Cultivating Siblings Relationships – Part 3

Cultivating Sibling Relationships – Part 3

Welcome to our part 3 of our series on cultivating healthy sibling relationships. If you haven’t got to read the first two parts of the steps to healthy sibling relationships make sure that you check those two out: PART ONE, and PART TWO.

During part one and part two we talked at length about doing a heart check, making sure that we are not quick to get someone else in trouble, and removing the plank within our own eye before taking the twig out of our brothers/sisters eye.

Part 3 is all about becoming a peacemaker. Interestingly we are to teach our kids to become peacemakers, not peace keepers. This may seem like a simple play on words but I do believe the important difference in peace making is that it is intentional, active and full of truth and love. While, if we were to look at peace keeping I think it is taught out of a passive approach, dismissive and suppressing of conflict or differences (not relationship restoring), and can lend to walking on eggshells, or the common scenario where the loudest person “wins.”

When we look at our kids we can help them become peacemaker by looking at some key verses that help them to formulate a healthy peaceful living:

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” There are simply relationships that take more thoughtful intentions then others, frankly, some are “easier” then others, YET, with that said I love that God has created siblings to help us work at what it means to lived peacefully. The kids word in sibling peaceful relationships is LIVE, they are not a passing friendships (here today gone tomorrow) or a relationships you choose to not engage with but simply put: YOU CAN’T when you are literally living with each other! Siblings MUST learn what it looks like to live peacefully, as a parent you wouldn’t want one kid to be pushed around by another, and equally you wouldn’t want another kid to learn to dominate a relationship, because that is 1.) NOT HEALTHY for their relationship with each other and 2.) NOT HEALTHY for their relationships with others (current and future.)

Questions you can ask your kids during a time of encouragement towards peacemaking:

  • Are you being patient?
    • Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” The fruit of the spirit shows us that patience is a fruit that is grown, and as we can visually size fruit growing in creation today we notice two KEY aspects:
      • First, we see that in order to grow fruit the fruit HAS to be ATTACHED to the branch! We must show and teach our children that in order to display the fruit of the spirit of patience we get that by abiding to CHRIST! Through him we are able to show christ like patience. The kind of patience that isn’t man made, but that through the renewing of the mind we can use the spirit to help us!
      • Second, we can see in nature (God’s creation) that fruit do NOT grow over night, yet it takes time, and care to help a fruit grow. We must realize and show our children that they will work on this fruit of the spirit over time. And as they grow closer to God and abiding in His Word they will see all the fruits of the spirits amplified.
  • Are you Sharing?
    • This is a DAILY struggle for us here at the Rice family household, I mean with 5 kids, you could imagine the constant battle against selfishness that is at play when it comes to sharing.
      • Provers 11:25 “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will be watered himself.” This verse is a great way to show your kiddos that as we display generosity among our siblings then in turn the siblings will be able to show generosity with them.
      • Corinthians 13 shows what true love looks like, and many of the ways we can show love apply within siblings relationships, when it comes to sharing I wanted to give a parenting tip I learned from Ginger Hubbard in her podcast (which I HIGHLY recommend), I have found within my home that many times my kids will ask their sibling over and over to have a toy that their sibling is playing with. We approach this in two steps, first we ask the child who doesn’t have the toy to kindly as the brother or sister who has the toys politely if they can have a turn when they are finished. Sadly, if they continue to repeatedly ask for the toy, I will pull them over to myself and have the following conversation:
            • “Jonah, does it look like Noah is having fun with the toy?” – Mom
            • “Yes mom” – Jonah
            • “Is it polite or rude to take a toy away from someone who is having fun with their toy?” – Mom
            • “Rude momma” – Jonah
            • “So are you being polite or rude by asking for the toy, after you have already asked Noah to have it when he was finished with it?” – Mom
            • “Rude” – Jonah
            • “And remember love is not rude, so lets not ask brother for it again.” – Mom
            • “Yes momma” – Jonah
  • Are you trying to stop a quarrel?
    • Proverbs 20:3 “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Reminding and teaching our kids that the GOAL of every disagreement to work towards ending with resolution, finding a resolve to the problem at hand. We should avoid living in strife or creating strife but with respectful voice, and desiring an outcome of peace we should work through the issues at hand. It is a heart position that is fixed on truth and love that will guide them/us through conflict.
  • Are you overcoming evil with good?
    • Romans 12:20-21 “IF the one who hates you is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him water. If you do that, you will be making him more ashamed of himself. Do not let sin have power over you. Let good have power over sin.”
      • My mom always says, everything is sweeter with honey, and she is not talking about actually honey (although that is true as well) she is talking about our words and actions. Similarly, my dad always says, smile at everyone. If we approach situations with  a heart to serve, love and care for others we are approaching situations with the upper hand: the hand that hasn’t given way to sin.

Peacemaking verse peacekeeping, and working hard to teach the skills needed to become peacemakers is no easy task, and something that will be a constant learning curve even into adulthood, BUT will serve your children well to work on these skills even at a young age.

 

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships – Part 2

 

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships – Part 2

This is Part Two of a series about cultivating Sibling Relationships, if you haven’t read part one I would encourage you to give it a read at some point 🙂 HERE!

Sibling relationships are so good for the heart issues we naturally face in life. Working through the difficult relationship heart offenses when we are young can help to develop healthy lifelong relationships, not just with our siblings but other relationships we will have like friendships, marriage, work and more!

In part 1 we covered teaching our children to not be in a hurry to tell on someone else. Our goal is to help our children be able to work out disagreements between each other before seeking help, and that our children can preserve relationships when they are not seeking to get the other sibling in trouble, and lastly when they seek to get our sibling in trouble they reveal their own heart issues that also will need to be addressed.

Now as we dive into part 2 of cultivating sibling relationships we will see yet again an opportunity to train the sibling offended/hurt to grow in these situations. Here is our guide verse:

Matthew 7:1-5 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

As we will discover as we dive into this scripture, there is one glaring false assumption we must first address. Today in our culture we have taken this opening line, “Do not judge, or you will be judged,” to mean we should not have discernment or encourage righteousness in our brother/sister in Christ. This is FALSE, this is a myth of what the I believe the intention of the verse is trying to encourage us in. This verse is stating DO NOT BE A HYPOCRITE, you will be held to the standard you are holding others too. The verse is setting us up to see the humor and dire reality of the speck and log illustration a few verses below. Why is this important? This is KEY to being able to help your child learn to see their sinful hearts in order that they might see their part in the disagreement and help to resolve the conflict.

Our goal as parents is to help our child to learn to, Remove the plank from their own eye first.

It might seem humous to show your child how a plank in you eye verses a speck in their eye. Even draw a picture to show the difference between them both, and ultimately to illustrate a point that we have to check ourselves first before we are to point our our brother/sisters sin.

I have used the resource outline from Doorpost.com resources on the brother-offended checklist to help guide this conversation I have with my child. They have literally taken bible verses to help ask questions about heart issues.

