Friday, 25 July 2014

Blogging through the Alphabet {Mess, management, mornings, music and merriment}

Ben and Me

(this post contains affiliate links)

Today, I have a lot to do.  I have to tidy my messy house.  We have a busy Sunday, with family visiting for dinner, and then next week is Holiday Bible Club (VBS), and we have friends staying for the whole week.  With all the chickenpox time, madly trying to catch up with school afterwards, and then my dryer going on the blink, jobs got somewhat behind.

Everywhere I look, there seems to be MESS!

I know I must not be alone when I say my children seem to trail their things EVERYWHERE! Toys, pencils, hairbands, clothes - all in places they shouldn't be.

I am pretty sure my issue is two-fold - having too MUCH, and not MANAGING them properly.  I think, over the summer, those two things need to be taken into hand. A massive, and major de-cluttering needs to happen.  Ruthless.  That needs to be the order of the day.

Then, I need to train and manage the situation better.  I need to be a more effective parent, and sort out the issue of training children not to LEAVE the mess everywhere.  I think having less stuff will probably help.  A bit.

I think there is also "lazy tidying" going on.  What I call "Moving the mess".  I am forever telling them off for doing it! I tell them to tidy one thing up, and I find it somewhere else, where it doesn't belong!! I tell them "That's not tidying, that's moving mess"!!!


(Yes, I'm kind of shouting that...)

I also think I still haven't properly found homes for everything.  I always maintain that if something has a place it belongs, it's far easier to tidy.  So, having a hard look at what the mess tends to be, and why it ends up not being put away, would be a plan.

I need to also have a bit more management of our time and chores.

Currently, we have a nice little morning routine going on.  I think I have mentioned before that the oldest 3 have a "Post-breakfast job". One empties the dishwasher, one clears up the breakfast things, and the other sweeps the floor.  They all have to make their beds, as well.  Those things all happen, pretty much like clockwork.  I think my younger ones need more regular jobs, though - and MUMMY needs to make it happen! If I don't train them, and help them to remember what to do, then it's more my fault than theirs!

I plan to try out a new chore system, and will review it later in the summer.  It's called Easy Peasy Chores, and is picture based, ideal for the little ones to learn what their duties are!  (It's currently available as part of the Build Your Bundle sale, in the "Mom's Bundle", which is only $10!!! That chore system alone retails for $15.99, so by buying that particular bundle, you get loads of other things, as well as Easy Peasy Chores, for less than you'd normally pay for it!  If you are interested in the system, this is the way to buy it!).  I am hoping that this system may help us on the road to managing our chores better.

I can't have an "M" post, without mentioning my wake up call this morning.  7am, the phone rings. I had a late night last night, working on various things, so I wasn't up yet. Rude awakening a phone ringing by your ear! It was the delivery man, who was to deliver my new dishwasher - telling me he'd be there in 20 minutes!!! YIKES!!! How to make a woman jump out her bed in a hurry! Due to my busy, and late, night that I had, I hadn't emptied the load from the outgoing dishwasher.  I hadn't finished tidying the hall they would need to walk through.  I hadn't swept the floor.  We hadn't taken out the old dishwasher from its spot.  I wasn't dressed.  It's AMAZING what you can do in a short space of time, given a "shove"!!! We were all ready for them arriving with the new dishwasher, and Robert then quickly got it plumbed in.  I'm rather excited about it! We have been struggling with a dying dishwasher for a while, so this should make life easier - especially with a houseful next week!


It's a subject that has been much lacking in this household, and I have finally gained some inspiration to do more with the children!  I bought the Middle School bundle, from the Build Your Bundle sale. Part of the draw, for me, was the fact that it contained not one, but TWO music related products! The first is "Beethoven who?"  This is a product which teaches your children all about music - from reading music, to identifying music styles, to learning about composers. It also includes fun hands-on activities you can do, as you learn about music.  I also found a programme to teach your children to play the recorder.  Some of mine are showing an interest in music, so I figured they could learn to play the recorder, together, and those with further interest could then start learning the piano, once they could already read music.

I learnt to play the piano, and went all the way up to passing Grade 7 with the Associated Board of Music. I went to Uni after that, so didn't have time to do Grade 8, as I had no time to practice!  I really ought to get my children learning to play SOMETHING!

I am really looking forward to doing more music when we start back in September, and great thanks to the Build Your Bundle team, for helping me out!




Can you tell I am happy???

