Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Why There's No Santa Here

A couple days before Christmas, I posted a status update to my facebook page.  It came after a long day and my kids had just thrown a fit about me not buying a new toy...two days before Christmas.  I had just about had it with the overall Christmas greediness.  The post says:

"Guess what!  We didn't put up a tree this year or hang stockings, AND I told my kids there was no Santa...they aren't ruined and still just as greedy as ever!"

The 46 comments that followed really shocked me.  Most of the commenters were furious that I had cancelled Christmas, busted my childrens bubble about a make believe Santa (and all other characters), and didn't understand why I would even buy gifts if I didn't decorate or have an elf on the shelf.

It all started like this...
One evening before Thanksgiving, my husband and I spent time in prayer and fasting about how to 'do' Christmas this year.  We decided to sit our three children down and break the news that there was no Santa.  We explained that we celebrate Jesus' birth as the real reason for Christmas.  We wouldn't be putting up a Christmas tree because we felt God wanted us to worship Him, the Creator, instead of His creation--a tree.  We wouldn't be hanging stockings, because no man dressed in a red suit, would be coming down our chimney to decide if we had all been good or bad that year and what kind of gifts he thought we deserved.  No, our focus this year was to be solely on Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and his precious birth.  We weren't going to share His special day with a make believe Santa and his awnery elves.

Ehhh...scratch all of that!  First of all, we are not that holy.  Secondly, my marriage is not that easy.

Here's what really happened...
Rewind to last Easter: the Easter Bunny has never, ever, visited our house...not once.  He goes to other houses and brings gifts for our children there, but never our house.  We've never talked about the Easter Bunny, never encouraged him.  There was never any spiritual discussion about this between my hubby and me.  I'm the one generally in charge of gifts and buying needs and wants for our kids.  I never thought there a reason to buy Easter gifts.  We celebrate Easter as our Savior's resurrection, and Easter is my FAVORITE holiday of the year!  I still don't know where a bunny and eggs come from, although we do have fun hunting eggs after church on Easter Sunday.  Anyway, the boys mentioned/noticed that we don't get a visit from the Easter Bunny and asked about it.  Simply, I said, "we celebrate Jesus' resurrection on Easter.  Remember how He died on a cross, was burried and then rose from the dead?!  A bunny doesn't come to our house."  And that was that.
Fast forward a few lost teeth and the boys say "Is it really you that brings us money for our teeth or a real tooth fairy?"  I smiled and said, "It's really me or daddy.  The tooth fairy is make believe and fun to pretend about, but not real.  I save your teeth in a baggy in that dresser drawer.  Don't worry, I will still give you money for your lost teeth."  
And they were all smiles, like they knew something the other kids didn't know.
Then comes Thanksgiving, and a few days after I decided to hang our Christmas Tree.  The three kids and I came up with this:

Of course I posted this to instagram, which posted to my twitter, and then to my facebook page.  Like 2 people noticed our "tree".  Why did we hang a construction paper tree?  Well, the year before my 19 month old had knocked down our fake tree about 8 times, broke the trunk, and broke about 2 dozen Christmas ornaments.  THIS was going to be our tree this year and maybe I'd put our broken tree out on our enclosed front porch if I got around to it.  All of that stuff is in our basement and I'm 7 months pregnant so I wasn't too ambitious to drag it all out.  We don't have a fireplace mantel and between this year and last year, I lost the hooks that we hung our stockings with on peg board.  Sooooo, that's how a real (fake) tree with ornaments didn't get put up and our stockings didn't get hung.  I did accumulate a few new decorations that I DID put out this year, like an advent calendar and some floral arrangements from my sister's wedding.  The kids and I even made a few ornaments that we put on magnets on our fridge...which all got broke.  And you know why nobody in our house seemed to care that we had minimal decoratios this year?  Because this wasn't the first year that this momma didn't get around to putting up a tree.  This is like the 3rd or 4th time in the last 10 years that I didn't put up a tree and stockings.  We just don't get to it some years.  As for the idea of Santa, although when we started buying real gifts a couple years ago (yep...started buying a couple years ago...we usually only spent a minimal amount of money on our kids' gifts because they got soooo much from so many others that we didn't need to, and they were too young to really care.) we DID occassionaly put "From Santa" on a couple twice, ever.  We never really encouraged Santa, and he came to other peoples' houses with gifts for my kids anyway.  We saw Santa a couple times at the dinner at our park, but otherwise never visited Santa.  We never put much thought into Santa.  And when those elves started coming around?  The naughty ones turned me off and I just thought it was ridiculous...that's how we don't have an elf on the shelf.
Presents?  Well, like I said, that's actually something we started doing a couple years ago.  In fact, I can't think of a birthday where we actually bought our kids a birthday gift.  There were probably some along the way, but we always throw a party and others bring gifts.  We buy whatever our kids need, and a lot of what they want, throughout the year, so spending more just because it's their birthday isn't something we tend to do.  One year I suggested instead of buying Christmas gifts for family, we donate those funds to you could pick an animal to give to a family in Africa that would feed and provide income for the family.  The adults didn't like that idea and actually said that they'd prefer presents for themselves.  So to this day, we still buy presents for our friends and family who have way more than they need while others actually starve to death.

