By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Creating a Home, Family Focus, Kids Crafts, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I believe that building traditions strengthens families. It adds to the “special sauce” that makes your family unique from all others. Not only that but it is just plan fun to have things to look forward to on a daily, weekly or yearly basis.
This year, I have been on the hunt for some new Easter traditions to begin with our family. Easter is so rich with meaning. It simply makes sense that we should develop special ways to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection!
It can be easy to go overboard and try to do too much and unintentionally add stress where celebration should be abounding. Below are a few ideas that I have found and plan to try this year. I have jotted them down on the calendar, spacing them out, in the hopes of preventing this overload. However, I am going to make a point to abandon any activity that pushes us into the “stress” rather than the celebration side of things.
Not only is this cake adorable, but it looks like it will taste better than the Empty Tomb Cookies (shown below) that we made last year (they are a lot like divinity and I am not a big fan of all the sugar).
I did love the symbolism in the cookies however. If you are interested in going the route of baking something that magically becomes “empty”, another option that looks fun are these Resurrection Rolls.
2) Try making our own natural egg dye. I’ve meant to do this for a few years now but it takes some planning ahead so this year I am determined and already have my grocery list for the items I want on hand (such as canned beets). In the meantime, I am trying to ignore the box of Easter egg dye that I recently got at the dollar store. I found the Eco Crazy Mom blog and the Spoonful blog to be great resources for the ingredients I will need to have on hand for the natural version.
3) Watch a kid friendly version of the Easter Story. I have my own personal tradition of watching The Passion of the Christ movie on Good Friday. It never fails to cut me to the core and leave me breathless with gratitude for the sacrifice our Savior made on our behalf. However, I don’t believe that my kids are emotionally ready for the graphic display of torture that Christ endured. Thanks to the Life as a Mom blog I was directed to this website where we an watch a kid friendly Easter movie for free.
4) Read Benjamin’s Box while opening our Resurection Eggs If you don’t plan to use the eggs alongside the book, consider using the free printable by This Simple Home or this one by Play Eat Grow to easily make your own (the exact items and verses used by these blogs differ from those in the book). I have read several ideas on how/when to read this story along with the use of the eggs. I decided to follow the idea from Want What you Have and begin opening the eggs 11 days (the book highlights 11 different parts of the Easter story) before Easter with the last egg opened on Easter Sunday. I also prepared a “tree” as she did to hang the verses on that accompanied each daily egg. You can see the verses in a jar next to the base of the tree on our dining room table just waiting to be hung.
5) Make Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels. I had no idea that pretzels could be tied to Easter but according to Good Cheap Eats they tie in perfectly (pun intended). Click on over through the link provided to read more!
P.S. All these Easter ideas (and a few others) can be found here on my Pinterest page.
What Easter traditions does your family enjoy? Are there any you are thinking of trying for the first time this year so some you have abandoned along the way?
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, Home Sweet School, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Among the many benefits of homeschooling that I have been discovering, one of my current favorites is the gift of intentionality. There is something powerful that happens when the reigns of learning are placed solely in your hands. Not only is it daunting, but it is also empowering. Suddenly ALL of life becomes a lesson. Not that it wasn’t or couldn’t have been before, but now it HAS to be, because if we as parents don’t teach it, who will? The blessing in this is that we now also have more time to teach these precious lessons as our day becomes structured to meet the needs and ebbs and flows of our family pulse, rather than a school calendar.
In our home, this has meant that Hunter’s interest in cooking has been nurtured and encouraged. On several occasions we have simply slowed down to help instruct and direct him as he learns how to fry his own eggs and bacon, cook his own egg-in-the-hole, make blueberry muffins. . . Not only is it fun and educational, but we are able to enjoy the process because we are not trying to squeeze it into an evening before bed or weekend activity.
It has also meant that new skills such as sewing can be learned and we can now make time for extra curricular activities such as a weekly CYT drama class (Hunter’s pick) or Art class at the Kroc center (Ashlyn’s pick) without sacrificing family time.
Lastly, we have been able to engage in more frequent parent-child “dates”. I love this. The memories and practical lessons learned (opening a door for others, how to place a napkin on your lap, ordering etiquette) are priceless.
This month I have been giving extra thought to the approaching Easter holiday and thinking with intention about how we can anticipate and celebrate it as a family. Tomorrow I will share some of the ideas I have compiled and a few that we have started in the hopes that it might stir up some fun new traditions in your home!
What about you? Does your schedule allow for intentional instruction with your kids? What are they learning or what interests do you hope to foster in them this year?
By Rachel Steele | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I have been putting off writing this post, basically because I’ve been searching for water in the midst of an oasis. These last couple of weeks have been oozing with doubt. Doubt that spills into every exposed crack and leaches it’s filth into what little trickle of holy water my cup has left. I should be rejoicing and proclaiming, “My cup runneth over!” I know there is cool, clear water readily available, but I find muddy puddles next to my feet more convenient and it’s easier to just lap it right off the ground like a dog. Yes, doubt halts searches, has no direction, requires no effort, gives way to apathy, and all is done in vain. I know that I should be fighting, battling with a shield of faith, but my vessel is riddled with holes, and the ones I’ve plugged are popping like wine corks. It’s hard to fill up with waters from the well when the leaky pail is empty by the time it reaches the surface.
