Debt Free Interview with The Sociable Homeschooler

You know when they quote stats on how many people are afraid of public speaking, I am pretty sure I am number 2 or 3 on that list of thousands of people. It took me years of my Christian walk to be able to pray in front of folks. So imagine the surprise of my friends and family when not once but twice this month I was on the radio. I treasure this example of; when God calls you he will equip you.

On Friday, I had the privilege of sharing with Vivienne, the host for The Sociable Homeschooler Show, parts of my journey on becoming debt free. If you haven’t had a chance you can listen to the podcast here. Scroll down until you see my name, Stacey Lane.

I stand in the knowledge that I am not of this world. When the world looks at my small paid for house, my no debt budget, and my frugal ways, all while homeschooling, and shakes its head in confusion. I keep my attention on enjoying the adventure until He calls me home.

These talks have sparked my thoughts on writing a few blog posts on living in a small house. Sometimes a shift in thinking can make the difference in utilizing your space and keeping you from wanting what you don’t have.

Star Trek Themed Party

Star Trek Themed Party

Well earlier this summer my kids wrote a Top 10 Things to Do This Summer  and #4 on their list was Have a Star Trek Themed Party.

Planning parties is a great family learning event! As a homeschool mom I could even work in some school lessons on budgeting, planning and creative thinking into our day.

Star Trek Themed Decoration Ideas:

First we researched decoration ideas. Then we allotted $10 for the budget. The funds went to 4 black plastic table cloths, 1 pack of silver balloons, 1 red light bulb, and 2 star ice cube trays. Add to that some Christmas lights and our own stash of Star Trek toys and we had a party atmosphere.

Star Trek Themed Menu:

  

Second we planned the menu. We served Star Fleet sandwiches, Vulcan Veggies, Talaxiam Fruit Salad, and lovely drinks with our star shaped ice cubes. (Blue Gatorade worked well) Oh did I mention the dessert, a Borg Cake! My daughter was kind enough to make the cake gluten and dairy free. Don’t forget to serve the Earl Gray tea hot.
  

Star Trek Themed Party Activities:

Third was the entertainment line-up. A challenging round of Star Trek Scene It was enjoyed.

Next we held a Phaser Challenge which was how well could you use your Nerf dart guns to knock down various items.

We ended with watching our favorite movie, “The Search for Spock.”

  

Star Trek Themed Costumes:

Next up the costumes. Thankfully Goodwill organizes their shirts by color, we easily scored the red, blue and yellow that each person needed. My husband (aka 1 on of 6) scavenged hoses and wires to make a Borg costume. I couldn’t resist buying Vulcan ears from Amazon. My oldest son used thumbtacks to mark his ranking as admiral. That topped off our budget at $26 dollars for costume supplies.

A new family photo…PRICELESS

 

 

Introduction to 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential

Verse Matthew Ch 9:27

My friends who have called needing advice on potty training, know my comment will always be “they won’t start kindergarten in diapers, take a deep breath and relax for a moment.” They will reach those developmental stages, at their time; sometimes we just need someone to remind us of that.

There are times when you just need some encouraging words that your child will conquer that stage of development. When those children start Kindergarten, I make it a point to call their mommas and ask, “Do you remember when you thought diapers would never leave your house?” The phone call is really good for a laugh.

Now I am at the point where my oldest is a senior in high school and I am panicked I have missed something he may desperately need to know for college. Ack! Take a deep breath.

I must remind myself that there all gaps, and it’s okay. He will graduate and survive college. I have made it a point to talk with moms who have graduated their children from their home schools cause I need the reminder he will conquer this stage of life. (Hey, I will survive too!)

This weeks reading was the forward and appendix of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential. Zan Tyler states her purpose for writing this book is to encourage women in the journey of being a wife and mother. Yeah, I need encouragement this week! I can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

Then the zinger, Zan points out that, “God continues to focus firmly on relationships with Him and others.” Oh, that doesn’t sound like math, reading or science. Hmm have I gotten so carried away with academics I have forgotten our relationships? Didn’t I just pray for God to help us in the friendship department?

Oh, no I can’t write about Chapter 1 until next week!

 

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

Ok I am just going to assume if you have more than 1 child you have experienced sibling rivalry in your house. The culprits in my house are my 7 yr. and 11 yr. old sons. They share a room, they share toys and they share their parents.

