Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our MLK and Peace Lessons

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, we did a mini unit on Peace and self-love. 
Every year, I contemplate how to approach MLK day as well as Black History Month. I want our children to be well educated on our Nation's history (the good, the bad and the ugly), and also hopeful for their futures here in the wonderful country!


 We had a lot of fun decorating doves as symbols of peace. 
 We talked about how true peace can only come from Jesus. 
Our Bible Memory Verse for the week.
Some of our book selections for the week.
And, what says "peace" more than tie-dyed shirts?? LOL.




We had so, so much fun making these shirts!!! The girls want to wear them all.the.time!
 We watched the Youtube video of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech and talked about having our own dreams. Dreams for ourselves, our family, our community and our world. 
You've gotta dream BIG was our theme!

The girls filled out this wonderful printable I found with "I Have a Dream" at the top. It has writing prompts for the girls to document their dreams.
Em LOVES animals and wants to be a Vet when she grows up.
Em with one of our dogs, Rocky. He is almost 13 but still acts like a puppy:)
We had the girls draw pictures of their dreams for their futures.
Here is Elle's picture. It is a picture of her in her Doctor's office. Below her are some of the instruments/supplies she will need-gloves, rubber mallet, stethoscope, otoscope, etc. Elle said she wants Em's Vet's office to be right next door to her so they can see each other every day. (smile:). They also came up with the perfect plan that pet owners can bring their pets to see Dr. Em and then they can see Dr. Elle all on the same day! How efficient and loving of them to want to be together--awwwww!
I loved it!!
{We'd better up the college tuition savings account}.

Lastly, we talked about ways to cultivate more peace in our home and also in our community. How to resolve disputes you have with friends and family. We brainstormed ideas and came up with funny ways to make up and forgive each other when we make mistakes.

I was soooo happy that we had talked about this. Elle lost her second tooth while we were at the library and I accidentally threw it away! I KNEW she was going to be heartbroken and very upset, but she quickly and easily forgave me and we restored the peace. Whew, I sure was worried the tears would start falling, but she melted my heart instead.

Here's to a more peaceful world!
Blessings,
Aria:)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

{From my Heart}

As I reflect on my mothering journey of almost 6 years, I realize GOD has been the only thing that has kept me sane, lol. It is the toughest and most rewarding job I have ever had. 

Lately, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. I want to be sure I am "getting it right." I have a pretty solid "Type A"/Overachiever type personality. This is good for organizing, accomplishing tasks and goals, gaining cooperation and handling business, but also has some drawbacks...

Somehow, the extreme pressure I feel {that I put on myself} to be the perfect wife to my wonderful husband, and the perfect Mom to our girls has been making me feel overwhelmed a bit. I do it all, all by myself (with the help of my husband, of course). No babysitters, no nannies and no maids!

 I have been praying for answers and searching. I have read some really great books along the way ("The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkston, "Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God" by Mary Demuth, "Loving Life as an At-home Mom" by Donna Otto, "Sacred Parenting" by Gary Thomas and "The Power of the Praying Parent" by Stormie Omartian as well as "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay) and I am definitely hearing the voice of the Lord. I am so encouraged. I feel so blessed that He is hearing me and answering my prayers!

I wanted to document some of the encouraging and most impactful resources I have benefited from in case I fall back into "old habits" and need to revisit them.

I knew the Lord was speaking this directly to me in this photo!


Wow!!!!! This truly spoke directly to my spirit! I have been doing more Bible study on parenting, and it all confirms the same sentiment. What a relief:)!


I also read "children don't need perfect parents-if they had perfect parents, they wouldn't need Jesus!" or something like that:)
Not that I "want" my kids to end up in counseling, but I DO realize that they need to cultivate their own "need" for a heavenly savior. Someone they can go to when the world (including me) is imperfect and lets them down. I am not always going to be here for my kids (on earth), but I want them to have an eternal parent that will never leave them or forsake them!

I also began the New Year by cutting way back on social media on the internet. I wanted to see what impact it would have, and I learned a lot! I think Facebook, Blogs, Mommy Message Boards, Pinterest etc, can all be a good thing, in moderation.

For me, I have to know my limits and set clear boundaries. 



Last year, I cut out participating on the Mommy Boards. It just was too exhausting really. I really am not a person to compare and compete when it comes to our children. I remember as a new Mom, I would think my baby was wonderful, UNTIL I read that someone else's baby was sleeping all night at 6 weeks old. LOL. I would come home from library story time in tears and doubting my own parenting skills and this was not helpful. I have learned a lot from the Mommy Boards, and formed some cherished real life friendships from them, but to stay in the "rat race" was just too much for my poor little exhausted heart to handle:). Now, it's the same in the blogosphere. I have to stay away from certain blogs to preserve my balance.

Plus, I honestly need to get MORE SLEEP!:) Since I use the internet when my kids are napping or sleeping, it cuts into my sleep and other activities that I enjoy. I am not one to watch TV, but I have been enjoying reading more, studying the Bible more, spending more time with my husband, connecting with friends in real life, meditating, praying, and relaxing my mind. It seems emotionally draining to "keep up" with all that is going on with everyone else. Hey, I can barely keep up with everything *I* have going on. LOL. I can tell my blood pressure and level of chronic tension and migraines are going down.
Praise the Lord!