Recently, I’ve doubted just about everything; my purpose, my calling, my marriage, my performance as a mother, my goals, my dreams, and even the validity of this blog. I just can’t seem to muster up the faith it takes to pull up miraculous amounts of water in a bucket full of holes. What I think God might be telling me, is that sometimes He patches pails and other times he gives you supernatural biceps. My bucket may be beat up with doubt, mistrust, and weariness, and it’s going to leak all the way back up from the depths of His well. He may not patch every hole, every worry, every sorrow, every sadness, every unjust event, but by God, my spiritual forearms will be bulging from the incredible strength and speed! Some of us have a slew of tiny slow fissures, that require some good toned Pilates arms. Some of us have giant gaping cavities that only the guns of Arnold Schwarzenegger could haul up enough water in. Does anyone else whimper and lose hope at the sight of their tiny punctures, knowing full well that there are many out there that face the deepest chasms every day?
What causes the breaks, the cracks, the tears? Many times there is no fault and no reason. Maybe it’s not so much finding the cause of the holes, maybe it’s just knowing who’s arms to run to when you pull your bucket out of the well empty…again. Who said that when I cry out, Jesus would arrive every time with glue and patches like I think He should? Sometimes, instead He hands me a pair of 50 lb. dumbbells and trains me and coaches me so that someday, regardless of what life throws at me, regardless of how big and how many holes have worn through my pail, I know where the water is and I know how to get it to the surface! I doubt often, my faith shrinks, but somehow, a tiny droplet of refreshing, clear water lingers at the bottom of my cup, and the murky puddles that surround me don’t look so appealing anymore. And once again, I begin my trek to the well, with my sorry-looking bucket in tow. I know He will meet me there, just like He met the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar, and He’ll ask for a drink, and I’ll hold up my bucket for Him to see all the holes, and He’ll answer, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
I guess living water doesn’t require unbroken faith or a doubtless mind. Whether the bucket is holy or unholy, the well is deep, crystal clear, and never runs dry. I know He will be there to collapse into, when my arms are shaky and I can’t hold on any longer. My hope must be in Him, not my bucket.
“…and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, Home Sweet School, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Monday, February 25, 2013
You haven’t heard much from me lately. I’m sorry about that. I have two reasons, the first of which I’ll share today and the second I’ll probably share soon (no, I’m not pregnant ).
Over Christmas break, my husband and I made a game changing decision for our family: we decided to homeschool.
Homeschooling is an option that had been marinating in our minds for quite some time but to be honest I had not felt ready to commit to the challenge. Even as a prior elementary school teacher, I had reservations about my abilities. I was worried I would not have enough time to “do it right”. I was concerned that homeschooling two children would double the prep and instruction time. I was hesitant that being “teacher” and “mom” might be a hard balance of roles. I questioned how I would get anything done with my toddler and preschool age kids being a part of the mix.
Yet, regardless of all my concerns and questions, as we began compiling our list of all the benefits that we felt homeschooling would offer us, I couldn’t help but get excited about the freedom that awaited us.
(“Dear mom, Thank you for being my teacher” a note given to me by Ashlyn on our first day of schooling at home.)
It has now been about seven weeks since our homeschooling adventure began. I am loving it! In fact, I can’t believe that I have not been doing this all along. I’m not saying that it is easy, but nothing worthwhile is without its challenges. Knowing that there will be days ahead where I may question the wisdom of our decision or my own sanity, I felt it would be helpful to make a list of some of our early favorite homeschool perks to reflect on.
Top homeschool perks from our first seven weeks:
- The morning “eat, eat, eat, hurry up, is your lunch in your bag, get out the door before we are late” stress is gone. In exchange, I can let the kids sleep until they (or even I on some days) wake up in the morning.
- We have more time to teach life skills and focus on things that are specifically important to our family.
(Hunter learning helping with the laundry between Math and History)
- The two hour commute time each day to and from school is done! In addition, I can now wake up to new snow falling outside my window and enjoy its beauty from the warmth and comfort of my home, rather than be concerned if the roads will be safe to drive on.
- I now really know what my kids are learning. I don’t have to rely on newsletters from teachers (which may or may not be sent) or my children’s memory to tell me what they learned each day.
- Our schedule can be totally flexible. If family or friends need our help mid-day, we can take the opportunity rather than worry about how to fit it in with picking up our kids from school. If we want to take a vacation, we don’t have to wait until Spring Break to do so, and we don’t have to be back by a certain date either.
- Learning is a family affair and everyone has something to teach. I have learned more US History in the past 6 weeks than I have in years, and I am loving it.
