Category Archives: Tips, Tricks, or Treats

Managing Spring Fever

7 Spencer kids

I have no scientific studies to cite, but I assure you by the authority of a mom, spring fever is real. My kids all go a little nuts each May. There is just more life in their little bodies than they know what to do with. While I do love for all of us to come out of our winter hibernation, it can feel like I’m dancing with hungry bears. Sure, it’s thrilling fun, but they could actually eat me alive, so here are a few of my successful strategies to keep the children from turning feral. I’d love to hear a few of yours!

  1. Spring cleaning. With all the extra energy, we take time off school for good physical labor. There are tons of jobs even little kids can do. Weed gardens, pick up sticks in the yard, wash their own toys, anything to covert some of that energy into productivity.
  2. Remain predictable. With all that extra energy buzzing through their limbs, the last thing kids need is to feel out of control, like they never know what will happen next. I’m not a strict routine person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do try to keep the order of the day fairly predictable. We have morning meeting every day after breakfast where we have a short Bible reading and prayer time, then we discuss the day ahead and what to expect.
  3. Change it up! I just said to be predictable, but change is in keeping with the spirit of the season. We rotate chores, change up our morning Bible story book, rearrange furniture, go on field trips, paint a room. Just like the Lord brings new leaves to old trees in the spring, it’s a great time to bring new life to old routines.
  4. Practice sitting still for a few minute intervals throughout the day. Before we have any instruction time, we try to first sit still and quiet to get under control, usually for 1-2 minutes. I think the din can become so familiar, that we all forget the peace that comes from quiet. They need to taste it again and again. We try to focus on one sound all together, like the birds outside or the humming of the fan, sometimes Chris gives them a scene to imagine. Have them close their eyes if it helps. Just one minute seems to remind all of us what a blessing quiet can be, and it becomes something they want more of.
  5. Rest time. Very similar to the reasons for short intervals of mandated quiet, each day we spend at least 30 minutes alone either reading or playing with a quiet toy for non-readers. A little absence from each other does make the heart grow fonder.
  6. Give them plenty of opportunities to live like children. Don’t despise the way the God has made them. Let them run, laugh, yell, wiggle, get dirty and wet, build, jump, roll, and hang upside down. You don’t have to have a lot or make it as orderly as you think. If you don’t believe me, E. Nesbit might convince you (which reminds me, read good books out loud!):

But the children were wiser, for once. It was not really a pretty house at all; it was quite ordinary, and mother thought it was rather inconvenient, and was quite annoyed at there being no shelves, to speak of, and hardly a cupboard in the place. Father used to say that the ironwork on the roof and coping was like an architect’s nightmare. But the house was deep in the country, with no other house in sight, and the children had been in London for two years, without so much as once going to the seaside even for a day by an excursion train, and so the White House seemed to them a sort of Fairy Palace set down in an Earthly Paradise. For London is like prison for children, especially if their relations are not rich.

Of course there are the shops and the theatres, and Maskelyne and Cook’s, and things, but if your people are rather poor you don’t get taken to the theatres, and you can’t buy things out of the shops; and London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves – such as trees and sand and woods and waters. And nearly everything in London is the wrong sort of shape – all straight lines and flat streets, instead of being all sorts of odd shapes, like things are in the country. Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don’t grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses, and nurses; but I know. And so do you now. Children in the country are naughty sometimes, too, but that is for quite different reasons.

-from Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Tonight’s Specials

“You weep now, are often in tears, tears of repentance, tears of sympathy; you are of them that mourn in Zion. But blessed are you; your present sorrows are no prejudices to your future joy, but preparatories for it: You shall laugh. You have triumphs in reserve; you are but sowing in tears, and shall shortly reap in joy,’’ Ps. 126:5-6. They that now sorrow after a godly sort are treasuring up comforts for themselves, or, rather, God is treasuring up comforts for them; and the day is coming when their mouth shall be filled with laughing and their lips with rejoicing, Job. 8:2 ” -Matthew Henry on Luke 6:21

At times that I’ve been in tears for either myself or others (which seems to exponentially increase with each passing year), the Lord has used many talks and books and sermons to direct my mind to comfort my soul. These 3 particularly come to mind tonight. Might I recommend:

Christ’s Loneliness and Ours – Spurgeon

Is Your Church a Safe Place for Sad People?  -Nancy Guthrie

The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer

Christ Colored Glasses


Once upon a time, I had an idea to start a blog for my kids. It was to be a place for them to practice writing and worldview discernment and have fun. It totally bombed. But, it was not for naught.

