New Year’s Questions for your kids {2018}

This has been a favorite tradition for us with the kids – asking questions about the past year and seeing what their thoughts are for the year to come. I like to do it during the first week and try to let each child have their own time. I’m posting them here for others to use as well. Happy New Year! 

1. What was your favorite memory from this year?

2. What is something you learned this year that started out seeming very hard, but got better or easier as it went?

3. Do you have any embarrassing memories from this year?

4. Funny memories?

5. Memories or accomplishments you’re proud of? (It’s okay to say so! ; )

6. What is your favorite thing we do together as a family?

7. What would you like to do more of this year?

8. What is something you’re interested in or want to learn?

9. Are there any character qualities you would like to grow in this year?

10. How do you think you have matured this year? (This could be spiritually – knowing what you believe or desiring things that you know please God; it could be physically – growing or gaining skill; emotionally – learning how to control or express what you feel; or relationally – understanding and living with those around you)

*Also, this is a great place/time to tell your kids where you have seen them mature this year.

11. What would you say those around you think you love the most?

12. What do you think you love the most?

13. How can we pray for you this year?

Christmas in July – a challenge and giveaway!

You know it; I know it; We all know it; we should start Christmas shopping earlier than we do.

Every year by that fifth trip out my husband and I are saying to each other, “You know, if we just bought a few presents here and there throughout the year….”

But we never do.

Somewhere I read the phrase, “Wrapped and done by December 1.”

Sounds rather dreamy.

I will admit that I do love the hustle and bustle of being out during the season; but! there are always last minute gifts or parties that seem to come up which would satiate said desire for hustle and bustle. Or you could always try to make Christmas cookies with five children.

Wait; stop...don't make fun of our tree.
Wait; stop…don’t make fun of our tree.

So here’s my idea: let’s first make a list of everyone we usually buy for, brainstorm and keep an eye out for that perfect present for them, and buy them little by little -one or two things a paycheck- from now ’til December. And actually do it.

What do you think?

I even have an incentive for us!

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Prepare Him Room from Sovereign Grace Music was our absolute favorite Christmas CD last year. (And as is my usual custom to enjoy some lovely Christmas music to combat the heat ofJuly, we have pulled it out and are enjoying it again!)

As a musician, how hard is it to find fresh, fluff-free Christmas music?

**Pretty hard!**

These songs are gospel-centered, theologically driven, and stylistically diverse. You’ll love them.

And…cue infomercial music… whoever has their list of people they need to buy Christmas presents for by this Friday is entered to win either a CD or a download of Prepare Him Room!

All you have to do is make a list.

Come back on Friday, comment here or on facebook that you made your list (spare us the details), and you have a chance to win my new favorite Christmas music.

Happy list-making! And Merry Christmas (in July). = )

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January goal check-up

If you remember from New Year’s, my goals are very simple this year. Here are some thoughts on the progress so far.

1. Treasure God and His Word.

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I have to say here, that I am so thankful for my husband. Three times a week I get to hear him teach the Bible and every time I learn and grow in my desire to read and study myself. That being said, I know there are pulls in my heart to choose other things when I have the option. My prayer is that this year those would be put aside and replaced with a deeper hunger for the knowledge of God and His Word.

My current place of study is Acts because Paul is going through this with the students on Wednesday nights. The girls and I are memorizing in Proverbs, and I also would like to come up with a plan of what to read when I just want to sit down and read for awhile. (Do you ever feel like that?) That way there will be some direction of where to pick up.

The other part to this goal is the prayer that God’s Word would be right on the tip of my tongue as I go throughout ordinary life with the girls. I know I need to speak the gospel to myself constantly and I want that influence in their life as well.

Practically speaking, this goal involves nightstands, pens, journals, and a specific effort to reduce clutter. Sitting down to read or meditating throughout the day are greatly helped for me when things are in order and easily accessible.

2. Read. Read. Read.

I love reading! In January I finished The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and I highly recommend it! This month I’ll be reading Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss and The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by her husband George. Also, Dispatches from the Front by Tim Keesee and Robinson Crusoe with Paul. Someone gave the girls the entire Little House on the Prairie boxed set for Christmas so I am officially making it a goal this year to read those aloud to them.

