How I Learned to Say “Ya’ll”

It’s time for a little Ebenezer raisin’ here, folks.

My soul’s been buckled down, in gear, doing its thing, focused on survival. But the other day I realized it’s been a while since we went dancing. And we have a lot of things to dance about. So pardon me as I recount, for my soul’s sake, a story of how my Jesus loves me? For maybe the music will remind you of something you have to dance about, and we can all enjoy a little shindiggery together.

This is the story of how we came to live in Alabama. It’s time we step back enough to see even the far edges of this miracle.

I have always been afraid of moving cross country. This was not something I labeled my tshirts with, but it was there– a deep down fear. Because, you see, I’ve done my share of moving. Not moving like a military family, that moves constantly–no, I think that if you move that much, you get in the mode a little better. We stayed in places long enough to plant deep roots, and moved just enough to know the horror of it.

First Move

When I was five, my father took a job transfer from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Raleigh, North Carolina. I was young enough that I don’t remember the hassle of packing up a family of six (my younger sister just 3 months old), or of a three day trek north, following a giant moving van to an apartment we’d never seen. But do I remember leaving behind our beloved backyard, complete with in-ground pool where I’d learned to swim like an otter almost before I could walk. I remember leaving a dear little girlfriend, a man who was like an uncle to us, and an adopted grandma who always gave us birthday cards for the wrong year. I remember leaving the cozy little reading nook Mommy had made for my brother and I in the living room, and the spot on the floor in front of the couch where I’d spelled out my first words.

North Carolina was a foreign land. The dirt was red, the ocean was hours away, and the people talked funny. My older brother and I expressed our resentment of everything being so different by refusing–the entire seven years we lived there–to use the contraction, “ya’ll”. We lived in an apartment for 3 months while we house hunted. Oh, and church shopped. Oh my. The house hunting I remember as a fun family outing, but visiting different churches each Sunday terrified me. All those strange people exercising the right to ‘make us feel welcome’ was torture to my shy, five-year-old self.

And then I remember a day, perhaps three years after the move, we were driving down Hillsborough Rd. on our way home from errands, and someone said, “When we get home” and something clicked into place inside me, and I realized that North Carolina at last felt like home. My stressed-out eight-year-old self relaxed just a tiny bit with the realization that we’d made it through the transition.

We lived in NC four more years. Four glorious years–some of the best of my childhood. We had 1.7 acres–a huge lot for a subdivision in the suburbs of the Capitol. It was mostly woods, and we spent the majority of our free time at least ten feet off the ground. Life was a delicious routine of homeschool, chores, quiet time, play time, family movie nights, music lessons, and seeing our friends at church. We played the Alphabet Game on our way back from the chiropractor’s each week, and got our “Q” on the same Quicky Lube sign every week.

Here We Go Again

And then, as if infected with the Seven Year Itch, my parents planned another move. This time I was old enough to understand what was happening. Old enough and experienced enough to know it would mean goodbyes to old friends, awkward acquaintances with new ones, a complete disruption of routine, and a long journey to find a new familiar.

I was thirteen the year we left NC for Upstate New York. But instead of moving from a home to a house that would become home, we sold most of our belongings and left upper-middle class suburbia to cram into a tipi on the top of a hillside, at the end of a 1/4 mile driveway, off a dirt road, in a rural county that didn’t boast a single shopping mall. (Not that I was addicted to mall shopping, I’m just tryin’ to paint a picture for you.)

I remember nearly every agonizing detail of this move. Teary goodbyes, twelve hours’ dreary driving under an appropriately grey sky into an unknown that was so vast, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. There was absolutely nothing familiar to anchor to. The driveway to our new home was a slough of half-frozen mud that tried to eat the moving truck. Our only acquaintances were reserved almost-strangers we had only met on our scouting visits North the year before. The weather was inhospitable at best, and menacing at worst.

We lived on the homestead for nine years. It took nearly that long for it to feel like home, and often it felt like it only held that title by default. 

A Heart Shift

In the next ten years, I moved four times, but these were all in-state moves–from my parent’s home to my new husband’s, from one trailer in his parent’s mobile to the next–no relationships cut off or new geography to learn. I maintained a healthy fear of the dreaded cross-country move I had come to expect as an inevitable part of life.

