Losing Our Beloved Dog

Silence.

Dead silence.

Just over three weeks ago we unexpectedly lost our beloved Australian Shepherd Buck.
We were all completely unprepared for how much his loss would impact us.

Buck was 7 years old and a big ball of fluffy.
Two days before he died my 18 year old son was petting him and playing with him and I
said, "Boy are you going to miss that dog someday."
He said, "I know, right?"

I don't know why I said it.
In the moment I was simply keenly aware of the bond between that dog and the boy.

We had no idea Buck was so sick.
We knew we loved him, but we had no idea how much "life" he brought to our home.

When we came home without the dog I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that the unconditional love giver was gone.

All five of our boys went to the dog for hugs when they were sad or down.
Buck was a hugger.
He would wrap his paws around your leg and use his neck and head to engulf you in his fluffy hug.

It's been a hard three weeks.
Lots of tears.
Lots of hugs.
Lots of big sighs.

I never bonded with a dog before Buck. Our boys never bonded with a dog before either.
We learned so much from our fluffy friend:

  • unconditional love
  • prancing makes everyone smile
  • smart dogs understand your language
  • it's fun to play
  • hugs and cuddles are never outgrown
  • love is the core
Here is a tribute from our son to his dog...

There are different types of friends. 
There are friends who you talk to every once in a while and are able to catch up with immediately no matter what has happened. There are friends who will do everything with you: goof off, go to the movies, read books... Then there is another kind of friend, the one that adores you despite your flaws, the one that gives you hugs at random intervals, the one that constantly wants to play and hang out with you and your family. In fact, this type of friend is so loving and so close to you that he or she is a member of your family.
My dog, Buck, was a beautiful example of this kind of friend. For the past seven years we laughed at his goofy and energetic attitude, his loving cuddles, and his passion to stick with his pack in any situation.
Yesterday, Buck was being as ornery as usual: giving us hugs, pawing to play, and running around the house (which always drives my mother crazy). At around lunchtime he came up to me and gave me a paw and a look that said he wanted attention. As usual, I couldn't refuse those gentle brown eyes.
Then dinner came and Buck threw up his dinner. He wasn't doing well, that was clear: shaky body and pink rings around his eyes. So naturally we brought him to the vet. Once we arrived, he started to act better out of mere excitement, tail wagging and all. But of course we knew he still wasn't feeling himself.
A couple of X-rays later, we discovered what made him feel this way: a tumor. Oh the irony! Out of all the people in the family to love on the most, out of all the dogs my family could get, we got one with a tumor and he was sure I was his master.
We were the tumor buddies without even knowing it.
But different from my situation, Buck was in pain and there was very little we could do about it. With one look at those X-rays I think we all knew what was coming. We talked with the vet, who was very supportive and understanding. She agreed it was probably the best and most loving option.
He was brought in, tail slightly wagging when he saw us not understanding my our eyes were getting teary.
We had a couple minutes to say our reluctant goodbyes. He walked over and laid down, putting a weak paw in my hand as I lay next to him and looked into his beautiful eyes. Then, when we were as ready as we were going to get, we called over the vet.
Buck peacefully passed away last night at around 10:45, knowing that we loved him very much.
Though I am still saddened from watching one of my best friends pass, I am more thankful than I thought I would be. This experience made me remember all of the little things, the little memories that we love about our dog.
We wished we had named him "Prancer" because he would constantly do just that whenever he played or got excited.
Buck would sneeze whenever he got excited about something.
Buck would smile by curling his lips away from his front teeth whenever he got nervous or really excited/relieved.
The goofy dog would shake his butt whenever he relieved himself.
He drove us all crazy at times, but he still loved us and we, him.
But the best memory I have of him is his love for my family and me. He adored us no matter what and was always there to make us smile when he tried to love on us. This dog was a hugger: he would walk up to me, sit down at my feet, and rub the side of his head against my leg.
What I am getting at is that Buck was a beautiful example of the type of people we should be: people who love everyone around them and have a passionate love for their Master.
Everyone agreed that Buck considered me to be his master, something I tried not to openly agree to because he was such a wonderful family dog.
You see, we could all learn from Buck. He loved his family, was excited and loving to any new person he met, and he adored and wanted to please his master.
My friends, we are called to do the exact same thing.
We are meant to be like Buck: loving everyone we meet, loving on our family and the Body of Christ, and following and adoring our wonderful Master, Jesus Christ the One True God and the Creator of Everything.
To you who believe, I challenge you to love as my dog loved my family. I challenge you to not be afraid to show your love and passion for Our Perfect Master.
To you who do not believe, know that I am praying for you and know that you are missing out on the greatest Gift anyone can ever give you: Salvation. God is Our perfect and loving Master and He sent His Only Son, whom He loved, to pay the penalty of our sins. Jesus Christ died on the cross for this purpose and rose three days later as a promise of eternity with Him if you accept His gift. Also know that I do love you, despite your imperfections and flaws because you were beautifully and wonderfully created by God. And above all else, know that God loves you and me more than we can possibly imagine.
Thank you Jesus for Buck's life and love that You fabricated into his being. Thank You for showing Your love and life through him. Thank you Father for the past 7 years. Even though he was taken sooner than we wished, thank You for loving Buck enough to let Him pass before he went under more pain. Lord, thank you for Buck.
And though my good friend has passed on, I am very grateful for the spirit and example he left in our hearts and minds.
I love you buddy and I miss you very much!