2a. Read aloud the Little House on the Prairie to the girls. = )

3. Regain an enthusiasm for mothering.

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What I’m realizing is that this involves a very careful putting aside of “extra weights” and a very conscious commitment to do the things I want to do with the girls. Discipline is involved in this. The girls are much more delightful to be around when I am proactive about their behavior. Also, the more involved they are with what I’m doing throughout the day, the better. Yes, everything takes three times as long, but that has to be an investment in the future that I’m willing to make.

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I’m sure this goal will continue to take shape as the year goes. More to come!

4. Make monthly menus and make one freezer meal a week. February’s menu is done! And I have two extra meals in the freezer. Hooray!

5. Make a list for every day and week. Do a monthly goals check-up. 

About halfway through January I stopped making a list every morning and I can see how it slowed progress. That’s why there’s a monthly goals check-up (yours truly) to remind me! And out of the twenty-two items on my most recent weekly list, I accomplished about nine. Oh, look at the room for progress there! = )

These next goals are specific to this month alone.

*Make and use chore charts for the girls. It’s time, people. Way time.

*Accept help with things around the house. It has come to my attention that I cannot do everything. In fact, I do it quite poorly. However, I am not content living in such a sad state of affairs, so I am going to need help.

I can think of two ladies at church who have specifically, genuinely offered their help. This month I want to contact them and make a plan to do some things around here.

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Thanks for reading! See you at the end of February. {James 4:14-15}

2015 – a year for simple goals

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New Year’s has come and gone.

My favorite holiday.

I’ve been brooding about New Year’s Resolutions for about six weeks now. I know, my love for them is a little over the top.

There’s so many things I want to do!

And so little… everything.

Last year my goals were good and there was a ton of success {yippee} but they were a little complicated.

This year I don’t have time to be that detailed. We’ll start out really simple and build from there every month.

Want to hear my goals? (me too, cause these are coming straight off the {hoodie} cuff.

1. Treasure God and His Word. That might seem nebulous, but it’s not. It is simultaneously the most simple and rewarding obligation and the most difficult and elusive pursuit. In any circumstance I can ask myself, What do I love?

2. Read. Read. Read.

3. Regain an enthusiasm for mothering. I think I’ve lost some of the rah-rah that always seemed to come so naturally. But that’s okay – I’m a big believer in the fact that correct emotions will follow obedience. Lately I’ve just wanted to hide in bed from all the responsibility (until I realized Proverbs might have a thing or two to say about that). I’m asking the Lord to help me see and hear and feel and slow down – to love all the cuteness and craziness that I live in every single day.

4. Make monthly menus and make one freezer meal a week.

5. Write out a list for every day (and right here my list-loving Mom starts rejoicing for the prodigal coming home) and a list for every week. Also do a monthly goals check-up. 

And honestly, I think that’s all for now. I do want to build and elaborate as the months go by, but if I make improvement in each of these areas by next January 1, that will be wonderful.

Happy New Year!

(10 days late)

 

Grace for July, Goals for August

Life is good. Right now, sleepiness is my dominating trait. My eyes hurt from not being closed enough in a twenty-four period for weeks. But, we have a healthy happy baby girl who I get to hold and love and feed. I get to watch the other little girls love her and take care of her in their own sweet ways. Our church family is showering us with love in the form of meals, visits, gifts, folded laundry, and clean bathrooms.

And that is how July came and went. It was a wonderful, challenging month.

I just re-read my original goals for 2014 and was struck by how many of them were accomplished in the month of July, completely apart from any effort on my part. What grace to know that God is still working for temporal and eternal growth even while I’m at my weakest. That’s the way it always works, but I forget every single time.

Here are just a few examples,

Reading- I finished the book True Companion. Remember I was hoping Paul would buy it for me? He did! And it was a delightful and encouraging way to spend those nursing hours. I’ve read more of others on my list and started a new one, too.

The girls and chores- my girls have overwhelmed me with their helpfulness. We’re keeping things picked up more than before the baby! A nightly clean-up time has finally clicked; I don’t have to micro-manage it. (keeping fingers crossed)

Surfaces- don’t laugh at me, there’s actually been improvement here! I have no idea how, but it’s on the list and I’m telling you there’s been improvement.

Schooling- though it’s summer time, I realized that a lot of our goals in this area are either met or still happening. Here’s a good example of how this is happening without me at all. One of my desires for Hope was for her to read beginner biographies. A dear friend dropped off a box of books with probably twenty biographies right at Hope’s level! She devoured them! (and read them to Sophia while I napped) Abraham Lincoln, the Wright brothers, Ben Franklin, etc. So exciting.

