Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I know you all have noticed my absence as of late.  We've been spending time with family off and on since Thanksgiving, and fighting illness, too (I am on an antibiotic as we speak), and working hard at homeschooling (which finished Friday).  It's been pretty hectic, but happy, too. :)  Though school is done and illnesses are nothing too serious (though it did keep me from some travels - Elaina and I are home as the boys and hubby are with his family which is not ideal, but couldn't be helped, and we hope to not have to do it again and maybe work out a time to see everyone in the near future), it will still be a little bit before I'm here more often.  It is the holiday season, after all, and I have family coming in or that has already arrived that I am very much looking forward to see, provided we are all well because, as much as my family loves me, I know they don't want me to share that kind of love, if you get me. :) So far, I am grateful that this antibiotic seems to be doing the trick for me and that Elaina continues to get better.  Hopefully the boys' colds don't morph into something more sinister, but I think they will be just fine, and I'm glad they know how to cover coughs and sneezes and all that. :)  Anyway, I promise that I will be around more after the new year begins.  I have lots of plans for this blog starting in January, so I hope you will be around to share in all of that!
In the mean time, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I will still be answering comments and emails as they come, though it may take me a little longer to respond than usual, but I will get back with you. :)
Just a little story for you all before I end this post and try to get myself ready for the day and see if I'm feeling up to making those goodies for our family party in a few days or if they need to wait another day yet, I want you all to know something about the picture above, the stockings specifically.
You see the one on the middle of the left side?  It's white with pink little flowers on it and lace?  That is the stocking my Granny made for me when I was born.  I love it.  I can't imagine a Christmas without it.  Last year, when I was hanging it up, I realized that I would love for my kids to have a gift like that - a heritage gift.  I asked my Granny if she would be willing to make stockings for my kids (and my nieces and nephews) as something they could have from her, made for them.  She said she would work on it, but didn't know when she'd get them done.
I must admit, I did forget I'd asked her for such a gift, until Thanksgiving.  You see, on Thanksgiving, my Granny always gives us a gift or a few gifts to open that are for Christmas.  It's a tradition we've had as long as I can remember.  This year, the kids and hubby all got a handmade, one-of-a-kind stocking from Granny!  I nearly cried.  How cool are they?  The camo one is my hubbys, the red one with gold is for Stephen, the blue one is Sean's and the red one with lace is for Elaina (the little one is for our cat, Crush, and not from her - it's just a store bought thing).  Now we all have special stockings from my Granny, and I couldn't be more thrilled!  I can't wait for her to see them hanging up there tomorrow afternoon when they come over (provided we are all still improving in health) to Skype with my brother and his family in Africa! :D
What's your favorite Christmas tradition?
Do you have any heritage gifts?
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Thanksgiving Feast and Festivities Link-Up ~ Feature Day

Thank you to all who participated in the link-up party!  You all are the best!  For those of you who missed out, I shared some recipes from the archives on Natural and Free and shared some Thanksgiving/Thankfulness-themed posts here as time allowed last week, and gave people a chance to link-up some of their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, posts about thankfulness or family, Thanksgiving/Autumn crafts, etc.  Today (and I'm sorry it wasn't sooner, but time and "real life" have not been my friends lately!), I am sharing my features in hopes that these posts can inspire you in your Thanksgiving meal endeavors and maybe just with some ideas for next year or maybe some ideas with how to spread thankfulness year round. 

Since there weren't a lot of posts linked up and since I couldn't possibly choose between them all, I decided that all the posts would get a featured spot! :) I am sorry I don't have a badge for you other than the original one, but again, time has not been on my side lately, and I didn't want to delay any longer posting this.  Hopefully next time things will go a little smoother and I will get that feature badge together! :)  Anyway, I hope that  you all will take the time to go through the posts that are linked up.  There are some amazing ideas on there for recipes, ways to teach your kids to be thankful, adorable crafts and more!  Seriously, y'all!  Check them out!  You won't be sorry and you'll gain some great ideas!