Pokemon Go: Why I Love this New Game

My name is Bekki and I play Pokemon Go.

Sounds like an AA confession, right?
So Here’s my Pokemon confession.

       Important information:
·      I have been married for over 25 year to a wonderful man.
·      We have 5 boys ages 10-23.
·      I HATE video games.
·      I mean I HATE video games.    
      When I was a kid and my parents took us to an arcade, I would pocket the quarters my dad would dish out rather than play the games.
*      
The night before the release of this new app, our 10 year old showed my husband something he had created and then cheerfully ran to create something else.

My husband whispered to me, “Sometimes I forget how young he still is. I need to remember he is still a little kid.” That comment was burned into my heart.

The next day, our oldest (23) can home and excitedly announced that “The Pokemon App was released” and he had accidentally lost his ‘Pikachu’. 
(That’s a character in the game… hang with me for a second).

By Monday the two memories had merged. Our youngest is still little, and our oldest is fully fascinated by this new game. So, sitting at the doctor’s office with son #3 I downloaded the app. I was convinced I could shock all five sons simultaneously.

I had no idea what was about to happen.

Son #3 exclaimed, “YOU are downloading Pokemon?!”
The nurse saw my phone and gasped, “You’re playing Pokemon Go? I was out all over my neighborhood last night catching Pokemon!”

I came home and quietly talked with my husband. I said, “You will be tempted to roll your eyes and dismiss what I am about to say, but please listen for a second. I decided today to download the Pokemon Go app and be “cool mom” and embrace this game with the kids. I think we should do it as a family.”

He stared at me blankly for a second and said, “Really?”
I said, “All I ask is that you pray about it.”

Well the game has been out a week. Here are my favorite moments:
·      The look on my oldest sons’ faces when they were talking about the game and I casually shared that I was on level 3. There are no words to describe that moment when your kids suddenly see that you are not an alien from a different time period. Priceless.
·      The joy that oozed from all five sons when my husband said, “Let’s go catch Pokemon!” They all started running and talking to themselves… “Did he just say what I think he said?”
·      Watching our sons teach their dad (and I) how to play the game. They are so eager to have us understand.
·      Relating the game to our loves as Christians:
o   We should be looking for God’s fingerprints more intensely than we hunt for Pokemon.
o   We should pray for the people we see playing the game.
o   We should be light.
·      Seeing hundreds of people out and about, exploring and playing as groups.
·      Smiling, laughing and talking with people in the community.
·      Seeing new places. (The game sends you to landmarks, signs, churches, libraries, parks, and more).
·      The time with my family. For this short period of time, all 7 of us are playing the same game, going to the same places, experiencing the same fun at the same time. Since my husband and I are “all in” we are included in their circle of fun.

