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Traversing emotional pain

Wednesday, 30. December 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Have you been traversing some emotional pain? We can’t pretend to begin to understand the following verse, but there it sits, in all of its spiritual intrigue: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s affliction, for the sake of His body, which is His church” (Colossians 1:24).

Surely He allowed His soul the full score of complete and total suffering, not only physically and spiritually, but emotionally. Rejection, disdain and mockery apparently were necessary parts of His affliction. His heart, held under the darkness of affliction at the bottom of the barrel—experiencing emotional pain at the lowest of the low, below the belt, gut-wrenching rejection—weathered the worst of human storms.

Our Savior’s suffering in this regard was complete, yet at the same time it was NOT complete. He was willing to suffer again, and even ongoingly, for 2,000 additional years, through identification with the vicarious emotional pain of His “own” (His dear sheep) in order that they might know the fellowship of His sufferings. So it must be that by being in the valley of emotional pain we apparently obtain a depth of fellowship that can be found in no other way. What immutable designs He crafts for spiritual intimacy with Him via the open wound of His own continued suffering through us. Is there no end to the extension of His love and the depth of its concourse?!

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Can’t get on top of cleaning your house or office space?  Clutter got you down?

Friday, 18. December 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Cleaning up, organizing and de-cluttering your space can feel so good, it is like scratching your soul! Being able to see everything and grab everything (without digging) gives you instant power over your days and your activities. You start on top of life rather than scrounging around on the bottom, just trying to get up to see-level before you can even begin your trip to the top. You’ll be far more productive, sharper and more focused if you get your personal external world in order. Why? Because letting go of the grip of excess stuff helps define where you are headed (not where you’ve been) and releases all the attendant emotional life that went with that stuff.

Personal clutter (not someone else’s—that is a different problem) is often associated with two issues: 1) not saying NO to enough outside ACT-ivity to get command of your inside CON-nectivity, and 2) buried personal anxiety. It is important to take a look at those underlying emotional issues before cleaning and sorting down; otherwise you may find yourself buried in excess stuff, yet again, and soon.

Maintaining the wonderful new condition of your sorting/cleaning labor is solely the result of locating a permanent place for everything. And not just any place—your optimal organizing-aim is to find prime real estate for all of your prime stuff (frequently used objects). You don’t want to use prime real estate for sub-prime objects.

Thus, you’ll want to store frequently used objects close to where you use them. Conversely, put infrequently used objects in more out of the way places. But make sure that in both storage places, each object is instantly observable and easily grab-able. Just because you don’t use an object much doesn’t mean that when you do want to retrieve it you should have to go to herculean work and wasted time digging it out to procure it.

How do you achieve this with limited space? You apply one or more of the following remedies:

A.) Pare down further
Your stuff must fit in your house. As you know, to optimally organize, you’ll be wanting to find containers that fit in your shelving and drawer spaces. Accordingly, think one thought beyond that to remind yourself that your largest container is your house! We don’t have the luxury (or nightmare) of owning an infinite amount of stuff. There is a boundary to every person’s material world. You begin with your own parameters. Here’s a governing principle: if it won’t fit, I can’t have it.

B.) Within that larger context, if there is not enough room on your in-house shelves, for easy grab-ability of all objects, do one of three things:

1) Build or buy more shelves. If you do not have enough square footage on the ground for more shelving or drawers, then go up into the air! Install one continuous shelf above your door frames and along the ceiling of each room, with L brackets underneath, as needed, just one foot down from the ceiling. Banker’s boxes fit nicely in that ‘ceiling’ space. These large white cardboard banker’s boxes can then be filled with lighter weight stuff (off season clothing, bedding, etc.) and can be labeled clearly. This newly added one foot storage area is instant, rent free space! (If you are renting a storage unit someplace, do the math. You could probably re-BUY everything in it with the composite rental fee from over a year.) So you see, if you feel cramped, you may not need a bigger HOUSE, you just may need some more SHELVING—at one-one-thousandth the price!

2) Consider putting some stuff in containers under beds. Buy bed leg risers to make this possible.


Now that we’ve finished tackling the practical sorting steps, let’s examine your emotions in relation to clutter.

