Tuesday, January 31, 2012

homeschooling: the struggle & finding what works for us

IMG_8385how we keep up with books/assignments/pencils x 4 : $4 Target workboxes

Homeschooling four littles is an enormous challenge {and struggle!} for us. I’m not naturally inclined to teach little kids- I don’t have that kind of awesome gene. :)

I really enjoy being around my children, but when it comes to sitting down to do school, within an hour my heart starts racing, I can’t breathe, and my stress level goes through the roof. I kid, but I’m kind of serious too. Teaching phonics to little boys has done that to me.

Sometimes I think I want to live in a foreign country and serve Jesus under trial- and then He totally slams me with the fact that homeschooling is my trial right now. Biting my tongue, praying for sanctification, crying out to God for help- those are the things homeschooling makes me do. And I see that I’m weak. Terribly weak under trial.

When I was in school, I always did my work very easily and ended up helping other people with theirs, so I really struggle with them lingering over their work- not understanding, not getting it. I’m hoping once we get past the phonics/reading stage, things will get easier and I will enjoy it a little more.

But when my creative 6-year-old wrote his name the other day in perfect mirror image and never could see what was wrong with it, it dawned on me again that my situation might actually be different than what I feel should happen with the average homeschooler. He is left-handed, doesn’t remember simple directions, consistently writes his numbers out of order, and makes amazing play-doh creations like this:


He can draw, he is a people person and a great helper, he can understand the deepest of conversations, and plays the best game of “guess what I’m thinking of.” He is so smart, and we are slowly seeing progress with his schoolwork. I think it will click for him one day soon, because we faced the very same struggle with his older brother when he was 6.

I’ve kind of taken the approach these days that their little boy brains aren’t ready much before the age of 7. It was very close to 7 that it “clicked” for older one, and he is a dream at homeschooling now- he whizzes through his schoolwork and the hardest part of school for us is his attitude now. 

Both boys impress me so much with their creativity and interest in how things are made- they even like helping their daddy work on microchips! I think they will be amazing builders and inventors just like their dad. They think outside the box.

So I’m waiting- hoping for that moment, and trying to figure out how to let him enjoy school that he doesn’t always do well at. In the meantime, we are finding things that he can do well, and enjoy.

The boys that built these all by themselves:IMG_8062 (2)

Like projects like these along with their “book” work:


And as much as I don’t like media {video, computer games, tv}, it works for them. It worked for their dad too! They learn differently than I expect them to, and I’m learning that’s okay.


We’ve fallen in love with TeachMe for the iPad. Noah loves it- and he writes so much better with his finger than with his pencil.


And of course, they all love coloring and cutting projects:


Those are the things that make school fun for my boys. And as much as I struggle with homeschooling and the trial it brings me, I can see the beauty of it. I get to live with my children- I get to know who they are outside of the school setting- and it helps me to know how to teach them the things they need to know when we sit down to do school. I get to tailor their education to their strengths instead of having to plow through it with all of us in tears, just for the sake of getting done.

And so deep down inside, I really love homeschooling. Honestly, we are blessed beyond measure to be able to do it. It may not always be what we do, or what is best for us {or anyone else, for that matter}, but I know that we are here for a reason, and I am thankful for it.

Even knowing that, it still makes my heart race.

The upside: I get to do cardio without moving. :)


Do you homeschool? It’s so much harder than I ever thought it would be! Has it been a trial for you too? Or better than you expected?

Monday, January 30, 2012

goals update Jan. 30 2012- video style

I love setting goals- you guys keep me motivated to get them done!

Here are last week’s goals, and this week I decided to try the video format to share my update on last week and some of my new goals for this one. I had to laugh when I watched it because I’m such a goof, but it was fun! :)  Oh, and now I know why TV people wear so much makeup! {I have to ask for my foundation in the “Casper” shade already, and the video didn’t help! :) }


May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Friday, January 27, 2012

getting motivated to work out :: group fitness classes

Fridays are so much fun because I get to talk about two of my very favorite things: food and fitness!

