Monday, December 31, 2012

I'm not going to blog about the end of 2012

I'm not going to mourn the loss of another year or put all my hope in a new one. There have been years that I couldn't wait to see the end of! I think that's usually how it goes. It's not that I'm not looking forward to a new year, but my hope is in the Lord, who doesn't work on our time table. He is always good, always faithful, always worthy. I am looking forward to what He does, whether today, the last day of 2012, or in 2013, or in 2020. He is good. He will break your chains, your fear, your habits, your distractions (and mine!) if you'll ask. He wants only good for you.

So let's celebrate Him every day! Let's look forward to what He is going to do, but let us also be thankful for what He is doing right now! He never tires of blessing us. The bible says He takes great pleasure in His people (Psalm 149:4). John 14 says He gives us peace, Isaish 40 tells us He gives us strength and power, and Romans 8 promises us OVERWHELMING VICTORY! Who doesn't want that?!?!?!?!

So let's claim it TODAY! We don't need a new year to claim God's promises.

So I'm not going to blog about the end of 2012. Well, I guess I already did. :D


P.S. Look forward to posts about Christmas and Cora's 7th birthday! My USB cord has malfunctioned so I can't get pictures from my camera, but they'll be up soon.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I'm THAT mom...

True confessions of an imperfect mother:

I'm THAT mom who lets my kids paint and use glitter anytime they want, but I totally outlawed Play-doh years ago.

I'm THAT mom who lets my kids jump on the bed and blow bubbles in the house. I also turn them loose in the kitchen regularly to make whatever they want to make.

I'm THAT mom who lets my kids listen to Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Pink. Girl Power! LOL! Country music is a big fat no-no though!

I'm THAT kind of mom who exclusively breastfed, co-slept, and wore my babies. I also used Gerber baby food and Pampers.

My kids know all the words to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I watched it as a kid and never realized the hidden meanings and use of cuss words until we were watching it as a family a few years ago. By then, the "damage" was done. I'm just THAT kind of mom.

Sometimes I even let them eat ice cream for breakfast and watch TV so I can sleep 30 more minutes. THAT's the kind of mom I am.

I let them make their own mistakes. I let them mess up. I watch them fail, and then, I help them pick up the pieces. I'm THAT mom.

I'm also THAT mom who lets my kids pick out their own clothes. As long as they're covered, they can wear it. So if you see my kids wearing jeans with holes in them, a pink boa, and blue high heels, you'll understand.

You know those moms who don't read my kids stories every night? Yeah, I'm THAT mom. Some nights, it just doesn't happen.

My kids says "fart," "shut up," and "stupid." Everybody farts, sometimes people do need to shut up, and sometimes things are stupid. I'm THAT kind of mother, the kind who doesn't forbid many words.

I'm THAT mom who never tells my kids, "We'll talk about it when you're older." If they ask, I tell.

I let my kids climb up the slide, walk on top of the monkey bars, and jump off the swing when they're going really high. Yep, THAT's me. Oh and they can climb any tree they want as long as they realize I'm not coming up to get them if they get stuck. OTOH, my kids know the sandbox is absolutely off limits.

I'm THAT kind of mom who doesn't "do Santa" with my children but has been exchanging tooth fairy letters with my 6 year old for a week. FTR, she knows The Tooth Fairy isn't real, but it's fun, and we like it. Oh, and we celebrate Halloween too. :D

You know those moms who get their daughters' ears pierced when they're infants? Yes, THAT was me. And now my oldest has purple streaks in her hair. And if she wants to get her nose pierced in a few years, she can.

I let my kids read (pretty much) anything they want. Currently my oldest is re-reading Harry Potter and my middle is reading a mix of Magic Treehouse, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Narnia. I'm just THAT kind of mom. As long as they keep up with their assigned reading, they can read whatever they want in their spare time.

I'm THAT mom who lets my kids eat Kraft macaroni and cheese, McDonald's, and frozen waffles. All in moderation, of course.

My kids jump on a trampoline that has no net and don't wear helmets when they ride their bikes and scooters. Yes, I'm a nurse, but I'm THAT kind of mom.

