Friday, July 31, 2015

What I learned July

I am pretty sure the last time I did one of these "what I learned" posts I started with something to the effect of "I have no idea..." This month is totally the opposite. I have so much I want to write I am having a hard time knowing what to share now and what to keep for it's own post. I guess sometimes you hit a point where you can get beyond the emotional/mental/physical exhaustion of this season and get a moment of perspective to see how far all of us have grown. I see how much better my kids are listening, getting along and generally being a blessing. I see how more gentle I am being, giving disciplines more calmly, more logically, with more care in my voice - and I think there is so much power in the gentleness of a parent. So a lot of this "what I learned" post is what I've realized about my parenting.

I am trying to be more honest with my kids. If I am grumpy I tell them. Especially since this pregnancy has been harder than my other ones I have tried to let them know when I need a little bit of time to be quiet or rest and overall I think it helps them. Sometimes I have had to say - "listen, I know that it's not you, it's me. I'm the one having a hard time and coming to the end of my rope. I do not want to yell at y'all I just really really really need a few minutes of quiet. Then we can try again." Or I'll say "I had a difficult night last night and I need a little bit of time this morning before we head out the door." Or we'll be out and I'm about to hit my wall and I'll say "Listen, kiddos I'm really not feeling well right now. I need you to cooperate and try to get along." I think they are more understanding when I am more honest.

I am trying to do better at just listening - which is hard because some moments I want to turn into a teaching opportunity!!  But I'm slowly realizing how it is so so so important to them that sometimes I just listen. It is hard for them all to get time just with me to just listen, and I get overwhelmed with it all sometimes - but it's been really good for them and I'm trying to do better. If they want to talk I put the phone down and just listen. I turn the radio down and listen. I listen and keep my mouth shut. It's a practice, but it's been a good one. 

When we are having a bad day I try to make it better. Sometimes that means putting on a movie. A lot of the time that means getting out of the house, which can be hard for me, since that will often set off my braxton hicks contractions but we go to the library at least twice a week, and we go to the mall pretty often. Sometimes we just get in the car and drive. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. When we have a bad day, and nothing seems to make it better when I get to the end of it I'm trying to learn to simply let it go. Bad days happen. Hopefully the next day will be better. It is important to not hang onto that. I'll try to see if there was something to be more aware of for the next day, like snack times or tiredness or whatever, but then I have to just let it go. I didn't even realize how I had been hanging onto those bad days, letting the stress of them pile one on top of the other. I'm learning to try to start each day fresh. 

I'm saying yes - to specific friends, both mine and my big girls. I am trying to say yes as much as possible - but everyone else is on the back burner for the moment. I'm okay with not having time to be with everyone I thought I would be spending time with at the start of the summer. I am enjoying my really good friends so much and when the twinge of guilt starts because we haven't had play dates with everyone or I haven't been interacting with everyone online or via text, I'm just okay with letting it go for right now.  Maybe in the fall things will change, I don't know. Sometimes you just have to focus on a few things, and a few people. I'm also saying yes to my big girls spending time with their friends as often as I can. That has meant letting my oldest do things and go places without me more than ever. It hasn't always been an easy thing for me to transition into but I'm thankful she has a friend to go swimming with and who she likes to bake with and it's good for her to get out of the house. We have also picked up the girl's friends to tag along on whatever activity/errands we have planned for the day and they have loved that.

I'm practicing simple acts of self care. Like cups of Greek yogurt and protein bars - just for me. I hate having mom-only food in the fridge. I hate spending money on groceries that are only for me but right now it has really really helped. I'm doing better about staying on a wheat-free diet which helps my mental state a lot.

Here are a few links I have really loved...

Here at the end of hot July, as the grass begins to turn from bright green to tired brown, may we remember how our friend Jesus brings life to the most wilted souls. When our Father peers into our hearts, may he work his secret miracles: shaping our anxiety into peace, our comparison into compassion, and our doubt into hope. 
from chatting at the sky
Emphasis mine - because I have felt like the grass of my soul has grown tired & brown here at the end of summer and I'm glad I'm not the only one counting the days until the wide open spaces of summer are replaced with the comfortable rhythms of fall.

For ducks, other people’s emotions roll right off them, like water off a duck’s bath. These people may be warm, caring, and sensitive, but they still have no trouble distinguishing other people’s emotions from their own.

Not so for sponges. Highly intuitive types often soak up other people’s feelings, experiencing them as their own, and physically registering those emotions. This isn’t a choice; it happens automatically.
Ducks & Sponges from Modern Mrs. Darcy
I have a feeling that this is something I'll be thinking about a lot this year. I am a total sponge and it has been hard for me to learn how to not think of this as a negative thing with so many kids all having their own emotions and not getting overwhelmed with their bad attitudes.

This sermon. I loved hearing it in person and loved listening to it online again yesterday. It's about how to stand firm when we are feeling tired of waiting on God. It is really powerful. Here is the link to the video version.

