When God gives us something, there is always enough to share.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Balancing the HOME in Homeschool

**This post was written for submission in the Carnival of Homeschooling.**

As a wife to a full-time college professor, homeschooling mother of three, ministry-minded daughter of God, avid crafter and blogger, and just all-around-busier-than-ever woman, I often find myself struggling to just "keep up"! Many days I feel as if I am barely keeping my head above water, struggling to remember everything, accomplish everything, and be everything to everyone.

During the holiday season of extras (extra activities, extra needs, extra things to accomplish) this feeling often escalates to the point of "stress". And, be it home or homeschool, something suffers.

I find myself asking, "So, how does one 'do' the proverbial 'all'? 

The answer? One doesn't! 

I have found that when I am unable to keep up, it is usually because I have forgotten one or more of these key principles:

1. My priorities need to plan my to-do list.

Have you listed your priorities? What is the most important thing/person in your life? My priority list looks like this:

1. God
2. My husband
3. My children
    a. Their relationship with God
    b. Their character training
    c. Their education
4. My home
5. Ministries I am involved with
6. Friends and Extended Family

Because I have a clear understanding of the order of my priorities, it is usually easier for me to put first things first and not feel guilty about the rest. However, when my priorities are out of order I find myself stressed and focusing on less important things.

2. Sometimes it is best to say NO.

We all know that there are times when we need to say NO! But, knowing it and putting it into practice are two different things! However, with a clear understanding of what is most important, it is easier to say no to those 'extra' things that seem oh-so-important at the time. 
A good friend told me once that, just because there is a need doesn't mean you are supposed to meet that need. Prayer for guidance is key to saying yes or no to each activity or perceived need.

3. Have a long-term plan and look at the big picture. 

When it comes to homeschooling, it is imperative to establish long-term goals. Then, when life gets crazy, I can step back and determine what I can let slide for a short time without jeopardizing the end goal. And this allows us to focus on what is presently most important.

For instance, there have been times that I have had to briefly set schooling aside in order to really concentrate on character training. This, in the long run, is best for our school since unruly children do not learn as well as well-behaved children do.When I neglect to do this, our schooling (and our family unity) suffers.

There are also times when we set schooling aside in order to help someone in need. While this may seem to contradict my priority list, teaching my children to help a friend in need is working toward teaching them godly character (#3) while performing a ministry to others (#5 and #6).

4. Remember Who gives me strength.

A friend of ours recently said that if we are getting burnt out in ministry, it is because we are trying to do things in our own strength.  

Um, Ouch. 

I love the verse Philippians 2:13, which says, "Because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases Him."  While I know this in my head, I sometimes forget to apply it to my daily life. Then I get overtired and stressed, and I begin to question my ability to 'do it all'.

5. Remember to enlist help!

In order to 'do it all' (or at least what is most important), I really need to enlist the help of my family. And, while enlisting my children to help with the household chores may help me to keep the house neat (short-term benefit), it also serves a much more important purpose. It teaches my children important character skills; like good work ethic, putting others first, initiative, dependability, and cleanliness (long-term goals).

Confession time here! There are many days that I would much rather just 'do it myself', because it is much easier than the minor battle that ensues whenever I assign some chores to one or more of my children. But the time accomplishing the task at hand affords many opportunities for character training, cleaning skills and growth in maturity. Which, if I look at the 'big picture', is much more inviting than the immediate reward of ease.

Instead of asking, "So, how does one do it all?",  I ask, "What should I be doing and why?" 

Balancing the home in homeschool is a daily juggling act for me. But, with the key principles mentioned above, I am able to accomplish what is most important and not feel guilty about the rest.

One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the freedom it affords--freedom to be flexible, to teach the most important thing at the right time, to spend precious time with my children. This freedom, when handled properly, leads to lifelong benefits that are so amazing. However, this same freedom, when abused can lead to lifelong regrets. The decisions I make every day affect the outcome of this freedom.

By following a few simple guidelines, I am better able to "balance the home in homeschool" and ensure that the freedoms afforded while homeschooling will lead to giving what is best to my children. And doesn't every parent want what is best for their child?

How do you keep balance in your homeschool? I would love to hear your ideas!

With best wishes for a balanced homeschool,


*All photos courtesy of photobucket.*

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eraselets Review and LInk to a Giveaway!! Ends Dec 7

I can't wait to tell you about this amazing product and company!! I was recently introduced to Eraselets...the bracelets that erase!

