Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Days of Walking Through the Proverbs

Since the beginnings of this blog, I have always wanted to do something fun in October.  You know..."31 Days of Something."  But alas, I have never had any great topics I really thought I could keep up with. And now, more than ever, my time is limited behind the screen.

But today an idea occurred to me, that has me excited: 31 Days of Proverbs with the Family.

For years our family has read aloud together a chapter of Proverbs each day.  From year to year it may look different, as far as the time and place, but by the grace of God we continue to do it.  Since today was the first day of October, we started the book over again.

Proverbs is so delightfully full of practical wisdom.  It speaks to all of us, but I find it to be such a great tool to use in communicating with children and teens. 

So each day (except Saturday and Sunday--unless I change my mind), I am going to post just a few verses that we discussed that day and how the Lord taught us as we walk with him.  These will likely be short lil' baby blog posts.

I also have a few other ideas of activities we have done to keep our Proverbs time from growing monotonous, that I'm happy to share with you this month.

So let's get started:

Today we read chapter 1.  So rich with great principles here! One of the verses we discussed was verse 5:

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

Proverbs is constantly telling us what true wisdom is.  Also, who is foolish...the actions of a foolish man, and how he rejects sound wisdom.

Our tendency then is to think that the wise folks always have understanding and they don't need correcting all that much.  But verse 5 tells us that wise people are still learning too, and they will get guidance.  The wise person isn't, therefore, the one who is always right.  But the one who is hearing and always learning, getting guidance.

Charles Bridges, in his commentary on Proverbs writes:

Not only the simple and the young, but even the wise, may here gather instruction.  For a truly wise man is not he who has attained, but who knows that he "has not attained," and is pressing onward to perfection.

Again, great one for teens as well as younger children, who may become discouraged when they are corrected by their parents.  Particularly, for the "perfectionists" among us :)  We can remind our children (and ourselves) that David was always pressing on for more light, how Moses received instruction from Jethro and how Priscilla and Aquilla instructed Apollos, and many more examples.

Perhaps you would walk with us through the Proverbs this month?  If so, do share in the comments one of your favorite verses from the chapter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ten Potty Training Tips

A couple of months ago I potty trained my 8th toddler. Been at this mom-thing awhile, I have.  Incidentally, if the word "wedgie" is included in your two-year-old's limited vocabulary, you too might have teens and toddlers under one roof.

Some younger moms asked if I would throw out some thought fragments on potty training, so here are 10 tips on training.

1.) Don't stress about it.

Really. All kids eventually learn to use the potty. Some sooner, some later. I realize that in the old days Mama used to train kids before age 2. But back then they didn't have (or couldn't afford) disposable diapers. My mom and grandma spent many hours washing cloth diapers and were ready to teach us how civilized people did things. Many of you may use cloth diapers also and therefore have the same motivation to train as early as possible. While I do have some cloth diapers that I hang onto for emergencies, and I do think them so very adorable, I have determined that cloth diapering is not my spiritual gift.

But diapers cost money. Which is my numero uno reason for training. Two kids in diapers is pricey. Also I noticed signs that Serenity was ready to train, such as becoming embarrassed when she had a dirty diaper and also giving me notification when she was wet. She was 2yrs, 3 months and I usually train a bit sooner than that. I realize to some of y'all this still seems early but everyone has their own definitions I guess, and early-trainer doth not equal better mother.

2.) Stay Put

Choose a week that you know you will stay home almost 100% of the time. It's not cool to leave yellow puddles in the grocery store. Best to keep the accidents on your own territory. Focused, concentrated effort at training for a week or two will go a long way.

3.) Gather up your supplies:

Paper towels and some awesome new underwear in a size 3 you know your little guy will love. Also, candy. For goodness sake, don't forget the candy.

4.) Decide on a potty chair or seat adaptor.

I use this. The Elmo seat adaptor has never failed me.