And you know they go hand in hand, right? ;)

You see, this:


lets me enjoy this just a little more:

{it was my sister-in-law’s birthday and we ate this until we were stuffed! :) so, so good!}

Group fitness is one of my passions. It’s probably silly, but I get so much enjoyment out of doing it! Teaching fitness classes is fun, it's a great workout, and it helps other people to stay healthy too! And as an extra bonus, I get paid to do it! :)

It’s pretty much a dream job for me!

If you’re new to the idea of group fitness here’s what it looks like {that’s me at the front!}:


Basically you come to a studio at the gym and I get to kill you teach you how to work out with other people in the room. I teach Les Mills BODYPUMP, a group weight lifting class set to music. It’s fun and challenging all at the same time! It’s hard to explain, so here’s what it looks like {this is not me!}:

It’s incredibly fun, and by far the most motivating exercise I’ve ever done!

So last weekend I got to launch the newest choreography with this awesome team!


The theme was the 80’s, so we cut up gray t-shirts and had a little fun with it!


and of course I stole these pics from my bestie Abbie! We always snag a pic together at launch:


And we teach BODYCOMBAT together too:


Here’s what BODYCOMBAT looks like in real life {I was in the front right there- you can’t see me but the whole thing was amazing!}:

I love it. Seriously. It’s amazing.

If you are looking for motivation to work out consistently, I want to encourage you to give group fitness a try! It’s accountability, fun, work, and motivation, all wrapped up in one crazy package! Most gyms will let you sample a class and give you a trial for free, so do a search in your area and find one you want to try it out. {and if you want to try to find Les Mills classes like the ones I teach, you can do a zip code search here.}

I’ve got a bite of cake left for after lunch {the rest of it went straight to the freezer this morning!}, and BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT waiting for me tonight, and you know what, I’m going to enjoy them both! Whoop! :D

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the $10 business: the first investment {#1}


The $10 business is a financial experiment I’m doing based on Matthew 25. My goal is to see how much $10 can become in 2 years! You can read more about it along with the “rules” here.

My very first investment in the $10 business was this sweet little vintage vanity I bought at Goodwill for $5.40:


We brought it home, put the handles back on it, listed it online as it was, and sold it for $30!

$10 initial investment – $5.40 vanity + $30.00 sale = $34.60 net {I will summarize all applicable sales/income taxes at the end of the year as a single total- so these numbers will always be pre-tax for the sake of simplicity.}

So my initial $10 more than tripled with my very first transaction! :D I was thrilled with the return! It might only be $24 in profit, but I’ll take it. :)

So far, so good! I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next few weeks!

next week: the second investment of the $10 business!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

{what i wore this week} restyling it edition

I went on a date last weekend! Exciting, right? ;)

That’s definitely big news around here these days! :D Finding a willing babysitter for four little kids is quite a feat. Well, that and paying her. {so worth it!}

I ate the most amazing lettuce wraps, an entire plate of sushi {maybe my very favorite food ever!}, sweet tarts, and birthday cake frozen yogurt! Oh, and watched a movie in there somewhere.

It was a good thing we stopped for an outfit pic before all the indulging started! :)

I wore this outfit from last year {sweater- Loft, $16, and dress American Eagle, $10ish} and added the skinnies {$10 from Dillard’s} for the cold:


I love my Tulle coat I snagged last year for $25 at Marshalls. It has a hood and sweet button cuffs!


and of course, the most versatile shoes ever- the gray leather wedges from Marshall’s {Jessica Simpson, $20}:


I wear them all the time! Here’s proof- another outfit they went with this week:

{cords- AE, $9, Target sweater $17, jewelry, $1.29, and $2 from Goodwill}

Oh, and remember that top from this summer?


I added my favorite Target sweater and made it work for me in winter too! ;)


Do you find yourself wearing the same thing over and over again? Me too!

Like these $6 American Eagle trousers from Goodwill {and the gray wedges! did you spot ‘em?}:


I wore them again this week with an unusual combo for me- cream and yellow from the Gap {outlet clearance $20, $13} paired with my other fave Goodwill items- my bracelet $1, earrings $2, and my vintage Italian leather heels, $5.


And remember this $15 polka-dot dress from last year?


I’m liking it in winter too!!

It was a Target find that I’ve worn over and over again:



I added my Frye boots and a $3 pair of Gap tights to change it up a little!



