I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.

Music Together

Our family loves music. We are one of *those* families that like to have music going during chore time and during our seat-work time of school. We always have music going on in the car (usually a collection of all our favorite songs burned to the MP3 player). It seems someone is always singing, or humming. We sing together in the car, and often during our school day I am trying to find a song to go along with what we are learning! So, we felt blessed to be chosen for the  Music Together CD and Teacher’s Songbook review. Music Together started in 1987 as an Early Childhood music program for babies to second grade, using a research-based, developmentally appropriate curriculum that emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement. There are classes offered all over the United States (and in lots of countries), although the closest one to us personally is about 40 miles away.

Music Together has offered their Family Favorites CD with 19 of the best-loved songs for $14.95 for the CD, $9.95 for the download, or $0.99 for individual tracks. You can see a list of titles and preview the songs here. The only song on the CD that we knew prior to receiving this CD was “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. All the other songs were new to us. The CD starts with a Hello Song and ends with a Goodbye Song, which for some odd reason, my children think is really fun. We have another CD with a “Hello Song” so upon first hearing this NEW Song, their first reaction was “That is not how the Hello Song goes.” But this CD (and the Hello Song) grew on them. A lot of the songs have  sounds, instead of words, as a main portion of the tunes, which makes it easier (in my opinion) for little kids to feel like they can sing along. It seemed like with using sounds (la, dee, bo, dum) that the kids could focus on the rhythm and tune without feeling they needed to memorize the “words”. One of our favorite songs was “John the Rabbit”. This song has a call and response type of tune, where something is sung, and the response is “Yes Ma’am!” A good song for us, not only because it is about a garden (something we are working on), but is also emphasizes manners (something Mommy likes), but it allowed the kids to sing along right away!

The Teacher’s Songbook, which is offered individually for $29.95 has 112 pages of the music and teaching suggestions. Using the John the Rabbit song, the teaching book tells you what activities are used (Large Movement, Fingerplay, Call-and-Response, and Songbook illustrations); the music of the piece (E Major, Starting Pitch B, and Swing Meter); and also what instruments are used in the Recording (Guitar, Bass, Shaker, Body Percussion . Then the teacher’s guide goes on to give you the sheet music, a simple two color illustration and ways to act out the songs, dances or movements for the songs, and alterations for children with speech/social or sensory/physical special needs. We found fun ways to move and play with our instruments. These songs provoke action. You want to move while you are listening to them. You want the simple shaker and drum instruments for your little ones to play along.

The CD and Songbook are offered at a $5 savings when bought together ($39.95) and if you use the coupon code “Schoolhouse”, you can save an additional $2. We did receive both the CD and the Songbook free in exchange for this review. We feel very blessed.

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Children in Church

For a long time, God has been using a myriad of examples to prove to me over and over that my children and my family are the Ministry God has called me to.  Because of that, I found that over the past year it has really started to bother me that we get to church and my family separates into different places, only coming together again when church is over. It’s something Austin and I have talked about a lot. So, like how most things happen, I was thrilled to see Great Waters Press, (who published Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young), offer up the opportunity to review a book called, Children in Church: Nurturing the Hearts of Worship, by Curt and Sandra Lovelace. This book is available for pre-order for $12 (with Free Shipping), by clicking here.

 

I received this 160 page book and sat and read it in one setting. And since then I have been back to it several times. My husband and I have talked about it. There are nine chapters: Beginnings, Elements, Decisions, Pointers, Preparations, Supplies, Hints, Conflicts, Observations and then a section called: Note to Church Leaders.

