Compassion International

Have you heard about Compassion International? I LOVE Compassion International. If you’re unfamiliar with CI, it’s a non-profit organization based on Christian principals that allows people like you and me to sponsor a child anywhere in the world for a very little monthly price. We pay something like $35 a month to CI and our selected child is able to attend school on a daily basis with that money. He also gets Christmas presents, daily meals for himself and his grandparents who care for him, clothes, and a birthday gift every year. How amazingly cool is that?

Step One: Look

We started praying about sponsoring a child over a year ago. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but when we first married, we were po’ {couldn’t even afford the ‘or} and then when we were more on our feet, it was hard choosing who to sponsor. If you visit the link provided above, and look through the thousands of children around the world who need sponsors, you might feel overwhelmed. I did.

Explore the website. Research them. You’ll find that unlike other organizations, the money you send to YOUR child goes to YOUR child. You get to communicate with your child. We get letters, drawings, pictures, etc. from our sponsor child in HIS handwriting, which is so cool to my kids and me. He asks about our daily life in Texas. We ask him about his life in Kenya, and he responds. We correspond. We get to know each other. He prays for us, we pray for him. Seriously. It’s incredible.

Step Two: Pray

If you’re interested in sponsoring a Compassion International child after you’ve explored their website and you feel you understand their mission and their heart, then pray. Pray like crazy. Pray that God would reveal to you the child you are meant to sponsor. For us, this took months. It was about six months between the time I first learned that Compassion International was an organization to be trusted that truly makes a difference in the world and the time we actually chose a child to sponsor.

I visited their site almost daily with a prayerful heart, searching through hundreds of faces from around the world, looking for the one that would be our sponsor child.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are committing to them until they are adults. You are committing to pray for them, send monthly money to them, send birthday and Christmas gifts to them, write to them, send them pictures, and love on them until they are 20 or 21 years old. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s not a decision to hop in and out of when money gets tight. When money gets tight, we sacrifice so our Compassion child can thrive. Cutting him out is no more of an option to us than not feeding our own children.

One afternoon many months after our hearts had been touched with the desire to sponsor a child around the world, I logged onto the Compassion website. Travis and I had already talked and we had decided that we have a heart for orphans. As foster parents, we have a special heart for the children of the world who have no parents. Luckily, you can narrow your search on the CI website to certain ages, children who are HIV positive, orphans, children living in war-ridden regions, etc. We narrowed our web search to orphans. I didn’t care about age, but I was thinking it would be neat if the child was close to Buggy’s age.

I prayed before searching as I had many times before, and I hit “search.”

Step Three: Choose

Hundreds of pictures of orphans from around the world popped up on my screen, and one little face in particular grabbed my heart. He was the second picture on the page. I didn’t notice his country, his birthday, or his gender. I noticed his name. Gift.

The Holy Spirit whispered to me through that child’s eyes. He said, “This one. He’s the one you’re going to love on and walk with for the next two decades. This one is yours.” 

His name is Gift.

How beautiful and perfect and fitting is that?

Gift lives in Kenya.

He is two years older than my son and has a smile that resembles the stars.

Gift has lost his parents.

At six years old, when we first started sponsoring him, Gift was the bread-winner for his family. He lives with his grandmother and cares for her.

Today, Gift is enrolled in a Christian school. He’s a believer. He loves Jesus. His grandmother loves Jesus. He plays soccer {or football, as it’s called in Kenya}.

He writes to us, draws us pictures, tells us about his friends, prays for us {incredibly humbling}, and sends his prayer requests to us.

Some people choose their Compassion child because they share a birthday with a loved one. Others choose their child because they share a name or country of origin with a beloved friend or family member. Sometimes they choose a particular child because they share a name or age with their own child.

I believe that God chose Gift for us.

He IS our Gift.

Step Four: Invest

Our lives are now enmeshed. Gift is enmeshed with us and we with him.

Although correspondence is slow between us and him, we hear from each other regularly. When we get that envelope that says Compassion International across the side, Buggy jumps up and down with joy.

I can say honestly, Gift is loved in this home.

His picture is posted in our living room. On our fridge. His drawings are displayed in our kitchen alongside the drawings of my own children.

We belong to Gift and he belongs to us.

We study about his country.

We talk about his hobbies.

We look at his picture and pray for him.

