Friday, October 21, 2016

Ways you are Ruining Facebook for Everyone

  1. Posting only about one thing. We understand your passion, but try to vary your posts as much as possible to appeal to a wider audience.
  2. Using your personal site as primarily a business account. For business, create a page, not a profile. If you're posting more than 25% about your business on your personal site, you'll lose friends or followers because of it.
  3. Unfriending people over differences. If someone is being outright rude or abusive, I block them (I think that's happened once... I have great friends!!). I only unfriend if someone's being creepy or scary, and that's never happened, because I only friend people I know in real life (with a very few exceptions of people I've known online for some time, and then only females of course!) I realize people have facebook accounts for different reasons. If you only want family on your account, or only close friends, that's completely fine. However, unfriending or blocking someone because you don't agree with everything they say is immature. Don't be afraid to let your views be stretched.
  4. Being offended over every little thing. So your friend called formula feeders lazy. Speak up if you want; she may not have thought about all the reasons someone may need to formula feed. That will help her think more thoroughly & accurately about her future posts, but try not to take it personally. If you know laziness wasn't your motivation, just move on. There's a joke meme about candy giving you diabetes. This is different, because it's a joke. The vast majority of us know this would only be talking about Type 2 Diabetes, and while it's also true that not all of those cases are caused by lifestyle, it's a joke. We're all offended at times, and it's easy to think of things that don't offend you as no big deal, but I also think we could all benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt. Their motives for posting were to advocate for breastfeeding and to make people laugh, both noble motives, right?
  5. Posting controversial things and being shocked when people offer a rebuttal. Did you think everyone would automatically agree with you? If it's controversial, it's going to be controversial. If you don't have an intelligent answer back, maybe you need to revisit your belief.
  6. Complaining about "all the negative posts". There are those who want FB to be only a happy place, full of funny memes & baby pics. That's fine, but like your mama taught you, you can only control yourself. Post only that stuff if it makes you happy. Some personality types like to battle ideas; some like to post areas where they're struggling to build rapport with other strugglers or ask for prayer. Let others have their thing. Allow them to be different.
  7. Posting about your absolutely perfect life ONLY. Really guys, no one's buying it. 
  8. Being rude. Seriously just don't. Respect others enough to be tactful. When you start insulting, you've lost your argument, and intelligent people know this. 
  9. And finally... (and yes, this one's for the Baby Boomers), posting "forwards" you haven't yet verified. ;)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Routine Tips Worth Remembering

If I could have just one dream job, it would be to make schedules all day for people, organizations, schools. My brother recounted recently my endless charts I would work on as a child against which the whole rest of my family would rebel. In my personal life, I feel like I've created many failures with them in the past. It's from those that I've learned what I'm about to share with you. Hope this helps someone. :) 

1- Set goals/priorities before you set times.
Write down what you want to accomplish with your day. Then realize it will be more than you are able. Once you start plugging that list into time slots, you'll realize it won't all fit. That's OK! Rotate things, or just cross it off your list for a different season of life. God gave you 24 hours. He doesn't expect you to do more than what will fit into those! If you expect that of yourself, throw that expectation out! It's just not happening. Later, when your kids are older, when you're in a different season of life, you may have time for it. Make sure you have room for your FEW biggest non-negotiables. 

2- Keep what's working.

Don't change your whole routine around every time one little thing isn't working. The parts of your day that run smoothly you want to keep like that! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. ;)

3- Margin, margin, margin!

There are many ways to include margin into your day. Here's how I do it. We have 3 30 min blocks in our morning school time. 2 of those take only 20 min to complete, usually, but I keep them in a 30 min slot. I schedule breaks throughout the day. Lunch break is 1 hour. It takes us 15-20 min to eat. Since my kids are still young (4 & 7), they need that extra time. We have other breaks scheduled throughout the day. Another thing I do is have large of blocks of time with a list to complete. 5-6 chores within a 3 hour slot. I don't schedule each one individually. Some weeks some of those chores don't need doing. Other weeks I don't even have time to get to them all. Most of the time, when I stay on top of things, they take an hour, and I get the rest of the time to work on projects I want to do, read, etc. The reason you need margin is so you don't stress when unexpected things (a.k.a. small children, or humans in general) come up.

4- Keep adjusting

For some reason, once my schedule was set, I thought it was admitting failure to change it (and I'd change the WHOLE thing, see #2 above.) It's really not; it's life. Something in your schedule won't work out right. Expect it. Sit down every few weeks for a few minutes & tweak it. This is why I write mine in pencil instead of typing it out on pretty paper & posting it up like I used to. (3 weeks in, it would be a mirror of my failure, staring me in the face, haha!)