Honestly, in the home-edding community, the summer break is more for the mother's sanity than for the children's benefit! *grin*

As I mentioned before, I have jobs lined up for myself, but things I will enjoy working with, knowing I can do them at a relaxed pace.  I am also really looking forward to sorting and clearing - it's always very satisfying!

Further merriment comes in the form of Holiday Bible Club, this coming week.  It's a busy, busy week, but we love being able to share the gospel with boys and girls.  Our theme is "Jesus, our Saviour and Friend".  I am particularly looking forward to teaching the "missionary lesson", about Corrie Ten Boom.  I find her an incredibly inspiring woman, and I have learnt so much from her life. Please pray for me as I share her story - there are elements which are sensitive, and I want to deal with them in the right way. I am praying the the Holy Spirit will guide me in my thoughts and words, and the children will be challenged by the life of this great woman.

As I look forward to the summer, I am thankful that God has a plan for me, and for my life.  I pray that I will calmly follow after whatever God has for me, with great joy.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Early Years resources { and other limited time offers, you shouldn't refuse!}

(this post contains affiliate links)

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

So, today, I finally got round to having a REALLY good look at the Build Your Bundle sale options.  I am simply blown away, and super excited, about what I am "walking away" with, from my shopping trip.

(Don't you love those kind of shopping trips? The kind where you don't need to pack all the children into the car, endure a journey with fighting and moans, trail them around umpteen shops, then bring tired, grumpy children back home in the car, where they fall asleep, then don't want to go to bed when you need some peace and quiet???)

I am not one to keep something great from those I care about, so I want to highlight some of the fab items I have bought - especially the resources for the younger years.

Early years education is an area that divides in the home-edding community.  Many will use highly structured pre-school programmes.  Many will say "do nothing - they will learn from having fun!".  There is merit in every camp, but I particuarly felt I needed to give my littles something more structured to do - more to keep them occupied, than anything else.  I also felt that I was missing out in focussing on character training - teaching them whilst they are young.

Having had all this on my heart, imagine my excitement when I looked at the bundle for "Tots and Pre-school", and found lots of wonderful resources, particularly focussing on character!

This bundle is great for ANY parent, whether you plan to home educate or not.  Every small child needs to be taught about godly character, and how God expects us to live!

First off, there are several different character training resources, all offering a slightly different focus.  As you may know, repetition is a GREAT thing for children to learn more efficiently, so by working through all these different resources, certain qualities will be emphasised more than once, making it more likely to be remembered.  At the same time, it gives you variety as the parent and teacher, which is always good!

Raising Rock Stars is a foundational preschool program based on God's Word. It begins with the foundation of learning, memorizing and applying a verse each week, taken from the awesome book, My ABC Bible Verses. Kumon inspired learning with colors, numbers, and sight words incorporated along with early reading skills.  There are lovely tracing cards, fun lollipop stick props (I LOVE these!), and many other helpful printables. It would be a brilliant addition to any phonics programme. 

Another great set of resources is four different items from Character Concepts.  One is the Character Concepts for Preschoolers Mom`s Guide.  It's a teacher's manual with 36 weeks of lessons based around 12 character traits.  They suggest many ways in which you can apply and reinforce these characters, with resource lists and fun ideas.  Also from Character Concepts is Proverbs for Preschoolers: Through the Proverbs from A to Z.  This has a lovely selection of verses from the book of Proverbs, with pictures to colour, letters to trace, and verses to learn. They are nice and simple, for little hands to manage.  Then, there's Character Trails Flashcards. This set of 12 full uflashcards is designed to help you as you teach your children to hide God`s Word in their hearts! In order to apply character to their lives they must first understand what it is with simple, kid-friendly definitions (illustrated on the front side along with Bible pictures). On the back side they learn what God`s Word says concerning this quality (illustrated by pictures from the Boyer cousin story in Character Trails). In less than 5 minutes a day, children will learn and soon internalize godly character in their lives. Finally, there's Hands On Character Building. Create precious family memories as you dive into projects, activities, and games designed to teach kids obedience, self-acceptance, a forgiving spirit, meekness, hunger for righteousness, and a bold testimony.  These items normally cost $50 alone!! They really add to the bargain of this particular bundle!

Another one, which I am looking forward to trying out, is, Character Badges!  Character Badges is a system consisting of three charts (the Obedience Chart, the Disobedience Chart, and the Consequence Chart), a series of specially designed badges, and a set of flash cards which work together to make character training fun and rewarding for both you and your child.  It;s bright, it's colourful, and more importantly it teaches your children about character in an encouraging and positive way.  It's designed for children aged 3-12, so it is not just for your little ones, but it's good to start training them whilst they are young!