Then, when I was 25, my God touched my heart and mind and released me from a heavy burden of fear–a debilitating level of anxiety that I’d lived with so long, I didn’t know it was there until it was gone. Suddenly I saw change as not a dread stranger, but a friendly possibility. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could move to a whole new place and even enjoy the process of meeting new people and setting up life in new surroundings. This was such a novel idea, I didn’t half trust it, but part of me thought a cross country move actually sounded like a fun adventure.

We Become Gypsies

In 2012, Jeremy’s parents bought a mobile home park in Alabama, of all places.  They had obligations in NY through mid summer, so Jeremy and I headed down to take possession of the park for them by July 1st. We drove our bus and suburban and 3 small children 3 days into the unknown, excited about seeing new places and spending the summer in our beloved bus.

When I stepped out of the car into the driveway of the mobile home park, I thought I was standing in the exhaust from the bus. I looked over and realized I was twenty feet from the bus and the heat hitting me was simply the air. I’d lived up North a long time and had forgotten air could feel this way. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our summer adventure–we met new friends through the blog who led us to a great church in the area, and we made memories on local bike paths and state parks.

We were not at this time planning on relocating. The plan had been:

  1. purchase a park that needs work
  2. do the work
  3. hire manager
  4. move on to next project

But the more time we spent in Alabama, the more we realized that this particular park wouldn’t be ready to hand off to a manager any time soon, and would need full time commitment for the foreseeable future.

The next year was punctuated by multiple 18-hour trips back and forth to New York as Jeremy helped his family manage the business in NY as well as the park in Alabama. Eventually, his parents sold their NY home and officially relocated to Alabama. We watched rather wistfully,  wondering if we would be next, but seeing a lot of obstacles to us leaving NY: there was a business and house to sell, and life-long relationships to part with.

Another Heart Shift

We got through another NY winter–our hardest one yet with Jeremy working seven days a week and me dealing with mold toxicity and the beginning of my 4th pregnancy–and when May came releasing us from ice and the coal business, we couldn’t wait to head south. We had work to do remodeling some homes Jeremy and I owned within the park, so planned to spend another summer in the bus. After a month here, we began to seriously ask ourselves if we should move here. We spent hours discussing it, till suddenly we realized we could weigh pros and cons till we were blue in the face, but we couldn’t see what God could see. So, we prayed a simple prayer–”Lord, guide our hearts.” Within a week we looked at each other and realized the Lord had moved our hearts to Alabama. We wanted to make this our new home.

There were still tons of details and logistics to figure out. Not only did we have a lot of ties in the North, we needed a house down here! We began to take steps toward moving, trusting God would make a way, since we were sure this was where He wanted to take us.

Not soon after, we found a used double wide that I fell in love with. The layout seemed so conducive to life with a young family. We put a down payment on it, and chose a lot in the park to move it too, believing we’d someday call it home.
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At the end of summer we said goodbye to family and the church we’d come to love and headed North with the goal to have a baby and pack up our home. I channeled all my nesting energy into packing while Jeremy worked to complete obligations with the coal business. It was a crazy time, and a crazy plan, but we were buoyed by the scent of adventure and the gut feeling that this was God’s best for us.

Six weeks after Lydia was born, friends and family spent two days helping us load our household goods and tools and machinery from the business into two huge moving trucks. The leaving was not easy–I will admit that. On the last day in NY I said some very hard goodbyes to close friends and by the time the last box was shoved into the trucks, I was wrung dry, emotionally and physically on empty. But when we pulled out of the driveway, I felt a wash of peace and joy. Though we were embarking on a honest-to-goodness, 1000 mile relocation, I had the overwhelming sensation of going home.

Coming Home

The closer we got to Alabama, the more excited I became. And when, our caravan  of five vehicles finally pulled into the park–a place so far from my old home, and yet so blessedly familiar after spending six months of the last two years camping here–I felt a deep, inner ‘clink’ as my body reunited with my heart and all of me felt right at home.

 

 

There was still weeks of hassle and transition–we slept in the bus while we got a trailer ready to be home for us. Then the bus heater quit and we moved into my in-laws for another week until we got heat in our new place. Then it was three weeks of using a chamber pot while they got the septic tank installed. Jeremy still had to make several trips back to NY over the winter and it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun to mother four kids single-handedly while my love was miles away. But even in the hardest moments I’ve still smiled when I think how much I used to fear a cross country move, and how, because of the loving care of my Father, the biggest move of my life has been a thrilling adventure.