 

The beginning of the book lays out the foundation of why they believe that children worshipping together with their parents is biblical and the model that the early churches followed. There are several scripture references given, both Old and New Testament. Throughout the book they offer examples, pointers, tips all in the way of making it easier to teach your children how to sit in church respectfully and appropriately so that your family can be together. It is my personal belief (and I am sorry to be controversial for a second, here) but I do believe that Sunday School and Junior Churches and Teen Programs and other such programs were not created for Churched kids. It is my belief that they were created to bring the unchurched kids in and give them a safe environment for them to learn and grow. I think there is HUGE value to Children’s programs, especially in conjunction with a Bus or Van ministry. And I have been a proponent for a church nursery so that I could focus on a service and not feel like a juggler, trying to juggle keeping preschoolers quiet, toddlers still, and a baby quiet – all while trying to hold my Bible, or the hymnbook, listen to the preacher, and pray we’re not disturbing all the people within a ten foot radius. But, as I grow and learn, I desire for my family to be together. I desire for us to worship corporally, instead of individually. I desire to work through this book, using their examples and train my children to sit in church and enjoy the service with me.

 

This book has been a Godsend to me. It truly gives a Biblical basis for bringing our children into the worship services and offers practical help to make it not only survivable, but gives us ways to teach our children to engage in the service and worship the Lord. I feel blessed to have been able to review this book, and I hope that as time progresses, you will see our family, making more effort to worship together!

 

We received this book for free in exchange for a review. We have been blessed.

 

 

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Exceeding Abundantly

God is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” It’s one of my favorite verses. Ephesians 3:20. I say this a lot and it has truly become the theme for my life right now, but I AM SO BLESSED – Exceeding Abundantly BLESSED. You know what I like about that verse the “think” part. I would have never asked God for six children. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have asked to be a stay-at-home Mom. I would never thought to ask, but HE is able to do more than I ask for, and more than I can even think of!! And because I have chosen to trust Him, He has blessed me in more ways that I can name, and in at least six ways I can (Brendyn, Tyler, Madelynne, Adreya, Wyatt, Cassidy).

I feel like I have had a heart change since having Cassidy. Something about having her switched the flip in me that makes me feel differently, makes me look at things differently. My kids didn’t change. Their behaviour hasn’t changed. Their attitudes haven’t changed. Our schedule hasn’t really changed. So, it has to be me. I’ve changed. God has helped me to be more thankful for these wild creatures in my home called children. He has given me more grace, more mercy, more (gasp!!) patience! No to say we don’t have rough days, because we do! But, somehow the rough days seem more worth it. I have been given these children as a gift. God entrusted me with them! God knew I could handle it. He knew me better than me!

Brendyn is having Spring Break this week with his Dad and is not home. Without my biggest helper, I decided I didn’t want to brave the grocery store with the five younger ones, so I went last night – by myself! I even timed it right, where I could leave the baby at home. When I was driving home last night, listening to the quietness of my vehicle, I was recollecting on the days that I used to do all my grocery shopping alone (when Austin was home), and how I needed those times of being alone and refreshing. Remembering how on some weeks I seriously thought about forgetting things on purpose just so I could go shopping twice in a week. Wal-Mart used to be my vacation spot! My place for solace. Last night, it was lonely! I missed not having the kids to talk to in the truck, or to sing songs with. I missed not having Wyatt to play with as he sat in the front seat of the buggy. I missed not feeling the baby close to me, wrapped in the sling as I walked through the store. I missed Adreya’s sweet way of smiling at waving at strangers, and the way Madelynne and Tyler toss (non-breakable) groceries back and forth. I missed Brendyn chatting with me through the store.

What has happened to me? I have always felt that I enjoyed my children. Loved them! But I also, at times, couldn’t wait for it to be someone else’s turn! I remember a particularly rough patch when Wyatt was a baby, and I (jokingly) told Austin that I was going to run away from home! (He told our PAstor I said that, by the way, and I think our Pastor believed it for a while!)

Maybe it is seeing the love our children have for Cassidy, or their quickness to help do anything they can for her. Maybe it is me, having energy. Maybe it was the realization I could handle six kids by myself, all day, without pulling out my hair, needing vacations at Wal-Mart, or running away from home! Whatever triggered the change, I am thankful for it and in prayer that is lasts. In the meantime, I’ve got kids to play with!