It’s crazy. Pokemon?
I know there are many great reasons to avoid such “silliness”. Remember I HATE video games. I HATE wastefulness.

But this is not wasteful. 
This is spending time with our kids, exercising, exploring, socializing, teaching, and witnessing all wrapped up in a bouncing Pokeball. 


Thinking about going all in for a week too? 
Let me give you some insider tips to help you blow your kids’ socks off as well.



Backyard Water Fun



Due to unseasonally warm weather, the swimming area at our local lake closed. (flashback to 2015)

To say our boys were bummed when we walked toward the water is an UNDERstatement!

My husband said, "I have an idea! My sister and I did this when we were little... Go buy some huge garbage bags."

I baulked. I gave him the look.  


Yet he insisted... "Trust Me," he said. 
         So I did. 
            Voila! A memory was born.

                 Recipe For 'Fun In a Garbage Bag'


Materials:

  • hot kids
  • large garbage bags
  • a hose
  • a flat place


Directions:
Have hot kids stand or sit on the inside seam of the bag.

Have "volunteer"  Spray them fill the bags with water from the hose.

Observe the fun. 



Confession:
I was absolutely sure the kids would hate this activity.
I was absolutely positive they would not participate.
I was absolutely, positively, completely wrong!

Lessons learned:

  • Trust husband.
  • Don't take life so seriously that I neglect the overly simple.
  • Divide "I'm too cool to try" kids from the "Sounds awesome!" kids. This varies in each home. Our 22, 17, and 13 year olds said, "No way." Our 11 and 9 year old reluctantly tried and loved it.


Warning:
The water was from our well. We stopped when the boys truly began to shiver in the 95 degree yard.

This activity would have been better in the shade. 

ALL water activities should be supervised. Use discretion with younger children. Good luck getting your older kids to try!!


3rd-5th Grade Math and Reading Summer Review Math Fun: Summer Multiplication Practice Summer Boredom Buster Chart and Coupons*free*

MLA Citation, Plagiarism, and Paraphrasing- Preparing for High School


I'm Preparing to Teach High School Next Year

            High School Scares Me.
                         There I said it.

Our older two boys both graduated high school by attending charter schools or the local community college. That was easier for me. They went to school and then I was available to coach them through syllabus organization and scheduling, editing papers, and life skill teaching.

This year, I feel like I am on my own. (I'm really not, but it feels like it)

We have our third son entering high school (and very quickly after are his two younger brothers). With a few years we will have three kids in high school! Yes. Pray for me.

So I am spending the summer praying, studying and planning.

One of the things I know I will need to teach this year is MLA formatting.

MLA formatting is a scripted way to set up a writing assignment so that all the students' papers look the same. This makes life easier for the student, teacher, and anyone else who has to read stacks of papers.

The challenge is that I have never taught MLA formatting. So how do I prepare?

  • Study.
  • Study.
  • Ask my latest graduate a few questions.
  • Write an essay assignment and complete it myself.
  • Create a study packet with a power point.
I know. I went over board. But then, not really. 
I have three more kids to navigate through high school and beyond and I know from experience that most professors prefer the MLA format.
I also developed some exercises to teach about plagiarism and paraphrasing. 

I wanted to share the packet with you. If you are looking to teach writing, or to coach your kids in their writing, then I believe this may be of value to you.


I'm Giving My Readers a chance to grab a free copy as well. (Up to 3 Readers)
Comment below, then send me an email here. Put "MLA FREEBIE" in the subject line.
First three readers to comment and email will receive a free copy.

What scares you about teaching high school? I cannot be the only one...

Preparing to Teach High School


I'm Preparing to Teach High School Next Year

            High School Scares Me.
                         There I said it.

