Archives for November 2011

High Five Moms Podcast: Finding Peace During the Holidays

This time of year, you often hear the word “peace” mentioned more than any other time of year. But is peace really experienced more often? Is peace during the holidays even possible?

Five moms have joined forces to discuss “Finding Peace During the Holidays”!

Right click to download this episode.

Fostering Love Between Our Children

This week my oldest daughter has been writing “thankful” post on her blog. One of the post that she wrote was about being thankful for her sisters. My oldest daughter is 17 and the younger two are 9 and 6, so there is quite a bit of age difference between them. The younger girls love spending time with Kendra. Any time she is working on a project, they are begging to help. It makes me happy to see that the younger girls want to spend time with their older sister, but it blesses me even more to see their older sister taking the time to nurture the relationships with her younger sisters.

This is one of the greatest goals I have for my children. I remind them over and over that their siblings are not the friends they have picked out for themselves, rather the friends God has picked out for them. They are to be BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (eternally!).

As our family grows and the dynamics change, we have had to adjust our training but our goal remains the same. Obviously, my 17 year old will have a different relationship with the 14 year old whom she has grown up with, than she will the new baby. However, we expect them all to love each other with a deep unconditional love.

5 Ways We Foster Love Between Our Children

1. We require them to speak kindly with each other and about each other. Our children are not allowed to call names, make fun of each other, put each other down, talk negatively about each other, or scream at each other. Some of these things may seem like harmless kids play, but they can have a lasting impact on the relationship. I am a kidder myself and find myself often making smart remarks in jest. However, a couple of children who are more sensitive to these kinds of remarks. I have had to really work on making sure that my words are edifying to those around.

2. Our children are to honor one another. This should be done both in word and deed.  Some ways we show honor are not embarrassing your siblings, choosing them to be on your team, building them up, not telling personal things about them.  In other words, edifying our siblings.

3. Our children are to put others before themselves. Just two nights ago one of my youngins had a large pixie stick she had won at the pizza palace. Another youngin had used her tickets to buy playing cards for everyone to enjoy. When it came time to eat the pixie stick, I gently reminded the owner of the pixie stick that it would be nice to share with her sister who didn’t have any. She gave her a small amount. We then had a short chat about putting others before yourself. I asked her how she would feel if she were her sister. She quickly evened out the candy and even let her sister pick which one she wanted. It made my heart sing!

4. We teach our children to stick by their siblings side.  Normally, we try to fellowship with entire families and the children have learned to play together as a group, with children of all ages.  Sometimes they do pair up with children closer to their own ages and inevitably one of the younger ones hear, ‘You can’t play with us.  Your too little!”.  I have tried to teach the kids that their siblings are their best friends first, and if someone doesn’t want to play with them, then you don’t need to play with that someone.  There are times when the older kids are wanting to do an activity that the younger kids can’t do so we gently find something to keep the smaller ones busy.  But as a general rule, we discourage exclusion.

5. We teach our children to think of their siblings as training for their own homes.  One day, Lord willing, our children will marry and have children of their own.  The loving relationships they build with their siblings today will help them build solid loving relationships with their spouses and their own children.  Learning to be patient with young children, learning to put others first, learning to honor each other–these are all things that will carry over to other relationships in their lives.

Resources for Training

This last year has been a roller coaster of a year for us. Any time there is stress in a family, it is easy to get off track and let things slide. This can quickly lead to disorder and a lack of peace and love in the home. I have been seeing this for a while and have been praying for guidance to get back on track. As we were doing our Bible time during school, I remembered 2 books that I have had since the first year I started homeschooling eleven years ago. They are written by Gregg Harris and are entitled 21 Rules of This House and Uncommon Courtesy. These two books were gems buried in our library.

We have just started reading them again (first time for the younger kids), but they fit in seamlessly with the things we already try to teach our kids (or would like to).  It is amazing how far a little courtesy can go in building healthy families.