In my quest to bring peace to my house, I have found one idea that helps bring unity. Now we have memorized scripture, prayed about heart changes and encouraged kind gestures, but sometimes it’s hard to act lovingly when you have back-to-back confrontations.

When I notice the constant bickering and fighting is reaching a peak of out of control, I look for an activity for just the two of them; an activity where they get to feel special for going and can have a chance to bind their hearts over a pleasant experience.

Sometimes it is simple moment like sneaking away for ice cream. Sometimes you need to plan an adventure for the afternoon.

 

Last week I took them to the rodeo, just the two of them. They laughed at each other riding the mechanical bull. When we got home they were happy to report to the family their adventure.

Then when the bickering started, I could remind them how much fun they can have with their brother. It amazes me how quick they can forget the fun times but I hope when they are older then can be friends.

Part of my intentional parenting includes helping the children build better relationships with each other.

Do you have any special things you do to help battle sibling rivalry?

Cupcakes for Missions Continues

cupcakenats

In case you missed my first blog post on Cupcakes, Missions and Social Media.

My daughter continues to receive orders for cupcakes, even after funding her first 3-week mission trip back in April. These cupcakes have allowed her to fund and attend another mission trip.

This week she is serving a special needs camp in Pennsylvania. A group of teens are scrubbing dishes, setting tables, and cleaning bathrooms to help serve the staff and campers.

Since her cupcakes are homemade people like to comment on them. Some of her customers take her cupcakes to public parties and have been able to share how they purchased them to support missions. It has been a great way to start a conversation about Jesus!

She has baked well over 500 cupcakes since January and she continues to love baking them. I love to see her heart grow in the serving of others. She starts high school in September and I am already working on getting her high school credit for all her work.

I am blessed to be able to encourage her and thankful that her family rallies around her by washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. May the Lord continue to show me the potential of each of my children.

Thank you to all of “YOU” who have ordered cupcakes!!

 

Summer Reading Plan

 

Summer Reading Plan

We were at the library yesterday and saw the advertising for the summer reading program. I am always shocked how a sheet of paper, a strip of stickers and a chance for a prize motivates my kids to want to spend some of their summer reading!

So fast-forward to this morning, since our bible reading comes from our school curriculum and we are finishing that up. I told my 7 year old, go read you bible. He was immediately lost on what he should read and slumped on the couch. Hmm might need to offer some guidance here.

Summer Reading Plan for His Glory
A Family Challenge

I then remembered I had some great family activity coupons lying in a drawer, the kind of coupons that can get you ice cream for dinner or a special outing with dad. I grabbed a lovely red gift bag and added the coupons to it.

At the end of June, July and August if your reading chart is filled with stickers you can grab a coupon out of the bag! Hmm I might need to come up with a coupon my husband and I can strive towards. It always makes things fun when the kids can check to see how WE parents are doing.

 

How to Prioritize the Important Stuff

Order

How I prioritize the important stuff. For the last few years of juggling all the hats I wear in life, I usually visualized my priorities on a long checklist. Of course God should be first, and then my husband…. This usually led to guilt by lunchtime when I realized I had not prayed or thought of my husband.  Maybe you have been in my shoes?

Instead of visualizing that rectangle of a priority list, try a circle! Hopefully, you are familiar with the word circles that make the words larger for more usage and smaller for less. Really sometimes it can be the simple thought adjustments that help relieve me up the guilt in life.

Order 2

Now the other big thought, don’t analyze this list everyday! That weekly date night goes a long way to keeping my husband high on the list, that morning bible study gives me nuggets of truth for days, and the kids completing a huge school project. We tend to forget yesterday’s events when the stress of today is staring us down. Even worse we forget when we start comparing our inside moments to people’s outside moments. Comparison kills happiness.

OH and to remind myself to give myself grace when the washing machine breaks, the children get sick, and I haven’t showered in days. (Yeah that was my week)

Now my Priority Circle can allow the words to grow big or get smaller based on time over the week. So if my circle looks like this….better reevaluate fast!

Order 3

 

A Lesson Learned Cleaning Out the Toy Box

cleaning out the toy box

Cleaning Out The Toy Box

Daunting chore?

I have spent days of my mother careering threatening, grumbling and complaining about toys everywhere. It only takes 2.3 seconds to undo any toy organization.

