Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Don't You Want to Know?

I think it's fun to learn what makes people tick.  You know, what makes them happy besides the obvious faith, family, career, etc. 

Some people really like NASCAR.  Others enjoy scotch on the rocks.  I even know folks who get a kick out of collecting tractors!

Well, I can't fairly ask what makes you tick if I don't divulge some of my own secrets or lesser known personal tidbits!

My Personal Indulgences (include but aren't limited to):

  • Watching The Deadliest Catch on Netflix
  • Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly book series
  • Eating ice cream
  • Jergen's Original scent lotion
  • Old Spice aftershave (on my hubby)
  • Chocolate Dipper Cookies (from Aldi)
  • Long-sleeve tshirts
  • Asics running shoes
  • Target shooting with a .22
  • Paper towels
  • Filling out paperwork (I actually enjoy doing this)

What makes you tick?  Are you a closet sci-fi novel reader?  Do you indulge in a glass of wine in the afternoon?  Must you use a specific brand of toilet paper?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ninja dancing, replacement parts, being pushed, and nectarines!

Rain. We've had a lot of rain this week or so it seems.  I really wouldn't have to know the actual weather conditions to know that it's raining because I can see the energy oozing from eyeballs, arms, legs, etc. all over my house!!!  The hard part - not necessarily rain that lasts all day, but the aftermath of rain - MUD.  I can't change it, so we're just plodding along with creative outlets for lots of boy energy.  Like, ninja dancing to Veggie Tale's Christmas music - such an obvious rainy day activity!  Or making a recliner into a jeep with an empty toy tote attached to the back of the recliner as the trailer! 
Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Sweet corn. Green beans. Tomatoes. Cucumbers. Green peppers. Broccoli.  Nature's bounty is blessing us over and over with an amazing harvest.  Between our own garden and several who have shared their abundance, we are putting up a ton of goodies to get through winter.  Who doesn't love a good ol' pot of Illinois sweet corn in the middle of January?  And, this year's sweet corn - AMAZING - it tastes like candy! We've put up strawberry freezer jam, homemade spaghetti sauce, bread'n'butter pickles, refridgerator pickles, freezer pickles, sweet relish, and tons of sweet corn.  Praise God for His provision!
Back to school week was a success! I never doubted we would survive, but I was unsure if we would thrive!  I am pleased to say that all my students are moving right along, adjusting to a newish schedule, and being fairly patient with their teacher :)
Can I send my 36-year-old body back for a replacement model?  Or maybe just some replacement parts? Yikes, I feel old this week. Between my hip, knee, and elbow you would think I am 3 times as old as I actually am.  I'm hoping for some relief as I hash out what is actually going on in my tired body!
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been an interesting phenomenon.  My husband was nominated by a colleague and before jumping into his own challenge, he did some research.  I think a lot of folks have done their research, and while I stand very solidly on the pro-life/anti-embryonic stem cell side of it all, I am pleased that so many folks are not just passively participating.  ALS is a real disease, effecting real people and it needs a cure.
God is pushing me hard right now.  He's pushing me to trust Him, to rely on Him, and to put Him first.  I need the push. I need out of my rut.  I'm so grateful for a merciful Father, who also loves me enough to pick me up by the seat of my pants and push me forward.
I love nectarines.  Yep, now you know my favorite fruit.  Nothing like random trivia to send you off on your weekend adventures!
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

TBT - A look back at my meager beginnings

In the spirit of "back to school" and throwback Thursday I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of our first year as St. Augustine Academy.

So, at the top is Gianna in pre-school, then Grace in Kindergarten, and Tobias as mascot :) Now, scrolling down, in the same order, I have a 4th grader, 6th grader and 2nd grader!  Time sure flies when you're having fun!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wit & Wisdom

Contrary to my knack with words and fondness of all things large family, there are some others out there who are much wiser than myself :)

Wednesdays, for whatever reason, have evolved (from my prior blog) into posts where I give you a good quote or bit of wit & wisdom from someone other than me.

