Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {chick printable}

I want to start sharing with about some of the activities I do with my younger children, of pre-school and early years age.  There are many things that I have found to have both fantastic play and educational value.  I think that it's good to share, so that's what i plan to do!

Today, you have the added bonus of being my "guinea pigs" - I am sharing my first ever set of printables! So, please have grace if things are not perfect! I have tried to pick up on any errors and sort them out, but please let me know if I have missed anything.

When I was recently at The Range (a large store with LOADS of craft/home items of all sorts - LOVE IT), and they had cute little packs of craft style chicks, for £1 per pack of 8. They CALLED to me.  They said "I could be very useful - BUY ME"! Of course, I did.  *aherm*

Cute, yes?

 I was looking at them today, and thought "you could be part of something wonderful".

I have been working on identifying numbers with my younger children, and these chicks seemed the ideal candidate to become a fun, soft, cute little manipulative.  I began with the concept of cards, with pictures and numbers.

I thought these could be used with the chicks, and the child can place the right number of chicks to match the picture and number.

Like so..

I also printed the number words to match the numbers (1-10), which can also be matched up.

You can also see (just about, amongst my spots on teh tablecloth!!) that I have little circle "counters" with the chicks printed individually.  If you didn't have the craft type chicks, these could be used instead.

I also produced little cards with just the chicks on them, in groups of 1 to 10.

If you printed two sets of these you could play "pairs" - the memory games - or snap. 

I also thought you could use these as a clothes pin activity, matching peg with the correct number, to the picture with the right number of items. 

I already had the pegs with the numbers written on them, and added the printed chicks.

You could also use the pegs to match the numeral with the number word.

At the moment, I have no cute pictures of my children using these, because they are fresh off the press! As with any printables that I use, I have laminated them for durability. You could do it on card, especially if you don't want to be able to see the picture or words through the back.

There may be other ways to use these cute chickie items, and feel free to share anything you do with them! 

You can find the printable here. As I mentioned before, let me know if there are any problems or errors.  


Monday, 14 April 2014

Roots {don't get the bitter ones}

 I have been out in the garden today, again, and the Lord has, once again, been using it as a time to speak to my heart.  Today, I want to share with you about something that has come to mind several times whilst working in the garden.

Today, as before, and as will be again, I have been dealing with weeds.  It was my huge task to deal with a positively HUGE patch of nettles and dandelions. Well, I say HUGE, it was about 6 feet by 4 feet, perhaps? It FELT huge, and my back is telling me it was ENORMOUS. I digress. Dandelions and nettles have something in common. Obviously, one has a relatively pretty, yellow flower, frequently gifted to mothers by children (or in Simeon's case today, used as a mobile phone??...) and the other has nasty, horrid prickly stems and leaves, which I am still feeling the effects of. The commonality is this -  HORRENDOUS roots.  One, the dandelion, has a deep, deep, thick root, that you have to dig out, carefully and completely.  The nettles have a maze-like system of strong, wandering roots, that seem to spread out forever under the soil.  It's a positive network of roots, strongly making its way into the ground. The nettle plants shoot up from the root system, all over the place.  Both of them need diligent attention to getting the root out, or it will spring up again.

It made me think about the verses in Hebrews.

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 
 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; 
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, 
and thereby many be defiled"
Hebrews 12:14-16 

Do you see that there?  

Roots of bitterness.

It's so easy in life, to allow roots of bitterness to form. They don't spring up, they burrow down.  They work their way, insidiously, into our hearts, until our spirit and heart is all twisted up, and infiltrated, by the bitterness. 

It can happen in our marriages.  Something that bothers us, or we have a disagreement about, or that we are struggling with, starts to become that root of bitterness.  We allow it to dig down, and to eat away at us, until we feel bitterness about it. It puts down its tap root like the dandelion, or spreads into our whole life, like the nettle. If we don't sort out these bitter thoughts quickly, it can ruin our marriage.

It can happen in so many other ways.  

It could be an unfulfilled "ambition", regrets about the way we have done things as a parent, friends who have let us down, words spoken by others, issues that have been misunderstood, children taking up our time,  a house move, a husband needing to change jobs, loneliness, discontent.  All these things, and so many, many more, can cause a root of bitterness to grow deep, deep into our hearts.