The following questions can be used to help your child discover their own “plank” in the situation.

  • Are you being easily provoked? Help you child see if they can be slow to anger they we have more happiness, less arguments, and more peace. This is a great but hard lifelong skill that can be worked on at an early age.
    • Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s understanding makes him slow to anger. It is to his honor to forgive and forget a wrong done to him.
    • 1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.
  • Are you thinking of yourself first? This is a great question to ask when it comes to struggling with sharing. It is a question that helps the child see if their heart position is only thinking of themselves or others.
    • Philippians 2:4-5 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
    • Romans 12:10 – Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
    • 1 Cor. 13:5 (NLT) – Love does not do the wrong thing. Love never thinks of itself.
  • Are you repaying evil with evil? Evaluating is your child’s actions trying to get back at their sibling, maybe their are using their frustration to hurt someone else instead of handling it in a healthy way. For older kids this could also involve gossiping, slandering character, and speaking poorly of others in a “christainy” way, “I think we should pray for Mary she has been doing (xyz).”
    • 1 Peter 3:8-9 – Last of all, you must share the same thoughts and the same feelings. Love each other with a kind heart and with a mind that has no pride. When someone does something bad to you, do not do that same thing to him. When someone talks about you, do not talk about him …
    • Proverbs 24:29 – Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me; I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”
    • Romans 12:19 – Christian brothers, never pay back someone for the bad he has done to you. Let the anger of God take care of the other person. The Holy Writings say, “I will pay back to them what they should get,” says the Lord.

Discovering and training the heart of our children is a task that is not a one and done, but a daily reminder of how we are sinful people in need of savior. We will never obtain righteous living on our own, even those people who are following Christ will still have our sinful hearts show up uninvited to the party. When that uninvited guest shows up we must show him to the door. It will be hard work, but the fruit of the spirit will be growing in our children’s hearts and they will be transformed by the Word and renewing of their mind as we point them to God’s word and God’s design for our lives.

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships Part 1


Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships (Part 1)

One of the desires of our family is to cultivate within our family unit solid sibling relationships. Darren and I realized that these Godly, forever, sibling relationships are a key element, and in order to take it from relationship to friendship we the parent must intentionally train, teach and develop healthy relating.

I mean you hear it all the time,

“My kids fight like cats and dogs.”

“My kids would rather be with their friends then their brother or sister.”

“They are such always at each others throats.”

These sentiments and more are common and “expected” from society. But what does the Bible have for us that teaches us about relationships? And if you stop and think logically, who are the relationships that your child potentially spends the most time with that are forming the way they think of, view, and model friendships/relationships after.

I remember playing basketball and my coach would always say, “You play the game like you practice and you practice like you play.” Signifying that what happens within the home is translated to the “outside world.” We also know this is true when we look at how children behave around the dinner table can be similar to how they would behave at a restaurant. If you wanted well mannered eaters in a restaurant while there are onlookers then we must start in the home.

I am excited to return to the Bible and look at serval traits of having unity within siblings.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1 NKJV

We see that it is GOOD and PLEASANT for siblings to dwell together. And all the moms say, “AMEN!” Think of all the peace that comes within the home when siblings know how to be together in unity, working out their disagreements together and self evaluating if they are being offended and how to deal with it in a healthy way.

There obviously are many steps and training opportunities that we (the parents) must take advantage of, therefore I am breaking this into multiple blog posts/lessons so we can use it like a stair stepper and do one at a time, allowing us to focus and train without being overwhelming or becoming overwhelmed.

LESSON ONE: DON’T BE IN A HURRY TO TELL ON SOMEONE ELSE. This comes from Proverbs 25:8-9 “Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor has put you to shame? Debate your vase with your neighbor himself, and do not disclose the secret to another.”

Also Matthew 18:15 states,  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” 

There is a huge lesson to be learned here from both of the bible verses. Firstly, we must learn to teach our kiddos the importance of working to resolve conflict first between the two offenders, before bringing in the council of a parent. And secondly, when we are in a hurry to tattle tell on the one who has offended us we also reveal our sinful desires and heart in the matter, and don’t preserve the trust.

Lets take a deeper look into the first point: conflict is difficult and it is easy for us to want to bring others in to our own defense. I bet as adults we can see how this transpires as we share a story with another friend to gain the “support” of what we thought was the right decision. Even if the decision or event we could defend our actions, in order to do that we are displaying someone else’s sin on the table to prove our point. Therefore, are we building up that friend or are we airing their dirty laundry and gossiping? (I sadly know this all too well as I have committed this sin before.) We must show our children how when we are in a hurry to tell on someone else, what we are doing is sharing their sin without them getting an opportunity to repent, AND at the same time we are not following the biblical guidelines of healthy relationships and thus showing our sinful hearts as well.

*** I must give an caveat to this and I do teach my children if someone is being unsafe please come quickly for help and support. There are times when adults must be involved.

Secondly similar to above we must teach when they are quick to tattle tell without first working to solve the problem together what is revealed is the tattle tellers sinful heart. I like to show my young kids a visual to help them see and remember this truth. I ask them to point at something, and I say picture you are telling on someone, shaking your finger at them. Then I ask them to look down at their finger, and tell me what they see. 9/10 times they will say I see the finger pointing at the offender. (a very victim, me centric, their fault, no ownership type of mentality.) I then ask them to tell me where are the rest of your fingers pointing? Excluding the thumb (which we could argue is not a finger), three fingers are pointing back at THEMSELVES. And I share with them, when we are pointing out the sin or wrong doings of someone else we have three times as many fingers pointing back at us showing our sinful intent, that we are trying to get them in trouble, that we are becoming to judge and jury.

**** Another element we should address here, justice is a big thing and it can be confusing to kids (and adults). Phrases like, “it isn’t fair,” or “they should have a consequence for their actions,” are hard to process through, but as we remind our kids that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and deserve punishment (Rom 6:23), we are reminded about grace, forgiveness, mercy and repentance. These traits are displayed in our lives daily and give us an opportunity to recognize and be reconciled back to one another.

Being offended is hard to process, hard to deal with, and hard to learn how to handle. If I am be bold and not shameful in anyway but our world today (society at large) is not great at handling offenses. So therefore there is not a better time than now, and not a better people group than the children within our own homes that God has charged us with, to be able to mold, shape, influence, train, guide and disciple.

I hope you are encouraged and that this allows you to take one step forward to working on and training sibling relationships. Also make sure to keep watch for next week when we enter into part two.

*** I want to thank Doorpost (Doorpost.net) for the trainings I got from them in order to help train my children on these biblical truths. And if you are interested in getting resources (I am not an affiliate just LOVE there products) make sure you head over there, they have a great poster which is quick to refer to.)

Homeschooling with a Baby

Homeschool with a Baby!

Say WHAT?! You, homeschool with an infant!? Is that even possible? Are you even awake? Do you have octopus arms?

