Saturday, November 5, 2016

All Is Bright, book review

I don't know about you, but as the holiday season approaches, I tend to start getting reflective.  About life, tradition, and yes... the reason for the season. I love doing special projects or readings with my kids to remind us all that it's NOT about the hustle and bustle, the gadgets or even the food, Christmastime is a holiday celebrated because of the birth of our Saviour, who came to save us all. It is often difficult, in these days of preparation, to be still, to be quiet, to reflect on what is true.  So anything I find that will help us do just that, I'm willing to try!  Enter All Is Bright: A devotional journey to color your way through Christmas. Yes, a coloring book AND devotional in one!

All is Bright combines the beauty of the season, the story of the birth of Christ and gorgeously detailed coloring pages.  Adult coloring is huge right now, and this book is perfect for those enthusiasts who relieve stress and tension through their fine-tipped markers and want to continue that through out the holiday season.  It contains 31 devotional passages (December 1-31), each laid out beside a beautiful illustration beckoning to be filled in: nativity scenes, candles, welcoming front doors, musical instruments, angels and so much more.  What I really appreciate about this book is that it also contains some coloring pages in the back that are less detailed for younger children.  My kids always want to color with me and sometimes my books are too difficult for them to justice to... but All Is Bright solves that problem!  It also includes some pages of Conversation Starters to take the devotions even further with your family.

This book will make a great gift for the coloring fanatic in your life, or a wonderful way to lead up to Christmas and the New Year with your family as a unit to truly focus on the reason for the season.

All Is Bright is written by Nancy Guthrie, illustrated by Lizzie Preston.  I was provided a complimentary copy of this book for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

My Babies...

Preston James, 2005
Callen Levi, 2010
Josephine Lilly, 2015

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Introducing Josephine Lilly Clark...

I have done a poor job of blogging about anything in a long, long time, but especially about the new kid on the block!  I'd hate to look back at this blog with her years down the road and there be such little about my pregnancy.  Especially since I was such a detailed blogger for Preston and Callen's pregnancies and early years.  :( 

So, a super quick catch up...
We found out she was a girl, and could barely believe it!  Over the months leading up to her birth, we stocked up on all things purple (ok, and some pink), kicked Uncle Daniel out of her room and turned it into the sweetest little nursery for her, and eagerly awaited her arrival.  I had severe morning sickness until about half way into the second trimester.  Lost at least 20 pounds and had many days were I could barely function.  I had what seemed like a gallbladder attack a couple of times, and my iron count was very low - causing the midwives to ramp up my iron intake in hopes that it would allow me to have my planned home birth.  I took all kinds of supplements by the handful, drank chlorophyll and black strap molasses by the buckets.  Ugh.  Finally, right towards the end my level reached "fine, good enough!"  Woo hoo!  Now, if we could just settle on a name!  We went through every list possible, and just could not pick one together.  I came up with Josephine and instantly felt like that was it... Michael, not so much.  He still isn't completely thrilled with it, lol, but Josie it is!

Josie's ultra-abbreviated birth story...
She was due August 25th, but that date came and went with no hint of her arrival.  Finally, on Sunday, August 30th, I started having contractions that were about 30 minutes apart.  We decided to go to church anyway, because maybe staying active would get things going.  They stayed at 30  minutes apart until that evening, then moved closer and closer.  My parents came over and stayed for a while, then my dad took the boys home with him.  Things progressed slowly, and around 1am, I finally asked the midwives to come.  They showed up at our house around 2am, and by then contractions were 3-5 minutes and strong, getting stronger.  Apparently, her head was a little crooked and wasn't descending as it should, and that's what caused the hold up at the end.  It felt like she was ready to come, but she just wouldn't.  I know that if I was at a hospital I would have caved in easily to whatever they offered me, I was so tired and in so much pain.  But the midwives, Michael and my mom kept encouraging me and cheering for me, and after what seemed like forever of pushing and laboring, Josephine Lilly Clark arrived with a burst (lol, my water didn't break until right as she was coming out) at 7:17am on Monday, August 31st, 2015.  The cord was wrapped tightly around her neck, though I wouldn't know that till later, but she was great.  She was placed on me, let out a tiny cry, and was perfect.  I couldn't believe how beautiful and tiny she was, but turns out she was nearly 8 pounds (just as Amy, the midwife, had estimated she would be the week before).  7 lbs, 14 oz, 21.5 inches long. 

