Saturday, December 30, 2017

Getting Ready for the New Year

During this week between Christmas and New Years I am taking some time to reflect on 2017 to help see what direction I want to head in  for 2018.


I have been using quiet time, time with God, journaling, asking questions trying to listen to my heart and get a good idea of where I am at.

Now, I can take those reflections and set up some goals for the next year, my book list, my to list and my not to do list.  Getting ready for the new year isn't only about keeping going with what works, it is also letting go of what isn't working.

That is why asking questions, reflecting, and working through it can be most helpful in leading one.  It helps identify what works, what doesn't, where things need to change, where we have grown, and what we need to do to get to the end goal.

I don't set a resolution for the next year.  I set a word or motto for the year.  This word or phrase helps carry me through the year and keeps me headed in the direction that I want to go.  Yes, I know, there is a lot out of our control and we hit a lot of bumps along the way making mistakes, failing, and starting over, but the word or phrase just becomes apart of it all.  It doesn't mean I won't make mistakes or feel like I have failed.  It gives me the courage and strength to keep pressing on. 

I will share in another post what my word and phrase for 2018 is, but for now, I am going to share what I used this week to help me reflect on the past year.  I even asked my oldest some of the questions from the kids' version.

Here's a link for both sets of questions and you can download and print off the PDF.  https://theartofsimple.net/new-years-eve-reflection-questions/

I also highly recommend working through the 12 months from now part too.  It takes you through: Inward Health, Physical Health, Financial Health, Family Health, Relational Health, and Your Children’s Health.

How do you get ready for the new year? 



Photo Credit: I printed off the PDF from the website and took an up close pictures of the title.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Letter of the Week ~ M


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Merry Christmas!  For us we are focusing on family and spending time together, as well as celebrating Christmas.
Art
  • Make Ornaments
    • They can be made from anything you can think of.  
      • Stained glass ornaments
      • Fill empty ball shaped ornaments
      • Make snowmen out of gumdrops
      • Paint plaster ornaments
      • Use Popsicle sticks to make sleds, frosty hats, and more
      • Use beads and pipe cleaners to make candy canes and wreathes
      • Use cookie cutters and fill with pom pom
    • There are so many ways to make ornaments and so many different materials you can use.  Be creative and have fun!


    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Thursday, December 21, 2017

    Anxiety & Fear ~ Brave Moms, Brave Kids


    I got an amazing opportunity last night!  Being a part of the Brave Moms, Brave Kids Launch team, I got to be a part of a live book discussion with Lee Nienhuis, author of the book.

    If I ever get the chance to hear her speak at an event I would sign up.  She is inspiring, honest, and speaks to the heart from her own experiences.  She is very relatable and as I read her book, I find myself nodding my head in agreement, seeing things from a different perspective, and gaining a stronger foundation of understanding. 

    To have this amazing opportunity, to have this moment where I got to be a part of this discussion with her and 25 other moms.  We all connected in some way last night, knowing that we aren't facing this mom journey alone.  Knowing that there are other moms out there who can help guide and mentor us through their experiences and their wisdom.  It is a very powerful thing.  It was a blessing and an eye opener for sure.

    We talked about the first part of the book, part one.  It is all about fear and anxiety.  These are two big emotions that I have been dealing with, even more so with addition of second son two years ago.

    I was raised learning about God, going to church, and praying at dinner time.  But after confirmation things changed.  We would go once or twice a year as busy teenage lives took over filled with sports and school.  God, well he kind of took a back seat for many years.

    It wasn't until college when i felt drawn back to God more and began seeking out worship time, time with other Christians, bible study groups, and more.  In an impressionable time in my life I sought to be with and learn more about God.  As time went on I slowly began to lean to and on God.  But I was still young in my faith and understanding.

    Adding in kids hasn't changed that and I hope to raise kids who know and trust God and will follow him too.  In the meantime, fear mixed with anxiety and guilt fill me more than ever.  And when that happens, dynamics change around me and so do relationships.

    I am slowly learning more about it all and beginning to recognize it more now.  I don't push it off, I accept it for what it is, acknowledge it, then try to figure out what is causing it.  Then I let it go and lift it all up to God.

    I could let it consume, eat me whole.  I have done that.  But it isn't healthy and it needed to change.  But now, I am trying an active approach to it all.  Knowing it is there, always, and it will come back.  Knowing a different perspective I learned from the book and listening to Lee, has also helped gained a stronger understanding.  God created fear for a good reason...so we would be obedient to him.  To not hide away.  It is the enemy that takes it and twists it, make it crippling.

    Like Lee says in her book "What God meant to be a tool in our lives to bring order and create in us awe, worship, and reverence, the Enemy uses to send all manner of destruction into our lives."  By giving into the fear and anxiety, letting it consume us will completely undo us as moms.  But taking that healthy version of fear, the one God gave us, and using it as a tool we can become more aware, and to live in awe, worship, reverence.

    These first few chapters may feel pretty heavy.  They are real...real and honest.  When we get into talking about emotions, especially the hard ones like fear and anxiety, it touches deeply in our hearts.

    I have been lingering longer in these chapters because they resonate deeply within me.  I can relate.  But I also need the time to let it sink in, to change my thoughts on fear, to learn to deal with it.  Because if I can deal with it, then I can help my kids deal with it. 

    If I want my kids to follow and trust God.  I must first follow and trust God.  Through him, I can be brave, I can be strong.  Then I can teach my kids how they too can be brave, and strong.  But so much is learned by seeing.  If they see me...if they see me facing my fears, standing strong, and trusting God, then they too will follow.

