Saying No to Nagging

November 29, 2017

Saying No to Nagging

As the oldest of seven children, an analytical puzzle-solver who is rarely wrong (sarcasm), and a perfectionist, I also have a rather uncanny knack of nagging to get people to do stuff (I heard a sermon on the persistent woman before the judge and thought nagging was the same as her persistence.)   Since I was about ten or twelve, I started to learn (mostly from watching my Daddy while he was driving) that I don’t have to say what I’m thinking to that person’s face.  Because of this, I learned how to keep my nagging thoughts to myself around my siblings.  The younger ones who didn’t remember the nagging dictator began to enjoy my company and actually listen to me when I suggested they do something!  (This was an amazing and empowering discovery!)

Fast forward to when I’m a young woman considering long-term relationships with a fearful heart.  (I actually have to talk to a person I know nothing about? GOD!  How I am going to do this?)  I think I could actually hear God laughing, and the wind blew my Bible open to Proverbs 31.  (Anyone else remember singing that catchy song a guy sang about a “P31”?  Airplane-crazy younger me thought he was talking about a plane.  At least, teenage me realized he meant a woman.)

Have you ever read Proverbs 31?  The whole thing??  I freaked out and thought, “no way can I be all that.”

God said, “one verse at a time.”

So I started studying about the ideal woman.  (Most of the time, I laughed and journaled stuff like “I am NEVER going to be that!” and “This is IMPOSSIBLE!”)  Slowly I realized that this perfect woman just loved God first, loved her husband second, and allowed love and wisdom to rule her.  (Her business savvy totally intrigued me.)  Then came the part that is still my hardest challenge… I study by flipping to suggested parallel verses and almost everywhere in Proverbs this poor guy was saying stuff that I interpreted as “it is better to be buried in the deepest, darkest, scorpion-infested, cave that belongs to lions named “Ghost” and “Darkness” than to live in a palace with a nagging woman.”  (I thought, “CRUD!  Okay, God, this one you will really have to do for me.”)

In my study I realized that by “nagging” the Bible meant a woman asking, telling, or pleading with a man to get him to do something.  (I substantiated this by interviews with older married men I knew and they agreed.  One guy even said, “ask me once, I heard ya; say it twice and I turn my ears off.”)  I decided that once I was married, I would practice not nagging by only voicing my opinion once.  (At this point, I still “know” I’m right 99.9999% of the time, so I made an asterisk in my journal that added, “but in important matters I will remain firm.”)  I think God laughed at that too because who is to say what is important?

God’s timing is always perfect.

I finished writing my five-pages-in-my-journal decision after almost a year of study – writing everything I thought a Biblical woman in today’s world should be and listing the qualities I wanted to cultivate in preparation for being a wife and mother.  I ended it with a prayer (as I usually do when I journal) that read: “God, I think I’m ready to start my forever relationship.  If you think I am ready, please let the guy ask me out if I have met him…”

And God laughed again.  (That was written Monday, July 1st.  Louis told me we were going out on Wednesday, July 3rd.  We were engaged on July 20th & married life began on November 22nd.)

Have I conquered that nagging thing?  (NNOO!!)  My brain still talks back, but I have learned to keep my sarcastic thoughts inside, take a breath, form a perfect suggestion, SPEAK IT ONCE (ONLY ONCE, remember?  You promised God that!  – I had to argue that with my brain for the first 12 or 13 years of marriage every time.), and leave the rest to God.

This was also a HUGE trust issue for me.  (See, I like to be in control so giving that to another human even if I trust God to lead him is just bonkers to my analytical brain.)

I learned that to respect my husband meant to trust him to trust God with his decisions (our decisions) and over time, God has taught Louis that most of the time; it’s a good thing to listen to my suggestion.  (He said that, not me.  I never even mentioned this challenge until about a year ago when it was mentioned to me that “you never nag” and I had to answer the question, “why?”  It had always been something between me and God.)