Even though my hygienist recently missed my grey streak and thought I was a college student (may she be blessed forever), I actually have a middle-schooler. She has some worldview homework due for co-op and tada! the blog came in handy after all. I had already written an explanation for students. It’s off the beaten path on this blog, but we’ll give it a go- a post for kids :

What are Christ Colored Glasses? Continue reading

Worldview Through Literature’s My Favorite

maggie in a treeSchool is off to a good start in our house. Maybe for the first time ever, we’ve hit a sweet spot of rigor and fun. Since all great literature aims to “teach and to delight” studying worldview through literature together is my favorite.

A few years ago, I got to help start a co-op with this very emphasis. I wrote the following vision statement for my class. I hope however you school your kids, you’ll make time for rollicking good book discussion. It pairs well with candy and tickle parties.

Why study worldview?

In his book, The Universe Next Door, James W. Sire defines a worldview as:  “a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation in which we live and move and have our being.”

The more consciously and consistently we understand our own presuppositions and those of our neighbors, the more precisely we will be able to bring the Scriptures to bear on each other’s hearts and bring good news to the lost.

Why study worldview through literature?

Most often a person’s worldview is not held out to us in the form of tidy propositions.  Instead we are often sifting through the stories of life to understand what a person functionally believes about reality.  Literature, like life, is expressed in many forms.  The trained eye will be able to see content through those forms in order to most accurately apply and communicate biblical reality.  A good story allows the student a vicarious experience before experiencing it in real life.  In other words, it’s good practice.

This practice also teaches the student of literary analysis, discernment.  When well trained to decipher meaning through form, one will not be readily fooled by beautiful sounding rhetoric.  The thoughtful critic will be able to articulate the truth value of a story that is written, told, or even lived well.

God has revealed himself to us through literature.  The bible makes use of many forms of artistic language and rhetoric. Words are part of his creation for us to use to take dominion, to enjoy, to know our maker and savior, and to give him praise.

*Some information is based on:
Tapestry of Grace. Poetics. Kingsport: Lampstand Press, 2013. Digital

Abundance Messes

I had the pleasure of laughing until my face hurt yesterday at the tale of some little boys, a new kitchen faucet that spins 360 degrees, and a pregnant mom hustling around getting ready for a doctor appt.  It’s not my story to tell, but after I could breathe again, she asked me what it really looks like when my crazy people do crazy things.  She thought, “Danielle would probably laugh and snap a picture.”

On my best days, yes, that is what I do; and I have plenty of pictures. But for every captioned picture, I’ve probably had another mess that I handled with frustration, tears, and self-pity.  So, I gave her a few thoughts about eyes of faith that look to wield weakness into strength, told her that we try to discipline for the disobedience, not for the mess, but I really just wanted to read her a blog post that I read a few weeks ago, that has been a great help to me:  The Oxen Are In by the Rachel Jankovic.  If you’re struggling with the mess in your home and your people who are making it, read it.  I couldn’t say it better myself.


Contained Imaginations

Synonymous phrase for a long road trip with 9 people in one car, 5 of whom are 5 and under: Try , death by whining, agoraphobia, I feel like i’m taking crazy pills…
No matter. In as much as it is up to me and the dollar store we’re going to succeed this year. I’ve come up with these little self-contained imaginary lands to pull out, along with pipe cleaners, new dolls, bingo, and wall decals to play with on the car windows. Any other ideas?