I'm also THAT mom who sings to, and prays with, my babies every night. They know every single day that I'm not perfect but I love them with all that I am. I make sure they know that they are the sweetest, cutest, most talented little girls on earth. I also make sure they know what respect, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and loyalty are.

So now you know...


Monday, December 17, 2012

Just one present please!

She looked at me last night with those huge brown eyes and said, "Mommy, can we open just one present pleeeeeease???"

She's 6.

It's Christmas.

She's 6, and she's excited about Christmas. Some people will never be able to talk about their child being excited about Christmas again.

She's now sporting a new panda bear watch.

Sometimes it's all about the little things.

Monday, December 10, 2012

~When things don't go MY way~

Oh hey! I fell out of the blogging world this past spring. I was so engrossed in planning for our new school year, I got out of the habit of blogging. Then I just decided it was too hard to open my heart to the world, so I gave it up for a while. 8 months, to be exact. But I feel like I really want to get back in to it. So here I am again. Simply Startled...

"What made you decide to homeschool?" Other than the ridiculous "socialization" question all homeschool parents are asked, this is the question I get asked the most. It's easy: I didn't decide. God did. Actually Patrick brought it up first. I can't remember what gave him the idea, but one day he came home from work with this crazy idea that maybe we should look in to it. I balked, but then God really began to soften my heart to it, I started researching, we started visiting preschools for Anna, and after a few months, we decided to keep her home for a while. That turned in to a few years, and now 8 years in to, here we are. It's our life now. It's not something we do; it's the way we live. Most days I love it. But know.

Last year was very challenging. The main challenge was the attitude of a certain preteen and a mother who didn't know how to deal with her. A year of prayer, a big dose of patience (mixed in to a lot of angry shouting matches and temper losing), and a really life-changing youth trip for Anna healed a lot of pain from last year. Thankfully that bridge is crossed, and Anna and I are doing much better. I feel like when/if we get to another bridge like that, we'll be better prepared.

So this year came with its own challenges, of course. We are dealing with some learning challenges with one of our daughters. Thankfully we have resources, and we are getting help. Another challenge is that I'm working a lot more, out of necessity. The girls are busier, I'm feeling aggravated because school is becoming more rigorous as they girls get older and we aren't staying "on schedule." This has brought up a deeper issue in our homeschool. Somewhere along the way, I decided (subconsciously) that this is MY home, MY homeschool, MY life, MY children, MY decision. In other words, I've become prideful. I've taken on my children's challenges as MY failures. Somehow I decided that everything we are lacking in our school is a personal failure of mine. I've become fearful. Fearful that one day I am going to look back and realize that everything I've done wasn't enough. Fearful that if my girls aren't 100% successful, it will be because I've done them a great disservice along the way. Fearful that my girls will resent my shortcomings. Fearful that I will destroy my relationship with my daughters.

That's a lot of fear and heaviness!!! My heart has become bitter, and I've become easily frustrated and angry. I've become a person who doesn't enjoy life. That's so different than the person I used to be and probably different than the person you see (if you know me irl). I'm good at wearing a mask, you see.

So over the past few days, I've spent a lot of time in prayer. And I've enlisted some help from some very wise mommas. I feel like God has cracked a hard shell around my heart. I realize we started out homeschooling because we felt like God wanted us to. And now I have to let God do what He has purposed for our family. I am letting go of the fear of my failures. I'm not perfect, but I'm perfect for my girls, just like they are perfect for me. My girls are a gift and a blessing to me. My new purpose is to help them realize their God-given gifts and to glorify God in all they do. It frustrates me that I've been in a similar place before (realizing anew that I have to let God do this!!), and here I am again. But that's life and humanity. And I'm thankful for a Father who chastens us gently and never gives up on us.

So last Thursday began our month of Christmas break. We are setting aside school in favor of Christmas crafts, baking, and lots of singing! I am going to reevaluate my expectations and see what needs to stay and what needs to go, as far as our homeschooling. I am going to refocus and heal. And when school starts back, our school will look a lot different. And with that, so will our life.