The next day I heard this song on the radio and while it's one that has been around for awhile the line "your beloved needs you now" has really stuck with me. But that's a post for another day.

Other favorite songs right now:
Broken Together by Casting Crowns
Just Be Held by Casting Crowns
I am not alone by Kari Jobe

Monday, July 27, 2015

Octonauts Pre-K: Season 3 Week 1

Watch: Season 3, Episode 1 on Netflix
Play: Water Bears Escape on
Print: Octonauts in the GupA on
Print: Captain Barnacles Bear on
Cut out the card to add to your collection!
Get Octonauts wallpapers for your desktop at

Octonauts PreK: Season 1

I already wrote about trying to find activities for Eli to complete this fall to coordinate with his favorite show - The Octonauts. Here is a list of episodes in season 1 with coordinating printable coloring sheets and books.

Season 1

1. The Undersea Storm/ The Giant Squid Printable
2. The Great Algae Escape/ The Walrus Chief Printable
3. Flying Fish Printable / Narwhal Printable
4. Monster Map / Blue Crab & Sea Urchin Printable
5. Albino Humpback Whale Printable / The Remipedes Printable
6. Orcas Printable/ Blobfish Book Printable
7. Decorator Crab Book Printable / Whale Shark Book Printable
see a preview of the book here
this is my son's favorite creature

8. Cookie Cutter Shark Printable / Jellyfish Printable
9. Sailfish Printable / Vampire Squid Printable
10. Humuhumunukunukukuapua's Printable / Giant Spider Crab Printable
11. Kelp Forest / Hermit Crab Printable 
12. Pilot Fish & Whitetip Shark Book Printable / Beluga Whale Printable
13. Snot Sea Cucumber Printable / Giant Whirlpool
14. Slime Eels Printable / Arctic Orca Printable
15. Sea Star / Giant Jellyfish Printable
16. Snapping Shrimp Printable / Kelp Forest Rescue
19. Parrot Fish Printable / Electric Torpedo Rays Printable
20 Midnight Zone/ Whales
21 Seahorse Printable / Anemones Printable
22 Cuttlefish Printable / Lemon Shark Printable
23 Dolphin Printable / Spookfish Printable
24 Oarfish / Combtooth Blenny Printable
25 Marine Iguanas / Dwarf Lanternshark Printable
26 The Great Penguin Race 
27 Christmas Rescue 

Links for coordinating books are in the list above
You can also find Octonaut books via iBooks

*All of the Amazon links are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!!

Octonauts Pre K

As I've started to think about the fall and what kind of activities I can do to keep Eli busy, engaged and learning some science I thought I'd look around for what activities I could find to coordinate with one of his favorite shows: The Octonauts. Eli is pretty interested in all things Oceanic, and I thought that this might be something he'd enjoy. Here are a few things I've found so far: 

The Octonauts Website

At we found some games that coordinate with a few of the episodes. Completing  "missions" unlock printables and creatures for their ocean. The games are all pretty similar and some of them are too hard for my 4 year old but it's a cute, easy to navigate site. 

I also found various printables. The cards & badges for the first creature chart were pretty easy to find, I'm still working on the next 50, they are not as clearly indexed and I'm having a hard time finding them all. I'm working on collecting an episode list for Season 1 (which you can view on Netflix) and coordinating activities.  I hope to post it in the next week or two. 

Print: Creature Card Holder for Season 1 via Disney
Print: Creature Chart for Season 1 via Disney

Printable Creature Cards & Badges:

Character Coloring Sheets via

Octonauts Printable Activity Pages


Spot the Difference

Match the Creature

Shadow Match

The Octonauts ABC song on YouTube

Octonauts Pre-K Season 2

I wrote about finding coordinating activities for my son's favorite TV show. I have found far less for Season 2 than I found for Season 1. This is what I have found so far - if you find more links please let me know!

Print out the Creature Cards Holder from Disney

Disney Junior Printables Page

61 Panaque Catfish
62 Piranha
63 Electric Eel
64 Capybara
65 Black Caiman
66 Anaconda
67 River Dolphin
68 Arapaima
70 Cone Snail
88 Red Rock Crab
95 Yeti Crab

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A post for Grandma Joy

Dear Grandma,

Thank you so much for the gifts for my kiddos!! They have already enjoyed them so much.

I will try to post a few pictures of the completed projects soon!

Summer lately (in pictures)

Some of these have been shared on Instagram and Facebook but here is our summer so far, more or less, in pictures.

Water makes everything better. A friend gave us this baby pool a year or two ago and Katie-Abigail and I spent an afternoon blowing it up. 

I finally figured out how to get the the lake and found a bit of beach. It was a GREAT day (with minimal sunburns) and we can't wait to go back.

And of course summer is for playing Monopoly.

Emma had her birthday. Daniel bought her this MyLittlePony stuffed animal - which was so perfect for her! 

We also bought her a pet Betta fish, which she has named Cayden. So far she is enjoying taking care of it.

Sometimes on really got days we go to the mall.
This is real life.

