When There are Tears in Homeschool

I love being a homeschool mom. I have dreamt of teaching my own children since I was a child myself. I would love to tell you this means our homeschool days are always happy.

They aren’t.

Much as I love our simple homeschool days, they are far from perfect. My kids are not angels, and they certainly don’t have an angel for a teacher. Some days we battle bad moods all morning. Other days, everything is running at least an hour late and everyone suffers the tension it causes. Sometimes the material just seems way too difficult. Every once in a while, someone ends up in tears.

Learning should be fun, but a few tears don’t necessarily make the whole homeschool adventure a horrible failure. In any good pursuit, there are likely to be a few tears spilt along the way. What I want to do as a homeschool mom is understand the reason behind the tears so that I can seek wisdom to help us overcome them.

My oldest is in third grade. As my children grow and face harder concepts than trying to distinguish between an adjective and adverb, I’m sure we’ll face new challenges. But at this young stage, the tears seem to fall for one of three reasons: exhaustion, concepts that are too hard, and unclear expectations.

Dealing with tears in homeschool (without throwing in the towel!)

Tears in homeschool

When the tears fall because of exhaustion

Have you ever started a Monday morning with high hopes of a productive day only to have one child after another break down in tears over the most trivial things? And then you remember that they stayed up way too late all weekend because of family activities? And that at their ages they probably need a nap even more urgently than they need to finish their math lesson?

Though I don’t like the idea of postponing school because we are worn out from playing too hard, some days plowing through is an all-around terrible idea. One of the beauties of homeschooling is getting to be flexible. For us, it mean keeping a good pace most days so we can slack off a little without falling behind when naps are urgently required.

When the tears fall because expectations aren’t clear enough

I have pretty clear expectations of how our school day should go. The trouble is, I’m not always great at making my expectations clear to the kiddos.

Ever since we formally started school, we begin our day by reciting the Apostles Creed and singing a song together. It only takes about two and a half minutes, and I thought it would be such a great way to start our day on a happy note. But my goodness the wiggles and whines! Usually at least one person was heart-broken about being pulled away from the Legos to start school. Not even five minutes into our day, we were off to a bad start already!

Then I realized it wasn’t really my children’s fault. The blame rested squarely with me, because I hadn’t made the expectations clear. Once I clearly laid out expectations (and added an incentive), everyone was happier! It’s amazing the difference clear expectations and a chocolate chip make.

When the tears fall because the subject is too hard

Children’s minds are simply amazing. Just because they are young, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of learning a lot. We are part of a vibrant weekly classical academy that constantly challenges and inspires the kids. They have explored hands-on science, learned dozens of poems by heart, and are blossoming little bookworms.

Sometimes though, one of them bangs up against a concept or problem that seems impossible to them. Try as they might, they just cannot figure it out. Their eyes glaze over as a little tear drips down their face. Or, they loudly wail, “I CANNOT do this! It’s WAY TOO HARD!”

My mind is really torn when it comes to things that are “too hard.” On the one hand, I want my children to love school. Charlotte Mason had a lot of wisdom when she encouraged homeschool parents, “If your child gets bored or overwhelmed with a subject, move on to something else as quickly as possible. Come back to it when they are ready.” (paraphrased)

On the other hand, Tiger Mom makes an excellent point, “nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.” Usually we learn to love something once we are good at it.

I had a firsthand experience with this a few months ago. Rose was supposed to write a very simple “article” from an outline. When I told her it was time to write, she sat at the table with her basic outline in front of her, twirling her pencil in her hand. “Mama, I just can’t do this!” she said, frustration heavy in her voice.

I was really torn. Part of me wondered if she was right. Maybe I was expecting too much. But I also didn’t want to encourage her to quit, so I said she needed to write the first two sentences and that I could giver her some prompts if she needed them.

A few tears trickled down her face as she put pencil to paper. Once the first sentence was finished her mood brightened a little and she set to work on the second.

Then I got busy tending to the other children. An hour or so later, she came up to me with her face beaming. “Mama, guess what! I can do it. Want me to read my story to you?”

It wasn’t Shakespeare, but in my totally biased opinion, it was pretty good. Plus, facing the challenge and working past it boosted her confidence and proved that sometimes even hard things can be conquered sentence by sentence.