Our older two boys both graduated high school by attending charter schools or the local community college. That was easier for me. They went to school and then I was available to coach them through syllabus organization and scheduling, editing papers, and life skill teaching.

This year, I feel like I am on my own. (I'm really not, but it feels like it)

We have our third son entering high school (and very quickly after are his two younger brothers). With a few years we will have three kids in high school! Yes. Pray for me.

So I am spending the summer praying, studying and planning.

One of the things I know I will need to teach this year is MLA formatting.

MLA formatting is a scripted way to set up a writing assignment so that all the students papers look the same. This makes life easier for the student, teacher, and anyone else who has to read stacks of papers.

The challenge is that I have never taught MLA formatting. So how do I prepare?

  • Study.
  • Study.
  • Ask my latest graduate a few questions.
  • Write an essay assignment and complete it myself.
  • Create a study packet with a power point.
I know. I went over board. But then, not really. 
I have three more kids to navigate through high school and beyond and I know from experience that most professors prefer the MLA format.
I also developed some exercises to teach about plagiarism and paraphrasing. 

I wanted to share the packet with you. If you are looking to teach writing, or to coach your kids in their writing, then I believe this may be of value to you.


I'm Giving My Readers a chance to grab a free copy as well. (Up to 3 Readers)
Comment below, then send me an email here. Put "MLA FREEBIE" in the subject line.
First three readers to comment and email will receive a free copy.

What scares you about teaching high school? I cannot be the only one...

Preparing to Teach High School


I'm Preparing to Teach High School Next Year

            High School Scares Me.
                         There I said it.

Our older two boys both graduated high school by attending charter schools or the local community college. That was easier for me. They went to school and then I was available to coach them through syllabus organization and scheduling, editing papers, and life skill teaching.

This year, I feel like I am on my own. (I'm really not, but it feels like it)

We have our third son entering high school (and very quickly after are his two younger brothers). With a few years we will have three kids in high school! Yes. Pray for me.

So I am spending the summer praying, studying and planning.

One of the things I know I will need to teach this year is MLA formatting.

MLA formatting is a scripted way to set up a writing assignment so that all the students' papers look the same. This makes life easier for the student, teacher, and anyone else who has to read stacks of papers.

The challenge is that I have never taught MLA formatting. So how do I prepare?

  • Study.
  • Study.
  • Ask my latest graduate a few questions.
  • Write an essay assignment and complete it myself.
  • Create a study packet with a power point.
I know. I went over board. But then, not really. 
I have three more kids to navigate through high school and beyond and I know from experience that most professors prefer the MLA format.
I also developed some exercises to teach about plagiarism and paraphrasing. 

I wanted to share the packet with you. If you are looking to teach writing, or to coach your kids in their writing, then I believe this may be of value to you.


I'm Giving My Readers a chance to grab a free copy as well. (Up to 3 Readers)
Comment below, then send me an email here. Put "MLA FREEBIE" in the subject line.
First three readers to comment and email will receive a free copy.

What scares you about teaching high school? I cannot be the only one...

Preparing Kids for Blood Work and Needles


How to prepare your child for a blood draw?

We need to train our kids for real life, while not scaring the pants off them.

I had such an opportunity today. My youngest son needed to have blood drawn and I decided to prep him before we got there. He was all set and ready to go. Brave face, brave smile, ready to face danger head on. Then his kind brothers piped in.

As we pulled into the parking lot one of the brothers says, "Hey, maybe they will use a chainsaw with blood sucking needles all around the blade!"

Before I could reign them back in the older wiser brothers had filled the munchkins head with a few wonderfully horrible images to ponder as he silently walked toward the lab.

Are you kidding me?

After I rebuked the brothers sharply, using my best mean mommy face. We went inside.

I am thrilled to report, the seven year old did great!
He followed instructions perfectly and didn't shed a tear or even utter the word "ouch".
Half way through the many viles of blood he says, "I can't even feel it mom." Victory!

How to prep your children for medical tests that would make a grown man cry. 




