A New Address

Happy Mother’s Day!

Nurturing the Heart has moved over to blogger. You can find me at: http://nurturingtheheart.blogspot.com with a whole new, fresh look that I’m really excited about!

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Please come on over and say hello! If you were following this blog, I hope you will follow me over to blogger and join me there.

I just added my very first post over there today, and although my site is pretty much set up, it’s not completely finished, so please be patient as changes are made.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Jana

The Tulip Concert

For the past few months, four of our kids have been involved in a couple of community choirs in our area. It’s been a great experience for them and they have really enjoyed the weekly practices. The directors are great with the kids and very skilled at what they do.  On Saturday night they took part in the Tulip Concert. The teen choir (Noteworthy), the children’s choir (The Sonshine Singers), the adult choir, a hand bell choir, and the worship team from the church where the concert was held, all participated. I can’t express just how beautiful it was. As always, I was there with my camera, taking plenty of pictures and video. The entire evening was truly amazing. The finale was indescribable, and I did capture it on video, but of course, it is NOTHING like being there and hearing it live. I snapped a few fun and a little bit goofy……pictures of our kids before the performance, outside of the church. Everyone wore tulip colored tops and black bottoms. The overall effect was beautiful. Some of the shots of the choir are super candid and I accidentally caught some rather humorous moments of the children’s choir.

At the bottom of this post, I’ll add the links for the songs the kids sang. Enjoy! ❤

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Click on the highlighted titles to view the videos. Please bear with the shaky, crazy, videography. It was tough to get around the heads in front of me, mics, and other items inhibiting the view, not to mention my right shoulder, which was screaming at me to stop and put the camera down. 🙂

The Noteworthy Choir sang the following songs: “Cantate Domino,” “The Name Of Jesus (Natalie is the first soloist in “The Name of Jesus”, but I had to video from the side, so you can’t see her face very well) and “The Battle of Jericho” The end part of the “Battle of Jericho” got cut off a bit. 😦

The Sonshine Singers Children’s Choir sang: Whisper His Name Get On Board, Little Children,” and “Goliath”

All choirs sang in the Grand Finale: “Be Thou My vision”

I hope you took the time to watch each one because they were all so well done, but if you pick only one from each choir, don’t miss Natalie’s short solo in “The Name of Jesus” and the children’s songs were all adorable. My favorite was “Goliath,” but all of them are so worth the time to watch.

We are very grateful for the directors of the choirs. Randall Wilkins played the piano, organ, directed, arranged some of the music, and Becky Dutton directed the children’s choir and sang in the Bethany Choir. They use their talents that God blessed them with, to bless others. What a privilege for each of the kids to have them for choir directors.

The Little Princess

We embraced more change today. An adorable little lady joined us for a day of school and fun.

Before she arrived, we had a family chat about how much fun we could have with another little girl in the house and the kids kind of like the thought of having a sort of…..little sister, since they’ve never experienced that! Especially the boys.

We had a great day. Levi took Vickie under his wing and treated her like a little princess all day. He joined in on playing the game with her letters flash cards and had her just cracking up with his little antics. He showed her all of his favorite places in the woods, holding her hand to help her over fallen branches and trees. He played ball with her, shared his favorite math and reading DVD’s, colored with her, and the two of them did a lot of laughing together. Natalie and Christine got out their childhood collection of dolls and all of the accessories, and Natalie spent time playing dolls with her for a while. Vickie was Natalie’s side kick while she practiced her piano, and after lunch, while Vickie napped, I got a great workout done, and helped Noah and Levi with multiplication flash cards and the newest concept they are learning which are the basic steps of long division.

It has been a productive and fun day.

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The fort!

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When Vickie was ready for her nap, I told her she could sleep in the same chair my grandson sleeps in. It’s a big, cozy, soft chair with a matching ottoman. As she snuggled down with her blanket and pillow, she said: “you’re my best friend!” Melt. My. Heart. What a cutie!

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All cozied up for a math DVD together. It was rather chilly and wet outside today. I think they were ready to warm up and enjoy some easy, fun, education after playing hard out in the woods.

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DSC03389 (1024x768) Snack time!

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Snack time!

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Change is good. Life can get dull if we don’t add in some changes now and then. The recent changes we have made to our daily routine are good. There is more peace in the house and the productivity level has increased nicely. Adding a cute little lady to the mix just spices things up a little and I think we all enjoyed that today.