5.) Fun Stuff

If you have a book or video to help prepare your little one for this new adventure ahead of time, it helps. Warn her about what's coming a few days prior to the big day and let her know you are excited about it :)

6.) The Big Day

When the big day arrives, let her choose her favorite new pair of underwear to put on and have your towels handy.

Give her something to drink and sit her on the potty yourself about every 30 to 45 minutes. She will most likely still potty in her clothes and when she does, it's ok. She's learning that this sensation of letting it go, now means she feels wet and icky and has to change those underwear she loves so much. I never scold the first few days of training. But I am very, very busy running to the bathroom with the new trainer.  Very.

7.)  Celebrate

The first time you (yes it's you, not her) catch the tee-tee, cheer and celebrate like crazy and include daddy and the whole family if you want. (Just don't do like I did to Serenity and act so stupid you scare her. The next time she went potty she said "Peese don't scare me mama?!" with a terrified expression.) Also, bring on the candy!  A piece for each successful trip to the bathroom.

8.) Repeat

Repeat steps 6 and 7 over and over and over and over. You will notice a gradual increase in success. Gradual, not instant. After 3 or 4 days, Junior will start telling you when he needs to go and your potty police days will be starting to dwindle.

9.) The Other

These same steps apply to number 2 jobs. Try to catch it, "celebrate", repeat until it "clicks" and Junior catches on.

10.) Night time

I put a diaper back on the toddler for bedtime until the she wakes up dry consistently.  Changing wet sheets in the middle of the night is not fun, and putting the child back in the diaper just at night has never caused a set-back in my experience. But otherwise I never put her in a diaper again because I think going back and forth is confusing. Therefore consistency is the key here. Make up your mind before you start and just do it.

Anyone else currently potty-training a little one?  How's it going?  That's okay...we'll wait til you return from the restroom...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Large Family Living: A Summary of Summer

We are thankful to the Lord for a wonderful summer filled to the brim with his mercies and goodness.  Sunshine and clouds, busyness and mundane, but that is what home life is made of.  And we can give God praise for the gifts of relationships and work to do and people to serve... and the ability to see the beauty of ordinary.

I have only blogged a handful of times the last few months, so here is a little re-cap of our summer.

In June.....

Work on the house continues pretty much non-stop.  Here is the new backsplash.

And a before and after of the front porch:

Silas turned 6.  Somehow I didn't get a birthday post done for him as I did our other birthdays this summer.  But one fun thing we did during summer birthdays was rent a local hotel room and use it to get swimming pool access for 24 hours.  Sneaky, eh? 

Serenity's first time in a pool
Also, my 40th birthday was in June.  My family got me good with a surprise party.  I mean good.

Party fun.  The Moores with facial hair.

Also in June...I potty trained Serenity. She did great and I was thankful for relatively few puddles.

And here she is in all her style.

In July...
We took part in some community events for children through our public library.  This was "Percussion in the Park":

And dramatic storytelling:

In July, Silas and I got serious about phonics lessons and boy did he ever take off.  Glory to God!  Here he is reading fluently enough to hold Shiloh and Serenity's attention.  There are few things that fill my heart like teaching my own children to read and watching them soar.

Also in July...

Kevin hung a big tree swing and we did a whole lotta swingin'.  At least until the mosquitoes (aka: skeeters) got too bad.

Savannah had a summer job working at a plant nursery near us, which is owned by some dear family members.  This was a great experience for her and best of all, she brought lots of dying flowers home and revived them. She has made our yard and sidewalks lovely this summer.

In August

Blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of prayer went into these homeschool schedules, and we started back on August 8th.  It was sad not to see Shelbi's name on my plans.  I wrote an article for Homeschool Enrichment Magazine about homeschool graduates and what we would change in her education if we could do it over.

