Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Most Wonderful Week of the Year

     Another count down calendar has ended, another youth camp is in the books!  We ALL had a blast!  We absolutely LOVE it & look forward to next year already!  Pictured above is our children with a few of their best friends.  This year I didn't go crazy taking pictures.  My oldest are usually surrounded by friends having fun.  Our children have scheduled activities all day long including VBS classes, choir, talent, games, comedy shows, skits, arts & crafts, etc.  Nathan & I help with the snowcone & concession stand.  It's crazy hot outside & the kids line up for those during afternoon playtime.  The morning & night church services are the highlight.  Morning services are only for the youth while the other age groups are in VBS classes.  The services are smaller & casual.  Nathan & I love sitting in on them!   The messages are always stirring, & we love to take part in the youth pouring their tender hearts out in worship & alter services.  At night, the church services are more formal.  The children & youth choir sing.  The message is usually illustrated & geared toward the youth.  Afterglow are skits the youth teams preform before midnight.  They are either hilariously funny or heart wrenching serious.  Our Kaley has been old enough to participate in them & with the youth choir for 2 years now.  Last year she really seemed shy.  This year she had much more fun with it!  I love her participation & tender heart.  We always leave encouraged in the Lord!  It's a full week centered around Him, spent with special friends!  That equals the best vacation ever just minutes away from our home!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mid Summer Check-Up: For The Love of Goals


     Summer time fun is in full swing!  Our schedule is much more relaxed.  We sleep later & plan even more travel & fun activities than usual.  We make countdown calendars for youth camp & the big family beach vacation!  However, I just can't stand to throw out our routine all together!  I thrive on organization.  I must stay focused & have goals.  Academics will not be our top priority but I do want to fit in a little in certain areas.  That will leave more time for the most important things, more spiritual & family time!
     First, we all gathered to plan our summer 2016 goals at the end of May.  Of course, Nathan & I had much of the say but were surprised by the kid's input too.  Each family member (according to ability) has Bible reading & scripture writing or memorization for which they are personally responsible for.  Not long ago I was reminded by an elder that if we fail to plan time for God & His word & record what we've read, it becomes too easy to do much of nothing.  Nathan works full time & set his other goals related to his work in the shop.  Reading is something I love, so one of my goals is to read old unread books or rid my stash of them.  The rest of my goals revolved around cleaning out & decluttering.  I certainly didn't over do that for summer break.  I just have a few areas I'd like to get around to tidying up, & certain things no one can really help me do, such as my closet.  Hoarding up clothes that I don't & will not wear is just ridiculous when someone would use them.  Kaley enjoys cooking & was excited to take over snack time.  It gives her an opportunity to plan & serve up fun, new snacks & also lightens my to do list.  She also agreed to take full responsibility for our few pets & plants for this summer.  Marianna is the animal lover & main care giver usually but has lately been getting burned out with all of it.  Instead we urged her to set reading goals since she doesn't ever read for fun.  She likes the Junie B. Jones books & has read a dozen this past school year.  Now she must finish the rest of the series.  They are funny & short & actually under her reading level, so it won't kill her, right?  We'll see!  The little ones pretty much get a free pass to play except for a few academics that I think are important for them to master before beginning Kindergarten.  A few family goals were also established for us to accomplish together such as clean out the barn & the playroom.
     Next, we altered our normal schedule:

Our Family’s Summer Schedule

9:00~Rise & Shine
10:00~Morning Chores: Clean-Up Breakfast, Get Ready For the Day, Make Beds, Pick-Up, Start Washing Clothes, etc… 
11:00~Individual Prayer Time & Devotional
        Play Time                                                    
2:30~Pick-Up & Story/Reading Time        
        Learning Time                                                
       Snacks by Kaley                                    
4:30~Wednesdays~Get Ready for Church
Afternoon Chores: Tuesdays~Dust & Vacuum
Thursdays~Lysol, Windex, Sweep, & Mop
Fridays~Vehicles, Meal Planning, & Grocery Shopping
Saturdays~Outside & The Shop’s Weekly Clean-Up
6:00~Family Time   
7:00~Baths, Final Pick-Up, & Laundry          Sundays
        Supper                                                    CHURCH
8:30~Family Bible & Prayer Time

     This is what works for us.  We accommodated sleeping later with a morning hour of down time immediately following.  This way we can relax in our pjs together taking the time to enjoy our breakfast & one another's company before our normal morning chores.  It's simple & everything gets done without spending a full day cleaning.  Don't read too much into Learning Time.  It is set aside to last about 30 minutes for each to work on specific goals too.  A special hour of family time is added during summer.  This is when we create art, play board games, do puzzles or those Science experiments that we always meant to do, etc.  We may also be found fishing at the cabin, enjoying a local park, or outside in the yard playing some sort of ball. Of course, the dreaded chore of laundry must be "scheduled."  To be honest, it just gets done whenever throughout the day & thrown on my bed.  At night is when we all gather to fold.  We can at least talk & laugh as we fold & put it away quickly.  Many hands make for light work!  As hard as I try to be grateful for our clothes, the laundry task continues to be boring & mundane for me.  It's what I put off the most.  It really helps that everyone is willing to pitch in.  Ms. Cheryl is my God send every week for ironing.  For that I am truly thankful!!!  We may would all drown in a sea of clothes around here if she didn't bail us out!  The rest is self explanatory.
     Any ideas?  What works for you?  I always love to hear new ideas!!! 
& Don't Forget:
     Image result for a goal without a plan is just a wish quote     
Be encouraged!  Prioritize the important tasks & then add the necessary chores & also the hard things!  NEVER be afraid to bend or tweak your schedule to fit your family's needs.  By the 2nd day, I changed mine.  It's what will set you apart & make you successful!  Just thinking about changing something never accomplished anything!  If it did, I'd surely be skinny & rich!  ;) Lol

