The Highlights! May 2015!

Some of my favorite posts out there right now, enjoy!

1.”What reading time looks like in my Homeschool” by The Unlikely Homeschool- I loved this post for so many reasons, but what sticks out to me with a lot of the posts on this site is the honest, non-judgmental way of sharing helpful things that work for her and her family. I love how she talks about the difference in reading from the learn-to read group and the read-to-learn group. I definitely have one of both of those and just seeing it laid out that simple helps me figure out what books my kids should be reading.

2.”Kids Organized Art Area” by California to Carolina- Such a cute idea that would be easy to do in any corner of your home that really wouldn’t cost that much! Enjoy!

3.”Don’t Allow Bitterness to Grow in Your Marriage” by Matthew L. Jacobson- Great post on Bitterness and how to help fix it in a marriage.

4.”What in the World did I do all day?” by Scary Mommy- Just a sweet reminder that what you are doing is important.

5.”The Kitchen Cabinet Tour” by IHeart Organizing- This post makes me want to go reorganize my whole kitchen! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) I hope to soon be able to show off a few of the areas I love in my home that are nice and organized!

6.”10 Cooking Skills your kids should know” by Super Healthy Kids- Some easy but good skills to start with!

7.”Top 10 Language Based Board Games” by The Unlikely Homeschool- Great games to help make learning fun!

My Favorite Things

There are many things this past school year that helped make our lives a little better. Below you will find just some of my favorite things.

1. Planner!
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Unless you are strictly unschooling, you plan stuff out. It may be a little or like many of the homeschoolers I know, you plan a lot! I am a planner. And I am picky about my planners, as I don’t want to have too many of them to refer to. I just want one good one. Well, I found it. I have used it since we started homeschooling and it’s been so much help! The Well Planned Day Family Homeschool Planner (yes, it is an actual planner for homeschool homes!!) sold by hedua is what I use and LOVE. It has space to write out what you would normally put in a planner, like appointments, then it has plenty of space to plan out your homeschool for up to 4 kids! Has a small weekly section to plan out dinners, as well as shopping lists ready to tear out used for grocery or school stuff! It even has report cards for those who wish to use them! I just love the layout and the little articles throughout the planner. The great thing about this (besides how well it is laid out and how thorough it is) is that if there are parts you’re not going to use, it is still worth getting; just consider those parts as bonus pages.
Click here to check out the planner!

2. Math Game!

sumAlmost weekly, we would pull out the box of math manipulatives/tools/games to give us a break from the workbooks and help math be more fun (because you know if it’s fun you remember it better!). Our favorite so far as been Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game! It’s a basic but fun math game to help with addition and subtraction. It’s for Pre-K and up. For both my kids it’s used to work on their math facts speed (we set a timer), but at the start of the year my son was really learning from it but now its more fun then learning! But it keeps them sharp!
Click here to check out the game!

3. Bob Books!

bobThese are amazing! If you have a kid just learning to read or struggling to learn but knows the sounds letters make, give Bob Books a try. Goober struggled all year to read, but it clicked as we worked through these books. And they have just enough silliness to make kids want to keep reading them. Click here for the website to see all their great sets.

4.Easel!

mala-easel__0135810_PE292683_S4My kids hate writing, but they do it willingly on either the dry erase side or chalk side of our Easel from IKEA. I didn’t think this would last the whole school year and almost didn’t buy it. But it was the best $15 ever spent! Both kids have gone from basic writing lessons to full book reports on this thing. And its also great for art!

So there you have it, some of my favorite things from our 2014-2015 school year. Do you have a few favorites? Share with us!

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*Some links in my posts may be affiliate links. This means that I get a tiny amount back IF you order. I was not paid to write what I said and I am only an affiliate if I truly love the product/company. If you do order from one of my affiliate links, thank you! The little that I get back helps pay for me to get a monthly coffee I call “sanity coffee” (I told you it was just a little back!).