Another one, which I hope will provide me with some much-needed inspiration, is 101 Independent Activities for Tots & Pre-K.  This is an e-book packed with ideas of activities which can be done independently, by your littles! These sound perfect for any mother trying to juggle little ones, with helping older ones with school work.  I know we would certainly benefit from this!  My feisty 2 year old, and my emotional 4 year old, (never mind ALL my other children) could do with some encouragement in this area.

This is just a selection of what is available in the bundle.  

These items ALONE are worth $70 retail value, so by buying the bundle, you have a saving before you add any of the other great items!  

I am really pleased with it, and printing out the various components is now on my "to-do" list for the summer, because I have a very keen 4 year old who could do with an some letter work, in a fun medium, before he starts his formal schooling next year. 

I must reiterate that this particular bundle would truly benefit any parent.  There is so much of value in it, which would be a valuable tool in training your children. 

Head on over to the site, by clicking on the image below, to find out much more.  Whilst you are there, have a look at the other bundles, too.  I have gone for this deal...

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Yes, I am a Scot, who can't resist such a great deal!

Don't forget that you can build your OWN bundle, choosing from any individual item valued at $19.99 or less.  ear in mind, though, that you'll  miss out on some doozies, but you'll also stick to only the items you really, desperately want.  Have a look around at everything, and choose your own adventure!

Right, I'm off to add printer ink and laminator pockets to my summer spending list!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Encourage and be encouraged {filling up, so we can pour out}

(this post contains affiliate links)

I am a firm believer in being an encourager. I truly, truly try to encourage others. Telling them when they are doing a good job. Helping them to see the best in difficulties.  Looking for the positives in any given situation. Thinking the best of people, not the worst.

It's very clear, from scripture, that we SHOULD  be encouragers. It's not our job to be moany, critical and DIScouragers.  We have to treat others as we would like to be treated ourself, and that would mean we should WANT to be encouragers, too!

Every life we connect with should feel the gentle touch of encouragement, and not the scathing abrasion of discouragement and negativity. Our husbands, our children, our family and friends, and even strangers we meet. We are never going to impact others for the cause of Christ, by having a negative, "pulling down" attitude.

I was deeply challenged about being an encourager,  on a very personal level, only a matter of weeks ago.

We were learning, in science,  about states of matter, and I was explaining about the "super-critical" state.

"Mum, that's YOU" said one child.


My heart winced at that comment.  Am I really THAT?  Super-critical?  Am I working hard at encouraging those outside my home, and forgetting the ones that should be closest to my heart?

I truly think it's a battle for many mothers.  It's our role to mould and shape our children.  Very often, that involves having to tell them when they are doing things which are wrong.  It's our job to train them.  It's VERY hard, in that situation, to always be positive and encouraging.  It's far easier to point out the negatives, and as my child correctly observed, to be "super critical".


I certainly find it far harder to make the effort to give out praise in equal doses as the "don't do that" moments.

It's so important, especially with our children, to have a spirit of giving - desiring to out-pour generously, not just in the tangible things of life, but in our words, and our tone.

Being an encourager is like a jug.  In order for a jug to pour water into the cups it serves, it first needs to be filled up.

We need to be filled up, with the fresh, life-giving water of encouragement, in order to pour it into others.

We certainly cannot always rely on others being our only source of "filling up".  It's wonderful when our husband or friends encourage us, but it's not something within our power to control.

Our main source is the ultimate encourager.

The Lord.  The Holy Spirit.

If we spend time with our great example - soaking up His Word, and seeking Him in prayer -  making our life one of constant communion with Him - we will find the only source of encouragement we REALLY need.  Turn to the Psalms, and find a balm to your soul.  Read in the Proverbs, and find the reward for righteousness.  Immerse yourself in the gospels, and discover the words of Christ himself, teaching us how He blesses when we follow after Him.

"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. 
 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."
Rom 15:13-14

We can also find encouragement in how we spend our leisure time.  There are COUNTLESS wonderful publications, and online sermons, which will encourage you in your goal to become an encourager. Women who have walked the way that you are in as a busy woman, serving God. Some of my personal favourites, when it comes to great encourager's of MY soul, are Sally Clarkson and Elizabeth George. They have so much experience and wisdom, and I have benefited much from their books.  I also love the sermons of Al Martin.  He is a great practical teacher, and I always feel challenged and refreshed by his ministry.

I think that it's also important to try and make sure your life is as organised and calm as possible, in order to be able to encourage others. If we are spending our time feeling stressed and frantic, we will be looking inward more than directing our focus outward. Elizabeth George, who I mentioned above, also has books which deal with the subject of organising and managing your life more efficiently.