Committing to this child on the other side of the world is not a decision we have walked into lightly. But when we committed to him, we committed our entire family to him. I include my children when I write him. We send him stickers, pictures, drawings, crafts, and bookmarks. Anything that might pass through customs, we send.

Through Compassion, my kids are learning love on a higher level than I could teach them alone.

My Challenge to You:

Please follow the above steps. Explore it for yourself. Ask around. Research Compassion. Look into the organization. Pray. Look into your monthly budget to determine if you might be able to afford to sponsor a child. Then pray for the child that God has for you to sponsor. Please consider these precious children and the small amount of money and effort it takes on our part to change their lives forever.

You will be surprised at how much they change your life too.

 

Kat

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Kindergarten Space Unit: Day 1

We began Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago and things are rolling along nicely. For the first week, I focused mostly on just letters, numbers, Bible studies, and getting back into the routine of things. This week, however, I asked Buggy what he wanted to study and he immediately shouted, “SPACE!” So we’re studying about space.

Day 1

What We Read: 


I took the moon for a walk book 

   I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, illustrated by Alison Jay .

We both loved this book and read it several times. This lyrical rhyming book is perfect for little ones and the illustrations {which I tend to obsess over} are  whimsical and fun. Buggy asked to read it over and over, and I was happy to oblige. An excerpt from the book:  “I took the moon for a walk last night, it followed behind like a still Summer kite, though there wasn’t a tail or a string in sight, when I took the moon for a walk.”  Beautiful imagery.

The moon over star book

 The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

I grabbed this book at our library because the illustrations are beautiful. I have to admit, I choose books from the library based on the illustrations and then decide whether to read them or not to my kids later. I always read them before I share with my kids, and this one was not a disappointment. This is the story of a young girl who experiences the excitement of the 1969 original moon landing while watching her grandfather struggle with the changes happening in his country. She aspires to be an astronaut herself and hopes one day that an African American girl as an astronaut is not such a rare or unusual thing. The pictures and the story in this book are beautiful. It’s also quite an informative book, because it offers the details of the story of the moon landing in a narrative, first-hand-observational setting. My 5 year old enjoyed it and had a lot of questions after reading this, but it may not capture the interest of younger kids.

What We Made:

Moon

You take 1/2 cup of Elmer’s glue {or the cheaper off-brand like I did} and 1 1/2 cups of shaving cream {the kind you find for $1 at the dollar store, if you’re me} and mix them in a bowl. I used a plastic bowl that could be parted with just in case this craft experiment was a huge fail. Draw a decent moon-sized circle on a sheet of craft paper or a paper bag {what we used} and let your kiddo go to town with the gloopy stuff. Buggy LOVED it! He enjoyed squishing it and smearing it. He kept saying, “It smells like shaving cream, but it doesn’t feel like shaving cream!” When they’re done, let it dry. Then cut out your circle and admire your moon!

I found this craft on Pinterest, from No Time for Flashcards. I love her blog. I’ve found SO many neat ideas for activities and crafts on there, and this one was definitely a winner.

How We Played: 

I think sensory play is SO important at this age. I also have a two year old that I’m trying to keep entertained while I’m educating my five year old, so I look for activities that will capture both of their attentions.

Two words: Moon. Sand.

We bought ours pre-made from a children’s museum, but you can find recipes for it Here, Here, and Here. These recipes call for flour, but I prefer the moon sand that actually uses play sand so it gives it a sandy yet mold-able texture, and you can find such a recipe Here.

I let my boys explore this fun concoction with their hands first, then I brought in cookie cutters, Lego blocks, and army men to allow them to experiment and play. Buggy loved pretending that Batman was landing on the moon for the first time and had fun cutting out shapes in the sand with various cookie cutters. Little Bear (2) just enjoyed feeling the sand between his fingers and repeatedly said, “Mama look!” while he showed me his fistfuls of sand.

What we Watched:

I am a HUGE supporter of Reading Rainbow. Remember that show? I loved that show. Still do. When we were driving to Tennessee this summer to visit family, we took about four Reading Rainbow DVDs with us to keep our kiddos entertained on the trip. I was worried it wouldn’t capture the attention of my two year old, but it did! My five and four year old were entranced as well. All three were in love with LeVar Burton and the magical way books come to life on this special show.