My youngest said to me the other night that she feels like "our home would go a lot better if we began and ended each day with prayer." What wise words from a 6 year old. She's such a light in the world!!! This morning, I looked at the daily verse on my YouVerse app. "Teach me to do what pleases you, because you are my God. Guide me by your good spirit into good land." Psalm 143:10  I'm in the good land now. The land of grace.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What homeschooling has done to me

We finished our study of WWII today. It's been such a fascinating study, and it's been such a painful study. There have days when I have been left feeling raw and vulnerable. I have learned more about our country and our world through homeschooling than I ever did in school. I will be honest and say that before this study the only things I knew about WWII were about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hitler, (with limited knowledge of the Holocaust) and Iwo Jima. These past few weeks have really opened my eyes and broken my heart. 

Of course, I knew the horrors, but to see that reflected on my children's faces and through their eyes took it to a whole new level. I don't really hold anything back with my kids. Of course, I am sensitive to what they can handle, but I refuse to sugarcoat history for them. I refuse to let them grow up ignorant like I did. I refuse to dumb anything down for them. They have to know the truth. I'm okay with letting them see me cry and letting them cry with me. When my 9 year old looked at pictures of Jewish children being marched off to the gas chambers, and then looked at me with tears in her eyes, I prayed that she will never see such horrors in her lifetime. When my 6 year old said to me, "Mommy, I wish this war wasn't real!" I said to her that it was real, and it was horrible, and though there are still horrible people in this world, she is safe. While my 11 year old reads The Diary of Anne Frank and keeps asking how something so horrific could have been allowed to take place, I am proud that she asks questions and wants answers.

Homeschooling has educated ME. It has made me more honest, more knowledgeable, and more aware. Homeschooling has caused me to pray more, cry more, and laugh more. It has caused me to question things, dig deeper, and not automatically accept the canned answers we are often given. Homeschooling shows me every day that although we have come so far, we still have so far to go.

With love and blessings,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Justin Bieber's biggest fan turns 9!!

If you know Emma, you know she is Justin Bieber crazy! She has a "Justin Bieber wall" in her room full of JB posters and memorabilia. She has all his songs on her ipod (and she has them memorized of course) and is begging to go see him in concert when he tours again. She watches his movie on Netflix about once a week. I remember when I first "fell in love" with a celebrity. Johnny Castle a.k.a. Patrick Swayze was my first love. <3 I really like Justin Bieber too (no shame here!) so I'm with her!

So of course, for her birthday on March 18th, she wanted it all Justin Bieber. Here's her cake:
Great job by Walmart! :D

And here are some fun shots from my sweet heart's 9th birthday party!!

Justin Bieber shirt from Nannie

Money is always a hit! LOL!

If there's one thing she loves more than JB, it's animal print, lol. Anna made this pillow for her.

the purse Anna made her

one of two singing JB dolls she got

her face when she saw her JB poster from Papaw

all the friends and sisters <3

blowing out the candles

 And here's my note to Emma on her birthday: Her eyes...that was the first thing I noticed. Her eyes are still the first thing people notice. Big, dark brown, soul-searching eyes. She's my deep thinker, my nurturer, my fashionista. She loves Justin Bieber, animal print, glitter, and wants to dissect everything she sees. She is cautious, never in a hurry except when she forgives, and she knows exactly when you need a hug. She's my Pookie, and today she is 9. I love you, Emma Caroline, with all my heart!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sick day makeovers!

All three of my girls have really rotten colds. They are exhausted (and so is Momma, lol) so we just couldn't get much school done today. After we were Netflixed out, we decided makeovers were in order. I put make-up on them and then curled their hair. From the pictures, you can't even tell they are sick. I think it really lifted their spirits! Have I mentioned how much I love having daughters??? It's so nice to have these little ladies to share my love of all things girly. God really knew what He was doing when He blessed me with these three girls. <3

~my not-so-little girl~

~beautiful brown eyed girl~

~so classically Cora~


Friday, March 2, 2012

In spite of all the rough stuff going on in my life...

I am going to write a happy funny blog post. <3

So yesterday, after having Anna's wrist x-rayed (not broken yay!), we headed over to Goodwill. Thankfully, my children have inherited my knack for finding good deals, shopping second hand, and never paying full price. Either that, or it's all they've ever known, so they don't realize there are other options, lol. We really had a good time, and we got some great deals. The hit of the day was the $1 Justin Bieber shirt that Emma nabbed. That made her day, and on JB's 18th birthday no less. So funny.