These are legitimate questions! I can speak from first hand experience that thinking about homeschooling with an infant sent me into a bit of a whirlwind of emotions. But I am here to tell you momma, YOU CAN DO IT! Yes, it will take thoughtfulness, planning, and preparing but it is possible and you don’t have to just survive it, but you can thrive in it too!

First of all let me tell you, I am so excited for you to be making this choice to be with you infant and committing to schooling your older child(ren). I believe that we must start with a perspective change both in our hearts and minds when we enter into homeschooling with a baby. Similar to when people say to me, “just wait for those teenage years” (with a sarcastic and negative tone). I want to encourage you (and remind myself), “just wait for those teenage years” (with the excitement of what the possibility may be in store).  We all must change our hearts, minds, vocabulary and perspective to see things as the blessings they are instead of embracing what others have viewed as heartache.

STEP ONE: Start with prayer, evaluate your minds position on the prospect of homeschooling with a baby, and change it from fear to faith, from terror to trust.  Don’t trust in the power of positive thinking, trust in the power of the creator of everything!

If you haven’t had your baby yet and are processing through what schooling with an infant will look like, or you are in a crash course to prepare for Monday school lets start with a big picture and work our way down.

Big picture, in order to be successful with an infant you will need to prepare not only your mind but you physical space as well. Does this mean you need to put your house on the market and move as soon as possible to bigger and better? Absolutely not! What I mean is just like you prepare your nursery or home for a baby with the things you will need, do so when it comes to schooling as well.

For starters, where do you do school? Are in at the kitchen table, or in a homeschool room? Wherever you are, one thing that has helped me as I have homeschooled with an infant is to create a space for the infant. In full transparency this has looked different with each baby as I have found and adjusted what is more helpful to me as a mom, so be prepared to try and adjust if needed and as they grow. I like to have a pack-n-play of some sort that I am able to lay my baby down in during school time, whether for a nap or to play. Some prefer to babywear also, which is great (I am not able to a lot due to the physical nature of hernia). I would still advise some area that belongs to the baby. Another reason I like a pack-n-play in the beginning is because I can store my supplies for the baby near it, for example baby wipes, burp clothes, toys, pacifiers etc. Picture this: if you are packing a desk with school supplies for your student to do school, you are also packing an area for your baby to be prepared for while you are schooling. Why is this important? One thing I have found is when you can decrease the amount of time you have to leave the physical school setting the less distractions and interruptions to your teaching. God has given us an amazing gift to multi-task and let me tell you, you will amaze yourself how much multi-tasking you get to do with teaching, and instead of worrying about that, lean into it. Prep your older student to know that they will get to do work independently from time to time, and be prepared as the teacher to say, “I will need you to work on these problems while I change the babies diaper and I am going to come back and check, I know you will do great, I am right here to support you.” Build up your older kiddos in self-learning, independent practice, and work they can accomplish without the guidance of you.

STEP TWO: Set up an infant area in your schooling areas. The less you have to leave the physical school setting the less distractions to your teaching.

Ok, we have our heart in the right posture, and we have our physical space set up, NEXT we need to prepare the expectations of our older student. There is so much adjustment when it comes to bringing a baby into the world. So much joy and yet so much change. You yourself are going through it all, and hormones on top of it, but we must not forget that our older child(ren) are also going through the change too. I have found that this time is exciting for the older sibling but with the newness there needs to be some teachable moments. If you baby isn’t born yet start talking about it now, and if your infant is here there is no time like the present to start talking and building up your child.

If you have an older boy, I have found mine have tended to thrive in the words I have used that talk about leadership, honor, and respect. So as you are sharing how school might look this year with the baby, use examples like, “I have seen how much you are growing up, you are becoming a wonderful leader in our family, during school there will be times I will ask you to lead by example and show mom how you can get your work done by yourself, then come show mom so we can review it together. Since you are a smart boy, and learning to become a man of honor I will want to check with you to make sure the answers are correct.” Also talk about what it might look like with a baby in the room, distractions and what not, help him learn how to self monitor. I have found boys also like if it I could sit next, near them even if I don’t have to say or teach anything the side by side is what they prefer.

If you have a girl student, I have discovered that they love to be the helper. I would use words like, it would be helpful to mommy if ….” They can tend to like to be a part of the baby’s team, so I would say, “can you come and read to the baby,” or “wow, I bet your baby (brother or sister) would love to see your hard work, when you are all done maybe we can show them together.” I have also noticed that girls tend to like their mom to sit across from them during the schoolwork time. So if you are nursing or holding baby, finding times to sit across from your older daughter creates in them a sense of closeness.

Regardless of gender, the older student will need to be taught what school time looks like, with grace to them on this journey, it is always best to have clear expectations for them. Expectations for both what they need to accomplish during school and for how you will be caring for them and for baby. It isn’t bad for the older student to learn patience to wait their turn if needed during school, or how to skip and come back to problems, and that life can sometimes be unpredictable and we must learn to adapt.

STEP THREE: Setting up the expectations for the older student. Explaining how school time will look, and how they can also enjoy their new baby’s company during school.

Alright, we got the mental, the physical, and the emotional pieces in play, so now what else? Well, with everything and every situation some learning comes with experience and adjustment to what your family needs, but what I would like to provide you with is some tips and tricks I have used that has been helpful!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Breathe, just breathe when it feels overwhelming and remember that education isn’t all about paper and pencil. Consider this time a time where you are developing traits like: empathy, patience, caring for others, love, the beauty of life (science), and more.
  • Your older kid WILL MAKE UP THE TIME you feel they have lost. They are not behind because of this season. Create self propelled learners, who are self directed and they will never be behind.
  • Set yourself up for success, check your diaper stash, get yourself a coffee (or warm drink), a few snacks on hand (for you and older kiddo), diffuse some essential oils, light music in the background, whatever you need to do make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
  • If you have time, start your older student earlier in the school year (maybe go over summer) and take the time off you need, this flexibility is one reason we homeschool.
  • Ask for help! There is no shame is seeing if a grandparent could support you for a few weeks as you adjust!
  • Create systems where your older student knows where things are and can be self-sufficient and create independence.
  • Save the hardest subjects for when the baby is napping.
  • Set your baby up on a schedule (SEE MY SLEEP SCHEDULE BLOG) and work around the baby for more one-on-one time.
  • Use your husband as a resource, maybe for a few weeks, you can do some of the school in the evening when he gets home from work, you don’t have to get it all done in a certain time frame, be creative and flexible.
  • ENJOY this time! It is a short season, get those snuggles in, and allow your older kids to enjoy it too! Show them their baby pictures and show them how fast it goes, say things like, “look at you now!” and “when you where this young.” Create a bond and connection to the baby.
  • Allow the baby to be part of school, have the students read to the baby, or practice their colors and shapes by “teaching” the baby, get creative and include everyone in the process.
  • Make sure to not miss the moments by being wrapped up into unrealistic expectations.