Somedays I just want to avoid the mess because of the many other things screaming for my attention. Often I just want to close the lid and forget about the glob of marshmallows hardening at the bottom.

I know cleaning out the toy box will take at least an hour of my time and a toll on my mental mind of keeping the boys focused on the task.

Chance to Listen?

Every now and then I like to sit on the floor surrounded by my kiddos and dump out the toys. Of course they get a little nervous when I do that. I have been known to throw things out rather quickly.

But sometimes I want to listen to the stories about their favorite toys. I want to share my favorite memories attached to certain toys. Sadly, there will come a day when they choose to throw out toys they no longer want. Cue the Toy Story theme music.

Yeah, for a brief moment you may notice how fast they are growing because their interest in toys has changed. For me, I no longer have cute baby or toddler toys. I actually packed a few of my favorite toys away. I am hoping they survive for the day when grandkids come to visit.

My boys were so excited to tell me about their toys that I don’t think they noticed we were actually cleaning.

What could have been a stressful day of cleaning turned into a chance to listen to what my boys love about their toys.

Yeah, reality says I can not walk down memory lane every time we need to clean out the toy box but I would encourage you occasionally to stop and listen.

 

DIY Resurrection Garden for Easter

Resurrection Garden

After seeing different versions of the Resurrection Garden on the Facebook and Pinterest, I really wanted to create one for my home.

The one I originally saw used a clay pot bottom but when I went to the store I could not find any clay pots so I came up with a plan B. I did find a blog that wrote up step by step directions for a  Mini DIY Resurrection Garden at wearethatfamily.com

Supplies for Resurrection Garden:

  • Potting Soil
  • Grass Seed
  • Pebbles
  • Plastic Liner
  • Coco Liner
  • Twigs
  • Wire
  • Rock
  • Small Clay Pot

Steps to Constructing Resurrection Garden:

  • For the base I used a 10 inch plastic drip liner and a cocoa liner. The plastic liner cost $1.96 and the cocoa liner cost $.077. I used scissors to cut off the hanging plastic piece to make a round bowl out of the plastic liner.
  • Using the potting soil I filled the bottom with some dirt, then placed the small pot in on its side and covered the back part of the pot with dirt. The goal is to create a hill with the back of the pot buried under the soil and front of the pot open.
  • I used aquarium rocks in front of the small pot. Then placed grass seed on the soil above the pot. Then I covered the grass seeds up with a small layer of soil.
  • My oldest son gathered some sticks from the yard and used green florist wire to make the 3 crosses
  • Stones could be found in the yard to save buying the aquarium rocks. I also shared the cost of grass seed with a few friends.

DO NOT FORGET TO SPRAY WITH WATER 3 to 5 TIMES A DAY!!!  (I use a spray bottle to mist the dirt)

About 4 days later our grass seeds began to sprout!

I used some nails to decorate the edge of the bowl. The nails pressed into the coco liner. I was thinking I could also hot glue some nickels around the edge and maybe add some other visuals reminders, like some cloth inside the small pot.

Do you have any suggestions for visual reminders to add to the garden?

Cupcakes and Social Media and a Mission

 

cupcakes

Cupcakes hold a special place in my heart, not because of their yummy sweetness, but how God used them to minister to my family.

My 13year old daughter signed up for a 3-week missions trip. We then knew we had to raise support for her trip. Now my daughter took a cake decorating class a few months back and had been practicing her technique on cupcakes.

So this mama thought I can put one post on Face Book to help put the word out on our new plan.

“Local Friends, Natalie needs to raise funds for her mission trip in April. Among other service projects, she will be spending a week at The Voice of the Martyrs. She will be selling cupcakes for Valentines Day at a $1 each. If you would like some yummy cupcakes please email me how many and we can work out the details. Thank you!”

Not only did we have a list for Valentine cupcakes, but also people started asking for Superbowl, Birthday and Baby shower cupcakes! Our family rallied with her and it became a team effort for some of her really large orders.

The amazing thing was I didn’t have to research clever ways to raise money, I noticed the talents my daughter had been given and focused on using them. She may not collect hundreds of books for charity or build wells in 3rd world countries, but God has given her gifts and I pray she always uses them for His glory.

 

Since she continues to bake and travel on trips, I have updated the post here.