I like to try and find new books, to find fresh encouragement.  So many ladies, with so much to give. Here's my "wish list", for what I plan to purchase and read over the next few months, to help me be encouraged, and an encourager.

 I especially appreciate the modern age of the eBook, when you can instantly download books, often for a better price.  Ladies who simply want to share their own experiences, and help fellow mothers. Such a blessing.  The "Build Your Bundle" sale, which is currently ongoing, has a VERY good value bundle, particularly aimed at homeschooling mothers, with titles that are aimed specifically at encouraging us! They KNOW how we need encouragement, in order to press on in the way we have been led to walk as mothers AND educators.  I will definitely be grabbing this bargain bundle of books. So many for the price you would pay for ONE!n

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

I like the look of this Elizabeth George book.

Read more about it here

This is another I plan to read.

I thought I had all of Sally Clarkson's books, but apparently not!  You can read more about it here

If you have any other great book recommendations, please, PLEASE share them in the comments below!

It's my goal, this summer, to fill up the "jug" of my heart.  I want to be an encourager, especially to my own family, first and foremost.  I think my supply has diminished somewhat, and it's up to me to refill it, so I can pour into the hearts of others - so I can be more in tune with giving to those I hold most dear. I want to run to the Lord, to be filled up, and I can't wait to spend some more time reading, learning, growing, and BEING encouraged, so I, in turn, can encourage others.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tapestry on a Tuesday {Timelines - with a review of Timeline Cards}

(This post contains affiliate links)

I want to share with you about a wonderful resource, for anyone who is, or will be, studying Ancient History.

When Janeen, from Sprouting Tadpoles, asked for people to review her new printable product, I jumped at the chance. As part of Tapestry of Grace, they suggest that you make a Timeline.  It was one of the things that we did not do the first time through, and I had wanted to pick up this time. Due to the fact that I had been finding it hard to find good resources, which were cheap, or free, I had kind of put it off.  You can, of course, make your own Timeline, adding in dates or pictures yourself.  I personally like the concept of having the images and dates laid out for you.

Time saving, we call it.

Or something like that.

Janeen's product is simply perfect for Tapestry of Grace users.  She has produced a set of printable cards - 136 different images/events. Included are 4 different sizes of cards, which could be used in lots of different ways. I will show you how we are using them, in a moment.  They cover the period from Creation to the Early Greeks. There are a set, in each size, with dates, and a set without dates. You could use all of one, all of another, or mix and match if you find you have come to a different conclusion about certain dates.

The largest size fits 4 onto one printed page.  You could use these to make cards which the children can write facts onto the reverse. There is an option to print lines on the backs of these cards, for this purpose.

The next size fits 8 on a page. These are "Top Trump" size, and you could make them into a game, or print doubles of some of them and play games like pairs or snap. You could print one set with dates, and one without, and have the children try and memorise the dates of each one. Lots of games and fun could be had with this size!

The next size down fit 16 per page and could equally be used for games, or notebooking type pages.

The smallest fits 32, and this is the size I went for.

Janeen has also included some ideas for  memory work and copywork, (including printable tables) as well as suggestions for how to use them in a Timeline, including one with a map, to identify WHERE these events were taking place!

I found a timeline that seemed to fit the periods of time I wanted to cover per page - 500 years.  This works better for older dates, when there was less "happening".  I would want to do it differently as history progresses, as more happens in shorter periods of time - just think what has happened in the last hundred years, never mind any other century!

I cellotaped the pages together, so they folded out into one long timeline, but also fold back up neatly, in the folder.

Now, having begun using it, I realise that the timeline I printed starts way before when we actually believe creation to have been. I wouldn't use that one again.  I also finding that I am struggling to fit on all the printed pictures, for some of the 500  year periods.  I am thinking of adding a page that flips up and down, to add to the "height" of some of the pages, to fit more in.

We decided that we would place the information in a certain order.  Below the centre line we will put Biblical events up to the time of the early Church, then after that time we will place British history events. Above the line we have worked from Egypt nearest the line, to further afield places closer to the top of the page.  This may not work out as we go through time, but it's working for us just now.

Also below the line we are adding in any dates, events or people covered in Tapestry of Grace which are NOT in the printable set.  There are not many, so far, that we felt we needed to add in.

You could do things in a far more detailed way than we are doing, but already we are finding it's helping us to understand how the world was developing at the same time as Biblical events, rather than stand alone events and developments.

