Summer is here! For many NEA families, summer means the kids are out of school and at home every day. With rising costs of everything, you may also be searching for fun activities that don’t break the bank. I certainly have been!
Library programs are often an obvious summer go-to. However, I’ve found the smaller libraries’ programs are often just as fun and engaging as those of larger libraries, but much less crowded. The Mississippi County Library System is hosting an Oceans of Possibilities Summer Reading Program with prizes to earn and several in person events scheduled at each library location throughout the county. For July they are preparing “take & make” kits with activities the kids can complete at home.
Splash pads are possibly my kids’ favorite summer activity. Last summer my kids and I did a park hop day. We picked a few parks in our area, including one we had never visited, and spent the day hopping from playground to playground. This summer we will be doing the same, but with splash pads! If you are new to Northeast Arkansas, you might be surprised to learn there are quite a few splash pads in the area.
ASU Museum – This is a great option for rainy days or those super hot Arkansas afternoons. Enjoy the regular collections and displays, play for a while in the Tinkering Studio, and check out the short term displays and collections.
Many universities and community colleges around the state offer day to week long classes and camps for kids throughout the summer months. While these programs are often not inexpensive, this summer students in Mississippi County have a wonderful opportunity through Big River Steel to attend several classes and camps offered at the Osceola ANC campus for free!
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the fun, free activities going on in Northeast Arkansas this summer. If you have other activities I should include, leave it in the comments or email me at email@example.com
It was just a test shot to check the lighting as I got set up to take our littlest girl’s birthday pictures. When I saw it on the computer though, I saw the look on his face that showed how much he loves her. Our world would not be complete without our Juju. She’s almost always the center of attention – not because she demands it, but because she’s just that loveable. In fact, this morning there was a shouting match between the three oldest about whose Juju she is. Haha!
I’ve spent the last few weeks studying and thinking on several things. One of those is my one word for 2014, serve.
One of the first things I did was update my daily to do list.
This simple act reminds me of my priorities throughout the day as I check things off my list. While returning those library books is important, it’s not exactly serving my family if I’m the only one that cares and they aren’t due for another week. Getting supper started on time however, is a bit higher up the list. 🙂
Then I started looking at different ways I could serve God, my husband, my children, and others each day.
After filling a few pages in my notebook, I figured it would be good to share some of my thoughts and what I’m learning over here. I’ll start with sharing some ideas about and ways for us wives to serve our husbands. This will be part one of a series.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
The most important way wives can serve their husbands is to pray for them. Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. Every day. Pray for wisdom. Pray for courage. Pray for patience. Pray for endurance. Pray for strength. Pray for contentment. Pray for whatever the Lord lays on your heart for him. Before going any further, I’d like you to know I’m not perfect at it! I thank God for the man I married pretty much every single day. He’s amazing, and I see daily what a blessing he is to my life. However, I tend to forget that he needs daily prayer for the everyday things he deals with, until something comes up anyway. I actually wrote it on my to do list today to be sure I didn’t let the day slip away without taking my wonderful husband to the Father and at least praying for his safety and for him to be granted wisdom and courage.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
Between the everyday prayers, do pray for him through the big stuff too. God is more productive with us through prayer than we ever will be on our own. Also, pray for yourself as his wife. Don’t be afraid to ask God to transform you into the wife he needs you to be. What a better way to serve your husband than by allowing God to refine and change your heart? We always have room for growth and refinement. It’s not always fun, but it is well worth it.
If you are looking for a good place to start for a daily prayer for your husband, I really love this infographic from Jennifer over at Loving Life at Home. As soon as we get moved, a copy of it will be displayed on my desk. 🙂
Was yesterday a bad day? It was for me. Really, bad isn’t the word. Terrible? Nope, still doesn’t fit. Anyway, you get the picture.
Don’t dwell on it. Pray. Repent.
Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. (Proverbs 1:23)
Hug the sleepy little one that just shuffled down the hall to sit with you on the couch. Write a scripture or two on your hand, and pour a cup of coffee.
Look at your children and remember your calling. Motherhood.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)
Live your life today worthy of that calling.
Live a life worthy of the children God blessed you with.
Live a life worthy of the hugs and laughter.
Live a life worthy of the tears.
Live a life worthy of the hot baths (however rare they may be).
Live a life worthy of the messes.
Live a life worthy of the late nights.
Live a life worthy of seeing the sun rise.
Live a life worthy of the crying baby and ornery toddler than gave you both of those.