I hope you take the time to check out all the fabulous posts that linked up!

If you haven't yet, please grab a badge!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Thanksgiving Feast and Festivities Link-Up ~ Final Day

Thank you to all who have joined in on the link-up party so far!  You all are the best!  For those of you who don't know what's going on, I have been sharing some recipes from the archives on Natural and Free and sharing some Thanksgiving/Thankfulness-themed posts here as time has allowed.  There are still a few hours left to link-up (you can link up until 10pm EST tonight), so keep 'em coming!  It is my hope that you will link-up some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, posts about thankfulness or family, Thanksgiving/Autumn crafts, etc.  It is my hope that these posts can inspire you in your Thanksgiving meal endeavors and maybe just with some ideas for next year or maybe some ideas with how to spread thankfulness year round.  At any rate, you can link-up as many posts as you like, and I will be sharing my favorites the next week, so the more posts you submit, the more likely you are to be featured!  I hope you will join in the fun! :)

Today I just want to share with you a few highlights from my Thanksgiving.


Thursday was spent with just us and my parents.  The men hunted, my mom and I finished cooking, the kids played, and then we had a delicious lunch of turkey, mashed potatoes, etc.  Delish!  And lots not forget the pie for dessert!  YUM!  Then the guys went back out hunting for a little while longer and the kids and my mom and I got to watch a wonderful movie called Christmas in Canaan.  We had an absolute blast!

Today was the day that we had the really big Thanksgiving meal, though.  My sister and her family, my family and my parents all got together for another turkey with all the fixings, more pie and lots of family time.  The kids even did these really cute Christmas crafts that I hope to be able to post a picture of later when I have more time.  We even got to watch White Christmas (my favorite Christmas movie).  What a great time!  I just love time with the family!

Right now, we are watching Robin Hood together and going to finish the last of our "leaves" for this month.  It has definitely been a great weekend, and I am not looking forward to Monday in the least!


How was your Thanksgiving?

What was your favorite part?


I hope to share more posts with you as time permits, and hope that you will take the time to go over to Natural and Free! and check out the recipes from the archives I've shared there as well as click on some of the posts linked up below.  I also hope that you will link-up some posts, too, and help spread the word! The more the merrier! :)

Now It's Your Turn!

Grab A Badge!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Thanksgiving Feast and Festivities Link-Up ~ Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you to all who have joined in on the link-up party so far!  You all are the best!  For those of you who don't know what's going on, I am going to be sharing some recipes from the archives on Natural and Free and sharing someThanksgiving/Thankfulness-themed posts here as time allows until Saturday.  It is my hope that you will link-up some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, posts about thankfulness or family, Thanksgiving/Autumn crafts, etc.  It is my hope that these posts can inspire you in your Thanksgiving meal endeavors and maybe just with some ideas for next year or maybe some ideas with how to spread thankfulness year round.  At any rate, you can link-up as many posts as you like, and I will be sharing my favorites the first week in December, so the more posts you submit, the more likely you are to be featured!  I hope you will join in the fun! :)
Since I'm just about to head out the door to spend some time with my family, all I want to share with you today are some quotes about thankfulness.

"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!"
~Henry Ward Beecher
"The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest."
~William Blake
(For more great quotes, go here.)
Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving/Thankfulness quotes?


I hope to share more posts with you as time permits, and hope that you will take the time to go over to Natural and Free! and check out the recipes from the archives I've shared there as well as click on some of the posts linked up below.  I also hope that you will link-up some posts, too, and help spread the word! The more the merrier! :)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Now It's Your Turn!