Military Child~ Building Relationships with Family

I wasn’t raised the military way. I grew up in the same city as my grandparents, and for a while, the same city as some of my aunts and cousins. I saw my grandparents all the time! From them stopping by for coffee, us all having dinner together or the outings we took for birthdays, seeing them at our church for plays I was in, or choir performances. There is no way for me to share just how much I saw my grandparents. My cousins I didn’t see nearly as much, but there was a time that we saw a good amount of each other. We knew where each other’s homes were, and what the connection between our family was, and when it came to decorating the tree for Christmas at grandpa’s home, well, that was always fun! Even with the family that wasn’t really around we were still close with. My cousins on my dad’s side we would see one to two times a year and got along great. We had relationships with a lot of our family.
When it came to church and friends, I still have the same friends I grew up with! The church was the same my whole life (except for one year when my parents tried moving us all to another state… That didn’t last). I know the city I grew up in, in and out. I know the restaurants and churches and shopping places. I know many of the people.
My children; they don’t have that. Any of that. And this is true for many military families. For the most part you move every 3-5 years, some more often and some less often but that is the average. So every 3-5 years your children have to make new friends, have to learn a new area, a new routine, attend new churches, and some have to be the new kid at school all over while others have to find new homeschool clubs. Yes, they may know of the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, but they don’t really know them. For some that isn’t a big deal because they are social bugs and they can do that. For others, as much as you know they are family, it’s not until the end of the visit that you are back to being comfortable with them. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to be close to people you don’t see that much as adults, how much harder is it for kids? Not many, if any, holidays and birthdays are spent together. When you know something about your family and then a year later you see them again only to find all these changes, it hits kids hard.
When your child asks you why their friend’s grandma is always at their home or why the grandma goes to the same church as they and why doesn’t hers, yes you give the answer of “we live in different states because we are a military family”, and so on. Our children don’t really get it. They understand the facts but they don’t really understand the why. It’s so hard on them. One day they will get it; one day they will understand but today, their little hearts just want their family. Their little hearts want “normal”.

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As a family we all need to work hard to build and maintain relationships with those in our family who can’t be around much. This can’t be a one sided thing or it won’t work. So if the relationship between family is at all important to you and something you wish your children to experience, then lets put in the time and effort to help teach them how. Here are some ideas.

1. Phone calls! Let and encourage our kids to call grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Let them share their day to day life with them and teach them to learn how to also listen. Sure at first this can be a little tricky but they will get used to it, you did didn’t you?

2. Letters! Did you know that hand writing stimulates the brain? It helps with fine motor skills and the thought process. It also help some pour their heart out and be real. And everyone enjoys getting a letter in the mail!

3. Skype! Thank God for Skype! Yes it has issues from time to time but to be able to see the person your chatting with miles away is worth the issues! Kids can show off their art projects and get the reactions right away! Family members can join in singing Happy Birthday without even being there! What a great way to build those relationships!

Building these relationships have to go both ways, kids won’t always think to start the conversations and they really won’t continue if they are the only ones pursuing it. The adults in their lives need to be actively building relationships with them and not just expect them to start it.

How important are these relationship to you?

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Do you have other ways of building long distance relationships with family? I would love to hear them!

The Highlights: February

I love reading posts online about a whole range of topics and I have to say there are some very creative and elegant writers out there. Here are just a few of the posts that I really like or have been inspired by recently.

“Laundry Room Renovation” –If I could only pick one area to fix up in our home it would be the laundry room, so posts like this are exciting to me and give me lots of ideas!

“Christian Cleavage” – Yes another post in the modesty debate, but this one I feel says it all. It mostly comes down to the heart.

“An Easy Activity That Stops Whiny Boys in Their Tracks” – All kids whine at some point, here is an easy way to help them stop.

“Do You Fit the Profile of the Average Christian Woman?”  – This is by far my favorite post I read this week.

“Dear Mom Who’s Done Having Babies”   -This one spoke right to my soul and brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me that I’m not alone in how I feel and that it is a season, it has been a long season and I’m not sure how much longer it will be, but it will one day be better. That brought me some peace. Will we have more children? Only God knows. He knows our hearts and knows what the plans are that He has for our family. And it is in that I have to place my trust.

(When I have at least four really good posts I want to share, I will make another post like this. Until then, enjoy these and follow me to see more posts from Of Sparrows & Butterflies.)

Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Ok I know, you are probably thinking “it’s a SpongeBob movie…. why would I ever see that?”. Well this review is for those of you who watched the show at all when you were young or who have kids who love this show and you think to yourself “it can’t be that bad! I used to like it!”.
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Let me just start out by sharing with you the first words that came out of my kids mouths when the movie was over; “That was great!!”. And now my first words to my husband after getting the kids in the van and shutting the door; “OMG!!!! That was torture!!! I feel like every brain cell has died!! I feel sick to my stomach! Why did we see that?” all while basically hanging on to him as if I was going to die… followed by a hug and my husband agreeing with me and pointing out that we basically just sat through 9, yes that’s right, 9 episodes of SpongeBob! Sure I used to like this show and will still sometimes watch it with the kids, but that is one, just one episode at a time….normally followed by weeks if not months of not seeing it!

Now onto an actual review :).
The movie itself was ok. Will I ever see it again? NO! Will we ever own it? Highly doubtful(now watch, one of my “funny” friends will go get this for my kids next birthdays…..don’t even think about it or there WILL be war!). The best way to describe this movie is….watch 9 episodes in a row. That is it. The same humor, the same type of jokes, the same level of stupidity. Yes, just like the show, it has its funny parts, I will admit to laughing a good amount of times. Lesson? Well there was a little about teamwork. I guess that was the “lesson” from the movie but really I don’t see that lesson sticking with kids the way it played out, but who knows.

This movie is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. Basically, if your kids are allowed to watch the show at home then the movie isn’t any worse, its just a mater of if its worth your time and money. For me, I am so glad we got the matinee showing but even with that, I wish we would have just waited until it came to red box, it would have saved us $19 (and I could have walked away for a break!).

And one last thing. REALLY??? Antonio Banderas!!! You are so much better than to play in this movie! (You did it great job though 🙂 )

Will you go see it?

MOPS~ Tell Your Story

Can I just get a quick show of hands to anyone out there that is in MOPS? You too? Oh good! Ladies I cannot tell you just how much MOPS has been a blessing to me this year. Moving to a new area, starting from scratch with a new home, new community, new year of homeschooling, and having to make all new friends not just for myself but for my kids as well, I knew that I needed to get involved in something and it needed to happen in a way that I couldn’t back out.

Through a friend at my last base I was introduced (via FB!) to a good friend of hers who was also coming to the new area I was going to. We became instant FB friends and bonded on the fact that we would both be new here, both homeschooling, and well we had a mutual friend who is has great taste in friends so we must be friends!  Right after moving we met and she started talking about how she got involved in the MOPS group here because she also knew she was going to need the support and her last MOPS group was awesome in that. A few weeks later I met the woman who was leading that MOPS group and loved her and knew I needed to join it.

A few weeks after I made the choice to join and went to a few of the playdates to start meeting people I was asked if I would consider being a Table leader. I wanted to say yes right away because well, I like to say yes. But I took the advice of the woman who was leading it and prayed about it. But it didn’t take long for me to say yes as I knew this was a way for me to be committed to it so that I couldn’t back out and also a way for me to start my journey of Women’s Ministry that has been on my heart for a while now.

While I thought I would be helping and blessing these women (and I do hope I am), I have been blessed so much more than I ever thought possible. I have learned far more this year (and it’s only been one semester) then I have ever learned about myself or God in my adult life.

This year’s theme for MOPS is “Be you Bravely”. Wow! I know this theme wasn’t made just for me but sometimes it sure feels like it! And guess what? This goes perfectly with my desire to know what it really looks like to Thrive in Christ! Isn’t it amazing how God brings just what is needed to your feet as you need it?

At our last meeting we covered the courage to tell your story. To show who you really are and where you have come from. Bit scary right? I think so. It’s one thing to share the basics about yourself or to go a little deeper with a few others and talk about more personal things. But to truly tell your story so God can use it for good – that is a step that takes a lot of courage. It also takes a lot of thought. Not everything you go through will be a story that everyone needs to hear. Stories that include other people should really be protected as you don’t know if the other people in your story are ready to share it.  You should be courageous in sharing the stories that God wants you too, to the people God wants you to share it with. But that doesn’t mean every part of your life needs to be on display for the world to see.  Start by sharing it with God. Yes He already knows it, but He still wants to hear it from you. If your spouse doesn’t really know it, share it will them. Then if you are feeling called to share with others, do so with close friends. If you are still feeling the call, then share it with a small group that would benefit from it. (You wouldn’t share a story about childbirth to a group of parents having issues with teens unless it can somehow relate, right?) Share with those who need to hear.