Well, I guess the good thing is that Louis hasn’t lamented for people 3,000 years later to read “I wish to be in Daniel’s lion cave instead of with this nagging woman!” (At least, he hasn’t said that yet.)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Enjoy the Journey

November 25, 2017

Enjoy the Journey

The world through the eyes of a 2 year old is amazing.

He spies Daddy cutting strawberries for a pie!  Lucas yells “yeah!  Yummy strawberries!  Red berries!   I eat?” and half of the strawberries destined for pie filling instead fill Lucas’ tummy.

On the way to Grandma’s house, 2 year old boy yells, “Mom! Look!  Big trucks!  One! Two! Three! Four-Five Big Trucks!”  (Everything from his mouth comes in two volumes: mouse-whisper or top-of-the-lungs yell )

Sometimes he helps me to slow down and enjoy the things I often take for granted… like time.  It’s easy to find fun in the chore when you share the wonder of a 2-year-old.  For instance: An attempt to transfer toddler chickens from one pen to another and they excitedly hop-fly off in all directions yelling “FREEDOM!”  Lucas giggle-screams and chases them around.  This turns the frustration into laughter and a lesson on counting as they scurry over to the day pen and wait for us to lift them in where the food is.  “One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight!” Lucas screams it all together as if it was a single word.

Lucas finds wonder and excitement in everything.  From washing dishes (he always wants to help) to being stopped by a train (one-two-three-four-five-six trains!), everything is fun.  Sometimes he helps remind me to enjoy life as it is presented to me.  Goals (finishing the dishes) and plans (getting to the produce market before it closes) are good, but enjoying the journey is just as important.

Stopped in slow traffic turns into “Dance Party in the Car” and the backseat is bouncing to “Pink Shoelaces” and “Rockin Robin” (two favorite oldies).  Lucas spots birds and shouts to tell everyone.  Rebeccah looks in her book and gives their names.  Taking in this special time is part of me slowing down and enjoying the journey.

I hope you join me in enjoying the journey today.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Thanksgiving 2017

November 23, 2017

Today is Thanksgiving.  It is also the day after my fifteenth wedding anniversary.  

I feel amazed by the things God has given me.  

I’m thankful, so very thankful, for all these special gifts:

Thankful for my life.  Thank you Jesus for the gift of another sunrise (or rainy Florida twilight-sunrise).

Thank you for my husband.  As a girl, I dreamed of a boy who would love me and cherish me like most little girls do… the man I have is way better! (God’s reality was far better than anything in my dreams.)  

Thank you for our children.  Christina, who made me a mom; Rebeccah who was caught by both grandmothers; Kimberly, our bouncy sunshine; Jaquline, whom Grandma Honey called “Little Louie Jack”; Jillian, our nature loving discoverer; and Lucas, our thoughtful problem solver.

Thank you for our family.  Our parents (who raised us), siblings (who put up with us), new sisters and brothers (who decided to join our crazy fun families), nieces and nephews (the bonuses for allowing our siblings to live). 

Thank you for others who inspired, encouraged, and befriended us in our journey.  

Thank you for the struggles, accomplishments, heartbreaks, and excitements that have shaped our life into the beautiful, wonderful thing it is.  Together.  I thank you, God, that we are together!

Here’s hoping everyone enjoys their family and friends this day and every day.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Silver Springs

November 10, 2017

The Real Florida

What comes to your mind when you think of Florida?  Sunny beaches, theme parks, high priced T-shirts, Publix supermarkets?

How about alligators, turtles, cypress trees with diameters of fifteen feet, shimmering sunlight streaming through dissolved limestone particles in gushing spring water to give a silver blue tint to the crystal clear water?

This is Silver Springs

As the sign says (it’s the Florida State Parks logo) “the Real Florida!”

History is alive with the mementos of past years when numerous television shows and movies were made in the beautiful surroundings.