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I love my new home, our church has surrounded us with love and support, and our family is thriving. I don’t know what the future holds, but this experience has deepened my trust in the Father’s love and encouraged me that whatever the next adventure is, I can embrace it joyfully because He goes before me, He stands behind me, and He walks beside me.

And? I say ‘ya’ll’ now. All the time.

That’s what I’m dancing about…how about you? What did God do this week/month/year/decade that reminded you that He’s a loving Father? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or link to your blog if it’s a long story..like mine. ;)

Raising Generations Today {The Conference}

As much as I adore my new locale, there’s just one thing that had me asking myself “Why!? Why did I leave Upstate NY?!”

Raising Generations Today

I also asked myself “Why, the year I move away, does an awesome conference finally come to the area–right to my old backyard?” Of all the conferences I’ve been to, this one promises to be the most focused on what is currently my biggest passion and also my area of greatest challenge: motherhood.

Oh, and did I mention, the gal hosting it is my very dear friend and mentor, September? Everything she does is filled with grace and compassion, and her impact on my life in the last two years has brought more joy and peace to my motherhood than I thought possible.

I was more than a tad disappointed that it looked like I’d miss this conference. But my Father, who knows the desires of my heart, surprised me last week when He made a way for me to go. Even though I now live 1000 miles away.

Excited doesn’t begin to describe it. Yikes, I have to NOT think about it at bedtime or I can’t sleep!

Raising Generations Today is an annual conference designed to equip and inspire moms to reach the hearts of their children for the glory of God.

The conference seeks to provide valuable resources, inspirational speakers, practical teaching materials, and multiple opportunities to connect with moms in every season of parenting.

Raising Generations Today seeks to offer hope to women so they may embrace their roles as moms and thrive in every season.

I can hardly believe all this conference has to offer:

  • How to find hope in motherhood
  • How to shape the hearts of your children
  • How to raise a healthy family
  • How to parent as a single mom
  • How to walk through infant/child loss
  • How to instill character education in your child
  • How to choose your child’s education
  • How to manage life through the early years
  • How to reach the heart of your teens

In addition to transforming hearts and minds, we also get to enjoy:

  • A heart full of hope
  • Inspirational messages from keynote speakers
  • Times of worship and praise
  • Fellowship with friends, old and new
  • Shopping on historic downtown Market Street
  • Dessert lounge relaxation and amazing giveaways
  • Special surprise speakers
  • Relaxing Spa Packages for purchase available on the premise
  • Delicious meals you didn’t have to prepare
  • Amazing gifts and flair from our conference sponsors

I’m especially looking forward to the keynote session by Lisa Jo Baker, as well as the sessions from Stephanie Langford on nourishing your family well.

If you are in the area, or able to travel to Upstate NY, I highly recommend this conference. I look forward to meeting you there!!!

Click here for more information about

Raising Generations Today!

March 21 & 22, 2014

Corning, New York

Grab your ticket here!

Confessions from a Retired Fighter (FMF: “Fight”)

(participating in Lisa Jo’s Five Minute Friday Prompt…on Monday because my internet is extremely temperamental and, hey, this thing ain’t about the rules anyway. It’s about just writing.)

I’m a fighter.

I prefer words to silence.

Work to rest.

Action over stillness.

But in the past year I’ve begun to realize that’s not what the Lord has called me to. As a believer, I’m called to trust, believe, and be still. My God says He will answer, move, and fight.

In conflict, I have always been the one who wants to talk (read: “shout”) it out. But my multitude of words are not God’s way. He is slowly showing me a different way–to quietly love those I’m at odds with and obey Him when he repeats, “Be still, I will fight your battles.”

When faces with an insurmountable goal (like rocking motherhood or overcoming my compulsive tendencies) my modus operondi is to strive, both mentally and physically, to make it happen, to change myself. But He has whispered to me that my heart and ways are in His hands, and he will accomplish His will in my life.

All my life I’ve been a fighter, but I’m beginning to see a different way to win.

STOP

 (P.S. if you notice something unexpected when you visit the blog this week, it’s simply because some friends more talented than myself are giving the blog a facelift. If you have suggestions for improvements–since we’re in that mode–feel free to email me!)

Y’all have been so patient. I checked out of the blog nearly three weeks ago promising I’d be back when we were settled in.