    It is a lot to take in, it really is.  I am just in the beginning stages of the a lot of this, but have learned so much.  This path I am on, this path that God is leading me on is winding in ways I never imagined.  Through it all, he is remaining steadfast and listening, ready when we are. 

    Lean into God.  Find other moms who can be a mentor for you.  Ones that can help guide you as well and help you see things from an outside perspective.  We are not meant to go at this alone.  You too can be brave.  You have it in you, I know you do.

    Reindeer Food Ready to Go


    Reindeer food ~ Because Santa gets cookies so why shouldn't the reindeer get a snack while they wait and Rudolph get something extra to help that nose stay red.

    A few years back a good mom friend introduced us to the idea of reindeer food.  The kids put it together in a zip baggy and took it home after we had a little Christmas party with our friends.

    At the time, I had just had my youngest.  I was thankful for the time with moms, the time T got with his friends, and some fun projects along the way.

    What is reindeer food? You take oatmeal, glitter, and one red hot and put it in a bag.

    Why? The oatmeal is for a snack, the glitter is to get their attention, and the red hot is for Rudolph's nose to keep it glowing bright red.

    The best was yet to come.  It was the cutest thing to watch T take his bag outside on Christmas Eve and spread out the food around the front yard for the deer.  He had the biggest smile on his face.


    This year we gathered the supplies to make it and come to find out, we couldn't find one of the ingredients.  But a quick chat, we came up with alternatives.  M&Ms would have to do the trick and plus the kids enjoyed "sneaking a few" as we put the jars together.

    A few things I have learned from doing this now for a few years:
    • Don't use fine glitter...it is a huge mess
    • Find a container they can dump it from or shake it from, that way the glitter doesn't get stuck on their hands.  This year we bought cheap salt and pepper shakes, taped off the holes, and filled.  I figure we can take the lids off and they can dump it out in different areas around the yard.
    • Be ready to explain why there is some left.  We said that they only needed a snack to make it to the next house where they would get more
    Now our containers sit on the counter ready to go for Christmas Eve.

    It's a fun little thing we have been doing and T looks forward to it.  A, well, maybe next year he will have a better understanding of it all.

    What fun traditions do you have with your family?

    Wednesday, December 20, 2017

    Letter of the Week ~ R


    Recognize upper and lower case letter
    • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
    Activity
    • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
    • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
    Adventure
    • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
      • Riverside: visit down by the river to see how it looks during the colder months and walk the trails
    Art
    • Reindeer
      • The picture shows a fun way to make candy canes into reindeer.  Then give out to people.  We made these by taping two candy canes together, wrapping brown paper around, adding eyes/ears/a nose.  We also made cards with elves made out of fingerprints to give with them.
      • You could also do a hand and footprint craft: using brown paint or ink pad, make a foot print onto paper.  Then using both hands in the brown make hand prints for antlers on area where the toes are of the foot print.  Add details like: eyes, ears, nose.
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Saturday, December 9, 2017

    Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone



    After this past week, a long feeling one dealing with sick kiddos, all is mostly back to normal and I can finally take a moment to put my fingers to the keyboard.

    These past months have brought some interesting changes and have allowed me to step out of my usual comfort zone. 

    I have been following an amazing author for a few years now through Facebook, hearts at home, her blog, and her books...Jill Savage.  The most recent book that I have read is "Real Moms, Real Jesus", which I highly recommend.  Awhile back, she posted an opportunity to join a focus group she was creating.  It is a group of woman whom she bounces ideas off of.  I was blessed to be asked to join the focus group.  It has been an interesting path and a lot of fun.  Though I will admit, at first, I felt very nervous and a bit anxious.  But since joining the group I have stepped out of my comfort zone a little bit.

    So, when she shared about an opportunity to be a part of book launch team "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis I decided sure, why not give it a try.  I filled out the information and waited.  Well, I am excited to say, I get to be a part of the launch team.  This, for me is really stepping out of my comfort zone and I really don't know where it will lead.  I feel excited and anxious because it is a new path to go on and I wasn't sure I would actually get the chance to be a part of it.  And to be honest, I had to wait until I actually received the advanced copy of the book for it this week, it all to hit me that this is real.  I am really a past of the launch team. 

    I have not had a chance to start reading yet because of my kiddos being sick and all of us becoming one with the couch for most of the week.  But now that things are back to normal, I can delve in to it.

    And even more so, I get to share about it all with you guys.  So over the next weeks, as I read the book and as the launch team swings into full steam, I will be sharing more and more about it all.

    But for now, you can pre-order your copy of "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" on Amazon by clicking here.

    These things may not seem like stepping out of the comfort zone, but for me, they truly are.  I don't know where this path will lead.  By stepping out and joining the focus group, it gave me the little extra confidence to step out further and join the book launch team.  The way I see it, God has put these things into my life for a reason.  So why not trust him and see where it leads.

    Take a moment today to think about where your path is leading.  Are you at a spot where making a decision will lead you a different direction down the path?  Will it allow you to step out of you comfort zone?  Every now and then we all need to step out of the zone.  It will stir up a lot of mix emotions, uncertainty, but it will also take you places you never imagined, make you stronger, and lead to stepping out of the comfort zone more often.

    So, what is tugging at your heart right now?  Go ahead, maybe it is time to step out of your comfort zone.

    Sunday, December 3, 2017

    Letter of the Week ~ H


    Recognize upper and lower case letter
    • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
    Activity
    • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
    • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
    Adventure
    • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
      • Holiday Train
    Art
    • Hand Print Hearts
      • Using red paint on the hands create two hand prints
      • Have fun adding details
      • Picture examples are from pinterest
      • You could even pass them out to people
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.