Friday, March 25, 2016

"Pitchin' a Fit" Book Review

We don't have chickens and our family hasn't taken a 31-day road trip, but I have no trouble relating to the events described by Israel in the introduction of "Pitchin' a Fit." Maybe it's because that van and those sweet souls have spent several nights at our house. But really, I think that any parent has had similar moments of frustration, anger and regret.

This collaboration from Israel and his wife Brook is an excellent resource for dads and moms (or soon-to-be parent) who don't want to be that yelling, angry parent. This quick read is filled with the anecdotes, wisdom and practical advice in a conversational format that draws the reader in (and screams "mark this for later because you will need it again!") and helps parents show God's love to their children even in frustrating situations. Unlike many other parenting books, the reader isn't asked to simply take advice from the Waynes, but instead the book leads the reader back to scripture over and over again. At the end of each chapter, questions to consider will take you deeper into your journey. 

The reader will walk away equipped to identify issues that lead to anger and create a more harmonious environment for their families. These chapters walk you through overcoming anger:

1. Stressed Out and Overwhelmed
2. Is It Wrong to Get Angry?
3. What Causes Anger?
4. Provoking Our Children to Wrath
5. Trigger Happy — What Sets You Off?
6. Yelling Moms, Hollering Dads
7. “But I’m Not Patient!”
8. What Patience Is and Isn’t
9. Nurture in the Heart of Correcting
10.The Power of Affirmation
11. Creating Peace in the Home
12. Accountability

You can find more information on "Pitchin' a Fit" at

Monday, February 8, 2016

Time for Granny

Our daughters recently started visiting with an older lady in the community. She is a ninety-year-old lady who is able to do most things, but enjoys companionship and requires that everyone call her "Granny." She reminds me of many elderly people we have gotten to know over the years. It seems that as people become less able to do things, their family and friends slowly back away. Not because they don't want to be around, but often because they are afraid and uncertain about what's happening to their loved one. Our girls have learned to just be yourself and live life. Here are some of the things they have been doing with Granny and suggest that you do with an elderly person in your life:

Cook a meal using one of her favorite recipes. She can't cook, but she still knows the details.
Go for a walk and let her tell you about the neighborhood. Or her childhood. Or anything she wants to talk about.
Talk politics. She's been around to see a few elections!
Sew a quilt, knit a blanket or crochet a hat.
Clean. Granny can spot dirt a mile away, even if it's not really there.
Make a scrapbook of cards, photos or newspaper clippings. You'll learn a lot!

Most importantly, take some time each week to spend with someone who doesn't move as fast as they used to. You'll enjoy the pace.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Minions Discussion Guide

My daughter and I were fortunate enough to attend a screening for the movie "The Minions." If you'd like to read my review, head over to iFamilyKC (link will be posted ASAP). My daughter and I left feeling like we couldn't stop at just writing a review. We usually discuss movies after watching them and this time we wanted to share some questions with your family as well.

  • What were the minion looking for? 

  • What happened when the minions were in the cave? What 

  • What is a leader? What qualities make someone a good leader?

  • What made Kevin a good leader? Would you have gone with him?

  • What did the Nelson family do right? What did they do wrong? 

  • Why did Stuart give the crown to Scarlet? What would you have done?

  • After the queen gave the gifts to the minions, do you think they were satisfied?

  • Why did the minions follow Gru?

  • Did the minions learn anything from what happened with Scarlet?

What other questions would you add to this list?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Is Today Your June 8th?

June 8th was a normal day until 2010. Five long years ago that sometimes feels like only a few days ago. A few of our family and friends prayed around my grandma’s hospital bed. As I told her that I loved her, she squeezed my hand. This would be her last communication with anyone. A few hours later she slipped peacefully into the arms of her Lord after a brief battle with cancer. She was the woman I wanted to be when I grew up and I still look to her example. Strong, patient, kind and everything good. The glue that held our family together. Always willing to fill a need, even when that meant helping to raise her granddaughter. Even now, there are days when I pick up the phone to share exciting news or ask her advice, forgetting that she won’t answer.
Little did I know that  June 8th would strike again just as hard. This time, it was my dad. The dad I never really knew. We met several years ago but the relationship didn’t last long.  Birthday text messages and Christmas cards continued through the years, but nothing more. Through that brief relationship I was blessed with several siblings and a large extended family who embraced me like I always belonged to them. Ironically, I was with one of those cousins and her family when I got the news that my dad had passed, also of cancer. That was the day he became the dad I would never really know.
Such different pains but both hurt so deeply. One longing for a relationship that I was able to fully experience and therefore know what I would be missing and the other sadness for a relationship I never really had and now never would experience. Two completely different people who had nothing in common until June 8th.