Grab A Badge!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Thanksgiving Feast and Festivities Link-Up

So, I had this idea for a link-up party, and I hope you all will enjoy it and participate.  I am going to be sharing some recipes from the archives on Natural and Free and sharing at least one Thanksgiving/Thankfulness-themed post here as time allows from now until Saturday.  It is my hope that you will link-up some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, posts about thankfulness or family, Thanksgiving/Autumn crafts, etc.  It is my hope that these posts can inspire you in your Thanksgiving meal endeavors and maybe just with some ideas for next year or maybe some ideas with how to spread thankfulness year round.  At any rate, you can link-up as many posts as you like, and I will be sharing my favorites the first week in December, so the more posts you submit, the more likely you are to be featured!  I hope you will join in the fun! :)

What I want to share with you today is our new Thankfulness tradition, that I plan on making a year round thing.


The above picture is of our Thankfulness Basket.  As I mentioned above, it is something that I hope we will be able to do monthly.  I think it is a great way to keep your mind on the good things, and we could all use a little more of that in our lives. :)

What I did was take some construction paper - a different color for each family member - and cut out some leaf shapes (you can find some great free patterns online - just Google "free leaf patterns" or something like that) for this month (I will use a shape that fits the season each month, i.e. candy canes or stockings for December, flowers for May).  I then labeled each leaf with the appropriate family members name and the month and year (for example, my leaf color is brown, so on the brown leaves I wrote "Mom" and "November, 2013") so that we know, when we look through them later, what time of year it was and who was thankful for what.

On the other side of the leaves, we wrote the specific date (i.e. 11-25-13) and then something we were grateful for, an answer to prayer, etc.  There is everything from "LEGOs" to "family" to "pancakes" on them (I'll let you guess who wrote what).  It has been so great to see my kids think of new things to be grateful for, and it is so good for me to think about my blessings!  I can't wait to see what else will be added to the pile! :)

The plan, for now, is to read them together at the end of each month and to add to the pile as we need/want to.  I am so glad that we have decided to do this.  It truly is a blessing to think about your blessings!


Do you do anything to help you count your blessings and help you focus on being grateful?
Do you do it only during Thanksgiving/November or all year round?
Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions?


I hope to share more posts with you as time permits, and hope that you will take the time to go over to Natural and Free! and check out the recipes from the archives I've shared there as well as click on some of the posts linked up below.  I also hope that you will link-up some posts, too, and help spread the word! The more the merrier! :)

Now It's Your Turn!

Grab A Badge!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why I Strive To Stay Thankful...

It is November, the thankful month.  It is the month we all strive to think of others a little more, count our blessings and work to let our family and friends know how much they mean to us.  However, why do we only do this in November?  Why not do it year 'round?  I know it is something I am trying to do; be grateful daily.

Why do I do my level best to try to stay positive and thankful?  The following quote by Helen Keller sums it up best:

"Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows."- Helen Keller
When you have a good attitude and are always looking on the bright side, things don't look so bad or feel so dull or glum or hopeless.  You can smile sincerely and enjoy life fully.  Physical pain dulls, heartaches lessen, and life and God are truly good.  It is the better side of the coin, the glass half full, the rose colored glasses, and it is wonderful.

It is not easy, and there are the days where you must be practical or realistic and see that there is truly hurt in your heart and in your world or in the world of someone else you know, but when you are being thankful, that hurt is a little less because you see every good thing as a gift.  You don't live as if you deserve good things, so when they come, you appreciate them and they touch you deeper, guarding your heart a little bit more like a shield so that when the sword of hurt, anger and disappointment comes it doesn't wound you as deeply.  Sure, you still hurt, you still grieve, but you have your blessings, your gifts, still and you know that (eventually) you will be ok.