 

Homeschooling with a Preschooler

Homeschooling with a Preschooler

Those that have homeschooled with a baby, who then becomes and toddler, who then becomes a preschooler have shared with me that they feel the hardest or challenging stage is: preschooler. Why is that? I believe it is because they are so close but not quite there. They want to be a part of the older kids but also haven’t developed the skills or stamina to get there yet. Your preschooler is excited and you the parent are working hard to encourage the excitement while not putting out the flame. It can be a delicate time to balance, all while educating your older kiddos.

So is there hope? What can we do as moms to support our preschooler WHILE educating our older kid(dos)? Here are some steps I have found were helpful for me while homeschooling with a preschooler.

FIRST STEP: PRAYER! Lets be honest for a second, (And prepare yourself I am the biggest at fault for this), when starting to feel the challenge of homeschooling with a preschooler how many of us quickly go to a friend, or a search engine to learn wisdom from other moms to help guide us? I hate to tell you but I am calling myself to the carpet on this one. I struggle to go to God first, to seek His wisdom above all other wisdom. So step number one: PRAYER. I have provided some verses below to help prepare your heart to embrace His eternal prospective as we approach how to teach and direct our preschooler while still teaching our older kiddos.

  • Psalm 121: 1-2
  • Proverbs 22:6
  • Isaiah 41:31
  • Proverbs 4:1-2
  • Proverbs 1:7-9
  • Deuteronomy 6:5-9
  • Deuteronomy 11:19
  • Psalm 1:1-5
  • James 1:5
  • Proverbs 2:6-11
  • Psalm 127:3-5

 

STEP 2: Prepare one step at a time. Have you ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Isn’t that so true! So my follow question is, “How do you train a preschooler? One step at a time.” Yes, the same way we would handle the huge task of eating an elephant is the same way we would handle the task of homeschooling with a preschooler and that is training our preschooler one step at a time.

Consider this time critical opportunity to start paving the way for your preschooler to become a well formed student in the coming years. Remembering that because you are putting in the hard work now in the following years you will be reaping what you sow. (Galatians 6:9). Here are some examples, lets say one thing that is important to your schooling is that the students will sit at a table while they do their writing, so start off your preschooler coloring at the table. Their stamina might be short but each time you practice at this setting, push them a little longer. Some ideas to lengthening time could include setting a timer for them, or putting a song on, “when the song is over then we will move to the next activity.” Picturing where you want your preschooler to be in the following years can help guide the steps to what they can be doing now in order to get them there.

STEP THREE: Lean into their desire to become a big kid.  This is a key moment for us as moms to lean into their desires of our preschoolers. Before I continue I want to say, I hear you, it is hard to help, train, and teach a preschooler when you have other homeschoolers who need you too! It is hard, I know! But, hold on to the hope that this is just a season, and press into it, knowing what we do now will help create our next season.

Find activities for them that are “school” projects. Within the educational activities remember to switch them up within 30 minute blocks, and express what they are learning while doing them, along with how proud you are of them. Attention during this time to the preschooler doesn’t have to be consuming but find ways to build them up as they view you building their older sibling(s) up too.

Here are 20 things your preschooler needs to know before kindergarten. This is to help guide you in allowing them to learn, discover, grow and be a “big” kid with some parent driven intentionality. (This is not a comprehensive list.)

  1. Encourage Curiosity
  2. Practice their name writing. And reciting their full name.
  3. Begin learning about letters.
  4. Working on a few site words. (Examples: she, said, my, have, here, been, was.)
  5. Start practicing numbers.
  6. Practice making decisions.
  7. Understand how books work.
  8. Work on self-sufficiency skills.
  9. Master eating with utensils.
  • Practice story telling skills. (beginning, middle, end).
  • Practice cooperation.
  • Verbalize wants and needs.
  • Recognize shapes and colors.
  • Practice Drawing with crayons or pencils.
  • Classify objects according to size, shape and quantity.
  • Identify rhyming words.
  • Repeat address, phone number, and birthday.
  • Focus on one activity independently or with a friend for 10 minutes.
  • Listen to a story without interrupting.
  • Bounce a ball and other large motor skills.

 

STEP FOUR: Let the older kids practice their teaching skills on your preschooler.  I believe we as families with multiple kids can benefit so much for approaching our work as a team. Life is better together. In fact, when we involve our older kid(dos) within the educating of the whole family not only does momma receive support, and the preschooler get taught some valuable lessons, BUT the older student(s) get to confirm what they have learned through teaching it to others.

They say the way to know mastery of a subject is to be able to teach it to someone else. In addition, by having your preschooler learn from an older sibling they are not only getting education content but also they are getting to practice learning from more people than just mom. (Which is a great skill to have).

STEP FIVE: Acquire supplies.  This step may seem like it needs to come first but in actuality when acquiring supplies I want to encourage you to be intentional with what you are gathering. We have this opportunity to not provide fluff, or just distracting things but moreover using this preschooling opportunity to build the skills needed for the following year. (see list above of what preschoolers should work on before kindergarten).

You also don’t have to spend a fortune. There are many free resources that can be printed, and many activities that can be put together from supplies you might have around the home already. The important part is to start thinking in a way that is preparing not just distracting your preschooler so that you can get the teaching done with the other kid(s).

TIPS AND TRICKS:

  • It can be easy for preschoolers to feel overwhelmed when they start, so instead of starting them on a whole page, consider cutting it or folding it in half. Other options would be highlighting what needs to be done first. I have also seen people take file folders and cut one side in half towards the middle, then they would open the flap for what half of the page needs to be done for the preschooler.
  • Create excitement, whether that is through words of cheer, a sticker when the page is done, or a reward of playing with a toy when finished. Teaching to work hard until the job is done can be a life long skill.
  • Be aware of the level of stamina of your preschooler and work to grow it consistently.
  • Give play breaks in between schoolwork, but also know play breaks can secretly continue the educational time. For example, you can give the preschooler a puzzle, which seems like a break but really helping spatial reasoning. Or, maybe they can to design a train track, and they think it is play but really it is engineering.
  • Remember not to push your preschooler to far to fast, slow and steady wins the race but pushing is like putting water on the educational flame. Fan the flame of the joy of learning.
  • Lastly, there might be some attention seeking moments from your preschooler during school especially if they feel like they are not apart of it, so use this as a reminder to include them. Include them either in learning skills, teachers’ helper, or simply sitting on your lap for some extra lovies.

 

Homeschooling with Toddlers

 

Homeschooling with Toddlers

Just hearing the words homeschooling and toddlers can send fear into any mother. In fact, I have had many moments of, “CAN I DO THIS?” when it comes to homeschooling my older kids with toddlers in the room. But why or where does the fear come from?

I believe unrealistic expectations or comparison traps are the root cause of these fears. As a mother who grew up in public school, went to college to become a classroom teacher, and then taught 5thgrade for 5 years before becoming a mom, I can tell you I struggle with both of these to the extreme.

