Seasons in Arkansas {and in Life}

The "seasons" in Arkansas are often the center of jokes year around. They are unpredictable. Some years the icy winter may seem to never fade with a spring that may last for 2 hours before the sweltering summer takes over which leads to a whirlwind of sweating and freezing temps that swing back and forth within a matter of days.

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My kids have a hard time understanding these swings in mother natures hormonal outburst after what seems like months of one extreme or the other. Explaining to them that, although yesterday shorts and flip flops were appropriate, today they'll need boots, jackets, and hats will never get easier. As adults here in the Arkansas' climate, we've just learned that it's life and you just have to check your weather app often.

I wish it were as easy for us adults to learn that "seasons" in life are often as unpredictable as Arkansas' weather. Some years the icy loneliness may seem to never fade. Then a fresh breath of friendship lasting for only a couple hours before the sweltering heat of relational hard-work sets in. Yet, sometimes it leading to sweaty or freezing dynamics swinging back and forth.

I never would have pictured myself in the season I'm in now. I'm not sure I would have signed up for all that's going on if I could have seen what lied ahead. That's probably one of the many reasons God doesn't always just tell us; we'd avoid the rough seasons and try to make things happen on our own, unnatural.

This time 5 years ago, I didn't anticipate my week being full of mainly solo parenting 6 kids ranging from 1-8 years old, running to meetings and visitations and appointments for foster friends, running errands and classes and activities with our bios, cleaning and painting a building built by the Church we helped plant, hosting thanksgiving in my own home and trying to figure out how to see family and friends for Christmas while I sit in my guilt about how behind I am on my homeschooling and my hubs runs circles as a bi-vocational pastor and mail carrier, delivering God's word and US mail within a crazy work and family schedule.

Every time I feel like our family has found the comfortable norm of flip flop weather, a foster placement leaves, a new one comes, our building needs our undivided attention, kids have new needs, our house needs maintaining, part time jobs come and go, and my emotional sinuses go haywire trying to keep up with the changing seasons. Sorry, this doesn't seem to have a resolution at this time. No matter how many things I say no to or different things I trim from my t0-do list, I still feel like I'm being swept off my feet by natural disasters.

Anyone else in this ever-changing "season" of life right now? How do you catch your breath? Get prepared for what's coming?

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Resetting Halloween

For years, my husband and I have gone all out for Halloween. We love dress-up and that's the best part of Halloween.

From our first Halloween as newly weds all the way through adding 4 children to the mix, we've done couple, group, or family costumes. Having boundaries help make us more creative. Last year was HUGE. My hubs destroyed our house for months getting ready. He put so much into our family's costumes that we took them to the local Comic-book Convention for a costume contest.

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Although it was fun, it also come with tons of stress and each year, the standard for what we were gonna come up with got bigger and bigger. The bar just kept getting so high, I wasn't sure our sanity or checkbook could keep up. I dreamed of the old days when you made up something for Halloween night with randomness you had in your closet, or kitchen drawers. lol I think every kid should experience that fun.

So moms, if you need to reset the bar for Halloween, I present to you: The Boxtrolls!

2016-boxtrolls

Yep, just
*boxes collected, some from neighbors, the weeks right before Halloween, with the bottoms cut out along with holes for heads and arms.
*We even added a bit of dark foundation to make faces appear dirty
*Messy hair helped us appear troll-like.
*Adding some toilet paper on hands and feet made it kinda look like their wrapped limbs.
My hand was bruised a bit and had a blister from cutting the cardboard with scissors {my box knife wasn't as sharp as the scissors} and the TP quickly came off on our trek around the neighborhood making it look like teen vandals traveled with us but this was by Far the easiest costumes to throw together. We were "double waterslide, typerwriter, moving box, music stand, shoes, eggs, diapers, baby doll, and wipes."

A couple people knew who/what we were, possibly because my kids tried to explain, but for the most part, it was hilarious to see people inspecting our kids and laughing because I'm sure they were thinking, "wow. you're wearing a box as a costume." To that I say, "WINNING!" #resettingthebar

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Why We Name-Call in Our House

I know most families are hardcore against name calling but somehow, in our home, we've become big-fat-name-callers...and I've decided I'm okay with it.

Why WE NAME CALL in Our Family

You'll hear the following "names" thrown around quite often. Sometimes by my kids but learned from me. I want my children to be able to name it when their dark, wicked little hearts are ooze sin.

Ugly:  a term used to describe the actions of someone who is acting rudely/unpleasantly to others

Jerk: a contemptibly obnoxious person who "jerks" people around out of hatefulness

Punk: a person who goes around starting fights and brings about division {like a smoldering stick used for lighting firework fuses}

Bossy: a person who tells others what to do in a mean, self-righteous manner

Toot: a person acting "stinky", foul, unmannerly {like stinky passing of gas}

It's actually quite simple to teach littles to name the fruit they should be oozing; they're used to practicing opposites! Here are some of the opposite "names" we call each other at home as well. In all honesty though, we do need to get better at identifying these when they come out naturally, as positive reinforcement rather than a comparison lecture when the sin rears its head.

