Ministry Life

Most of you know that we (my family) are missionaries in the inner city. If you didn’t, now you do!!

My wonderful husband works with recovering addicts, and heads up the entire recovery ministry at the church where we serve. Recently we acquired a property through a sheriff sale to be used as transitional housing for men who are in the pre and post stages of their recovery journey. They would live here while going through their initial detox before they enter a program, then they could come back here when they graduate from their program-to live until they get a job and secure their own place to live. We hope this house, The Redemption House will be a place that will lead many to Christ and sobriety.

We have launched a campaign to raise $40,000 to pay for the house in FULL by the August 3, 2009! If you are interested in being a part of this process, by donating any amount, large or small, will you email me or leave me a comment with your email address (either enabled via blogger or written in the comment). I will then send you a link to our personal ministry site where you can see the detailed information and read more about the house, and future ministry.

If donating isn’t something you can offer, will you please pray that the money will come in, and that the future of this house rests in the Lord’s hands? There are so many details to be worked out that don’t even concern the initial $40,000…we need this house covered in prayer in so many ways!

Thank you for being a wonderful group of people I can reach out to, my husband always thinks it is so cool that I have a ton of Christian friends I have never even met! We will never forget when so many of you covered him in prayer while he battled cancer. When we began talking about how to get the word out about this new house and ministry he immediately asked me if I could reach out to you all about it, he KNEW so many of you would join us in prayer!!! It means the world to both of us, thank you.

Update Dec. 2013 ~ the money was raised and the house is currently ready to house 6 women in recovery.  We are now praying for a house manager and finances to support the house.


Behind the Scenes ~ Where do I Begin?

This post was expanded into an eBook in the spring of 2013!  You can grab your copy FREE when you sign up for our newsletter!  Sign up here, or go to this post to read more!Where-to-Begin-with-Tot-School-eBook.jpg

I get this question a lot, the one from a mom trying to do the best for her tot, but feeling a tad bit overwhelmed when she stumbles upon my site and others geared towards educating tots at home. Thankful for the info, but still overwhelmed. This particular mom put it nicely…

“I just feel like a tiny ant with a huge mountain of information and ideas dumped on top of me!!”

This post is for her and any others who feel that way…hopefully to help you navigate through the mountain of ideas dumped before you!!!

The mountain IS big, but that doesn’t mean you need to climb to the top right now, hanging out at the bottom with a few good ideas is just fine…slowly climbing as you feel less overwhelmed.

I too feel overwhelmed sometimes and honestly when the idea of Tot School first hit me, I overwhelmed myself, trying to put my thoughts all in order. Sure I had the early childhood education, I knew the right and wrong ways to teach a young child, but I was still a mom with a tot-trying to do my best for him.

First things first, if you are new to my site or to Tot School, please know that I am not perfect. My long time readers are aware of that fact and have often comforted me through my “I’m such a bad Mommy” times. I am not a bad mommy, and I am not a perfect mommy, I am mommy-just like you. My blog may make it appear that things like Tot School run perfectly in our house-but let me assure you-we have most if not all of the same stumbling blocks that you do.

Go here and read this post if you have never seen it. It gives a minute by minute account of a Tot School hour in our house. Krash was 27 months old when I wrote it and as you will see he was screaming in protest within the first 5 minutes!!!

After you see that, then go here and read through my Tot School FAQ page. Be sure to read the part about my beliefs on educating young children. I am certainly not claiming my way is the right way but it is good for you to know what I believe. These beliefs are what guide my decisions for every Tot School decision I make.

Now that you’ve read both of those, let’s talk about what YOU are going to do to get going with Tot School at your house. Here’s a few recommendations for you, that can hopefully help you climb that mountain slowly and feel more confident as a teacher-mom.

  • Make a List! Get a note pad and a pen and go around your house and find every toy that you already own that could be used for exposing early learning skills (this will be most toys if you think hard enough!). What skills you ask? Go here to this post to see the checklists I provide to give you some ideas. None of these skills are skills a tot HAS to learn, they are just skills to be exposed-key word-EXPOSED. Do not feel you need to teach your tot-you really are just playing with a purpose!
  • Now, go here and look through my Tot School Tools Store and see if you already own any of these and forgot to list them, and if there are a few that really stand out to you-write a list of your “I hope to own” tools. But don’t go buying anything yet unless you have gobs of money to spare. You can also go here to see my Behind the Scenes post on storing our Tot School Tools, to see more ideas of toys that can be tools, and answers to some other common Tot School questions.
  • In order to keep things simple, let’s stop here. Look at the first list you made and select 5 toys you think your tot would enjoy playing with-WITH you. Try to choose things s/he hasn’t played with in awhile or ever…to peak his/her interest. For example’s sake let’s say you choose these foam blocks