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Now for August.

This will not be a robust undertaking for obvious reasons, but there are a few things that have to happen.

First, it’s to time to prepare for homeschooling again. I am so excited for this. All our materials are in boxes, ready to be opened, right by the front door where the UPS man left them in… May. But that’s okay! I didn’t intend to open them until August. I also didn’t intend to leave them by the front door, but too late now. I need to open those up and get them ready to go. I’d love to have the worksheets maybe pulled out and filed. I think it would be helpful to do lesson plans more ahead of time. Also, I think we could plan field trips and park days already, at least for the fall semester. This is part of a longer story, but we will have a room to ourselves for homeschooling at least for the first two months. I want to make it special, but not too involved since it will not be permanent. This includes activities or a place for the little girls. My plan is for them to more involved and present during school. We need a desk for Sophia and I would like to check a local homeschool store for some supplemental activities. Maybe I’ll be able to post about the preparation process as we go.

Second, find and use good post-pregnancy workouts. It felt so good to exercise during pregnancy! I’m ready to start again, slowly. We’ve taken several walks, but I need something to strengthen my stomach and back- they need some TLC from all this nursing. I definitely have diastasis recti or separation of the stomach muscles so I’m doing some research to make sure that the exercises I do will be a help and not a hindrance. Suggestions? Links? If I exercise one to two times a week, including a walk, I will be happy.

Third, work on table manners with the girlies. Paul got me a new table for my birthday! We love it. It was sad to see our other table go, but we had a wonderful seven years with it and had just outgrown it. Hopefully, I can get good pictures of the new one and do a post about it. Anyways, now is a great time to just review and reinforce table manners with the girls. I want to talk about it when we’re out of the situation and enforce it when we’re at meals. Also, I want to work on having the girls eat their food right away at the beginning of the meal. They all do pretty well eating whatever we give them, but sometimes there is a lot of messing around before they actually get down to business. I think it’s time for them to eat their food without constant reminders to do so.

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Especially in this newborn stage my priorities are important: rejoice, give thanks, love Paul, love the girlies, make meals (or put them on the table when sweet friends bring them), do laundry. That will be good.

The book I just started, Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman, is a wonderful help with many of my resolutions. As postpartum hormones swing my emotions from high to low, it’s helpful to read over and over about finding my joy in the unchanging character of God.

I’m looking forward to and clinging to the goodness of God this month. Here’s to the last three weeks of August!

Seven months down, four and three-quarters still to go!
Seven months down, four and three-quarters still to go!

2014 goals review / things to accomplish in May

Maybe it’s because it’s a little late or maybe it’s because I tend to be a chronic optimist, but I just re-read my 2014 goals set in January and thought I wasn’t doing too bad. Now if I read April’s specific list it looks like I failed completely. But I’m happy and thankful for the big picture progress that is going on.

Yes, there are things that are being completely missed or fallen behind on, but honestly, the things that really have come to matter in the last four months are being improved.

Hooray!

Overall, I’m so happy with this plan of setting goals and checking back in with them monthly.

That being said, and also seeing that I am a good week into this month already, I’m not going to go back and rehash what was good and bad from April. It would be rather redundant from what I have written the other months. (see here, here, and here)

I’m simply going to look forward to May. And guess what? That isn’t all that complicated either.

Two major things need to happen this month from what I can tell in my human understanding.

1. My husband needs to graduate from seminary. And I need to celebrate and relish this long-worked for time and tell him how much I love him and am proud of him and let it be the completely big deal that it is.

2. We need to finish our last four weeks of homeschooling.

Add, to that the priorities I wrote about in January {rejoice; give thanks; love Paul with kindness and affection; love the girlies with time, teaching, and discipline; make meals; do laundry} and May is set.

Literally.

There’s no point in listing anything else out because I’m pretty sure everything I just mentioned will consume the month.

As I re-read my original list from January, one resolution stuck out to me.

To simplify; to focus on the responsibilities and joys that will not remain after this stage of life.

If ever there was a time to let this be true, May is the month.

Do I already have a lengthy mental list going for June? Oh yes!

But thankfully we’re not there yet.

Four months down, eight to go.
Four months down, eight to go.

Where did March go? (New Year’s goals review and plans for April)

Did I just say April? Wow!