Compulsive buying (and sometimes going into debt to do it) and/or compulsive gathering can produce temporary emotional highs. To get a handle on this, examine what your emotional state is immediately prior to buying or collecting. Try to peg what stress or unresolved emotions the “high” is relieving. Identify that emotion, and embark on finding a better way to fill it.

Old habits are never beaten back by force of personal will. Self-will is no match for the bad habit’s power. Bad habits are so strong, they are beaten back only by replacement. What will the new “go-to” habit be? Determine this ahead of time.

Once your home/job space is uncluttered by finding and creating an exact spot for everything, there is strong evidence (via people who have done it well) that it will actually stay uncluttered.

An excessive hoarder brings items in one at a time and can’t let go of them. It becomes a defeating dynamic for such a person. An excessive spender may be looking to the actual act of buying, over and over, to gain an addict’s high to relieve subtle personal pain that has been caused by an unresolved dynamic.

Internal conflict can keep the would-be sorter/cleaner stuck in neutral for any one of these reasons:

1) The task seems too overwhelming.
Solution: break the task into bite-sized pieces.

2) No time to do it.
Solution: determine to say “NO” to other activities for a while.

3) Identity issues: “I’m just not WORTH having a clean house.”
Solution: remind yourself of the truth that every human being was made to enjoy order. You are no exception.

4) Perfectionism: “If I don’t know the PERFECT place to put something, I’ll do nothing.”
Solution: put it somewhere, and tell yourself that you can upgrade/tweak the arrangement later.

5) Indecision: thoughts like “this is too unique, too rare, to let go.”
Solution: recognize that your needs are more important than a thing’s needs.

6) Paralyzing grief: “I can’t let go of mom’s (hubby’s or child’s) stuff because that would feel like I was throwing him or her away.”
Solution: think instead, those objects served him/her well. They were personal picks of theirs. He/she contributed to my life; now it’s time to contribute to others’ lives, my way.

7) Stuck in the past?
Solution: remind yourself that the past no longer exists. Your life is in the present, only. How can you well-order your life to make it less chaotic? You only get one shot at this. Life is not a dress rehearsal. It is the real deal, passing by day by day. You can’t afford to be stuck.


P.S.: If the clutter is someone else’s issue, give them their own territory to do with as they will. Let them observe your joy over creating your own neatness. Inspiration happens in a person’s wake as they speed past—never by attempting to “whip” the other person into shape.

Filed Under: Home management tips

The anatomy of a mid-life crisis.  Want it?

Sunday, 13. December 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Many, many men go through a mid-life crisis. But, typically, not so many women go through this same sort of “hit-the-wall” passage in their middle adult years. Why? because women still garner tremendous meaning and significance through the raising of children and grandchildren. In fact, statistically, it has been shown that mothers of small children and women raising needy grandchildren have the lowest suicides rates of the total spectrum of humanity. Why? because they are needed.

Now back to the men—and women who suffer mid-life crises. What goes on here with this syndrome? Usually, it began in junior high and high school when we tended to grow outrageous fantasies about what life would deliver to us. Our illusions were grown in the fertile soil of media entertainment and storybooks, coupled with our own juvenile driving insistent inability to master any self-delay or self-denial in reference to our emerging self. Then, for years and years we fertilized our unrealities rather than weeding them out.

Then came the victimization stage. Out came the measuring sticks, and nothing, absolutely nothing measured up in our circumstances or relationships—not even close. Thus, loudly, our protestations began—the masked cries for help. “Hey, what I’m experiencing doesn’t fit with how life is supposed to be.” This was followed by the engulfing “me-ism”/entitlement/blame scenario. Rather than dump the illusion and recalibrate, we clutched the illusion even more vigorously. In order to make sense of it all, we pandered to self even more. “This is only happening to me; no one else goes through what I go through. Look at me. Take care of me.” As this unfolds, others tire of the myopia and generally withdraw. The resultant isolation makes the malcontent even more lonely and perplexed.

But finally, in some drowsy hour, often deep in the night when the noise stops, the truth wills out. The clutch is finally released. But is it over? In many cases, no, it is not. Often, depression marches right in to replace it. There’s your mid-life crisis.

