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Six Back to School Tips

It’s that time again – BACK TO SCHOOL! Some days it feels like Back to Stress! It seems like every day we open our wallets and money just flies out – supplies, clothes, another box of crayons, shoes, fees, supplies, and even more clothes. Did I mention supplies? There’s also the stress and nervousness of new teachers, new friends, and sometimes new schools. Back to school does not need to mean back to stress. These tips will help!

Back to Sleep – A few weeks before school starts, get your sleep schedules lined up with what it will be for school. Warning: Your kids will not want a bedtime when they haven’t had one, but this is where moms and dads just have to set a rule and stick to it! That first week of school, you will thank me for this one!

Back to Snacks – During the summer, kids experience an open kitchen. While school is in session, they eat at very specific times. Some lunches begin before 11. If you have access to your child’s lunch schedule, try to implement a similar schedule the last week of summer. This is also a great time to try out all of those great lunch ideas you have pinned all summer. (And if you haven’t pinned any, find some on pintrest and try them out!)

Back to Supplies – Even with all the fabulous sales right now on school supplies, it can still add up to a small fortune. Remember, not everything has to be new. Keep supplies year after year and only replace those that really need replacing. When you find something for a great deal, stock up! If possible, go shopping without the kids. When an elementary student sees plain pencils and character pencils, they don’t look at the price, all they know is how cool the fancy ones look. If you do take the kids, this is the perfect time to discuss budgets and sales. A fun idea is to keep all supplies plain, then the morning of school, pull out a present with a few colorful, extra special supplies! It can be as simple as a pencil, eraser, or coupon for a special after school snack.

Back to Schedules – Set up schedules the first week of school. If kids know what to expect, they will know how to react. Morning routines, bedtime routines, as well as after school snack/homework/downtime/sports schedules keep things organized and structured. Set a schedule that works for your family, communicate it effectively, then implement it and stick to it!

Back to Sadness – I wish I didn’t feel the need to put this in here, but kids encounter serious problems at school. Peer pressure starts younger and younger while bullying continues on many campuses. The stress kids feel with overloaded schedules, not enough sleep, and poor nutrition is very real and overwhelming to their growing bodies. Add the emotional situations they find themselves in everyday and now childhoods are looking more like little adulthoods. Keep the lines of communication open. Discuss situations with your child’s teacher before they become problems. Discuss daily events with your child and let them know you are on their side. Be encouraging and let them know how proud you are how much you love them.

Back to Success – As a parent, it is up to YOU to ensure your child is successful. When your child struggles, find the best way to help them. Counteract that area of struggle with something they feel confident in. If you child struggles in reading, work on it daily. Find something they do succeed in and spend just as much time doing that. (Read for 20 minutes then play with legos for 30 minutes!) Focus on an areas they are weak in, they will see failure. If your child knows you believe in them, they will start believing too!

All of these are good tips, but my number one tip for back to school – PRAY.

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The Day Hurricane Ike Blew Peace My Way

Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Ike. It is also the anniversary of a life changing day for me. It is what I like to think of as my most peaceful day and the day that changed my parenting. Remember the day I (almost) died? Well, this is the continuation of that story.

Home from the hospital for only three days, we were glued to the TV. Reports of a Hurricane were on every channel. My sister came in to help take care of all of us while I was settling in at home. She stayed only 24 hours before leaving because of the storm. She did leave for us some of her famous crawfish cassaroles in the freezer! What a blessing! While many Houstonians left town, that was not an option for us. We didn’t want to be too far from the hospital and I couldn’t travel. After being in the hospital so much, I had no desire to leave home!

The workers at the clinic where I learned how to take care of my IV and drain gave me enough meds to last for weeks, since they didn’t know what the weather would hold. They also gave me a strict warning: Keep the medication COLD. If there is any way to keep your fridge working, do it. If not, you will need to let emergency workers know you NEED ice for medical reasons.

We didn’t have far to look to find an answer. Our neighbor had passed away recently and had a powerful generator. We asked the caretaker of the house if we could borrow it. They graciously allowed us to. Another neighbor offered to keep it powered and find gas daily in exchange for some of the power. That was a tremendous blessing. While most people powered a fan, lights, radio, or TV, we powered our fridge.

The day the storm was going to come through, we met our back door neighbor. He invited us over for a prayer meeting. The idea of that blew me away. At this point, I still wore only gowns, not real clothes. Looking at my coffee cup print PJ’s and knowing I couldn’t walk that far, even if it was just to the other side of the fence that separated us, I knew I couldn’t attend the meeting. I committed to pray all evening for safety and salvation. I had a feeling some would come to know the Lord during this storm. Little did I know…

I remember sitting, praying, and looking our big picture window. The news of possible doom and destruction floated all around us. Looking outside, everything was calm. There was a beautiful green cast to the air. I marvelled at it all. I did not remember a time of ever feeling such peaceful contentment. In the midst of the storm to come and the storm I recently emerged from (and in some ways was still in the midst of) the biggness of God and the value of life overwhelemed me in a cloud of peacefulness. I worshiped and prayed.

After dinner that night, my daughter came up to me and said, “Mom, you just almost died and now the storm is coming and people might die. What will happen if I die?” In my state of calmlness, I spoke peace over her. I assured her that God takes care of us and can carry us through this. If we were to be called home to Him, it would be only because it is in His plan. I then began to share with her the story of salvation. It is a familiar story in our house, and one she could have told me about. While it was familiar to her, it was not yet HER story. That night, I was able to pray with her as she asked Jesus to come into her life. Now the salvation story was hers. (If this story is not yet YOURS, please skip over to this page right now to read how it can be yours!)

I have trouble putting into words what I felt that night. I don’t think there is a word adequate enough. Peaceful? Gratitude? Thankfulness? They are not deep enough. The Lord gave me a second chance at life. Then He blessed me with the gift of leading my child to Him. From that moment on, my parenting changed forever. We are not promised tomorrow. I decided to parent everyday with that thought in mind. What do I want my children to learn? How do I want my children to think of me? I went from a hurried, yelling, frustrated mom into a (trying to be) patient, calmer mom that teaches to the heart with God’s Word above all.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.                  Ephesians 6:4

I think back on those weeks without power. God gave us many miracles. My parents had power within days of the hurricane. They had actually been out of the country. As soon as they arrived to the states, they came over. When their power was restored, they drove us to their house, then took our children out of town, to my nephew’s wedding. I felt sad that I couldn’t make it, but so grateful for my family and all of those who helped us during this time. (My mother-in-law spent weeks and weeks in our house taking care of the kids during the hospital stays. Out of town sisters came in to help, one left her family – and homeschooling her children – to stay for a week and help my kids adjust to school.) The day my parents returned home from the wedding with the kids, our power came back on! Only a few streets in our neighborhood had power. I believe without a doubt, our street had power because of that prayer meeting at our neighbor’s house. Some think I’m crazy, I think it was yet another miracle in the long line of miracles He did during the many storms Hurricane Ike symbolized in my life.

The bridges that are built in the midst of a storm bring life changing stories of survival and hope.

There was another blessing Hurricane Ike blew in as it blew away fences and trees. I’ll share that story next week!

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