I’ve decided “settled” is a relative term (similar to “cool” or “warm” in relation to weather. More on that later.) I’ve slept in 7 different locations in four different states in the last three weeks. Half my life is still in boxes. I finally unpacked my suitcases last week just in time to fill them again to join Jeremy on a business trip to Orlando. Settled has not happened yet, and I’ve got a lot of down time in the car, so I’m gonna go ahead and give you a glimpse at our new life.

We arrived in Alabama a week before thanksgiving. We spent three nights on the bus before the heater died.

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Seth and Lydia on my bed in the bus.

Our house didn’t have heat yet, and the weather had gotten “cool” (doing into the 20′s at night…gasp!). Thankfully, my in-laws were headed out of town thanksgiving week, leaving plenty of room for us to camp at their house till the weather warmed up enough for us to move into our home.

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As disappointed as I was that we weren’t in our home for the holiday, I was grateful that I could walk over and work on unpacking each day that week, while not having to actually live and take care of my babies in a house that didn’t have running water, septic, or a stove to cook on.

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Claire even got to make her first pie in grandma’s kitchen. If we had been in a half unpacked house, that never would have happened.

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Neither would I have let Seth play with the leftover pastry.

BTW–Southern hospitality is not a myth–this is the second year in a row we’ve been “homeless” in Alabama for thanksgiving, and been invited to celebrate with great new friends and really tasty food. This year it was also Claire’s birthday…Here we are singing happy birthday after blessing the meal.

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Finally, by the first of December, the stove was hooked up, and we had water thanks to running a hose across the lawn, and it wasn’t gonna freeze because the weather had warmed up, and we weren’t gonna freeze, and I really wanted to start advent in our home! So we made a couple of trips with the four wheeler and hauled us and the kids and our suitcases all into our house in time for bed and our advent reading.

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Since then it’s been a gradual process of getting stuff hooked up and set up and plumbed and in working order. We put our home on a yet undeveloped lot in my in-laws mobile home park, meaning we were starting from scratch with utilities and septic. As of this post, we have all the modern amenities except for, um, bathrooms. So we’re using chamber pots. But I’ve done that before, so it’s not a huge deal. It’s worth it to me to be in our beautiful home!

So, are you ready for a tour? Yes, before it’s all picture perfect, I’m inviting y’all into my home. Nester says it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, and I’m gonna add, it doesn’t have to be finished to be home. Am I right?

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Welcome to my new living room! I’m so stinkin’ excited about this room. First because it’s the most unpacked room in the house. Second because it’s twice the size of my old living room, and I feel like there’s gonna be some real great living gonna happen here. I could go on and on with what I love here, but I would probably bore you. Just come over and experience it for yourself. :-)

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And yes, I started decorating for Christmas before I was all (or even half way) unpacked. Because I’ve learned I need to make beauty a priority in order to thrive. While all the other rooms in the house have looked a lot like ransacked storage units during the last two weeks, the living room has been an oasis.

The amount of fun I’m having with the abundant indigenous greenery here in the south cannot fit in this post. I’ve made yards of garlands so far and I’m just getting started!

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Next is Claire’s room. Oh my heart. I love that my girl gets such a pretty, sun lit room! We put a queen size bed in so this room could also welcome guests.

The contrast between her room and the boys’ is hilarious….

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Every day is fort building day. I have this deal worked out with Jesse that he gets another empty box every time he does a job for me. He loves earning building materials and is constantly cutting another box into something awesome.

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Here’s the kids bathroom. I told you we didn’t have working bathrooms yet! This is definitely a before picture! We’ll both have to wait a bit longer for the after.

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I assure you we don’t plan on leaving a toilet in the dining room. Notice the space heaters…We used those for two weeks in each room until we got our heater hooked up.

Here comes the kitchen…

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Stove not in.

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Stove in! Curtains up! Faucet in! So much to celebrate in this picture. That quiche was the first meal I made in my kitchen (other than soaked oatmeal which is so easy, it doesn’t count).

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Here’s a shot of the dining room. And sister love.

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Finally, here’s the master bedroom. Nothing much to look at. Yet. We’ve got great plans!

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This is the master bedroom closet, which is so roomy, Lydia gets a corner all to herself. :-)

I’m not actually gonna show you my bathroom yet, not because it’s a terrific mess (though it is) but because I really want to reveal that room all at once.