March has flown for me, and I honestly can’t think of why. However, it is that time again to review the month (specifically the plans we made for March) and to make a new list of how to execute those New Year’s goals, resolutions, plans, and priorities in April.

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I’m going to do my best to make this short and sweet. I will divide my March list into three categories: accomplished or improved; effort made, but not enough; and did not happen.

At this point I would like to say that there are still four whole days left in March, and I do actually plan to do some of these things in that time. = ) Hopefully.

Accomplished or improved

*Chalkboard ready for the next day in the afternoon (being generous)

*Park every week with the girls

*Getting to church earlier to see Paul before services start (seriously, just writing down that little goal made a big difference in how I prepared all month!)

*Plan for spring cleaning (the plan has begun, but is not yet finished. It’s much more fun to put effort into the planning than the work!) = )

*Get caught up on laundry, fold as it comes out of the dryer. I am pleased as punch to announce that none of our hampers are currently over half full. This will come as a shock to any and all who know me and these conditions are still considered by the National Laundry Service as unpredictably sustainable.

*Piano lessons have been restarted! Yay!

Effort made, but not enough

*Clothes ready the night before, prayer in the morning instead of checking weather/email/facebook

*Exercise three times a week. This is perilously close to being in the did not happen category.

*More science with school

*Evaluate weekly activities; eliminate those which bring more stress than benefit

*Work on Awana verses. In all fairness and self-defense, this one could almost be in the accomplished or improved category.

Did not happen

*Read at night

*Make list of things we might need for baby

*Organize Mckayla’s room

*Go to church library

*Make list of expectations for girls

*Purchase organizing stuff

*Dream up an entryway project

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Well, with all that, here are just a few additional comments regarding the original list.

~ I taught the girls to wipe down the sink and toilet with a lysol wipe and have scheduled a day for them to do that every week. So far they’ve done great and remembered on their own. This is an accomplishment in the “chores” department. As well, they are doing very well making beds in the morning and putting shoes away right when we come in the door.

~ Our surfaces are overall a tiny bit more cleared off and clean. Why is it so hard to keep them that way?

~ I have an idea for something to do on the girls bathroom wall.

~ We are really enjoying reading the biography of Louis Braille! I’ve learned so much and been so inspired.

~ Weekly homeschool planning has not happened for a few weeks now. This hasn’t devastated our days or weeks, but I want to get back on track.

~ Night time sleep is beginning to look a little more prioritized! Keep it up!

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Okay, so those were all general things from my original list in January 2014. Now I will try to think through specific things to accomplish or grow towards in April. I think I will try to make a more concise, attainable list as it seems March was somewhat overshot.

*Begin spring cleaning. Try to finish the top two-thirds of the house (ceilings, walls, and furniture).

*Continue to work towards being early for events (church, appointments, etc.) not just on-time.

*Keep a Bible and pen by the bed. Take the minutes you have to read and make notes, even if it’s not the extended time you would like.

*Think through any birthdays or events happening in April and May. Try to plan ahead.

*Work to spend twenty minutes after the girls go to bed being productive in the house. (Happy sidenote: I’m sleeping in a slightly different position and my back is feeling much better during the day!)

*Choose reading, writing, or playing the piano with day and night time “free time.” And don’t just write this, do it! Grrr!

*Make a small list every week of specific prayers for the girls, Paul, and others. Think through even in a small way what I’m really asking for on their behalf.

*Exercise four times a week. Yowza. What was I thinking? I need to come up with a major reward if I actually do this. = )

*Organize the girls room. And Mckayla’s room. And what’s left of our room. And spring clean. And climb Mt. Everest.

*Buy a candle

*Plan the upcoming homeschool week on Friday afternoon

*Read more from our current poetry book

*More training time with the girls, talk about expectations

*Listen to Hope as she practices piano and violin at least two times a week.

*Teach Sophia long-vowel sound words. She wants to read so badly!

*Cuddle with Gracie

*Play with and tickle Mckayla.

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Those last ones aren’t really list-worthy; but as the baby due date draws near and I spend more time resting, I want to consciously spend sweet time with the girls.

I don’t believe I succeeded in making the April list short. I think I will copy and paste it to a notepad so I can view it more easily throughout the month. Oh dear! This is Easter month! I have some new ideas of ways to celebrate that will definitely take some thought and preparation, but that will have to wait for another post.

Until then…. thanks for reading!

Three months down, nine to go.
Three months down, nine to go.