Since I knew my kids were entertained by this series, I checked out a Reading Rainbow episode on DVD from my library. Good news: Even if your library doesn’t carry Reading Rainbow DVDs, you can find them online! Yay for internet! 

We watched Reading Rainbow, “Space Case” {1986} and my kiddos loved it! Lucky for you, I’ve pinned it on my Pinterest page, so you can find it HERE

Stay tuned in for the rest of our out-of-this-world space week, and don’t forget to check in on my Space Unit page on Pinterest for more great ideas on a space unit for little ones! 

Blessings,

Kat

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How-To Guide for Surviving a Homeschooling Convention

This month we attended our first ever homeschooling convention. I was SO excited to go, but also very nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and looking at the clinic list and vendor exhibit list, I felt completely overwhelmed. I decided before we made the ten hour (yes, TEN HOUR) drive to Houston for the convention, I would create a game plan for myself to help me maneuver the clinics, workshops, guest speakers, vendors, and crowds with ease. I know myself, so I was afraid I might get into the exhibit hall and see so many shiny colorful wonderful tools and curriculum choices that I’d burn an entire debit card in one hour. A plan of action was a must. And I can honestly say, my plan worked beautifully! The convention was such a positive experience and successful kick in the pants for me that I decided to share my tips for saving money, time, and sanity at your next homeschooling convention.

Before You Go:

1. Plan Your Year

No, your planner does not have to be filled in hour-by-hour or even day by day, but before you go, you MUST have a broad idea of the topics and subjects you want to cover in the coming year. Think of the convention as a place for motivation and fine-tuning, not a place to decide what to teach your child this year. If you know what subjects you’ll be covering, what unit studies you want to explore, broadly what science experiments you want to do together then you can walk into the exhibit hall with a very specific list of things you might need. I knew we were going to study weather, so I looked for a good children’s book about weather, one that explained lightning and thunder without scaring my kiddo. I also knew we were going to do an art unit, so I looked for art supplies and art books. I wasn’t distracted by the other really fun things I found at the exhibit hall because I knew exactly what I needed for this year.

2. Set a Budget and Stick to It

I knew how much money I had to spend and that was it. I would also recommend pulling the cash before you go and not bringing your debit or credit card into the exhibit hall. One successful pitch from a curriculum company representative can blow your budget completely out of the water if you bring a check book or credit card in with you. So don’t do it.

3. Choose Your Clinics Early

Conventions will list the clinics, workshops, and guest speakers on their website anywhere from a month to a week before the convention. Print out the descriptions of the clinic topics and read over it with your spouse. There were several clinics specifically for dads that I wanted my husband to attend, so I highlighted those for him as well. Some clinics fill up fast, so you should plan to arrive about 20 minutes early for each clinic or workshop to ensure you have a seat. I went so far as making a list (nothing fancy, I didn’t even do it on the computer) of the times of each workshop I wanted to attend each day so I knew when I needed to get up, when I could work lunch in, and when I had time to go shopping during the day. It was extremely helpful having my list of pre-selected workshops in my bag when I arrived and found myself wading through thousands of lost people.

4. Pack a Convention Bag

Of course if you’re traveling out of town as we did, we had other bags and suitcases packed for the trip, but this tip refers specifically to the convention. I would advise you to bring a backpack with you. It’s easy on your shoulder, gives you lots of room to stuff freebies and convention swag, pamphlets, and purchases. Include a notepad and pen in your backpack so you can take notes at workshops and jot down things you may see that interest you in the exhibit hall. You might also include a couple of bottles of water (it got very warm in there with all of those people wandering around and the food service table was extremely overpriced) and some kind of snack like a granola bar.

 

When You’re There:

1. Make a Pre-Purchase Trip Through the Exhibit Hall

It’s very easy to spend way too much money at conventions. Many companies do offer convention discounts on their products, but that doesn’t matter if that product wasn’t budgeted for or necessary for your school year in the first place. It’s easy to walk into an exhibit hall for a homeschooling convention and react like a kid in a candy store. If you’re like me and you live in a remote or rural area with very few homeschooling resource stores, then finding yourself in a huge convention center with wall-to-wall homeschooling products can certainly be overwhelming. This is why I advise you to make no sudden movements with your wallet! Do a walk-through of the entire exhibit hall the first afternoon if you have the time. Don’t make any purchases this time. Walk around, explore the products, write down details of products you’re interested in, including price. Keep track of items that interested you by snapping photos of them with your smart phone or jotting down notes on a note pad.

