Friday, September 27, 2013

It's So Not Me

Some of you have asked about our decision to homeschool.
I kinda walk on thin ice talking about this!  But here we go.
People home school for all different reasons.
I can honestly say that homeschooling is something that I never thought would be part of my story.
"It's so not me!"
I grew up in public school and had a great experience.
Our public school is in our neighborhood and for the past 2 years we only walked 2 blocks to get there!  It was awesome!
Many assume that we had a terrible experience at school and that is why we're homeschooling.
Not true.
Some think that because we're Christians and struggle with things the schools are teaching our children is why we're homeschooling.
Not true.
I had a dear friend once tell me, "when your nest starts to get uncomfortable, it's time to fly."
That came at a time in my life when I started to struggle with aspects of my job, some relationships in my life were getting messy, and my spirit was restless.  It was those uncomfortable situations that forced me to look at options for change that I would have never considered otherwise.
For our family, life became increasingly uncomfortable over the past 2 years for many reasons, in many areas, and our nest was getting rather uncomfortable.
It forced us to look at other options for our family that we would have never considered otherwise -  homeschooling was one of them.
One, highly unlikely, almost impossible option!
Time and again as I thought of homeschooling,
 I'd say, "It's so not me.  I could never homeschool my children."
I'd daydream about doing fun crafts, baking bread, wearing long flowing dresses and bonnets (just kidding!) and then the daydream would turn into a nightmare where little girls were rolling their eyes at me, arguing, and not listening to a thing I say! 
AHHH, "I could never homeschool.  It's so not me."
Then it came.
God's voice.  
Through several friends, situations, and ultimately a moment in the shower - God spoke to our family about making an unpopular decision and going against the norm.
I was in the shower one morning, having that same daydream about the possibility of homeschooling that goes totally awry and the girls start hitting me and pulling my hair and eating me alive!  And the words flew out of the mouth once again, "I could never homeschool.  It's so not me."
But for the first time, I finished that statement -
"Homeschooling is so not me.... but it's so much more of who I want to be."
And I started to cry and just knew that God was making our nest uncomfortable so we'd fly.
And we decided to jump out of the nest and take a leap of faith and follow God on a new adventure for our family.
I have to be honest, this decision has little to nothing to do with our children's education.
It's about God calling us to step out of what is comfortable for us and trust Him as we walk down a road that we'd never thought we'd take, do something that I've always thought was "so not me," and live in reckless abandon to God and His call on our life.
I feel confident that God is preparing us for an even bigger decision that we will face in the future.
Not sure what that is, but I'm sure it's going to require more trust and faith than homeschooling.
This decision is simply preparing us for what is to come.
So that's our story in a nutshell.
We're homeschooling because God has called our family to do it.
This year.
For now.
*Of course the story has numerous examples of the specifics of what exactly made our nest uncomfortable!  Some of you have been bored with those stories - sorry!
But the wise words of Shari Gaffney beautifully shortened this story:
"As you live into the decision you've made, resist feeling like you need to defend or justify it. You and Roger are great parents and you have freedom to home school simply because you want to. It doesn't have to be in response to a negative experience or impatient teacher. I used to feel I had to explain our parenting decisions (probably because I was the oldest in the family and first to have kids) but I no longer do. Some decisions are based upon intuition or a hunch or even a little invasion of their privacy for the greater good. These are things that might not make sense to someone else.
With all you've recently went through, I bet you simply want to savor and enjoy little moments you've missed. I think that in and of itself is a great reason to proceed.