Overall, I don't like sharing Jesus' birthday with a make believe character.  So when the boys asked if there was "REALLY a Santa", I told them "nope!  I want you to know that I don't lie to you.  I want you to know that the Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, and Santa are not real, but that our Jesus Christ is VERY real.  JESUS is the reason we have Easter and Christmas!"  I never wanted them to think "well mom lied to us about Santa so who's to say that there really isn't a God either?!"  God is the ONE True thing that IS for real and that is constant!

And that's how our Christmas went this year.  After Christmas I got a bunch of lights for outdoors next year...all on sale.  My hope is that it will be warm enough for hubby and I to hang them nex year.  Afterall, we've ever only hung outdoor lights ONE TIME...EVER!  

We didn't and don't boycott Christmas.  It's a stressful holiday and I hate how we've made it.  I hate the business, the greed, the overwhelming feeling I get each year.  I'm soooo thankful that we have a day devoted to the birth of Christ though!  And we try to keep that the focus of the holiday season, whether we have a tree and stockings or not.

Love and Happy New Year,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

State of Affairs!

I've become a very poor blogger!  Jeesh!  At any rate, I have a LOT to catch you up on, but wanted to give you a few snap shots of what's been going on since July at our house!

First off, we found out in July that we are expecting baby #4!  We are absolutely thrilled!  What a horrible pic below (in vacation hotel room), but I was 8 weeks here and couldn't believe how quickly my belly popped out!

And of course Justin and I took our annual canoe trip on Current River!  The drive there and home on a newly pregnant mom was NOT fun, and honestly, the canoeing wasn't all that great either...I was sick!  And the weather kinda sucked, as you'll see below, I wore a jacket and it poured rain the second day!

and the bus ride back to the hotel is hellacious anyway, not to mention extra so on a sick pregnant woman!  Although the bus full of drunks kept a smile on my face!  And Justin is ALWAYS so much fun and can make me laugh no matter how crappy I feel!

While we were on a mini-vacation, my sister took all the boys to the Ozarks with my mom the same week!  It worked out perfect!  With more than 2 kids, we are usually having to split them up to make it easier on caretakers, and Blaire was just a little too young to go with them this year, so she stayed with Justin's parents.

You have to be a pretty brave soul to take these 3 muskateers anywhere for a week!

And when we got home from our trip, we had a few days alone with this bag lady before the boys returned!

Then, before I knew it, I was buying more school supplies and sharpening a quazillion pencils!  Out of no where, this homeschool mom made a compromise with our anti-homeschooling families to send our boys to a private Christian school.  We decided on Friday, had our interview Saturday morning, and the boys started their first day that Monday!  It was a whirlwind of excitement!

Both boys were excited to start back at a school, although it took Heith about 6 weeks to adjust.  He had a couple days that he needed to stay home with mom and several days (and weeks) of crying to be homeschooled again.  My heart ached for him, but now he LOVES it and is THRIVING!

 Here they are in their classroom.  They are in a combined class of first and second graders, which thrills my heart! I wanted them to be kept together to reenforce their brotherly bond and God worked it out perfectly!

 Although, most of the summer was pretty mild, it got really hot once the boys started school, so Blaire and I spent most of our mornings outside in the pool!  She's very sneaky too!  On this day, I was eating my breakfast on the patio and she decided to get undressed and take a dip!

Then in September, after less than 3 months of dating, but years of knowing each other, my sister got engaged!  Her ring is huge and gorgeous! 

After having my sister single and all to myself for 5 years, it's been a bit of adjustment to give her up.  Below, the photographer at her engagement party says "okay, now lets get the 3 of you."  I automatically thought Amy, my mom, and myself...afterall, that's how it's been all these years!  The photographer meant my mom, Amy, and her new fiance, Bobby...not me.  Like I said, adjusting.