So, what does the self-made “victim” DO? He/she frantically now sets out to RE-DO early life. Find a different spouse. Go out and change my CIRCUMSTANCES—find BETTER ones. For surely the right circumstances will deliver the right kind of life. The only problem is that now, as an older person, all the original plethora of potential spouses is gone—most of the options are used ones and/or defeated ones—and few and far between ones, at all. And one’s own fading beauty and fading energy make all the “catching a fairy-tale mate” far more sluggish. And when he thinks he finds one, he doesn’t count on the question of “what THEY will look like in old age?” or ACT like toward HIM in the final chapter? Is this BETTER than what I’ve got? Hmmm…I hadn’t thought about old age at all—only my immediate hour. I thought I could reject with impunity. “I’ll reject you, but you will feed me lunch!” Face absolute aloneness in my final hour? —hadn’t thought about that, either. The only important hour is this current one. Or be rejected by my grown children and spouse in response to my prior rejection of them? I thought that there was only ONE person who MATTERED in this story. Arrghh.

And how goes the self-crafting of new circumstances? Can we even do it? Or do we find dead ends at the end of every furtive, darting idea? In addition, we find to our own chagrin that we can’t even DEFINE what we want now—like trying to catch a butterfly. Every butterfly caught now immediately loses its magic and lies stiff at the bottom of our jar.

Then escapism must be the solution? Drink, drug, and bury oneself in entertainment? Embark, too, on enacting all kinds of little delicious suicides—like self-sabotage? Relationally increase methods of manipulation and control. Demand more. Or try on some type of adult screaming? i.e., louder self-made assertions about how life is supposed to be for me, wafted with more energy into mid-air. Or perhaps it is found in “buy, buy, buy,” like a maniac. Surely a new Lexus will do it. Debt or die. Is not such a life a catastrophe?

When the mid-life crisis disorder is looked at under eagle-eye scrutiny, we find that experiencing mid-life crises is a New World (a first world) problem. When we set it in its historical context we can identify different sorts of role models for weathering the mid-term storms. There, we find examples of nobility, courage, endurance, strangely cropping up in mid-life and old age. Honest earlier recalibration worked.

If we look even deeper at this modern syndrome, we can note that there is something even better than secular recalibration, engineered by our own wits, to weather mid-life. Could there be some spiritual answers? What if the disillusionment was planned by an all-knowing and all-wise God? Now, let’s back up and re-do this challenge as a believer—even as a backslidden follower of the Lord.

What if God takes every believer through a “world-let-down” on purpose? —insisting that He ALONE is our core? What if it is part of His school of discipleship for eternal people? What if it is His graduate school of maturation? If the job is done well on our behalf, we find, to our initial shock, that nothing in life is as we imagined it! Nothing.

In fact, Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his matchless little book, Life Together, asserts that every community of relationships, whether it be one’s family of origin, one’s marriage, one’s own family, one’s church, one’s neighborhood or job and work setting, has to crash—and with it, all the aspirations for perfect circumstances have to crash, too.

The restored objective, after falling through the fragile floor of worldliness, is to begin again on spiritual turf. Through gentle nudgings we now find that life is to be lived in the adoration of our Maker (habitual gratefulness for the smallest of graces—which then mushroom into thundering praises—living waters flowing out of us in torrents in eternity) and responding to His impulses for what to make of life, by our own exertions and influence, moment by moment. Only then do we step up to the wondrous platform of real life.

Far from demanding that life serve us, we find that the entrance level requirement to this far more fulfilling world is that we serve life. We begin by putting on the apron, and rolling up the sleeves. The hunt is on for the needs of others, this time—not the junior high scramble to make it into the in-crowd, myself. Getting outside of self is the bastion of fulfillment. How do we sustain it? By refueling at the throne—treasuring the infinite sweet embraces of our Maker. As the old hymn writer wrote: “Let me to THY bosom fly. Other succor have I NONE!” This, alone, is reality. And here, on this sure turf, there are no mid-life crises—nor, much to our wildest delight, are there any POST-life crises, either!

Filed Under: Home management tips

Origins of birthday celebrations

Saturday, 05. December 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the quantity and pressure of too many children’s birthday parties? If you want a way out of this relentless demand, here it is!

Did you know these historical facts about the celebration of birthdays?