Stop for a moment and think about what your “ideal” or “perfect” homeschooling time looks like. Is it quiet? Is it sitting at a desk? Is it hard-working distraction free kids? Is it full of sweetness, kindness, loving, smiling, cooperative, joy filled, light bulb moments, peaceful, patient, and self-controlled?

Sounds great right? But now think, is that real life? Is that picture you have formed the way you live life? Do you, as a grown adult, posses all the qualities above?  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt: I do not! I probably will never have these qualities to the level of a perfect display of schooling.

But moms, can I just say, that what we are picturing is not real life, it is a false expectation of what we think we need in order to do school. So before we get into to way we can support our toddlers while we homeschool, we must take a look at where the root of our expectations come from, AND create a realistic expectations for our homeschooling environment.

For me and my household, we do have expectations for homeschooling. Our time together is not a free for all, and it does have expectation that we teach all of our kids in order that we all might have a successful school day.

Currently I have two elementary kids homeschooling, one preschooler, and two toddlers, so as I share some tips and tricks below that will help you gage your thoughts around what I am sharing. In addition, homeschooling is not a cookie cutter for each family, we don’t all operate the same, we don’t all have the same kids, so we wont all have the same expectations either, use this as a guide and support to your schooling.

Here is our school day, along with how we have best incorporated our toddlers:

We start the day with a good filling breakfast. WAIT A MINUTE, why are you talking about breakfast, I thought this was about schooling. Well, hear me out my friends. Our children, in order to meet out expectation, need to have their basic needs fulfilled if we want to have the best outcome. Furthermore, sleep is part of their needs, so if your kiddos (toddlers included) are lacking for sleep, nourishment, and emotional stability then having them meet your expectations of schooling is going to be an uphill battle. We must meet their needs first.

After breakfast, our family has been blessed and encouraged by a time we like to call, morning boxes. This time is a great way to start our schooling together, because we ALL get to do it TOGETHER. We gather around in the living room and I have created a box for each of the kids. Within the box there are quiet activities like: coloring, puzzles, thinking games etc., which they get to use while we do our read aloud during morning boxes. But, before they get to dig into their boxes, we stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, to the Christian Flag, and to the Bible. Followed by the memory passage we are working on (examples include: The Lords Prayer, Psalm 23, The Apostles Creed, or a poem.) After, as the kids are getting their treasures out of their boxes we listen to a hymn of the month and sing along. Once everyone is settled then I will read loud from our book of choice. In the past we have worked through: novels, historical accounts, picture books on a theme, holiday books, science lessons, they can be a lot of variety and flexibility. Some things to note is that this time will need to be taught before a rhythm can be developed. As the parent you will need to know and set yourself up success by training your kids what they get to do during this time and what voice level is appropriate for this time. For our family we also needed to teach on staying in once spot throughout the reading time. This expectation needs to be retaught if ever the kids are not following the guidelines. As mentioned above I have a 2 and 3 year old and they are able to sit during this time, but I know I will have to reteach, give reminders, and make sure their morning boxes have new things in them week after week to create a space of newness. It is such a blessing to start the day off together as a family, all ages get to participate, there becomes a common language that is then reenacted through creative play later from the books we read, and a sense of one room school house where there is not divide due to age or ability.

After our morning box time in the living room we head into what I like to refer to as our clipboard time. I have created clipboards with the grade level work that must be done for each kid.  As the three older kids grab their clipboards and get started, I grab one of my boxes for the toddlers that have educational activities in them. I have multiple boxes of separated activities so that the younger kids do not have access to all the toys at once, and potentially they would go a week without seeing these toys to make sure things are not too repetitive. Some of these activities include: stacking blocks, puzzles, tinker toys, car or train tracks, Legos, stickers, pretend food and more. The younger kids will need their activity switched every 20 minutes or so, (it could be shorter in the beginning as they are building stamina or longer time if they have grown in their stamina). I try my best to time my reading with each older kid with a new toy box to make sure it is fresh for the younger kids while I am teaching a concept like reading or new math concept. It is important to know that while I work to create a room that is quiet in volume, it is ok for their to be noise, and it is ok for the older kids to learn to deal with distractions. This is a life long skill that will carry with them.

After the clipboard time, I send the kids all for a play break, I have found sometimes you need to incorporate more breaks into the day and guess what: that is ok! Play breaks are just that a break to refresh so that they can come back and refocus. I encourage laying out the time frame of the play break before you send them off.

Once everyone has had a play break I will call once kiddos back one at a time to work with them on their one-on-one schooling need, which could include: reading, math, science, writing, social studies, you name it if they need support in that area I working through my direct instruction at that time. While this is happening I rely on my older kids to support the play with the younger ones while mom is working one-on-one with another kid. We are a family team and we all work together, there is much incentive as well because if the play is not going well then everyone will loose their play break and have to come sit in the room with mom doing a quiet activity while I go through my one-on-one time.

Then guess what!? I am done, that is all the formal schooling we do in a day. Learning happens all day, the older kids will have time of quiet reading while the youngers nap, but the bulk of our school we accomplish in the morning, before lunch!!

Last couple tips and tricks:

  • When in doubt use a snack, if the youngers are getting restless then bring out a snack to save the day.
  • Toddlers like to feel importance, especially as their older siblings are working, they want to do work too. So call their activity work, and create a sense of learning from what they are doing, make them feel an accomplishment.
  • Remember the expectations for this time will grow and change as your family grows and changes. Everything in a season will be just that: a season. So enjoy the seasons, and find creative and new ways to make the season work for your family not just for you.
  • If your toddlers (or kiddos) are getting bored with their toys, put some away from a month and bring them out again and SURPRISE they are excited to play with them again! Or ask a friend to switch toys for a month, even if it is similar to the activities you already have in place the fact that they are new to them is always exciting.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money on education activities. Real life is educational so grab some pots and pans and let them pretend to prepare a meal. Or create a toy bath tub and let them wash the toys, or use a big cardboard box and see what they can create out of it. Remember that some of the education activities for toddlers can include boxes, or coloring too.
  • Switch up the area in the room that they are sitting when you switch up the box every 20 minutes or so, it is fun for them to feel the next purposeful thing instead of remaining in one spot.
  • Lastly, remember each day is new. It will bring new challenges, meet those new challenges with a positive outlook, embracing a sense of seasons, and a joy to bring new mercies to a situation. Remembering ultimate how our father in heaven gives us new mercies every morning to.

 

What’s in a Name?

 

When we are born we are given a name.  I know from experience that parents tend to put a lot of care into naming their children. Sometimes the name is a family name, or sometimes the parent likes the meaning of the name, or sometimes parents have thought of what the name would sound like when their child becomes an adult. Whatever the reason you are named it becomes your name, yet we do not become our name until we are older.