So for today, I want to share an insight from St. Clare of Assisi (learn more about her here):

"Love that does not know of suffering is not worthy of the name."

How true is that statement? True, authentic, holy love can painfully, and wholly cause us suffering.  Those we love the most also tend to be the ones who hurt us the most.  What makes it true, authentic, and holy love, though, is getting past the suffering through prayer and the sacraments.

A father who gives up a dream job for a job that provides for his family - a suffering.  A mother laboring for hours to give birth to a child - a suffering. Turning the other cheek when lashed with another's anger - a suffering. 

We bear these sufferings, whole and entire, and as a result we learn to love more authentically.  We learn to love in the way in which God called us to love.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's keeping me awake at night?

In an effort to keep it real around here, I thought I would share what keeps me awake at night. That's not to say I don't ever sleep, but sometimes I just can't turn my brain off.  So here's a glimpse of what you might find tumbling around in my head these days (nights).

1. Homeschooling
2. Taking good care of my husband
3. Working hard on my career training program
4. Making our dollars s-t-r-e-t-c-h!
5. God's plan for our family (and His timing)
6. How to foster good relationships between my kiddos, especially the girls
7. When to fit exercise in my schedule
8. Staying in touch with my folks and my brother
9. Why does it have to be so hard to live out God's plan?
10. What is "so and so" going to do when he/she grows up?
11. Why can't people just get their act together so the world can be a better place?

I'm sure the list can be amended at least once a week. Life can throw curveballs when I'm expecting a fast ball, but you get the idea, my mind never really rests.  I honestly don't know if I can ever fully shut my brain off to everything.  So sometimes when I'm awake, usually nursing my little guy, I just turn it all to prayer.  At least it brings me peace instead of worry.

Do you find yourself pondering life in the wee hours?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Homeschool with Many

We've been off since July 2, which was a good 6 weeks, but to be honest the kids have been ready to start back for about 3 weeks.  We normally school on a year round calendar, but it looked a little different this past year.  Our breaks were farther apart and not full of the usual enrichment stuff.  It kinda felt like we schooled every day to be honest!  So needless to say, momma/teacher needed a BREAK!

But....here I am and I am still alive after our first morning back to school.  That feels good to say.  There were good and bad moments, fun and frustrating moments, wacky and weird moments.  Nothing out of the ordinary :)

So what does it take to get our large family "Back to School?"

Even though we homeschool there is a lot of prep work to get us off and running for the year.

This year, we are schooling 5 students with 2 tag-a-longs, from 6th grade down to an 11-month-old. We have strong readers, new readers and non-readers. We have good time managers and those that need to be kept on task.  We have toddlers who want to do school but eat the crayons and tear up papers!  There's never a dull moment over here at St. Augustine Academy.

Getting ready for school is a lot of fun but it does get more daunting for me as the older students move into the more intense years of schooling. I find myself diving in a little bit more each year as I try to make sure that each student's learning style is accommodated in some fashion and that I take individuality into account.

School Supplies

Us homeschoolers love a good "back to school" sale just like the rest of the world.  So with cash in hand and a list a mile long, off we went to Walmart.  My folks gave the kiddos a little bit of spending money to buy their own "special" supplies (like designer folders, pencil pouches, etc.) and the rest of the necessary supplies were left to me.

This is the time of year that I stock up on Crayola crayons and markers, loose leaf paper, notebooks, pencils, index cards, glue sticks, etc.  The name brand stuff is cheaper than usual and in the case of crayons (which are a necessity here) are much better quality. We also had to get shoes, socks and undies for several kiddos.

That trip to Walmart was nothing less than chaos, but I lived to write about so it wasn't too bad!