• The first birthday celebrations noted in recorded history were around 3,000 BC, and were those of the early pharaohs only (i.e. the kings of Egypt), not of the common man.
• Often, prisoners were released on this day. (If this is familiar to you, you may have read it in Genesis 40: while Joseph was in confinement in the house of the captain of the guard, the cupbearer was released—and this eventually resulted in Joseph himself being released.)
• In Egypt and later on in Babylon, only the birth dates of royal sons were celebrated. Some royal women’s birthdays were celebrated, such as that of Cleopatra (her husband—who was also her brother—slaughtered their son and gave him to her for her birthday present).
• The birthdays of children were never celebrated, unless they were the male children of royalty.
• The date of a person’s death used to considered be more significant than that of his or her birth. (If this seems at least vaguely familiar, you might be thinking of how in Scripture, we are commanded to remember the death and resurrection of the Messiah—but nowhere is there even a suggestion to celebrate His birth.)
• The Greeks took the Egyptian idea of a birthday celebration and added the custom of baking a sweet birthday cake, in honor of their goddess Artemis. It may be that the cakes had lighted candles, representing moonlight, the earthward radiance of this fabricated goddess.
• With the rise of Christianity, the tradition of celebrating birthdays ceased altogether—until about 1,300 years later. Most of the early followers of Yeshua faced a difficult life that could include suffering and martyrdom for their faith; perhaps this fact influenced them to celebrate the death of a faithful believer, which was “the true deliverance, the passage to eternal paradise.”
• The early church fathers regarded birthday festivities as a relic of pagan practices, and they wanted to avoid them, in their pursuit of personal holiness and purity.
• In A.D. 245 a group of Christian historians attempted to pinpoint the precise date of the Savior’s birth. They were opposed in this by the church (i.e., the Catholic Church), which decreed that it would be sacrilegious and sinful to observe the birthday of Christ, “as though He were a King Pharaoh.”

(Source: Charles Panati, Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things (New York: William Morrow, 1989), pages 31-33)

For more on this topic, read the post dated 1/28/2013.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Overcoming personal management challenges

Friday, 27. November 2015 by Renee Ellison

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How to crawl out of feeling overwhelmed by any personal challenge

We’ve all heard about the power of setting goals, but not so much about applying those principles to anything small that repeatedly personally trips us up. We’ve thought about goals as something you do when you set out to swim the English Channel or triple one’s income, but not about cleaning house and sorting down that mess in the garage or basement, or losing weight or getting out of debt or trying to juice for better health, or overcoming negative depressive self-talk.

Just for fun, let’s revisit goal setting as a mad scientist would. Let’s get down to the cellular level to discover how to make its principles work for us, right now, with any challenge, no matter how big or small. By doing so, this time, we won’t be numbered with those who make unrealistic goals in January and quickly forget them by February. By understanding the exact progression of the steps, we’ll crawl out of our personal holes by the dozens! Victory is just around the corner; in fact, you’ll find it at the end of this list!

1. Write down your goal. This takes your vague sigh/wish out of grey matter/brain fog and sets up a citadel in lead on your paper. There is something powerful about seeing your little “impossibility” in writing. Writing becomes a bridge across your Rubicon. It begins to go to work, “rat-a-tat-tatting” on your subconscious.

What you write must be specific and measurable. It’s like eating a steak: you don’t stuff the whole thing into your mouth at once. You bite off little pieces and digest them well. Phrases like “I want to overcome alcoholism,” “I want to clean my house,” “I want to get in shape and be Miss America,” “I want to get out of debt,” or “I want to say only positive things to myself” won’t work. Start hacking and whittling at your large idea, then rummage through the shavings and pick up one little piece to tackle aggressively.

So let’s take the above examples and re-write them in this newer, smaller, more powerful way.
• I will go to an AA meeting.
• I will sort my bedroom drawers, beginning with the small dresser.
• I will make a green salad tomorrow morning—or right now.
• I will not spend money on perming my hair this month, nor on eating out.

2. Now to further gain power over your goal, rewrite your goal on a 3X5 card—as a fait accompli. At the outset, re-word your goal as already accomplished—completed before you’ve done one thing to bring it to pass!
• I no longer drink
• I have all my drawers completely sorted down
• I am slimmer by 15 pounds.
• I say 5 encouraging things to myself a day.
• I have paid off $100 of my debt.

3. Visualize your goal.
Now affix your 3X5 card to your morning mirror.
Re-read it every day, aloud. This engages the auditory memory trigger in your brain.