Which means our indoor tour is complete. But, because this is Alabama, I have to mention…the woods.

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But that won’t fit in this post either. And I created this whole post on my phone because we don’t have computer or internet at our house yet and I’m wore out! I did it ‘ cause I love you. :-)

http://trinaholden.com/11313/

Home Sweet Home Alabama

6 adults.
4 children.

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4 vehicles.
3 trailers.

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28 tires.

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961 miles.

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And not a single blown tire, detour, or delay. It was our smoothest trip yet (and we’ve made plenty!). We feel kinda like the Israelites whose sandals didn’t wear out in the wilderness.

We thank you for your prayers and support of our little family on our biggest adventure yet! Until we get settled in, my phone is my only internet, so I’m just popping in real quick to let you all know we made it safely here.

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Now we are busy getting our home ready to move in…I’m writing this in the car on the way to Lowe’s for supplies! I’m looking forward to updating you all with a home tour when we get settled in! Until then, happy thanksgiving!

A Million Little Ways {Why I Love This Book}

Since I first found Emily Freeman’s blog 3 years ago, I’ve regularly turned to her words when my soul needs a breath of fresh air.  She’s an author with whom I often personally relate, plus, she’s a really good writer.

In her first book, “Grace for the Good Girl” it was like she climbed inside my brain and shifted little pieces around until life, both past and present, made more sense and had a lot more grace shimmering all over it.

Her second book was more of the first, but for a younger audience. I enjoyed gifting it to several of my favorite young women, excited that they could receive the message of grace-enough-for-me even sooner than I did.

Then came A Million Little Ways. A book  I really didn’t have time to read and review this month. But, it was one of my favorite authors! And a girl’s gotta have some indulgences in a season of crazy, right?

And so, in little snitches here and there, during late night feedings and turns in the passenger seat and–#keepingitreal–bathroom breaks, I’ve been nibbling on Emily’s delicious prose. And here’s what I have to say about it…

What I loved…

Emily’s words inspired deeper thoughts than I’ve felt capable of thinking in…months. She’s gently lead me to deep, reflective waters that have refreshed a soul rubbed raw by busy schedules and way. too. little sleep. She’s reminded me that there is something deeper than the to do list, while explaining that my to do list itself is art. She’s reminded me that I–we all–have an artist inside us. Sometimes hiding terrified in a corner, sometimes left behind and forgotten in the childhood years. And she’s reminded me that to feel fully alive, to be all God made us to be, to experience the joy and fulfillment He meant for His creation, we must be willing to make the art He made us to make.

It’s just like the verses I’ve been SOAPing in Ephesians this month…”For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them.” Yeah, those good works are more than sweaty service in crusty corners…it’s also creating beauty, whispering encouragement, and doing those things that makes us feel alive.

When I read the War of Art by Stephen Pressfiled, I was convinced and motivated to push through the resistance to make my art. But in Emily’s words, I find the resistance itself explained, from a woman who gets it, and who knows the Father. It all has to do with identity. We forfeit the ability to make and live our art when we forget who and Whose we are. Remembering that allows us to dip into the depths of all the beauty He meant to happen when He breathed His own breath into our souls.

It’s a journey. I’m on it. You’re on it. And this book is for anyone who needs a hand up or a little more light to make progress on living and creating in all the freedom God meant for us. I’ll admit, I’m not even done with the book yet. I believe it’s meant to be read slowly, reflectively, and, if you’re an extrovert like me, in community with friends so you can talk through the gentle promptings and ideas that will flow as you discover the million little ways He’s given us to walk in His image as an artist.

Quotes
Here’s a few of my takeaways so far:

“Your childhood dream delights God.”

“What if you desire to do a particular thing because God create you a particular way, not to tease you or to make you miserable, but to actually mold you into becomeing more like him, for his glory and the benefit of other?”hi

“…being an artist has something to do with being brave enough to move toward what makes you come alive.”

What I didn’t like…
Just kidding! There wasn’t anything I didn’t adore about Emily’s latest book. So, there you go. ;-)

A Million Little Ways is available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Poem about Stuff

Yup, I’m gettin’ real deep here, ya’ll. And oh, so clever with my post titles, no?