She is now 5 days old and doing wonderfully.  She wakes up a lot at night and sleeps most of the day, as most babies do.  She is nursing like a champ, which is good!  My tail bone is badly bruised from labor and changing positions is still excruciating at times.  The boys are adjusting to life with a baby in the house... trying to be quiet and calm (though I'm sure you know well that works).  They both enjoy gazing at her.  Unfortunately, they both came down with colds or something the day after she was born, including fever, cough, snot and all that fun stuff.  Michael was able to take Monday-Thursday off of his daytime job, but had to work Monday and Wednesday evening at his teaching job (yes, the night she was born!).  My mom and dad have been over several times, and Aunt Leah came to visit yesterday.  Jill will be coming on Wednesday and spending a week in town to see her grandkids.  We are settling into our new life as a family of FIVE!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Case Against Homeschooling...

When I talk to people who ask me about our homeschooling, these are the type of concerns I hear from them about "why" they can't homeschool.  Yes, they are legitimate fears, and on occasion, I still feel some of these myself, I admit it.  But, in reality, all of these fears can be squashed rather easily! Let me try...

1) Finances... My Usborne Books & More business allows me to bring in supplemental income that helps us pay bills consistently and stay home at the same time. And other than that, my husband is amazing and works hard (2-3 jobs if necessary) to support us so that we can live this way because he is fully behind it as well!  I know that homeschooling puts a major strain on our finances, but this is our calling and we have made it work for 5+ years now.  God has our backs.

2) I'm not a teacher...  While I am certainly not a math/science expert, and will fully admit that to anyone anytime, I can learn WITH my child and the curriculum we use helps us through it. Co-op classes help us, online resources help us. There is help available everywhere when we need it! As a parent, we teach our children to walk, talk, etc.... why shouldn't we be trusted to teach them beyond that?  I mean, really?  There was a fantastic quote in the comment section of the above-linked article that I whole-heartedly agree with: "Don't question your ability to teach your child. Question putting your child into the same system that left you feeling incapable of teaching your child."  Ouch, right?

3) Socialization...  :::rolls eyes:::  We are involved in organizations that offer opportunities for the kiddos to be with other kiddos. Then there's, I dunno... LIFE. They do not live in a bubble, nor are they unable to hold conversations with kids OR adults. They socialize with EVERYONE, not just kids their own age in certain settings. When I think of "socialization" inside the school-setting, yeah... I'd rather them not, thanks.

4) I might lose myself?  Really?  Every once in a while I would love to send my kids away for the day so I could enjoy some peace and quiet, or at least some adult conversation.  So I do.  Boom.  (thanks, grandmas and grandpas or playdates)  It IS overwhelming to have your kids with you 24/7, and sometimes I feel like I'm gonna lose my mind, but I prefer having them with me to not seeing them all day long and having them come home complete strangers.  And on the opposite end... what if I FIND myself while being a homeschool mom?!?

5)  Doing it wrong... We, as moms, question ourselves regarding everything. EVERYTHING.  But at some point, we have to make a decision to just go with what we feel is right.  For me, homeschooling is right, and hey, you know what... I might do some stuff wrong.  So what?  It's a learning experience for all of us.  But who knows my kids better than me?  No one.  So if it's right for them, it's right.

I know that homeschooling is NOT for everyone, and that's fine.  I have my calling, you have yours.  If you feel called to it, but resist because of fears like the ones stated above... let's talk it out, 'pro and con' it if you need to,  truly pray and listen for guidance.  Do not let fear rule your life when you could be missing out on one of the greatest things to happen to your family.  If the answer is no, awesome.  If the answer is yes, rad! 

:::steps off soapbox:::

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