Also, post for yourself a picture of someone who has already achieved it or of the visual end results. This takes your goal into the visual imprinting eye-gate of your brain.

Continuing the examples above with this third step:
• Post a magazine or website’s picture of a clean room.
• Post a picture of a health guru.

Got it? Your written goal sits next to a picture of your written goal, and you hear yourself repeating it each morning, verbally. This solidly embeds your goal into both hemispheres of the brain and into your emotions.

4. Next, write down your obstacles toward achieving your goal.
If there weren’t obstacles, you would have already achieved it! This step is what most of us missed when we wrote down a goal and attempted to attain it in the past.

Examples:
“I don’t make a salad because the kitchen is too cold in the morning and the vegetables and lettuce are too cold and the faucet water is too cold, and I don’t keep the right combination of vegetables in the fridge to even make a salad, and I don’t like the taste.”

5. Now write how you will overcome each obstacle.
• I’ll put a little radiator heater in the kitchen to warm it up quickly.
• I’ll pick a salad recipe, make a list and shop for the exact ingredients for my salad and I’ll purchase them as my first priority not my last priority.
• I’ll prep all the veggies the night before and put them in little containers.
• I’ll make a salad dressing that tastes good that helps me get the salad down.
• I’ll remove all the ingredients from the fridge when I first get up before making my bed and getting dressed so that when I assemble them they are warmer to the touch.
• I’ll make a salad large enough to last two days instead of one.

6. Next, decide on a time and a place for each goal.
• I will go to an AA meeting Monday at 3 at town hall.
• I will sort my drawers for 15 min. every night at 8 p.m.
• I’ll prep my vegetables at 7 each evening.
• I’ll exercise around my city block, and do so at 5 each evening.
• I’ll try to go one hour countering every negative thought with a positive one.

7. Keep records.
Document your current status toward achieving each of your goals. You do this by keeping a record of what you actually did today. Then determine, did that dive-bomb your efforts or did it help them? What will you do to get a better grip on the objective tomorrow? If you are in debt and your goal is to resolve that problem, keep a record of all of your receipts so that you can log them in and tabulate them by the end of the month to see where your money actually went.

8. Decide on a reward for yourself for when it is achieved.
Your reward doesn’t have to be huge or expensive. It can be doing something—like hiking in a new area, or even just having an entire bowl of large strawberries—more than you usually allow yourself! Tell someone about your victories or record them in a private journal.

9. On the heels of such success you might want to start in again with another goal?! What will that be?

In closing: remember to review seeing and saying your goal each day. Be your own best coach.

(For more on this topic, download the e-book on Goal Setting and Time Management, or the Kindle book on Conquering Self-induced Stress.

Filed Under: Home management tips

The love of God for Israel

Tuesday, 24. November 2015 by Renee Ellison

No one parents better than God himself. See here, His love for His first born, Israel, and the love that is expressed back to Him. May WE learn to parent with such love.

From the calling of Abraham out of the din of paganism to the hair-raising, iffy passage through the Red Sea, to the skin and bones of the holocaust, to the creaky old cast-off ships bringing the outcasts home to the land, to the making of the desserts to bloom where there is no water, to the current David and Goliath existence of escaping bullets and bombs and international bullyings every hour of every day, the Lord’s love story will prevail. In the end, He will YET EMERGE out of earth’s swamp, triumphant with blood dripping from His hands, the apple of His eye firmly gripped in His upraised palm…yes, there will sit the apple. And we will sit there, too, incomprehensibly, and head-spinningly grafted in. Surely, it’s the greatest love story ever told.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Salad dressing and chai tea recipes! :)

Friday, 20. November 2015 by Renee Ellison

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One of many simple pathways to better health is to replace store-bought salad dressings with ones that you make with ingredients that are welcomed at the cellular level. Our good friend Megan shared these; following them you’ll find my chai recipe that I shared with her:

Italian Dressing
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T raw cane sugar
2 T dried oregano
1 t ground black pepper
1/4 t thyme
1 t dried basil
1 T dried parsley
1/4 t celery seed
3/4 T salt

Tips - If some spices are not powdered, blend in coffee grinder or blender. If you don’t have all the spices, don’t worry. It tastes great anyway. smile

Mix all spices together and store in a tightly sealed container.
To prepare - whisk 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup oil, 3 T water and 2 T dry mix.