I know impact does not always match intention, but I do hope this might help you feel freedom in being the parent you feel God (not others) is calling you to be

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Does Joe Know? vs. Southern Living

All of the pumpkin products are out at Trader Joe's
so you know what that means....
Fall is here!!!
I think Fall is my favorite season.
I grabbed their Pecan Pumpkin Oatmeal and...
It wasn't horrible but it was a NWE food (Not Worth Eating)
For some of you hard core pumpkin fans, you might like it.
It just didn't wow me.
So, for redemption, I'm sharing something that is totally worth eating and worth making!
I had some friends over on Sunday to watch the Emmys - a little girls night - and I made
Caramelized Onion and Apple Tassies
A little recipe out of Southern Living magazine.
My picture doesn't do justice and I forgot to garnish with fresh thyme from my garden! augh!
But trust me, these are a divine, savory bite of Fall!
1/2 c. butter softened
1/2 (8oz.) package cream cheese
1 c. shredded Asiago cheese (I used cheddar Gruyere)
1 1/4c. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1 3/4c. diced sweet onion
1 3/4c. peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (I used organic gala)
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
4 bacon slices, cooked and chopped finely
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1.  Beat first 2 ingredients and 1/2c. cheese
until creamy. Gradually add flour, beating at low speed until blended.  Shape into 24 balls; cover and chill for 1 hour.
2.  Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in pan over med. heat, sauté onions 5 min, add apples and next 4 ingredients cook until golden brown. Remove from heat and cool completely.
3.  Preheat oven to 350. place dough balls into greased mini muffin tin and press into pan making shells.  Sprinkle bacon in tart shells, then the apple filling, sprinkle with extra cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or golden brown.
Add thyme for garnish on top.
Super YUM!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Kings and Kingdoms

As I mentioned earlier,
we decided to homeschool our girls this year.
(Some of you have asked how we came about that decision - I'll post on that next week)
Week 2 just ended, and so far I'm loving it!
NEVER thought I'd say that about homeschooling!

 My sweet friend hosted a Medieval Day of Fun for the littles and they got to dress up as peasants, kings, queens or princesses. 
Of course my girls didn't want to be peasants!
They worked on making a diorama of feudalism.
And of course now they are on display in our classroom as a wonderful teaching tool!
(and they're super cute!)
The other day I was in acupuncture, telling my acupuncturist about our lessons in the Middle Ages and how I mistakenly showed my daughters part of a documentary on William the Conqueror.  In the video there was a battle as William was trying to take the crown of England and an arrow went into a king's eye!  Super cool mom - should have pre-screened the video first!
Anyhooch, the girls were a little disturbed and asked why there were so many battles and wars?
  I told them that people wanted bigger kingdoms, so they killed people to take over their land and increase their kingdom.
As I was telling my acupuncturist about this, he said, "Isn't it interesting how God's kingdom is the opposite?  Jesus, the King, shed his own blood to increase his kingdom."  Because of His death, everyone could be part of His eternal kingdom.
Um, hi super cool acupuncture dude!
So, that was our expanded lesson today at homeschool - how the kings and kingdoms in the Medieval period were very different from our King and His Kingdom!
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What a Pain in the Breast!