So, Charlotte Mason or Tiger Mom? I think it depends on the circumstances. Sometimes when something is “too hard” it’s best to back away for the moment and approach it again later. Other times, by breaking the impossible into bite-sized pieces the impossible not only becomes possible, but an excellent character-building experience.

Dealing with tears in home school (without throwing in the towel!)

When there are tears in homeschool

There are few things that have shown me my need of wisdom more than the every day act of teaching my children. Much as I love the privilege of getting to teach them, in the nitty-gritty reality of daily life, some days we do have tears.

Though sometimes they make me want to throw in the towel, I’ve realized that occasional tears don’t make me a bad homeschool mom, they make me a human in pursuit of a worthwhile goal: joyful, diligent students.

Sometimes the answer to the tears is as simple as an early nap, sometimes the answer demands clearer expectations, and sometimes the answer is a more delicate balance of Tiger Mom and child-led schooling.

Summer Highlights

Just as the full force of summer’s activities started, we lost internet for two weeks and then my laptop screen displayed a shimmering mass of pixels whenever I tried to use it. I took these as my excuse to spend the last few months making memories with the kids and focusing on areas of the home that desperately needed attention. It’s been a lovely break. Without a laptop I didn’t completely abandon all my goals, but they did change character over the summer.

Playing pian

All three of the older kids have begged us to get a piano for months (or years!) Will told us that *all* he wanted for his birthday was “a piano and toads.” Their birthdays are all sandwiched in the summer months and just before the first birthday of the season, my younger brother moved back home… and had a piano to sell. Talk about perfect timing!

Rose and Will couldn’t wait to start lessons, but as all moms of budding musicians know, the first few weeks feel painfully slow while they learn proper posture, fingering, and position. The gorgeous sonatas they’re itching to play seem infinitely far off. I know that laying a good foundation will be totally worth it in the long run. I’m just really glad that we started lessons before school began again, so we could really focus on mastering these (sometimes not so fun) essentials.

Catching skinks

He didn’t get toads, but was thrilled when he caught two adorable little skinks. 

Another goal for the summer was to get the three oldest swimming. Will and Meg have practically no fear around water. Since they can’t swim, their lack of fear is terrifying to me. We enrolled the kids in a month of swim lessons the past two years, so they had a good start, but still needed lots of practice before they could pass a swim test… or at least not drown the moment they plunged into the deep end without their life jackets on. So, we spent many hours at the pool practicing blowing bubbles, floating, gliding, and swimming with family or my friend Peggy. It feels kind of lame saying that one of my goals for the summer was spending many of hours at the pool, but it was.

SwimmingYay for swim time! 

I had hoped to get Ned comfortable floating too, but changed my goal to getting him to not scream when I lay him on his back in the water. After many failed attempts, he actually had a hint of a smile the other day when he was practicing floating. Even though he’s a long way off from floating without support, I am counting that smile as a win. 🙂

Ned climbingNed would much rather climb rocks or splash by the edge of water than swim. 

Last, but not least, after the long-sleeping desire to learn Mandarin was re-awakened this spring, I’ve been plodding my way though Pimsleur’s Mandarin course and making use of this awesome free app. Though I’ve barely scratched the surface of this beautiful language, I have found Mandarin grammar patterns slipping into my everyday English. 🙂

SunsetWatching the sun set over the Pacific! 

The highlight of the summer was getting to spend a couple days in California with Josh. He had to travel to L.A. for work. Every time he has to travel, we think how fun it would be if I could join him, but the timing never worked. Until this time. It was my first time to see the Pacific Ocean and, using Air BnB’s awesome services, we got to stay right by the ocean.

That’s my summer in a very brief nutshell. We started our fourth year of homeschooling a few weeks ago, but had to spend a couple weeks before that easing into early  earlier mornings. Let’s just say that finishing breakfast by eight is an improvement! 🙂

On Thursdays I get to teach history and English arts at the kids’ weekly academy. We’ll be studying medieval to early modern history, so castles and swords fights have dominated my lesson planning. Plus, after a three year break from tutoring high-school students, I’m so excited to get to teach a writing and literature class to two of my not-so-little sisters and a few of their friends.

It’s going to be a very full and fun school season, but now that I have a working laptop (and have survived the hectic first few weeks of school) I’m excited to get back into blogging.