I have many memories of being a teacher where I would associate a name with a student in my mind and even to this day based on the behavior of the student; I still hear their names and smile, because their 5th grade student image pops into my head.

Do you have anyone that has ‘become’ their name, and every time you think of their name you think of them?

I have been thinking a lot about names lately, specifically names from the Bible.  It is not just the name that has me thinking but it is the people whose names were changed when major life events happen. Some for example include:

  • Abram changed to Abraham when he was to be the father of many generations. (Genesis 17:5)
  • Sarai became Sarah when she was to become the mother of many generations. (Genesis 17:15)
  • Jacob switched to Israel after wrestling with God and changed from a deceiver to a man who will prevail. (Genesis 32:28)
  • Saul during his conversion was changed to Paul. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and set his eyes on Jesus (Acts 13:9)

In fact if you want to geek out with me for a moment I created a list from my research of the names changed in the Bible (see below):

NAME CHANGE TO BY WHOM BIBLE REF.
Abram Renamed Abraham God Genesis 17:5
Azariah Renamed Abednego Ashpenaz Daniel 1:7
Barnabas Also Known As Joseph The Apostles Acts 4:36-37
Barsabbas Also Known As Judas   Acts 15:22
Bartholomew Believed to be Nathanael    
Ben-Oni Also Known As Benjamin His Father Jacob Genesis 35:18
Boanerges Also Known As James and John Jesus Mark 3:17
Cephas (or Peter) Also Known As Simon   John 1:42
Daniel Renamed Belteshazzar Ashpenaz Daniel 1:7
Daniel Also Known As Kileab   1 Chron. 3:1
Didymus Also Known As Thomas   John 11:16
Dorcas Also Known As Tabitha   Acts 9:36
Edom Also Known As Esau   Genesis 25:30
Eliakim Renamed Jehoiakim Pharoah Neco 2 Kings 23:34
Esther Also Known As Hadassah Persian – Hebrew Esther 2:7
Gideon Renamed Jerb-Baal The men of Ophrah Judges 6:32
Hananiah Renamed Shadrach Ashpenaz Daniel 1:7
Hoshea Renamed Joshua Moses Numbers 13:16
Jacob Renamed Israel God Genesis 32:28
Jedediah Also Known As Solomon God 2 Sam 12:24-25
Jethro Also Known As Reuel   Exodus 3:1
John Also Known As Mark   Acts 15:37
Joseph Renamed Zaphenath-Paneah Pharoah Genesis 41:45
Levi Also Known As Matthew Hebrew – Greek Matthew 9:9
Lo-Ammi Renamed Ammi God Hosea 2:23
Lo-Ruhamah Renamed Ruhamah God Hosea 2:23
Mattaniah Renamed Zedekiah Nebuchadnezzar 2 King 24:17
Merub-Baal Also Known As Mephibosheth   2 Sam 19:12
Mishael Renamed Meshach Ashpenaz Daniel 1:7
Naomi Renamed Mara Herself Ruth 1:20
Paul Also Known As Saul Latin – Hebrew Acts 13:9
Sarai Renamed Sarah God Genesis 17:15
Silas Also Known As Silvanus   1 Peter 5:12

 

 

As I have been thinking and processing these name changes in the Bible, some to be have stuck out more then others – the ones what come with a big event.

In my own life I have had THREE MAJOR name changes:

  1. On July 24th 2010 I got to marry my BEST FRIEND! I was honored and excited to take his last name. I went from Marissa Brown to Marissa Rice. Yes, those of you who are quick in your humor may see that hyphening my last name would have been pretty funny (Mrs. Brown-Rice) but that was not the reason I wanted to take my husbands name. I was excited to enter into a convent promise and union with Him, and to represent that with a name change. I am an adored, beloved and cherished WIFE.

  1. The second MAJOR name change I got to experience was when I became a: MOM! The name of Mom, Mommy, Mother, is a honored and joyful name change! When I think of all the things I have been called in the past Mom is near the TOP! I am a MOTHER to five of the most beautiful creations I have ever seen (I know I am biased).

  1. My last name change tops them all, and I know that is hard to believe that there is something better then wife and mother. I am a chosen Child of God, I am a Christian, and I have submitted my life and am following Him. My new name is written in the Lambs Book of Life and I will never be the same!

What is in a name? Everything!

What is your name?

Snip-Snap-Snap

Since my husband and I decided to start having children, our hearts have grown in the love of children and family. (If you know us, you know we have always loved children. To grow our family even more, in our desire to train up children, might seem like an impossible thing, but with God all things are possible.) Our desire to raise, disciple and leave legacy has been the driving element in our ministry at church, and through this blog. Our mission statement for RaisingRices is, Raising Households That Serve The LORD!

We were blessed with 5 BEAUTIFUL babies. Starting with our daughter in 2013, then a son in 2015, another son in 2016, and another son in 2017, followed by our daughter in 2018. However, a huge hiccup came into our lives when after the birth of our last son in 2017 I had developed an umbilical hernia. Unfortunately, the hernia started becoming symptomatic and I was experiencing pain, and needing to wear a brace to help with the pain. We still had this huge desire to grow our family but felt we needed to get some medical advice as to the risk of another pregnancy. We set up an appointment to see a wonderful surgeon to have him evaluate, and discuss the ability to have more children. The doctor communicated that my hernia was about the size of the tip of his pinky finger  (1/4 of an inch), and he discussed the risk of a future pregnancy. He also believed since it was an umbilical hernia that once I was past 20 weeks pregnant that the uterus would cover the hole to reduce the risk of anything happening. We learned from him the only solution to fixing a hernia is surgery, and that he would never advise women to get a hernia surgery and have more children. (You can get pregnant again, and women do have children after the surgery but the risk of tearing open the mesh given in surgery is way higher than the risks of waiting.) There is always a risk to pregnancy (with or without a hernia), and after hearing from the doctor the worst case scenarios for our situation, we felt like it was ok to move forward to have more children. However, the last thing he said (which rang in my ears long after) was the chance of the hernia doubling in size after the next hernia and it could be detrimental to my health. Even with that last dagger into my heart, we needed to make each step and decision by looking at the situation at hand and not the “could be, would be”.

I kid you not, we think we conceived that night of our appointment! (TMI haha sorry). We had a wonderful pregnancy, but I would be lying to you if I was to say that it was a hernia pain free pregnancy. In fact I can’t even tell you how many times I would have to lay down (on the couch, on the floor, in bed, in the car, in the middle of a friends house), and push my intestines back through the hole where it SHOULD be. I have this memory of being at a memorial service for a dear friend, and trying to push through standing there waiting as long as I could through the pain so I could stay in the service. Alas, the pain became too much and I had to excuse myself back to the nursery of the church, and massage my stomach back in place.

The doctor believed by week 20 the hole would be covered, but it took me about til week 28. It FINALLY did cover and the pain was much more minimal! Yet, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the hole doubling in size the larger I got.