How do we combat these thoughts and bitterness from eating away at us - from harming us?

Like the weeds in my garden, we need to "pull out" these bitter thoughts, before they can put down roots at all.  We need to get rid of them quickly.

How do we do that, though?

Like my weeds needed digging up with some proper tools, a similar "attack" is needed with bitterness in our lives.

The verses above give us a 2-pronged attack against these roots.

"peace with all men"

Invariably, thoughts of bitterness are the polar opposite of peaceful thoughts. Bitterness tends to rile us and  make us feel discontent - ill at ease. It makes our minds and our hearts turbulent - torn and tossed about, as we mull over what's bothering us.  If we call out to the Lord, and ask Him to give us peace - if we keep Him in our hearts and minds, and cast out all wrong emotions - then the bitterness will be sweetened.  Peace and unrest simply cannot exist in the same space. If we have peace in our hearts, bitterness cannot be there too.  If we first have God's peace, then we will have that "peace with all men". We are more inclined towards a peaceableness, if we have peace within us, first of all.


Having holiness - separateness from sinfulness - will guide us away from bitterness.  Bitterness in our hearts is plain ol' sinfulness.  If we strive after that which is holy - being like the Lord - then the bitterness will be sweetened.  

The holiness that we need to look for, is summed up in Ephesians.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 
 And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:31-32

We often quote that second verse to our children, do we not?  It equally applies to our own lives!

We need to put that bitterness away - the anger, the arguing, the using nasty words, which can all stem from the bitterness, if we let it take root.

Instead, we have to be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving.

Oh, how hard those things can be, if we are starting off with even a hint of bitterness.  We need to push it out with these purer and more sanctified behaviour.

Demonstrating kindness, instead of unkind thoughts.

Having a tender heart, instead of a prickly and hard heart.

Forgiving, instead of holding wrongs against another.

I pray that the Lord would grant me grace and strength, not to allow bitterness to dig its way into my heart and life.

Off to do some "weeding" now...

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Lacking wisdom? {ask of God}

I am pretty certain that I am not the only mother who has children regularly come to her, in frustration, because they can't do something.

"I can't tie my tie"

"I can't do up my laces"

"I can't read this word"

"I can't work out my maths"

"I can't get my top on right"

"I can't get my shoes on"

"I can't get my toys off that shelf"

It sometimes seems like a never-ending stream of "I can'ts"!

When a child comes to me with their "I can'ts", I tell them the same thing every time.

"If you just come and ask me, I will help you - that's what I am here for!"

As their Mum, it's my joy and delight to help them.  Children don't know how to do everything. It's natural to need help on a regular basis.

It's asolutely the same for us.  There are so many times where I just don't quite know how to deal with a situation. Differences of opinion in my marriage.  Challenges with child training.  Knowing how best to manage situations.  Often, I feel the "I can't do it" mentality creep in.  I just have no idea waht to do.

James gives us the answer.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

I think it bears remembering where this verse stems from. James is telling us to have joy when we come across trials - joy! - reminding us that trials teach us patience. Then he tells us to ask for wisdom.  It's in those trials and "temptations" that we often feel we lack wisdom, as to how to deal with it.  God can, and WILL, provide that wisdom, if we just ask. It's that simple.

Or is it?

James goes on to say that we need to ask  in faith - nothing wavering. Not to be like a wave of the sea, tossed about.  We need to believe that God can, and will. We have our part to play, as well.

It would be a bit like a child coming and asking for help - they need to ask, and know we can help them with it, or they won't ask at all.

God is faithful.  We know He is. He proves Himself time and time again. We need to just come in faith, and ask for the wisdom.  Then, rest in the assurance that He will give it to us. Not only that, but He gives LIBERALLY! Our great God is a generous, and kind God.

All of us face different trials, and they can even change from day to day. If  when you are facing trials and struggles this week, ask God for wisdom. Ask in faith. Believe He will give it to you.  He will show you the way. Personally, I am going to cling to the "Liberally" part of the verse, because I regularly feel I need a LOT of wisdom, with my busy family life!