Sharing isn’t just for others, it starts out being for you. It’s healing to say the words and thoughts you have been living with and just to have someone listen. Even if they don’t know how to respond, just voicing it starts healing for you. It helps you to see how big or small the issue really is, it helps you to get out of your head. It’s the starting point. It also helps you to see if you need to get help for it instead of brushing it under the rug. It’s also a way to help us continue to feel the blessings that have come from that story over and over again.

Since joining MOPS I have shared some of my stories with my table. But the story that I was asked to tell our Teen MOPS group is one I have only shared as facts before. Not really voicing the feelings of it, not sharing the emotions or the deep truths about it. That group got my unprepared, unguarded, emotional story about how I first came to be a mother and the first few years that followed. Did they get all the facts? No, they heard the emotions, the real life thoughts, struggles, and blessings.  They heard what God wanted me to share. And from that point I have seen were I still need healing, really how much God has blessed my life and worked through me. I can tell that at least some of what I had to say really reached out to those mothers but it’s amazing to me just how much they reached back to me and by asking me to share, they have made a difference in my life to let the healing begin.

Ladies, I urge you to start telling your story, to be real with your friends and family(maybe even with your church group). And if you are needing support or friendships, look for a MOPS group in your area.

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“MOPS International is dedicated to meeting the needs of every mother of preschoolers. MOPS strives to attain this vision through the local MOPS group. A MOPS group is started through a local church, and often has a leadership team made up of 8 key positions, although many groups start with only 2 or 3 leaders. Most MOPS groups vary in size from 10 to 200 women. MOPS groups usually meet once or twice a month, and often provide childcare through the MOPPETS program.” ~Taken from the MOPS website

“Teen MOPS provides a faith-based, supportive, nonjudgmental environment where teen moms can come together for mentoring and encouragement. In Teen MOPS, the teaching, activities and friendships are all focused on the very distinct needs of teenagers. Teen MOPS helps teen moms become more self-sufficient, confident, mature and giving young women. Teen MOPS groups can meet in public schools or community centers, as well as in churches, and often meet twice a month for teaching and/or activities. Teen MOPS leaders receive additional resources specifically related to teen parenting.” ~Taken from the MOPS website

“A group for mothers of school-age kids. At MOPS International we believe Better Moms Make a Better World. This is true during the preschool years and beyond. As mothers enter the school years, new challenges and issues arise, but the need for community and hope remains. For this reason we offer MOMSnext, a ministry to mothers of school-age kids. A MOMSnext group is an open, accepting place for all mothers of school-age kids to experience authentic community, personal growth, practical help and spiritual hope” ~Taken from the MOPS website

“A Military MOPS group is sponsored by a base chapel or local church. Because of the unique situations Military moms face, MOPS International has designed this program with a great deal of flexibility. Military MOPS groups meet once or twice each month and typically provide childcare through the MOPPETS program. Military MOPS meetings include time for developing relationships through teaching, discussion groups, creative activities and fellowship time over a shared meal or snack.” ~Taken from the MOPS website

Thrive

Thrive, such a powerful word, but what does it mean? What does it look like to thrive?

If you listen to Christian Radio at all I’m sure you have heard the song “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. From the moment I first heard it last January there was something about it that spoke to me. For this past year it would just nudge me at the most random(at least to me) times. Times where I was either feeling really down(and I don’t mean just having a bad day down) or even times that I felt I had a plan and everything was going to go right, this song would again sneak up on me, on the radio, on Spotify, or even just in my own head. I’ve known this is something I need to dig deeper into but kept just thinking about it instead of actually acting on it. So this year that is what I am doing. I’m going deep to truly see what it means to thrive.

I don’t for one moment think this song is talking about a worldly view of what it looks like to thrive (such as being wealthy or famous) but rather what it means to thrive in Christ. To live wholly for Him. We are here for a purpose, to bring God glory.

Mark Hall says it so perfectly on this part of the song’s description:
“God didn’t put you here just so you could survive through hard times. He put you here to thrive, to dig in and to reach out and this record is an effort to draw a picture of what a believer, a follower of Jesus, would look like if they dug into their roots and understood God and themselves more.” ~Mark Hall

This year, lets dig in and see what it really means, what it truly looks like to Thrive in Christ.

Here is a page with teachings from Casting Crowns and their call to dig into the word. Watch the first teaching clip on the page and tell me you don’t want to dig in and THRIVE!

Philippians 4:20-Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.