  • You need to stay calm. You need to breath. They need to look at you and see a parent that knows that this is for their good.
  • Tell them often that they can trust you and that you will never let them be surprised by a needle or painful procedure without advance warning- except in the case of an emergency.
  • Role play doctor scenarios. Please do this at least once a year. Gather "supplies" while at doctors offices. They are usually glad to help.
  • Let them know exactly what will happen. Do not down play a shot or surgery. Kids can handle the truth, especially if they get it delivered to them in a non-threatening moment.
  • Give them coping skills. Remember Lamaze breathing? It works for shots and minor owies. Breathing does wonders. Holding and squeezing a hand works. Teach them to breath as they cry. Use the next scraped knee episode to practice.
  • Explain long before they are strapped into a chair that struggling and having a fit will increase their pain and suffering. Show them. Hold your arm out and breath and relax. Have them feel your arm. Now strain and tense up and have them feel the difference. Stress and fear cause us to tense up... Each them to breathe.
  • Let them know it's ok to cry, just to breathe and trust you.
  • Take them with you when you need blood work done and put on a brave face.
I recently went to a lab for my own blood work up and there was a 3 year old named Gabriel having a full on panic attack. It was obvious that he had been there before and had not been warned or prepared in advance- he met the lab tech with  horror. Poor thing:(

While I know that prepping our children does not always guarantee eventless medical procedure, it really does help.

Talk to your kids.
Role play in advance. 

*I've been there.
One of my boys has had 10+ surgeries, been under anesthesia over 20 times, and countless shots and needle pricks.
3 of my boys have needed IV's at one point or another.
I am the one who always held them down. But my husband is the one who insisted on prepping them in advance... It's made a day and night difference.

What have you done to prep your kids for shots, bloodwork, and surgery?

More Helps:
6 simple ways to prepare child for blood draw









Father's Day Craft

Father's Day is a few days away...
I am so blessed by my husband! 




  • He helps cast a vision for our homeschooling.



  • He keeps me focused on the Lord.



  • He reminds me that character trumps curriculum. Every. Single. Time.



  • He reminds me to focus on life skills and "an attitude of learning" rather than any particular topic.



  • He helps me regulate my own schedule so I do not spin myself into the ground.



  • He trusts me to choose curriculum and teaching topics that align with our family while educating our boys.



  • Here are two Father's Day Crafts for you!

     


    More:
    Father's Day Ideas
    Father's Day Crafts for Toddlers













    Thinking About Homeschooling?



    I have been working on this for a while now, trying to condense 16 years of homeschooling experience into an easy to read handbook for homeschoolers. Phew.

    Only $10.00 (Full Retail $48.00)

    Here is what you will find:
    Included:
    • What makes a successful homeschooler?
    • Survival Plan
    • How to Homeschool: Setting goals
    • Establish Goals Worksheets
    • Identifying Children's Strengths and Weaknesses
    • Over 16 years of teaching/homeschooling wisdom
    • Identifying educational benchmarks
    • C hosing curriculum
    • Planning school year worksheets
    • A Year at a Glance Worksheets
    • Unit Study Worksheets
    • My Favorite Resources
    • Staying organized


    Here's where the Bonus value makes this too good to be true.
    I have included over 150 pages of learning activities: A $28.00 value!


    Life Skills:
    Fine Motor Skills Galore
    I Know My Phone Number
    Text Wars: A Game about the Dangers of Texting and Driving


    Math:
    Fact Fun Sheets
    Order of Operations Task Cards


    Language:
    Idioms! Idioms! Idioms!


    Fun:
    Movie Response Sheets


    Bible Based:
    15 Advent Activities
    Soap:Bible Study

    So why the low price of only $10?
    As a homeschooler, I never had a large homeschooling budget. I have always taught on a shoestring budget, creating what I need along the way. I wanted to be able to share so much value with you that you would feel like you found buried treasure.

    I am so blessed to be able to work from home as I school our boys.
    None of this would be possible without the love and support of my husband and five of our children!