Anna had to try on quite a few things, and at the bottom of the dressing room doors, there was a cut out about the size of a shoebox. Cora "assisted" Anna by handing things through the cut out as Anna tried them on. She would shout out to me, "This one's a no!" or "This one's a yes!" All the while, she was sure to give Anna her non-censored opinion on whatever Anna had on. An example: "Anna, that makes you look like an old lady." Cora will never be accused of holding back, lol. Actually she was really sweet and excited about all the clothes. An older lady heard Cora and came over to meet her. Cora really is a joy and makes people smile when they meet her. After finding her prize Bieber shirt and a few other things, Emma spent a lot of time looking through cookbooks and at all the vintage stuff, especially the cameras. She is truly her mother's daughter.

I think God knows that some days we just need a break. I'm not saying He wants us to struggle the other days, but He knows what we can handle and what He will allow. And some days, in the midst of the chaos and crap that we deal with day to day, He has to remind us that He's still in this. 

I am not alone. I am blessed beyond belief with a husband who thinks I hung the moon, three kind, humble, and beautiful daughters, and most of all, a God who cares about every single detail of my life.

Oh! We ended up with 14 shirts and 3 pairs of shorts for a grand total of $39.86! Yeah!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Letter to my 13 year old self

I am a member of a really cool homeschooling forum, and a couple of months ago, someone posted this question, "If you were 13 years old again, what advice would you give yourself?" This question has weighed on my mind and my heart ever since. So I thought I'd write a letter to my 13 year old self....

Dear 13 year old Nakia,

        Don't be embarrassed that you love to read. Spend time reading those good books. Be proud of it!

        Pay attention in P.E. class. One day you will wish you knew the rules to all those sports.

        See that girl sitting beside you in Mr. Clark's science class? That's your best friend for life. Treasure her.

        Regarding that bff mentioned above, do not let her talk you into getting a perm next year. You will regret it. And anyway, your hair will turn curly, magically, when you grow up, so enjoy the straight hair now.

        Don't stop playing your instrument. Even if it's not cool.

        Go to church, go to youth group, go to Sunday school. Even if it's not cool.

        Run! Start now. It's a lot easier to start now than wait until you're 30. :p

        Forgive your dad now. It doesn't matter if he doesn't "deserve" it.

        Don't worry if you don't have a boyfriend or a date to every dance. In two years, you will meet the love of your life. <3

        You are important. You are beautiful. You are worth it.

 Your future


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oh, yes, we are having a February

It's been one month since I've blogged! Wow! As much as I love blogging, it's really the first thing that I drop when I get busy. But I thought I'd try it today. We should be doing school right now, but there is a tree company outside cutting down trees along the road, and my girls are outside on the porch watching. They are so excited. It's so cute and so funny what excites them.

February is ALWAYS my hardest month. It's like I'm stuck between the stark cold (albeit snowless this year) winter, which I love, and the new beginnings of spring, which I also love. I'm also itching to do so many projects around the house that have been put on hold all winter. And of course, it's classically the worst month for homeschooling. I've heard it countless times from homeschool moms everywhere. We are on the home stretch, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And this year, the tunnel has been LONG and DARK! I'm also planning for next year, and that always makes me want to look at all the new stuff and, of course, buy everything I see. Thankfully, we can't afford it or things could get ugly. :)

So between all the looking back and looking forward, it's easy for me to get in a funk. And it seems like our whole family is in a funk this month. Everyone in the house is just getting over or dealing with a really bad cold. Attitudes in our house are yucky too. I think we're all sick of sitting in the house and watching it rain. So this past weekend, we rented a whole bunch of movies, ate junk food, and rested. It was nice. Yesterday, two of the girls had doctor appointment, so after that, the girls and I spent the afternoon at the mall. That was a lot of fun!!

We are really looking forward to doing some fun things in the spring: buying some new chicks, planting flowers and trying to rescue the swamp that used to be our yard, finishing up our school year, and finally painting our master bedroom!!!

