has given her. Yvonne has homeschooled her children since 1998 and has helped them enjoy their unique gifts, while overcoming various learning and life challenges. Her therapy is writing, crocheting, swimming and laughing. She and her family reside in Brandon, Florida surrounded by four orphaned cats and a lovely, but bossy, labrador retriever. She blogs to encourage at Not Perfect - Just Ordinary.




Sunday, 20 July 2014

Developing a Godly Attitude to Finances: Part 1

Money.

Ugh, for so long, I've been afraid of it. Growing up on limited means and then years of student living, part-time jobs etc, you'd think I would have been fine once I had a job teaching. Unfortunately not; this is when it all started to go downhill for me. Even though I had a reasonably good income, I was living in London, one of the most expensive cities on earth! 

Later, when my husband and I bought a home together, we went through a period of financial security I'd never known before and so I still didn't learn how to budget. I didn't think we needed to.We gave a lot of our money away and spent a lot on a music production business.

An emigration, a failed business, the loss of our home, AND return to the UK with nothing more than the $200 gift of a generous friend, we crash landed into the mid 90's with 2 small children, nowhere to live and no means of earning a living. My husband studied for a couple of years and worked some part-time jobs and then, eventually, through God's Grace, found the job he has now.

The new job and new faith (we had only just become Christians) demanded a new relationship with money and better, much better, money management. I discovered Crown Financial Ministries and started to listen to their radio programmes online. They were a real eye-opener. I learned about God's generosity to us, that everything we had belonged to Him and that we needed to give generously back to Him.

Through living out the principles we learned at Crown, we were able to pay back a terrible debt, without going into bankruptcy. It took us many years, but we did it. Two years ago, we had an unexpected tax debt of £10,000 to pay. We managed it, over the course of two years. It wasn't easy. However, with the right attitude to money (It's all God's anyway) and the tools we learned at Crown, we are almost back on track again now.
The Crown wallet for the money envelopes.
Back to 1998: My husband was finally working in stable employment and we had to keep a tight control on where our money was going. We started to use a tool from Crown: the envelope system, which is explained in detail here. This was helpful for a number of years and as we gradually grasped the principles of Godly money management, we found we didn't need it any more.
Inside the wallet, you can see the compartments.
Crown is a US programme. Since that time, a UK organisation has emerged as a superb support for those needing to clear debt and design a budget. Christians Against Poverty. It works in a different way to Crown, but it very useful, and I would advise every young couple about to get married, or just married to go through their course which is available through local churches.

Finally, Dear Daughter, God has a great deal to say to you personally about money, poverty, debt, work, generosity and contentment. It's all there in his Word. You would be AMAZED at how much he says about it! Just to get you started, you could download and read this booklet from Crown, which explores much of what God has to say, in the Bible, about such things.

I pray that you be neither rich nor poor, as each has challenges, but that you have sufficient for God's purposes and much gratitude for His many blessings to you.
Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Learning to Study the Bible

One of our most important responsibilities as a parent is helping our children learn about and get to know their heavenly Father. The best way to know Him is to read and study the Word that He gave us. It is important that we not just study what others have to say about Him and the Bible, but to actually dig into the Scriptures ourselves and discover what they have to say to us. A great way to do this is through inductive Bible Study.

A wonderful tool that we discovered for learning to study the Scriptures this way is the Discover 4 Yourself series that is written especially for kids to teach them to dig into the Word at an early age. A great place to start is How to Study Your Bible: For Kids. This is an introductory book to teach the tools to read, mark and dig deep into Scripture for yourself but written so that a child can understand. You learn to find the facts, observe the who, what, when, where and why of what you are reading, how to figure out what the words mean in the original text, the historical and cultural context of the text, etc. These all help you to understand what God wanted us to know.

When we started these books, my kids were not all independent readers and writers due to various learning challenges so we did them together. We would read the text and we would discuss the answers and I would help them as they needed. So, even if you have a struggling learner, they can still learn how to study God's Word.

There is a whole series of these books that center on various topics of the Bible such as specific books of the Bible, prophesy, prayer, etc. We very much enjoyed going through these together and learning together how find out for ourselves what the Bible says.

Now that my children are in their teen years, they join me in a multi-age inductive Bible study at church and are able to use the tools that they learned at a young age to dig deep and participate fully in a class of mostly adults. They are equipped, confident and, most importantly, interested enough, to be able to dig and and find the meat in the Scripture. Or as our Bible Study teacher likes to say, "Gut it out".