I don’t know about you, but there are times that I want to teach my children something, but just don’t know what it is called.  I can’t pinpoint what it is that they are doing wrong and what to call what they should be doing.  This summer I purchased a copy of Proverbs for Parenting.  This is great resource because it is divided up into categories, then it has a list of verses that fit into that category.  Great little reference guide!

One last book I will mention is one that I read several years ago called Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends co-written by siblings Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Malley.

Closing Thoughts

I don’t want anyone out there thinking that my kids are perfect, never fighting, never arguing, never getting on each others nerves.  That’s just not the case.  There is plenty of sibling rivalry going on in our house.  We are a work in progress and praise God, He has extended His grace on each one of us.

We are all learning–I am learning to train my children and they are learning how to love each other.  I don’t think this learning will ever be complete this side of heaven.  But this is what we strive for.

A goal.

And my goal is for my children to love each other, forever.

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Make sure and check out the other moms as they write about fostering relationships between their children!

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae @ The Happy Home

The Homeschool Blog Award Nominations

There are awards for just about everything these days, so I guess it should be no surprise that there are actually awards for homeschool blogs. This year Ponder the Path was nominated in 2 categories. When the nominations were announced, I checked the “new” blogger category, found my name and was thrilled. It wasn’t until later in the day when I was looking through the other categories that I was ecstatic. I found my name again for Best Crafts category. I am so excited, especially since I love to sew and quilt.

I would love to contain my excitement and say, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” But I will let you in on a little secret. I am pretty competitive. Just ask my son. Last year he asked me to play on his fantasy football league. I had a shaky start and was down 0-something, when the Rascal Rooters made their comeback going all the way!

Honestly though, I just love the fun of it all. I love the hype, the “vote for me” signs, and most of all, checking out all the other blog nominations. Several of my favorite blogs were nominated and that makes me so happy.

I am not sure where I read it, but someone wrote a post about how as Christian bloggers, our goal should be to point others to Christ. If we are all doing that, then we are all working together. Building others up doesn’t bring us down, but furthers our cause…Christ.

This is so true!

So amidst all the hoopla and competitive fun, I am so thankful to be included with this great group of bloggers!

And just in case you haven’t voted, here are the links!

Best New Blog
Best Crafts, Plans, and Projects Blog
Best Teen Blog

Being Thankful and Finding Peace

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

As I was preparing to write today’s post, I was thinking back over this last year of my life. It has been a time of struggle for me, both physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. There were many times that I just didn’t “feel” like being thankful. It just seemed like one thing after another would come up, and none of them deserved thankfulness. However, here in Thessalonians, Paul tells us that it is God’s will for us to give thanks in everything.

In EVERYTHING!

When my child is sick, I am to give thanks.

When my husband is gone, I am to give thanks.

When the world seems like it is crashing down all around me, I am to give thanks.

When you are in the midst of a trial, this can seem near impossible. I know, I’ve been there. A place so dark you just can’t see anything to be thankful for. Let me share a couple of other verses with you from my study.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 4:6-7

Here Paul tells us not to worry, but to pray with thanksgiving. And if we do this, the peace of God will keep us, even though our human minds just can’t understand how it works. I love this! I NEED this!

When I am going through a time of storm, I must remember to have a thankful heart before the Lord. He will fill me with His peace, even when there is no peace to be found.

Start thanking God today in everything, not because you “feel” like it, but because it is God’s will for you.

Choose thankfulness and be filled with the peace of God!

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Make sure and check out the other moms as they write about being thankful!

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae @ The Happy Home

Cooper’s Story – More Detailed Info on Club Feet part 1

I have started to get traffic coming to my website looking for information on club feet, so I have decided to write out Cooper’s story in more detail. I am hoping that it will be of some help to others out there going through the same situation.

As believers, the Lord allows us to go through difficulties so that we may minister with love and understanding to others. I thank the Lord that He has given me an opportunity to tell our story. It is my prayer that those who need to hear it, would.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psalm 139:14

My husband and I didn’t know that Cooper had club feet until after he was born. I had a sonogram done when I was approximately 6 months pregnant, but for some reason they didn’t catch it then. I must say that I am thankful they didn’t.