We all know how popular those little wristbands are...practically every organization has one. My college-age nephew wears one for Lance Armstrong, my friend and sister-in-law wear one for cancer research, and my kids wear them for fun. Until now...

Now, my kids wear them for function!

Because Eraselets are cool wristbands that erase! They really do! 

What I like about Eraselets

**They appeal to all ages.

When my package of eraselets arrived, I was amazed at how quickly they 'disappeared'! My children (age 13, 10 and 8) all liked them. Later, when my 18-year-old niece arrived for a visit, she took the last one! I can see children of all ages liking these. They would make the perfect stocking stuffer, birthday gift for a friend, or reward for doing something good!

**They are useful!

I have inherited my Dad's "New England Practicality", so I do not like to buy a gift 'just to buy a gift'. I want a gift that is meaningful and useful...not trivial, yet not boring either! Eraselets fill those requirements by being fun but also useful. They are a hit with almost any age!

**There is a style for everyone!
My favorite style is the Scripture bands:

There are two styles of Scripture bands: The Six Colors of Salvation and Scripture Pack - Sports. Each band has a different Bible verse on the back. Please note that the Scripture Packs are currently only available from Lifeway Christian Stores. (Look HERE to find a location near you.) These are not included in the giveaway.

My other favorite is the Erase World Hunger Eraselets.
100% of the net profit made off of this Eraselet goes to the Erase World Hunger Foundation. That's awesome!

From now through December 2, Eraselet is having a Stocking Stuffer Sale! All packs are $1.00 off (this excludes Scripture Packs).

Click on any of the links above or go HEREto buy Eraselets! They are available individually or in packs of 6.

Eraselet has generously offered two retail packs of the winner's choice to one winner! To enter go to my giveaway blog, Always Enough To Share and enter using the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway ends 12:01am on December 7.

Have a wonderful day!


Friday, November 18, 2011

If You Post Pictures On-line You, NEED TO Watch This!

This is so alarming! I hope that everyone will watch this!!

It is so simple to keep this from happening!

Thanks to Living With Twins & A Drama Queen for sharing this!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Creat Hope Designs and a Giveaway!

I stumbled across the best blog today...one that sells patterns in order to raise money for orphans all over the world. So awesome!

From their About Us page: 

H…Hearts United
O…Orphaned No More
P…Patterns With Purpose
E…Even the Least of These

Create H.O.P.E will benefit children from all corners of the world.  Every four months a new collection of patterns or tutorials will be released benefiting a particular foundation working with orphans.  The patterns released for that foundation will always benefit that foundation, ensuring continued support from crafters around the world.

Their Missions Statement is so cool! 

Right now Create H.O.P.E. Designs is offering a giveaway to spread the word about their site. It ends tonight so hurry on over! 

AND they are looking for more designers. If you create/sell patterns that you would be willing to donate toward this amazing cause, give them a holler here: createhopedesigns@gmail .com.

Their patterns can be purchased HERE.  And, wow, they have some cute stuff!

It makes me happy to know that others are using their talents to help those in need. We all have so much.

There is always enough to share! What are you sharing today?


Monday, November 7, 2011

To Tiptoe...or Teach?

I'm an observer. And a thinker. I observe people's behavior, and I think about how it relates to me.

This can be a good thing. For instance, I am certain that I avoided a whole lot of discipline while I was growing up simply by observing my five older siblings. They were naughty. I learned from their mistakes.

Recently, I have had the extended opportunity to observe someone closely. Like, living in my house closely. For an extended amount of time.

This time, my observations have brought me to a question...do I tiptoe, or do I teach?  Do I tiptoe around the moods and demands in order to keep the peace (after all, the bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers..."), or do I speak up (kindly--"Let your speech be seasoned with salt...") in order to teach?

Now, obviously, I am not referring to my guest here, but just to my family--mainly my children. And my answer is this: if I tiptoe, I AM teaching...but NOT what I want them to learn!

I read a book by John Ortberg called The Life You've Always Wanted, and in it there is an illustration of a man that was always cranky--you know, a real joy-killer. He always looked for ways to destroy others' happiness. The point of this illustration has really stuck with me, and it applies here: John Ortberg said that what is extraordinary about this is not that this man never changed, but that no one ever expected him to change. Everyone just tiptoed around him or avoided him, all with the same response: "That's just how he is." Hmmm.

So, during my latest observations, I have come to a conclusion. I will teach.

When the moods are 'bad' or 'stressed', and the responses are likewise, I will not pacify, coddle, or ignore. I will teach.

