Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Dear Kids…Fall 2018

Dear Dan, Andrew, Heidi, Joey, and Josh,

Here we are again, ready to launch into a brand new school year. Summer went by in a flash…actually, the last year went by in a flash, didn’t it? Eleventh, tenth, eighth, and sixth grades. WOW is all I can really say. Y’all are growing up way, way , WAY too fast for me.

fab 5 snow canyon

So, what do I want to tell you all before you head off on that exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking first day? First and foremost is that I love you like crazy and am so proud of each of you. Don’t you ever forget that. I’m not sure how this flawed, ordinary lady got blessed with such great kids, but hey, I’ll take it. No, I don’t think any of you are perfect (none of us are), but you do make me proud in so many ways that you probably don’t even realize. Keep on being great kids, whether that be with the big things in life or just the little everyday stuff.

Try your very best, whether it be in playing an instrument, learning new math skills, working in shop class, or writing an essay. I realize that not every subject will thrill you, but you are still to give it your best effort. No, I don’t expect anyone here to be perfect, but I do expect diligent work and not slacking off. Keep on reading and never be ashamed of your love for books.

I know I also say this every year, but be kind and respectful to each of your teachers, whether they are your favorite or not. Same goes for each of the staff members at your schools. And your classmates?? Yup, you are to show kindness to everyone, even the kids that get on your nerves (hint—they may be the ones who could use it the most).

Continue to be little lights for Jesus. We are now in the throes of middle and high school and though we try to protect you, I would be naïve to think you are not being exposed to at least some of the temptations and ugliness of this world. Please be extra strong in your faith and stand up for what you believe in. It just isn’t worth it to follow the crowd on so many things. I may be “old,” but I do know some things by this point, and that one I know for sure. You know what is worth it though? Having a firm foundation in the Lord and living for Him, not for the world. Believe me, people will notice and wonder what it is that makes you different. Hopefully you can tell them that it is Christ in you that makes a difference.

Well, that’s it for now. Know that I pray for each of you daily as you venture out and will continue to do so all of my days. Remember that Dad and I are rooting for you. We’re always here to listen, to help, and to love on you, no matter what. Good luck tomorrow. You’ll be just fine, even though you may be a little nervous. I’ll miss you, but am excited for a new year together!

Love, Mom

 

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Happy New Year everyone!

I pray that you have experienced a joy-filled holiday season and are eagerly looking forward to a brand new year. I’m sure I’m not alone in that this time of year makes me pause and reflect on happenings within the past year, plus look forward to some new things as well.

Here are some highlights from our year as a family:

*Our oldest two boys were able to go to Sea Base, a high adventure base in the FL Keys. They had a wonderful experience there, including paddling across the ocean in a canoe, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking. They loved it. Oh yeah, it was the first time they’ve ever flown as well. My highlight was watching a video someone took of my boys’ faces that first time the plane really took off. I was dying!!

DSCN5060

*My husband left his job of many years and began afresh in a completely new career. This time last year we had no idea what the future held in this regard. God is SO good and brought about a new place of work that has been a refreshing change for him, and for us as a family. (Plus now he brings home really cool wood and makes things out of it.)

*My oldest turned 16! And got his learner’s permit! Want to feel completely powerless? Be a passenger in a vehicle where your oldest child is driving YOU for the first time. We’ve been cursed at, almost rear ended, had a line of traffic behind us multiple times, and passed in dangerous ways about every time we venture out. Fun times.

*We are experiencing our very last year in elementary school. We have loved it there, but I’m certain my littler guys are ready to move on. Me too.

*My daughter and I took a day trip to New York City. It was the first time her and I did something like that. Though it rained a good part of the day, we still had fun and got to see many neat things.

*We had a couple day excursion to the Jim Thorpe area. It was a good way to wrap up the summer all together.

Some things we are looking forward to:

*A vacation out west. Yup, this is my main one. This has been on our family bucket list for years and we decided that this is the year to just do it! The plan is to fly (instead of driving many days cross country), rent a vehicle, and spend most of our time near Zion National Park. We also plan to visit the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks, plus maybe a couple of other things. I’m super excited!!

zion1

*Turning 40. This happens in May. Pray for me. My 20’s were terrific, my 30’s have been great, what will the 40’s bring? Who knows?? I don’t really feel “almost 40″…time flies.

turning-40

*Having another driver in the house. It terrifies me a little, yet I am ready for someone else to be able to take on chauffer duties a bit. Even if the oldest just drives himself to work and his own activities, that will help.