2. Compare Compare Compare

I found an early elementary book about the major world artists at one vendor booth. I loved the book and thought it would be perfect for our art unit this fall. They were offering a 10% off sale at that particular booth. I jotted this information down on my note pad and then made my rounds. Across the exhibit hall, another vendor was selling the exact same book with a 25% off convention sale. If I had purchased the book at the first booth when I originally saw it, I would have kicked myself. I saved myself six dollars and walked away with the book I wanted. Compare prices before you make purchases. I attended a clinic with a well-known author and homeschooler. She recommended a book about building character in children that I loved. I wandered around the exhibit hall and found the book available at a booth. I jotted down the information including how much that booth was asking for the book. I went back to my hotel that afternoon and looked up the book on Amazon. It was $15 cheaper online used. I ordered it right away. If you feel guilty about not buying directly from the author or publisher, or really want to support their company, then by all means, purchase from them directly at the exhibit hall. I didn’t feel concerned about this so I ordered from a private seller online and saved myself quite a bit of money.

3. Take Some Suggestions, Leave the Others

I attended one clinic led by a well-known homeschooler. She’s an author and a mother with a large family (no, not Michelle Duggar, although she was at this convention too). I was very impressed with her suggestions for creating order and organization in the home with many small children, and took feverish notes. I attended another clinic by this same speaker and was caught off guard when she went off on her personal political opinions, which teetered on the brink of being anti-government. I really hate the extremist perceptions of homeschoolers, and I didn’t like her perpetuating this concept. However, there were some gems in this clinic outside of her short rant. I didn’t get offended by our vastly opposing political and social views. I wasn’t offended when she suggested we get rid of TVs in our house. We have TVs. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, you name it. I love TV. My kids watch TV. We obviously feel differently about this topic, and that’s okay. I was there to learn how to keep toddlers busy while trying to teach older kids. I took the good advice and ignored the stuff I didn’t agree with. You have to realize that personal ideology and one’s views on education are deeply interwoven and sometimes attending certain clinics may open a topic that you would rather not be lectured about. Take it or leave it, but don’t get yourself worked up over it. In that same clinic, I learned some fun toddler busy box ideas that I will certainly be using with my youngest.

4. Ask Questions

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet homeschoolers with much more experience than you. Take advantage of this chance to talk to others and don’t be afraid to ask questions! I have found that homeschoolers are very helpful. They’re eager to talk to you, eager to encourage you, eager to support you or give you tips. I was surprised at first by how kind and open many of the people I met were. But really, we’re in this together, and I want my child to succeed as much as I want other people’s children to succeed. I don’t want homeschoolers to have a reputation for failure or laziness, so if there’s anyway I could help someone exploring the idea of homeschooling, even with my very new and limited experience, I would do it.

After You Return Home

If you’re anything like me, when you get home (or on the way home) from a homeschooling convention, you’re going to feel energized, excited, and a little overwhelmed by the new information at your fingertips.

1. Get Organized

I attended one clinic all about organizing your time and finding the best day planner for your personal habits and style. I found several beautiful and detailed planners at the convention that were very pricey but also overwhelmed me. I don’t need my entire life in one book. Some people do. Some prefer that. I just need something I can flip to at a glance that tells me what today will look like. I did some internet research and found this perfect, simple daily planner on Etsy for only $3.33 from SimpleJoysofHome. You download and print as many times as you need to. It was perfect for me. Take the tips you received and start your school year off on the right foot. Put away toys, sort out old books, pull the ones you know you’ll use this year, get rid of old supplies, and get yourself in order. Take that motivation and excitement from the convention and pour it into something constructive!

2. Compile Your Notes

Don’t let all of those great notes you took during your workshops stay stuffed in a drawer {or left in your backpack until next summer}. About a week after we got back from the convention, my go-getter attitude was waning and I was losing the excitement and motivation I had the week before. I was overwhelmed with lesson planning and struggling to organize our school space. I you realized that I needed to compile some of those notes that encouraged me so much at the convention and print them out on one page that I could add to my planner for a boost of encouragement and a refresher. It gives me something to turn to anytime I start to feel tired or overwhelmed. One speaker said, “God gave you your children for a reason and a purpose. They were given to YOU to strengthen you, change you, help you, and bring you closer to the Lord. So remember that when you start to feel frustrated by a strong willed or defiant child.” I need that reminder printed out somewhere to read daily! You may have other gems from the convention that encourage you on a daily basis or help you stay focused when things get foggy throughout the year.