Our schedules are working for us well.  All homeschool Mamas know that homeschooling six children can be  a little like herding cats. And while I can't say this is working like a well-oiled machine yet (I'm forever tweaking things), we are so far making good progress and staying consistent. (Printable schedule found here).
 We aren't really doing anything drastically different in our schooling than we have always done.  You can read about our curriculum or lack of it, right here, as well as our philosophy of education.  The one big change that I made and have been thankful for, is starting Seth (14) in Visual Latin.  I really love that program.
Also my mom and sister came one day in August.  Mom has been here in the U.S. several months and has left again for Austria.  Oh how I miss her already! But yesterday she texted me from Vienna to tell me to be careful driving in the rain.  Gotta love mothers...and technology.


Some of you may remember that my sister Hannah and I were expecting babies at the same time.  We love getting pictures of Selah and Samuel together.

One of the reasons we began our school schedules so early is because of a planned vacation during the first week of September.  Here are a few vacation photos. Never mind, I made a video.  We have only been on a handful of family vacations and this trip was a great and unexpected blessing.  We had a blast.

Yes, those last pictures were getting whacky.  We joked that we were like the Clampett family coming to the city. Just call me Ellie Mae, ya'll.

(And did you catch a glimpse of Tonya at The Virtuous Wife?)

Kevin and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary there in Destin.  20 years of faithfulness to our vows and 20 years of God's faithfulness to us.  We've exchanged hundreds of apologies and granted tons of forgiveness and let the sun go down on our anger far too many times.  But still God has upheld us and even used us to make 9 more people.  20 years ago we started life together without a clue, but we have grown up side by side and still I am amazed that this man knows the worst of the worst about me, and loves me anyway.

Summer Reading

I joined Goodreads and have enjoyed this new techy way of keeping track of what I have read this summer:

The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung (which I think will probably be my pick for best book of the year).

Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot

A Mother's Heart by Jean Flemming

When People are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch

Bound for Glory by R.C. Sproul Jr.

Discipline the Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot

and the kids and I read together...

Ten P's in a Pod by Arnold Pent and The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (this one needs to be pre-read by parents, in my opinion.)

I pray all of you had a blessed summer too :)  What was the best memory you made this summer?  Have you started back to school?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kids Don't Need iPads, They Need Us

Among the many hats he wears, my husband manages almost 40 rental properties. So Saturday mornings will sometimes find our family cleaning up a home that has recently been vacated, and preparing it for new renters. This was one such Saturday. It was decided that I would stay home with the 5 youngest children (to clean our home) while Daddy and the 4 oldest kids went to work cleaning the rental.
These are great opportunities for earning money while working as a team, as well as spending time with Daddy. Not to mention, hot and sweaty manual labor tends to bring character issues to the surface where they are more clearly seen. (This is a good thing ;)) 
But this particular Saturday morning I was tickled with Sarah Grace, 9.  Kevin warned the kids that this house would be more time consuming because the renters had left a lot of junk things when they left. He and the kids would have to go through it all and throw everything away. Being familiar with this scenario, my mind began complaining about the extra work, while the wheels of her mind were turning in a better direction:

"Ooooh, I'm going to go through that stuff and find things to sell in our garage sale next week."   

And with that, I thanked the Lord that the seeds I am scattering, and often think are not going to take root, are settling into the fertile young soil of hearts and minds. Because as others have mentioned in recent years, one of the greatest issues of youth in our day, is that young people do not take (or even recognize) simple opportunities to earn money. They feel entitled to have everything handed to them without working for it.  

Just a generation ago, it would have never crossed anyone's mind that you get something just because you were a child and somehow deserved it simply because you breathed air.

Hard work is good for us all. When we work hard, as unto the Lord, and are compensated, it brings real, deep-down satisfaction instead of instant gratification. It also makes us tired, thereby making rest more restful. It makes good gifts even better, when it took the sweat of your brow (or mind), to get them. More gratitude, less selfishness. 

We all struggle with entitlement, however. Parents included. Scratch that--parents especially. I have it and have passed it on to my children (that's why Saturday morning was so encouraging). I am constantly tempted to make things perfect for my children, or at least as perfect as I can, and hand them material things they haven't earned.    