Turquoise tights just make me happy. I’m so loving the colorful tight trend this year! :D

So tell me....how do you take your clothes from summer to winter?


linking up at the pleated poppy!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

on words and heart thoughts + a free 8x10 scripture art print

For the last few years, Psalm 19:14 has been one of my very favorite verses. I memorized it back when my babies were little bitty, and it’s been one of those verses that keeps replaying itself in my head all the time:


How I long for this to happen in me! But I know my flesh and my heart will fail without Him doing the work in me. I know how vile my thoughts can be- and how my heart dwells so much on the cares of this earth.

I’ve always made the assumption with this verse that whatever I happened to be thinking or saying needed to become more acceptable in His sight. Like my thoughts and speech- about the children, or my husband, or whatever I was doing- should become nicer, or more pleasing to Him. I wanted to fulfill the law of having the right words and heart, and knew I needed Jesus to help me, but I didn’t fully understand what that really meant.

I think I had it right- but only half of it. I should desire that my mouth and heart should become more and more pleasing to Him, but I didn’t really know what my mouth should say and my heart should dwell on specifically until I read this in Romans 10:

5For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I was blown away by those verses! First, because Jesus came- because He is Lord- my righteousness or His pleasure in me is not based on how I act or what I do or don’t. My righteousness doesn’t come from my behavior- it comes from faith in Jesus! His grace alone is sufficient!

And then I was even more taken by verse 8- here the cry for help that was given in Psalm 19:14 is answered by none other than JESUS Himself!!

What should be spoken by the words of my mouth?

The confession that Jesus is Lord.

What should my heart meditate on?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ {in all it’s power and glory!!}.

But why, what happens when I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart?

Justification in the sight of God and salvation is given- and the WORD {of faith} is near you because of those two actions!

What’s the word?

The WORD- the giver of faith, God, is near those who believe! In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1.

The mouth and heart of those who believe should openly confess Jesus is Lord, and their hearts should meditate on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead- the work that was done on the cross, and the grace that was bestowed upon us when our Lord and Savior conquered death and sin!! ahhhhhhhhh!! :DDDD

We don’t need to change ourselves-our own thoughts or words- we can’t do it anyway! When we look to Christ- and remember the cross and the empty tomb- HE does the work!!

Are you feeling someone has done you an injustice and out comes the words of anger? Meditate on what Jesus did- he bore the highest injustice on the cross, and nothing that is done to you can even come close to what he forgave of you. When you think about that, angry words will quickly change to ones of grace- because of the work He is doing in your heart!

Do you like to talk? How often do your words confess Jesus is Lord? Do you speak of Him at all?  How often do you think on what Jesus has done for you? Could you meditate on Him in your “me” time? When I’m busy, it becomes so easy for me to section off my thoughts into what needs to be done next, and have another section of Jesus time- but when I really meditate on Him, He changes my daily attitude and my words!

Do you see what I mean? Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks {Matthew 12:34}, and when Jesus fills your meditation of the heart, the overflow comes right out of your mouth, and Jesus pours out.

Now if you are like me, you see how miserably you’ve failed at meditating on Jesus and know you need to try harder.

My sweet friends, you cannot do this without Him.

Don’t fall in to the trap of thinking you can be better {more righteous!} at being like Jesus {one Satan would love you to try and fail at again and again!}.

Just ask Him, and He will do it for you. Because He did it all in the first place.

Doesn’t that make you want to jump out of your seat and dance?? It’s hard to wipe the grin off your face when you think about it!!

:DDDD {If only I had more than smiley faces!!!}

Isn’t He so good?

To visually remind us of Jesus and the cross every day, I made a print of Psalm 19:14 to share with you guys! I have mine on my fridge since I spend most of my time in the kitchen! It’s an 8x10 in size so if you wanted to protect it from water you can find a $1 frame at the dollar store.

Feel free to download and pass it along! Love you guys!! :)


download this 8x10 print


listen to more on words and hearts in the 10 minute audio devotion

linking up at Women Living Well!