We are keeping all the not yet used pictures in a little clip lid pot. I have them arranged by date.

I really love these Timeline Cards.  They are very comprehensive, with so many dates and events included in the package. Janeen has put in a lot of time an effort, to provide us with a quality, and versatile, product!

You can purchase this set from Janeen, but how about this for a bargain?  This product is currently available in the 4th-6th Grade Bundle, in the Build your Bundle sale, OR as an individual item to add to your "Build your Own" Bundle option!  For $39 you can get these Timeline cards, along with all the other products you see below.  Click on the image to go to the Build Your Bundle site, to see more information.

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Also, if you want another piece of good news, they are offering a "Buy 2, get one FREE" deal, on the bundles! (They have to either be all "Build your own" or all pre-assembled, you choose!)  This is a fantastic deal, especially if you have children of different ages you would like to buy for.

Buy More & Save More at the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Whatever you do, get your hands on these Timeline Cards! They are a fantastic tool for anyone learning about Ancient History, and will help you with working on a Timeline in your school setting. 

You can buy them *directly* from Sprouting Tadpoles e-shop, for the knock-down price of $5. $5 well spent, I say!  On her site, you will also find some lovely, FREE printables, which are a fantastic educational tool, too.  

Thank you, Janeen, for producing these cards!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Build your Bundle Sale {for one week only}

(This post contains affiliate links)

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Today's the day!  The Build your Bundle Sale has BEGUN!

There's lots of exciting information I can now tell you, all about the products available in the promotion.

Let me tell you, first, about the amazing pre-assembled bundles.  These contain quite fantastic products, at a knock-down price - WAY below the retail value.

There are 6 different bundles for curriculum, organised by age range, with a Charlotte Mason style one, also available!  There is also a bundle, just for Mum, for only TEN dollars! Yes, TEN!

Let me show you each bundle.

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Due to the fact that the bundles vary in content, the prices do reflect that.  You can see them all listed, in the chart below.

Bear in mind, these, as you can see, are still MASSIVELY discounted, compared to the normal pricing.  A knock-down bargain!  Better still, if you live on THIS side of the Atlantic, the exchange rate makes it an even bigger bargain! WOOHOO!  (they convert from approx £17 for the Tot bundle to about £40 for the High School one - oh, and only about £6 for the Mum bundle!!)

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Of course, you may see some of these bundles, and think "I like the look of some of these items, but I don't want them all.


Here comes the groovy, unique, part about the sale.


Any item which retails at less than $19.99, you can add to your own, specially chosen, bundle.

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Simply head on over to the Bundle homepage, and you will see the products that you can choose from.  Remember, only items $19.99 and less!  (And, to convert it for you again - $25 = £15, $39 = £23)

There is something else, that's an exciting edition to ANYTHING you purchase.  You get a bundle of bonuses, with discounts and freebies from various places! Now, not all of them are applicable, here in the UK, but many are.  Plus, never look a gift horse in the mouth, right??

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Another thing to bear in mind - if you purchase two bundles, your third is 50% off! Not only are you getting your first two bundles at a massively discounted rate, your third is HALF that discounted rate.  (Your three bundles must be of the same type - three pre-assembled, or three build your own.)

Buy More & Save More at the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

This is a bundle sale, with bargains everywhere. Massively reduced curriculum choices, with more than one way of getting what suits YOUR family.

So, here's what you need to do!

Click here to Shop the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale when it starts!

Don't delay! Buy today! 

Any questions? Just hit the link below, and all will be answered!


Friday, 18 July 2014

Blogging through the alphabet {Loving life and "looking" }

I must admit, my brain is in a little bit of a fog.  I have had such an exhausting few weeks, and it's so HOT!

I do NOT function well in the heat.

I'm Scottish.  Hot is about 21 with a breeze.

Today, it's about 30 (86F) and HOT.  A hot breeze. Blah.

I am VERY thankful not to be heavily pregnant right now.  THAT would be worse!

There are many things that I love about this week, though.  I love that my children are all better from the chickenpox.  I love that the marks that covered their faces and bodies are all fading.  It's quite incredible!

I love that God answers prayer.  At the start of the week I had mastitis trying to rear its ugly head.  I have had mastitis, requiring anti-biotics, with EVERY baby, at some point. This week, it seemed to be kicking in. I asked for prayer, as after the last few weeks I have had, I really could have done with not having that, too.  I was determined to get our last two weeks of school finished up, with no glitches.  It seemed that God had other plans, and I was willing to accept that MY plans would go awry.  However, I was not beyond believing that God could answer pray.  Pray, I did, as did many others.  Wonder of wonders, after going to bed one night feeling REALLY unwell, I woke up feeling SO much better the next morning! I still had some tenderness, but the flu-like symptoms that come with mastitis, had GONE! I carried on with the the massage, heat and anti-inflammatory meds that I had been doing, and it went away completely! I am so very thankful that God answered my prayer, and healing came. I am still hoping that this will be my first baby that I don't need anti-biotics to sort out mastitis!