I wish that I had the time to do what I did last year and do a thankfulness link-up every day in November until Thanksgiving, but I do not.  I am hoping to blog weekly about thankfulness, but (as you can see in my lack of being able to blog since October 16th, despite my best efforts) I cannot promise you that.  What I would ask of you, though, dear blogger friend, is that you strive to find ways to express gratitude, not only this month (though that's an amazing start) but every day of the year.  Keep a Thankfulness Journal, start a Thankfulness Tree or Thankfulness Wall or make a Thankfulness Box and work alongside me in trying to keep a spirit of thankfulness in your (our) homes, hearts, and lives.  I know that my goal this coming week (today, hopefully) is to make a Thankfulness Wall/Tree and add to it throughout the month and share it with you as I can.  I am hoping to have a designated spot that will be used year 'round that I can decorate according to season, but we'll see how much time I get. :)  That's the goal, anyway.

I hope you all have had an amazing start to your November.  May it be an amazing one for you and may you learn to love more, feel blessed more and know that I am praying for you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Am A Bad Blogger...

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I feel just awful that I have not been able to blog in a while.  Truly.  I feel like my name is mud, I'm a terrible blogger, I should be ashamed, etc.  I wish I could juggle homeschooling, allergist/doctors appointments, church and family stuff, blogging, writing for the local paper, house keeping, and everything else life has to throw at me with a bit more sparkle and shine and pizzazz, but the truth is, I am not built to handle doing 900 things at once and doing them all well.  I have to prioritize and rearrange schedules and put things aside that I'd love to do but don't have time for.

My priorities will always be: God, family and then everything else.  Unfortunately that means you all get the back burner, at least in appearances.  My blogs, my blogger buddies, my online friends and family are always on my mind.  I am constantly thinking of ways to bless you, I am constantly praying for you, and (even when I am silent or unable to comment) I am visiting you all.  I research when I have a spare moment, plan my next posts, and pray that you all will understand my gap in postings.

I have recipes to post, but no time to get them up just yet.  I have ideas to share, but no time to get those thoughts organized just yet.  I have a product review in the works.  I have life events to share.  I have so much that I will get to...Just not today.  Why?  Because my time right now is being spent being the best mommy and wife that I can be.

Homeschooling is time consuming...if you want to do it right.  My 3 year old needs my attention, too.  My kids have been going to the allergist, my mom has needed my help with retreats, my extended family has come to visit, my oldest turned 11...I am busy being what I've always wanted to be: a full-time, stay-at-home mom of busy kiddos with lots of family/church time.  I love helping my family, I love participating at church, I love all of these things, but they do take time.

There are not enough hours in a day, that is for sure, and sometimes there are not enough hours in a week or even a month!  I wanted you all to know, though, that I am still here for you, and I'm doing my best to get posts in as I can.  I am even hoping to get another one in on Saturday this week (I know!  Shock!), so please, please don't give up on me!

Here is something you can do for me.  If you feel I'm not here enough, rather than drop me or send me a nasty email (no one has done that, but I'm sure some of you may have been tempted), pray that I'll get my schedule nailed down so that I can be here more.  I am working on it, I swear, but my schedule doesn't always play along! LOL :)  I am confident, though, that I will find a rhythm soon enough and you'll be begging me to take a vaca. ;)

Anyway, my dear readers, I am sorry that I have been a bad blogger, but I'm busy being a good mommy, wife, daughter, sister, friend...and that's most important to me.  You, too, however, are my friend and if you need me I will make time for you.  That is a promise.  Just shoot me an email, and I will get back to you ASAP.  Know, too, that you are in my thoughts and prayers daily, whether I take the time to let you know that or not.

May you have a wonderful rest of your week!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Autumn Is My Favorite...

I don't really have anything to share today because, though things have been busy, they have been uneventful (to which I am glad) or full of things I am not at liberty to share just yet or at all (because they didn't happen to me or we don't have all the results yet, as in the case of the allergy testing my kids are going through right now).  I, however, did not want to skip a week of posting, so I decided that I would share some of my favorite autumn pictures with you today (all taken by me).  None of them are too recent (at least 5 years ago), but I am hoping to take more this year if we have as beautiful a fall as we normally do and I can get out there and take them. At any rate, it is my hope that this photos lift your spirits and make you smile.  I know they have that effect on me.  Autumn is definitely my favorite.  Enjoy!