We also celebrated Clark's 8th birthday with family!

Then my mother-in-law took the 3 kids to the pumpkin farm, where I happened to be with friends, so I got some pics!
Here's Heith clowning around.

 And while Heith was showing off, Clark and Blaire were patiently waiting to be photographed together with the year sign.

 And my wonderful mother in law, always pulling her weight!  :)

Halloween always sucks is always a great time!  Okay, it's actually my least favorite holiday...lots of stress for the mom!

My beautiful cheetah who won't let me touch her hair...she had a cheetah ear headband, but it was a no-go!

We trick or treat 2 nights where I live, so the first night we do family, and the second night we went to my church's Trunk or Treat where there are a ton of people who dress up their car trunks in a theme and they also have lots of games and free food!  Here the boys are racing up a climbing wall!

I've been trying to get my house in order, which involved hiring a terrific cleaning lady, vacuum sealing lots of things, organizing Justin's side of the basement storage, and most recently, sorting through baby clothes.  Here the boys are helping me one night sort boy and girls and sizes.  We need to be prepared since this round, we didn't find out the gender!

So that's whats been going on, in a tiny nutshell!  I'll try to post soon about our school choice and some other going-ons.  I'm reminded of why I don't post often anymore...this post took me nearly 2 hours!!!  

I hope you're all having a great fall and gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas...right around the corner!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Place for Public Education

A few days ago I posted a link on my facebook with the rewards and some statistics on homeschooling.  As you know, I'm a big homeschooling advocate.  Even more though, I'm a big Christian Education advocate.  And then I'm a bit political and hate having big government looking over our heads all the time and telling us what we can and can't do in this 'free' country of ours.  Most of what the government does and provides (at a debt to each American family) is against so many of my personal beliefs and convictions. 

So with that said, I also put the tag line on my link:
"I'd, personally, love to see the downfall of public schools."

And yes, I still would.  I would like to see the downfall of many public/government services and institutions.  I don't believe that many of these services are either biblical or constitutional.

And that's okay!  It's MY opinion!

It's not personal, it's political.  I strongly believe our world, our 'free' country could be such a better place, and we, as a nation and as a church, are settling for 'just good enough.'

However, I realize I came across as judgemental, spiteful (I prefer tenacious), arrogant, and proud.  And that is NEVER my intention.  (Remember?  I have a huge problem speaking gently!)  And realizing I came across that way has really burdened me.  I've spent several days in prayer over the matter, and here's my feeble attempt to clarify.

I've written many a blog post with biblical reference to why my kids won't be in public schools.  With time short last week, I didn't provide that reference on my fb page.  You can see one of those posts here.
This is a paragraph from that page:
5. I will answer to God for how I raised my children.  This ties in with how God has convicted me.  He says to "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..." Joshua 24:15.  
I am to "bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."  Ephesians 6:4
I want to teach them to proudly profess His name before men, and not be ashamed.  Romans 1:16
And when I stand before God and He asks if I helped my children or hurt them, if I raised them up in His Word or let them be taught contrary to His Word, it is my prayer that He will be pleased.  You see, God takes the care, love, and training of children very seriously.  He says at least three separate times in the New Testament that "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."  Mark 9:42
With relativism and humanism taught in our schools, evolution, and other teachings contrary to God's Word, it is my conviction that public schools certainly set up a child who believes in God to stumble.  THAT is on me!

So.  Where does that leave MY thoughts on how YOU educate your children?  Well, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that YOU have sought God's will for your family and your children's education.  What matters is that you aren't allowing your children to stumble because of a choice you have made.

Personally, I think we can do better.  I'd still like to see the downfall of public education, right along with many other programs.  I don't have all the answers on how that works out, but in my perfect world, and I believe in God's original plan, government was never supposed to have the responsibility for training up our children.  What I can tell you, biblically, is while 'public education' is never addressed in the Bible, it IS spoken on how parents are to raise their children to become godly men and women.  
Psalm 1 also tells us that we are BLESSED when we are not in the counsel of the ungodly, and when we meditate on God's word day and night.  Being that public education isn't Godly, I can only make deductions from there.

Two resources that have helped shape my opinions on government and public education are these:

If you really are curious and interested, I urge you to take a good look at these two resources.  After all, this subject deserves an entire documentary and book devoted to it.

My first ministry is my family.  With that said, I don't have the time to devote to a book with "Ashley's Deductions of the Bible."  Thankfully, other people have gone before me and dissected government programs, such as public education, and dissected the Word of God and how the two correlate.  

