Monday, November 30, 2015

Does God Roll His Eyes?

I am not trying to be flippant, I promise.

Really, today this exact thought went through my head- Does God Roll His Eyes?  I even repeated it to my oldest son.  Who probably also rolled his eyes at me.

Maybe that is what happens when you are living off very little sleep, and a with lot of adrenaline!

Oh, and when you are currently on plan C, or maybe D or E!

You see, we are in the middle of a move.  Which really translates to we are living between two houses right now.  Hang with me, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

If you remember correctly, we closed last week with a slight mishap in the middle of it all.  I know Salem and Ashton will love that word- mishap!  HA!

Anyway, after a few days of painting and cleaning we headed back to our old house to regroup and planned on heading back to Omaha on Tuesday.

Then the weather decided not to cooperate.  Again!

Yes, I knew they were calling for snow.  Yes, I was watching the weather.  Yes, things just kept getting more intense.  Those silly weathermen really know how to make things exciting.

So all of a sudden we went from chance of snow to 2 feet of snow by Tuesday.  Did someone miss the memo that that was the day I was traveling?  In a car.  Followed by the children who had just been in a weather related accident!?!

What's a girl to do?

Change plans at 11:30 at night on Saturday and head out by 9:30 Sunday morning, of course.

No way was I taking the chance of getting stuck for who knows how long until the town could dig out and clear the highways.

You would not believe how fast one can pack 5 people, two dogs,  and one poor fish!  My kids are amazing like that!

Yes, we arrived safely, ahead of the weather.  I have never been so happy to see a house!

You see- we have someone very special to pick up at the airport on Sunday!

Wouldn't want to be late!

And yes, I do think God rolls His eyes.  All the time  At me, at least!

Because I make a lot of wonderful plans and then He reminds me-

Jeremiah 29:11 
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.

I am so thankful God's plans are the best!  And I am thankful that despite the fact that He must roll His eyes at me pretty often, I am still loved!


Friday, November 27, 2015

The Gift of December- A Family, Faith and Fridays Series

Have you noticed?  December is almost here.  Can you even believe it?

For most, it means a flurry of activities.  School plays and recitals, last minute present buying, parties to attend and houses to decorate.

For us, it is all that and more.  If you have been around here a while, you know that we have almost come to the end of my husbands one year deployment.  Actually, we have gone well over 365 days, but who is counting?  On top of that we are moving and I have started a new job as Product Manager the TOS Homeschool Review Crew.  Yes, to say that December will be a busy month is an understatement.  Good, but busy.

But I did not want to leave this space sadly quiet while I was busy, so I have asked for a little help from some friends.  Some amazing gals have agreed to guest blog for me during December all about Christmas.  Wait 'til you read their posts! They have lots of fun in store for you- I cannot wait to share the posts with you starting December 2nd.

Don't worry, I will be popping in and out, I can't be THAT quiet, and I have a fun giveaway perfect for a stocking stuffer,  Plus, I have a lot of fun planned already for 2016!

I pray you have a beautifully. blessed Holiday Season and I pray you remember why it is we celebrate!  May the Lord bless you and your family this Christmas!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Time? Who Has Time?

Welcome back to another month of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop.  We will be winding down this series in December but we have two more topics for you before we call it a wrap.  After last months's chat of How Am I Going To Teach High School? , we are off to a new one this month-

How do you fit it all in?

Hmmm, I had to really think about this one.  ALL is relative!  But here goes-

First decide what ALL means to you.  Because it is going to be different for everyone.
   -Do I want my child to graduate in four years or earlier?
   -Do I want my child to have AP classes?
   -Do I want my child to participate in sports or extracurricular activities?
   -Do I want my child to work part time?
   -Do I want my child to take online dual credit classes?

There are no universal right or wrong questions.  But there are most certainly rights and wrongs for your child.  Sit down with your highschooler early on and write down goals - yours and theirs.  Even 8th grade is not too early to begin planning.

Next, form a game plan.  Nothing happens by sheer luck, and your goals will not be accomplished if you have no plan.  Divide a piece of paper into four columns and make a tentative course schedule. Decide how and where those courses are going to be taken.