Poppy Seed Dressing
2 cups olive oil
1 cup honey
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons poppy seeds
a pinch of mustard powder

Blend on high in your blender until it really thickens. What we served today, we had to dilute because it is so thick. smile It stores for a long time in the fridge.

“Ranch-like” Dressing : )
This is simply a combination of mayonnaise and salsa. We buy a “Vegenaise” (made from grape seeds) at the health food store. My sister makes her own mayo and uses that. I never measure - but I would guess that it would be about 1 cup of mayo and 1/2 - 3/4 cup salsa.

An old favorite is just -
lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
olive oil
honey
salt

Another favorite is to use -
tahini
mix with water
lemon juice
salt and spices
optional - yogurt

Chai Tea (homemade)
I make my own Chai now and it is delicious. Serve it with rice milk and a smidgeon of honey.
I mix a big pan of it on Sundays and then drink a cup of it a day…wonderful spicy warming tea…with good energy ...and great elimination from it as a bonus!

8 cups water
2 T Yerba Mate tea (loose leaf)
1/2 tsp cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, fennel
1/4 tsp clove, and nutmeg

Bring it all to a boil, and then cover and let sit for 20 minutes.
Then bring it all to a boil a second time; cover and let sit again.
Finally, strain out the spices and store the tea in two glass canning jars in the fridge.

For much more along these lines, order our Mother-easy quick-fixin’ great-tastin’ super healthful mostly raw delicious food ideas, a booklet of scores of mouth-watering, healthful food combinations that you may never have thought of. Gets you goin’ in the right direction right now!

Filed Under: Nutrition tips

Gaining a broad perspective on marriage

Friday, 13. November 2015 by Renee Ellison

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When couples first enter the super-charged waters of struggling with strong differences, they can feel bewildered and overwhelmed at learning how to deeply relate to one individual on earth. They can feel that the task of getting along is insurmountable. A key tool the enemy uses is to keep the couple isolated, thinking that their situation is worse than that of 3 billion other marriages.

Isolation from any other thought—living in the prison of one idea, trapped in our own internal mental mulling—is counter-productive. Rolling around only our own spin about the situation in our heads, over and over (like sucking on hard candy), is the enemy’s finest artillery. He strives to keep the couple disconnected from finding out that others struggle, too.

The enemy of our souls keeps the couple from thinking that marriage books would be helpful, and he makes it conveniently inconvenient to go to the effort of attending marriage seminars and workshops. And when they do go to view helpful marriage YouTubes, he works hard at distracting them, convincing them to watch other YouTube clips instead, on more seemingly urgent subjects. And by all means, he suggests that they don’t get marital counseling—that is for really troubled marriages—getting them each to think it is better to smolder about one’s own troubles by oneself.

Conversely, the great comfort of the Holy Spirit, the helper of our soul, is to show us how universal marital troubles are. The dominant emotion of marriage seminars is laughter. Why? Because each couple looks around the room and realizes that all of the men are feeling this way and all the women are identifying with another entirely different concept, Thus the couple begins to relax withIN their dilemmas, and breaks out of their trips around the barn.

Conversation in all directions helps restore perspective, grants insights, and diffuses pressure. By all means, seek wisdom from older good strong marriages, and read the experts. There are enormous repositories of help out there in the big, wide, wide world…a veritable store house of relational GPS’s.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Organizing your home school materials

Monday, 26. October 2015 by Renee Ellison

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For much more on this topic, read our booklet/e-book/Kindle book, Razor Sharp Teaching Tips for Homeschool Moms. It is loaded with practical proven ideas.

Meanwhile, here are some of the general organizational principles for getting your homeschooling shipshape:

(1.) Begin with labeled containers. No matter how tight the budget is for a family, containers are a must. Start on some level, using any sort of container—even with just cardboard boxes you bring home from the grocery store and store under the beds. You always start conquering organizational chaos by organizing in containers. The principle? Everything has a place, and there’s a place for everything.

(2.) Visual clarity. You can see it at a glance.

(3.) Easy grabability. No stuff is stored behind other stuff unless it is duplicates of the same thing; there’s no digging for anything).