I am Exceeding Abundantly Blessed!!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: In-laws ( I am thankful for the Lee family I married into, another Blessing I wouldn’t even have thought to ask for), A baby that sleeps through the night (we are consistently getting 6-8 hours a night and that is definitely something to be thankful for!), A hard-working husband, A working washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc (All modern conveniences that allow me even more time with my kids!), and God (who is able to do exceeding abundantly more than I can ask or think)

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One Month

One month has passed since baby Cassidy was born. It’s been a month of re-learning how life flows with a newborn and integrating that with getting things done with the other  five. We are building new routines and things are definately falling into place. We’ve managed trips to the doctor and the grocery store. We’ve had a lunch date with Grammy and even managed a relatively clean house for Maddy’s birthday party.
I feel blessed! Cassidy is really a good baby and very well-loved! She has taken to only waking up once during the night, which I greatly appreciate! Her favorite past-time remains eating (every 3 hours during the day) and staring into the face of whoever is nearby.
Now, we’re starting to focus on Brendy’s birthday coming up. 11 ~ seriously??
A friend wrote on facebook today how she never imagined being a stay-at-home mom. It got me thinking, me neither. Having 6 kids, homeschooling, staying home ~ none of this was in my 10 year plan. But, I am so glad, so Overwhelmingly glad, that God’s plan is much better than my imagination.
I am so blessed!!
Five Special Blessings to Me today: God ~ whose plans for me are so good, six beautiful children, a husband who I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with, a remarkable family (including in-laws that I genuinely love!), and opportunities abundant to be living a life I love.

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Number 3 is 5

Madelynne Jade - 1 week

Time really flies. Especially seeing baby Cassidy, who looks so much like Madelynne did as an infant. It is so easy for me to remember Maddy being that small, making that face, having that hair, sleeping just like that….. so how is it that the baby I remember so well, turns FIVE today??? She is such a good ‘oldest daughter’. She can hold her own with her two older brothers and yet, has that nurturing quality about her that makes her great for being the oldest sister. Madelynne looks after Adrey and Wyatt and has told Cassidy “I am the Junior Mama.” She loves to ‘babysit’ for me when I have to go into the kitchen to make dinner, or go check on what the other children are in to. She will sit by Cassie, and just look at her, telling Cassie how cute she is. On Wednesday, Maddy told me that Cassidy was the cutest that day (a Big compliment coming from Madelynne, who knows without doubt she is beautiful, after all, her Daddy has been telling her for years!!) For fun, I have put Maddy’s baby picture alongside Cassidy’s and there is definitely a resemblance. What do you think? 

Cassidy Joy - 1 week old

These last three weeks, having all six of them, I feel like my heart is busting out of my chest. I had worried a bit about whether or not I could handle it. Could I really take all six kids to a doctor’s appointment, or the grocery store. Could I manage to get anything done around the house? But the truth remains, that God truly does NOT give you more than you can handle. He blessed us with Baby Cassidy, and I could indeed handle it. And my heart is overflowing with the love I have for my kids, and the knowledge that God has blessed me so richly!

Watching Madelynne love on her baby sister thrills my heart. One day, a very long time from now (and assuming that I do indeed

Madelynne now (with Adreya)

survive the teenage years!!), I can see Madelynne as a really great Mommy! At last check she was going to have at least four kids (named: Stop, Go, Snowman, and Snowflake … The number seems great, but I do hope with age and wisdom, she does choose different names … LOL)

I am sure I say this over much, but I am SO blessed.
Maddy is excited about her birthday, although she doesn’t believe me that she is indeed Five today. She thinks she doesn’t get to turn the numnber until tomorrow when we have her actual birthday. But for today, she is telling her siblings that she is “Boss #2”. and she has chosen what we will eat for dinner – Pork Chops, Cut Potatoes (a baked potato cut into cubes), and asparagus. (She really does have good taste in food!!) I also found some Easter Chocolate chip cookes that have pink chocolate chips, so I am going to make those for her for dessert.
 