*Having kids all on the same bus/school schedule. I’ve had approximately one school year where everyone was in the same building, and that year the twins were in half-day kindergarten, so I still had 3 different bus times to worry about. Since then it’s been 4 different bus times. When they hit middle school this fall, everyone will have the same bus time. I may feel like I’ve gained another hour each day! Woo-hoo!

Well, those are the main things, but really, it’s a lot of little everyday things sometimes, isn’t it? I pray that you will have a blessed 2018, full of lots of those moments that bring joy. May you look forward to what the Lord has in store for you this coming year.

 

 

 

Parenting Tales

Dear Kiddos…

Dear Kiddos,
We are only a couple of days away from a brand new school year. Are you excited?!? I kind of am, though a quiet house will take some getting used to again. I enjoy it, but boy am I glad to see that bus roll up in the afternoons! It’s not the same without you here.
I can’t believe you’re all as old and as big as you all are. I am blown away that this will be the last year our family will have kids in elementary school… AND that we have not one, but TWO in high school!! And yes, once again I am writing you a letter to prep you for a new school year. Bear with me please. I’ll keep it short and sweet this time.

DSCN5233
First, I’d like to remind you to be kind and respectful to each one of your teachers. There will be some that you love and some that probably won’t be your favorites. You know this already. Each one is to be treated with the utmost kindness and respect. Teachers have one heck of a tough job these days, so please do your best to brighten their day. Look for ways to help them out in any way you can. You have no idea what a big influence you may have on them!
Try your absolute best, even if you have a subject that doesn’t come easy for you. We are at the point where you older guys are required to take some subjects that may not be such a piece of cake. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! A teacher would rather you ask for help than see you struggle and not admit that you need a bit of help or need something explained in a different way. Dad and I are always here for you, in whatever way we can assist. Yes, we are old and our school days are long past, but we’re not total dummies either. Please don’t forget that we are always on your team and are cheering you on.
Now onto your classmates. Oh boy, what can I say? Pretty much what I always have, and that is to be a little light to everyone around you. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. It’s very cliché but oh-so-true. Boys, respect the young ladies around you and be good role models. Act like the godly young gentlemen we have strived to raise you to be. Daughter, continue to be a godly young lady. We are SO glad that you all don’t try super hard to “fit in.” It’s not worth it. Be who you are, but more importantly, remember WHOSE you are. No matter what.
You guys are awesome. We are so stinking proud of each one of you. I pray that you will all have a great school year! Dad and I are here for you.
Love you all SO much.
Mom

****To read the letter I have posted the previous two years, click here.

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Making Your Home a Refuge

Refuge. That word has been rolling around in my mind for the last several days. It keeps popping up in my thoughts and, though I have not blogged in awhile, I knew I had to write about it.

Here’s what got me started….

St-Pauls-Chapel-250th-Ann3

This building in the picture. St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City, NY.

My daughter and I took a bus trip to NYC this past weekend. We visited a lot of the main tourist spots you would likely think of—Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Central Park, and so on. But this place, St. Paul’s Chapel, was one of my favorites. I have no explanation why, other than it felt like a place of refuge to me. It was used as a refuge for many on the day of 9/11, plus for rescue workers in the many months following that tragic day. It was used as a center for rest, meals, sanitation, etcetera round the clock. Entering it for the first time almost 16 years later, I could see why it felt like a refuge. For myself and my daughter, hustling around NYC all day, it certainly felt like a refuge as well. It was beautiful, fairly quiet, and not completely humming with activity.

Since then the word refuge has stuck with me, and since I am a Mom, specifically the question, “am I making my HOME a refuge?” I sure hope the answer is yes. You see, we don’t exactly live in a war zone or anything like that. It may seem like quite the opposite, as we live amongst rural, beautiful farmland in a relatively conservative area. However, we aren’t locked up in our own little world all the time. I have a husband who dutifully goes to work every day, providing for our family. My kids all attend public school, plus are involved in other activities. I work part-time, plus attend to the myriad of details that come with running a household of 7. We certainly don’t live in a bubble.