Monday, January 23, 2012

giveaway winners :: Money Saving Mom’s Budget


The winners of the Money Saving Mom’s Budget giveaway are:








If you won, please email me @ mandy @ biblicalhomemaking dot com with your home address! Congratulations! :D

goals update: week of january 23, 2012


Goals update from January 15:


  • make 4 more freezer meals and 2 bags of pancakes for the freezer- done- 5 meals + 3 bags!
  • clean out the refrigerator {I'm going for two shelves each day! ha!} –did four shelves and cleaned out the old food. Will keep working on it!
  • list at least 4 things on eBay {for some reason, I'm just dreading this! So thankful for their iPod app that allows me to list things easily!!} –five done, three to go.  Sold one overnight!
  • check into hotel room and plane tickets for Blissdom '12!- looked but didn’t finalize. still haven’t! 
  • do something fun with the kids- a fun project or a park trip- took the kids for lunch at McDonald’s on a cold day! They had fun!



  • memorize 3 more verses of 1 Peter 1- pretty much done! It’s needs some perfecting at the end! :P


  • work on smiling each time I ask the children to do things – did this and added please often. I saw some very good results from this- the boys have been telling me they love me even more than usual. It makes my heart happy! Nothing like that kind of sweet encouragement!

love these sweet babies...



goals for this week:

  • check into hotel room and plane tickets for Blissdom '12!- so excited- one month to go! :D
  • list two purses and one dress on eBay
  • make 4 more freezer meals
  • finish memorizing the end of 1 Peter 1:1-12
  • have friends over for dinner :D
  • work on new fitness choreography- Body Pump and Body Combat
  • spend 6-8 hours on freelance web work
  • wipe out more of the fridge- try to finish this week!
  • clean out the bottom of the oven
  • make a Goodwill trip- donation + shopping! ;)
  • enjoy these 3 Christmas gifts from my hubs: my journaling Bible during my quiet time, this book in my reading time, and my last week of my free MONTH of coffee at Starbucks! {ahhh! most awesome present ever!}


What are your goals for the week?

{Don’t you just love them! goals rock!}

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Friday, January 20, 2012

feeding a crowd on a budget {food on friday}

I promised you the story behind this picture:


Well, we had a little impromptu get-together with some friends from church last weekend, and I made the oh-so-wise decision to ask my brother to take a picture of the food for me while I was getting everything ready...

Smart people know what happens when you ask your little brother for a favor-- he gets you back for those 15 years of childhood pranks you played on him! Now I’m a firm believer in the old phrase, “don’t dish it out if you can’t take it,” but I was off my game that night.
And to think I trusted this sweet face:



So while he was supposedly snapping pics of the food, I was telling a story to some new friends about the time we found a local newspaper from 1920 in our bathroom wall {it was so cool!}.

The photo speaks for itself, I suppose- I obviously use lots of hand gestures when I tell stories of great discoveries- and even better, I look like a maniacal serial killer when I chop tomatoes and tell fun stories at the same time!

{and I so couldn’t figure out why my friends were listening so intently from the other side of room... gotta love younger brothers who aren’t afraid to capture the awkward moment on film! ;) }

Luckily he did actually take a few of the food too! {thanks, Josh- I owe you one, bro! wink, wink}

Need to feed a crowd quickly without spending a fortune?

Enter homemade Subway sandwiches, the world’s easiest solution for party food!



We bought four large, fresh loaves of French bread at Sam’s, a huge bag of shredded lettuce, a double package of turkey, and a block of cheese, assembled and cut them deli style, and let everyone pile on the condiments themselves.

The cost? About $3 per foot with thick slices of real cheese and lots of meat! We fed 13 adults and 6 kids for around $18, plus the cost of a big bag of chips and lemonade and sodas. And I even got to take my Sunday nap an hour before the guests arrived!

Now that’s my kind of party! :)

What meals do you like to serve to a hungry crowd? I’d love some new ideas!


don’t forget to enter the big giveaway to win 1 of 3 copies of the Money Saving Mom’s Budget!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

the $10 business :: an introduction

As if this week could get more exciting- the big sofa redo, this awesome giveaway, a very happy Wednesday, and then today... even more big news! :)

I’ve had this little project in the works for a few weeks, and I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it!