How about you?  Are you ready to make a few spring time changes?

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Embracing Change

It’s been a crazy week of change for our household and we all seem to be adjusting pretty well.

We changed up how we are doing our academic schedule. We got out dishwasher repaired and if you listen carefully, you may actually be able to hear an audible sigh of relief coming from yours truly. I got my hair cut and I gave my hair dresser free reign to change up the style a bit according to what she thought would be a good switch for me. She did a great job. It’s easy, and it works well for my lifestyle. I really like my hair dresser. Not only does she do a fantastic job with my hair, but she is a long time friend as well.

I gave all three of my boys fresh hair cuts today, went to the library and brought home a bag of new books, and bottled up seven new gallons of kombucha (41 bottles to be exact). Natalie had piano adjudications on Wednesday and now she has brand new music. It’s a nice change to hear her playing some new pieces again.

I started a new workout routine and on Monday we get to welcome a little three (almost four) year old sweetheart into our home for a couple of days a week. We are all looking forward to having Vickie Sue here with us.

Since I always have some kind of picture in my posts, I guess I’ll slip in a picture of the new “do.”

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Five Ways To Avoid Spring Fever Symptoms

Hey Fellow Moms!

How are you doing during this season of busyness?  Are you managing to maintain the balance between too much busyness and not enough outside activities?  Now that we are moving quickly into the spring season, are you still motivated, or are you experiencing some burnout? I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty much every year between January and March, we experience burnout to some degree. This year is no exception.  We have actually struggled with burnout to a greater degree than ever before and honestly, I think it started with me, and trickled down. I’ve been home schooling off and on for twenty-five years. The past eleven years home school has been a constant part of our lives.  We’ve been doing things pretty much the same way for the past four years and I think that’s why I hit a wall. I’m feeling ready for a change. My kids are expressing a desire for a change in the way we do things, as well. That is the beauty of home schooling. When you hit a wall, you don’t have to keep bashing your head against it. You can re-assess and figure out what changes are needed for your unique family and the individual learning styles and personalities that make up the family unit. We are praying about and checking into some different options for next fall, but in the meantime we came up with some simple changes to make the rest of this school year more enjoyable, fresh, and new.

1. We switched up locations in the house for each child to do their studies. They needed a fresh environment.

2. We removed all electronic devices and allow use of them only in the evening for a couple of hours once each of the kids has produced evidence of their progress they accomplished throughout the day, along with the completion of chores. These little devices worm their way in and take over if we aren’t careful to monitor the amount of time they are used. It’s really easy for the kids to get distracted, but this includes mom too.:) I have given myself blocks of time to spend on my own electronic devices and that happens only when I am not needed to oversee chores and school, and after certain things have been accomplished  at various points throughout the day ie. workout, mealtime prep, eating, and cleanup, laundry etc. The other perk to this change is that it gives each child something to look forward to after hard work. It’s a carrot to reward them for keeping their priorities straight.

3.We decided to incorporate at least one family activity each week that is different and fun. After interviewing the kids, we discovered that they have some great creative ideas for ways we can implement some fun activities that are not costly. Some of their ideas are game nights, swimming, bowling, reading a book together, hiking with our Goldens, skating, movie night, cooking a fun and different meal together, just to name a few.

4. We decided to plan more field trips into our weeks throughout the spring season and to invite friends to join us.

5. Mom, what do you enjoy doing?  What are ways you can fuel your own tank so you can continue to fuel your family?  For me, my passions are singing, writing, photography, research, reading, hiking, Cook-free meals (AKA date night with my hubby), working out, culinary arts, and spending time with other moms.  Be sure you incorporate activities into your lives that will give you something to look forward to. A carrot for mom is important too. We all need things to look forward to!

This morning I realized that the week has been running along at a nice pace. The overall results of the changes we made have proven that the changes were needed! Productivity is much higher, attitudes are more positive, and the kids seem much more at peace and able to enjoy learning to a greater degree.

I snapped a few pictures this morning while they were all busy with their lessons.