. Live a life worthy of your calling.
Live a life worthy of being chef.
Live a life worthy of being housekeeper.
Live a life worthy of being laundress.
Live a life worthy of being taxi driver.
Live a life worthy of being personal assistant.
Live a life worthy of being teacher.
Live a life worthy of being wife.
Live a life worthy of being friend.
Live a life worthy of being missionary.
Live a life worthy of being mom.
Live a life worthy of your calling.
Don’t expect to do and be all those things perfectly. We are not perfect. Live a life worthy of those opportunities and blessings though.
God gave us all of these because He wanted us to have them. We didn’t earn them. We were blessed with them.
(This is just as much, if not more,a post for myself as it is for you.)
On this Works For Me Wednesday: making life easier with lots of littles… Oh, and teaching those littles some responsibility too 🙂
I have 2 1/2 year old and 3 year old boys, (and an almost 9 month old girl) so there is lots of cleaning and picking up at our house every day, but obviously their house cleaning skills and abilities are a bit limited. However, since we recently downsized to a 900-1000 square foot rental home with no dishwasher and very limited laundry area, I was pretty excited to get the boys started helping out with chores. I started by letting them help with dishes, but that proved to just be too much for them at this point. With their limited attention spans, it turned into a bigger mess for me. Then I tried “table chores.” Oh, what a difference such a simple thing has made in my life!
After breakfast, lunch, and snacks the boys are responsible for putting any scraps of food from their plates in the trash, putting their plates and utensils in the sink and their cups on the counter. I then give them each a wet rag to clean the table and chairs. After I’ve inspected their work, I give them a dry towel to dry it all. This must be done before they move on to the next activity. If they finish eating before everyone else, they sit at the table until we finish. After supper is a super busy time, so I haven’t had them help with that yet. These chores are simple enough for them to handle with little supervision, allowing me to get started on washing the dishes or putting away the dry ones from our last meal, but still being close enough to keep them on task and give instructions.
Having three young children is a joy, but it is also difficult. Add to that them being very close in age, moving to a new town, downsizing your home (by about 250 sq. ft.), losing almost all your family help and babysitters to distance, and a husband working 50-80 hours each week, and you have a recipe for a very stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed mama. I almost became that mother. I let The Enemy tear me down. For months. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was very, very ugly. I had prayed for this opportunity for my family for years, but the answer God handed us didn’t look anything like the answer I thought we would get. This answer was hard, uncomfortable, and for a long time, lonely. And to be transparent, it still is those things some days.
But, late one night I was standing in the kitchen washing a huge pile of dishes for probably the 4th time that day, staring out the window at the plain little house behind ours with tears streaming down my face. I was wishing I was looking at a rice field with a single tree standing in the distance – my kitchen window view for the past 20 years. I remembered a book I had once read about a mother in a similar tiny home with lots of littles. Basically, she found herself crying over some chore at midnight and started singing praises to God, so I did the same.
“Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name…”
I reminded myself, happy or sad, smooth sailing or difficult trials, God is still worthy of praise and obviously my whining and pity party wasn’t going to help anything. Even through my tears, I recognized my blessings and His worthiness.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
The next morning I felt better than I had in months. I suddenly realized Satan wasn’t winning anymore, but he had been. As long as he kept me feeling lonely and overwhelmed, he was silencing me. I wasn’t telling anyone about the awesome blessings God had given me in my children and how He had taken care of us and blessed our entire family. Rejoicing comes in the morning… when that bright light breaks through the horizon and highlights all those shadows you were staring at in the darkness. Then you see what was making those shadows. Miles separated my husband and I for years, but He made our marriage strong. Then he brought us back together on this new journey. He answered my prayers that our firstborn would have a wonderful bond with my husband, despite the time spent apart. My second son will never remember Daddy not being home all week, and for that I am grateful. Lincoln still asks if Daddy is coming home nearly every day, and it breaks my heart…but that’s a shadow of the amazing bond they share.
There will always be hard days. After all, being Mama to lots of littles isn’t for sissies. 🙂 However, now a few lines from the song Trading My Sorrows always comes to mind when I’m feeling frustrated at washing dishes for the 4th time in the same day, or my ears are ringing from the sound of the dryer echoing off the tile in the kitchen all day, and when I’m really just having a pity party because I don’t have a yard where I can send the rowdy boys out to play.