So today, as tears roll down my face and knots fill my stomach, I hope that people will give me a little extra grace if I snap at them or stare off into space. My head is full before my day even begins. I think back to a lady that our family cared for and her hatred for April 27th (my birthday). To her, it was the worst day of the year because her husband died on that day. And now I understand. I probably have a little more compassion for the cashier who may be grumpy or the waitress who may seem distracted because the day I encounter them may be their June 8th.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Using the Library to Homeschool

If you've been to one of my talks about getting started homeschooling, here are the resources I referred to:

Cathy Duffy's Reviews - reviews of many homeschool curriculums
Tapestry of Grace - classical integrated unit study curriculum (please use referral code aprilnourse)
Khan Academy - online learning site
Homeschool Legal Defense  - homeschool resources and legal information
Families For Home Education - Missouri homeschool organization
Midwest Parent Educators - Kansas City area homeschool organization
Mardel - homeschool store and online resources
Beautiful Feet - history & literature curriculum
Rainbow Resource - curriculum vendor
Write Shop - composition
Christian Light Education - homeschool materials
Timberdoodle - hands on homeschooling
Home Science Tools - science materials
KONOS - homeschool curriculum
Simply Grammar - grammar curriculum

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prepping for a Homeschooling Convention

I was so naive when I went to my first homeschool convention. I thought that I could just show up, listen to some speakers, peruse the vendor hall and leave with everything I needed for the next school year. I was so wrong. Will you please let me help you not make the same painful mistake? From the moment you decide to attend, preparation must begin.

If reasonable, get a babysittter and book a hotel near the convention. These aren't necessary but will help you focus on the task at hand. I know moms who go as a group and leave the dads home with the kids and I have friends who use this as a couples getaway. Our kids are old enough that I want their input so we bring them and all of us stay near the convention.

At the minimum, make a list of the subjects you'd like to cover and your budget. If you have some specific thoughts on providers, jot them down too. Be warned that you may change your mind, but have a plan. As soon as you can get a list of vendors and speakers, mark the ones you want to visit and keep that with your list.

If you have some time, visit websites and stores (we love Mardel) to check out curriculum. This will help you get to know your options and the prices. Homeschooling friends are also great resources and will often let you look through their materials. Cathy Duffy offers helpful reviews on most of the top resources. 

On the day of the convention, wear good shoes and be prepared to take notes for later. I know many people who browse on day one, review the materials that evening and buy on day two. Even if you have only one day at your event, I tell people to pack a lunch so that you can take a few minutes to leave the building, sit outside in the sunshine and regain your thoughts after a morning of information overload.

Lastly, know that if you leave without buying everything you needed, that's ok. Unless I really know that it's something I will use and/or the discount at the convention is significant, I'm ok with paying a little more later. I'd rather be certain that have unused curriculum at the end of the year because of an impulse buy.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Redefining Comfort

July 14, 2008. Life was good.  My husband had a steady job, we were settling into our California community and church, we had a nice little house where we were planning to raise our three daughters. We were comfortable and had no plans of changing anything.

God had other plans.  A few months later, my husband lost his job, beginning a domino-effect of changes.  He applied for every local job he knew of.  His brother and best friend started encouraging him to come work with them in Iraq as a contractor.  My mom offered to let us move into her basement (half a country away in Missouri). Someone offered to buy our house.  My mind raced at the possibilities and choices.  

I prayed and prayed for God to give us a way to stay.  Even after my husband and I made our plans for me to move our girls to Missouri while he was in Iraq earning the money that would get us back on our feet, I prayed to stay.  I knew that it seemed to be where God was leading us, but I liked comfortable.  I didn't like change.

As the date drew near for me to leave my home, I still did not have that "a-ha moment" when I just knew this was exactly right and I desperately wanted that moment.  Across the globe from each other, my husband and I chose to fast and pray together.  Late in the day, I felt no different than when I woke up that morning.  In the quiet darkness, I curled up on the couch with my Bible and Esther study guide.  My study led me to Esther 4:14 which reads, 
And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?
Starting to feel like this was the moment I had been praying for, I read the verse several times.  This could be my time also, but for what?  The next verse from my study guide took me to my knees.  
For in him we live and move and have our being.   -Acts 17:28 (emphasis mine)  
Tears ran down my face as the realization came over me that God had just spoken to me in a very loud voice.  I know God does not always speak to us this way, nor should we expect Him to, but He did this time and I was compelled to move. On July 14, 2009, with the help of my family and friends, the girls and I moved from California to Missouri and started a new chapter in our lives.  

Five years in a foreign land has blessed our family beyond belief.  My husband came home from Iraq on leave and got a job nearby.  He is now self-employed and gets to take the kids with him to work.  Through our new church, we have been able to give to our community in a way we have never experienced.  Our family has hosted neighborhood movie nights and a car maintenance ministry.  We have participated in overseas mission trips, loved on kids at an orphanage, served meals at a shelter and volunteered at a pregnancy center.  Our kids have enjoyed living on a farm, getting to know my parents and helping to raise the animals.  The biggest change is that we have added a son to our family - a sweet boy that we adopted from the Taiwanese orphanage where we volunteered.  Although he's a big part of this God story, he has a pretty incredible story to tell another day.  

In the last five years, something has stood out to me over and over again. Comfortable is good, but being where God places us is better.  I have learned to redefine comfort as being in God's will for my life.  Do we miss what we left?  Certainly.  That's why we go back to visit.  But then we go home, ready for the next adventure.