(4.) Like things with like things, and back-ups for frequently consumed items. Ideally, you want to have on stock two or more of everything you commonly use, so you never run out of anything. If you do this, you will seldom if ever have to do emergency shopping for food or school supplies. When you get down to the last one, you note it on your shopping list so you remember to re-stock that back-up second thing on your shelves.

Organizing your school stuff:

In addition to arranging picture books by size, if you have some early readers of various sorts, arrange those by level of difficulty so that you escort the child through all of them progressively.

Arrange everything so that your family members (including your husband whenever he’s taking over the homeschooling when you’re not available) don’t have to ask you where anything is. They will know by looking. Localize all of your school stuff near where it will actually be used, on shelves either under a counter eating area or flanked along a wall next to your main projects/schooling table. Build long shelves at waist height, using 8-12” deep boards held up on each end by bricks cinderblocks—free from somewhere—and then group all your supplies (like things with like, down to minutiae—i.e., no pencils in with the markers). Separate out everything into its own container. Group all of your school books and workbooks together. Top it all off with a large wall map of the world, a large map of your country, a large clock, a large calendar—all on the wall in that area—and each child’s large homeschool to-do checklists.

Set your young children’s flashcards in little white plastic baskets (3 for a dollar? cheapo at Walmart—either in their kitchen container area or the general container area). Their size is 5 inches by 6 inches by 2 inches. These let your flash cards breathe and flop backwards and forwards with some air and finger room in there, as opposed to using tight 3X5” metal/plastic index card boxes. Stick a card upright for a marker to separate each type of flashcards, and label each division of cards on this upright card.

‏Summary: general organizational principle:
Your overall organization principle is arrange your stuff so that anything you do repetitively, you want to do optimally. In other words, spend as much time as necessary up front on getting it organized exactly right, so that you will have to spend no time organizing it later smile

Filed Under: Home management tips

Homeschooling when you also have preschool children in your home

Thursday, 22. October 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Do you wonder what to do with wiggle worms while you’re schooling the others? Here’s the overall principle: busy children are happy children!

This means you have to stay ahead of your little guy with projects—even if those projects are only just busy work. For much more on this topic, read our booklet/e-book/Kindle book, Training Terrific Tots: 50 ideas to use with a little one who can’t read! It is loaded with ideas.

Meanwhile, here are two possible approaches to homeschooling children while you also have a child who is too young to do academics. One approach moms use is to let the little guys “hang from the chandeliers” and just concentrate on the academics with the older children—you’ll get to those younger guys later. The other method is to corral all of your youngsters into your school area: no one can go out beyond this line during school time—here is YOUR part of the table to work on—or, you must work on this large beach towel on the floor with your puzzle, trucks, or whatever.

The secret for the mom is to stay ahead of the little guy with attention-focusing activities that he can do with little or no input from you. Toward that end, here are some ideas:

Athletics of various sorts: three laps around the living room; ten reps with an unopened can of soup in each can; four push-ups in each corner of the school room—etc.

Chores: dream up endless little jobs to do that really don’t matter but that will occupy him. For example, he can use a washrag to wipe all of the door handles throughout the whole house, or sort books or papers by size. He can empty all the trash cans, sort the silverware drawer, wipe down the front of all of the cupboards and the lower realms of the walls near the floor, wipe the bathroom floor with a damp paper towel, wipe out the bathroom sink, wipe down the inside of the front window, sweep the front steps, shake rugs, dust the window sills, etc.—whatever he or she is physically up to. You get the idea. If you don’t use soap for any of these projects there is no danger that they will do anything wrong or make your life more miserable.

Creative activities in place:
• you draw large squares on a piece of paper, and then the little guy colors each square with a different color
• he plays with ice cubes on a tray
• he plays with a tubful of water on the kitchen floor, using measuring cups and funnels on a towel on the floor right here at your feet

The overall accomplishment goal for the mother is to focus on just one child at a time, deeply—shifting your focus from child to child until you have covered them ALL and then you get back at it with the first ones again, no matter what you are doing during the day—laundry, fixing a meal, etc. You get one child fully into that activity with you, so that you are double-whamming your time—building relationship, character qualities, bonding, securing obedience, laughter, enjoyment, letting them know that you cherishing them, etc.

Focus, but then shift your focus—that’s the name of the game. Cycle through your children over and over and over and over. Smile warmly at the other three—while going deep with the one.