I want to give good gifts to my children. I want them happy. But if I am not careful I will hurt them in the long run. The best gifts we can give our children are not ones that keep them happy, but ones with eternal value. 

As my kids grow they will need the fortitude to live a life that will never be perfect. When they are adults no one will care about their self esteem. No one will pay them for doing nothing. And sometimes the best man doesn't win, or get the best job, or any job. God has never promised that everything will turn out alright. He did say we will have trouble and tribulation though. (And that there is grace. And joy in trials if we'll look for it. But perfection? No.) Perhaps this is one reason why we see the staggering statistics of children who refuse to grow up. Who in their right mind would want to trade childhood perfection for responsibility, self-esteem boosts for the hard knocks of life and Ramen noodles for the steak that mom and dad have provided all these years? 

So I continue to fight against my own moments of senseless ovarian guilt in this child-centered, you-get-a-trophy-just for showing up culture. I didn't get an iPad until I was 38. My children won't have one until they can pay for it themselves.

And has anyone noticed but me, how the birthday and Christmas gifts we lavish on our children grow more elaborate every year? When my 19 year-old was 6, we had a birthday party and played traditional games like pin-the-tail-on-the- donkey. But now six-year-olds now have parties with bounce houses, elaborate themes, rented venues, and fancy goodie bags for each guest. And it's not the parties that have my unmentionables in a knot (we enjoy going to them!) it's just the mentality of these over-the-top events and how easy it is for other parents to place that same expectation on ourselves. What happened to kids who were happy taking turns running through a water hose at a birthday party? My theory is, those kids still exist. It's the parents who have changed.

It's like we're all going bonkers. And part of it is driven by guilt that parents feel for not actually spending time in real relationship with our kids. Our children shouldn't have to choose between quality or quantity time.  Instead of time and respect, parents give them more stuff, take them more places and do everything humanly possible to carry on this fa├žade of providing a perfect life for them.

Then, though we all say we don't have to keep up with the Joneses, to a degree we still try to. Especially when it comes to what we provide for the kids. And the cycle continues.  

As a result we end up with young adults who feel entitled AND whose souls are starved for parental love. Because no amount of iPads or Disney vacations will satisfy that kind of hunger.


Friday, August 15, 2014

If You Are in Need of Homeschool Encouragement...

Glory to God, we started our full school schedules back this week and everyone is still alive.  More than alive.  We had a great week and the few tweaks I had to make to my plans, were easy to set in motion for next week. Thankful for the Lord's help in this glorious privilege, yet great responsibility, of teaching our own children.

With that I would like to list a few homeschooling articles I've written before, the most widely read ones, and maybe they will be of some encouragement to you. 

When You Want to Know How to Get it All Done: "How do I teach each child their lessons AND cook 3 nutritious meals a day AND nurse the baby AND keep everyone in clean clothes AND keep the dust bunnies at bay, all on very little sleep?! Did I mention that right now I'm only teaching 3 out of my 6 and we are focusing just on phonics and math?"

Why I'm Thankful for Homeschooling:  "Yes, there are hard days.  But they have become easier as the years have passed and I have relaxed.  When my younger children were small, I was so afraid they would fall behind.  Fall behind whom, I don't know.  But just as the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt when times got hard because it was the only thing they had ever known...I relied on my own experience in "Egypt:"  the government school. That was my measuring stick."

Ten Reasons to Homeschool:  "1.) No debt-inducing back-to-school shopping..."

Can I Homeschool for Free?: “The All New, Ultimate and Fantastic Guide to Braniac Writer’s Curriculum! Buy it now for the low, low price of $499 and you too can have children that will write award winning novels by age ten!"

What is Education?:  As Charlotte Mason said, "It is an attitude, a discipline, a life."