Here’s why I hope my home is a refuge. The world out there can be tough–for the grown-ups as well as the kids. They need somewhere, after a long day at work or at school, to feel like they can rest, be refreshed, be loved, and not feel bombarded by the world. As my kids keep getting older (funny how that happens, eh?) I see the need for them to have a refuge more than ever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard one of them say after coming in from school, “Oh, I’m so glad to be home!” Or I’ve heard my husband say, “It’s so good to be home.” This is why I’ve made it a point to be home when my older guys get home. Some of the best and most open dialogues we have had is that first hour after school. This is why I try to have a nice cooked meal (and a hug) awaiting my man when he gets home from work. This is why I try to keep things at least semi-organized and not chaotic feeling. There’s enough chaos out in the world, they don’t need it at home too.

Sure, our house is no showpiece. It won’t be on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens any time soon, and that’s okay with me. My crew is comfortable here and they don’t feel like they live in a museum. My kitchen is not perfect, but it’s well used….like, all the time. I’m not serving up gourmet fare, but no one goes hungry and they all seem to enjoy my meals. We’re not always wearing the trendiest outfits and my kids might wear the same three shirts all season long (their choice), but the laundry is kept after and we’re not in debt paying for superficial things we can’t afford. We’re not perfect parents, or even the perfect husband & wife, but we try our best and try to honor God in what we do.

It’s important to me that each child feels unconditionally loved, secure, and refreshed by coming home. Same goes for my husband. My greatest role is still as a Mom and a wife to these precious ones, even though they aren’t exactly little anymore.

Am I making my home a refuge? I hope so. And I hope yours is too.

 

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

Dear Kids…

Today I am re-posting something that I wrote around this time last summer. My kids start school in just a week and I got to thinking about this little letter again. Reading it a year later, I echo every word of it once more.

***********************************************************************

Dear Daniel, Andrew, Heidi, Joey, and Josh,

Tomorrow you all will be heading off once again for a brand new school year!  I know you are ready to start back up, but may have some butterflies about it too. I know that I always did when I was your age.

As your dear old Mom, here are some things I’d like to tell you before I send you off to start your new grade. I know I’ve said lately that I’m excited for you all to get on that bus so I can have a little time by myself, and that is true. I do like a little time alone here at our house when it’s nice and quiet and everyone is at school. However, know that I do miss you all and am praying for you every time that bus picks you up. It’s like 5 pieces of my heart leave me and then return in the afternoon.

fort, longwood 8-15 037

Guys, I encourage you to do your absolute best while you’re at school. Each of you has been very blessed with the ability to learn things pretty easily and to usually do well on tests. Not every kid has that advantage, so don’t take it for granted. Help other kids as you are able and while it’s okay to be proud of a good grade (and you should be!), no one likes a bragger. Also, just because learning may come easier for you than some other kids, it is not an excuse to slack off. You are still called to do your best at whatever job you’ve been given, and right now that job is schoolwork.

Now, this is what I want you to know about your teachers. They are there to help you learn and be the best person you can be. Teaching is NOT an easy job, and you are to be kind and respectful to each teacher you have, even if they are not your favorite. From what I’ve seen, they really do want what’s best for their students and love all of the kids in their care. All teachers have tough days sometimes and I want you to help make their days a little brighter by being in their class.

With that being said, let’s talk about the other kids in your classes. Every kid is different, and I think you all already know that. Some kids are ones that are easy to be friends with. I used to gravitate towards those types of kids and stick with them. Other kids are not so easy to be friends with, or maybe they are difficult for the teachers and other grown-ups in the school.  Perhaps they are mean or rude or maybe even cry over silly things. Maybe it’s a kid that is dirty a lot or smells, or has other issues. Here’s the thing, guys—you just never know what that kid is dealing with at home. You all come from a pretty good household (I think!) and have two parents that dearly love you, take care of you, discipline you, and teach you about Jesus. Maybe you think every kid comes from a house like that, but they don’t.  Anymore a house like ours is a little rare. I just think that it’s important to remember that when a kid is maybe acting out or different in some way.  Please, please, be kind and show love to everyone, even if they are not especially likeable. Remember how much Jesus loves each of us, and maybe YOU are the person he is using to show that love to another kid.