When a harsh word is spoken, I will teach kindness, forgiveness, gentleness.

When someone says 'do it my way', I will teach them another way that is just as good.

When someone says 'me first', I will teach them to put others first.

When someone throws a fit to get their way, I will teach them to ask kindly with appreciation. 

When someone is impatient, I will teach them that it's okay for others to move at a different speed.

And I pray that others will do the same for me.

Because when I get to the end of my life, I want to hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Not, "That's just the way she was..."

So, do you tiptoe, or do you teach? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Bucket List

Today's Mama is hosting an a.maz.ing giveaway here. At first, I thought I would skip it since I know tons of people will enter this one, but on second thought I became very intrigued for two reasons:

1. The giveaway is to spread awareness about JustAsk. Here's what they have to say:

"Our friends at Just Ask want you to stay around for a good long while so you can cross epic activities and life-changing achievements off that list of yours. That’s why they’ve developed a test that could save your life—the BRACAnalysis test—by informing you about your chances of getting breast or ovarian cancer. Think of all of the things on your bucket list? Got ‘em? Now jot them down for a shot at winning a trip of a lifetime."

Pretty cool, right!

2. I like the idea of composing a 'bucket list'. After all, if you aim at nothing you'll hit it every time, right?

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things that I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to TodaysMama.com to get the details.

So, here's my list:

1. I want to live long enough to impact the lives of my children and their children--not to just be alive, but be healthy and Godly enough to impact their lives in a positive way.
2. I would love to go on an Alaskan cruise with my husband. Ocean, the man I love, gorgeous surroundings, and lots of awesome food. *Sigh.*
3. I want to go to a lobster bake. On the beach. In Maine. And I want to eat until I pop!
4. I want to write and publish a book.
5. I would love to start my own (successful) craft business or etsy shop. I already have the name picked out.
6. I want to organize my house. My whole house. And keep it that way.
7. I want to make this for my Family Room wall:

8. I want to make regular exercise a habit.
9. I want to learn how to knit, really knit.

10. And then I want to knit one of those adorable baby hats. And maybe a scarf for me.
11. I want to redecorate my kitchen. Yellow and red.
12. I want to eat at Red's Eats in Wiscassett, Maine. Best.lobster roll.anywere. Seriously. *I'm drooling here!*

13. I want to own one of these:

14. Someday, I am going to make and eat this (pure yumness, People!):

15. And, most importantly, I want to make every day count. Not for every day, but for eternity. Seriously.

So, what's on your bucket list? Write it down and link it to Today's Mama, and you could win one of the following prizes:

A family vacation to Universal Orlando® Resort! (+ prize rules)
A Las Olas Surf Safari!
Family Winter Vacation Getaway at Park City Mountain Resort
And more!

Contest closes on Saturday, November 12th at Noon MST. Winners will be announced Monday, November 14th.

Even if I don't win, taking the time to write down a few goals is always beneficial! Give it a try. And then link it up here at Today's Mama.

Who knows...maybe you'll win and be able to cross that dream getaway off your list!


Free Digital Scrapbooking Paper Pack

It is once again Digital Freebie Day!! Every Wednesday there will be a free digital paper pack from MyMemories.com .

Here is this week's freebie:

(Click on the picture to go to the download page.)

MyMemoriesStudio is such an easy program to use! I am finding new ways to create pages all the time.

I had so much fun with this week's freebie! Here is my page:

I just love the bright colors which go so well with my kiddos' clothes. Fun!

I really like the Facebook Freebie that MyMemories gives every Friday, too. This week, the Facebook Freebie is this:

(Note: You must be a fan to download this.)

MyMemoriesSuite is such a great program to use for digital scrapbooking. I love how simple it is to use, but I also love how much I can do with it! That, for me, is the perfect balance.
If you are thinking about ordering MyMemoriesSuite, , don't forget to use this code to save $10: #STMMMS92986 (Please copy and paste the code to avoid errors.).  And when you download your software, you will also get a $10 gift certificate to the on-line store. 
Come back next Wednesday for another freebie! 
Happy Scrapping,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free Digital Paper Pack

It is once again Digital Freebie Day!! Every Wednesday there will be a free digital paper pack from MyMemories.com . 

This week's free Digital Kit Includes:

  • 2 Digital Papers
  • 5 Page Elements
  • 2 Quick Pages

And here is the page that I created with this week's freebie:

To download this week's freebie, go HERE. 