Secular Knowledge or Fear of the Lord?:  Spurgeon speaks :)

Homeschooling in the Midst of Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers:  "If you are smack dab in the middle of your son's math lesson, and you just know he is on the verge of finally getting it, and you notice the two year old has pulled off his diaper and is putting it on his sister's head, you have to stop the math lesson."

Baby Missionaries: Should Children be Salt and Light in the Government's Schools?: "Many Christians would say if there was ever a little boy who was spiritually ready to face a kindergarten class this fall, it would be him. But he’s not ready. And he won’t be for many years."

Happy homeschooling, friends.  May the Lord encourage and inspire you with the strength, energy, patience and creativity to fulfill the call he has on your lives.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Treasure in Mother's Jar of Clay

Hebrews 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Over the last six months, our lives have taken twists and turns.  God has given grace and sometimes I reach out and take it, while other times I reject his goodness and instead, edge closer to that deep pit called Self Pity.

A cycle of sleepless nights, tears, doubts and anxieties have hit me like a ton of bricks. I have spent more time in the Word and prayer, even when it seemed pointless.  I have rejected real feelings that I knew weren't true, but feelings that threatened to destroy the sound mind I've been promised, nonetheless. 

I've cried out to God, remembered that His Word sustains and asked others to hold me up in prayer.  And I think that is so very important.  To admit weakness and frailty isn't glorying in sin or making light of the grace of God.  It is giving others the opportunity to bear burdens.  To weep with those who weep.  We don't give others a true picture of gospel grace if we never allow others to see that we too have issues and that we must hold to an anchor.  Why would there be any need for an anchor if we could hold steady all on our own? The treasure we have in jars of clay is to show the surpassing power "belongs to God and not to us."

So I am here today, to do just that.  No blog, no book, no human being however wise, can anchor our souls but Christ Jesus, especially when seasons change, afflictions arise or the soul is downcast. And what's more--we must remember that we battle not with flesh and blood. 

This morning, my husband sent me this quote below.  Since "there is nothing new under the sun" I know there are others of you out there who may need this good word too.  And Kevin added some thoughts at the bottom as well, so please read to the end.  (He said I could include it if I didn't make him sound like a better man than he is, in this blog post. So I tell you, he is not perfect, but his love and understanding, and bearing with me as a weaker vessel, has encouraged me so greatly today).

Since the first hour in which goodness came into conflict with evil, it has never ceased to be true in spiritual experience, that Satan hinders us. From all points of the compass, all along the line of battle, in the vanguard and in the rear, at the dawn of day and in the midnight hour, Satan hinders us.
If we toil in the field, he seeks to break the ploughshare;
 if we build the wall, he labours to cast down the stones;
 if we would serve God in suffering or in conflict- everywhere Satan hinders us.
He hinders us when we are first coming to Jesus Christ. Fierce conflicts we had with Satan when we first looked to the cross and lived. Now that we are saved, he endeavours to hinder the completeness of our personal character.
You may be congratulating yourself,"I have hitherto walked consistently; no man can challenge my integrity."Beware of boasting, for your virtue will yet be tried; Satan will direct his engines against that very virtue for which you are the most famous.
If you have been hitherto a firm believer, your faith will ere long be attacked;
if you have been meek as Moses, expect to be tempted to speak unadvisedly with your lips.
The birds will peck at your ripest fruit, and the wild boar will dash his tusks at your choicest vines.
Satan is sure to hinder us when we are earnest in prayer. He checks our importunity, and weakens our faith in order that, if possible, we may miss the blessing. Nor is Satan less vigilant in obstructing Christian effort.
There was never a revival of religion without a revival of his opposition.
As soon as Ezra and Nehemiah begin to labour, Sanballat and Tobiah are stirred up to hinder them.
What then? We are not alarmed because Satan hindereth us, for it is a proof that we are on the Lord's side, and are doing the Lord's work, and in His strength we shall win the victory, and triumph over our adversary.
--C.H. Spurgeon

This made me think of your labors here at home. Anything worthwhile for the kingdom of God will be opposed. Thankfully we have the encouragements of scripture to spur us on.