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Energy prayer

Once a week our daughter and her five kiddos join us for some morning classes and assignments, followed by some refreshing outdoor fun. Last week our oldest daughter and three of her kids were able to join us as well. I can’t express enough how important it is to plan some fun activities into the week. Our kids have their usual routine each day that includes their academics and they have piano lessons, choir practice, community and church activities, all of which they enjoy, but it’s really important to add in something different and fun periodically as well.

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Encouragement for tired mommies

Last week I took the kids on a field trip to the Compassion Project and afterwards we had lunch at a beautiful park with a couple of other families. This trip included explorations in geography,anthropology, missions, and the opportunity to see, first hand, the suffering that goes on in other countries along with ways we can reach out to them from right where we are.

When we allow our kids to see the differences between our country and other countries, it can develop compassion in them and help to see how blessed we really are. This helps to bring a new perspective on life. It’s really eye opening.

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One more thing that has really helped refresh me, is getting back into my regular exercise routine. I feel much more energetic, I’m sleeping better at night, I have fewer joint aches, and this translates into a much healthier mom over all.

Hang in there….the end of the year is just around the corner.

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Making Memories With Our Valentines

Valentines Day. It’s a day to celebrate the ones we love.

This year we celebrated with a special little party for a couple of our grandkiddos. We went shopping for some small gifts. We set the table with hearts and a red table cloths, pink cups and heart plates. We made brownies and for lunch we had our favorite pancakes topped with whipping cream and berries.

The kids played checkers, and taught each other yo-yo tricks.

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Each of them received little gifts from their aunties and uncles, who thoughtfully put everything together to make the day special.

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Balloons from Papa and Nama, because a party isn’t a party without them, right?

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Our granddaughter received an early birthday present from her auntie Christine. She read the card out loud, perfectly, not stumbling over even the biggest words.

 

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It’s a….Rapunzel hat!

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Now uncle and niece both have cool hats!

 

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“You are the child of my child,
and your life is a joy to me.
I am grateful to have you in my life.
As I watch through the generations,
I am reminded that the bonds we form
Are as everlasting as the spirit.” ― Author Unknown

 

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Child of my child, heart of my heart.
Your smile bridges the years between us…
I am young again, discovering the world through your eyes.
You have the time to listen and I have the time to spend,
Delighted to gaze at familiar, loved features made new in you again.
Through you, I see the future. Through me, you’ll see the past.
In the present, we’ll love one another as long as these moments last. ― Author Unknown

 

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The promise of tomorrow
And the hope of dreams come true…
A reminder of the childhood
That’s still a part of you…
The wonder of a miracle
From which this love began…
There is so much found in the touch
Of holding a grandchild’s hand. — Author Unknown

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The promise of tomorrow
And the hope of dreams come true…
A reminder of the childhood
That’s still a part of you…
The wonder of a miracle
From which this love began…
There is so much found in the touch
Of holding a grandchild’s hand. — Author Unknown

 

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Papa was busily cleaning out his desk when she approached him. “Papa, will you please play checkers with me?”

He dropped everything. “of course I’ll play checkers with you!”

They had a full on checkers tournament that started before lunch. They picked up where they left off after lunch and were still playing when it was time to take them home. My Grandpa taught me to play checkers and I have many memories of checker tournaments with him. Of course they didn’t know this when they began to play, but watching them brought a tear to my eye.

 

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God made granddaughters…
God made granddaughters to give our lives variety, and to keep our hearts young. God draped each morning with sunshine, and sprinkled each night with song. He hollowed out spaces for laughter, and created joys to last long after: then reserved a special place for tenderness when God made granddaughters. ― Author Unknown

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“I’m gonna take aw of my pwesents home!”

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God made grandsons…
God blended a pinch of mischief with two parts of love and joy; He added a special sparkle to each special boy. God made grandsons to keep us energetic, and always on our toes. To bless our lives with laughter, and hold our memories close. To lighten our days, and brighten our ways. ― Author Unknown

Teaching Kids Good Work Ethics

“These boys amaze me.

Each morning they seem to have grown taller than they were when we said good-night the evening before.

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Each morning, not only do they seem to be physically taller, but they seem to be maturing right before my eyes.

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Each morning, these three boys get out of bed and do a man’s job before breakfast.

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Currently we have a litter of Golden Retriever puppies. Each morning, these three boys take eleven puppies to the outside pen so they can do their duties and then they clean out the big kennel by themselves. This is not a job for wimps, or the weak of stomach. Puppies make messes…..and eleven puppies make BIG messes. These boys make sure the puppies and the kennels are clean, all messes are thoroughly cleaned up, and the puppies needs are all met.