I'll start this post by saying I'm totally fine and all tests came out clear!
As I sat in the ultrasound room yesterday, freezing in my "gown," which let's be honest, it's more like a thin crop top, I was fighting back the tears.
"Oh God, please give me strength to do this and face the results no matter what."
I know God holds me and my future, but I couldn't keep the tears from coming.
As the technitian came in, I might have let out a little snort, trying to suck in my tears.
"OK, since you're 30, we're going to start with the ultrasound and then move you to the mammogram."
"Um, I'm not 30.  I'm 40!," I said, now not crying at all!
"Well, the paper work says you're 30."
"OK.  I'm 30 then,"  I didn't really say that, but I wanted to!  As if the paperwork were correct and I just added 10 years to my life for the fun of it!
Perplexed, she left the room and said she was going to "check on it."
I guess there is a magical age wizard at the Breast Care Center where they determine your real age.
Once again left alone in this room, my mind started spinning.
I know the truth about who God is.
I know that I am not promised health.
I know that God will accompany me and give me the strength I need to walk down any road.
Yet I was scared.
"Whom shall I fear?  I know you've got me.  I do trust you.  So why am I so scared?"
I finally surrendered and just allowed myself to cry, even while trusting God.
I've had pain in my breasts for several months and
 my doctor ordered a diagnostic ultrasound and mammogram. 
(I guess I'm only really writing this because I'm sure 99.9% of my readers are women!)
So the tech came back in and took me to the mammogram first, because it was decided that I am 40!
Um, for everyone who has said, "it's not that bad," REALLY?
If I had pain before, it was about 100 times worse now!
So after all the crushing, groping, contorting and what not I returned to have an ultrasound which was equally unpleasant.
"If you find something when will I find out."
"The doctor will review and compare all the pictures and come in to meet with you in a few minutes."
I was grateful to know that I would have to wait a few days to end this mystery.
I asked her to bring in my husband to wait with me.
As he walked into the room, I once again fell apart.
I wanted with all my might to summon the strength to wait patiently with confidence and peace, but once again, I could not.
Only a few days prior my husband asked me, "Are you scared?"
I honestly said, "No.  If this is meant to be part of my story, then it's part of my story.  I'm not worried.  Come what may, God is present."
A few days and the present reality changed that.
Now as we awaited the results, I pictured myself sitting without mascara running down my face, heart beat steady at resting pace, ready to face any battle ahead of me.  I thought it would make a great story, the next time I spoke to a group - how I trusted God so much that even if the result were cancer, I would not be shaken.
Wouldn't that be cool?
Wouldn't I look holy?
Wouldn't it feel awesome to not be human, but super Daniel like. 
Well, I guess he was human, but you know what I mean.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Smiley and you're totally fine."
Thanks for coming right out with the results rather than being like Ryan Seacrest on American Idol, "And now, the results of your ultrasound and mammogram, the moment you've been waiting for, what will your future hold........................ after the commercial break!
Dr. Smiley explained some things and left.
I fell into my husband's arms and once again cried.
Praise God that everything is fine.
And Praise God that even in my humanness, He is not shaken.
His strength doesn't change.
His promises never fail.
He does not waiver.
Come what may.
PS - no pictures on today's post
you're welcome!

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Does Joe Know? and an Update

 Joes knows Coconut Cookies!
I've always loved coconut and I'm thrilled that
coconut love is now quite the trend so coconut stuff is everywhere!
These little gems from TJs are no exception.
They are crispy and not overly sweet.
They are great with tea, dipped in chocolate, or on their own.
A little coconut treat from France shouldn't be missed!
And the quilt I displayed them on, well that couldn't be missed either!
I found it at a thrift shop in Seattle for $6.99!  SCORE!
And now onto a little update of my spotty blogging last week.
It was a big week in our home as I mentioned here.
But it wasn't just the start of homeschooling for the Newquists that made it a big week.
I also got to speak to a group of Moms on Wednesday and share my story of anxiety.
When my nightmare with anxiety began 2 years ago, I had just stepped out on my blog and announced that I wanted to pursue what I believe God has given me a passion and gift for - speaking and teaching. 
Anxiety took that step of faith and paralyzed it.
I had 8 offers to speak that following year.  8 opportunities that I never got to respond to.  8 opportunities that I could have never accepted because I was far too sick to even leave the house.
But God has started His beautiful redemption process.
Earlier this year I got to speak to a group of women and it was my first time sharing since my anxiety journey began.  I was extremely rusty and I'm thankful for their graciousness because I learned a lot that day - like trying to recap 2 years into 35 minutes is impossible!!!
Well, last week I got another chance to speak to a difference group of women, and this time I was more prepared.
Their theme for the year is "connections" and at their kick-off meeting I talked about connecting with one another as women and mothers and how the key ingredient is vulnerability.
As I arrived at the meeting, I ran into a girl I lived with briefly about 17 years ago!  She commented on how cute I looked and so "put together." 
"Wait until I speak," I told her!
I shared candidly about my miscarriage and battle with anxiety that robbed me of the better parts of almost 2 years.
As I spoke, there were some tears in the audience, but one woman in particular stood out to me.  She was seated in the front and she cried the whole time I spoke.
When I finished and sat down, I felt the Lord telling me to get up and give her a hug.
I hesitated for a moment because the meeting was still going on and I would have to walk up in the front to hug this woman, but I did anyway.
"I just want to give you a hug."
She melted into my arms and tried to speak through sobs but couldn't.
I simply continued to hug her and told her that everything was going to be ok. 
She was going to be fine.
She finally was able to start telling me about her battle with anxiety that she was currently in the midst of.  My heart broke.
Another woman came up to me, sharing that she was almost institutionalized after suffering for 3 years.  Her husband even had to quit his job to take care of her and their children.
With suffering and struggles comes great responsibility and purpose.
We must be vulnerable and share our story so that we can help others.
2 Cor. 1:3,4
   "All Praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!  Father of all mercy!  God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." - The Message Translation
I'm grateful God is giving me the opportunity to share what He has brought me through and offer hope to others in the process.
I'm thrilled that I'll be speaking 4 more times this year and already have a speaking engagement booked in 2014.  (you can see my updated Speaking Page here)
 He is bringing many into my life that I now get to walk alongside. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New School Year / 10 on 10