5- Get up in time to feel on top of your day, instead of vice versa!

This is something I just started, and I am hesitant to even write about it yet. From the time my oldest was born until very recently, I never woke up before my kids. Ever. They were my alarm clock. Giving myself just 15 extra minutes is life changing. And I don't even know that I should have been doing it all along (definitely not when they were still waking throughout the night!). Maybe this is just the time in my life where God wanted me to start. It is a game changer for me and the rest of my day. The exact time will be different for everyone. This is helping me stay motivated. 
On the other end of this, have a bed time. I go to bed to read about an hour before I want to be asleep.

6- Flex time
Flex time is time set aside to make up for what's been missed because of unforeseen things that come up. Think of inclement weather days at school. If there's inclement weather, that day is set aside to make it up. If there isn't, it's a day off! Flex time added to each day, each week, and to days of school if you homeschool can help to add more margin. Another way to use it is to designate less important lessons or times as Flex Times. When I taught, I would set aside 2 weeks in each subject as flex time. Those lessons were the least important things I was teaching that year, so it was no big deal if we didn't get to them. I would move more important things into that spot as needed. That was so helpful the year Hurricane Ike swept through Houston & left us out of school for 2 weeks! I have 2 Flex Weeks at the end of each home school year for sicknesses, and we get those weeks off if we don't need them!


Monday, September 26, 2016

A is for Apple

(MFW, Kinder, unit 4)
This was a fun unit!

all their work up. Those flashcards are Baby Einstein.
Math apple sheet (MFW)
Making fruit posters.
Kumon cutting sheet, happened to be fruit. ;)
We made applesauce that did not turn out good. We used Gala apples, so that may have been part of it. I think I didn't cook it long enough. But I love this picture of Kruiser learning to use the peeler. Process, not product, right?

They decided to pull out encyclopedias on their own, at the same time. :) Proud teacher moment.

Life Happens...

Give 2 boys some sticks & some cardboard boxes to beat up, & they're set! They were helping me break down boxes for a fire.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine- review & tips

We just got back from Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. Overall, a fun trip! I wanted to share some tips, reviews, & things I wish I'd known before going in case it helps someone.

Great decorations and atmosphere (except they had scary Halloween decor. Don't even get me started on this. Why? just why?...)
Not comfortable, the bed and couch and even the kids' bunks were not very comfortable. For the price I expected a lot more. There were 2 big craters in our bed.
The walls are thin. TIP: bring earplugs. Even the cleaning staff was loud right outside our door late at night.
TIP: bring your own shampoo/conditioner if you're picky. This may have been the worst shampoo I've ever put on my head, & it didn't condition, but I'm not picky, lol.
There is a micro/fridge in every room, which was a huge plus. We brought our own breakfasts & snacks.

Story time was OK. The kids enjoyed it, but I think older kids might not. TIP: get there early for games & a good seat.
Skipper (age 4) loved the "dance party". The staff were really into it & great with the kids.
We did the nature walk one morning. Eh, so-so.

Was not exceptional & was overpriced. I mean, not Disney overpriced, but somewhat. The outside pool restaurant waiters were not friendly, & didn't want to do their jobs, like cleaning tables. The others were ok.
TIP: Eat out for dinner and at the Lodge for lunch. We went here, here, & to In & Out Burger near the freeway. All great.
Starbucks was great, and the line wasn't too long.

Water park-
Was excellent, overall. Lifeguards were great & helpful. There are slides for all ages & levels of bravery. 3 kiddie slides, along with lots of water shooting toys, 2 medium body slides that went pretty slowly (even littles are allowed to ride), 3 indoor bigger tube slides that are fast if you're riding double or large, but not so much if you're alone, & 2 indoor higher thrill tube slides with steeps drops (the green 1 inside & the red & white one that goes outside immediately). There are also a wave pool, a lazy river, 2 hot tubs (1 for adults only, the other connects to an outside one), & another activity pool.
The outside was open during the weekends only when we went (September). I think it's closed entirely once it gets cold out, & open every day in the summer. There is a big activity pool & 2 tube slides that were fun, as well as lots of places to lay out.
There are life jackets & a few puddle jumpers available, as well as plenty of towels. 3 shower stalls for the whole park aren't enough, but there are 2 big bathrooms.
TIP: Go during non peak times- early morning, Sunday evening, & weekdays (except Fri night, that's crowded.) The lines never got super long, but the other pools did get crowded during peak times. I tried to plan our water times around those.
TIP: If there's not a line for the showers, rinse kids off before leaving the pool (there are soap dispensers in the showers), then you won't have to bathe them!