With a pre-formed action plan, your homeschooling convention can be a positive and enlightening experience. I left feeling so encouraged, motivated, and excited for the possibilities this school year holds. I realize how precious Kindergarten is, and I can’t wait to start this year with my boys! I hope this list helps you feel less overwhelmed when you attend your next convention. Let me know if it helps! :)

Blessings,

Kat@MommyPonders

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Devotional Time for Little Ones

I’m not an affiliate or associated in anyway with the books mentioned in this post. Just a mom who loves hearing reviews from other moms, and helping people find great resources for their families.

Image Buggy got some Christmas money and I let him get a few toys and fun things with it, but I also set a little bit aside because I really wanted to find some kind of devotional for him that we could study together. We LOVE the Jesus Storybook Bible, but we’ve read through that about a dozen times cover to cover, and I was wanting something fresh to really study positive character building concepts as well as Scripture.

I always recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible for parents wanting to introduce their children to the concept of a Savior and lay the groundwork for their knowledge of the stories of the Bible and who Jesus actually is. It’s a perfect resource for that.

However, I have discovered a new book that works wonderfully for teaching basic life lessons, such as sharing, helping, reading your Bible, being polite, having fun, resting, etc. The One Year Devotional for Preschoolers was exactly what I was looking for. The lessons are super short {just one page each}, with beautiful and engaging illustrations. They ask questions that spark important conversations with my kiddos, and then tie it into a memory verse from the Bible. Each lesson also ends with a two line rhyming prayer, which Buggy loves. He’ll repeat it like a little song until he has it memorized.

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Little Boy Magic

I love little boys. Little girls are special too, and of course they deserve a post as well, but there’s just something wonderful and messy and sticky and fun about little boys. This mama’s heart has a special place for boys. I don’t know why. That’s just how God wanted me. Wes and Si (2)

Today I fished out the second object discovered in Little Man’s nose. He’s 2. First there was the sponge. You know those little sponges that start out as capsules and grow in water? He ripped one up and shoved part of it in his nostril. I think it was a dinosaur leg. Today was a red bead. I’m honestly not even mad. Sure, I lectured and told him once again DON’T SHOVE THINGS IN YOUR NOSE! But then I just had to laugh. This is life with boys. Sometimes it’s weird. Often it’s loud. Always it’s messy. But I love it, and them, so much.

 

Oh how I love my boys….

My boys run through my house screaming, chasing, and making noises that make my ears want to hide.

Little Man fills clothes baskets with cars and balls, just to push them around the house. No other reason.

Buggy asks me on some mornings if it can be a “mustache day.” On Mustache Day, I draw him a mustache with my eyeliner and that’s it. He goes around life on Mustache Day- to see family, to the grocery store, to church, etc. with his mustache.

No, I didn't draw this mustache.

No, I didn’t draw this mustache.

I just love these little boys….

Little boys are just as sensitive as little girls. They cry just as easily and wear their emotions as freely as girls. We’re the ones who tell them, over time, that this is unacceptable. But I love the open-heartedness of little boys.

When Buggy {now 4} has spent the night with grandparents and hasn’t seen me in a day or two, he always gets choked up when he sees me walk in to pick him up. I live for hearing that “Mama! You’re here!” And seeing the little quiver of joy in his lip, evidence that when I’m gone, I’m missed just as much as I miss him.

Buggy stayed the night with his grandparents the other night and was up twice standing over his Bo asking if they could sleep together. He was sent back to bed twice, but his little heart was so excited about the idea of getting to help Bo in his shop in the morning. He couldn’t wait to help him make somethin’.

They’re messy. Today at lunch after church, Buggy got jello with his meal, and by the time our meal was over, it was in his hair. Again, I just smile.

Sweet, Helpful Boys

My boys love to help. They helped unload the car of groceries today. We did respite for another foster family a few weeks ago, and they nearly fought over giving the baby her bottle.

Little Man can go from completely ornery and mean towards his sister to this sweet little voice saying, “Hi Kitty!” as he pets the cat with the gentlest of hands.