What is your favorite time of year?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Where Have You Been?"

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Well, I have been, for lack of a better word, busy!  Homeschooling has been a lot more "must keep this schedule" than I thought it would be, i.e. not a lot of room for fluctuation in daily life.  My days are completely full from about 7:30am until 8pm with school, housework, family life, etc. Monday through Friday, Sundays are busy from about 7am until 9pm or so and Saturday...that's kinda my breather day.  I kinda live for about 8pm to 10pm Monday through Friday, but especially for 4pm Friday until 10pm Saturday.  That's the time I feel like I can breathe and relax.  Until then it is a little schedule overload, hence the picture I chose for today's post.

Due to the craziness that is adjusting to new scheduling, I have had to change my blogging schedule.  I am not able to participate in link-ups as much as I'd like to right now, I am not able to read my blogger buddies' posts as quickly as I'd like, I don't get to check as email as quickly as I'd like, etc.  It is not easy for me to have to change so much so quickly, but it is necessary.

Anyway, I just want you all to know that I will normally blog on Saturdays now (hopefully weekly, but I cannot promise that at this point), but a rare blog post on another day will show up from time to time, especially if we are on a break from school, if I have a guest, if I am participating in a link-up, etc.  Also, I will eventually get back to your emails, comments, etc., it may just take a little longer than we'd both like.  I wish it didn't have to be this way, but it cannot be helped at this point in time.  I sure do hope you understand!

I have been asked, with all the crazy, if I regret our choice to homeschool.  Not at all.  It was and is the best choice for my family, and I have seen some very positive changes and learned so much about my boys and how they think and work, you couldn't even begin to imagine!  I am still very impressed with the curriculum, though nothing is perfect, and this is no exception.  I have my "What in the world?!?!?" moments with it and my kids, my moments of wanting to pull my hair out, but I also have my "Wow!  Who knew my kids were so brilliant?" and my "I am so stinkin' proud!" and my "This is great!  I never would've thought to teach my kid that in this way!" moments, too.  I think we've definitely gained a lot more (i.e. one-on-one time with my kids and helping them along in ways I couldn't before) than we've lost (i.e. my sanity at times).  All in all, it is an adjustment, but it has been worth it. :)

Thank you to all of you who have been such an encouragement to me in this transition time!  Your kind words and prayers have helped so much!  It is getting better a little bit each day, and I am finally feeling like we're getting into the groove of things for the most part! :)  Totally makes me feel like a winner, I assure you!

For those of you wondering how all the change has affected my Fibromyalgia, I have had surprisingly little extra pain.  I have had a few overwhelmed, meltdown moments, but since I've had an increase in my Levothyroxine, I am doing a lot better (I can't tell you how not fun it is going through a major routine change when your thyroid levels are off!  YIKES!).  I still have to take myself out of the moment sometimes so that I don't overreact or freak out, but that's ok.  That's as it should be. :)  Praying every morning before we start helps a lot, too!

Before I get back to enjoying some time with the family, I would like to ask you all to continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers about these things:

  1. That homeschooling will continue to improve, and that we will continue to find our groove.  It improves a little every day, and I am confident it will continue on that path.
  2. That we will find the proper dosage of Levothyroxine for me (and my son who has also had an increase in his dosage).  This is a must for optimum health!
  3. That the allergist will figure out the best way to help my kiddos (my oldest has been there and my other 2 are going in a few weeks) so that we can keep the ickies at bay, know how to keep them healthy (i.e. if we need to change diet or environment, do shots), etc.  I think that keeping them healthy will keep the rest of us healthy, reduce stress, etc.  It is a win-win all around!  (FYI, I love their allergist!  He is GREAT and works with autoimmune disorders.  I may even end up seeing him in future if need be.)
  4. That I will learn to just relax and enjoy this homeschooling experience.  I have a tendency to be "perfectionist" and push when I should back off a little at times, and I want to know when to push ahead and when to hold back to help them be successful.  I am learning, but it is not an overnight process!
Thank you all for your support, love and prayers!  They mean the world to me!  If you need anything, including a prayer partner, feel free to email me!  My email is always open!