~I came across these quotes that I LOVE!~


"Parenting is not about what you do with your child, it is about who YOU ARE to your child." ~Gordon Neufeld

What a beautiful statement. Especially as a homeschooling Mom, I feel the pressure to ensure our children are getting every opportunity to learn all they need to be successful in life. BUT, if I am all stressed out in the process, DOING school/things/field trips etc. means nothing! I may even accept that I may need some help (keeping the house perfectly clean:) or getting all of the laundry put away. {Baby steps}.


Joyce Meyer said, "God would rather you do LESS and have peace than to do more and lose your joy!" 
Amen, sister. I am working on it:) 
“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”
~ Anna Quindlen

"Surrender. Give in. Wake up. Tear up the lists. Throw the broom. Step over the crumbs. Quit trying so hard to be perfect. Give up aiming for perfection. Smile. Breathe. Laugh at the crazy. Be the crazy. Dance. Wiggle. Wear silly glasses.
Remember that these moments are just that, momentary. They are fleeting like thin, sparkling bubbles. They change shape at the blink of an eye. They disappear into thin air like a cloud of dust."

~Shawn Ledington


What a revelation for me! I really can relax a bit and it will be OK! LOL. I guess I just needed to give myself permission and not beat myself up for NOT being able to get it ALL done PERFECTLY! I will be praying for peace in this area and ask for anyone reading to pray for me as well:). The time DOES just fly by so quickly!

Another quote that really spoke to me as I was searching for answers is this poem. I have read it over and over and it still moves me deeply. I hope you are blessed by it, too.
She Let Go

Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of judgments. 
She let go of the
confluence of
opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her. 
She let go of all the
‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, 
she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back. 
She let go of all of the
anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right. 
She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. 
She made no public announcement. 
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. 
She didn’t call her
friends to discuss the matter. 
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or
congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good. 
It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. 
A small smile came over her face. 
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…
There’s only one guru ~ you.

~~Jennifer Eckert Bernau

 I hope someone else can benefit from this as well! Feel free to pass it along as inspiration to others!

Lastly, I would like to post 3 other resources that have inspired me as well.

The first is a blog post about "Giving Up on Trying to be Superwoman." You can read it here. I feel like it was just another confirmation that I can relax the standard and still be a great Mom, wife and homeschool teacher! Maybe even have more FUN:)

Secondly, I have found the blog, A Holy Experience, to be nothing but a blessing to me! If you are looking for solid Biblical life-application with profound writing and beautiful photography, this is THE blog for you!

This final addition is a blog post called "The Children Have Spoken" about a woman who is challenging parents to disconnect from electronics and re-connect with their kids/family. Now, I only use social media, check email, blog, etc. when my children are sleeping. I pretty much only use my cell phone to text my husband or talk on it in an emergency. I have never understood what people are DOING when they have their phones in their hands all.the.time. I realize, we ALL are distracted by "something."

 This article really touched my heart and I wanted to pass it along. I really felt sorry for the kids she quoted in the post:(. If you are constantly distracted by the lure of your cell phone dinging, or your Facebook comments or checking your text messages incessantly, you may want to read it and challenge yourself to "disconnect and reconnect." I have had friends say when they go out, they have a rule, "no cell phones." Maybe this is a good rule to implement more often.

I pray this has been a blessing to you! I am a work in progress and I pray for strength along my journey.
As I approach that very special age of the big 4-0 this year, I want to ensure that I am balancing my healthy physical lifestyle with a healthy spiritual lifestyle and these are just some of the steps I am taking to improve, in the name of the Lord.

And lastly, I will close with this quote by Oprah Winfrey~~~
"You can have it all-just not all at the same time!"




Blessings,
Aria:)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Lessons and "A Snowy Day" Lapbook

We recently {finally} received a lot of snow, so it was a perfect time to begin our homeschool lessons on snow! I have to admit, I LOVE the 4 seasons. I really don't mind winter and actually enjoy looking at the snow. Now, driving in it is another thing, but it is pretty to look at:)
Our Bible memory verse for the week.
 Our library books.

Some of our crafts.
Elle loved making words using glue and artificial craft snow!
 Elle's "The Snowy Day" Lapbook. This was so fun to make!


 Doing some fun "snow painting" with glue and shaving cream.


Em's Winter Words book.
The girls had a lot of fun playing with bowls of snow.
Em was so amazed with watching the snow change from snow to water. "Where did the white color go?" Good question, my love!
We also did various experiments with weight, changing from solid to liquid, estimating what happens with temperature changes etc.
 The girls writing down their observations to put into our science journal/binder.
 We made crystal snowflakes with borax. It was fun and easy!
Instructions found here.
 The snowflakes turned out great and they really sparkle in real life. So pretty!
 CeCe loves the snowflakes!

 We made these cute little snowman snow globes using contact paper and paper plates.
Get the instructions here.
We changed our front windows to snowflakes instead of fall leaves.
Winter is finally here!
Em working on her Letter S drawer.
I put together this shoe box with a scavenger hunt game. The girls really enjoyed searching the house for things that started with the letter S!

Shoe, snowflake, sock, star etc. They did great finding things to put in the box!

Enjoying some "snowball" cookies we made!

Elle is still working on her advanced math lessons and reading. {I will spare you posting pics of her worksheets every time} LOL. Em is really enjoying drawing, cutting and pasting and trying to spell words. CeCe just LOVES trying to keep up with her big sisters!
We are so incredibly blessed!
Elle and Em are now taking ballet and tap dancing lessons in addition to Homeschool Gym.

They LOVE it and Ce Ce cannot wait to join them!
Thank you so much for following us on our journey--we love and appreciate each and every one of our blog followers!
Blessings,
Aria:)
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