Hope you know exactly how blessed you are. I do! Thank God for His new mercies every morning!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Keepin it Real

Warning: totally real, raw, not sugarcoated blog post coming up...

I really wish I had something fabulous to blog about this week. I wish I could say that we went on a fabulous field trip or did something inspiring to help the needy. The truth is we had a crappy week. Each of my girls is extremely challenging right now. Usually, I'm only dealing with one kid's issues at a time, but now I'm getting the triple assault. I'm barely keeping my head above water. My oldest is a hormonal hot mess. She goes from smiling and making jokes to sulky and hateful in less than 30 seconds. My middle daughter is having a really hard time with some aspects of school, especially math, and she is often frustrated and tearful. Cora, the baby, is still, at 6 years old, into everything. She disobeys me 9 times out of 10.

I honestly wonder where I've gone wrong. I've loved and adored them since the day they were born. I would say they are overindulged, but certainly not spoiled. What I mean is that they have everything they need and more than enough extra, but they don't have every single thing they ask for and all the latest gadgets the other kids have. We spend lots of one-on-one time together. We have a wonderful church. They are kind and loving children. People compliment me on their behavior and character. I feel like we've been consistent, mostly, with their teaching and discipline. Our homeschool is strenuous, and I require a lot of them. Not to the point of being impossible, of course, but I take this seriously, and I expect them to as well. They are bright children. I'm nowhere near perfect. Who is? I lose my temper too much. I fuss too much. But I am also always telling and showing them how much I love them and how smart and kind and important they are. I want to think I'm doing a good job. And their daddy is wonderful! He adores them and me. So why are these things going wrong?

Well, the answer is easy. They aren't perfect either. They are just little people with flaws and shortcomings and needs that are different than other people. They are my babies, entrusted to me by my Father, to raise up to be women of God. That's a big undertaking. But I'm up for it. I've been doing it for 11 years, and I'm not giving up now.

So for now, I've got to keep two things in mind. Number one, most important, is GRACE. Last week, God spoke to me loud and clear during worship at church. Anna had given us a fit all weekend, and we had decided not to let her go on the youth skating trip after church. She was so hurt, but I think she understand why. During worship, God said to me, "Nakia, I've shown you grace when you didn't deserve it. I've even heaped blessing upon your life when you didn't deserve it. Can't you do the same for Anna?" WHOA! Talk about putting me in my place, lol. So, Patrick and I talked and decided to let her go. The 2nd thing I need to keep in mind is that I must see my girls as God sees them. He sees them as beautiful precious daughters worthy of all the love and grace and mercy He (and I) can give them. He sees Anna as a strong independent girl who stands firm in her beliefs, more firm than most 11 year olds I know. He sees Emma as kind and compassionate and someone who thinks through situations before diving in; she is thoughtful, cautious, and wise beyond her 8 years. He sees Cora as a lively, happy go lucky child who understands things more deeply than most 6 year olds. All of them are going to do something great for His kingdom.

God is teaching me through these precious girls. Patience, of course, though I question if I will ever get there. But also that they aren't mine alone; they are His, and He actually trusts me to have them for 18 years. I have an amazing gift, and I want to treasure every minute of it. I am blessed beyond measure. So please remember us your prayers. We're running the race with our eye on the goal. <3


Thursday, January 12, 2012

My baby is 6!!!!

Two weeks ago, my sweet baby girl turned 6! She had a lot of fun for her birthday which included a day of cupcake baking and crayon making with her new crayon maker that my brother and his wife got her for Christmas, a shopping trip for a new Tangled comforter, and then a little party with some of her favorite people (grandparents, aunts and her favorite little cousin). I spent her birthday going quickly between laughing and crying. I always cry on their birthdays. I just do, so leave me alone about it. ;) It's so bittersweet to watch my girls grow while still remembering the exact moment I laid eyes on them. Cora was born on a beautiful December day, and she came into this world causing a ruckus and hasn't stopped. She is a spit fire, and she brings joy everywhere she goes. People absolutely adore her, and she makes a new friend (young or old) everywhere she goes. Her dance teacher told me last week that she loves Cora's spunk. She sure does have a lot of that! She challenges me every day, but she also makes me laugh every day. She amazes me with her ability to tell me exactly what she is thinking (even if it is that my belly is floppy) and what she is feeling. I hope she never changes. <3

Here are some pictures of her festivities. These are mostly from the cupcake making because that was the cutest part. I let her do every bit of it on her own. 