I am loving that I am continuing to lose weight with Trim Healthy Mama.  It's a really wonderful eating plan, and if you have weight to lose I HIGHLY recommend trying it.  You still get treats, you don't have to count calories and obsess about "low fat". Lovely, wholesome, good food, and plenty of it! I particularly notice my shape changing. My skirts are getting too big for me, and I have lost nearly a stone in about 6 weeks.

I love that it's nearly summer break!  ONLY ONE MORE WEEK OF SCHOOL!!!! WE CAN DO IT! I really, truly, appreciate the summer break, and I am sure even MORE than the children do! It gives me a chance to recharge my batteries and get some sorting and planning done, for starting back in September.  I have a LONG, LONG LIST of jobs I want to do.  We'll see how THAT goes!  I have a few plans for keeping the children occupied over the summer, because I am NOT allowing a whole load of screen time.  I plan to share about that in the next week or so.

I have been looking forward,  in many regards, this week.  Looking forward to finishing school.  Looking forward to Holiday Bible Club, in just over a week.  Looking forward to friends staying that week.  Looking forward to teaching the missionary story, on the life of Corrie Ten Boom.  Looking forward to getting my house de-cluttered and more organised, over the summer.  Looking forward to the Holiday Bible Conference we go to, in August.  Looking forward to seeing family and friends in August.

It reminded me of a verse about "looking".

"let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 
 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; "
Hebrews 12:1-2

It's so very easy to look in the wrong direction.  Looking down - having negative thoughts about our circumstances. Feet to the ground, and feeling dismal.  Looking down at others - thinking ourselves to be higher than we should be. Looking around - comparing ourselves to other, and what, where, how and why they do things. Looking back - thinking more about failings and sins of the past, than we should. Looking in fear - wars, and rumours of wars, as conflict rages around the globe.

This verse reminded me, though, of where I need to fix my gaze.  This verse is comparing our life to a race. We need to put aside the things that would weigh us down, and slow us down.  We need to run patiently - it's a marathon, not a sprint. More than anything else, I need to keep my eyes firmly fixed upon the Lord.  It's so easy to be distracted by what is going on around us, and forget to firmly fix our gaze upon the Lord. If we looking to Him, we will keep going in the right direction.  We will keep our eyes off our trials and struggles, and instead be confident that we are heading the right direction. We will "keep on keeping on".

As I head into a season of change, rest, and fresh beginnings after our break, I will keep "Looking to Jesus", for all my strength, hope, comfort and direction.  Remembering, above all else, that my goal is heaven, and not the things of this earth.

I was featured on Ben and Me as one of their "Featured Bloggers", last weekend! Pop on over to see who has linked up this week.

Ben and Me

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Stuck in the mud {getting unstuck}

Have you ever been accused of being a "stuck in the mud"?

I am not sure anyone has called me it, but in my heart I know I am.

Have a keek at the definition


  [stik-in-thuh-muhd]  Show IPA
someone who avoids new activities, ideas, or attitudes; old fogy.

I am TERRIBLE, as mother, for avoiding doing fun things with the children.  My heart wants to, but my practical side shuns things, like the plague, thinking of all the complex reasons why they should be avoided.

Mostly, it's mess-orientated.

I hate creating more mess than children create as a natural by-product of simple existence.




Walks involving extra clothing and equipment.


Yup.  I am that mother.


Except today!!

I decided to get unstuck from the mud.

The children, upon bemoaning the heightened temperatures here in sunny England, requested a "water fight".

Inside, my heart beat faster, my stomach clenched into knots, and my airway restricted slightly.

"Water, equals mess", I thought.

"Water, equals crazy behaviour", I thought.

All the children were thinking was

"Water, equals FUN"!!!!

So, I decided to let it go.

"Let it go, let it go, don't......"

(Sorry, it just came out.)

I let go those feelings of "don't go there", and decided upon "go for it"!!

Not without strict instructions and rules, of course.

1.No coming into the house through the carpeted lounge.
2.No hurting each other.
3.No coming past the utility room.
4.Dry oneself before re-entering the general domicile.
5.Spare clothes ready in the utility room.
6.Towels on the floor to soak up water excess, ready in advance.