Here’s what I would do to purposefully play with my tot…

  • Sit on the floor with him.
  • Show him the blocks. If he dives right in, let him and just sit back and watch him explore without teaching anything or even saying much. (If he doesn’t dive right in but just waits for you, begin stacking or lining them…inviting him to join you.)
  • After he has explored on his own for a bit, join in with him, by doing whatever it was that he was doing (stacking, scattering, lining them up, etc.) Start using purposeful language as you play…” Look at this pretty PURPLE block,” “oooh I see an A on this one,” I am putting the RED one on top of the BLUE one.” Just your simple phrases are teaching your tot SO much.
  • Now try to show your tot how to do something different with the blocks. If he was stacking, why don’t you try lining. If he is resistant to you, try lining them up next to him while he still stacks. Then just invite him to join you.
  • Add something else into your play-maybe a toy car to drive along the line of blocks you made.
  • Maybe get an empty laundry basket and toss the blocks into the basket.
  • Hide some blocks around the room and go find them, announcing the color each time he finds one.
  • The opportunities are endless with just this one toy…. this is why I said you don’t need to go buy new toys-you just need to think deeper and use the ones you already have!!!
  • Here’s the kicker to this whole process, especially if your tot is on the younger end, STOP when he loses interest. You can try to re-engage with a new addition (like the basket or the little car). But when he’s done-he’s done. Let him wander off, and be done. Forcing Tot School (purposeful play with your tot) on him isn’t going to do either of you any good.

Each day, try to purposefully play with your tot like this-using the same toys if s/he really loves them, or bringing out something different each day. If something doesn’t work, have a back up ready to go. That’s why I said to have 5 in mind when you begin. It is frustrating when your great tot school ideas are rejected by your tot-but don’t let the frustration last for long! Just try another toy and keep playing!

Now, for a bit more of the Tot School mountain….

  • I recommend going to my most recent Tot School posts and glancing through the list of moms linked up. They are all putting the ages of their tot(s) in ( ) now. Find a few blogs that show tots that are within a couple of months of the age of your tot. Visit their blogs and glance through some of their recent Tot School posts. You don’t even have to read them, just glance at the photos-I promise you’ll be filled with ideas in just a few minutes! If you like a blog, be sure to add it to your blog reader. If you don’t know what a blog reader is, go here to read that post.
  • Please remember that ALL TOTS ARE DIFFERENT, even if the ages are similar. Not everything that works for one will work for another. Don’t let that frustrate you!!!
  • If you have your own blog, start recording your Tot School adventures and start linking up. More about that can be found here!

As you slowly climb the mountain, begin exploring the following ideas as you feel less overwhelmed. Don’t try to do this all at once, your tot just needs YOU. Each new thing you add is just a bonus.

If your tot is almost 3 or over 3, you might want to read this-which is my post about transitioning from Tot School into Pre K.

In summary-in case you now feel even more overwhelmed after reading all of that…here’s the basics…

  1. make a list of tot school tools you already own
  2. choose 5 to purposefully play with, with your tot
  3. sit and play with your tot, exposing early learning skills
  4. find other moms online who have tots the same age as yours
  5. expand slowly to include more ideas into your Tot School
  6. remember that your tot needs YOU, not stuff…give your tot purposeful play time with you each day…that’s Tot School!

Have fun!