Darren and I decided around week 35 that we should consider a vasectomy for him. We believed we could still grow our family through adoption, which has always been a desire of our hearts too. (Half of my cousins are adopted, so it was something I always viewed/and view as a beautiful thing.)

I wish I could tell you that we took the time to think through all the consequences of this decision. I wish I could tell you that we spent more than a week’s worth of time in prayer. I wish I could tell you we made this decision without fear, but that would just not be true. Our decision to go through the vasectomy was 100% based on the “what ifs” of my hernia and future health.

The vasectomy was planned (they got us right in) and was completely free, and Darren had a fast recovery. A few weeks later we delivered a healthy 10 pound 3 ounce baby girl! We were so excited! 3 months post birth the hernia pain returned but worse then I had ever had before.

We went to work to research all the options of surgeries to fix my hernia. It was a constant battle of what insurance would cover, when would the right timing be due to breastfeeding etc. At the same time, we also went into research mode for adoption. Boy, did we learn so much in 2019, things we never expected.

  • We learned that when it comes to foster to adopt, we were told that we have too many children to foster to adopt any infants.
  • We learned that we had too many children to adopt internationally; only two places would allow us to adopt: one was only older kids and the other was China. (If you recall at that time, they were experiencing COVID-19, so they were closed.)
  • We did see if we could qualify for fostering, and that if the foster child came up for adoption then we could be considered. Yet, they recommend if possible to not interrupt the birth order of the children you have currently. At the time we had an almost 1 year old, and if you remember from above, they reserve infants for families that are not large, like mine.

(***** Later as I talked with more friends they communicated that they didn’t believe what we were being told was true, but sadly it was what we were told so it was what we believed. And we pray that those things are not true so that we  might have a chance in the future to adopt.)

At the end of 2019 (almost a whole year after our daughters birth), we learned these devastating things about adoption, but the good news was we were finally making headway with the hernia surgery. We had met with a new surgeon, who was a plastic surgeon, who was prepared to do what would be coded as a tummy tuck, but was for the fixing of the hernia and the DR (Diasti Recti) separation.

Our plastic surgeon thought since it was for health concerns we should try to see if the insurance would cover it or at least a portion. In order to submit the information to insurance they would need a CAT scan to show that the hernia was in the DR. So on Christmas Eve, 2019 I went in and got my CAT scan done.

In January, we got the results. (If you remember the original surgeon believed that it could double in size, so I was preparing myself for that news.) My hernia was in fact within the DR separation which is what the insurance needed to see, but the size of my hernia was 1/4 of an inch!!!!!! It didn’t grow at all!!!!! We were completely shocked!!!!

Our plastic surgeon went to work to see if he would get insurance to pay for the whole surgery. And during that month of January something started happening in Darren’s and my heart. We felt crushed by the adoption news, and never could shake the feeling of wanting to grow our family. At our appointment with the surgeon to hear the results of the CAT scan, he reminded us again it was not wise to have me become pregnant after the surgery, especially since this surgery would be much more invasive. We came home from that appointment with heavy hearts, but we both didn’t know what the other one was thinking.  We both separately, and unknowing to each other, decided to pray about this decision, which sounds crazy right, because Darren had already had the vasectomy! Like it was a done deal!  We had already made the choice, so why was this a hard decision!?

A few weeks after that appointment Darren came to me and asked me, “What are your thoughts on a vasectomy reversal?” Well, I am sure my jaw hit the floor! Here I was praying to God for an answer to my heart’s desire to grow our family, and my husband is offering to go through all the pain, and recovery of a reversal. We agreed we should look into it, not yet closing the door on the hernia surgery, but allowing God to lead us to the next choice.

God truly works in mysterious ways. In our search we discovered that to get a vasectomy reversal done in Oregon (we live outside of Portland) the cost is $8,000-$10,000!!!! Needless to say, that was a blow, but we were committed to pursuing the desire to grow our family. The evening that we found out the price of the surgery, I had dinner with two dear friends who I was just getting to know. Literally without me even bringing anything up, just in conversation, one of the sweet friends mentions her husband had a reverse vasectomy about 10 years ago. My ears perked up at this new word in my daily vocabulary, and I had a million questions. She patiently answered all I had, in which I learned that even though she also lives in Oregon, her husband and her traveled to Oklahoma to have the surgery done because of the drastic price difference.

I took this information she shared, including the doctor’s name who did her husband’s surgery, back to Darren. The next day we sat down together to formulate a plan. We sat with our calendar open (at the time, this was February, so pre-COVID shut downs) and our calendars were booked for the next 6 months. We had camping trips, Darren had a week trip with his brother in law, Darren also had two different work trips. After a surgery, you need rest and recovery time, and literally after looking over and over and over our schedule we saw there was basically ONE possible day in the next 6 months where he could fly to another state, get the surgery and then fly home and recover. The date was March 9th. After this discovery, I felt like this was a closed door, an impossibility. This date was literally only 4 weeks away, but as I say, we know God can work in mysterious ways. So, we thought we should at least see if they had this opening.

We had two surgery centers we had researched and picked to call: one was the place in Oklahoma that my friends recommended and the other one was near Salt Lake City, Utah. Oklahoma cost around $2,000, and Utah was around $3,000 (both drastically lower than Oregon.) We said a prayer together asking God to direct our path, and open and close doors as we sat down at the computer to see if they even had any openings, let alone our needed date of March 9th. We pulled up Oklahoma’s online scheduling, it looked similar to a google calendar where they have red boxes for filled and green boxes for open times. Their schedule was literally ALL red, completely booked up for the next 6 months. Closed Door! That is ok, we told ourselves, we are wanting open and closed doors to help us with our decision. So we pulled up the next surgery center in Utah, expecting to see a calendar set up like in Oklahoma, but it wasn’t that sort of thing. In fact, you had to fill out genetic information like “what day of the week do you prefer” and “would you rather a morning or afternoon surgery”. Great, I thought to myself, we will never know if March 9th is available, and this seems like an impossible way to make our schedule work with theirs. But, we prayed again, Lord open and close doors, while we filled out the information, we said Mondays were best and mornings. After you push the go button two dates pop up on the screen for you to pick one. I KID YOU NOT, the very top date was MARCH 9th, at 9:00am! WHAT!!!!! We were shocked! Completely SHOCKED! So we scheduled it!

In Utah, they ask you to pay all the money up front, but if you cancel before two weeks you could receive all your money back. They also offer a money back guarantee which just made me laugh, but it came with the deal.

A day past the 2 week mark for cancelling, we received a call that our insurance would pay completely for my hernia surgery. That was crazy, and I would be lying to you if I didn’t stop and have envy for the tummy tuck I could have had. But we were hopeful for fulfilling the desire of our hearts in growing our family.

Darren flew down to Utah, had the surgery and flew back. Then the following weekend, the whole United States shut down! I couldn’t believe the timing of it all!