I love when he runs into my room in the morning and says, “Hi Mama!” with the sweetest smile on his face. Be still my heart. Sweet sweet boys.

They love mud. They love Legos. They love play dough, Lincoln Logs, and paper airplanes. A paper airplane from daddy made from church programs on a Sunday afternoon is the highlight of the weekend.

With boys, it’s simple. And wonderful.

I promised Buggy a special surprise last week if he was good while we ran errands, unsure at the time what this surprise might be. A sugar-free sucker from the sweet bank lady at the end of our long day was enough to make him clap and cheer in the back seat. As he gobbled down his treat, he said sweetly, “Thank you, Mama, for my special surprise!”

Little boys have no shame. They burp in public. They freely play dress up in Sister’s fairy costume with no hesitation or embarrassment. They tromp around the house in Mama’s high heels. They LOVE being naked… And make sure they get plenty of naked time daily.

I love hearing Buzz Light Year randomly yell from the bedroom in the middle of the night.

I love that Buggy can’t sleep without his precious Elmo and Little Man calls all stuffed animals “babies.”

I love that they beat each other up, wrestle, pick on each other, and make each other cry, but they also protect, defend, and watch out for each other like only brothers do.

I love finding a Lincoln Log or Hot Wheel car in the sink under a pile of dirty dishes. “It needed to be washed,” I’m told.

God made boys so very special. He made them with breakable hearts, earnest intentions, deep devotions, and honest minds. And I absolutely adore watching them form and grow according to His glorious will.

These precious boys will be husbands, fathers, church leaders, and community examples someday. A shining beacon of light in a dark world. I hope I do well in raising them up in the way they should go.

Protect, honor, love, cherish, and fiercely fight for your little boys. Childhood is precious and far too short. Love them and protect them, and the Lord will honor your efforts.

A shining moment this week…

Today I overheard my sweet Buggy singing a song to himself. He was singing his own version of the classic hymn, “To God be the Glory.” The words weren’t exactly correct, but it was still beautiful, and it was a song from his happy heart to his Savior who delights in him. Who could ask for more?

Thank you, Lord, for these boys. Not just mine, but the other precious boys of my friends, the precious boys in our church who will one day be men. Thank you for their sweetness, their spunk, their proclivity towards mischief. Thank you for beads in the nose and Legos in the tub. Thank you for mud pies in January and pink butterfly wings running through the house making firetruck noises. Thank you Jesus, for the beautiful glimpse of perfection you give us in our children. Thank you for the wonder and magic of little boys. May it last as long as possible.

Amen.

 

Kat

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The Year of {Positive} Challenges

Okay, I’m not a kitschy kind of girl. I loved “Julie and Julia” as much as the next food-wolfer-downer but I’m not one to take on the burden of doing something every single day and coming on here to tell my readers about it. Plus, my blog isn’t that kind of blog.

But it’s 12:01 am as I write this, one minute into my 28th birthday, and I decided that I wanted to do something a little different. And it’s my blog, so why not? I’m not gonna cook everything out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so please don’t log off. I just got this wild hare that maybe I could try to take on new challenges that won’t cause me more stress or put another thing on my plate, but rather enhance my life and make my family’s life a little more peaceful and bring us closer together. Challenges that make me a better mom. Challenges that help me connect to my husband more. Challenges that might make my house a little tidier. That sort of thing.

I can’t commit to a year, because that’s ridiculous and honestly it gives me panic sweats and heart palpitations just thinking about taking on something every single day for a full year. But I can start with 30 days.

So, in honor of my birthday, I want to commit to something I already love and do every single day anyway {is that cheating?}… Reading. I read constantly. I have six different books on my bedside stand/Kindle right now, and I’ll go back and forth between all of them until I’m done, and then I simply pick up a new one. Reading is the greatest thing in the whole world, and one thing I’m not so great at is reading to my kids. I’m actually ashamed to admit that.

I intend to read to Buggy every day, but I sometimes don’t. I forget, or we get busy, or I’m too tired, or he can’t decide on a story that he wants to hear, so I don’t read to him. I grew up being read to by my Aunt Annie, who taught me to love Roald Dahl and recite every word to Tikki Tikki Tembo and I desperately want to instill that same love and literary adoration in my own son, but I don’t do a great job of it sometimes. I think he loves and appreciates books, but I want to read to him daily.

