Just Me & a few struggles

Psalm 37 verse 4

My blog is filled with practical ideas for homeschooling.  Free printables, loads of toddler teaching ideas, even glimpses into our daily homeschool life.

Occasionally I get personal, like when I was struggling with a difficult pregnancy, or when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.  The personal side of me isn’t shared often, and I am praying about changing that.  I am seeking the will of God for His direction and asking for wisdom in how to share more of ME with YOU.  I began to feel called to do more of this many months ago, I have just been praying about it.  I still don’t have an entirely clear direction and have no idea if this will be one post or a regular thing.  Depends where God leads me.  For now, He has led me here, today.

I hope to offer you more of a glimpse into who I am ~ the wife, the mom, the Christian, the inner city missionary, the friend, the girl.  I receive many emails from readers asking for this, wanting to know more of the woman behind the teaching blog.  I desire to bring this to you as God leads.

I thought I would begin by sharing a simple top ten list. The top 10 areas I struggle most with. 

Sometimes knowing a person’s areas of struggle can give you the clearest window into their heart.  My struggles are my biggest prayers, my most passionate pleas to the Lord.  I pray daily for most of these things and many of them I am desperately seeking to change.

In no particular order, here are my struggles and a bit of my heart behind each one.

  • losing it ~ I often lose it.  For me losing it can mean raising my voice, losing my cool, all out yelling, or just bottled up frustration that doesn’t come out in the best way.  I struggle with self control in this area and unfortunately my precious children suffer because of my sinful nature.  I pray THE MOST about this one. {Awesome book I have read and need to read over and over again: Good and Angry}
  • exercise ~ For this season of life, I just can’t fit it in.  I was never a fanatic but usually much more regular with it.  For now I am at peace with it being a very low exercise period in life, but I don’t like that and I would really love to tone up.  I need sleep and when I tried to fit it in and sacrificed sleep-I was a miserable mess.  It just wasn’t worth it. 
  • being a better friend ~ I am not a natural friend to many.  I take a long time to get close to someone and then I only tend to have a few really close friendships.  I get overwhelmed easily and I feel bad about my tendencies to only focus on the few friends rather than the many that I do have.  I know I can’t do it all, but my heart is burdened for the many friends I don’t talk to enough.
  • being a hermit ~ I am a homebody and for many reasons this is a good thing {e.g., homeschooling}.  But, I tend to hide out if possible and miss social events due to anxiety.  I would much rather be in my own home than anywhere else.
  • hospitality ~  Surprisingly, I struggle in the are of hospitality.  You’d think it would be a gift since I love being in my own home so much! I DO enjoy having people over, being a wonderful hostess just isn’t natural for me, I really have to work at it!
  • checking out ~ When I get overwhelmed with life I just check out.  Mostly mentally, I can lose myself in a cleaning project or something else just to get away from my actual life.  My kids suffer from my tendencies to do this.  I have learned to fight this for the most part, but it is still an ongoing struggle.
  • anxiety ~  This is a biggie for me, which I am sure comes as no surprise after reading a few of the above items.  My anxiety is triggered by a few things, unfortunately most of them coming from my own children.  Noise, feeling smothered {either literally or in proximity}, clutter/messes, and many things happening at once {phone rings, doorbell dings, child cries, siblings fight}.  Most of this is simply daily life with 3 homeschooled children.  It is a constant battle for me.  My anxiety often causes me to check out and lose it , as mentioned above!
  • personal Bible reading ~  I pray constantly, but sitting to read my Bible, alone is my current struggle.  We read the Bible daily together as a family, I read to the kids, and I read as I teach Sunday School and Children’s Church.  BUT, on my own Bible reading doesn’t always happen.  Recently I chose a simple reading plan in my YOU version Bible on my iPad and have followed it almost everyday.  Hopefully it will stick.
  • email, phone calls, mail ~ I struggle majorly with these areas of communication.  I am always behind on answering emails, phone calls, and writing any needed snail mail. Since my blog began to grow and I gained a blog email inbox in addition to that growth, the problem has only become more difficult.  I know there is only one me and I cannot answer every email or call, but I often forget the ones that I NEED to answer-like from my mom. I harbor much guilt in this area also, I hate leaving anyone hanging.
  • cooking, baking ~ My husband is the dinner cook, which works well for our family.  That part isn’t a struggle ~ it is a blessing!  Where I struggle is more in the area of doing fun cooking with my kids and for my family.  Making cookies, baking bread, making muffins, etc.  I desperately wish this was a natural gift of mine, but it is not.  I still pray for God to drop this gift in my lap.

There you have it, the top 10 struggles for me at the moment.  I trust God when He says that if I delight in HIM, He will give me the desires of my heart {link goes to the song we love}.  I pray that I will continue to delight more in Him, that the desires of my heart will be His.

    Do you struggle in any of the same ways I listed above? 