I'm also really excited for Colin Gunn's newest documentary to come out!
...a look at socialized health care.

With all that said, I know my apologies for hurt feelings, for coming across as judgemental, aren't enough for many of you.  I'm still very sorry.  My desire is to draw people TO God, and I that day, I turned people FROM God.  I will answer for that.  In the mean time, it is my prayer for God to change my heart.  I need to see others the way God sees them and loves them.  I need to learn the skill of gentleness.  I ask that you will pray for me in these areas.

Always with love,

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Fun!

I can't believe my last post was at the end of APRIL!
We've had a great summer so far...and it's not over!  Summer is my FAVORITE season!  

We started off with kid pitch...our first year out of tee-ball, and the boys did AWESOME!  We had the best coaches ever too!

This is Clark batting.  I showed him these pictures and he laughed, saying "I'll swing at about anything!"  He did eventually learn to wait for the 'good' pitches!
 And Clark pitching.

 Heith did a great job pitching.  It was the perfect position for such a busy and fidgety little boy!
 He threw some really good pitches too; and very fast!

We've also had plenty of play days like these with cousin Cameron.  It's been a cool summer so not a ton of swimming to start with.

Then we took an itty-bitty trip to Nashville with the boys to a homeschool convention, and Blaire stayed with grandma.  Here's a pic before we hit the road.

And when we did have a warm day here and there, there was lots of sprinkler action!

 Blaire LOOOOOVED it!

 We also had our first trip to ER.  Clark fell off his bike.  It isn't really as bad as it looks, but it was very bloody and very 'meaty'!  

And I finally finished the boys' beds that I made them for Christmas last year!  I had some issues, along with running out of steam, and homeschooling cut into my construction time.  We finally have them painted and in their room, got new carpet and wall paint. We even have an extra for Cameron.  They were initially bunk beds but the boys asked to have them taken apart.  Next up is homemade cornices and new white wood blinds!

Then there was the fighting!  I had threatened the boys that I would hand-cuff them together if they didn't stop.  And since the greatest advice ever given was to "say what you mean and mean what you say," I had to stick to my guns...but I didn't have hand-cuffs.  Enter the "get-a-long t-shirt."  They HATED this!  That's why it's so blurry...they were fighting it with all their might!

And we had my brother-in-law's wedding, in which Blaire was the flower girlf!

We also had my mom's brother in town from Florida in June.  Here's my mom's family: Kirk, Karin, Billy (visiting brother), my Grandma Liz (the mother), Lisa, and Barbie (my mom).

 ...and all of us grandkids and great grandkids (minus my cousin Adam, who lives in Arizona)

We had ONE beach day so I said, it's been chillly!

And ONE pool day!

 The MOST fun we had though, was probably at the Assumption Fest!
Clark is my one who will ride anything!  Even alone! 

 Then Heith thought he could ride the 'hearts' ride...they are like the spinning tea cup things. 
 They are all ready to go and securely buckled!
Then the panic sets in...  about this picture (maybe one time around) Heith starts yelling with a panic look!  I'm like "what???"  He repeatedly screams "I'M NOT BUCKLED IN!  I'M NOT BUCKLED IN!!!"  Ya, the guys stopped the ride, HEITH unbuckled his belt and got off!  Clark continued by himself.
So then Heith thought he wasn't too big after all to ride the car merry-go-round thing.  I was going to ride with Blaire, but then the guy kicked me adults.  Heith was happy to sit with Blaire while she drove and they had a BLAST!  She thought she was HOT STUFF!
Then the boys wanted to ride the airplanes...that went up and down and around...really too high for Blaire but she insisted.  When I told her she could, she yells, "AH!  Thank you mommy, thank you!" in her little Blaire voice!
After the rides, they enjoyed some YUMMY fair food!

 Just last week we went to our friend's farm for a water slide.  It was huge long with tarps and 2 water hoses!  Cousin Cam went with us and they had so much fun!  We love going to their farm!!! 

And we've also been doing some school work and art and science camps, and next week is VBS at church. They also are heading to the Ozarks with my sister while hubby and I head out to Current River for an adult canoe trip!  We've been doing lots of reading, every night, while we are lightly 'schooling.'  We are HOOKED on "The Magic Treehouse" series!  They want an entire book read to them every night!  Even Blaire loves them and they jump in bed and can't wait for me to get in there to read!

Well, that's it so far!  We've definitely been enjoying ourselves, and plan to keep on keeping on the rest of the summer through!

Hope you are all having a blast this summer too!

Love ya,