The Generosity of a Child

Fresh strawberries

Bright juicy strawberries peep through luscious green leaves, fulfilling my long-held dream to grow my own strawberries.

Our very first “harvest” day, we picked one ripe strawberry that we cut into tiny sections. The next day we each had half a strawberry. By the fourth day, there were enough berries for each of us to enjoy our own. After a week, we filled a small bowl full each day. Two weeks have passed now, and each morning there are enough ripe strawberries to fill another small bowl. Most of the time, the berries last less than five minutes as the kids divvy them up to enjoy.

Every few days, I’ll gather a few to freeze for shakes. As I was rinsing fresh strawberries, the verse from Jesus’ discussion with the Pharisees came to mind. The Pharisees were so scrupulous about obeying tithing laws that they even brought tithes of their herbs!

Jesus rebuked them saying, ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matt. 23:23)

So, tithing herbs was good, but needed to be accompanied by justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

A bowl of fresh strawberries

Times have changed. Though tithing still seems to be clearly commanded, I’m fairly certain Jesus didn’t mean we should put mint (or fresh strawberries) in the offering plate at church.

As I snipped off the green tops of the strawberries, the thought came that maybe we could share some at Sunday’s potluck. Immediately, I started talking myself out of it. After all, I already had food planned to bring and no one there would care whether I brought my own strawberries or food I’d purchased. They probably wouldn’t even notice. Wasn’t I just being too concerned about the letter of the law? Besides, I really wanted to save enough strawberries to make jelly.

I thought that was the end of the matter.

Picking fresh strawberries

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, Rose burst inside. “Mama! Look at all the strawberries I found this morning! Can we PLEASE take some to church to share for lunch?”

And once again, God used my little girl to teach me a lesson. Whether or not modern Christians are bound by ancient Jewish tithing law is beside the point. Jesus wants to work in us a heart of generosity. Sometimes that even means sharing our little bowl of fresh strawberries.

(Much to my surprise, two friends asked if the strawberries were from our garden and commented on my generosity. I had to laugh, tell them my story, and pray that God works in me the open-handed generosity of a child.)

Giving from abundance is easy. It's when Jesus calls us to give Him our first fruits, our "love overtures," that giving spills over from grateful hearts.

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The strawberries are in full-production mode now. We’re filling large bowls each morning and I’ve already made homemade jam. Sharing the berries suddenly got much easier, because they’re plentiful. Which had me thinking again of how God asked for the first ripe fruits. The produce that isn’t yet overwhelming. The produce where each bite is still treasured, and it’s a bit harder to let go because you don’t know whether more will actually grow. As Ann Voskamp so beautifully put it:

We’re not giving what we’re called to give, unless that giving affects how we live — affects what we put on our plate and where we make our home and hang our hat and what kind of threads we’ve got to have on our back. Surplus Giving is the leftover you can afford to give; Sacrificial Giving is the love gift that changes how you live — because the love of Christ has changed you. God doesn’t want your leftovers. God wants your love overtures, your first-overs, because He is your first love.” (from this post)

Abstract Art Drawing for Kids

Sometimes I wish I was a more crafty mom. I wish I enjoyed making a ginormous mess while we created fun memories together. Truth of the matter is though, the simpler an art project is, the better. At this stage in motherhood, I don’t need help with extra messes. Messes multiply fast enough without my help
Practice patterns with this fun and simple abstract art project! This simple abstract art drawing has entertained Rose and Will for hours since their Nonnie taught them how to do it last fall. (Thanks Nonnie!) They have made it over and over again using varying colors and shapes.

The best part? All you need is paper, something to trace, and three crayons.

Abstract Art Drawing for Kids

Abstract Art First trace three vertical and two horizontal lines, using a ruler or book.
Circles on abstract art Then, using a cup or other round object, trace circles onto the page.

Coloring abstract art patternsPick three colors to use for the drawing. Starting in a corner, color in the first section. Color the next section a different color. Continue filling in the sections, alternating colors so that two touching sections aren’t the same color.

Abstract-Art-kidsOnce you’ve followed the basic pattern a few times, branch out. Make extra lines, trace squares or triangles instead of circles, or try adding a color.

Entertain your child for hours with this fun and simple abstract art project.

