Monday, May 28, 2012

My High Maintenance Children

Someone said something to me a few years ago and for some reason, it's popped back into my mind.  Funny how that can be, isn't it?  I don't even know the person who said it and will never see her again.  Well, never say never, but I do think I have a better chance of being knocked out by a falling coconut in winter than ever again crossing paths with the woman.

We were on a cruise, one of those where you don't have assigned seating - you just show up and sit with different people each night at dinner.  This type of arrangement has its pluses and minuses. Around the table that evening sat a newly married couple, two friends on a special birthday trip, and my husband and me.  The conversation was awkward because the more we talked, the more it became clear that none of the pairs had much in common with each other.  The two friends had left their husbands and pre-teen children for the week so they could celebrate one of them turning 40.  They talked a lot about themselves and their lives, and pretty soon, one of the ladies started talking about her son.  She was complaining that her husband would have a whim to get the son interested in a new sport, and foolishly spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on equipment before he knew if the son had the talent or even any desire for the new endeavor.  The lastest sports-spending binge was for hockey.  She said he spent two thousand dollars in one afternoon buying equipment for their son.  And she lamented that in a few months, the son would be bored and move on to something else.

The conversation turned to something else, as things always go, and eventually I started talking about my own children.  They were three and two (or maybe two and one, I don't remember).   We must have been marveling at our beautiful plates of food at the time because I found myself explaining that it was interesting how much more my daughter would eat at mealtime if I spent a few extra minutes making her food look pretty.  For example, when serving cheese, instead of cutting it into squares, I would use cute cookie cutters and make little shapes.  Or if I cut her apples into french fry shapes instead of wedges, she liked that too.  I mentioned (somewhat ironically, I suppose, considering our environment at the time) how peculiar it is how picky children can be.  I mean, it's the same cheese, right?

Anyway, the woman with the spend-thrift husband looked at me and scowled and said, "Wow.  Sounds like she's pretty High Maintenance."

Ahem.  What?

I looked at my husband and my husband looked at me and we didn't say a whole lot more through our last bite of dessert.

And after dinner, we shook our heads.   How could SHE accuse ME of having a high maintenance child?  It's a stinking piece of cheese, for goodness sakes.

It doesn't matter.  This conversation happened a while ago.   But for some reason, it crossed the path of my mind today and I realized something.

My children are indeed high maintenance.  They need hugs every day.  Meals every few hours.  Life-giving words of encouragement constantly. They need baths and clothes and fresh air and books.  They need someone to play with them even when there's laundry and dishes and bills and housework. They need someone to clean their dirty laundry and read to them even when we're too tired. They need a mom and dad who love each other, who stick together no matter what, for the sake of their family and the generations to come.  They need someone to tell them when they've done wrong and need to repent.  They need someone to read to them, to discipline them, to encourage them.  To teach them, to lead them, to disciple them, to let them go. To model forgiveness.  To pray for them.

I wish I could go back in time and change the way I reacted to the woman at dinner.  I would say, "Yes, you are right!  She is high maintenance.  And my son is too.  From tending to every milk mustache and skinned knee to every meal or adventure I prepare for them, I consider it all joy.  It's a calling and I love it."

My children are so high maintenance.  They're that important.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mommy, Do You Own Me?

My daughter asked a profound and random question yesterday morning: "Do you own me?"
She was surprised with my answer, "no, you own yourself." I think I blew her mind a little.

I didn't anticipate getting this deep at age 6, but here we are!

The idea of parents owning children conversation started again today, but instead of coming in the form of a question, I got a heated accusation.  As in, you can't tell me what to don't own me.  Woah.  Talk about sass. How do I gracefully respond?

Little one, it's true...I can't buy you or sell you.  You're not property. I keep you here because you are a gift from God to our family and I love you.  There's nothing you can do to change how much I love you.  However, owning yourself bears responsibility. You are responsible for your own behavior and choices, to the extent of your knowledge and awareness up to this point.  And every behavior and choice has a consequence.  My job is to love, guide, protect, and instruct you and your job is to trust me until you're old enough to be on your own.

Friday, September 23, 2011

But . . . Are They Socialized?


In my life this week . . . I'm adjusting to our full schedule of activities and have to admit I am quite surprised at how much faster time seems to fly lately.  Seriously, it was just last Thursday, when I was wondering how in the world it was already almost Friday and now . . . it's already the next Friday and I feel as though I haven't had a chance to catch my breath.  It's been a great week, though, with lots of laughs and time with friends.

This week as I sleep at night, I dream elaborately and deeply.  I was telling a friend yesterday that it's like I am down in a pit and when I wake up I have to climb out of it.  Could it be what I'm eating?  We have been consuming a lot more treats lately!   I remember, as a little girl, Cookie Monster's warning not to eat cookies before bed or you might have bad dreams.  Maybe he is smarter than he lets on.

And speaking of too many treats, I have an idea I'm tossing around my head.  We've had birthdays and celebrations around here for the last several weeks and have become closely re-aquainted with our sweet teeth.  The kids are relentless in their requests for candies and sweets.  What if I make up some Treat Cards and each week each person gets THREE (adults included!!).  If we use them, then fine.  We will still be eating less treats than we are now.  If we save our cards, we can use them toward something more fun than a sweet.   Maybe three unused Treat Cards could earn one major prize.  Like a movie at the movie theater!   Or a special trip to the park.  I'll have to think this one through a little more and IF we do it, I'll let you know how it goes.  