SIX Special Blessings to Me Today: Madelynne, Brendyn, Tyler, Adreya, Wyatt, and Cassidy
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Baby Cassidy

I know that I have had a long hiatus in this blogging thing. I have been either waiting out those last couple miserable weeks of pregnancy, where all I could think to write was how ready I was to hold my new baby girl, to the last nine days, of enjoying her! She is so beautiful and sweet and calm.

Her birth, on February 6th, was just a reminder that even though she was number six, that I don’t have it all figured out!!! I was sure she would be born Monday morning. But as morning ticked away, and my body made SLOW progress, I realized and remembered that I am NOT the one in control! It took all morning and most of the early afternoon just to get to 4 centimeters. But once I got there (at about three in the afternoon), the rest moved along QUITE Quickly. At 4:23, my water broke, the baby was ready to be born, they called the doctor, and she LITERALLY came jogging into the room, gowned and got ready to catch the baby. She was born at 4:38 and I got to help deliver her by reaching down and pulling her onto my chest. It was remarkable!!! She was 8 pounds, 3 ounces (our second smallest baby) and an even 20 inches long.

All through the slow progress of the morning, mentions were made that she was a “stubborn” baby. I kept insisting it was because she was mellow and laid back. She saw no reason to leave the place where she was comfortable! It turns out that I was right!!! She laid on the warmer after being born and looked around. She wasn’t crying like all my others have done while waiting on that warmer. She was so content. She still is. She rarely cries, and in her quiet time, she is happy to look around and take in this new world she gets to live in.

Her sisters and brothers are absolutely enchanted and captivated by her. There is very few times during our day that I don’t have a little person looking over my shoulder or standing guard to stare and talk to their newest baby sister! Even Wyatt, who I really thought would go through some sibling rivalry and jealousy is in love!

WE ARE SO BLESSED!!!!!!!!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: The newest addition to our family –  Cassidy Joy, Siblings who love her almost as much as her Mommy does, A Daddy who is content to watch her make those cute baby faces in her sleep, A Grammy who is always on hand to rock, cuddle, or hold, and that I get to be the Mommy – whose heart is absolutely overflowing with love!!!

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Starting off right

I think there is a desire in most of us to “be the best we can be”. I know I am always striving to see how I can improve – being a better Wife, A better Mom, a better friend, sister, daughter, Christian. I am trying to be diligent in my Bible Study, using a Modified technique I saw here. They use the SOAP approach to Bible Study. For their “S’ – they actually write out the Scripture (they are beginning a Bible Study in Ephesians on Monday), but for mine I am just writing down my daily devotional piece (right now in Genesis). The “O” is an Observation. The “A” is application, and then the “P’ is to pray over what you have read. I am hoping this approach to my Through-the-Bible-in-a-year will not only keep me accountable, but also keep in my mind longer and throughout the day what I have read. It focuses me to try to find the hidden treasures in God’s Word.

I am also doing an online Study with a group, originated from Treasures from a Shoebox. They are going through the Book, Created to Be His Helpmeet. I have read this book once, and have referenced it a couple of times, but am excited to be doing an online study with what looks to be like a great group of Women.

The third thing going on in my bag of tricks is reading through Teach Them Diligently, and beginning using charts I bought from Doorposts, to focus the children’s misbehavior back to the Bible. Showing them that rules aren’t just arbitrary things came up with by mean parents, but actually commands from God. In this, the goal is that the children learn to draw closer to God by obeying Him first!

It really has been a great 2012 so far! And we are looking forward to everything this year has for us. Especially Baby Cassidy who will be joining our family soon (27 days!!!) I hope your year has started off right for you and that you already see God’s Blessings.

I know We have Been Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: God’s Word, My Salvation, My Wonderful Husband, My Beautiful Children, Baby # 6 Coming Soon!

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It Worked for Me

Here are some things I have done in the past (that I should probably institute again) that have worked for us in the past to streamline, organize, and create better harmony in our house.