 God is good, and God answers prayer.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Studying Philippians {do you want to join me?}

I wanted to share with you what I am going to be doing over the next 8 weeks, in my quiet time.  I have, in years gone by, joined in with Good Morning Girls group studies, which I found very beneficial. I particularly enjoyed studying through a whole epistle.  We had used the SOAP method, and only looked at a couple of verses a day.

I wanted to do something similar again, but having just had my husband preach through the book of Philippians, I wanted to dig back into it again.  I find, as a mother of small children, that I don't always get to hear the entire sermon with full concentration levels.  Doing this kind of study means that I can just look at a few verses each day, but in a bit more depth, and am more likely to remember the few truths I find.

Let me explain the SOAP method to you.  It's an acrostic, funnily enough.  Not, as someone on Facebook asked, the one used in the medical field - Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan!

It's this...

S - Scripture
O - Observations
A - Application
P - Prayer

First of all, you need a notebook.  A pretty one is good, but not at all necessary! This is mine that I am using, kindly given to me by my sister and her family. Also, my new Bible, which is actually purple, but comes out more pink in artificial lighting!

Now for the SOAP part.

For "S, you need to write out the scripture for that day.  As I said, it's only a few verses at the most, so doesn't take long.  Writing something down helps to imprint it in your mind, so it's a good thing to do.

Next comes "O" - observations. What particular truths can you see in these verses, that really spring out at you? IS there some doctrine you have never noticed before, or some more practical teaching?  Maybe a lesson that is new to you, or something that you have only now seen to be there at all?  Jot it down, again to help you remember it.

Following on from that is "A"- application.  How can you apply the observations to your own situation? How does it apply specifically to YOU? Take a note of it.

Lastly is "P" - prayer.  How are you going to pray, and ask the Lord to work out those truths in your life? Is there something you need to repent of? Something you need to ask for? Something you need thank the Lord for?

I have also come up with an additional "P".  PLAN! How do you plan to apply what you have learnt in a practical way? It's similar to the application, but it's going that extra step in working it out in a tangible and evident way.

That's how the SOAP notes work.

How about the reading plan?

Well, you can get it here, and then you can print it out and use it. As I mentioned, it will take 8 weeks, the last couple of days thinking about events that happened IN Philippi, in the life of Paul.

I began yesterday, but it would be easy for you to catch up and join in with me.  I plan on doing a blog post to sum up each week, and you cam chime in with your own thoughts. I also have a closed group on Facebook, called "Bible Study Blessings", if you want to join in! Just drop me a PM and tell me how you know me, and a bit about yourself. We already have a lovely group of ladies how are joining in, and I'm happy to welcome more!

It's a good way to keep accountable for your Bible Study, as well as having others to encourage you and bless you with what they are learning too.  I am also amazed at how many different things can be found in just a few verses. It's truly wonderful.

Another great idea is having some family members join you, such as your husband, your daughters or sisters. There's nothing as precious as studying God's Word with those you love.

Oh, and it only runs Monday to Friday. I find weekends are sometimes harder to git things into, so it give you a chance to just read God's Word, and soak it in on its own. Perhaps take the weekends to look back over your week, and reread a longer passage. You could simply read some favourite Psalms or other Bible portions over the weekend - maybe something  your heart has been drawn to, through reading Philippians?

So, please join in with me as I study over the next couple of months, and do share in the comments section, if you are studying along too.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Crochet Creations {first ever bag}

Apologies for the lack of posts, but I am dwelling in a house with ill people.

Ill little people, to be exact.

My patience is sorely tested at such times, but by God's grace, we are getting through!

It's also Susie's birthday, erm, TODAY! (oops - it's late!)

She was my Good Friday baby, SEVEN years ago! Wow, time flies!

For her birthday, she has asked for a Bible.  I have got her a lovely Girl's Bible, with summaries of the books of the Bible, and various other study aids. I pray she reads it much and that she loves the Lord and trusts in Him as her Saviour.

I have also made her a "first".  My first crochet bag! It's not perfect, by any means, but I am hoping that the general rule of "I love it because you made it, Mum" comes into play! Generally, children don't see imperfections, which is a good thing!

She will also get a "Build a Bear" voucher, to add some bear clothes to her collection. (She got a bear for Christmas!).  You can't give a bag with nothing in it, of course!