Tourists were riding on glass bottom boats in the 1870s – and if you want to feel like you are swimming with the critters without braving the cold springs water, you have to take the glass bottom boat ride!  (And you are safe too; the alligators, turtles, and snakes are outside the boat and your windows have bars!)

The Captain will say “this is 81 feet deep,” and you stare down at magical swirling waters pushing fish up in rising natural roller coasters.  (You can hear them squealing “weeeeeee” as they spiral up from the bottom with their tails wagging behind them.)

If you want to get even closer to the water wildlife, rent a canoe or kayak!  In one of these sleek craft, you can paddle down the beautiful river and feel like you are part of the unscathed beauty of nature.

There is a boardwalk through the swamp where you can get close to the huge trees and look down into the water.  Amazing birds are easy to hear but hard to catch on camera when your assistants are pretending the boardwalk is a drum for feet!

On the magnificent nature walks, you will see gigantic ancient trees and could possibly run into the wild monkey troupe!

(Or you may have your own wannabe monkey riding on you.)

Some of these trees have fallen and create amazing obstacle courses for the more adventurous in your group.  (You can play “don’t step on the ground” and jump from fallen log to fallen log – just be very careful not to fall off!)

Or you can sit at the top of a leaning stump where no one can reach you.  (Unless you are surrounded by wannabe monkeys who race to see who can reach you first!)

The cost to get in is only $2 a person!  It is extra to ride the glass bottom boats or rent a canoe.  This wild, historic destination is a perfect setting for a wedding among the wild flowers and rustic wooden arbor.  Research this gem at www.SilverSprings.com and check out the Real Florida any day of the year!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Home School Organization

November 2, 2017

Home School Organization

So I’m one of these crazy people who can’t stand anything to be out of order.  I use to freak out trying to keep the house looking like a picture in a magazine…

This was until God smashed me with the realization that while life is in my house, it will never be perfectly clean.  (Note to self: NEVER be PERFECT!)

We also homeschool.  This means in addition to the normal kid toys, clothes, and assorted paraphernalia, we also have a stupendous collection of schoolwork items.  This all has to stay organized.  (Organization has paid off repeatedly as the girls move into high school level courses and dual enrollment.)  So I looked for an easy way to keep organized.

My first step at this organization was the purchase of three letter envelope sized Boxes upon which I wrote “Christina’s Schoolbooks,” “Rebeccah’s Schoolbooks,” and “Kimberly’s Schoolbooks.”

These boxes hold all current textbooks, notebooks, and school “tools” (pencils, pens, crayons, etc.) for that student.  I only had one “student” at the time, but the littler girls felt big to have their crayons, art supplies, and activity books in a “school box” too.  They also aren’t too heavy for a 5-year-old to tote around.

The students are responsible for their box and keeping their books and supplies in good order.  (Mom “issues” normal supplies like notebooks, primary crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, mathematical instruments, and books.  Usually, they like to buy their own “extras” like markers, colored pencils, or work pens inscribed with their name.)  This helps with responsibility.

Bingo!  I scored a short, sturdy wooden bookshelf that held my boxes perfectly!  **One (Jaquline’s) is missing in the picture, but that’s because she was using it!**

This allowed me to add the next 2 boxes (they were only 1 and 3, but Jaquline kept asking about her school box) and a third set for notebooks, charts & flashcards, and shared coloring & art books.  (Granted, we have a full-size bookshelf with art supplies and games and three full-size bookshelves with the supplemental school books – mostly history, science, technology, readers, and encyclopedias.)

Later, Rebeccah decided we needed a “non-reader” system on our boxes so we added “pictures” to the labels.  She likes everything organized too.

I created a book I call the School Planner.  (Rebeccah calls it “The One Book” as in “The book to rule all school!”) **Deceptively plain, isn’t it?**

It has everything school related in a very easy, homeschool-mom-friendly format.  (This means I can quickly enter information and file papers within my 10 or 15 minute time crunch.  I love organization, but hate spending time on it.)  One file drawer turned into the workbook paper file with one file for each student’s work by school year.  They look like steps and Kimberly has called them “the steps to college.”