Now see where there is space and add in the extras.  Because let's face it, anything other than school is extra.  Do those things have value?  Absolutely!  But sometimes our children have to prioritize and make choices  Some kids will do great with full days and months, while others will not.  Know your child and help them to make informed decisions.

Invest in a calendar or student planner.  Now is a good time to teach your child how to use these basic tools.  Write in due dates and work backwards.  If a paper is due the third week in March, write it down.  Then pencil in the rough draft due the week prior, the note taking the week prior to that, and the outline the week prior to that.  Teach your children to think ahead and plan accordingly, always allowing for a few extra days of wiggle room.

Teach your child to become independent.  This is big, my friends!  If you want a organized, confident college student, now is the time to teach them how to be one.  It does not come naturally for most high schoolers.  Little by little, subject by subject, you need to teach your kids to be independent thinkers and doers! Teach them how to learn and then let them do it - by themselves.  Yes, they will still need some oversight, but it is time to let go of their hands and let them succeed, or fail, on their own.  You cannot follow them to college and remind them of when their assignments are due.  Let them learn now, under the safety of your roof, rather than by trial and error in the much less forgiving world of college professors.

Everyone has 24 hours in a day.  No more and no less.  Finding the time to fit it all in during the high school years can be challenging, but with a plan, a little practice, and a lot of guidance, we can find the time to "fit it all in!"

Read more on How to Fit it ALL in while educating in the high school years:

Linking up-
I Choose Joy!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A House and an Accident- All in One Day!

As of Friday, we are officially home owners in the Omaha area.  Yes, I bought a house without my husband. Sure hopes he like it! ;)  It feels like home already and it is going to be hard to live between two different places.  While it is incredibly difficult to leave the sweet town we live in and dear friends, we are eager to be a family reunited again in a few weeks.

To show you what an amazing real estate agent we had, this is what we found waiting for us on a chalkboard wall when we first got to the house.  (Sorry kids, it has since been painted over!)  She also left us a basket of treats from our friends at 621 Gifts

I have said this before, but it bears repeating, the local mid-west products Dan and Tonya carry are incredible and they are expanding their inventory on a regular basis.  Now is the time to order for Christmas!

And now for the rest of the story!  Just as I was walking into the real estate office to sign a bazillion papers, my oldest daughter called me to tell me that she and her brother, who were on the road to join us, had been in an accident.  When she left home, the weather was fine and dry.  Within 45 minutes they hit a wall of snow and ice - literally!

After hitting black ice they did a 180 and went off the road into a ditch.  Here is a picture of their view once they stopped, looking back the way they came from.

And here is what the back tires looked like.

Here is Salem, calm and collected, and Ashton's "I am not impressed" face.  They had a lot of bonding time as they sat in that car for 30 minutes initially waiting for the police and another hour and a half before they were towed.  In the cold.  Alone.  In a ditch on the side of the highway.  Momma was not happy, can you tell!?

Let me tell you how good God is.  The police in that area responded to 66 accidents during that time.  Many cars were on upside down.

By the grace of God my 21 year old daughter managed to keep that jeep upright.

By the grace of God she and her brother were uninjured.

By the grace of God we have old friends in the area that, though they were also headed out of town, turned around and found the kids in the ditch.  They eventually had the car towed to their mechanic and allowed the kids to stay with them for the night, as the weather was too bad for me to get to them. The area got 16 inches of snow!

On top of it all, we are now moving to an area where long time friends of ours are also living and the husband went to get my kiddos and bring them home safely the following day.  It was a longer trip than normal because of the bad highways, and again, I am thankful for the friends that God has placed in our lives!

So yes, for two hours, I signed house papers while at times stopping every three or four pages to take calls or texts regarding the kids and the wreck.  Our realtor was a saint and had the patience of Job.  I am also pretty sure she does not get paid enough to go through what she did with us.  I walked into her office shell shocked, scared, and unsure of what to do next.  She prayed for us and allowed me time to regroup and take things one small step at a time.  A house closing to go down in the records for sure!

Good news- we own a house once again and my kids are safe!

What could have been a tragedy was not.

Only by the grace of God!