Toy Storage – the solution to a Never-Clean Room: When the kids were having a particularly hard time keeping their rooms cleaned, and I was tired of seeing toys everywhere – we did Toy Baskets. I gave each kid a basket and put a name tag on the handle. Each kid was allowed to choose 10 toys and put them in their basket. All other toys got boxed up and went upstairs (which is our storage room.) Those were there toys for the week. Each night I had them turn in their basket to me with all ten toys neatly tucked in the basket….toys not in the basket got added to the upstairs collection, hence losing them a toy. On Mondays, they had the opportunity to swap out their toys for new toys. This worked for us because it meant there were only 50 toys in my house (5 kids after all!!!) and I saw real quick which toys never got chosen, which toys were favorites, and it fostered cooperation as the children often chose toys that went together. Maybe after Christmas we will institute this again!!

Another thing I should really do – Sometime before Adreya was born, Mom and I worked together to do a Once-a-Month Cooking Day. We cooked and cooked and cooked and at the end of the day had about 30+ meals to put in the freezer for quick dinners. I really need to do this again especially with Cassidy on the way. I should really plan this for a Saturday in January!!!!! One of the most simplest things we did on that day was to simply pre-cook hamburger, chicken, and taco meat. Even these small advances helped make for getting dinner on the table quicker! I also like the idea of making something for Austin for his lunches that can be tossed from freezer to cooler (like breakfast burritos or something.)

Motivated Mom’s Planner – I have probably bought this a couple of times (it is only $8). It is a daily (or weekly) House cleaning and Bible Reading Planner. It has a simple to-do list of what should be done around your house. If you do what’s on the list, the idea is your house will stay company-ready. I usually do pretty good in January, then slip away from it. I’ve bought the planner for 2012 and plan to keep up with it. I really appreciate the fact that includes chores I often don’t think of (change out kitchen  towel), but also includes the chores that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly right into the lists without me having to think about it. (MotivatedMoms.com) Like I’ve said, I’ve done this before, but often fall away. I’d really like to stick with it this year.

It’s the end of the year, and I find myself not only preparing for what the possibility of the new year can bring to us, but also really looking forward to the addition of one more!! I’ve decided that I am going to wait until after Christmas to start really preparing the house for baby Cassidy and just the thoughts of pulling out baby clothes, setting up a bassinet, etc. has me even more excited to meet her!

I am So Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Ice (I chew ice while pregnant as fast as I can freeze it!), Cooler Weather (at 30 weeks pregnant, I am happy to be out of the 80’s), A lighted Christmas tree when all the other lights are out, Clean Bedrooms (all 3 kids rooms are clean, or at least were clean at some point today!), Christmas Music