Mid Summer CHECK-UP

     Mid July brings our family into the reality that summer is nearing an end.  We will slowly begin a relaxed school schedule in August before diving in deep come September.  I just reread our family's 2016 summer goals.  I was extremely pleased to see that we were making great progress for the most part & have not completely fallen off of the wagon!  Nathan is working as hard as always.  I have cleaned out closets & decluttered our home.  Yay me!  Our new schedule is really working for us.  Things are neat & tidy without us killing ourselves around here day in & day out.  There are a few areas I have failed.  We are staying up later & sleeping later, & some things I forgot all about!  Does anyone else ever do that?  Research fun ideas, buy the books & supplies you need, stack them up somewhere for later because life is so busy...later didn't happen!  That's what is great about writing down goals.  You can check back on your progress & remind yourself of your priorities.  As always, some things will just go undone.  That's okay too.  Remember they are goals & not mandatory minimums!  
     The kids are loving summer!  They have done lots of swimming here in HOT south GA!  We have also taken several day trips to the beach since it's a short ride away.  Youth camp has come & gone (pictures to post soon hopefully) & now their countdown calendar for the annual family beach vacation is winding down too!  Lots of packing to get done rather quickly.  This summer has been awesome thus far!
This video was too funny not to share!  My thoughts exactly:
     If summer has flown by without a thought, I encourage you to plan at least 1 special outing for family time, read a good book aloud together, & definitely take time to read & memorize a few Bible scriptures!  ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tragedies Dare Us To Live Loudly & Soak Up The Moments!

     The view from my recliner is absolutely stunning on this hot summer evening.  The kids are playing so hard together on their new playset.  It's not even complete yet.  Notice the last piece is still lying on the grass.  They don't care.  They hook up the water hose & drag it over to pour down the slide.  They also work together to drag the trampoline over & hook up a sprinkler underneath.  I watched the struggle & refrained from running to the rescue.  I literally laughed out loud.  
     If you want to look closely & "police" the snapshots, you will in fact notice that the little ones have shucked off half of their clothes.  They lie around in wet heaps.  Grass is stuck to their wet selves.  I am not even stressing about it.  They are kids having fun in their own backyard.  Actually, I am in LOVE with this view!  
     What really gets me though is the squeals of excitement!  I can hear them laughing hysterically!  They are enjoying something so simple & responding so profoundly.  They are living loudly, soaking up the moment with their whole hearts!  They have not a care in the world.  
     To witness is sheer joy to this mother's heart.  I couldn't help but take a few candid shots.  They never even slowed to notice.  This went on so long that I urged Nathan to sneak off to the golf course alone.  We usually all go.  I walk, the kid's play, he hits.  Not today.  Today, he could actually enjoy some silence & play more seriously after working so hard all day in his shop for us to have.  The house was quiet & also miraculously spic & span.  My heart overflows.  I list the sights & sounds in my gratitude journal.  I can forever look back & recall this moment.  I turn on my playlist of uplifting music.  I cook supper in our still home.  I let them play until dark begins to set in.  Yes, it's almost bedtime by then.  I carry out the kid's shampoo & towels.  I have them all soapy down & rinse right under the water hose just like we always did after swimming at my grandparent's during the summer.  I laugh as they gasp under the cold water as the temperatures outside finally begin to drop.  Supper sits on my great grandmother's table when we bustle inside.  Nathan hasn't returned yet.  We sit together & enjoy fresh tomato sandwiches with a mountain of bacon.  Nathan's grandmother taught me to deep fry bacon.  I can't hardly cook it any other way without all of us being disappointed.  I think of her & smile.  We are blessed to still enjoy her company on earth.  This is one of the meals they beg for during summer, & this is where I must insert that I am so thankful my children eat most every veggie imaginable!  We talk through my reminiscing thoughts.  In walks Nathan as we finish.  We all stay up later than usual sitting around talking & laughing.  It's just perfect! 

 Another messy, beautiful picture of our summer because we birth 
superheros & believe in their dreams coming true!
     These socks may never come clean.  The faded tricycle is a hand me down from his cousin Ashton.  The rusty swing set sits in my parent's backyard.  The old cape was one made at a birthday party.  You can't tell but he doesn't match either.  His hair isn't combed.  All of that is ok.  His smile is worth a million bucks!

     I just don't feel right about ending without posting how heavy my heart has been & still remains to break for our country & the recent events that have unfolded.  Lives are lost.  We don't get a chance to "redo" or relive the moments we were created for.  It took days of me purposefully dodging the media before I mustered up enough courage to watch the videos of the horrific events unfold.  I have no words.  I can only look up & beg God for mercy & wisdom for such a time as this.  We live in this time to make a difference, to speak out & to live what we believe.  He doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called.  May my feet run swiftly to stand up for right, to stand against the evils of racism &
do everything I can to bring peace & love.  I feel too small to make any significance in this great big world.  I don't have lots of money nor any fame.  I am unemployed.  I just stay at home with my 5 kids.  I may even be the wrong color.  How ridiculous does that sound?  I don't want what I can't do to handicap me from doing what I can.  God loves & His eyesight isn't bound by race, gender, or uniform we wear on the job.  He sees all.  He loves all.  May my heart & yours be guided by His love.    

Enjoy your life!  Dare to live loudly & soak up the moments!  They're precious!
I believe there are a few more hurting among us that can vouch for that now.