If you are not comfortable or familiar with Bible Study and don't feel ready to teach your kids, these are great introduction to help you a long the way as well.

Jen

Thursday, 17 July 2014

In Praise of Family Meals

 
 I know. I write a lot about food.

Apart from the fact that it's a glorious gift from God for which I grateful, I'm also very happy about the family-building opportunities which meal-times have given me throughout my adult life.

When my husband and I were first married, we used to love to have friends round for a meal. I would experiment with new recipes and ingredients we first encountered on our many travels. I felt a great deal of satisfaction at planning and preparing to host a meal for friends.


Things inevitably changed when a baby came into our family, but I knew that I did not want to waste the valuable opportunity which meal times give us for building relationships, listening and talking, modelling and guiding.

I was very lucky that, for many years, my husband was around at breakfast time with me and the children. During their middle childhoods, he was able to walk to work and back and was there at the meal times at each end of the day. I wish I could say something holy about having Bible time or praying at each meal, but that wasn't really us.



Breakfast
No, my spiritual ambitions for meals were more modest. A whole family, 'breaking our fast' together, eating nutritious meals, being polite at the table, learning to take turns in conversations, and clearing the table afterwards before we started our schoolwork, this was our aim. (School always began with a Bible reading, though.)
 

Lunch
Weekday lunches were either taken on the run, as we moved through our busy week, or just simple sandwiches and fruit. At the weekend, I tended to make more of an effort.

Even so, we usually sat down at the table together and talked about our ideas, dreams and plans. Am I painting too sweet and unrealistic a picture? Probably. We had our fair share of spillages and arguments, sulks and food-fussinesses. Sometimes, I'd prepare a picnic for the children to eat on the living room floor while they watched a movie.


Dinner
Later, Daddy would be home and dinner would, more often than not, be ready. Sometimes, though, I couldn't manage to cook anything and he'd bring something home from the shop to prepare quickly. And then we sat and ate and talked about our days.

Are you picking up on a theme? Mealtimes for us were not just about eating; they were about talking.

Would it surprise you to learn that the simple act of eating a meal together around a table is becoming obsolete in the UK? An survey a couple of years ago tells a sorry tale of solo eating of meals on laps whilst watching tv.

According to the poll of 500 people, fewer than one in five said they ate at the dining or kitchen table “one or two meals a week” compared to 13 per cent who did once a day.  Almost one in three people admitted eating at the dining table only a “few times a year”, four per cent never did while three per cent of respondents do not even own a table.


Family meal times have even been proven to benefit children's development.

Having seen the blessings of focused family interaction around a table, I humbly ask you, Dear Daughter, not to let this practice drift into obscurity. Start when your children are babies. Pull up their high chairs to the table. Let them in on the conversations. Teach them to enjoy eating together, in an unhurried and grateful way. Yes, they will need to scramble down again quite quickly and I'm not advocating pinning them there until the last adult finishes eating! Meals are for enjoyment, after all, not punishment.


Start as you mean to go on. If you don't practise a habit, it will fade.
Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Creative Curriculum

As another school year is about to begin, you might already have your new books and plans all ready. Or, you may still be trying to figure out what you are going to use. The curriculum fairs and catalogs are full of interesting, exciting and often expensive packages and text books all ready for you to use. 

There were years that we bought the big box of everything. We loved the books and it was nice to have everything all planned out for us. There were many years that we bought an eclectic mix of curriculum from our favorite suppliers and authors. But there were a few lean years where we couldn't afford the shiny new books. And those ended up being some of our funnest years of schooling. 

When money is tight, you need to get creative and resourceful in your planning. The library is very helpful for this. Sometimes you may be able to borrow from other homeschoolers. We once borrowed an entire set of Sonlight books for a year, other years we have just borrowed a subject or two. 

One of our favorite treasures is a set of American Adventure historical fiction books that we discovered in a tub of books that we picked up for free from the online Freecycle list. We created our own history curriculum from these books and the kids loved it! The books follow an extended family from the days as religious refugees/pilgrims in the Old Country to their voyage to America and the on through history until the mid 20th Century.




 I would read the books aloud to the kids.  While they were fiction, they included a lot of historical facts. We would expand upon the information that we picked up from these books by finding non fiction books, videos and other resources at the library to go deeper into the various subjects that we were learning about. If I could tie in a field trip we would do that as well. The kids enjoyed the stories and the history, science and geography they were learning was all the more interesting because they could relate to it more as they saw it through the eyes of the fictional family that was interacting with very real historical figures. 