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These three boys bring Mama into the big kennel to nurse her puppies, and then they feed all eleven of her offspring and give them fresh water. They feed our grown Goldens their food, as well.

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These three boys come in after doing these chores and they are responsible to clean out the wood stove, and set up the fire for the day.

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I think when boys do a man’s job, they deserve some recognition.

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I think they deserve a hot breakfast and maybe even a hot cup of coffee….or tea….or cocoa.

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These three boys are very capable and they are learning important job skills that they can use throughout their lives.

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These three boys are developing a strong work ethic and they are proud of a job well done.

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They feel good about themselves after they accomplish difficult tasks.

Do they always WANT to go outside and do these difficult chores? Certainly not. Do they ever complain? They certainly have.

As a mom, I have prayed about how to motivate them…..and how to encourage them and this is why their sisters and I try to have a hot breakfast ready for them when they come in. This is why I try to join them in some of their jobs so we can talk, laugh, and work shoulder to shoulder and have fun while we are at it. This is why we switch jobs randomly too. We try to avoid burnout and give them opportunity to obtain skills in a variety of areas so they will be well rounded and capable of taking care of an entire household inside and out by the time they are ready to leave this nest. Sometimes the girls will do the puppy chores while the boys cook breakfast with me. or I’ll go outside with a couple of boys and leave a couple of them inside to help with breakfast. Sometimes the girls or I will build the fire in the morning, but on most mornings these three boys embrace the outdoor chores and enjoy coming inside to a breakfast ready and waiting for them.

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These three boys enjoy helping their Dad stock pile wood in the spring, for the following fall/winter season. They love watching as Dad cuts down trees on our property and they enjoy helping chop and stack wood with him.

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I love watching them from the kitchen window, or heading outside to help. It’s great exercise, fresh air, and fun working together.

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This has been an especially busy season for our family. With a huge litter of puppies, there is plenty of extra work. This has made it necessary for the whole family to pull together and pick up the slack that is left while the puppy chores are getting accomplished. This means the inside chores the boys usually help with, are left to those of us who stay inside.

Our girls have done an amazing job helping out with extra laundry that the boys usually do, extra cleaning chores that the boys don’t have time for right now, and all of the kids have been flexible at switching jobs from time to time.

These girls are highly capable of preparing a delicious meal, whipping up a batch of tasty cookies, donuts, and other tantalizing treats, deep cleaning the house, organizing, and they are excellent with children. They could easily keep this household going without me.

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As a family, we need to be a team.

It doesn’t just take a mother or a father to keep things running smoothly.

Any time there is more than one person occupying a home, there needs to be team work.

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Proverbs 6:6-8

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Proverbs 20:11

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”

Natalie playing with dolls

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If we learn how to have fun together as we work, amazing things can get done.

Sadly, I haven’t been a very good example of this over the years as I get stressed and overwhelmed by a large “to do” list, but this has also been the very thing that has stretched and grown me and illuminated areas that need to be changed in the way I function as a wife and mom. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to apologize to my family for being grumpy and driving them….instead of coming alongside them and finding joy in completing tasks together.

It’s never too late. Fortunately my family is very forgiving. We all have to be forgiving. We have to exercise grace with each other because, let’s face it….we all say and do things that need to be forgiven. I’m so thankful they love me anyway and continue to support me. We need to give this to one another, right?

This little man amazed me this morning. When I woke up, he was already outside. He took all eleven puppies out to the outdoor kennel, and cleaned the big kennel by himself. He then returned the puppies to the big kennel, came inside and cleaned out the wood stove and built the fire. He said that since his brothers have done the puppy chores a few times without him, he wanted to give them a break this morning so they could sleep a little longer.

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Our kids are typical. They argue and fight. They complain about work. They procrastinate and so do I, but we are working on these areas, praying together and for one another and it’s exciting to see the kids pull together and serve each other. This isn’t the norm….and that’s why I am writing this post. I want to encourage these choices in my kids and I want them to see how much their willingness to do the tough stuff blesses those around them.

We’re all learning that working together can make the work painless….and that we can find joy and fulfillment through hard work and a job well done.

Proverbs 12:11