Because there are so many options for colors and patterns, Rose and Will regularly pull out paper and crayons to make more abstract art drawings. It is simple enough that with just a bit of help tracing, they can finish independently… though it’s a fun project to do together. So pull out some paper and crayons and have fun making this simple abstract art drawings with your kids!

Teaching Poetry to Children

In our technology-driven age, teaching poetry to children may seem as unimportant as teaching them morse code. I believe it is just as important as ever.

Rose, Will, and the other students in their weekly classical academy can recite dozens of poems. Some are as short as four lines. Others over twenty.

Why spend time memorizing poetry? Partly because children’s minds are incredible. The amount of information they soak up puts us adults to shame. As a classical homeschooler, one of my goals in this early (grammar) stage is to fill their minds. Not just with facts and information, but with the good, the true, and the beautiful.**  Good poems help me do that.

Poetry touches the mind, emotions, and spirit in ways that prose often can’t. It also expands vocabulary and improves syntax, while burning beautiful word images, hilarious stories, and inspiring examples into the soul.

I knew I wanted poetry to be a fundamental part of our homeschool days, so last summer I spent weeks cozied up with poetry collections and started compiling my favorite poems for children. Some are sacred, some are silly, and some are simply beautiful.

One of my goals this year is to finish compiling them into a robust poetry program for grammar-stage students. At my friend Brooke’s request, here is a sneak peak.

Christina Rossetti’s The Caterpillar is rich with color and imagery, but simple enough for children to connect with and enjoy.

Teach your children the good, the true, and the beautiful by filling their minds with excellent poems.

The Caterpillar by Christina Rossetti

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry;
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk.

May no toad spy you,
May the little birds pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

Teaching poetry to children

(Many thanks to our friends AK and Keiah for their example and encouragement in teaching poetry.)

Although poetry is an important part of our homeschool days, we only work on in for a short time each day. Just by devoting fifteen or so minutes to poetry daily, you can give your children the gift of a treasury of fun and beautiful poetry for the rest of their lives. Here’s how I teach poetry to my children (and the sweet students at school.)

Read the poem aloud

Usually I make the students close their eyes while I read, so that they can focus on simply enjoying the poem. Read it slowly, and let them soak in the beauty of the poem. (Or its humor, depending on the poem!)

Talk about the poem

Explain any words they may not understand and ask questions to help them understand the poem, like “Why is the caterpillar in a hurry?” “Is the caterpillar in danger?” “Why does it have to die?”

Have them repeat the poem after you

Read the poem again, but this time have them repeat each line after you.

Have them illustrate the poem

Poetry paints pictures with words. Once you’ve read the poem and discussed it, have them draw or paint an illustration. (This is optional, but the kids love it!)

Keep reading, listening to, and repeating the poem

Every day, read the poem aloud and have them repeat it after you until they are able to recite it fluently on their own. (I’m working on audio recordings, games, and other teaching tools as part of the poetry collection.)

Recite the poem

Once they have mastered the poem, have them recite it at home, for grandparents, and/or in front of friends. Although they might be a bit nervous at first, getting used to speaking clearly and confidently in front of others will help them a lot down the road!

Review, review, review!

Learning a poem is great, but unless you review it, you’re almost certain to forget it. After they learn a poem, review it daily for several weeks, then at least once a week. (I’m working on tools to make review fun and easy too.)

Poetry is not only fun, it's a wonderful way to teach beautiful writing, vocabulary and syntax, while inspiring our children's souls.

Make poetry part of your children’s education

Poetry engages the mind and soul, expands vocabulary, increases memory, and is just plain fun! Make poetry part of your child’s education.

P.S. If you’d like me to let you know when the compilation is ready, sign up for my [almost] weekly highlights.

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** In the classical model of education, the early (grammar) stage focuses on memorizing core facts and concepts of history, science, language, etc. As the child matures to the logic stage, they begin to compare, analyze, and “argue”. Then, in the the rhetoric stage, they learn to take what they have learned and present it in a beautiful and compelling way. Memorizing poetry in the grammar stage sets them up to excel later on. 

photo credit/ photo credit 

January at our Home

We began January celebrating the last few days of Christmas (because we’re some of those crazy people who celebrate for 12 days!) and ended with a small, very last-minute “Around the World in Food” Epiphany party. We had tastes of Mozambique, India, Egypt, and Nepal to celebrate the good news of Jesus spreading to us Gentiles.