If you crochet and you have never tried making a bag, I can assure you it was easy! I "borrowed" the concept of the base from a bootee pattern I have, so it's a kind of oblong.  I realise now that I didn't do it quite right, and it ended up curling up more than I planned, but it still works.  I then went for rainbow coloured rows of granny clusters, then some rows of half trebles, finishing off with a few rows of front and back post half trebles.  The strap I did in double crochet stripes, in the rainbow colours - outlined in the blue I used for the base and the top.  As you may have seen in my Mother's Day post, their Sunday outfits are blue, hence the majoring on the blue.

I am generally quite pleased with it, and would like to do some more bags.  I'd like to perhaps line it, but I will give it to her as is, and think about it another day! I would also perhaps think about doing a stronger base, as I am not sure how well it will hold anything too heavy... like, a Bible! We'll see!

So, here it is. In all it's rainbow glory (I know, no orange, but I didn't have an orange I liked!)

It was fun to make, and can't wait for her to get it.  When we have a Sunday birthday, we celebrate on Monday, as Sunday's are the Lord's Day.  We'll have fun on Monday, with presents, cards and maybe a meal out... depends how everyone is.  Currently,  Susie is the one feeling ill with the cold virus, so I am hoping the 24 hour element, of the high temperature and worst time, will be over by Monday so she can enjoy her day. Please pray they all get better soon! Oh, and you can think of me trying to make a UNICORN cake on Monday, as per her request. Fun....

I trust you all have a blessed Lord's Day - I will be staying at home with ill children, again. It's a season, and it will pass. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Chatting with Patrice {on the farmhouse porch}

Hi Patrice! Sorry it's been a while since we chatted, but life's been busy.  Great to have a chance today, though.  It's been lovely spring weather, here, which is lovely.  Lovely to have the sun shining, and the lighter nights again.

Onto our chat.
  1. What's your favourite method of travel?
I like to walk.

Seriously, I dislike travelling.  I have FAR too a vivid imagination, and often think about what trauma could occur whilst travelling.  Bad, I know.

Planes make me feel nervous, but I like the speed you can travel.  

Boats?? *shivers in horror* I also tend to feel ill on boats, if it is not a crystal clear sea that we are crossing.  Having family in Northern Ireland, I have been on a ferry many times.  Worst ever journey was when I moved to Northern Ireland. Picture majorly delayed departure, choppy journey, and Seacat filled with drunk Ulstermen returning from a football match, vomiting and snoring.  Nice.  Not.

Train I find tolerable. I don't feel ill, and you can get places directly and pretty quickly.   London in 39 minutes. Yeah, baby!!! 

Not so funny with 8 children, alone. With no seats available.  then it's not very relaxing, when you have to donate your children to random strangers, just so they have at least a lap to sit on!

Car - I am happy to drive. I quite enjoy it really, but I still tend to have moments (more as a passenger.....) when I think about what would happen if we hit something else going very fast.  Oh, and I hate going over bridges. *shivers again*

2.  If you wear jewellery, are you more likely to wear silver or gold?

I am more of a golden girl.  I think it suits my skin type better than silver. MOst of my jewellery is costume stuff, and more colour than gold or silver.  I feel slightly undressed if I am not wearing a co-ordinating necklace, with whatever I am wearing. It makes me feel I am making an efffort even though I rarely go out! 

3.  How often do you wear sunglasses?

You think we have sun in this country?? HA!

I wear them when I am driving, and it's sunny. I wear them if I am going for a walk, and it's sunny.

What I DON'T do, is lie on beaches, with sunglasses on, sipping exotic drinks.  Not because of them sunglasses leaving you looking like a panda, more because I am not a lover of just sitting on a beach.  Never mind the fact, that with lots of young children, you don't really get to just sit and relax on a beach. Period.

SO, answering the question simply - mostly in the summer, and mostly driving.

4. Which would be easier for you to leave undone (for a short period of time), dishes or laundry?

Easier, as in having a conscience about?  Or, if you didn't do it, how much chaos would it cause?

If it's the first, I could leave them both.  I know some people cannot leave dishes at night, to do in the morning, as they hate leaving a kitchen like that.  Me?  NO problemo.  If I am tired, I know I will have far more energy to do them first thing in the morning, and I will not feel depressed or distressed seeing them there.  I would feel worse if I pushed myself to do them when feeling exhausted.  I need my energy, and have to use it wisely!  