TIP: Search for deals! You can get as much as 1/2 off if you book early or find a deal on Groupon.
TIP: If something goes wrong, call the front desk & politely let them know. We were out of hot water for just awhile one morning, and they comped us $75 back from our room fee! If they ask if you're eating breakfast or whatever meal at one of their restaurants, and you say "yes" they will comp that instead, so be aware of that. We would rather have $ off our room!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Family Vacation 2016!

Why did we take vacations when the kids were babies? I can't remember. I'm sure I'll say the same thing about this age when they're older. By the 3rd morning, we definitely were dealing with a few attitude issues, but it seemed calmer & less stressful than former vacations. Only having to drive a few hours really helped. It also helped that I, the Queen of Vacation Freak Out, decided beforehand to attempt to stay calmer & more flexible, to take what comes. (Haven't I decided that at the beginning of every vacation, though? ;) ) Whatever the reason, while physically drained, we had a blast at Great Wolf Lodge & Legoland for 4 days & 3 nights.

Kids loved the room & their bunks

Dallas sunset

Skipper loved the characters.

The boys have been begging me to go to Legoland. CA is a little bit of a drive, so I was thrilled to learn there's one right here in TX. I found BOGO tickets online as well!

The water park, the main attraction. I may have had more fun here than the boys did.

Vacay tips:
  • Plan, plan, plan! While you don't have to plan every second or every meal (unless you're on a tight budget), know where you're going to stay & what you're going to do for the most part. Last minute decision making, when energies are low & drama is high, is a time waster. Planning also lets you know what to pack, and some tickets are cheaper if purchased ahead online.
  • Leave some wiggle room; be flexible! 
  • Pace yourself. It's tempting to jam pack the days so you can see & do everything, but it's important to plan some down time so you don't burn out, especially if traveling with babies or small children! We had an hour of "in your bunks" time in the middle of each day. I also planned 1 day for myself to sleep in. (I crash & burn quickly without that.) If you'll be gone a week or more, plan a couple of half days off from activities.
  • Trade time away with your spouse. Super Dad wanted to watch football Saturday evening, so I took the kids to the kiddie pool. Then Sunday afternoon, the boys wanted to stay in their hotel room & build legos, so I slipped away to lay out in the hot tub for an hour. Both being introverts, it's best for my husband & I to have some of that time away.
  • Pack breakfast if your hotel doesn't include it. (GWL didn't.)
  • Pack non-screen activities for the car. We use screens; I just didn't want them on them the entire trip. We also do 30 minutes of "quiet time" when things get crazy for the adults' sanity.
  • Don't go far when your kids are little. It's just not worth it unless you're going to visit family.

Monday, September 19, 2016

In Which I Muse about Rich Mullins (or share his musings)

Today is the 19th anniversary of his death. Musing may have been his hobby, next to song writing, of course. His songs taught me so much! Here are some quotes that are not from songs....

'The amazing thing about the whole joy of Christianity is it's something you can't find, it's something that has to find you. Once we submit ourselves to God, the things of God chase us down like dogs, and you can't escape them. I think we can stifle the Spirit. We can thwart the work of God in our own lives. We can choose to nourish that which should be crucified and ignore that which should be nourished, but God ain't done with any of us.' 

'Faith is walking with God. This biggest problem with life is that it's just daily.... It's not what you did, and not what you say you're going to do, it's what you do today.'

'God has called us to be lovers, and we frequently think that He meant us to be saviors. So we "love" as long as we see "results". We give of ourselves as long as our investments pay off, but if the ones we love do not respond, we tend to despair and blame ourselves and even resent those we pretend to love. Because we love someone, we want them to be free of addictions, of sin, of self--and that is as it should be. But it might be that out love for them and our desire for their well-being will not make them well. And, if that is the case, their lack of response no more negates the reality of love than their quickness to respond would confirm it.' 

'What problem do you have that death wouldn't fix?'

and a song...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

TBT: A Few Things I Love

This is embarrassing. I want to eventually make my blog into a book, so I am including writings from a looong time ago. This is a poem I wrote for an assignment in high school. I still like most of these things though! :)

A Few Things I Love (1996)

At the pool on a summer's day
The sun shining down on my cheek
Laughter coming from children at play
A man not afraid to be weak

Reading a book on a rainy day
Long talks on the trampoline
Hearing the sound of a faint guitar play
The smell of kerosene

Little girls in sun dresses
Little boys in overalls
Any kind of well-planned surprises
The feel of the lines on the ball

Bagpipes and kilts and anything Scottish
A simple working woman at home
A man of sixty with a look rather boyish
Coffee ice-cream in a cone

Driving on a country road in early morning
Watching the clouds move above
An inspiring sermon with a pracitcal warning
Thinking of all that I love.