The fact is, I’ve been going on minimal sleep now for a month (though Lydia is a good sleeper, really she is, there’s only so much shut eye to be had in a house of 4 children!) and every day is full. to. the. brim. with Important Things That Need To Be Done Before We Leave (in one week! Eeek!) so my personal writing has consisted mostly of scattered thoughts in my journal as I fall into bed at night. A few of these thoughts lined themselves up into a ragged poem last night…

Box Mountain

The box mountain
Inches toward the ceiling
Its base growing with its height.
My life packed up in
Screeching tape
And rigid cardboard.
One-hundred-forty boxes
So far
Methinks my house should feel empty
But it’s fuller than ever
Children racing through
Nearly-bare rooms
Making fun from scratch
Since most of the toys are packed
I meet my husband’s eyes
Our excitement for the
Current Adventure
Fills the space between and every room
I look again at the box mountain
And ask,
“Who needs all this stuff, anyway?!”

boxmountainToday I made it to the 150th box…and ran out of boxes. Tomorrow I shall drive to town for more. Oh, and to unload the trunk-full of stuff I decided should definitely go to the Salvation Army! lol I tell you, there’s nothing like facing hauling something 1000 miles to make you think twice as to whether it is crucial to your way of life. Can I get an amen?

Adventure is out there!

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So, this happened this week….the sale went thorough on a darling little double wide we picked out this summer…

In Alabama.

That’s right, peoples.

We’re heading south again and this time it’s gonna be a little more permanent.

I say “a little more” because if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed Jeremy and I both have a good dose of wanderlust. We love adventure, so we were pretty excited when we sensed God leading us to move home base to the corner of Alabama we parked the bus on the last two summers.

We love New York, but kinda think the world is too beautiful to live in one place for our whole life. (Don’t you agree?)

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So, this will be our new spot…a private lot within his parent’s trailer park that we’ve been helping manage for 1 1/2 years. A darling little acre or two, in a rural setting, at the tail end of the Appalachian mountains, equal distance between Birmingham and Atlanta.

The list of things we will leave behind is long, many sweet friendships topping the list. But, as Sarah (Plain and Tall) said, “there is always something to miss”. And we are grateful and excited that the Lord is leading us to an area we have some wonderful new friends already, found a church that feels like home, and that promises to be a great place to raise our little family.

We left Alabama this summer with hopes to return by Thanksgiving. This week details finally fell into place so that hope could become a reality.

In other words, WE ARE MOVING IN TWO WEEKS! And I’m up to *here* with packing, and could. Not. Be. More. Excited.

I’m dead serious. I’m loving this. But I’m also in the middle of infant-induced sleep deprivation, with 4 kids, and two weeks to move a household just in time for the holidays, and I’m not above asking for prayers. For grace. For strength. For sleep. :-)

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(Cardboard boxes are starting to pile up in corners in nearly every room…)

Our home in New York will go on the market this month. We have loved this place…the views, the orchard, and the satisfaction of making it ours, but are excited for the next family who will get to call this place home. (Know anyone looking for a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom home in the middle of the fingerlakes? :-) Talk to me, people!)

This is an incredible adventure, and I wanna take y’all along with me! I’ll be sharing more details as I find moments here on the blog, but for real time glimpses of our crazy life, I invite you to peek through the window that is my instagram, where moving photos will be tagged with #holdenadventures.

You can also sign up for my monthlyish newsletter where I share personal updates, announcements, and my favorite stories. (Sign up in the right side bar near the top of this page!)

This is gonna be epic.

Introducing Lydia

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this special announcement…

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Lydia Katelijn Holden arrived early Thursday morning, weighing 8 lbs and measuring 20 3/4 inches long. The Lord have us quick, smooth labor at home (birth story in drafts!). She was joyfully welcomed by her sister and big brothers…

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We could not be more delighted, and thank God for this precious gift and special season welcoming Lydia!

(Her middle name is Dutch, and is pronounced ka-teh-LEAN.)

Posts in the real food journey series will continue on Monday…not because I’m super mom, but because I wrote and scheduled most of this series weeks ago, (I’m sneaky like that). I’m just giving you a heads up that I might be a little slower in joining you in the comments next week because I’ll be busy snuggling one of my four (four!) children, inhaling newborn perfume, or, you know, catching a nap here or there. ;-)

Having Fun with Our New Kindergarten Curriculum

Hey, ya’ll! I don’t usually post on Wednesdays, but this draft decided to publish itself without my consent (yeah, told you I was a complete non-techy! lol) so, here it is! Enjoy! Happy May Day!