(Ashlyn teaching Quinten how to write his letters.)
- The evening “get the homework done, eat dinner, get ready for bed, go to bed before it gets to late so you can get enough sleep before we wake you up in the morning” stress is gone. Instead, we can enjoy our evenings. I can make dinner without also simultaneously helping with homework. We can relax if bedtime is a little later knowing they can sleep as needed in the morning.
- We have our kids back. Quite honestly we only REALLY had them on the weekends before.
That last one is a big one and is one of my top favorites. Sure I enjoy time away from our kids like any mom, but in an honest assessment of my priorities, at this age, I want my husband and I to be the primary source of influence in their lives.
It was fun to discover how many Mom 4 Life facebook fans were homeschoolers. I’d love to hear any questions, ideas or favoriate resources you may have to share as we begin this new venture!
By Rachel Steele | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Why is it so difficult to keep my mouth from erupting with fault-finding lava and plumes of critical smoke? There are times I get so worked up, I’m sure my ears must be billowing steam and shooting out sparks.
I work outside the home just one to two days a week. A few months ago, I arrived home after a rather long day at work and was met at the door by my husband, who is a very consistent and dedicated runner. He was scrambling to get his running shoes on before the sun went down and was already at the end of the driveway before I could yell out, “How many miles?!!” As I walked inside, my 18 month old was coughing and choking on some sort of regurgitated snack. It only bothered him a second, and then he was back to playing. I gave the boys a hug and then hurried to the restroom. My bladder was about to burst, so I didn’t realize I was dancing around in something watery that had puddled in front of the toilet, until after I sat down and noticed my socks were wet. What is this liquid? I wasn’t sure, so I sprayed it with cleaner, rolled off my soppy stockings and threw them in the laundry basket. Still puzzled, I walked into the living room to ask the kiddos how their day went. Again, my youngest is still battling with an unknown crunchy food form. As tiny bits are occasionally spewing from his mouth, I ask my oldest, “What is that he’s eating?” He responds, “Oh, daddy gave him peanuts.” Peanuts! What person in their right mind would give a jumping, rolling, bouncing toddler, whole peanuts without any supervision! As I am hunting around for the snack bowl to cut off the peanut supply, a tiny brown mushy ball squishes between my toes. Mind you, I’m now barefoot, due to the unidentifiable fluid incident in the bathroom. I start inspecting this cold mush by pulling my foot as close to my face as I can get it. I become a squinting and sniffing contortionist, and discover that this russet paste is exactly what I had feared. That’s right, it’s plain old number two, just chillin’ out on the living room carpet, like it’s part of the party. By this point, my thermometer of fury had reached the top of my head and I was red hot!
Unfortunately, for my husband, he had a longer run that day, which gave my infuriation ample time to fester. As soon as he stepped inside the front door, he proclaimed he was starving and asked, “What are we having for dinner?” Boom! Explosion! I could no longer contain the monumental push that was shoving this poisonous and critical speech right off the tip of my tongue. After a minute or two of reenacting the role of a blabbering and blithering idiot, I stop to catch a breath, and my husband defensively barks back his reasoning behind the nutty, squashy fiasco. He explains that he was only trying to find a healthy snack for our son, not trying to cut off his airway. He describes how he was trying to heed my wishes by using cloth diapers at home instead of disposable. Apparently, a tiny toddler nugget slipped out of the leg hole when he was transporting the diaper to the toilet. His account of the wayward diaper sprayer explained the small lake I waded through in pursuit of the porcelain throne.
I realized that my momentary rant undid all of my many efforts to sell my husband on using cloth diapers, something I had been trying to persuade him to do for over a year. When I allowed the crackly, condescending branches of bitterness to creep around and clutch my spirit, I crushed all of his spirit’s vulnerable efforts to grow in confidence. To this day, he won’t attempt another cloth diaper, and can I blame him? Well, yes I can, and I did. I’ve found that blaming and accusing, fuel on an arrogant and vainglorious attitude which tends to burn down considerate and caring gestures, often in a matter of seconds. I realized how so very far away I can be from acting like a Christian, and still call myself one. I mentioned in my last post, Hanes in the Horizon, that I have been praying to “see as He sees” and “hear as He hears”, although I find it very interesting that God has answered my prayer by exposing my own ungrace, so that I can begin to comprehend His grace. A quote from Henry Nouwen’s, Return, hits the nail on the head:
“I have often said, “I forgive you”, but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return–if only the praise for being so forgiving!
But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.”
I thought surely I would feel much better after I blurted out all of my frustrations and unloaded my wrath. Sadly, I used “justice” as an excuse for my tirade. Jesus does not give us due justice, He is faithful to respond in covering grace, a message I’m reminded of every time I wash out another dirty diaper. Let us all agree that these bitter, barren branches will transform into canopies of sweet shade as we grow and stretch out towards a fruitful season of grace.
“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” Matthew 12:34