What's going on in your area of the world?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lessons In Training

Tuesday was the first day of school...Homeschool, to be exact, but I'll get to more on that in a minute.  First, I want to talk about something that didn't change, and probably the only thing that didn't: Taking "first day of school" pictures.


1.  We take the "serious" picture:
The "serious" picture
This is needed to show family and friends the school kids being well-behaved.

2. We take the "not so serious" picture:
The "not so serious" picture
This is needed to show that we aren't always serious and like to have fun!

3. Individual pictures:
Stephen, my 6th grader
Sean, my 4th grader

These are needed to show each kiddo alone and to mark the year, and I am bemoaning the fact that next year my baby girl will have one of just her (Can't believe she'll be in pre-school next year!!!).

4. A picture of everyone:
All the kiddos, because Elaina had to be a part, too! :)
We take this because everyone has to be included, and next year (as I alluded to above) this will be phased out because Elaina will officially be in the "serious" and "not so serious" pictures and also have one of just her.  Time flies too fast!


Now onto the things that have changed, i.e. everything else.

I am finding that I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to think I was for this transition.  I am finding that I am a lesson myself, and I'm definitely in training!  By that I mean, each of us, our lives, are lessons for others as they watch us, and I am in training for or morphing into the finished lesson that I will ultimately be.  This is one area of that training that truly has me reeling!

I wanted to think that I could do this alone.  I told myself that I had all the skills, all the training...What would be the big deal?  Well, apparently all the training in the world cannot prepare you for the change that is schooling, especially homeschooling.  Sure, I know intellectually what to do, but there is the whole scheduling and dividing time and newness that makes it so strange and overwhelming.  It can take one's breath away!

So, today, I woke up early and prayed.  I asked God to help me.  I confessed that I needed Him.  I confessed that I'd forgotten the whole reason we were doing this: Because it was what we believed was right for our family, and mostly because we wanted to make sure that our kids got a Godly education, too, and that part is on me since it isn't in the curriculum.

I know I will get frustrated and overwhelmed, but now I have remembered to include God, and that is key to this whole en devour.  Without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5, KJV).  Knowing that He is there makes all the difference.

Today, when the kiddos get up and before we start, we are going to pray, and we will do that every day.  We are going to pray for guidance to know when to move ahead, when to linger, when to cut back, when to get extra help...When to do anything so that we can succeed.  We are going to pray for wisdom in all things, for patience with each other, for the ability to forgive others and ourselves when things don't pan out and for love that knows no bounds to deal with all the changes.  

This is the first of many new steps and new lessons.  We are in training for life lessons as well as academic ones.  We are learning about integrity, honesty, hard work and so much more!  And we can do it all, "...through Christ which strengtheneth..." us (Philippians 4:13, KJV).

No matter what happens, after this morning, I know it is for our good.  I know we have made the right choice.  The material is great, challenging and do-able...It is just very different and will take time to get it all figured out.  I have faith that we will do that and more, because God is faithful.

Your prayers are appreciated as we continue on this journey, please and thank you! :)  Know that I pray for you all daily, too.  Please let me know if there is any specific prayer requests that you have in comments below or via email, and I'd be happy to pray for you!