Two weeks post surgery, we were sent home with a kit in which you could test the sperm count. The results were 5 million. (Sounds like a lot but actually to have what they would consider a successful surgery would be 15 million or higher). But the doctors were happy to see that some were coming through and we were to test again at 3 months post surgery. Sadly, our test results for the 3 month, 6 month and 9 month testing were all zeros. We were devastated 🙁 After the 9 month check in and having a zero sperm count, the doctor’s theory is that the connection point where they had sewn the tubes back together had separated.

Side note: Since it had been only a year from the vasectomy to the reversal, and considering Darren’s age, we were given a 96% odds of a successful surgery. Also taking into account all the open doors to get to the surgery alone, we were left saddened and confused with the results.

At that point the doctor said that since we have the money back guarantee plan, we could choose to receive the money back due to it being a failed surgery OR we could choose to have the surgery again (a second reverse vasectomy). We prayed, we spent time discussing our hearts desire to grow our family, we sought wisdom from our biblical community, and then we ultimately decided to go through having the surgery again.

The surgery center scheduled us for February 15th (Happy Valentines Day to us haha!). We also were put on a cancellation list if there were to come an earlier available date.

On the 19th of January, we received a call that in 2 days there would be an opening. So we jumped on it, and Darren flew down to Utah the next day, and got his second reverse vasectomy.

Wow! What a story right! I wish I could tell you the happy ending that we are pregnant! BUT it is far too soon to tell. He is currently only 4 weeks post the surgery. We would LOVE prayers for the growth of our family.

To answer a few questions:

“How many more kids will you have?”

  • Answer – We don’t plan on ever getting a vasectomy again hahaha, but seriously will approach each decision with prayer and one step at a time.

“What did you do to help the healing process?”

  • Answer – The first time we did NOTHING. We started to try some things (vitamins etc) but we think it was after the separation occurred so it wouldn’t have mattered. This time we have a WHOLE list of things we have tried to support the healing process and here are a few:
    • Vitamin C (multiple a day)
    • DMSO
    • Arnica
    • Turmeric
    • Anti-inflammatory diet
    • Ginger
    • Lots of icing and cold showers

“Did you feel like it was a closed door when it didn’t work the first time?”

  • I totally did. I questioned the whole thing when I learned it didn’t work. But ultimately, we decided that we felt like the Lord put the desire on our hearts, he never said it would be in our time frame. After prayer we decided we needed to submit our agenda and just pursue what we felt like God was calling us to, even if it looks different then what we originally  thought.

“Was it easy to wait?”

  • Absolutely NOT! But He is faithful in the waiting. And I learned so much through this year of trying to conceive. I learned to have a deeper bond to those who struggle to conceive, my empathy for them has grown. I have learned that God is there in the good and hard moments. He cares for us just as a parent for their children, but that doesn’t mean that we will get what we want in the time frame we want. His sovereign will and plan is way better than we can even imagine. And this is true whether or not we are able to conceive.

 

Thank you all for walking this journey with us! I know many of you have been following us on social media, or physically walking the journey with us. I truly am so grateful for all of you! We would love your prayers! And hope to be able to share news of a baby in the near future! Love you all!

Here is a phone screen background I have on my phone right now to remind me: HE is FAITHFUL in ALL things!

 

Motherhood – Best Me

cropped-Raising-rices-3.png

 

Being a Mom:

Being a mom is the HARDEST job I have ever done! In fact when my husband has a day off and gets to be the one in charge all day he attests that the role I play during the day is harder then the one he does at work. (And I think he has a very intense job).

I think it is the weight of responsibility that builds the tension of wanting to do your very best and feeling like you are always failing.

Anyone else on this moving train with me? You know the one where you think you know the direction you are suppose to go and what you are suppose to do but the bumps and lane options in the path make it look like spaghetti noodles in front of you instead of a straight path. Oh the choices and what lane do you pick, AND don’t forget about those bumps along the path that can derail your very best intentions. This moving train stops for no one so jump on and adjust while still keeping all your kiddos from falling out.

Motherhood is not for the weak of heart, it is not for the unintentional, and it is not for a passenger. As a mother we are the conductors of the day, the one who guides and directs this moving bumpy train.

I love being a mom, EVEN THOUGH it is the hardest most intimidating job I have ever done. When I became a mother it was a moment, a pivotal moment in my life, and it created a chance for me to choose intentionally above complacency.

Being a mother didn’t make me LOSE MYSELF, I hear this a lot on social media:

“I am finding myself again.”

“I am taking care of me”

“This is for me.”

“Self-care”

I am sure you have heard or read them before; I am here to bash on anyone who has said this, I know I have before.  But I have come to the realization that I don’t have to compartmentalize motherhood from me. Iain Thomas once said, “Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I’ve ever been.” I am MORE me, I am not less of me, I am not less of a person due to motherhood.

If you feel like your drowning, you might be, but it might not be motherhood that is causing the drowning. It might be a lack of team support systems, it might be a lack of true joy found in Jesus Christ, it might be not fueling your body right, it might a lack of healthy boundaries and expectations, it could be a lot of different things but being a mother doesn’t cause you to not be you.

You are more you than you’ve ever been, the YOU you are designed to be! I would recommend not running from it, but instead embrace it, learn to love it, make ways in your life that you feel create more intentionally. Does that mean having daily Bible reading, a girls night, daily exercise, or making time to refresh in the day? YES, find ways that help you maintain balance and do things that refresh you so that you can do the intentional work we are called to do in our life of motherhood.

 

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To understand, acknowledge, and control their emotions; while learning to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions respectfully and well.

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Another of my reasons WHY I am choosing to homeschool:

To understand, acknowledge, and control their emotions; while learning to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions respectfully and well.

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Part of my reason or desire for homeschooling is to be my kiddos advocate. I want to train, teach and advocate for them to learn to control their emotions. Within the Bible we see the word advocate being equal to helper. As adults we must learn to advocate for ourselves, but how do we get there? We don’t just magically arrive; someone or something taught us how we respond to a situation.

If you have been a parent for more then a second I think you would wholeheartedly agree that our kiddos have emotions. Emotions is a word that when used can promote a negative connotation, for example, “That girl has lots of emotions.” But hear me when I say: EMOTIONS ARE NOT BAD. What IS bad or harmful are untrained emotions. Here is where homeschooling comes into play:

We experience and live out our emotions all day every day. Therefore, if I have a goal of training my children to understand, acknowledge and control their emotions being with them all day is the perfect place and time to address them. See, I want them to learn to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions respectfully and to self advocate for their needs in a space that is SAFE to learn!

The bottom line truth is someone is teaching your kiddos how to handle their emotions. My question would be what are they teaching them, how are they teaching them, and with what foundation or worldview are they teaching from?

This is a journey and not a task solved within a day, weekend, week or even year; this is an on-going development, which takes a commitment on the part of both parents. Because we are not raising children, we are raising future adults.

 

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