The party came to an abrupt end when Will threw up. Immediately, I went into fight-stomach-bug mode. Thankfully, his bout was short lived and no one else succumbed. (Maybe Will’s tummy just didn’t like the spices?)

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Many thanks to Josh’s awesome sis Crystal for our family pictures!

In school, we’ve moved from studying ancient Egypt to beginning our study of ancient Greece and Rome. But Egypt has still captivated Rose. After reading this book, which ended with a small glimmer of hope that King Tut’s father might still be lying hidden in desert sands, Rose decided to move to Egypt when she grows up to be a homeschool mom, author, math tutor and archaeologist. She has even managed to convince her siblings and a few friends to join her. (For my sake as future Grandma, I hope the plans change.)

The rest of school has been delightful (most of the time!) Rose has spent hours cuddled up in her play house writing stories. Will is sounding out four-letter words (I love his phonics book!) Meg adores her little class at our one-day classical program and has just started coloring between the lines, or at least trying too.

Normally I hold Ned during our morning memory hour, but this month he decided he wants to be a big kid too. When they line up to recite the Creed, he stands in front of them and carefully wiggles his way backward until he is standing in a line with them. It’s adorably distracting.

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Enjoying an icy adventure with my mom and sisters

The weather has bounced from well-below-freezing to perfect t-shirt weather. At the beginning of the month, the creek at my parents’ house iced over and we spent hours romping, sliding, exploring, and admiring the intricate patterns the water made as it froze mid-flow. The beauty of creation just sings God’s glory!

Within a few days of our frozen adventure, the ice had melted and we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with t-shirts on. (Don’t you just love it when national holidays and absolutely gorgeous days collide?!)

When not doing school or playing outside, we’ve enjoyed many fun family games. A long anticipated point in my motherhood journey arrived this month when Rose learned how to play Settlers of Catan (and thoroughly stomped Joshua and me her first game!) She and Will have also become ardent Rumikub fans and Meg asks daily if we’ll play her new favorite game, Hiss, with her. Yep, this game-loving Mama has three sweet budding game players and it’s made me very happy.

I’ve also let myself indulge in a bit of binge-reading. Novels are a huge weakness for me. Once I get into a story, putting it down takes every ounce of self-control I possess. Not thinking about it is next to impossible. Because I don’t want to be a distracted mom all the time, I try to avoid full-length novels, except as a special treat at Christmas. The problem is this year I started a five-book series, The Zion Chronicles. The chronicles were engaging, sappy, and set in post-WWII Israel. Like a good homeschooler, I’ve read tons of pre-WWII history, but am horrid at modern history. This series was such an eye-opener for me. I loved it! (And am relieved to be finished, lol!)

Despite the fact that work has been crazy for Joshua lately, we’ve enjoyed several fun date nights…. and the kids have enjoyed several fun evenings with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. We are so totally spoiled to have two sets of grandparents who not only live in the area, but love having our kids over and always encourage the things we teach them at home.

The month ended with the arrival of our darling nephew Silas. Two years ago I was worried that poor Will would end up the only boy in a family full of sisters, young aunts, and girl cousins. Now he has a little brother and three boy cousins to balance out the princesses and tea parties. (Oh the needless things I worry about!)

That’s our month at a glance. What has your month been like? 

4 Strategies If the Stomach Bug Threatens

Getting the stomach bug ranks pretty high on most people’s “least favorite things” list. After a terrible three-week-long round of stomach flu, I determined to be much more proactive about avoiding a full-blown family attack in the future.

Impossible, maybe. But there’s always hope, right? Now if we get exposed to the stomach bug, I take these four precautionary steps.

Everyone hates the stomach bug, but if one threatens, it's best to be prepared! Here are four smart things to do if you've been exposed.

Don’t worry. He’s not sick. Just bribed with chocolate to pretend that he is. 

Four smart things to do when the stomach bug threatens

Fight back with herbs

I would take just about anything if it kept me from getting the stomach bug. But thankfully, my very favorite stomach-bug-fighting-herbs are pretty tasty:

Elderberry syrup/tincture: this mildly sweet berry packs a powerful antiviral and antibacterial punch. You can take it regularly as an immune-builder. At the first sign of any illness, up your normal dose to fight off the bug. (Purchase elderberries here.)