Lesson Plans

We are enrolled in Kolbe Homeschool Academy, so the basic lesson plans are all done for me.  This is a life saver.  The time consuming part is getting all the information into a format that helps the kids succeed at getting everything done.  The actual lesson plans have a student part and a teacher part, but from a visual standpoint can seem overwhelming to some of my kiddos.  So last year, I made charts, just a simple 8 or 9 by 5 grid that I fill in with the necessary info, done by subject.  This way, the kids are only seeing what they need to see and it gives them something tangible to cross off.  (That part is most gratifying to me because I love crossing off to-do lists!)

This new method of displaying assignments also helps my kiddos adjust easily to the days when we don't get everything done.  They just don't move on in a subject until the first box is checked off, then the second, etc. 


This has been an area of laxity on our part recently, but we're trying to hit the ground running with it this year.  We feel that having a uniform helps set school apart from the rest of our day.  The kids recognize that school is unique, that it's important.

Since our mascot is the "Martyrs" (as in those who've lost their lives for loving our Lord) red is our school color.  We have the kiddos wear red shirts and nice pants/skirts.  This year, we were gifted some nice school polo shirts in navy and white, so we expanded our color scheme!  After all their school work is done, the kids can change clothes - saving the uniform for the next day if need be.

Needless to say, we have a lot of red, navy, and white tops along with khaki bottoms floating around our house. I will say that it does help the kids (girls and boys) take their work more seriously.

Schooling Space

Our dining room table has traditionally been the hub of our school.  I sit at one end of the table with those in most need of me very close by and the others the opposite end.  I will say that after schooling for only one day so far, we will have to do some rearranging.  Between the 7 kiddos, myself and all the books and supplies the one table just isn't big enough.  We've already pinned Grandma down to borrow an extra small table, which will help with overcrowding.

I'll post an update about that another time.

Schooling a large family isn't necessarily more difficult than schooling a smaller family, it just takes a little more planning and time to meet everyone's needs.

And on that note, my current need is a brain rest, so I'm going to sign off for today.  I hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Vacation, Grace, Vocations and Frozen

Summer vacation is rapidly ending here at the Kreps' house.  Ours was a long 6 weeks this year.  Might seem short to some and too long to others...I'm not sure how I feel.  On one hand I am so excited and ready to get back to our school schedule.  On the other hand, there's a lot more on my platter this time around so I'm a bit anxious as to how I'll manage it all.
"All by Grace" - seems to be the perfect motto for my school year, don't you think?  It's the answer to pretty much any question I get about homeschooling or raising a large family.  In my humble opinion, it's the only correct answer.
I never understood why my dear mother would get so frustrated with me when I would talk back to her or use sarcasm.  NOW I DO!  What goes around comes around, some might say.  However, now that I understand first hand how it feels, I want to get to the deeper "heart" issues with my kiddos, so they won't speak to me or anyone that way.  Always a work in progress!
I love my husband very much and what the Lord has accomplished in 11.5 years of marriage is simply amazing.  I really don't know where I would be without him, despite my inability to express that clearly sometimes.  Life changes people.  Every bump in the road, whether it be a positive bump or not, redirects us.  But I said "I do" and absolutely meant every last word of my vows - no matter the bumps!  Marriage is my primary vocation and knowing it's what I'm called to reassures me that all the grace I will ever need to live it out well, is right there for me.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but we've been on a Frozen break this week. GASP! Only an occasional impromptu serenade of "Let it Go" every once in a while.  Praise God!  While I admit that I sing the songs constantly right along with my kiddos, I'm glad that we're singing some Garth Brooks this week - nice change of pace!
There's a "next" for us - for our family.  We are in the midst of praying and planning a change for our family.  It's been in our thoughts and on our hearts for a while now, but through lots of prayer we finally have a path before us.  I feel more at peace on this path and awaiting God's timing, knowing and feeling His hands in the process.
In the spirit of all the prayer requests I've seen, been texted, etc., let me offer this simple prayer:
"Heavenly Father, let it be done according to your will.  May the peace and love of Christ Jesus, your Son, reign in our hearts. Amen."
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