Still don't have the MyMemories Studio digital software? Don't forget to use code #STMMMS92986 to save $10 off the purchase price! (Please copy and paste the code to avoid errors.)
Come back next Wednesday for another digital freebie!

Happy Scrapping!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pastor Appreciate Month Cards

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and this past week my friend and I made several cards for others to give to our Pastors and their wives. Here are some of the cards I made:

The sentiment came from QKR Stampede. Not only do they have great stamps that I have never seen elsewhere, but their customer service is amazing, too. I just love this particular stamp, and it worked so perfectly for these cards!

Tomorrow I will be giving away another free digital paper pack, so I hope you will come back!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free Digital Paper Pack

Today begins the weekly Digital Freebie Day! From now on, nearly every Wednesday there will be a free digital paper pack fromMyMemories.com .

Here is this week's freebie:

(Click on the picture to be taken to the download page.)

Still don't have the MyMemories Studio digital software? Don't forget to use code #STMMMS92986 to save $10 off the purchase price! (Please copy and paste the code to avoid errors.)
Come back next Wednesday for another digital freebie!

And here is what I made with this week's freebie:
Happy Scrapping!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Okay, can anyone tell me what winning has to do with chicken dinners?? Just wondering...

Anyway, today is the day that I get to announce the winner of the MyMemories Studio digital scrapbook software! YIPPEE!! I used Random Generator...

Congratulations, Annie! I will be contacting you soon with your code to download your software!!

And for those of you who didn't win...

Don't be sad! 

MyMemories has given me a $10 off code for YOU to use on their MyMemoriesSuite V2 software!

Use Code #STMMMS92986 to save $10 off the purchase price! (Please copy and paste the code to avoid errors).

And some BIG news!!

Beginning THIS WEDNESDAY, MyMemories will be giving away some awesome digital FREEBIES right here on my blog! Here is a sneak peak of Wednesday's freebie:

So, order your MyMemoriesStudio software (don't forget to use code #STMMMS92986 to save $10!!) and come back here on Wednesday to download your FREE digital designer pack.

Happy Scrapping!


MyMemories Studio Review and Giveaway!!

I was recently asked to write a review for MyMemories Studio, a digital scrapbooking program. I must admit that, at first, I was skeptical. I have tried other digital scrapbooking programs in the past, and I always returned to the 'hands-on, feel it with your fingers' approach.

Fast forward about five years...

Now life is busy--UPER busy! My dreams of scrapping all of those awesome pics I have in a real album are, well, just dreams. My "I'll get to those soon!" has turned into a wistful "maybe someday..."

I sat down to try this great program, and within 15 minutes I had finished my first page! *insert happy dance* :-)

love so many things about this program. Here are just a few:

*Super easy to use (even my 10-yr-old can use it without help) 
*1500 designer papers, over 1300 embellishments, 20+ templates are included
*FREE on-line tutorials to help us get the most from this program.

I also really love that if I am looking for a specific paper, etc. to fit a theme, I can easily go online and choose from one of the thousands of free or inexpensive papers, kits, templates, etc., available at MyMemoriesDigitalScrapbook.com. No waiting until my next trip to the craft store to finish the page I'm working on.

AND this program does so much more than scrapbooking!

In addtion to making cards (yippee!), you can make a DVD, slide show, add music, narration and video clips, upload your creations to your IPod, and it is so easy to order gorgeous printed albums and calendars! AND you can even make your shared albums interactive with web links (how cool is that!).

Just think of the possibilities!

And what do I love best?

 MyMemories is going to give one of YOU a free copy of their software!!

What do you need to do to enter?

Head on over to MyMemories.com and then come back here and leave a comment telling me what kit, template, embellishment, etc. you would order first. Be sure to leave a way to contact you in case you win!

For a bonus entry, go to MyMemories.com and tell me one thing you would do with MyMemoriesStudio other than scrapbook.

The giveaway ends October 13 at 11:59pm CT, so spread the word!! Winner will be posted here on this post, and will be notified by e-mail.

Now, for those poor souls that don't win...

MyMemories is offering a coupon code that provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite v2 scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store (with download) - a $20 value! WOW!! 

******Here is the code: STMMMS92986  (Note: Please copy and paste to avoid errors.)******

The software practically pays for itself!

 After using this software, I can honestly see why MyMemoriesStudio is the #1 digital scrapbook software available**! 

Now, I'm off to make my scrapbook dreams become reality...

Happy scrapping!!


**taken from the MyMemories.com home page

Disclosure: I received MyMemoriesStudio software in exchange for my honest review.

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