I spent next to nothing on history and science for those two years, but we learned so much and had so much fun learning it. So, be creative and find ways to work within your means and make facts come alive. Expensive does not mean better.  

Some good resources to use for frugal schooling are the library, internet and local historical or science museums and educational groups. 

You might also want to check out these books. Homeschooling Your Child For Free and The Complete Home Learning Source Book



Jen

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Cherish



About 6 weeks after my first daughter was born my husband and I took her on her first outing to the grocery store. This was mostly because I'd had a c-section and desperately needed to get out of the house. As we were walking through the store an elderly woman stopped us to admire the baby. I'll never forget, all these years later, what she said to us. "Cherish every moment. The next thing you know you'll be sending her off to college." We laughed and went on our way.


When that same daughter was seven years old, she started piano lessons with a lovely older woman from our church. That woman became something of a mentor to me, in a rather unintentional way. However, she continually reminded me that were no "do-overs" in parenting. Looking back, I never took that to mean there is no grace. Kids are very forgiving, so don't take this to mean if you make a single mistake, you've blown it forever. No, what it means is this: each day is a gift that you can't get back. 

These two seemingly small pieces of advice, plus countless books and of course, a parenting course or two which helped me see my role from a biblical perspective, shaped the way I raised my girls over the years. There are so many things I want to remind you of, dear daughter.

When  the baby wakes you at 2am for another feeding and you are the only one who can do it because you are committed to nursing that newborn, try so hard not to resent getting up in the middle of the night with that little one yet again, even though you thought you had her sleeping through the night two weeks ago. Cherish that alone time with her. Kiss her little head while she nurses, sing lullabies to her, (she doesn't care if you can't sing!), rock her and pray over her. You will cherish those moments, I promise you will!

When you are trying to potty train your toddler and it seems like no matter what you do, he'll end up going to kindergarten in diapers, try not to get exasperated with him. Sit with him and read him a book, let him have that M&M for going in the potty, or at least for trying. Let him pick out the Superman underwear, even though the reward of wearing them seems eons away. You will cherish those moments someday, or at least they'll give you something to look back on and laugh about together.

When you are so sick of stepping on the stray Lego in the middle of the night, finding a Barbie shoe under the couch when you're cleaning, when your daughter spills purple paint all over the brand new carpet (oh, yes, she did!) try not to lose your cool. Try to remember that someday there won't be toys in your home, except maybe the electronic kind. Try to remember that someday there won't be paint to spill because there won't be kids around to paint you pictures you can't recognize, but you love them anyway. And cherish the moment that you pick up the Lego (after you recover from the pain of thinking someone is surely trying to kill you!).

Today I rode my bike by the community pool. While it's not the same pool where I spent countless hours with my girls, I wished for those days back. Frantically packing up sunscreen, beach towels, combs and ponytail holders for long hair, snacks, water bottles. Where's the right flip-flop? I can only find the left one. And the swim diapers for the baby and, when they were a little bit older, a book for myself. Reprimanding them to stay behind the black line painted on the bottom of the pool because that was the "deep end." Clapping when they went off the diving board for the first time, catching them at the bottom of the slide. And I miss those days so much it makes me cry. I mean really, really cry!

My girls are 23, 20 and 18 now. The oldest is married! Married!! When I think back to the days lying out at the community pool, I can hardly believe that little daredevil who scared everyone with her tree-climbing ways is a wife now.  And the one who I had so much trouble potty-training is in college with an amazing future ahead of her. And the one who had so much trouble learning to read sings like an angel and is getting ready to go off to the far ends of the earth to learn to be a worship leader.



Cherish each moment, dear daughter. Don't despise a single season of parenting. They really will be in college before you know it. And it's true, there are no "do-overs" in parenting.

Laura

Monday, 14 July 2014

Our Favorite Recipe Book

I have been blessed over the years to accumulate many recipes from friends, co-workers and relatives.  Rarely are the recipes ever in the form of a recipe card like the ones that my mother kept.  Rather, they were scribbled on pieces of paper, or shared online, or passed down from a great grandmother on stationary, then copied by grandmother and passed to my mother, and then copied again to be passed to me.  A few years ago, I decided to create a recipe notebook.