…I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord…
Singing to my Lord reminds me that every step of my day is a step in which I can worship Him, even if it is through scrubbing dishes or teaching my cooped up wild ones how to do jumping jacks to burn off some energy*. It’s not about me. It’s about me laying down my own discomforts and selfish desires and saying “Yes Lord, I’ll do this now for my family and meet their needs,” or “Yes Lord, I won’t complain. I will be thankful for this situation because I’m truly blessed to be seeing my husband every day.” I’m not alone. He’s by my side. He does care. That’s why I am here. I will look past those shadows to the blessings. And I will continue to tell the world of those blessings.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:11-12)
God answers our prayers, but not always how we want. They’re still answers though, and that is worth rejoicing over. Maybe even more so than when we get the answers we do want. Those surprises show that we serve an amazing God that sees all and knows all, and chooses to give us what we need instead of what we want, and certainly not what we deserve.
*Am I the only linewife that can’t type energy without accidentally typing Entergy first? :-p
Gonna take a walk outside today! Gonna see what we can find today!
The boys watched Milo & Otis this afternoon while I was cooking supper, and I’ve had that song stuck in my head ever since. (Later found out my sister had been singing it all afternoon too, 35 miles away. We’re awesome like that.) Anyway…the boys and I ventured out for a walk to the library after lunch today.
Please excuse the mess in this picture (and the blurriness *hangs head in shame*). Cleaning, cooking, and two toddlers dragging stuff out of every room into the kitchen made for a big disastrous mess.
I promise I put two matching shoes on this boy. That wasn’t good enough for him though. Just like everything else in life, he had to run off and put his own spin on it. It made me laugh, but I also saw it as a true picture of who my second son is. God created this silly little boy to have fun and make people laugh everywhere he goes, even if it’s just by wearing two different shoes.
We have the cutest little library just a couple of blocks from our house. I really need to take my real camera and take some pictures on our next visit. Being in a small town, I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised to find walls filled with lots of recent titles and brand new books. It will definitely be a frequent stop for us from now on.
When we got to the library, Lincoln seemed to have a sixth sense about where the kids’ books were and quickly found one and sat down to look at it while I helped Bubbi pick some books.
It’s amazing what a mature little boy he is becoming. He sat there looking at that book until his brother had books too. Then Lincoln picked out a couple more and we were ready to go check out with mommy’s new library card.
In unrelated news, Sissy has been rolling around for a few weeks, but she’s really picking up speed now. See her little jeans in the bottom corner? That’s where she was lying when I got up to go grab the baby wipes to change her diaper. Sigh. Too fast, too fast.
Well, I apologize for being gone for so long (again). Things have been crazy around here with the arrival of our newest zoo member!
On November 5, Miss Sylvia-Kate arrived into our home! She arrived with a hurricane (literally & figuratively) of drama. She is the sweetest little girl, and the entire family (even her brothers!!) loves her to bits! More on her later. She will get an entire post to herself. 🙂
But in the last week….
I discovered Lincoln naked and covered in gray/green eye shadow in my bathroom.
Stanton poured half a container of formula in the floor…twice. Good thing that stuff is cheap! (not)
We put our Christmas tree up. Yay!
I killed the lights on the tree.
Steven fixed the lights – and instructed me to buy a new tree after Christmas.
We bought a new (to us) car.
My mommy brain has gone to a whole new level. (The level where you wear a bra inside out for an entire day without realizing it and you lay a sweater out on the patio to dry – and leave it there…to be rained on the next day.)
Stanton is still trying to potty train himself.
The boys emptied a 130+ box of diapers all over their room more times than I care to count.
The boys emptied the boxes of baby clothes stored in their closet more times than I care to count.
Sylvia-Kate rolled over (tummy to back) for the first time today! She’s only 4 weeks old.
I kissed 2,621* (sibling-inflicted) boo-boos.
I gave 3,322* hugs.
I slept 7* hours.
I threatened to put the kids in daycare only once. 🙂
*These numbers may or may not be completely accurate.
Anyone that has ever had 2 under 2, or just 2 small children in general, will tell you that family pictures are not judged on whether everyone is smiling at the camera. If all four of us appear in the photo, some portion of all 4 faces is visible, and Mom isn’t crying – it’s a good picture. With that in mind, imagine my surprise when this picture appeared on my screen as I was downloading Christmas pictures from my camera!
Yes, that is all four members of my family, looking at the camera, eyes open, and NO TEARS (from me or the kids) at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. It’s a Christmas miracle.