She loves cracking those eggs!

Pure joy!

sneaking some batter :)
cream cheese icing--YUM!

No cupcake is complete without sprinkles!

the finished product <3
her Tangled cake

So cute!!!

So happy and so adorable!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

That's pretty much how we can describe the first snow of 2012--Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. After a beautiful sunny day, the evening brought a burst of frigid cold and a blast of beautiful snow. We were so excited! We got all our snow gear out and made sure the sleds were ready. But, it was all for nothing. The snow in our yard didn't even last until lunchtime the next day. We were left with a sloppy, muddy mess. Our road, on the other hand, was a different story. It doesn't get much sun and kept refreezing, so my van stayed parked for a couple of days, and so did the girls and I. I didn't even get any good pictures of the snow! So, here are some pics of what was left of it the day after, lol. That's the best I could do.

just a little snow left on the leaves

In this one, you can just barely see our road in the background--solid ice!

See that beautiful blue sky!

one last chunk left on the van

 Oh! Something exciting happened during our snow day! Diesel didn't like the snow, so he decided it was a good time to learn to go up the porch steps. Isn't he stinkin' adorable????

And now, the Ensleys are ready for some REAL SNOW!!! Bring it on!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And here we go again!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you're excited about the new year; I sure am! 2010 was really really hard for my family, and 2011 was much better. I know 2012 is going to rock, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what God has for us!

I really don't do New Year's resolutions. Why? Because who really keeps them? It's like you are destined to fail when you make New Year's resolutions. I think I will do a bucket list for 2012 instead. No, I don't think I'm going to die this year, lol. But I want to make a list of things I want to do before 2012 kicks the bucket. :D

So I give you Nakia Ensley's 2012 bucket list (in no particular order):

*Eliminate people from my life who don't challenge, inspire, and/or truly love me. I don't mean I'm taking them out ninja style or anything. I just mean I am letting go of relationships that tear me down. I will still love and pray for those whom I let go of. But I will not be bound by those negative influences anymore. 

*Buy a designer purse.

*Do art with my kids every week. Go on a field trip every month or every 6 weeks. Find someone to teach my kids Spanish.

*Fall in love with photography again. 

*Read at least one book per week.

*Date my husband at least once a month. Even if it's just a special evening planned at home after the kids go to bed, I will make an effort to show him what he means to me. 

*Blog at least once a week. No, blog twice a week; one time showing my favorite photos I've taken during the week and one post about life and just stuff. 

*Learn to cook new foods. I love to cook, but I'm tired of the same boring ole things. 

*Show my girls what a Godly woman is supposed to look like. Show them how to love, how to live, and how to forgive. See them through His eyes. Appreciate their unique personalities. Show them more grace than I thought I could every day.

*Learn how to do at least one thing I've never done before. I have no idea what it will be, but something will come along. 

*Go thrift shopping a bazillion times with my bff. :D

*Welcome my brother home from Afghanistan!

*Redecorate our master bedroom, the room that is always last to have anything done to it. New floors, new paint, new bedding, new lamp, new curtains, and the beautiful photos of me and Patrick on the wall. We celebrate 14 years of marriage this year; we deserve a nice bedroom.

*Finish our 2011/2012 school year with a bang, and plan and purchase the right curriculum for the new school year.

*House train the puppy.

*Pray and read my bible at least 365 times. Sounds lame, huh? That's just once day, right? Well, sometimes I'm lazy or selfish or "too busy" and don't spend time with God every day. But this is the year when I really commit spend to time with God every single day. 

*Take better care of me. Sleep more, be more active, eat less junk food. :)

Well, I guess that looks a whole lot like a list of resolutions, huh? But I don't think it is. It's more like a list of goals. Or a list of things I will do this year to make it a great year. And it's a LONG list! But I can do it. I am excited about every single thing on the list! Let's do this!

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good