Several of you have asked for more information about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and I’m only to glad to oblige–I’m really excited about this and want to talk you through any questions you have! In this post I’m sharing actually photographs of content from the bundle and how it’s already enhancing my homemaking and mothering. Skip to the end of the post for my answers about other aspects of the bundle!

When I opened up the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle last week, I thought I was getting just ebooks. But when I found entire kindergarten curriculums included in the package, I pretty much started dancing. We do school year ’round (which works with our kinda crazy traveling schedule) and I had just been looking around for what I could use for curriculum for our summer school session. The Raising Rock Stars Kindergarten Package was exactly what I needed for all three of the kids. How is that possible? I’ll show you.

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Yesterday I printed out about half of the “A” activity pages from the Raising Rock Stars Package and passed them around to the kids. They were all excited about new “Table School” as we call it–even my 6 year old, who has not been a fan of seat work lately, actually got into it! The kids liked having something new and fit just to their age and abilities.

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Jesse (6) is right at that point with his reading and writing that he needs gentle repetition. A tracing page with a scripture verse (woot!) allowed me to point out the small words he could sound out himself, and give him good writing practice was a win for both of us.

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For Claire (4) there was shape recognition, and instructions to follow that will help her develop hand/eye coordination to be ready for writing.

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For Seth (2) I just printed out something to be used as a coloring page. He was really happy about being up at the big table with the big kids doing the exact same thing as them! Look at the tongue sticking out in concentration!

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Can you see the joy?

Last year I used the Explode the Code preschool books with Jesse–they are quality and we liked them. But we only ended up using about half of each book because he wasn’t into that much seat work I don’t believe in making younger children do a lot of repetition and handwriting practice anyway. The beauty of an online curriculum, I’m realizing, is the freedom to print as many or as few worksheets as that particular child needs. I can already tell Claire is gonna love worksheets, and I’m excited that I won’t have to purchase loads of consumable workbooks to keep her busy! I’m also delighted that I will not have to buy a new workbook each time one of my kids reaches the kindergarten level!

Another thing that impressed me with the Raising Rockstars Package, was the variety of skill levels within the package, allowing me to print work for all three ages of my kids from one curriculum! If you have a lot of littles just starting into homeschooling, this package would be very cost effective for you!

Actually, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle contains a variety of kindergarten homeschool resources–check it out…

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The homeschooling resources in that picture alone are worth over $65, but you can get them all in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle for $29.97. I call that a deal. (Thanks to Carisa of 1plus1plus1equals1.net for the helpful graphic! She’s the author of the Raising Rock Stars Curriculum and is pretty much a rock star herself, if you ask me!)

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Here’s to fun summer school for everyone!

Bundle Q and A

1. How do I read ebooks? I don’t have a smart phone!

Well, I love reading ebooks on my phone, but ANY computer or laptop or kindle or ipad or anything can be used to read ebooks! You can learn more about downloading and reading ebooks HERE. If you don’t have a portable electronic device YET (like a ipad or smart phone) but plan on getting one in the future, you can download these books to your computer now and transfer them later to your other devices.

2. I’ve read a couple ebooks but they weren’t really quality…how do I know I’m not just getting a bunch of cheap content?

I hear ya. Because epublishing is so accessible anymore, many books are being published that are not actually worth your money. That’s why I personally opened every single one of the books in the bundle to check them out. I read a lot of ebooks and I can assure you that these ones are the cream of the crop. Many of the books (like Tell Your Time, 31 Days to Clean, and The No Brainer Wardrobe) were best sellers when they released and continue to be popular even a year or two later.

3. 97 ebooks? How will you ever read them all?

You won’t. Or at least, you don’t have to. The average price of the resources in this bundle is about $8. That means if you only buy it for just 4 titles that really catch your eye, it’s still a deal! You can pass on the others as gifts, or store them (without needing new bookcases!) until you’re in a season to want them. Plus, you’re getting all those bonuses–my favorite being the 2 months free at fit2b.us!!!) 97 ebooks may seem overwhelming, but there’s no rules telling you how fast you need to consume them, and you may never see these titles priced this low again!

Do you have anymore questions? I’ll be around in the comments today if you have specific questions about any of the resources in the bundle or how ebooks work, mkay? And watch the blog Friday for another post highlighting more of my favorites from the Bundle!