Yes, I thought that about covered it.

Of course, before they even got that far we had to sort out the "MUUUUUUUM, Simeon took his nappy off in the garden, and he has WEIRD poo"...

(Simeon + shower + sort out the weird poo in the garden, thankfully deposited on an easy-to-clean surface - weird poo was from blueberries, FYI. VERY weird poo...)

Then, swimwear went on, sunscreen went on, and out they went.

I was VERY impressed with their clever rig up for sprinkling. The hose was pulled up into the tree, set on "sprinkler", and positioned so it sent a fine mist of water over anyone under the tree!  They had SO much fun with that! Then, the general throwing around of water, and getting into a complete, soaked, and happy mess!

Did my rules get adhered to?

Well, not entirely.

Number 1. Check.
Number 2. Check. (Well, one accidental hurt)
Number 3. Erm, no. Several small people were not observed to have come into the house by the others, and were only apprehended by me upon entering the lounge.  Then swiftly lifted off their feet and carried at arm's length back to the utility room!
Number 4. Erm, no. Again, small people issues.  Older ones, check.
Number 5. Check.  Although, quite why a second set of clothes was required, when a perfectly dry, previously removed, original set were available to reapply. Yes, Chinese laundry springs to mind....
Number 6. Check. But MAN were they super-saturated! They certainly did some kind of good, but they SQUELCHED when you walked on them! They needed a spin before I could even wash them.

Yes, a few traces of their fun remain.  Spare beach wear still to be put back in the cupboard. A pile of laundry the size of Mt Everest, in my utility room.

Did it hurt me?


Did they have fun?

Ohhhhhh yes!

Was it worth it?


I really need to learn to be less of a "stuck in the mud".

It's something I can apply to my life in other areas. Have I become boring in my marriage?  Can I think of new things to do which would make us happier and bring us closer together?

As a mother, I KNOW I can make improvements.  I need to be more pro-active in doing fun things, remembering that they grow up soooo quickly, and amidst all our busy-ness and big family life, we need FUN, too.  I need to say "yes" more, to suggestions from the children, instead of being a "no" Mum.

I'm sure I could make improvements with extended family and friends.  Making more effort to meet up, go out, do fun things.

Spiritually, I need to break out of some habits, and improve in certain areas. Not think I have "arrived" in my spiritual  and doctrinal understanding of things, but be willing to read, learn and grow, making changes to my heart and attitudes as necessary.

I'm sure many of you didn't need to learn this lesson - you probably merrily jump into fun activities every second moment.....

I needed this lesson today, and it's one I am glad I learnt. The joy my children experienced, playing in the garden, will stick with me for a long, long time.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Before the sun goes down {ending your day the right way}

When we got married, various people gave us advice and shared scriptures with us.  There was so much wisdom in what was shared, and I valued it greatly.

There was one piece of advice, however, that I think is SO important, and worthy of sharing.

"let not the sun go down upon your wrath:"
Ephesians 4:26

How we deal with disagreement and conflict can have a huge effect upon our marriage.  

Imagine the scenario.  

(You may not have to imagine very hard)

You have been having a discussion with your husband, on a matter of great emotion and importance.  You don't agree over the issue, and emotions run high.   Certainly, female emotions have a tendency towards that, but men can also have the same emotional response about certain subjects.

No agreement is made on the subject.  

Maybe hurtful or angry words are spoken.

Bitter and hurtful thoughts are spinning around in your heart and mind.

Often, these things happen in the evening, because that's when we have the chance to talk about things.

The temptation is to march up to bed, ignore your husband, and go to sleep in a sulk, with those angry thoughts still swirling around in your head.

Maybe you feel you are in "the right".  Maybe there is nothing you have done "wrong".  

"Why should *I* be the one to sort it out?"

As I mentioned, recently, pride has a lot to answer for in our lives, and can easily sneak into our marriages.  Refusing to sort out a matter before we put our head upon the pillow, is so often rooted in pride.

Remember what I said?

"Pride goeth before destruction"

If we choose not to be the one to resolve issues in our marriage, especially before the day is through, we are heading for destruction.

I must say, by God's grace, that we have never ended a day without sorting issues out.  If it happens earlier in the day, we sort it out before the day is through, too. I HATE being at odds with Robert, and certainly am NOT the "not speaking to you" type! 

If God's Word says we shouldn't let the sun go down on our anger, then we shouldn't.  There's no excuse for allowing angry and bitter thoughts and emotions to carry on in our hearts.  We NEED to sort it out.