I guess there are pros and cons to knowing before hand. I just know myself, and I know that my imagination would have taken me to every worst case scenario. I would have worried over things I had no control over.

I had an excellent birth at home. I remember bringing Cooper up to my chest to nurse him when I noticed his little feet were bent. As I think back to those moments, I just remember thinking to myself that he must have been squished up in my womb. I don’t know why, but I just assumed that his feet would straighten out on their own (just like their squished up noses and ears do).

I heard myself say, “oh, his feet are crooked”, but in my mind I still didn’t register that something was wrong with them. I don’t know if it was all the hormones rushing through my body, or if it is true that a mother’s love is blind, but I really couldn’t see or comprehend that my child was crippled.

The night that Cooper was born, my midwife was very kind and reassuring. She kept telling us not to worry that we would just wait and see. The next day she brought me some papers she had printed out that explained what club foot was.

It was at that moment that it hit me…this was more serious than I thought. It seemed almost instantaneous. Thoughts started swirling in my head. Cooper would need to be seen right away so that treatment could begin as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

This is Cooper right before his first casts. He always kept his feet snuggled up close to his bottom.

We took Cooper to a pediatric doctor within a few days of his birth. I remember being upset at the nurse because she kept trying to stretch out his feet to measure him. I told myself that I was going to have to stand up for him even though I don’t like rocking the boat. I told her firmly that he had club feet and to please not stretch them out.

The pediatric doctor agreed with our self-diagnosis and referred us to a pediatric orthopedic doctor.  My husband had briefly did a bit of research on club foot and treatment options.  It seemed like the best treatment option would be the Ponsetti method.  There were only two doctors on the website listed for Texas.  We were doubtful that our insurance would cover one of these doctors.  As it turned out, one of the doctors listed was the only one our insurance would cover…and he was located in Houston, 1 1/2 hours away!

Ponsetti Method

Cooper with his casts on.

The Ponsetti Method of treatment uses casts to gently turn the feet.  Each week, plaster casts are applied from the baby’s toes to their thighs.  Before applying the casts, the doctor gently massages the baby’s feet, loosening them up, then stretching them slightly to the desired position.

Note:  It is best if baby is as calm and relaxed as possible.  I tried to always make sure Cooper was fed and changed before hand.  I don’t think if hurts the baby at all.  But when they are this little (2 weeks old), having someone mess with their feet and legs startles them.  Also, the cast are cold when applied and heat up as they set, so this can unnerve a newborn as well.

The casts are changed out each week, moving the feet a little more each time.  At the end of 5-6 weeks, the feet should be in a straight position with the toes pointing down.  At this time, the baby will need to have surgery to cut the tendon in the back of the ankle.  This releases the foot so that it can move up to a flexed position.

After surgery, casts are applied for 3 weeks as the tendon heals.  Once the final cast are removed, the baby is required to wear braces (think hiking boots with a bar between them) to keep the feet in the correct position.  Initially, the baby will wear the braces 23 hours a day.  After a few months, baby will cut down on the amount of time spent in the braces until he only wears them at night to sleep.

Removing the Casts

The casts that were applied to Cooper’s legs were plaster casts.  Our doctor had us remove his casts at home each week before we arrived at his office.  I am not sure why, I know some doctors will have them cut off at the cast clinic.  At first I didn’t like removing them myself, but it quickly became a routine.

There were some benefits to removing them at home:
~Cooper was able to take a bath each week!
~I was able to snuggle him without his cast on, even if it was only a bit each week.
~The cast cutters are very noisy and tend to scare the little ones.  Not what you want when you need them to be calm and relaxed.

Thankfully Jamie was with me the first time we removed his casts.  The doctor had instructed us to soak his legs in the bath, then start unraveling the cast (as they put on the cast, they left a tab at the end).  It took us over 2 hours to get the casts off and Cooper was not happy AT ALL.  After a few times, I eventually got it down to about 45 mins-1 hour. 