Here’s another thing that ties in with what I just said: I want you guys to be a “little light” to everyone you meet at school. Dad and I think that you already have been, and we are so proud of you for that! Keep it up. I really do believe that God uses people in certain places and at certain times. For the last years and even now we think that we’ve been called to have our family be a part of the public school here. As I said before, not everyone comes from a family that believes like we do, but I want you to show them love as Jesus has commanded us to do. Maybe that means being a friend to someone who is shy, or holding a door for others, sharing a book, or inviting a kid that’s alone to play with you on the playground. You just never know what impact you’ll have on someone else.

Also, stand up for what you believe in. Our world is a little crazy right now, and sadly, it’s just going to get worse. That makes me worried for you as you grow up. This is part of what I pray about for you all the time. However, you have been taught what is right and what is wrong, and don’t be afraid to say and act on what you believe. I know you can do it!

I love you guys like crazy and will miss you. Have a great first day in your new grade!

Love, Mom

 

Points to Ponder

What I’m Into: October 2015

Hey hey everyone and hope you’re enjoying this spectacular season.

Here are some things either myself or my family has been into lately:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So simple but oh so good. Breakfast of champions for this Mama.

Home Fires, a newer Masterpiece show on PBS. Why do I like British shows so much better than American ones? No idea, except the fact that a majority of American ones are crap anymore. Personal opinion.

Yarn. Cooler weather seems to make me want to knit or crochet lots more. Right now I’m experimenting with an asymmetric  poncho design.

2015 Race for Ed 005

Last month in my “What I’m Into” post I mentioned our school fundraiser and the Candy Land theme. Well folks, it happened last week and it was a blast! This is a pic of one of our decorated areas–hula hoops covered in paper and glittered letters spelling out the word SWEET. Now I can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over except for a few post-Race things to wrap up.

Beautiful fall sunrises and sunsets. I snapped this picture last week one morning. That is an Amish neighbor’s farm in the background.

I haven’t went out to snap any leaf shots, but this past week they have gotten super beautiful in our area!

photo (23)

My crew at an orchard. I loved this big pumpkin pile.

Speaking of pumpkins, I’ve been really into making roasted pumpkin seeds. Such a great little snack.

photo (24)

Precious moments. These two had no idea I took this picture until after the fact! I heard my 10 and 12 year old kids in my bedroom one Sunday morning chattering among themselves. Here my son was helping his sister brush her hair. Way too sweet!

Well, that’s it for now and thanks for checking in!

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

What I’m Into: September 2015

Happy September to everyone reading this.

I love September and cherish these last days of summer and early days of fall.

Here are some things that either myself or my family is into as of late:

I love, love, loved this documentary. My family watched it the other night and I was very touched by it. It follows four different children from four very different countries as they travel to their school. Watch this with your kids-it will make them appreciate riding on the school bus!

I was especially moved by this boy from India whose younger brothers push/pull him in his makeshift wheelchair EVERY DAY for several miles. Both ways. They were just too precious and it made me want to buy this young man a brand spanking new wheelchair that rolls on sand!!

It’s the little things sometimes. Right now my daughter and I are loving these hairbands that are nice and stretchy, don’t break, and actually hold our thick hair.

The Maze Runner series. I’ve only read the first one, but I am excited to read the other books in the series. My older two are in the middle of the second book and tell me it’s just as engrossing as the first one.

rugs8-15 004

Making these rugs. I did a tutorial about making these awhile ago and I’m still at it as I’ve had time. I’ve listed some on Ebay and much to my delight, they have been selling well!

Candy Land. Now is the time of year for PTO craziness as we have our main fundraiser in October. It semi takes over my life for a month or two until everything is done. We chose Candy Land as a theme for our annual Race for Education and I’m SO stinking excited about it. Lots of cool decorations, prizes, and costume possibilities. (I am planning to be Mrs. Mint, by the by.) I’m not entirely sure if this will be my last year or not, so pray for me! Make fun of it all you want, but this PTO President stuff is not an easy gig. However, I do believe I have been called to serve the families in our school in this way for now.

first school 2015 003

Back to School. Yep, it’s back in full swing and everyone has had a good start so far. These are my elementary kiddos on the first day. I realized that Josh (the one in blue) has worn the same T-shirt for just about every photo this summer. We do own other clothing, but this is obviously a favorite. Andrew (in green below) has also worn a skateboarding banana shirt for like every photo op. I may need to hide them after the next wash cycle;)

first school 2015 001

And these are my big guys headed off to middle school.

Well, that’s the main stuff folks. Hope your September has been a good one so far!

–Rachel