Monday, July 27, 2015

Manic Monday #10 - Wash Line Ministry

This last week the hubs built me my outdoor laundry room.  It's attached to our duck shed (though it no longer holds ducks) with a sturdy floor made from lumber Stretch milled himself and a great roof. He put an old freezer in there for a counter and a little shelf to hold the laundry soap.  He then strung four lines on the opposite side of the duck shed to trees in the woods for line drying.  He really thought of everything.  Things can get a little tricky with extension cords and extra hoses from the well and drainage, but all his thoughtfulness created a laundry room I'm amazed to say I love doing laundry in!
Building the floor.  The Princess  doesn't like the noise.

Laundry, by far, is one of my worse household chores.  There's always just been something about it that seems a bother to me.  Maybe it's the neverendingness of it.  Maybe it's the disappearing socks.  Maybe it's the fact that you just finish a day's worth of work and the basket is full again.  Whatever the reason, I've always dreaded doing laundry.
The washer is in and set up.  The work crew is proud of themselves.

This last week, in the midst of hanging wet socks and underwear, God ministered to me.  As I looked at the line with the pink tutus blowing in the breeze beside the super hero underwear and the baby onesies marching along with the man-size work shirts, I realized the incredible blessings that God has given me.  This family of tumbles and sweetness and diversity of character enriches and files my life to give it a purpose beyond myself.  I was made for this moment.  I was made to be the wife of a dream-filled man and the mother to more children than I thought I'd ever want.  I'm blessed with the opportunity to reflect God's love every minute of every day to little ones who will one day be sent into this world with their own God-ordained purpose and just how pathetically short I fall more often than not.
The Princess is helping.

Supervisor....isn't he cute!

Laundry, my worst stinking chore of all, took on a whole new meaning.  God ministered to me, showing me how each little sock that I hung on that line represented the little feet and hearts that were entrusted to me by my Creator.  That each little foot would follow me in the example that I give, whether good or bad.  And as I hung those socks that used to annoy me to no end, I thanked God for granting me the privilege of raising my children and prayed that their little feet that those sock keep warm and protected would always walk in the way of the Lord.
Stretch even did a load of laundry!

God reminded me of Psalm 127:4-5 "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them..."  I may not have a quiverful, but I certainly have a laundry-line full, and I am blessed for the gift of them.
Roof and shelf installed!  Best place to wash clothes ever!
Have a blessed and manic one!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Manic Monday #9 - The Power of Play

Every now and then you stumble across something that somehow just fits with your life, your philosophies, your goals...and you weren't even looking for it. You ever have that happen to you?  Well it just happened to me, and I'm excited as all get out!

When I was re-evaluating how school went at the end of the year this spring, there was one thing that was screaming to me (although that could've been the 2-year-old).  That one practice that I promise myself each year we are going to do, then, in the everyday fulfillment of duties, drop.  And that is the power of educational play.  I decided that in the fall, I wanted to consciously obtain board games that we could play as a family that reinforced the things we were learning in our studies.  We've had a weekly game night for awhile that we love, and we play games throughout the week, but I wanted it to be more.  And here's why...remember that little post I did two weeks ago about play?  Play has this incredible superhero power to fire synapses within learning.  It not only can help those children who are struggling with understanding or with learning difficulties, but can make an important connection in a child's ability to apply what they've been studying.  It's that moment when the addition goes from just functions on a paper to real life purpose.  Along with life experience and instruction, play makes up the trifecta of how we learn.

So, I pinned game after game on Pinterest that we could make, knowing that, realistically, me making games might not happen.  You see, I tend to drop those things that take too much set up time.  Good intentions, bad follow through.  A little later I was looking through my latest issue of Home School Enrichment magazine when seemingly a light straight from heaven shined upon an advertisement for an educational game company called SimplyFun (more than likely it was the 5-year-old playing with his flashlight, but it was inspired none the less).
The kids digging into the box with gusto!

SimplyFun's mission is "We Build Smarter Kids & Stronger Families Through the Amazing Power of Play!"  And looking at their games, I could tell that was the truth.  These games didn't look cheesy, like so many educational games are.  They looked exciting and fun.  There was everything from fractions to money, spelling to Shakespeare, geography to relationships.  I mean, I could build the whole school year curriculum just on the variety of games that were available, and we didn't have to hope that the game got printed or cut out or laminated by me!  So I decided I was going to get my shopping list started for the next school year.  However, there was one problem.  You can only purchase the games through a Playologist Consultant.  Now, I really had no thought or desire to become a consultant of anything, been there, done that, but when I looked into SimplyFun, I figured, if nothing else, the $150 to become a business owner would get us 11 awesome games for a great discount.
Tucker after he became Head of the Herd

That thought changed the instant we started unloading my kit.  The quality of the games far surpass any other game we've ever bought.  These games and boxes they come in are built to last.  The kids love these games so much, they don't even realize they are learning, and I find them entertaining, which helps my desire to play!  They have been so excited for them that I'm having to kick them out to go play in the sun, with them running back 15 minutes later, asking if they can come back in and play more.  They've been telling their friends all about them, and for my first Laugh & Learn party, my boys were just as anxious to share the games as I was! It was truly awesome to see twelve kids between 3 and 10 playing Bee Alert and Kilter without fighting and having a blast.

Why I say that SimplyFun fits for me is because everything about the company from their desire to build stronger families to their dedication to help foster connections between the things children learn and the people who influence them to their mission to make learning fun resonates within me.  It doesn't matter if you are a homeschool parent, a public school parent, grandparent, daycare worker, or teacher in a classroom, SimplyFun games can add that essential part to learning that is so often by-passed, that third element to learning: play.  And it just takes 30 minutes or less.  No kidding!  That's one of those features that I didn't really consider, but has become important.  Now when the children say, "Can we play a game?" thirty minutes before bedtime, I won't mind saying "Yes!"  So if you are looking for a way to enrich your home and enrich your school, I suggest you give SimplyFun a peek. I promise, you won't be disappointed!  And if you want to earn free games, please leave me a comment, and I'll let you know how!  Where can you check out all the fun?  Be prepared for the super power of play!  Click here.