Great Grandma Violet Rowley-Teunick's War Cake Recipe

Not only did I like that I could organize the recipes by type, but I could also preserve the handwriting of my friends and family.  I know many women love to make their notebooks pretty, but I really needed mine to be functional.  I wanted something that was going to be durable and I didn't want to worry about spills and messes while I was cooking.

My Recipe Notebook

Supplies you will need:

a heavy duty, three inch, three ring binder
page protectors - begin with a pack of fifty
page dividers
your favorite recipes

Organize your recipes in the way that makes most sense to you.  I keep it simple.  I have a category for:

Soups/Stews
Chicken
Beef
Pork
Fish
Veggies
Baking (Cakes, Pies, Cookies, etc...)
Secret Family Recipes

I have a friend who decided to organize her book based on who gave her the recipes:

Grandma Smith
Great Grandma Taylor
Aunt Christy
Kate
Ellen
Paula

My friend has an amazing mind and she can recall who gave her which recipe and she knows right where to look.  But me?  I'd be lost!  So choose a system that works for you.

Once you decide how to organize your recipes, label your page dividers, and begin filling your page protectors with recipes.  Don't skip the page protectors!  We all mean to be careful, but spills and splotches happen!

Keep an extra supply of page protectors on hand.  I usually try a recipe at least twice before I add it to my notebook.  My notebook is only for the recipes I want to keep for regular or future use.  It has a pocket in the front, so I usually keep untried recipes there, and then if we decide we like them, I pop them into a page protector and file it in its proper place.  I try to remember to make a note on the recipe about how well my family liked it and if I needed to make any changes to the ingredients.

I enjoy the order my notebook has brought to my kitchen.  I no longer have to rummage through a tiny box for folded, oil stained scraps of paper.  Nor do I have to guess where I last left a recipe, "Did I leave it in the kitchen drawer? Or did I fold it up in the cookbook?" - while my hungry family waits for supper.  A little bit of organization now prevents much frustration later.  Who knew a notebook could help us be happier homemakers?

Many blessings,






Yvonne Ferlita has been married for nearly twenty-five years and is mother to four children ages 22, 20, 16 and 11 years old. She is a follower of Jesus and gratefully relies on His grace. Having overcome perfectionism, she has embraced the imperfect excellence found in the ordinary life God has given her. Yvonne has homeschooled her children since 1998 and has helped them enjoy their unique gifts, while overcoming various learning and life challenges. Her therapy is writing, crocheting, swimming and laughing. She and her family reside in Brandon, Florida surrounded by four orphaned cats and a lovely, but bossy, labrador retriever. She blogs to encourage at Not Perfect - Just Ordinary.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Summer Projects

During the summer, when I have more time to myself, I tend to start a new project. Often that will be learning something new, or developing skills I already have. Sometimes, it will be cleaning or organising a space in the house which has become an unhelpful mess.

I try to use my time wisely, and in order to bless my home and the people living in it or visiting it. I'm NOT a natural Domestic Goddess. In fact, I'm a pretty die-hard 70's feminist. Yet, the situation God placed me in has required me to have to take responsibility for much of the home-taming duties in our family. Much to my initial distaste. Jamie and I had planned to share this responsibility but it didn't work out well that way.

 
My very first attempt at making ricotta cheese
However, I discovered that, when I embraced my role, I came to enjoy at least parts of it. My summer projects being my favourite bits.
One summer, I knitted many cotton dishcloths!
I am lucky that, although my children barely noticed my accomplishments, my husband did. He appreciated every new skill, every beautiful thing, every tasty meal and still does.
I tried my hand at soap-making and decided it was not for me!
It's good to have a cheerleading husband like that! He's probably also glad that it's not HIM in charge of the home! Oh well. I am happy that he notices and compliments me.
Rearranging things in the garden
In Genesis 1, we see this:
   ''God created human beings;
        he created them godlike,
    Reflecting God’s nature.
        He created them male and female.
    God blessed them:
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
    Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
        
         for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

This filling the earth and taking charge of it business is pregnant with meaning. For me, managing my resources, being in charge of my home, having a creative and subduing role are all part of the mission I have at this point in my life.

Have you embraced your role at home yet, whatever that is, Dear Daughter? Is it drudgery or delight? A little of both? Could you try some new projects to keep your interest up?
 
Perhaps, when Jamie is able to retire, we may switch roles. Who knows? I bet he won't make as good lemon cordial as me though.

Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.