Mayhem, Thy Name is Jack


In the last week Jack has:

Painted himself with whiteout, including his tongue which warranted a call to poison control. (I didn’t even know we had whiteout).

Painted himself with pink nail polish. (I did know we had that in abundance).

Painted the wall with the same pink nail polish.

Painted himself with craft paint and fabric dye.

I think he thinks he’s some sort of warrior…

He has:

Gorged himself on tooth paste while relaxing in the bathroom sink.

Mistaken his baby sister’s face for a drum.

Mistaken his older sister’s bottom for a pastry.

Made a china plate into a frisbee from the kitchen counter.

Stolen the sprinkles from the sprinkle jar.  (Who me? Yes you. You’re stuck and you’ve left a trail, Hansel.)

And lest you think I haven’t tried to contain him, he has:

Tipped himself over in his high chair.

Scaled every gate.

Masterminded  every lock on every door in the house.

My eyes see a mess, faith sees creativity. My eyes see chaos , faith sees ambition.  My eyes see exhaustion, faith sees zeal. My eyes see sin, faith sees repentance.  May the Lord give me more faith.

Kid Comics


An oldie but a goodie.

Kids really do say the darnedest things.  At least they do in this house.  Since I’m always being admonished to write them down, I figure I might as well start sharing the laughs with you.  Hope you enjoy these little snippets of some silly Spencers:

1. “Does Pastor Kevin live at church?” – Lucy

2. 3 little girls’ ear piercing shrieks: “DADDY’S HOME!!!”  (Silence) Kate: “Oh, never mind, it’s just the mail people.”

3. ” Lord, thank you that we keep finding money.” – Kate

4.”Lord, help people to believe in you. (And not in a way that’s like, oh sure, just add him to the pot)” -Maggie

5. Lucy:  “Mom, do you ever dream that Lucy Talitha is wearing a beautiful dress with sandwiches and chocolate milk?”
Me: “No.  Do you?”  Lucy (dreamily): “Yeah.”

6. “Haha!  My bottom keeps burping!” -Lucy

Nursery in a Closet

DSC_0388I know Alice doesn’t exactly need this, but it makes me feel better that the 7th child isn’t getting the shaft.  I’ve spent the last 2 days, but $0.00, creating a little nursery area out of part of my closet.

DSC_0377I made the mobile out of rope, card stock, a strand of old Christmas beads that I broke apart, and a wire rim from a broken lampshade.  The sign is construction paper, sharpie, black foam, and same beads with white nails through the holes.  The verse on it is from Phil 2:3, “… in humility, count others more significant than yourselves.”  That’s for me in the middle of the night to remember my place:  One served by Christ who can now serve helpless babies and not be mad about missing sleep.  It’s a real fight.

DSC_0379The clock was the cheap target brand that has been sitting in my basement for a while.  Again with the Christmas beads, I added some detail with hot glue.  A few aluminum roofing nails into a scrap piece of wood for some hooks, and the bins were just holding junk in the basement, so I’m going to use them for outgrown clothes, and next size up clothes.

I’m satisfied.  (Although after 2 days, the rest of my house is another story. And not a picture worthy one. 🙂

Elephants Might Not Forget, But Pregnant Women Do“…research has shown that pregnant women actually do just as well in cognitive tests as women who aren’t pregnant… Interestingly, in a different study, pregnant women rated themselves as having performed worse than they would have before pregnancy, even though they tested just as well as a group that wasn’t pregnant. So if you think you’re flakier than usual while you’re pregnant, it may just be your perception.” – from an article on

I suppose I might be able to get a decent score on the ACT (MIGHT); but I don’t know how else to define paying at the drive-thru window then driving away without stopping to pick up the food, other than “flakier than usual.”   Or how about the 10 times a day that I walk into a room for a purpose, then spin around wondering why I just huffed and puffed up the stairs.  I find kitchen utensils in the bathroom (that one may be the kids) and open diet coke cans in closets.  Research might not be able to explain why I can’t remember what I was going to write about today, but I’ll claim pregnancy brain anyway 🙂