Peppermint teaI practically sip peppermint tea not-stop when there’s a stomach bug going around. Not only is it delicious, it’s a great herb to boost the immune system and calm queasy stomachs. (Read more or purchase peppermint tea here.) 

Activated charcoal: Not to be confused with leftovers from grilling. This stuff is quite different. And it’s been used since ancient Egypt to fight poison, stomach bugs, and food poisoning. Your body doesn’t actually absorb it. Instead, the charcoal binds with toxins and flushes them out of the body. (Fine print: Activated charcoal is not for long term use though, because it also flushes out vitamins. So don’t take at the same time as vitamins! And too much can cause constipation.Not for children under 3.)

This last time the stomach bug made its rounds, I handed out prunes (see above) lightly dipped in activated charcoal. You could hardly taste or see the charcoal at all this way and it seemed to keep the bug at bay. (Purchase activated charcoal here.

(I wish I’d known about it when we had our miserable three-week stomach bug marathon two years ago.)

Review the stomach bug protocol

Also known as mommy’s “Don’t throw up on the couch” speech. I used to think telling kids where not to throw up was a bit heartless, but after spending two days scrubbing, and soaking, and polishing vomit from a leather couch, I changed my mind.

Now any time we’re exposed to the stomach bug, I review the stomach bug protocol with the kids: “If you need to throw up, try to make it to the toilet. If you can’t make it, a bowl or tile or hardwood is easier to clean up than carpet. Try NOT to throw up on the couch.”

Not that I can fault a sweet sick little one if they do throw up on the couch, but I’d much rather spend a sick day holding my little people than scrubbing up vomit. So far my speech seems to have helped avoid another terrible couch incident.

Adjust the menu

Getting the stomach bug is bad enough, without having just eaten spaghetti. If the stomach bug is threatening, I do a quick menu adjustment and try to choose simple, healthy, meals without red sauce or lots of spice. Chicken-broth-based soup makes a great choice.

Keep sickness essentials stocked

If the dreaded bug does gain a footing, having enough laundry soap, dishwashing detergent, disinfectant, crackers, paper products (including plates and cups) and extra blankets makes the attack much easier to weather. (Trust me, after those three miserable weeks, I know!)

Since none of these things are likely to spoil, they’re good items to keep well stocked anyway.

Be prepared for the stomach bug

Having a stomach bug tear through the house is horrid, but being prepared makes it easier to handle. Next time the stomach bug threatens, review your stomach bug protocol, fight back with herbs, adjust your menu, and make sure the essentials are covered. It makes weathering the storm much easier.

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Embracing the Sacrifices Motherhood Demands

I stood at the gas pump, stressed and overwhelmed. It had been a crazily busy day. It was way past the kids’ bedtime, but they hadn’t had a proper dinner yet, the pile of laundry waiting to be folded was beginning to look like Mt. Everest, and I had hours and hours of other things I wanted to get done while Joshua was out of town.

Suppressing a sigh, I opened the van door. As I sank into my seat, a sweet chorus of little voices called out, “We love you Mother dear!”

Tears sprang to my eyes and the stress of the day faded into joy. The kids thought their “surprise” was hilarious, so the rest of the way home alternated between saying “We love you, Mother dear!” and “Happy Birthday” and then bursting into fits of giggles. [It’s nowhere near my birthday.]

An hour and a half later, tummies were filled, the kids were tucked in bed, a few urgent things done, and the laundry mountain was tamed. And it was time for bed. The hours of other things I really wanted to do would have to wait.

Again.

Motherhood demands a lot: our sleep, our time, and our figures all get sacrificed. Learning to embrace the sacrifices motherhood demands is part of our calling as Christian moms.

photo credit

Embracing the Sacrifices Motherhood Demands

Each day seemed to end with the list of things I wanted to do growing, not shrinking. Even with the sweet echo of my children’s voices ringing in my ear, I struggled with feeling sorry for myself.

Motherhood is delightful, but it also demands sacrifice. As a mom, your time, your figure, your sleep, and your money get sacrificed for your children’s sake. Often your hobbies drop down the list of priorities to about the same level as scrubbing the shower.