Linking up with friends!
Essential Fridays Linkup



Friday, November 20, 2015

7 College Considerations

Is it just me, or has going to college become more and more of a difficult road to travel?  I mean, I remember just applying to a few schools and choosing to go to the one a lot of friends were going to. OK, there may have been more involved, but I am pretty sure that was all my 17 year old brain cared about.  Well, now my 45 year old brain cares about a lot more, trust me.  Having already sent one child to college and learned a lot from that experience, and now getting ready to send another that way in the fall, I realize there is so much more to think about.  So much more!

And it is not always a barrel of fun.  But there IS a lot to think about and I can tell you from experience that the more thought you put into it BEFORE they go off, the better off you will be and hopefully the happier your child will be.

At least, that is the theory!

Let's get started.
Cost- How much does your school of choice cost? Take a good, long look.  You typically will find general tuition and room and board costs pretty easily.  What may be harder to see are things like library costs, parking fees, and other trivial things.  But trust me, those seemingly trivial things can and will add up fast.  Don't forget a meal plan: college students do like to eat!

Scholarship opportunity- Does the school offer a wide variety of scholarships?  Often the more expensive schools have more scholarships to offer and, therefore, can end up being your cheaper way to go.  I know, crazy right?  Do not eliminate a college just by a glance at their price! Scour their website for scholarships they offer, but do not forget outside scholarships as well.  Even places like Target offer scholarships in many states!  Who knew?  Service organizations are often untapped scholarships as well.

Location- How far is your school of choice from your home and why does it matter?  First of all, travel should be considered as part of the cost of college.  Ask me how I know this!  When our oldest went to school a good two day drive away from our home, we forgot to factor in how many plane tickets home or nights in hotels and gas that would cost.  Lesson from the wise, don't overlook that! Those small details can easily equate to not so small pocket change out of your budget!  Also, is your child a homebody?  Do they want to be near siblings or come home for an occasional weekend?  In my opinion, part of being in college is the experience of being in college and learning to be independent, but, if you know your child will be back and forth, choose a college that is close enough to home to make that a reasonable thing.

Major- Yes, it is important!  I know that the old mantra is go to school and do general education for a few years and see what you like.  That mantra has produced a lot of 5 and 6 year college grads.  If that is ok with you, fine, but be careful.  What we are seeing more and more is that many colleges are spreading gen. ed. classes out evenly through the four years and allowing students to immerse themselves in their major pretty quickly.  Some schools are even forgoing many of the traditional gen. ed. classes completely.  It is probably a good idea to look for a school with your child's interests in mind.  If they really have no idea what they want to do (they are only 17 and 18 for goodness sake), then make sure you steer them to a liberal arts school with a lot of good, solid choices for majors. If they want to pursue specialty training, then send them to a place for that training.  No use in wasting their time and your money on things that do not matter to them.

Private vs. Public- If you and your child decide that religious affiliation or values are important to you then you will more than likely want to look at private Christian schools.  Be forewarned that the name "Christian" in a school is not a magic formula.  Do your research.  Also be aware that there are wonderful Christian organizations even on secular campuses across the states if that is a desire for your child. In addition, state schools are usually cheaper, especially when combined with in-state tuition rates. Private versus public also usually plays a role in school size as well, with many private schools being smaller in size.

Size- Which brings us to size.  How big is the campus?  How many students attend the school?  How big is the town the school is in? Some kids thrive in large groups of people while others prefer more intimate settings, whether it be class size or just the sheer number of people on campus or in a town.  This is one of those things that a few quick campus visits will answer.  See what your child is comfortable with and lean in that direction.

Security- Years ago, this would not have even been a thought in my brain.  Now, well, it is obviously important.  Be ready to ask questions.  What is campus security like?  Who does it consists of?  What training do they have?  What emergency plans does the school have in place?  If a school does not take their campus security seriously, you need to look elsewhere.

So now what?  Once you identify a few schools, go through these college considerations and probably a few more.  I would then suggest you have your child make a chart with the parameters that are important to him or her so you can compare each school.  I would also add a notes column for any additional things you see, especially on campus.

And then, yes, go to the campuses of your top choices one by one.  There is just no better way to get a feel for a school than to step foot on their campus.  Go for a tour, attend a few classes, whatever it takes, but go visit.  Take more notes, ask more questions, and let your student feel things out.  Then go home and process for a few days!

Talk things out as a family, but in the end, make sure your child is happy with his/her decision.  You may be paying for it, but your child, after all, is the one attending, and you want him/her to be happy and thrive!