Friend Makin Monday ~ Confessions

random mommy confessions

  1. I stink. Right now. I NEED a shower.
  2. I had planned on doing school with Pac Man this summer after taking just a week off. Hmmmm it’s been longer than a week. SO much for plans.
  3. I KNOW I am supposed to eat breakfast. I KNOW coffee isn’t breakfast. Ooops.
  4. I find myself longing for the next time Ladybug needs to nurse, just so I can sit peacefully and have an excuse to not get up to wipe a butt, referee a fight, issue a time out…you know all of the really fun stuff.
  5. I will throw off all else when it is time to take and edit portraits. The house can be a mess, I can be a mess, my list can be miles long-but those portraits WILL be done and edited immediately…even if there’s screaming all around me. Example below, from yesterday (sweet Ladybug is 2 months old!). Good thing I don’t have a portrait of the room she was in while I took these.
  6. I contemplated giving up our Y membership out of laziness. Thankfully I didn’t and hit “confirm” at the last minute as I was signing Krash up for his classes. It is so hard to drag the kids up there, but I know I need to do it, for them and for me. I came SO close to canceling though, registering him on the very last day. But I did it, we start back up next Sat.
  7. I am NOT the extrovert many think I am. I love to be alone, I love to be at home, I am not hospitable in most cases. I hate the phone, let me repeat-HATE the phone. I recently got free texting and now my cell phone actually has a use!
  8. I try to get everyone I know to start a blog.
  9. I let my kids watch way too many movies when I need a break. I choose movies because I can get over an hour rather than a tv show for just 30 minutes. I figure my sanity is more precious than them wasting an hour 1/2 of their lives. Better than getting yelled at by a stressed out Momma.
  10. I started a lovely diet a few weeks ago, even walked on the treadmill for a week. I was eating well and following my plan for a few weeks. Then I stopped. I am now trying to muster the energy to get going again and actually lose the extra 30 pounds of Ladybug fat.


Friend Makin Monday ~ 10 Things I Love About Summer

ten things i love about summer

For this week’s, Friend Makin Monday (yes I realize I am posting this a day late—woops), we’re sharing 10 things we love about summer….

  1. Seeing my family from NC-we go to the beach with my parents and my husband’s family each summer!
  2. Hanging out on our new deck…what a joy it is, I feel so blessed.
  3. Reading Rocks…the summer reading program I lead at our church where we are missionaries.
  4. God’s Girls…the purity program I lead for preteen girls at our church.
  5. Flowers in the backyard (even if our yard is teeny tiny-we do our best to make it nice)
  6. Sending the boys outside to play.
  7. Swinging on our swing in the yard with my kids.
  8. backyard fireflies…
  9. Seeing my boys run around shirtless :) they are so cute!
  10. Seeing my husband run around shirtless..he’s so cute too! ;) I’ll keep that picture private!!!


Tot School ~ He Likes Crafts!!!!


~Krash is currently 36.5 months old~

Tot School was much different at our house this past week as I discovered Krash finally likes to do crafts and projects!!! We focused almost entirely on this and had a wonderful week!

I figured out that he might be really into more project type work when Pac Man cut up shapes for him early last week and K actually glued them to the paper, for a long time!!!! We did squeeze in a little “Bean Bag Monster” with our new lowercase set (my mom makes these, and no she does not sell them on her site-they are too time consuming to make!)K is obsessed with our new washer and dryer, and is often found like this. He will even take my clean clothes out of the dryer and load them back into the washer for me…how sweet.This is the first time he showed any interest in Color Wonder. Not only was he interested, he colored like this for SO long, making sure every little spot was blue…We are still working on our pond (yes I realize it is taking us FOREVER to finish it, but we WILL finish!). This week I was brave and we did the footprint ducks, this is K’s…We are having FUN with our letters!!! After doing the Hh last week (we did this one because we needed a last minute photo for Totally Tots), I realized that K loved doing this! I decided it was finally time to really dive into our letter projects! We began with ants on our Aa
Painted our Bb like a yellow bumble bee
Our most fun letter this week was definitely Cc! We made up our own project for C, using one of our favorites…Cars! Krash put Cars (the movie) stickers all over his Cc’s…Then he drove his car with painted wheels all over it…Yes, I mean ALL OVER IT!!!K is also now really good at a few of the Wii Fitgames, like skiing…and Yoga…He is also a MUCH better helper in the kitchen than he used to be!!!! We made blueberry muffins together, you can see the recipe here.He continues to be adorable with Ladybug and is often trying to “help her,” here he is covering her up…and his famous, “petting her”…Finally, my favorite shot of the week of this handsome guy…

If you have a tot (approximately ages 1-3) at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

If you’ve never read this: Go HERE 1st for more details- please do!!! Then if you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email-links to homepages will automatically be deleted).

New: when you add your name(blog name) to Mr. Linky will you put your tot’s age (in months) after it, like this: 1+1+1=1 (36 mos)? I think this will help new readers a lot as they look for ideas for their specific aged tot!

If you are unsure of how to add your direct link to Mr Linky-I added a tutorial with photos here, scroll down to see it!