Final Thoughts from Relevant 2010

So, do you think I love my roommate? You can read her thoughts about the conference here and here.jncgiggle


I loved meeting Crystal {Money Saving Mom} and getting to know her better.  Small world to find out we all read each other’s blogs and didn’t know it!j-c-frugal


These 2 ladies rock, I am so honored to have met them IRL and for the time we spent together.  Sara and Tara ~ I look forward to the future ;-).

IMG_8590Sara ~ Happy Brown House,Tara ~ Mommy Missions


My good friend Jill lives close to the conference center so was able to drive in and visit for a few hours on Saturday!  It was awesome to see her and talk for awhile!  She posted about her visit here on her blog!me-c-j


I met Jen within an hour of arriving last Thursday and it was a blast getting to know her!  She is hilarious!j-c-friend


I also loved getting to know Kris {Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers} and although I didn’t get a photo with her, I did take this one!IMG_8606[3]


I was honored to sit in on small group sessions with many of these beautiful ladies below.    IMG_8600


Relevant changed me and I have spent days praying, processing, and talking with my husband {as many attendees have done}.  Ann Voskamp was the final speaker on the last night and God used her in a mighty way.  She said many wonderful things that struck my heart, but I must highlight the one that has stuck with me the most.

She spoke of how a mother duck plucks the feathers from her chest to line her nest.  She doesn’t use discarded feathers, she doesn’t use the worst, she uses the best-and this requires sacrifice.  It is my prayer that I will remember to line my home nest with the best of me, not the leftovers.

I have pages of notes from God’s words spoken through Ann, but that is the one thing that has stuck with me in the most powerful way, I have been in prayer daily over this.

I WILL be going to Relevant 2011 ~ God wiling, and am already excited about it.  It was a weekend filled with Jesus, in a way I never imagined possible at a blogging conference.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I had and pray God will allow me the opportunity again.  I hope to meet a few of you next year! 😉

If you missed my other post about Relevant 2010, you can find it here!

Down for Days…

I got hit with the nasty pregnancy symptom mimicking flu-ish bug last Thursday night. I woke up around 3am and it all began. I finally emerged Monday around 10:30am, and have slowly regained my motor skills. I literally laid in bed for 3 days. It is the only time I have ever felt this sick since I was pregnant with Ladybug {and with Krash}. I had Hyeremesis with both, but much worse with Ladybug. I DON’T miss those days at all, some of the worst ever.

So, I am thankful that this sickness won’t last {I am NOT pregnant} and that I am already feeling about 70% normal again…just still weak from not eating and laying around for days. I am way behind on email and hope to do my best to catch up but it just might not happen. We are in the home stretch of the homeschool room renovations and we also go on a 2 week vacation in a few weeks {1 week at the beach and 1 week visiting our home supporting churches}. Pac Man has begged to get ahead on his lessons so he doesn’t have to take any schoolwork with him, so I am honoring his request and buckling down with him every spare moment. Honestly, I am very proud of him, usually he is a procrastinator. He did well today {I didn’t do any school with him while I was sick}.

BEST part about being sick…seeing my man step into the most amazing MR. MOM EVER. He totally rocks at full-time Daddy-duty.

WORST part about being sick {other than the obvious}…missing out on all of the cuteness for days. I just stared at their faces tonight as we played. It’s amazing how emotional a momma can get just being absent for a few days.

OK-back to catching up with all that was left undone the past few days!!!

The History of 1+1+1=1 ~ Part 2

The History of www.1plus1plus1equals1.pzn0ud6f-liquidwebsites.com

~ The History of 1+1+1=1~ Part 1 ~

~ Part 2 ~

The next big fork in the road on my blog was definitely Tot School. Here is the very first post I wrote about it, which was written in February 2008…just a few months after the blog began. Here was my 2nd Tot School post, where I first mentioned the possibility of a Linky ;-). Here is the first post with Linky, with a big whopping 3 linking up! All ladies that were “friends” of mine through Little Laplinks!

By March of 2008, the Tot School button was born…thanks to Valerie! image She created the button for me and kindly sent it to me. I was so excited and thought it was so cute—I still do! Valerie totally hooked me up as a friend, sharing her talents simply just to be nice. She inspired me to always try my best to be the same way online.

I wrote a post setting a few Tot School guidelines in April 2008, mostly for myself-so I would stick to a schedule. Tot School began posting weekly on Sunday’s then and I have never missed a weekly post! It continued to grow, and grow and evolve into the main portion of my blog. This certainly made sense and was a very comfortable place for me since I am college educated with a degree in early childhood education and am a certified Kindergarten teacher!

Soon I began getting emails and comments from readers, asking for my advice on early childhood issues. I was VERY uncomfortable with this at first. I struggle with pride and humility like any human, and it is something I really work on in my life. I NEVER want to be a know-it-all, and I was very hesitant to offer advice at all. Who did I think I was? But I prayed, talked with my husband and realized that maybe I could offer my thoughts and help someone. Here is the first time I did that publicly.