How is your back-to-school going?
Are you a lesson in training, too?
What's your best back-to-school tip?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Things Guarenteed To Make You Smile

Those of us who have Fibromyalgia know that sometimes it is nearly impossible to be positive.  Some days we hurt too much to want to smile.  Some days we face depression.  Some days we face an inability to do anything.  Some days we face all of the above and then some.  On those days, I like to use a few tricks to help turn my frown upside down.  Why?  Because a good spirit and attitude are key to pain management.  If you can't figure out how to smile despite the pain and hardships they will always control you, and that's not what I want for my life, and I don't think you do either.
Today I want to share with you some of my tricks.  They always make me smile, and I can guarantee they will work for you, too.
1. Cuddle with your kids, grandbabies, spouse or your fur babies.  This always makes me feel better and so very loved.  They say physical touch heals, and I couldn't agree more!
2. Count your blessings.  When everything is going wrong, take a minute to be grateful for what you do have.  You may have to start small and/or basic (i.e. I am glad that I breathing), depending on the day, but I guarantee that you will find that your list grows as you start looking and soon you will start seeing things brighten around you.
3. Do something nice for someone else.  This can be anything from writing a note to or calling a friend and letting someone know you're thinking of them and praying for them or how much they mean to you to making cookies or a meal for them or even doing something nice for a complete stranger, etc.  It doesn't matter what it is as long as it is for someone else and to be a blessing.  I always find that taking a moment to get my mind off myself and onto someone else and their needs is the surest way to turn my day around.
4. Do something silly!  This doesn't have to be anything public, it can be in your own home, but doing something just outright crazy can take away the blues.  This can be telling jokes with your kids, having a pillow, water or shaving cream fight or going out with a friend and playing on the playground equipment and acting like you're a kid again.  If you're really bold, you can dress up like a pirate or something and go around talking the part! LOL :)  I've seen grown men in tutus on a dare, so I totally think anything is possible...and worth it if it brightens your day!
5. Have some quality time with a good friend or with family.  Once a week at least we have some family time.  It can be watching a movie, going to the beach, going out to eat or playing a game as a family.  Sometimes I go for walks with just one member of my family to talk with them about any old thing.  It's bonding time and it makes me feel better.  Sometimes it's nice to get away mentally even when you can't get away physically.
7. Play the "It Could Be Worse!" game.  This is a game I came up with when I was a teenager when I volunteered at a camp.  One of the women I worked with would get very stressed out and find herself a little frazzled and to help her out of her funk, I would give her the "It could be worse!" talk.  It was things like, "It could be worse!  You could be in jail for ripping off the 'do not remove' tag from a pillow!" or "It could be worse!  You could be lost in mall with rats chasing you because they think you're made of cheese!"  It didn't have to make sense or even be plausible, in fact, the more outrageous the better!  It didn't take long for her to start laughing and the whole atmosphere to change.  It's a lot of fun!  You should totally try it!  Just go back and forth and see who can come up with the wildest "It Could Be Worse!" scenario.  I promise you, you won't regret this! :)
8. Play the "mirrored name/words" game.  This one is a ton of fun.  You start off with your name and write it backwards and then say it out loud (The out loud part is 100% necessary for maximum smile-age!).  For example, my name is Eiluj, pronounce Ill-uj.  My oldest's name is Nehpets, pronounced Neh-pets.  LOL  Come on!  That's hilarious, right?  After you do your names, you can do objects or pets or even come up with sentences or try to write a story/poem/song mirrored.  Here.  I'll give you a sentence to say to start you off: Ti si os hcum nuf ot daer sgniht sdrawkcab!  (In case you couldn't guess, that says, "It is so much fun to read things backwards!")  If nothing else, you will get a laugh out of trying to say the words! :D  Makes you sound like you're speaking some foreign language!  I guess you could do it to fake out friends and family by telling them you know Russian or something and look uber smart. ;)
9. Make up a silly song to a familiar tune.  I had a friend in high school that I used to do this with all the time.  It was hilarious and always a hit with our friends...even if they did pretend not to know us when we did it! LOL :)  Here's an example of one of our songs:
This is all that I can remember of a song we wrote called, "Leo The Red Beaked Pelican"
(This part goes to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer")
Leo, the red beaked pelican
Had a very shiny beak!
And if you ever saw it
You'd be blinded for a week!
All of the other pelicans
Wouldn't loan him any fish.
But the one thing they didn't know about Leo
Was that he only had one wish!
Then one misty Saturday morn
Noah built the ark
And when Leo heard he needed a girl
He began to outright bark!
(Tune change to "Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland")
Oh Oh Oh Oh
On the boat
He met Eliza!
She was cute
And just the right size-a!
While watching her he broke his leg
A week later
They laid an egg
Walkin' on the boat to Santa Fe!
(Tune change to "Deck The Halls")
They got lost in the Mississippi!
Mrs. Leo said Noah was drippy!
So she hit him with her wing!
And he got her with silly string!
(Tune change to "Silent Night")
They started anew
In Kalamazoo!
They built a home
From Styrofoam!
A week later their egg hatched
And they named their baby Patch!
As you can see, we were quite nuts! LOL :)  I am pretty sure, though, that you are smiling!  See?!?!?  Works like a charm! :D
10. Listen to a song or watch a video that makes you smile.  I have a few go-to movies and TV shows that make me smile: Despicable Me, Emperor's New Groove, Hitch, Monk.  I also have a few songs that make me laugh or just make me happy in general, like this:

Or this:
Or this:

Or even this:
The point is, everyone has something that makes them smile or laugh when it comes to movies or songs.  Have yours and keep them close...Just in case!
I hope this list of tips and tricks have made you smile a little bit today or inspired you to come up with your own list of things in case of an "I need to smile" emergency!
What makes you smile when you're down?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back-To-School...Ready Or Not!

Look what came to my house last week:
I'll let you guess what was inside.
What do you think?
Mega amounts of chocolate?  Nope.
Tons of cookies?  Nope.
Good-for-you fruits and veggies?  Nope.
Care packages with miscellaneous odds and ends to make one feel special?  Nope.
Clothes?  Nope.
Toys?  Much to my kids' chagrin, no.
So, what was in the boxes?
Let's take a look and see, shall we?
What is that I see?
Yep, folks, that's right.  I got my first round of school supplies from my boys' new online school.
School doesn't start for a few weeks, but the supplies come now to make sure that you have everything and so you can get all your questions answered and set up the "classroom" space and all that.  I was surprised at the amount of stuff that came, but was thrilled to see that I could fit all the books, CDs, etc. (including my teacher's manuals - seen on the right on both shelves below) on 2 shelves, excluding some of the more awkward shaped and bulky gadgets and gizmos that came like gram cubes, magnifying glasses, sand (Yes, there was sand!).

That's a lot of books for 2 kids, huh?
Note the games.  Those weren't sent by the school; we had those already.
Can't be all work and no play, right? :D

I will readily admit that I am not ready for back-to-school.  Getting these boxes gave me a lot of instant nerves.  I had a lot of thoughts like this:
"I can't do this."
"Yes, you can.  You have a teaching degree!  It will be fine!"
"I know but..."
"No, buts.  You know what to do.  You'll do great!"
"I dunno...I'm terrified!"
Yes, even those with "experience" go through periods of self-doubt and give self pep talks.
In the end, though, excitement (mostly the boys) about this new venture won out.  Honestly, I am looking forward to the upcoming school year, so I won't let the fear and worry win.  I know it will be ok.  I have personal experience and I will have back-up via the online staff.  I know there will be days that won't go so well, but all in all, I'm as ready as I can be and finding that I feel more confident and positive about it all than the other way around.
So, I take a deep breath, do a little more research where I need to, make sure everything is set up where and how I want it and march on.  Why?  Because there is no other choice.  Ready or not, here school comes!  Wish me luck (and prayers welcome, too!)!
Are you ready for back-to-school?
Do you homeschool or do your kids go to school outside the home?
What is your best back-to-school advice?
What is your best advice to a first time homeschool mom?