Beautiful/Handsome: acting gentle/pleasantly to others

Lady/Gentlemen: respectable delightful person who encourages others with love

Kind/Helpful/Thoughtful/Peacemaker: a person who seeks to keep peace or bring about unity

Leader: a person who shows people with their actions the direction they want others to go, guiding them gently

Sweet: a person acting pure, pleasant, well-mannered

I'm thinking I should make up some printables to go with these that could hang on the wall for my kids. I don't know about you, but our family does well with visuals.

What about your family, are you name-callers?

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Using a Responsibility Chart for Multiple Children

I found this awesome Responsibility chart made by Melissa and Doug at a consignment event. It comes with all kinds of magnets to create a very unique chart.

How to Use a Responsibility Chart with Multiple Children

I think most families use it as a kind of "sticker chart" by rewarding kids with smilies when they do something. BUT you know I can use very few things for just their intended purpose. I use the magnets to assign jobs for the week. The kids rotate jobs each week so they learn to do all the household chores. I've also started assigning table chores to be done after eat meal. I paired the most difficult household chore with the simplest table chore.

I use the bottom dry erase part to group things they're all supposed to do daily- the ones they don't earn commission for doing.

Over the years, the commission pricing has changed a lot. I'm still a cheap mamma living on a tight budget but I understand the benefits of paying my children to do some chores so they are learning to manage money...even if its not a lot. These days, I pay based on the difficulty of the chore. I also use commission that can be visually seen in a single coin. They're learning the value of coins, and mamma can easily count it out on pay day. 😉

  • Laundry/clear the table earns $0.25
    I load/start laundry every night and the children move the clean load into the drier the next morning and then sort it into each bedrooms' basket when its dry
  • Dishes/wash the table earns $0.10
    I load/start the dishwasher [usually just] every night and the children unload/put away all the clean dishes the next morning; most dishes are down low for this reason
  • Trash/Dog/Sweep earns $0.05
    Our dog sleeps in a kennel every night and the children let the dog out in the morning and feed the dog once in the morning and once at night
    They empty the small bathroom trashcans every morning, occasionally help their daddy take out the big kitchen can, and the night before trash day they help take the outside cans to the street and bring them in after it's been picked up

Each child in our house is color coded meaning, they know based on the color on the chart which chore they're on that week. Color coding may seem odd, but with lots of littles its super helpful in lots of areas. {ie Cups: they get a single cup per day and we can always tell who lost theirs}

Responsibility Chart {with cousins}

This chart is how I broke it down when my niece and nephew came for a week. THEY ask to be put on the chore chart for the record. And yes, it's in age order. We start "training" our children on chores around 2 or 3 years old and by 4, they "get to be on the chore chart".

This chart is very helpful for our family. Do you use anything similar? How does it work for your family?

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Back-to-School Supply Shopping Tips {Thoughtful Thursday}

I am often annoyed that Hobby Lobby has fall decor out before 4th of July or that Christmas decor is everywhere in stores before Halloween BUT I might be in the minority when I get gitty when school supplies show up in stores. Eeeek The smell of sharpened pencils, clean new binders, shelves upon shelves of crayola colorfulness!

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I have been preparing my school supply list for the 2-16/17 school year already. Part of my prep included scouring the internet for the best prices on the items on my list. Here's a quick overview of what I've found that might save you some time and money::

  1. Staples price matches 110% of any {even online} sale price. This is #1 because I feel like it could cut down on shopping time by going to a single store. They will not only match a price but give you 10% off on top of that. example: Staples glue $2, Walmart glue $1, Staples glue now $0.90
  2. 7 ways to save with Staples, stack them all!
  3. Walmart's app has a "Savings Catcher".  This means you scan receipt on the app and if competitor advertises lower price, they'll give you the difference.
  4. Target cartwheel app has tons of great coupon deals AND Target Red Car saves you 5% every time you use it and it connects to your checking account, acting just like a debit card. No more forgetting to pay that store credit card you have just for the discounts.
  5. Walmart vs Target cheat sheet to get the best prices {if you don't have a staples to match their prices 110%}.
  6. Tax Free Weekend! Arkansas' will be Aug 6th through Aug 7th. HERE is the list of qualifying items for Arkansas.
  7. Homeschoolers can register your "school" with Office Depot for their 5% cash back. You can have anyone you know use your school name to put their 5% cash back towards. If you don't have a school you use yet, ROTHACHER ACADEMY of Vilonia Arkansas would love your support. 😉
  8. Homeschool moms can register with Staples for teacher discounts.
  9. Christian Books website has a $1 sale right going on right now through Aug 18th. It includes some books that would be great for homeschool.
  10. Deals from several store that you need to grab up This Week!
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