What worked for us…

I went to Walgreens and bought some surgical scissors with a blunt end.  On the morning of our appointment, I would take warm washclothes and wrap them around the casts.  Then I would cover them with press-n-seal.  This kept the moisture in.  I left the washclothes on for several hours so that the cast would soften up.  Once they were soft, I would start at the top and very carefully cut a notch into the cast.  I would then take my hands and tear apart the cast as far as I could.  Then cut another notch, and tear a little more.

This method is very hard on the hands, but it worked.

Right off hand, I can’t think of anything I wish I had known, but I am sure something will come to mind.  I will try to post a follow up to this with any other tips or info I think might be helpful.  If you have any questions, please contact me and I will do my best to help you along.

God bless all those who have been given a special treasure from the Lord!

Cleaning Routines

I am not what you would call a “neat freak”, but I have found that my day goes so much better when the house is clean and in order.  I try to be realistic, knowing that I have 6 kids.  But because we homeschool, we are all home most everyday.  And a house with that many people in it everyday can get very messy and very dirty very quick!

Those who know me and have been to my house know that I don’t keep things spic and span, although I would love to.  I do try to keep the house clean and things picked up.  Over the years I have come up with somewhat of a routine to help me do this.  After reading Large Family Logistics, I am planning on adding a few things to our routine to help me become better in this area of home management.

Daily Routines

When I get up in the mornings, one of the first things I do is start a load of laundry.  I try to do four loads of laundry a day, but this varies depending on whether or not I have diapers to wash.  I would like to incorporate a wash day for bedding, rugs, and other odds and ends, but right now I usually just wash as needed.  As the clothes are finished washing, I usually put them in a basket to fold later during our read aloud time.  I call this our Folding Party.  Everyone gets to fold clothes while Mama reads to them.

Once everyone else is up and running, the first thing they do is start on their chores.  Each child has assigned chores that they do everyday.  These chores include sweeping, vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, making beds, and picking up their rooms and the living room.  After chores are done, we usually eat breakfast (sometimes we do eat breakfast before chores, it just depends on the morning and what we are having for breakfast) and then have our Bible time together.

Some of the new things I would like to incorporate into our day is an afternoon chore time and assigned table chores.  We usually do a clean up in the afternoon but it usually consist of me barking orders to get things cleaned up.  I am hoping that by assigning afternoon chores it will cut down on the chaos and help train us to be more efficient.  The same goes for the table chores. 

Bathrooms and Floors

As for other cleaning routines, we usually clean bathrooms and mop on Saturdays.  I take the master bath and my older daughter does the other bathroom.  We now have a half bath in our house, so I am planning on training my 9-year-old to take that one on.  She has been a helper to my oldest daughter for a while so she should be ready for the task. 

I am going to have to work on the mopping issue.  Our entire main floor has wood flooring with tile flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms.  I am thinking about having the “sweeper” mop the wood floors once a week as they don’t get very dirty.  Then we can clean the bathroom floors when we do our bathroom cleaning.

Kitchen

I guess I will also mop the kitchen when I clean the kitchen.  I try to most of the kitchen cleaning as the need arises.  Usually after I wash dishes, I will wipe off the counters, the cabinet doors, the fridge door, the stove top, or anything else that needs attention.  I don’t do this every time, but rather rotate what I wash each time so that eventually everything gets cleaned throughout the week.  I also try to make sure to throw away and lurking leftovers.

The Most Neglected Items

Time to come “clean”.  I don’t dust or do windows nearly enough.  I will have the littles run around with a swiffer duster when I think about it.  And they love doing mirrors and windows.  I just have a hard time making time for these two.

What About You?

I would love to hear your routines or what works for you.  I have heard of the Fly Lady, but have never taken the time to check into her methods.  What about 31 Days to Clean? Anything else you find helpful???

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Make sure and check out the other moms their cleaning methods!

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae @ The Happy Home