Have a manic and blessed one!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Manic Monday #8 - Concrete and the Body of Christ

I just realized it's Monday!  This week definitely was manic and fantastic and exciting in more ways than one.  Last Monday a truly special thing happened.  Let me tell you the story.
Titus helping lay foam and plastic.

With Stretch only having two days off a week, our timeframe for doing big projects for the house gets a little tricky to make work, especially since his days off are Sunday and Monday, rather than the traditional Saturday.  Well, Sunday we were prepping the house to pour the concrete slab the following morning.  This was fun since it was a project all of us could help with.  Sadie cleared all the rocks from the plastic, Titus helped lay down the foam boards, and Maddox cheered us on.  At this point in the evening, around 7 or so, Stretch had about 4 hours worth of work tying tubing together for in-floor heat to be ready to pour at 6 in the morning (it was forecasted to be a very hot day.)  He had two people lined up to come help, neither of who had experience, for a 6 man job at least.
Sadie picking out all the little rocks.

Then we hear a truck rolling up the drive, and Stretch's friend, Nick, who has worked construction on the side of his Baptist pastoring gig, drives up.  He had an itch to come out and see how far we had gotten.  He heard what was going on, told Stretch he had an extra cement mixer he'd run and get and come back to help tie tubes.  He brought our other friend, Joe, back with him, and in under an hour, they had Stretch's 4 hour job done!  Isn't God amazing!  I'm so thankful that He gave Nick that desire to come check things out.
Beautiful sight at 6 in the morning!!!!

The next morning, bright and early at 6 o'clock, we had not two, but four guys show up to give a hand!  Later in the morning another friend showed up to work!  With Nick and Stretch's experience working concrete and everyone else's muscle power, they were able to finish the job by 12:30!!!  We went from the night before not knowing if we'd be able to pour the whole slab to getting it done faster than Stretch ever expected to.  To top it off it was one of the hottest days we've had yet, so these wonderful men were sweating and sore and exhausted by the end of the morning.

Titus supervising to make sure Stretch does a good job.
Getting closer!
Finishing up by 12:30!!!

That is the Body of Christ, coming to the aid of our fellow believers, not expecting anything, just willing to help.  One of the blessings of living here in Tok is that we have seen this happen more than anywhere else we've lived.  Maybe it's the harsh extremes of this land that pulls us together even more than normal.  Maybe it's that sense of frontier spirit that we still embrace, a join hands in working to raise a barn, slap on a roof or pour some concrete.  Whatever it is, I love that my children get to see first hand the specialness and importance of the Body of Christ working together as one.  So thank you Nick, Joe, Dave, Micah, Jeff, and Bella for helping us with this big step toward a roof come winter.  Thank you Holy Spirit for bringing us together and working amidst us!  Have a blessed and manic one!
It was so hot we were able to carefully walk on it by evening.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Manic Monday #7 Why I Don't Play with My Kids that's not the entire truth.  I do play with my kids, just not all the time.  Sometimes not even everyday.  Now you probably think I'm completely mean.  An negligent mother.  A total ogre.  Well, hopefully you don't think I'm an ogre, and hopefully, by the end of this post, I can convince you that I'm not a negligent mother as well.

Little T and his big stump.

The reason I don't play with my kids is simple.  The more I play with my kids, the more they rely on me to come up with things for them to do.  When I have a bunch of activities lined up for the day, a craft here, a game there, a scavenger hunt, a make-believe session, whatever may be the case, they almost always come to me during those non-scheduled times with the words "I'm bored!" or "I don't know what to do!" on their tiny lips.  Which, in turn, makes me a little crazy.  I mean, come on!  I need some time to do the things I need to do, too!  Plus there's three of them, not including the baby, I'm sure they can come up with something.  So I stopped planning so much, made sure the games where accessible and left them to their own devises.
He dragged it all the way into the woods.

Guess what?  Something truly amazing happens...they play!  They use their imaginations!  They come up with things I never would've come up with and have fun.  Now we still have times of "I don't know what to do!" and I'll pull out a card game or read a book or something.  This month has been a little harder, with Big T being gone to Colorado, however, I'm truly impressed with Little T and the Princess.  Case in point, Little T has been loving Go, Diego shows that we have on video.  He's decided that he wants to be an animal rescuer and has packed his backpack and spent his days "training" with a rope he found.  He figured out how to make a slip knot, so now he's climbing hills, hooking branches and swinging and generally having a lot of fun, all on his own!  And he even gets the Princess in on the pretending.
The 2nd one wasn't cooperating.

His slip knot hooked around the stump.

The other day, we learned that we are going to be inheriting a trampoline from friends of ours that are moving outside (that's the lower 48 for you unAlaskans).  We picked the spot where we are going to place it, yet it has some stumps that need pulled before we get it.  So what does Little T do?  He takes his rope, loops it around the biggest stump and commences to pull it from it's home.  He works and pulls and drags the monster about 100 feet to its new location.  All on his own.  I never would've suggested or even thought he could accomplish such a feat.  I mean he's 5-years-old, for pete's sake!  Now if I would've been planning his day playing with him, he may not have ever known or even imagined he could do something like that.  And that is why I don't play with my kids.
Having a hard time with this 2nd one.

Whew!  That's tough work!
So until next time, have a manic and blessed one!