Laundry, it's plain hard to leave.  Don't do it, no clothes to wear. Seemples. (Said in the voice of a meerkat... don't understand? Sorry. It's regional.  See the video below...)

Laundry piles up way quicker than dishes.  I have a dishwasher, and how many dishes can you use, really?

Clothing a family of 10 equals FAR more laundry than dishes!

Oh, and the other issue...the children sort most of the dirty dishes, mostly in the dishwasher.  *I* do the laundry. So, for the sake of making my life easier, I keep on top of the laundry. Even at that, we have at least 1 or 2 loads a day, of some type or another.

5.  On a scale of 1-10 (1-hardly any+ 10- house is full), how much clutter have you collected?

Oh, wow.  THAT'S a question.  Ask me, I would say, errrr, about a 5? My husband may answer differently.  I could ask him later.... One man's clutter, is another' man's treasure? Isn't that how it goes?.... *aherm*

I have more than I would like, and I often wish I could just throw everything away and begin again.  I think we have too much TOY clutter. OHHHH yes.  I try and rectify that regularly.... and then another child has a birthday.

So nice to chat again, Patrice.  Looking forward to the next time, and to the pictures of your daughter's new foal! 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Mother's Day {it's every day}

Yesterday, here in the UK, it was "Mother's Day".

Imagine visions of mother getting a lie in, breakfast in bed, flowers, cards, gifts aplenty. Having a relaxing day without a care in the world.



No, I didn't have a day like that.  Yet, the world has put in people's minds that that is the day we DESERVE - that we SHOULD get.  If we don't someone is failing in some way - husband, children, or even you.

No, no, NO!!!

Now, I am not saying that showing your mother love and kindness - appreciation for what they do - is bad.  I gave my own Mum a card, and a gift. I appreciate all she has done, and what she still does.  I have a problem with it being expected, or forced upon you.

Yesterday, I had 2 lovely cards. One from Robert, thanking me for being a mother to our children.  One from the children, thanking me for being their mother.  I had my dinner made for me, and I got a packet of Rolos from Robert, in memory of our early courting days when I sent him "my last Rolo" at one stage! (Not everyone will understand that....some will).

I still had a wonderful day, because I filled my heart with the things that matter most - that should matter EVERY day.

The thing that matters most is that I give thanks to God.  That I give thanks EVERY DAY, for my blessings.  God gave them to ME - to US. It quite clearly states in the Bible that God gives life. I am so incredibly thankful for the lives He gave me, that MAKE me a mother.  I gave thanks for the good times - I gave thanks for the hard times.  "In EVERYTHING give thanks". There is always something to be thankful for, in every situation.  Even yesterday, I had a poorly little boy, with a raised temperature and very clingy.  I gave thanks that I had the chance to sit down and just cuddle him, because it was the Lord's Day, a day of rest. That the older children were doing jobs, so that I could be free to sit down with him.  That it meant I had a nap, because he napped on me. The boy who never naps!

I gave thanks to God for the blessings I have been given, in all eight of our children.  I pondered their individualities, and their precious characteristics. Eight of them - every one different.  All with their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

I am thankful for my expanded, stretch-mark filled, flabby tummy, which bore every one of them.

I am thankful for the father of my children, who loves them all very much, and cares for us all so well. I am thankful that he still finds me beautiful, after all that my body has been through to bear our children!

I didn't need presents from them - just their PRESENCE is a gift enough for me. Every moment, of every day, is a gift. It's so easy to get caught up in the hard moments, and forget that every moment is a joy, and gift to be treasured.  We don't even have tomorrows to take joy in - we have NO idea what tomorrow holds.  Just today.  As each day is given, with our children in it, we must give thanks, and take joy in that gift.

Dismiss the pressures from the world to think that cards and gift-giving matter most.  You HAVE the gift, the gift of your children.

That is all that matters.

Oldest girls, in their new "Sunday best", which they get new every spring.

Boys, in their new clothes, too.

Tabitha - in her new hat! (I crocheted it on the way to a wedding the other day, when I realised she had no hat to match her outfit!!  Not at all essential, but it kept me busy in the car, and my mind less upon the fact we were delayed and very late!)

My sleeping Simeon, yesterday.