So for my first 30 day challenge for myself, in the year of bettering my life, I want to read to Buggy every single day. Typing that “every single day” part made my fingers shaky and a tiny bead of sweat pop out on my forehead. Get back in there sweat bead, cuz we’re doing this!

That beautiful children’s book collection of ours is going to be loved on this month. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday month than snuggling up with my littles and enjoying the books I loved so much when I was little.

Do you enjoy challenging yourself to try new things? What might you challenge yourself to this month? Wanna join me in reading to your kiddos everyday this month? Tell me about it!

<3 Kat

 

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2014 Resolutions

I really hate new year resolutions. I always have. In the past, I’ve always broken those resolutions by February, and then spent the rest of the spring trying to remember what I even resolved to do more or less of in the first place. Guilt follows, and then you usually end up backsliding even further into whatever bad habit you were trying to break. For these reasons, I haven’t made a new years resolution in many years.

But this year I’m doing things a little different. I realize that there are two types of resolutions: Those you want, and those you need. This year, I’m not resolving to do things I want. I’m resolving to do things I need.

For instance, resolution #1- I want to lose about five {twelve} pounds. Instead, I’m going to not worry about numbers and say that I need to get more active. I need to ride my bike, jog, go for walks with Buggy, etc. rather than worry about numbers on a scale. That’s a much easier resolution to stick to than restricting my beauty and self worth to some magic number that tells me when I can finally be happy with my body. That’s stupid. I just need to be a little healthier.

Resolution #2- I want to be more organized, but really, I need to be less stressed. Organization will definitely help with my stress levels, so this week before Travis returns to work, I’m going to organize closets, cabinets, and shelves so we can start this next semester off with a little more peace. Beyond that though, I’m not going to kill myself for the rest of the year trying to have a Martha Stewart closet. In the past, I’ve downloaded binders full of checklists and helpful tips on how to keep a better organized home, and then I end up not following the tips {because they aren’t specific to our family} and I beat myself up for it. I’m not gonna do that. We’ll start the year off as fresh and tidy as possible, but beyond that, I’m not going to stress out about it.

Resolution #3-
Our school year usually starts in January in our household. It’s the perfect time for new beginnings and fresh ideas, and I just love starting school at the beginning of the calendar year. Usually I have all of these plans for unit studies, books, and skills that I want to tackle at the start of the year. I find myself on Pinterest late at night finding adorable crafts and activities for Buggy, but then reality sets in and we usually don’t have time to do even half of the things I wanted to do. I have two other children at home who have various therapies and appointments, and I try my hardest to work in what I can with Buggy, but last year a great deal of time was spent in my head feeling angry with myself and worrying that I had let him down.

I realize now that I did not let him down, and that from our little hiatus from school he learned so many other invaluable things. And still, we took time to play games, snuggle, tickle, laugh, read books and sing songs. So this year, instead of focusing on all the cutes stuff I want to do, I’m going to focus on the simple things I need to do. I need to read with him more. I need to stop doing the dishes sometimes and sit down to make train tracks with him. I need to have tickle fights. I need to watch “Curious George” in the mornings. My spirit needs that, he needs that, and I need to not live in guilt over the things we didn’t get done.

And lastly, resolution #4- This year, I need to slow down and stop beating myself up. I need to realize I’m a great mom, a loving wife, and a mediocre housekeeper who at least keeps things from reaching that unlivable level of dirty. I’m proud of us fostering. I’m proud of us homeschooling. I’m proud that we are different from other families that we know. I’m resolving to cherish this chaos that others don’t understand and often criticize. I’m resolving to be even less conventional than we already are, and I’m resolving to love it more than I already do. I’m resolving to not compete with other families and worry over what one kid is doing that mine isn’t. I want to go at his pace, at our pace.

This year will be about simplifying, saying “no” more often, and cherishing what we have here. This is the year of focusing on what our spirits need and worrying less about what others say. It’s about doing things to feed and grow our family rather than what we want or desire. This is a year about taking things as they come and not fretting over the future {which is very hard to do in fostering}. This year I need to feel the Lord’s peace around me and let out a big sigh of relief that I don’t have control and He does.

I hope that 2014 brings a sweet simplicity to our home as well as yours. I hope it brings you peace and joy and calmness. What are some of your resolutions for this year?

Kat

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