It’s easy to resent the need for sacrifice.

But sacrifice is at the heart of life as Christians. Whether we’re single or married, mothers or not, our time and figure and sleep aren’t really our own anyway.

Paul couldn’t have made it any clearer when he wrote, “You are not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” and “present your body as a living sacrifice”.  (1 Cor. 6: 19-20 & Rom. 12:1)

If mothering little ones is how God has called us to serve Him in at the moment, then that’s where we will be called to sacrifice ourselves. And even when it feels like we’re sacrificing a lot, just a glance at what Jesus sacrificed to redeem us, makes any sacrifice seem hardly worthy of the name “sacrifice”.I wouldn't choose any career over the joy of getting to be a stay at home mom. That doesn't mean being a mom is a walk in the park. Motherhood demands sacrificing our time, our figures, and our sleep as we shape little lives....

 

Sacrifice and Joyful Motherhood

I’d be the biggest hypocrite ever if I claimed to have this sacrifice thing down. I don’t. I like my sleep (and when I don’t get enough sleep, turn into a grouchy monster — or spend every moment praying for grace not to.)

The point of sacrifice isn’t that it’s easy, but that it’s what we’re called to as we follow our Lord Jesus who sacrificed everything for us. Looking to Him and embracing the sacrifices He’s asked us to make frees us to be joyful mothers, even when we never seem to have time for “our” to-do lists.

Year-End Child’s Interview

Every once in a while, I think to pull out my phone and capture a hilarious or tender moment on video. I don’t do it nearly often enough though.

As I was thinking about this and wondering what memories my children would really love to look back on someday, I had an idea. Why not end each year with an interview of sorts. Don’t you think it would be fun to look back and see what your five-year-old self wanted to be when you grew up or what your absolute favorite movie was at the ripe old age of seven?

I do. So I’ve put together a year-end interview for my children. Each year as they grow, I plan to repeat the interview and when they’re all grown up, give them the collection of their growing-up interviews.

Capture fun glimpses of your child's growing up years on video with a year end interview.

photo credit 

Year-End Child’s Interview

How old are you?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What is your favorite Bible verse? (Will you recite it for me?)

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite food?

What is your favorite book?

What is your favorite movie?

What is your favorite poem? (Will you recite it for me?)

What was the funniest thing that happened to you this year?

What is your best memory from this year?

What is your favorite song? (Will you sing it for me?)

If you could pick just one fun thing to do this next year, what would it be?

Create Your Own Interview

If you, like me, want to capture your children’s growing up years on video, but don’t remember to as often as you like, won’t you join me in yearly kid “interviews”? I just know my kids will love to look back on them someday… and so will I.

Christmas Handprint Art

Turn handprints into an adorable Christmas reindeer!

If I did crafty projects more often I would A.) get faster, B.) be more realistic about how long the craft would take, or C.) both. Since the crafting bug only hits a few times per year, I guess I’ll continue to enjoy the process even though it is always longer and messier than I expected.

This time I thought the time and mess was worth it though. I loved getting to paint my children’s little hands or feet (though it made me realize just how fast they are growing. It’s crazy how the time flies!)

This Christmasy project would make a fun and simply DIY present for grandparents or great-grandparents.

Make darling DIY Christmas handprint art for grandparents or great-grandparents to enjoy.

Inspiration: Christmas tree, Jesus in the manger, snowman, reindeer/reindeer

Christmas Handprint Art

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Chipboard
  • Finger paints
  • Brushes
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • Little hands or feet

Make an adorable Christmas-themed wall-hanging with your children's handprints (or footprints!). Perfect DIY gift for grandparents.

Christmas Handprint Art Instructions

  1. Cut chipboard into 5×7 pieces. This is totally the hardest part. I made a line with a ruler then carefully cut along it with a sharp knife. Once it was in smaller pieces, I was able to trim it up in my paper cutter.
  2. Let your kids choose what design they want to make.
  3. Paint their hand (or foot) and press onto the chipboard. This is totally the funnest part!
  4. Add eyes, noses, hats, or other touches.
  5. Hole punch the corners of the chipboard
  6. Run ribbon through the holes.
  7. Sign and enjoy!

Do you do crafts very often? (Have you EVER done one that took less time than you expected?)