I got this in the mail last month for completing a survey:


and it really made me stop and think, because these verses from Matthew have been a recent point of long discussions at our house lately:

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30 ESV

Now we probably all agree that there is a larger concept being taught here- Jesus is telling a parable of using what you’ve been given by God for the glory of His kingdom- your gifts, your talents, your skills, your creativity- all of it belongs to Him, and we are to give back to His kingdom by bearing fruit. We aren’t supposed to take salvation only for ourselves, or hold on to and hide what God has given us! That’s a sin that is worthy of eternal punishment. Some very serious business- Jesus isn’t kidding around here.

But just thinking about what this parable means literally- a talent was worth about 20 years of wages for a laborer. In today’s terms that would be about $600k for your average worker making $30k per year. Imagine if someone gave you that much money to invest!! Would you be a little scared? And the one with the greatest ability got a cool $3 million to play with! Yikes! That’s crazy! It’s not so hard to imagine the one with the least ability being a little scared of handling their exacting master’s $600k, is it now?

It’s been such an interesting topic for us!

We are supposed to be good stewards of what the Lord has given us- we are to be faithful in finances as much as every other part of our lives. There isn’t one compartment for the physical matters of this life and a separate one for the spiritual things. They are ALL His. Right?

So anyway, my idea is this: I want to take this $10 bill and follow the literal example Jesus gave in the parable. God gave me the $10 {who randomly gets $10 cash in the mail from a survey, anyway?} and I wanted to take it and see what it could become in six months, then in one year, and then in two.

I’m calling it The $10 Business- it’s basically what I consider starting a business from scratch. Pretty much anyone can find an extra $10 to do the same, don’t you think?

The Rules:

  • I will only reinvest any earnings the business makes for the entirety of the project {ending at year two.}
  • I will not pay myself for my time during these two years.
  • I will not go into debt.
  • Every transaction will be conducted with cash behind it.
  • Profits and losses will be recorded just the same way- the business will absorb any loss just as any gain.
  • I will give you guys a running total each quarter of profit, loss, and completed transactions.
  • I will render to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and follow business laws to the best of my ability.

This experiment is not a short-term one by any means, and I’m expecting as the investment funds grow, I will have to deal with larger transactions, which means more risk for the business. It’s going to be a big challenge- I can see lots of part-time work in my future!

Ahhh, I’m excited! This is going to be fun! I’ll be posting about this project on a regular basis! {as long as I don’t lose it all! ha!}

next week: the very first investment of my $10 business!


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to win 1 of 3 copies of the Money Saving Mom’s Budget!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

{what I wore this week} is green an accessory? edition

Ah, Wednesdays. You are fun. I get to talk about exciting, silly things like clothes on your day! It’s so much fun to be a woman. :D

I started doing what I wore this week posts to get motivated to get up and get dressed every morning for my family. I think it actually worked and I’m in the habit of getting dressed every day, even though I have to teach a fitness class every weekday afternoon! {it was a big improvement for me to get out of my daily uniform of black polyester Nike wear!}.

It’s been such a fun challenge, and you guys are so very sweet and encouraging- and so motivating for me to keep getting ready every day! {my husband thanks you! and I do too!}

And thank you Lindsey, for inspiring women to get dressed each day, and for making Wednesdays extra sweet!

So, to celebrate this lovely day- just for fun, I have a little quiz for you!
Can you tell me the difference between these two outfits?


I hope you got it! It was hard, but I knew you could!

the answer:

It’s what happens to your outfit after five minutes in Texas.

{It’s like 70 one moment and then before you turn around it’s 49!
No joke! Does this happen where you live too? Or is it only here?}

Oh well. It gives me an excuse to love jackets, anyway.


I just can’t decide if I love jackets more or the color green.

Combine the two and I will fall in love every.single.time.

Anyway, cognac riding boots are right up there with them- they must be my second favorite accessory {or is it my third? Jackets, the color green, and boots. That’s it. Third.}


Deep blue-greens haunt me too.


I bet you have an accessory that you’re haunted by too, don’t you?

One that you are eerily drawn to in every store- even Goodwill?

Accessories can wield so much power over a woman. It’s scary.


My fourth favorite accessory?




I told you accessories could be scary.


Have a lovely Wednesday, friends!

{oh, and you’ll have to wait for food on Friday for the rest of the knife story! ;)}

linking up at the Pleated Poppy!



don’t forget to enter the big giveaway:

to win 1 of 3 copies of the Money Saving Mom’s Budget!

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