We are constantly asked if these two are twins. They are not. They are two years apart (and pretty far apart maturity-wise) Usually Katie-Abigail prefers to play with Josiah and Emma hangs out with Beth. 

Emma got some MyLittlePony figures for her birthday. Eli likes to play with them with her. They call each other "Ommy" and "Bobby" and Eli will sometimes introduce himself at the park as Bobby - or Inspector Gadget.

Library days are the highlight of our week! 

I'm trying to do better about taking advantage of those moments when one child is feeling bored and left out (or just generally grumpy) and either include them in what I'm doing or do something with them. Josiah and I put together a puzzle the other day. This doesn't happen very often so it had to be documented. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What I've read/learned lately

What I Learned
I have been laying here in the dark as Eli is falling asleep, trying to think what, if anything, I could say I have learned lately. These last couple on months have felt like a frustrating, exhausting grind as the heat has rolled in and I've seen less and less of my husband. As my belly has grown bigger and my back and hips ache. As summer limps along and the mental and emotional exhaustion of having all of the kids home all day every day with no real routine has begun to wear me down down. 

I don't know why some days I can sit quietly in the kitchen and read a book and other days I can barely get through a chapter without being interrupted twenty-dozen times. 

I don't know why some days we float along, getting along with each other really well while other days I wish we could all just spend the day in our own beds.

I don't know why some days I diffuse sibling strife and other days I just explode.

I am learning a new side of what it means to be brave. As the new year rolled in and I said my word for the year was Brave (along with a bunch of othe related words) I felt so excited about what amazing things God would do in my life as I took one step of obedience after the other deeper and deeper. And then the tide went out, and I felt myself knee-deep in thick mud and each step forward was slow and as unglamorous and unremarkable as could be. I have had months and months of waiting to see what is next, dying to my expectations. Slogging through. Hopeful. Letting go of fear, hanging onto hope, leaning hard into love. 

My friend said something the other day that I thought was really profound - so I want to make sure I write it down here - she said that we tend to think of being brave as something that is essentially self-centered, but true bravery is others-centered. That struck me as something that I will be thinking about for awhile. It reminds me of what I wrote about love being about the basin & towel. I think these truths are related.

One thing I am learning is the power of saying "I'm praying for you." Praying for others is something that I have considered to be essential to my spiritual identity. I believe God made me to be an intercessor but it is so incredibly easy to get bogged down in my own mess so that I forget to pray for anyone not in full-on-crisis. I grew up with the motto of "the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing" or in other words when you are doing good don't publicize it - but there is so much power in a simple text or Facebook message to say "I just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you." I sent more of those texts these last couple of weeks and it has had a snowball effect. As I'm praying more - more friends are asking me to pray for them and letting me know how God is answering prayers, even for simple things like a baby sleeping better. It is something I want to do more of. 

What I Read
I have been trying to Instagram the books I've read lately. Here are some highlights.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithrphotog) on
A photo posted by faith raider (@faithrphotog) on

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithrphotog) on

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithrphotog) on

You can see I was on kind of a Sarah Addison Allen kick. Such happy, light reading. "Landline" by Rainbow Rowell was also a lot of fun to read. I think this would be such a fun book club pick. Like the issue of gender - if the main characters roles had been reversed there would basically be no plot, because how many countless stay at home moms sacrifice for their family, but make it a stay at home Dad and suddenly you have a plot. I loved that part. "Longbourn" was pretty fun, I consider myself a fan of Jane Austen - though I prefer the movies and TV mini-series (and sometimes the books) to the fiction spin-offs. This was really hard for me to get into but the Librarian gushed about it so I tried to stick with it, and I am glad that I did. It wasn't my favorite book ever but it was pretty good. "Ship of Brides" was about the same for me. It was hard for me to get into and I didn't love it but it was pretty good. I finished "Cold Tangerines" and I loved it. I'm reading the next book, Bittersweet on the kindle app on my phone when I go to me OB appointments and it has been really good. I'm glad I read them in this order though, since she shares so much of her personal story. Not pictured: I also read Rob Bell's "ZimZum of Marriage" and it was terrific. I read it in basically one sitting and I was really encouraged to have a better attitude about my marriage and to be more careful about what I am bringing to my marriage. A lot of what he and his wife wrote was stuff I've learned along the way but didn't know how to express. I have a nice stack of requests waiting for me at the Library. I'll try to post about what I'm reading again next month... Any suggestions for what to read next?

What I Watched 
Lately I haven't watched many movies. I'm currently re-watching "Suits" on Amazon Prime. We're watching MasterChef and I occasionally get a chance to catch up on SoYouThinkYouCanDance which I will probably start watching more regularly once auditions are over.

Tonight we watched Home - the new animated movie from Dreamworks. We all enjoyed it so much, especially my teenager (and pre-teen) Josiah got a little bit sad toward the end. Daniel even stayed awake through the whole thing, and in my book that is saying something. 

Sign up to be notified about upcoming classes!!

* indicates required