The little ladies started school yesterday!
We're homeschooling!
Yep, we are!
Something I never thought in a million years I would be doing, but here we are.
God has called our family to step out and go on an adventure of obedience and trust
 and we're thrilled!
I'll keep you posted on how it's going.
And if you have any words of wisdom, I'm open.
Really open!!!
And now 10 on 10 For September!
Our first homeschooling day at home!


1.  morning waffles
2.  preparing the classroom with my favorite garage sale find - $4
3.  5 basic elements of shape art project
4.  locating the 7 continents on the globe
5.  singing history
6.  Charlemagne
7.  who knew I'd get a thank you note for teaching?!!!
8.  Costco run for an easy dinner
9.  in the garden, we got exactly 3 pumpkins this year - one for each kid!
10.  fun before swim team

It was our first day of homeschool at "home" and it went really well.
Lots of fun, lots of learning - more than I expected!!!
ten on ten button

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Breakin' The Rules

Summer came late in Southern California.
Our crazy heat usually hits mid July and August is a killer.
But we sailed through, all the while I knew the wrath was lurking!
Finally, just as August faded into September, the angry heat showed up.
It called for an impromptu night swim!
We called the neighbors and asked if they wanted to head over for a night swim.
I even got in on the action - that's how hot it was at 8pm!
This Moma got thrown in with her clothes on and she didn't mind one bit!

And we got to turn on the new pool lights, so that was cool!
No one was in bed by 7:30 and you know what?
it was perfectly fine to break the rules!
Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in a routine for the sake of routine and nothing else!
My Daddy always says, "the only difference between a rut and a grave is a lid!"
So, sometimes you've got to get out of the rut, or routine and
break the bed time rules to make some magical memories!
Do you need to break some rules today?
(I'm not talking about breaking laws, like speeding,
or texting while driving or putting that lip gloss at Target in your pocket!)
As Fall settles in and we head back to our coveted routines,
 let's hold them loosely and allow God to guide our days and surprise us
 with some magical memories that just might come when we break our own rules!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What Does Joe Know?

It's back!
My "What Does Joe Know?" series
where each week I try a new product from Trader Joe's
 and tell you what I think about it!
I hope you'll share your favorite Trader Joe's finds too.
If you don't have a Trader Joe's close by, at the end of the series I'll be doing a little give away where I send one lucky winner a Trader Joe's care package filled with goodies that I've highlighted!
Let's get started!
Joe Knows Marshmallows!
Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
It's no secret that marshmallows are my favorite food!
So when Traders decided to place this pretty pink box of love at their check out stands, I could only resist for a few shopping visits until I broke down and threw one into my cart!
And oh am I glad I did!
These little pillows of love are the perfect afternoon reward
 for making it through drop off and pick up with the kids!
Or that "Ah, I made it through another day" treat as you
sink into the couch after all the littles are put to bed!
Anyway around it, Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
are a new favorite treat of mine!
What do you love to buy at TJs?

*I am not being paid by Trader Joe's and these thought are my own.


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