The invention of the “Tot Book” was the next milestone for this blog. image It was one of my crazy ideas that I went with, and it too has evolved into something much bigger than I ever imagined!


The infamous “Minute-by-Minute” Tot School post was written in August 2008, and was a post I am SO glad I did. I remember it was so hard to do, but I felt led to do it. It is an old post but one that is still a top-visited post here, as I know it helps show the reality that readers need. We are not as picture perfect as we may first seem ;-). I have plans to do another post similar to this one in the fall after we get going. I’d love to give readers a real glimpse into what a day is like balancing Tot School, Preschool, and 3rd grade!


Getting pregnant with Ladybug was another fork in the road for my blog. I opened up here with my post, I am not Supermom. Soon after that post, I had to write another difficult post, entitled-Not What We Expected, which shared the news of my husband being diagnosed with cancer. This blog took much more of a personal turn than I ever expected during the cancer season of our lives. This post was the one that really showed me the value of online friends. You all became VERY REAL to me and my entire family when we all saw the results of our Prayer Geography project. It is at this point that I really realized God had bigger plans for my blog than I ever anticipated. It wasn’t about numbers {for me it never was actually}, it was about people. People were real, even if I only knew them online. I have since met a few online friends in real life, but most of you I only know online. Even more of you feel like you know me, yet I don’t know you at all. I also feel that way about a few bloggers, so I completely understand that.


In December 2008 I introduced the series, “Behind the Scenes”, image

which has turned out to be one of my favorite parts of this blog. It is a place I can reach out in a more random way, either related or totally unrelated to homeschooling. I have since written many posts for this series and I love writing them. I am a nosy person myself and I love details. I write these posts for others who might be out there like me ;-). If you ever have a topic you’d like me to write about, please email me to let me know. I keep a running list of ideas and requests I get. Sometimes I get to them, sometimes I don’t, but I definitely like hearing ideas!

2009 was a big year of transformation for this blog and my online life in general, I will save that for the next post.

Part 3 coming soon {hopefully}…

The History of 1+1+1=1 ~ Part 1

The History of www.1plus1plus1equals1.pzn0ud6f-liquidwebsites.com

I often reflect privately on where God has taken this blog, as it honestly amazes me. I thought it would be something worthy of sharing as I know many of you are either new bloggers or contemplating starting a blog of your own. I share not only for others, but also for myself, as I remind myself of God’s mighty hand. HE has been at work through this blog for years now and I still stand in awe at what He has done and has yet to do. I always pray that I am used by Him online.

This is my story,

how 1+1+1=1 came to be,

how the twists and turns led this blog to where it is today…

I began as a blog reader. I was a reluctant homeschooler, and desperately desiring to feel connected to someone in the same position. I began Googling like crazy trying to find homeschooling blogs. Little by little, I stumbled upon great blogs and began to just soak in the information I found.

Awhile after being a blog reader {and never a commenter…I was most definitely a blog lurker}, I found Valerie. I can’t even remember how, but I found her. Back then she had a different blog, “Little Blots of Faith” and she was starting a new meme called Little Laplinks. This is the main reason I set up a blog. It occurred to me that I was taking so much from the blogosphere, that it would be nice to give back in some way. So, I set up this blog as a way to share our lapbooks. That was the ONLY intent I ever had with this blog. I joined in with Little Laplinks here with my first post in October 2007. I began to share whatever I thought might possibly help someone else. I met a few friends online, most of whom I am still “friends” with today. Most of my very first blogging buddies were Little Laplinks participants. Little Laplinks went on for awhile and then fizzled out {although I fizzled out before it did if I remember correctly!}.

I soon began sharing a few lapbook templates on a website I created quickly as a stem off of the website I ran for our church. I already knew how to build a website, and already knew Photoshop {I was a photographer} so creating was something I could do, and already having access to a website meant I could share easily. The name of my site was simply “Lapbooks by Carisa.” As I said, I never had any other intentions with this blog or the site! Needless to say, God had MUCH bigger ideas than I did!!!

Side note ~ the name of the blog was NOT a long thought-out process. It was a quick thought, which must have been totally from the Lord. I remember thinking, I wanted something that could make people think and wonder and then possibly lead them to inquire and possibly learn more about the Lord! At first I thought the name was silly {and I know some still do}, but I just went with it. I certainly never thought the blog would grow as it has, so the name didn’t really matter too much ;-). In hindsight, I am so glad I went with it, as I love the name and the symbolism of it. If you’ve never read what the meaning is, you can see that here. I also selected 3 colors I liked and made those my blog’s colors. I never have changed those, and probably never will-they are a part of who I am online ;-).

Read Part 2 here!