Our School Shelf still holds everything current for 6 students (okay, Lucas isn’t a student yet, but he does have a backpack, crayons, and two coloring books in his school box).  Our School Planner sits on top of the School Shelf, and two sturdy boxes (perfect size to keep the workbooks snug and dust-free) sit on the other side against the wall holding all of the “next-ups.” (Core curriculum workbooks to be used by the next student.)

Our School Planner is organized by student in 4-week snapshots on each page.

On these pages, I keep a running list of reading books completed, courses completed and their GPA & weight (for high school-level), extra-curricular projects completed, and educational extras like field trips, community service, or practical learning.  The first page in my planner is my “base grade level guide” (texts I expect each student to pass at said grade level).

At the end of each school year (for us, the last Friday before our annual evaluation), I spend about an hour or two and compile all this raw data into a concise one or two page “report” I call a school year summary.

I attach a reading book list (gathered from the same data!) and if any high school level courses were completed, I add them into the student’s high school transcript.

For portfolio evaluations, I just grab the School Planner (reports go in the front in age order) and the file folder for each student for that year.  It’s easy and keeps me mostly stress free.  After evaluations, I rubber-band the School Planner pages together and set them in the file drawer with the previous years, print out the new pages with the changed dates and continue… the story of each school year in less than 1.5 inches of paper. The copy of their evaluation report (the copy of the official report on file with St Johns’ County) goes in a file folder with their name on it.  This has all evaluations and communications from the school district.  (This was a life-saver when the county changed computer systems!) **Lucas’ folder doesn’t have his name on it yet because they get to pick their colors**

Everything important with our school is in one long file drawer and one shelf.  This makes school time fun and easy – and organized!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

October 30, 2017

New Story Release!

Welcome to the ninth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Happy Hurricane Helpers.”

Following Hurricane Irma’s attack on their town in Florida, the sisters join with their neighbors and help clean up.

Hurricane Irma was a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes usually decrease in power as they travel over land.  Hurricane Irma had traveled almost straight up Florida’s peninsula from the Keys.  When this storm hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

In coastal areas like Saint Augustine, most hurricane damage is caused by flooding.  The strong winds can fell huge trees, rip debris off houses, throw limbs through windows, and cause heavy damage as well.  Trees falling on power lines caused the sisters to be out of power.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, how about a preview of two scenes from “Happy Hurricane Helpers!

Kim awoke this morning before the sun even started to turn the edge of the sky pink.  Last night, the power had gone off and the sisters had camped out in their sleeping bags under the huge, sturdy wooden table in the safe room where there were no windows.  Last night they had heard the deep rumbling that sounded like standing next to train tracks when the train raced by.  Last night Hurricane Irma had hit Saint Augustine. 

   As soon as the tree on the dirt road was clear, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill followed Mom and Daddy and started helping with limb cleanup.  Some of the Tree family kids were out cleaning limbs too.  Two other children from a house down the paved road joined in the fun.  The Tree men had left a trail of sawed-off branches scattered where the big trees had fallen.  They had stacked big round stacks of trunk wood by the road because those were too heavy for little kids.  But the branches were perfect for kids! 

   Six-year-old Kim flexed her muscles. 

   “I can drag this BIG one to the road!” She challenged, dragging a limb to the edge of the road. 

   “I got a bigger one!” said Tina. 

   Becky and Ellen laughed.  “We are doing teamwork!”  Ellen announced.  She was four and her blankie was draped over her shoulders like a boa.

   “Me too!” Jill called.  Jill was only two but she loved to help.  She had a two-year-old-sized branch and was making funny faces as she fought it to the edge of the road.

   “Let me help you, Jill,” offered Tina. 

   “No!” Jill yanked the branch and it flew out of her hands and right to the edge!  Jill stood up straight, brushed her hands on her jeans, and said, “I can do it myself!” 

   … (continued reading Happy Hurricane Helpers here!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart