Monday, February 25, 2019

Quarter 2 Update: Homeschool Year 2018-19



All things considered, our first two quarters of school have gone very well. It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway done with our 2018-19 school year. I am so proud of my girls for all their hard work this year. I will give you a run down of how everything is going and then talk about any changes that we made to our curriculum. If you have any additional questions, please post them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.

I have twin girls who are only 8 months old, so our school schedule has looked a lot different this year. I try to get most of my big girls lessons done while the twins are sleeping and then save our read aloud time for when the twins are awake. I’m learning to be flexible, because sometimes things go exactly as I’ve planned and other days things are busy and chaotic. Especially, when Jon’s gone for days on end, I am simply learning to be more gracious with myself and take a break from school if I’m feeling overwhelmed or emotional.

To be completely honest, living in Hong Kong has been the hardest thing God has ever asked me to do and feelings of homesickness, sadness, loneliness, and sorrow happen at times when I least expect it. Instead of forcing my girls to do school with a Mommy who is crying at the drop of a hat and an overall roller coaster of emotions, we take the day off.

You heard we right.

I put everything away and just take a break if it’s necessary. Obviously, we can’t do this everyday, but when I get overwhelmed I’m learning to graciously take a break from our regular school schedule, so I can spend time in God’s word, Facetime my Mom, and/or connect with old friends.

A word of encouragement: 
To anyone who has ever felt like I have, you are not alone. God wants to know how you’re feeling, so take time to step back from all your responsibilities and make time to pour out your heart and soul before Him. He will be there to bring peace in the chaos and hope when everything seems hopeless. 

One of the biggest changes I have made to our homeschool curriculum is we are now using The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 1 for Olivia. She started the year using Sonlight’s language arts curriculum and it was fine. However over the years, I have pieced together our language arts program using a lot of different curriculums. As a result, I felt like there were gaps in my daughter’s knowledge about language arts. As a result, I started looking for a program that was more cohesive. I have been thinking about using The Good and the Beautiful for a long time and this year I finally took the plunge!

My daughter started using The Good and the Beautiful level 1 in January and it is an incredible curriculum. It's exactly what I wanted for my family!! I am excited for my daughter, especially as she learns to appreciate beautiful art which is all weaved into the program. I am so thankful that we have made this change and I'm excited to add more The Good and the Beautiful curriculum to our homeschool this next year.

Like I said before, if you have any other questions, please post them in the comments below and I will answer them.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

My New Oven

My new oven!!

It’s hard to believe that we have already been living in Hong Kong for 5 months. Slowly, things are becoming more familiar and not everything is brand-new.

When it comes to our home in Hong Kong, there are a lot of things that are different from the typical American home back in the United States. First of all, the wash and dryer hook ups are outside up on my roof! Secondly, they build with concrete and so you can hear people talking all the way up on the third floor. Finally, there isn’t a built-in oven in my kitchen.

 That being said, for the past 5 months I have been getting by with just our stove top, a rice cooker, a slow cooker, and a toaster oven. It’s amazing how many different things you can make in your crockpot. I have been able to make chicken and rice, breakfast casserole, banana bread, and a cake. Some things turned out better than others. However, I am so thankful for Pinterest that has provided me with an endless amount of slow cooker recipes to try.

Over the past few months, I have gone shopping for ovens, but unfortunately I didn’t find anything that I liked. The ovens are so different here and I didn’t want a big toaster oven or a microwave. I have been waiting until we could afford a built-in oven that would be more like the typically American oven.

To my delight, our friend found a built-in oven that came up on a buy and sell group here in Hong Kong. After talking it over, Jon and I decided to buy this used oven! Jon and his friend went downtown to pick up the oven and bring it back home.

I am so thankful for God’s provision in our lives. He didn’t have to provide an oven like this for us, but He loves us and knows the desires of my heart and longs to bring me joy!! It has been worth the wait.

What should I bake first!? 

Honestly, I was thinking about making something easy so that I can learn how to bake in my new oven. I have never cooked using Celsius, so there will be a little bit of a learning curve for sure. My family thinks I should bake…muffins, cinnamon rolls, cake, and so many other goodies we haven’t had since we left home. I'm addicted to "The Great British Baking Show", so I told my sister that I should start by making something British, like scones. Honestly, I just can't decide.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think I should make first in my oven. For further updates, check out my Instagram Stories to find out what I decide to bake first!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Prayer Requests for my Mom's Upcoming Surgery



"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

On August 2nd, 2018, my Mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She's been battling for her life ever since. I love my Mom so much and the thought of losing her has been unbearable. On top of that, I've been so sad that I can't be with my Mom during this time, because God has my family living in Hong Kong right now. As you can imagine, my Mom has been overwhelmed too.

I am so thankful that even though I cannot be with my Mom and hold her hand, God is with her and has never left her alone. I'm thankful that God has provided family and friends to love on my Mom and help her during this time. I am thankful that so far, my Mom's body has responded well to her chemo treatment. I am forever thankful to the Lord for being so faithful to my Mom throughout this whole process.

Next week, on Tuesday, January 15th, my Mom is scheduled to have a lumpectomy surgery. Understandably, my precious Mom is nervous and anxious regarding this upcoming surgery. Will you all please join me in prayer for my Mom in the days leading up to her surgery?

Another way you can help, would be by donating to Mom’s GoFund Me. This fund was set up by my siblings, to help my Mom with all of her extra expenses right now.

Thank you so much for your prayers!!


Prayer Requests
1. Pray for God's peace to surround my Mom in the days leading up to her surgery and on the day of her surgery. That she would float on eagles wings and rest in the peace that passes all understanding.

2. Pray for wisdom for the doctors and that they would know exactly how to help my Mom during the surgery.

3. Pray for peace for my Grandma, who has Alzheimer's, and that she won't be confused for upset by my Mom's absence. In addition, lift up my Aunt & Uncle as they care for my Grandma during my Mom's surgery.

4. Pray for a quick recovery following the surgery, without complications.

5. Pray for my Mom's magnesium levels to become normal and stay normal on their own without the help of infusions.


Ladies, don’t forget… 
 Do your self breast exams! Get your mammograms! Be proactive! Save the TATAS!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Traveling With Kids



My husband has been a commercial airline pilot for the past 5 years. Being a pilot’s wife means that our family has had the opportunity to travel all over the world. Whenever we are in the airport or on the plane, people always ask if it's the girls first trip on an airplane and they don't realize that our girls have probably logged more flight hours than themselves.  

Throughout all of our flying experiences, I have learned a lot. Nothing ever goes perfectly, but I do my best to be prepared for the unexpected. Above all, don't forget to relax and be gracious with yourself. Of course, it's hard when your kid is crying on an airplane. However, it's not going to help them calm down if you are worked up too. Before you travel with your kids, pray and ask God to help you. He will be faithful to provide just what you need, like a kind flight attendant or someone to give you a break and just hold your baby.

Here are some of the things that I do, which help me to have a better traveling experience with my kids. If you have additional tips that work for your family, please leave them in the comments.

Tips For Traveling With Kids
1. Use a backpack as your diaper bag.
When I had my first daughter, I had a cute over the shoulder diaper bag. This was fine for my first baby, because I didn't know any better and I had an extra shoulder to carry my diaper bag on. However, with each child I gained more knowledge and wisdom as a mother. Not to mention, by my 3rd child, I had run out of extra hands!! At this point in time, I began to use a backpack as our diaper bag. Honestly, I wish I would have done this so much sooner! It has made all the difference, especially now that I have twins. Keep this in mind when you travel as well. Invest in a good quality backpack that will free up your hands to pull a suitcase or hold hands with your other children.

2. Bring a stroller.
Before I had the twins, when we would fly with my older three kids, I would bring a cheaper umbrella stroller that I bought from Walmart. I did this for several reasons. First, I wouldn't be upset if the stroller got lost or broken. On one trip, I brought my nice jogging stroller, but it was so bulky and just a pain to try to lug around the airport. Second, umbrella strollers are light and very compact, so if the kids wanted to walk in the airport I wouldn't have to worry about carrying a big bulky stroller. Finally, I always like bringing a stroller with us, because if any of my big girls got tired or needed a break they could take a turn and sit in the stroller too.

Twin Exception: This past year, I have learned that twins are the ultimate exception to this rule! When we moved to Hong Kong our twins were just 2 months old and I can't carry both of them by myself, so I was forced to use our big bulky stroller in the airport. It wasn't my first choice, but it was better than trying to carry both babies along with everything else we were bringing with us overseas.

That being said, try to find a stroller that works best for you and your particular situation.

3. Baby front pack carrier.
Before having my twins, this is my favorite way to travel! I always brought my baby carrier with me, to carry my youngest around the airport. There were a few times we even got by without a stroller which was nice too! The carrier allows me to be hands free and help hold other things. We have two of these now and we use them with the twins all the time. My husband carries one baby and I carry the other. If you don't have one I would highly recommend it!!

4. Airport security.
I've had some pretty interesting experiences with airport security. To make things a little easier for yourself, try to put all the baby stuff like foods and any liquids in the same bag. Traveling to Hong Kong, each of the girls had their own backpacks with snacks inside, so it took forever to get through security. Try to keep everything together, to minimize how many bags security needs to check. Also, I bring apple juice and water for formula in my bag as well. Security will check those liquids to make sure that you don't have anything dangerous. Don't forget to be gracious to the TSA workers, because they're doing their best to keep everyone at the airport and on your plane safe.

5. Snacks galore.
I am not going to lie, when we fly with our children, I let them have a lot of snacks!! They're just as hungry and tired as I am from traveling, so I always bring special treats for my girls. I try not to just give them candy, but granola bars, trail mix, string cheese, mandarin oranges, goldfish and beef jerky are a few of our favorite airplane snacks. Days before our flight, I always portion out the snacks into small snack or sandwich bags, so I don't have to worry about making a mess on the plane. It's helpful to have the snacks ready for my girls when they get hungry.

6. Entertainment.
We don't normally let the girls watch a lot of TV or movies. However, when we are flying that all changes. We bring coloring books and a variety of activities for our girls to do while we are flying. That being said, on our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong those activities only lasted so long. Thankfully, our girls had their own TV screen and we let them watch more movies and TV shows. They had so much fun picking their own movies and watching whatever they wanted to (within reason). If you're traveling with littles, cut yourself some slack and don't feel like a bad Mom if you let your kids have more screen time than normal.

7. Pack for worst-case scenario.
I've flown standby more than most people. I could tell you about all the times we thought we were going to get on a flight, but we didn't. It's torture to watch your seat be given away or have your flight get cancelled. That being said, I always pack for an emergency or missed flight. I never check my carry on bag, because it's usually full of extra diapers, wipes, formula, a change of clothes for me and my girls, extra snacks, and an assortment of toiletries. It's better to be prepared than to run out of diapers or wipes.


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Cultivate What Matters: My 2019 Goals



"She believed she couldn’t so He did.” - Lara Casey

Last year, was my first year to use the "Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets" by, Lara Casey. I loved going through the process of uncovering my 2018 goals. I was slightly ambitious to think that I would be able to do this all year long, what with having twins and moving to Hong Kong. I used my powersheets from January 2018 - April 2018, then I took a break and didn't pick them up again until November 2018. I'm so proud of myself, because I used 6 months of my goal planner.

With 2019 just around the corner, I don't want to waste the rest of my goal planning notebook. I have used a sharpie to update the sections to reflect this coming year. I worked through my 2019 goals, as well as got my tending list ready for January 1, 2019.

Here's my plan for 2019...

I am going to finish the last 6 months of my 2018 powersheets. This will get me to about June of this coming year. Once I have finished using my goal planner, I will order the 6 month undated goal planner to get me through the rest of the year. Then when 2020 rolls around, I will be ready to buy the one year goal planner again. I am so excited!!

I have some big goals for myself this year and I can't wait to see the progress I will be able to make little by little, one month at a time.


MY WORD OF THE YEAR
Honestly, I am so excited about my word of the year for 2019. I had lots of different ideas about what my word of the year could be such as: joy, fearless, renew, trust, or intentional. However, nothing seemed to fit my current season of life. Everything changed, when I found the word 'Brave'. I immediately looked up the definition of Brave which is "ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage".



Upon reading this definition I was sold! I knew that this was my word for this coming year. I've been overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, but in this moment God was calling me to be brave. He was calling me to dream and do things that might seem scary if I had to do them by myself. However, with God anything is possible. I am so excited about my word of the year, that I even updated my phone background with this picture that was created by Cultivate What Matters.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" 
- ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬


MY 2019 GOALS
In case you are wondering, here are my goals for 2019.

1. Renew my love for God and His Word
2. Increase intimacy in my marriage
3. Love my girls well (joy in motherhood)
4. Life-giving home
5. Cultivate lifelong relationships
6. Prioritize healthier habits
7. Write a book (just write)
8. Personal growth & rest (self-care)


OTHER RESOURCES
Lara Casey and her team at Cultivate What Matters have a lot of resources to help walk with you as you work to accomplish your goals each year. Lara has written two books (which I will list below) and she also has a new podcast called, "Cultivate Your Live with Lara Casey". I've been listening to this new podcast and I appreciate Lara's honesty about how life hasn't always been perfect, but God is making her mess into her message. Her passion is undeniable, so I hope you will check it out!


HELPFUL BOOKS
Finally, I have included a list of helpful, motivating books. I included Lara's books and a few others that have really encouraged me this year.

"A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living" by, Emily Ley
Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life” by, Lara Casey
"Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy" by, Emily Ley
"Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose." by Lara Casey


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!!


Wishing you a Happy New Year!!

It’s hard to believe that is already 2019!! So much happened last year, that I'm not sure how anything could top it. I'm excited for what the Lord has in store for our family.

Hope you have had a wonderful holiday.



Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Year in Review



 A Year in Review 
Here are some of the highlights from 2018 

- TWIN GIRLS, Evelyn Rose & Zoey Faith, born on June 23rd. 
- Moving to Hong Kong. Celebrating 12 years of marriage. 
- God's provision as we moved to Hong Kong. 
- Opportunity to homeschool with Olivia and Sophie. 
- Fun visits with family and friends before moving to Hong Kong. 
- God's protect during Super Typhoon Mangkhut.
- Unending love and support from family and friends all year long.


.....


Our Growing Girls

Olivia loves reading and she always has her nose stuck in a book!! I (Jen) could not have made it through this year without Olivia (and Sophie) by my side. Olivia has lovingly helped hold and feed babies, which allowed me to pack or unpack suitcases and boxes. I am so thankful for her sweet spirit and her willingness to help.

Sophie is such a sweet girl!! Honestly, I think she is going to be a nurse or a doctor, because she loves to take care of other people. On modified bedrest, she was willing to rub my legs and bring me dinner when I was too tired to get up to get it myself. I'm humbled by the love and compassion that pours from her heart.

Matilda has been such a trooper with all the changes that have taken place this year. New babies. New country. She is adventurous and loves to ride the double decker buses here in Hong Kong. However, she is timid and shy, so being in a new country with lots of attention has been overwhelming for her at times.

Evelyn and Zoey are already 6 months old!! Evelyn's a snuggle bug, because after everyone else goes to bed she stays awake for extra cuddles. Zoey wants to be one of the big girls. She is already crawling. Honestly, once Zoey puts her mind to something, there is no changing her mind.


.....


Praise and Prayer Requests

Praise that Jon has completed his first round of training and officially has his license to fly in Hong Kong with an A320 type!!

Praise that Jon and Jen celebrated their 12th anniversary.

Praise for unending love and support from our family and friends as we obediently embarked on this new adventure the Lord put before us.

Pray for Jen's Mom, Carol Bartholomew, who is battling breast cancer and has a lumpectomy on January 15, 2019.

Pray that we would be able to sell our van that is in Texas.

Pray that God would continue to provide for us financially.

Pray for Jen as she struggles with postpartum depression and homesickness.


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