Tag Archives: Encouragement

Paying it forward

I’m not sure how it’s been 5 years, but it has. On Thursday Henry, James, and Elanor will be turning 5 years old. I may have to spend the day in bed with the blankets over my head, because I am completely in denial that they’re 5. There are no words as to how grateful I am that we have Peter, because it’s been a whir!

Five years ago, on December 22, 2011 we found ourselves at Albany Medical Center, very anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little ones. A few hours later Henry, James, and Elanor were born and hurried off to the NICU. I was discharged on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, going home to our two-year-old, leaving our babies in the hospital. It was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do.

Christmas morning, we drove the two hours back to AMC to spend our first Christmas with our newest family members. It was the first time we could hold all of them. The nurses in the NICU were wonderful and had told us that someone had knit little hats for the babies in the NICU on Christmas and would we be willing to accept one for each of our peanuts.

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Every Christmas we look at those tiny hats and marvel at how they were BIG on our now huge five year olds. The gift of those hats meant so much to us on an incredibly hard Christmas. It has been my goal that for our babies’ fifth birthday I would make three Christmas baby quilts for three little ones spending their first Christmas in the NICU. These are those quilts.

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Must Haves to Surviving Christmas with Toddlers

***This post contains affiliate links: Read my disclosure policy here.

I kind of consider myself an expert on this topic, particularly given the battles of THREE toddlers at once trying to scale the tree. We are now onto our fifth toddler trying to tear down the tree and constantly unplug it. I hadn’t put most of my tricks in place and was wondering why I was losing my ever-loving mind!

Must Have #1

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Swivel Base Christmas Tree Stand – I bought this YEARS before we had kids. I was sick of fighting with a cheap tree stand that would fall over, leak water, and never keep the tree straight without spending HOURS underneath it tightening and loosening screws. This thing is FANTASTIC! It literally takes me about 5 minutes to get the tree in the stand, in the house, and straight. I have never had to anchor a tree to a wall with this thing….the tree can be at a 60* and still not come crashing down (I may be exaggerating, just a touch, at that last one.)

This is how cock-eyed the bottom of our tree was this year….

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You wouldn’t know it to look at the tree, other than my teetering star that still needs to be secured.

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Must Have #2

img_2477On Off Ornament Switch – I think I splurged on this when Avelyn was a toddler. There are a bunch of different kinds if you look on Amazon, I think we paid about $25 for our’s, but it has been well worth it. I’m able to tuck the plugs behind furniture that little ones can’t get to and still be able to easily turn the tree on and off. It’s a very simple thing, similar to the “touch” lights of old; you just plug your light string into the box that attaches via a wire to the ornament, and that gets plugged in the wall.

Peter was driving me up the wall (our ornament needed to be rewired…not a big deal, but I hadn’t put it on yet). He was constantly plugging and unplugging the tree. No amounts of no or anything else helped. I finally just had it and had to take the 5 minutes to fix the wire on the end of the box and move the plug back to the outlet behind the dresser. Problem solved. He hasn’t touched the lights since.

Must Have #3

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Baby Jail – We had bought one of these for Avelyn to have a place to play when we had our store, but quickly remembered it when we had the triplets at 11 months and needed to protect the tree. You can make the corral as big or as small as needed. The nice thing is the sides are very rigid and the thing is not easy to move: It was a much needed wall of NO around our Christmas tree.

Must Have #4

A Sense of Humor – As with anything with children, a sense of humor and LOTS of GRACE seem to take the edge off of things. A healthy dose of lowering your expectations works wonders too. We’ve had our share of mishaps, but for the most part have avoided any major Christmas-Catastrophes. It has also helped that there have been years that the tree gets lights and beads and that’s it, mostly because I just wasn’t up to the effort of full out decorating Christmas trees (ie. I was pregnant with the triplets and with Peter).

The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is a magical season, not just for children, but for adults too. No one wants to spend every waking minute of it saying or being told NO (and other, more PC, alternatives).

 

Finding Your Rhythm of Rest

I’m a mom…there’s no rest for moms. We are among the ranks of those who are on duty 24/7/365. While there’s definitely no rest for moms, we are most certainly among those who most desperately need rest. We cannot function in a manner that is glorifying to our God or an example to our children if we DO NOT REST.

Last winter I was burnt out, and it WASN’T from the baby! The triplets had stopped napping, we were homeschooling, we were trying to work through things that had crept up in our lives and needed to be intentionally dealt with. All of it left me feeling drained. I had nothing in me to give, nothing in me to share. Nothing.

I’m still a work in progress. I still fail miserably at getting and giving myself time to rest. BUT there is hope!

For the past few years I’ve been following Shelly Miller of Redemption’s Beauty (she has a beautiful IG feed), when she shared about a book that she had been working on for the past year or so, called Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World.  I could use a little advice on how to find rest amidst the busy.

289793_rhythmsofrest_meme-2Sabbath-keeping not only brings physical refreshment, it restores the soul. God commands us to “remember the Sabbath,” but is it realistic in today’s fast-paced culture? In this warm and helpful book, Shelly Miller dispels legalistic ideas about Sabbath and shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives–whether for an hour, a morning, or a whole day. With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for having peaceful, close times with God. You will learn simple ways to be intentional about rest, ideas for tuning out distractions and tuning in God, and even how meals and other times with friends and family can be Sabbath experiences.

Ultimately, this book is an invitation to those who long for rest but don’t know how to make it a reality. Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through. ~ From Amazon.com

Shelly does a beautiful job of wrapping all of the wisdom of Sabbath living into one package; easily navigable, easily applicable. Through a collection of letters and stories and scripture, alongside Shelly’s own words, she has crafted a beautiful guide to how we can find and create a rhythm of rest in our own world-weary lives.

It’s a wonderful book and it releases TODAY!