Galatians 6:9 'let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.' 1 Corinthians 15:58 'therefore my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of The Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in The Lord.'

The Lord is your help. He takes your efforts performed in faithfulness and multiplies their effectiveness for His own glory. You may not see fruit of your labors now, but in time, there will be a season for reaping. Remember, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. I love you. Will pray the joy of The Lord will be your strength today.

Thankful for you,

Monday, July 28, 2014

Not When He is Four

This birthday post is overdue, but life here is just nutty lately. I have good intentions of documenting each of the kids' birthdays as they come.

Our sweet Shiloh turned four years old last week.  There are a lot more than four things I love about Shiloh, so I'll just get after it and see how many I end up with.

I love his name, "Shiloh Knox."  I think we can all agree that "Shiloh" is cool, yes? However I think we all know that "Knox" is just the height of awesome.  Back when Kevin blogged with me, he wrote a post about Shiloh's name.  It's right here.  It teeters on boring, but perhaps you'll read it anyway.

I love his I'm Trying-Not-To-Smile-Smile.

Shiloh is on a never ending quest to keep his adorable grin concealed, always biting his lip or jaws.  On his birthday he was successful in this endeavor until the point his brothers gifted him with real handcuffs.  And then he cut loose. I mean when you know everyone is going to be extra nice to you because it's your birthday, and you have handcuffs in your possession, it's hard to hide your delight.

I love that Shiloh is the self-proclaimed Defender of All Doodle Bugs. Because everybody knows that little doodle bugs never hurt nobody.

I love that he earned the title of Biggest Moore Baby Ever (and at 10lbs, 12oz I do hope he always keeps it), and yet now he is so slim and trim I'm forever begging him to eat more.

That's a big baby, ya'll.

I love the way he loves Serenity.  As a matter of fact, as a symbol of their devotion, the two decided to tie the knot. We were all outside one evening recently and they disappeared a moment and returned with the news that they went and got married.

And Shiloh is a good little husband to his wife.  The other night she was giving him the what-for and he calmly said, "Renny, the tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but a house of fools pulls out some follies."  Well, it was close.

I love that Shiloh is concerned about safety.  The older I get the more I am tempted to worry and fret over every little thing.  When someone says, "What's the worst that could happen?"  Just ask me, cause I'll tell you.  So Shiloh is a breath of fresh air because he is Mr. Caution.  Note the example below.

Along with that timidity, Shiloh is also shy and if adults he doesn't know well try to talk to him, his philosophy is, "If I ignore this, surely it will go away."  We're working on that.

Shiloh has a laugh that I wish I could record and play for you here.  It sounds like it must be fake, like one of those ring tones on a cell phone.  It's a little rare to get to hear it outside of home, but when you do, you'll never forget it.

His favorite game is Hi-Ho Cherry-O.  I love his sweet little mind and am thankful for the example of humility that God gives us in little children, especially this age.  I cherish these days that he believes plastic cherries sitting in cardboard holes, is exciting.  I found this game at a yard sale and he has played it and played it.

He loves to read.  He loves to sing.  He loves to dig in the dirt. He likes his milk extra-chocolaty. He loves to draw and will fill pages with "writing" he has done and then "read" to me what he's written. He loves Olaf the snowman.  He loves to sit on my lap first thing in the morning while I drink coffee.  He likes to say he's cold in the mornings, even when we both know it's warm outside.  That way we can get a blanket and cover up. Wish I could slow down these days.

Not When He is Four
Now is the time to get things done....
wade in the water,
sit in the sun,
squish my toes
in the mud by the door
explore the world in a boy just four
Now is the time to study books,
how a cloud looks;
to ponder "up,"
where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.
Later there'll be time
to sew and clean,
paint the hall
that soft new green,
to make new drapes,
refinish the floor--
Later on...when he's not just four.
--Irene Foster--