It's as easy as these words.

"I'm sorry".

Why are they the hardest words to utter?  Pride, again.

We somehow feel that apologising means that we were "wrong" and our husband was "right".  Perhaps we feel we are lying, because we don't feel we need to apologise for our perspective or opinions.

That's not how it should be. Not at all.  

It means we are sorry that it has happened.  We are sorry that we have disagreed.  We are sorry for any words spoken in an unkind or unloving way.

It means we want to make peace, and not allow a disagreement to taint our marriage as a whole.

It means we have a spirit of humility, instead of a spirit of pride.

You see, the temptation, when we don't sort something out BEFORE we go to sleep, is to let it carry on into the next day.  The longer it goes on, the longer we have to allow a "root of bitterness" to dig into our hearts.  The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to say sorry.

When we sort it out, and "make up", before bed, it's done.  Our heart and our relationship is restored. Yes, there may be issues still to be resolved, but our hearts will be in the right place to do it.

And, yes, "kiss and make up" is one of the best ways to do it!  Connecting in a physical way is a great way to make our heart follow after.  Hugging is better still.  I know, personally, that when we hug, the anger melts away, and I just want to restore that connection that we lost, by not being in agreement.

It's like that verse in Psalms

"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation"

When the Psalmist recognises his sin, he sees that He doesn't have the same relationship with the Lord that he had before.

The same applies to our marriages.  We lose that closeness, when we have anger and bitterness.  It needs to be restored.  We need to talk, say "sorry", and sort our hearts out.

Then the joy we had before can be restored.

I so appreciate the wisdom that was shared with us.  If you don't do this already, I pray that you will do it in your marriage and, indeed, in ANY relationship.  If you already do, I pray that we will be given daily grace to keep on ending our days in that way.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {counting and lacing with bottle tops}

For a while now, I have been collecting lids from milk bottles, and from milk cartons and baby food pouches. They just looked so USEFUL.

Do you not find yourself doing that? Thinking "I can't throw that away, I'm sure I could use it for something?".  Someone else in this house is worse than me, and often the things HAVE been useful, many moons later, and for a random variety of things.

Call me Madame Cholet and be done with it.

You don't know what I'm talking about?

Well, if you have a tot, let them enjoy this.

Back to my lids.

Here in the UK there are generally 4 different lid colours on milk cartons, depending on the type of milk. Blue is full fat, green is semi-skimmed and red is skimmed. (In the US, you call them all different things). There is also a brand that has a purple lid, and one shop sells it with an orange lid. I have quite a lot of them, and was sure I could use them.

I finally settled upon a  good use, whilst I have been finding fun ways to do counting, as well as working on fine motor skills.  I thought they would make a super duper lacing "bead"!

I have a tool, for punchiing holes - it's a craft tool, but you can easily find them online.

I first of all punched a hole in the centre of each lid.  You want to do this on a self-healing mat, or on a solid chopping board that you don't mind having little circles all over!

I wanted to make this an activity where I could check that they had done it right, so I made some laminated cards with numbers on them, and then punched a hole in the bottom of them.

I then got some yarn, and tied a length onto the bottom of each card.  If you get a piece of tape, and wrap it around the end of the piece of yarn, it makes it like a lace, and easier to thread through a hole.  Of course, I had to make the yarn match the number on each card. Pretty rainbows!

This is me taping the bottoms of the yarn - Elijah snapped the picture!

Once all the preparation was done, I got them to line the cards up in numerical order.  

This is Elijah lining them up, all very neatly and precisely, as is his way!

Then, they got busy lacing the lids onto the yarn - the right number of lids for the number, on the "lace".

(Look at that concentration!!)

This is Simeon, with his own lids to play with! Getting a non-blurry photo of this boy is HARD - he's always on the move!

This is Elijah trying out for the British Skydiving Team  showing off his handiwork!

He does love to pose with any work he does!

Don't they look pretty?  

They had great fun doing this, and it added another way to reinforce recognising numbers, ordering numbers, hand-eye co-ordination, and fine motor control. You could do the numbers and limit them to being the colours of the bottle lids, and then you would have a colour matching activity, too!

If you don't have a printer and laminator, you could easily do this with pieces of card, and some coloured pens.

Personally, I love my laminator. Sad, but true!

Oh, and here's how I store my activities.

Little zip-lock bags, which I bought from Amazon.

So, there you have it.  My "wombling" tendencies have turned my milk bottle lids into a useful tool!

Oh, and just as an aside...

Someone's on the up and up - now the fun really begins!  Another "tot" on her feet!


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