I’m hoping that my hard copy arrives in the next day (the digital copy just isn’t so easy to make notes on).
You can order your copy on Amazon (last I checked it was discounted, selling for $8.92!)

 

Homeschool 2016-2017

We just finished our fifth week of school! Yay! We usually follow our local school’s schedule pretty closely (starting the first Wednesday after Labor Day) but this year we decided to start as soon as the fair was over. The pool was closed, there wasn’t much else to do, so we started.

It actually worked out pretty well for us. The beginning of our September was a bit rough, since we were gone for several days. The early start gave us a bit of a buffer to not get behind before we had even started.

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What are we using this year?

We’re still sticking with Sonlight this year. It worked well for us last year, so why mess with a good thing. I know a lot of people shy away from Sonlight because of the cost, we’ve spent between $800-900 for each year’s curriculum, not including our math and handwriting (usually another $100 total). There’s a great post HERE about the cost of Sonlight and whether it’s worth it for the elementary ages.IMG_4696

In a nutshell I love Sonlight for a couple of reasons:

  1. I love building our family’s library, Sonlight has fantastic books as part of their curriculum.
  2. As a first time homeschooling mom (who wasn’t homeschooled) who has 4 other younger kids, I love that every day is already planned for me.
  3. All of it will be used over and over again (minus having to purchase enough worksheets for all the kids).

While Sonlight covers our Language Arts (with Explode the Code–Ave doesn’t like it), History, Science, and Theology, for Math we’re using Math-U-See again.

What we are supplementing with…

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Avie is in the Alpha level. It’s getting a bit tougher for her now, but she’s completely capable of what they’re teaching. My only qualm with Math-U-See is that the DVD quality isn’t that great. The volume doesn’t go up loud enough for us to be able to really HEAR what he’s saying unless it’s dead quiet in the house. That, and I wish it were available through a log in on my phone, then we could use headphones and maybe hear better.

Our only other supplemental curriculum is A Reason for Writing. We used this last year and Avie did well with it, so we’re at it again with Level A. Her handwriting is getting better, but boy, does she HATE doing it. The nice thing with ARfW is that they’re short, sweet and build up a bit each day, so it’s not this huge daunting task.IMG_4698

One of the things we’re doing a bit differently this year is attempting to throw in some Five in a Row picture books (I’m TRYING to get the triplets involved). Rather than taking the week off for Thanksgiving we’re planning on reading Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin and throwing in some unit study type-things.

My problem with this is trying to figure out where to squeeze read-alouds into our day. I really need to spend sometime looking at our day and figuring out a set routine (we do have a loose routine), but that is a whole ‘nother post.

 

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET!

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

It’s official: Summer is here!

School finished last week, swim lessons are soon, and the temperatures are rising: There are just some things that just ooze summer. Particularly when it comes to magazine articles and ads all toting the same message: “MAKE THIS THE BEST SUMMER YET!” That somehow by using this product or buying that gadget, our burning desire to experience the ABSOLUTE BEST SUMMER YET will be fulfilled.

Here are some easy tips, that I’ve tried, that certainly help me to enjoy the best Summer has to offer:

How to have the Best Summer Yet
{in 3 easy steps}

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

Stop

Stop racing around, feeling like there are a thousand things to accomplish, because summer is only so long. If you’re racing all over the place, you’re not enjoying what you’re actually doing. Look at the schedule, make some changes. Maybe it means not having the kids in so many activities, canceling a few engagements, or reprioritizing what’s on the agenda.

Drop

Once in a while drop what you’re doing and take 10 seconds, 10 SECONDS; close your eyes, breath and feel what’s around you, really taste that berry, or relive a favorite memory. Don’t even think about telling me you don’t have 10 spare seconds in your day, because ain’t nobody that busy. Those 10 seconds will give you enough time to process what your thinking about, and give you a momentary respite from the chaos.

Roll

Roll with it. If you have a crazy whim to forego dinner and get the kids an ice cream…it’s seriously not going to kill anyone, but I can guarantee you the kids will remember that ONE TIME {or more} that mom let them have ice cream for dinner. If someone calls you about a spontaneous get together, do it {even if it means going to the grocery store and bringing a deli salad}. Or invite them over. Don’t think about what your house looks like, think about spending time with your family, a friend, a neighbor.

If you can do those 3 three things, I can pretty much guarantee that your summer is going to be the best yet, because you actually took the time to remember it, to experience it to the fullest.

Those advertising people are sneaky. Somehow they convince us that we need their things in order to be happy; to have a Summer that is actually worth bragging-rights come the Fall. Psst….we don’t. All we need to have the best of any thing, any experience, is to actively pursue God’s desires for us in this life, which is to enjoy the world He has created for us and the people he has blessed us with.

“But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

Now, this doesn’t mean since we were kind enough to include God in the things that we think are the “best” for us, that it will be given to us. We must pursue what God deems best, what He would have us find fulfillment in, which is Him; activities and things which will draw us closer to Him. That is always what is Best.

As long as we are seeking our own enjoyment, we will be left disappointed. Having missed out on what truly is the best of anything. As long as our heart is motivated for ourselves, not God, we won’t find fulfillment in what the world deems the best-ever-of-all-time anything.

Summer is here, a time of year we all rejoice in. Seek not the best of the world, but the best of God in the world. The beauty He has created for us to enjoy, drawing our hearts and minds to Him, and all the best He’s created just for us.

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”
Psalm 19:1

Every summer already is the “Best summer yet”, because every day is new, every day is a fresh start, a new day for us to seek God and His will for our lives, to go deeper in His word and draw closer to Him. Why settle for less, when God will ALWAYS give you the best?

How do you plan on truly enjoying your Summer?

 

This post originally appeared on my other blog, on 6.30.14.