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Save the Trees

50 Reasons I will have as many children as the Lord gives me

  1. God gave them to me
  2. Hugs, kisses, and cuddles on demand
  3. We are helping the future generation have enough workers to pay for Social Security
  4. They are so darn cute
  5. They love me even on my worst day (without makeup and in my pajamas)
  6. They have taught me that the world does not revolve around me
  7. They are proof of the love between Austin and Me (and yes, we do have a TV)
  8. Because I like gifts and blessings, and they are the best gifts I have been given
  9. I get to learn things with my children (like shooting a gun – Maddy and I learned on the same day!)
  10. Getting to watch the relationship with my kids and their Daddy
  11. I get to watch them learn and grow
  12. Each of my children is happy I had them
  13. Walking slow so little legs can keep up mean I am enjoying more of what goes on around me
  14. I eat less because someone always wants a bite (or two, or ten)
  15. Get welcomed home like I’ve been gone for days, even when I just went to the mailbox
  16. They love unconditionally
  17. It is never boring at my house (Ever!)
  18. The smell of a kid (especially a baby) right out of the bath
  19. They accept others without prejudice
  20. Homemade friends
  21. They provide constant entertainment
  22. It’s fun to tell stories to children (and they’ll let you, even if you’ve already told them a couple dozen times)
  23. They believe whatever you tell them
  24. Getting to look at old things through a new set of eyes
  25. A sleeping child is one of the most precious things to see
  26. They have taught me to be more compassionate
  27. There is little as miraculous as that moment when your baby is born
  28. Children are part of God’s purpose for creating marriage
  29. Watching my children grow into people I like is a reward of its own
  30. The more we have the funner it gets
  31. Love breeds love, and more love, and more love
  32. One day I will have lots of grandchildren
  33. Being pregnant and experiencing the miracle of a baby growing inside of me is awesome
  34. I am motivated to be the best I can be because someone is always watching
  35. There is always someone to talk to or play with
  36. They teach me how to delight in the little things
  37. The love I have as a parent reminds you how much God loves me.
  38. When people stop us in the store, at a restaurant to tell us how cute, well-behaved, smart our kids are, it is like a job performance review where I got all Five Stars
  39. Unpredictable Surprises
  40. I have the best job security around
  41. Learning that money doesn’t matter, but $1 is a fortune to a kid
  42. “I Love you, Mommy”
  43. Lots of helpers
  44. I’ve never met anyone who regretted one of their children
  45. Young children are genuine. What you see is what you get. They haven’t learned how to be fake
  46. Feeling a baby move inside of you is complete joy
  47. Family is forever
  48. I get to watch my husband be a Daddy
  49. Because we still have enough love in our hearts and in our home for another one
  50. Because I love being a Mommy

I am SO BLESSED!!!!!!

(When I was thinking about how much I am blessed to be the Mommy of *almost* six children, I was reminded of how we have faced criticism, disgust, ugliness, etc. because of our decision to continue having children. I was struck by the idea that we live in a culture where we have activists to Save the Trees, but Children are looked at as disposable or as inconveniences by some. I am so Blessed that the Lord has given me a true, genuine Love for the children he has blessed me with now and the ones to come in the future, Lord Willing.)

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High Regard, Low Pay

The job of being a stay at home mom has been on my heart and mind a lot lately. Probably a lot to do with the fact that Austin is now working outside of the home and working a lot (a LOT!), which means it’s just me and the kids. Full time. Non Stop. It’s been an adjustment for me.

I was very spoiled in the fact that Austin was home and available and I didn’t have to take the children to the grocery store, to the bank, to the doctor’s office. I had the flexibility to go out for lunch, take a shopping day, or just walk around Walmart slowly, relaxing in the fact that I could breathe and finish all the thoughts in my head without interruption.

Too many times people either feel sorry for the Stay-at-Home-Mom or feel superior to them. I’ve been in both those positions more times than I can count. I read a book recently that pointed out that you should enjoy whatever place you are in right now. I am guilty of always looking forward to what is coming next – the next birthday, the next holiday, the baby being born, Austin coming home from work!!

I look so forward to what’s coming that I forget to enjoy what’s here, now, in front of me. There is nothing to feel sorry for me about. I could work if I wanted to. I have before. I could again. I could send my kids off to school and daycare. But that isn’t what God has called me, or our family to. And being right where God wants me to, is the most superior place I can be.

It’s been a rough 2 weeks, adjusting to these new routines, and on top of it, all five of them are sick. I should be going crazy by now, and maybe a little bit of me is – the part that can’t cook dinner without tripping on a kid, or go to the bathroom without someone knocking on the door. But I have also decided that I am going to do all I can to just enjoy my kids.

I am going to be thankful. Thankful I am home with them, that I get to homeschool them. That I get to teach them. That I can have a hug or kiss whenever I want it. That, especially with them being sick, I can get lots and lots of cuddling in! That I can hold them tight, smell their clean hair, kiss them on their foreheads and just take a deep breath and be thankful that God allowed me to be their Mommy. That is the job with the highest regard! And one I don’t want to take for granted.

I am SO Blessed.

Five Special Blessings to me Today: Brendyn, Tyler, Madelynne, Adreya, Wyatt

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