In our homeschool this week . . .  We went on an amazing field trip to Thomas Jefferson's lesser known plantation, Poplar Forest.  We learned how to write with a real quill pen, mold bricks and make clay marbles, as well as discovered many interesting facts about the man who called his outhouse a "necessary."   We learned Jefferson was something like $107,000 in debt when he died in 1826.  That's about $2,035,000 in today's money!  Was he the founding father of the American tradition of living beyond our means?  He built everything in symmetry and did physical exercises every day with his daughter.   One time a pregnant woman, someone Jefferson didn't really know all that well, came to dinner at his home in Monticello, had the baby and stayed there for three months.   Things were mighty different back then.  Or were they? Hmm.

Charlie gets the brick molds ready.

Miriam practices writing with a real quill pen.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share . . .  Using mini marshmallows to do kindergarten math is motivating and effective. (Although, see a couple of paragraphs above and understand that we probably won't do it too often again.) 

Questions I have . . . Does anyone else have a daughter as dramatic as mine?  

I am inspired by . . .  all the cool stuff I see on Pinterest.  I'm trying not to make it a new addiction to add to my collection.  But it's so fun!

Places we're going and people we're seeing . . . Everywhere and everyone!  It's been a very social week.  Monday was Classical Conversations, frozen yogurt at Sweet Bee's, Walmart (where the kids ran into some Awana friends), dance class (where Charlie met a friend who helped him construct a new lego set) and BSF for Glenn and Miriam.   Tuesday was BSF for Charlie and me, while Miriam went for her weekly girl time with her buddies for the morning.  Wednesday we had a surprise visit from a friend and went to church to help set up supper and go to Awana.  Thursday we had our field trip with CC friends and then today we got to stop by a friend's house for tea.  Tomorrow we've been invited to dinner with some dear friends at their home and I'm very excited about it!  We don't often get invited places . . . sometimes I get the feeling people think we're a bit weird!  

Are we?  

A bit weird? 

It's okay, we know . . .

My favorite thing this week . . . The kids completed two math assessments perfectly and I wish you could have seen how excited they were!  High fives all around.

What's working for us . . . A lot of tweaking and tinkering around with the schedule has been going on here and I've found that focusing on one to two major subjects a day works best for my kids.  I know, I know they need to be able to go from one thing to the other one day when they have jobs and when they are in high school and college.  But right now they are barely 5 and 6.  We're doing what works for them now and will add in the wilder scheduling later when they can handle it.  Today we focused on reading.  Yesterday was history.  The day before was math and geography.  

Things I'm working on . . . smiling at my husband more, for no particular reason.

Things I'm reading . . . Believe it or not, I am still wading through Julie and Julia.  Two weeks later.

I'm cooking . . . this ridiculously wonderful bread.   I had to laugh that while the bread was baking, I was doing an aerobics video.  Somehow, I felt counterproductive! 

I'm grateful for . . . how God never fails to show my kids how great He is.  Today I almost busted my grain mill because it was clogged and I didn't know what to do. So I prayed over it.  (Do you think I'm crazy?  I don't!)  When I figured out how to fix it and it worked again easily and immediately, my daughter's eyes shone into mine as she sweetly said, "God blessed us!"  Indeed!  I figured it out, but God gave me this brain and intuition, so all the praise and thanks go to Him.

I'm praying for . . . wisdom to know if we should cut out any activities from our schedule.   

A photo to share . . .
The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Up To My Eyeballs, Almost Literally

I'm up to my eyeballs in everything this week and should be in bed, but here is a quick wrap up of our week. 

In my life this week . . . I'm trying not to panic.  I have so much to do with what seems like little time, but I will not succumb to worrying about it.  "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you" is my mantra this week. 

My baby boy turned five on Tuesday but he is convinced that he won't be five until his party tomorrow.  This is fine with me.

In our homeschool this week . . . I had a realization about math.  The kids were getting frustrated with the curriculum going so slowly over every concept, over and over, ad nauseum, so we are skipping ahead to assesments and going from there.  It's amazingly freeing to do this and is one of the beauties of homeschooling.  Why would I make my kids sit and be bored with a subject when there is absolutely no reason for it?  We move on when we are ready and can sit and simmer on a topic whenever that is needed as well.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share . . .  It's hard to exhibit the fruits of the spirit to the children when I haven't eaten. Take care of your basic needs. Get enough protein and sleep. As I write this, it's almost 12:30 in the morning and I'm pretty hopped up on birthday goodie sugar, so you might want to take whatever advice I have with a grain of salt.

Questions I have . . . Why do I always overcommit myself?  Just what am I trying to prove?

My favorite thing this week . . . watching the kids go crazy with legos.  Charlie sleeps with his creation of the day each night.  He keeps it on a tray right next to his pillow.

What's working for us . . . remembering to use encouraging, life affirming words toward each other.

Things I'm reading . . . the same books as last week. 

I'm cooking . . . food that I know is good and not worrying about what the family says about it.     

I'm grateful for . . . my little lawnmower and trying not to wish I had a bigger, faster riding one.  Little Red will have to do for now.  

I'm praying for . . . true friendship for my daughter and for my son to be brave enough to eat what I place before him.

A photo to share . . .

The monster alien eyeballs cake...four layers of chocolate, sugar and butter,
guaranteed to whirl the birthday party into
a time of good old fashioned sugar induced mania.

 A video to share . . .

and the Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do Not Worry, Oh Do Not Worry!

In my life this week . . . All week long, the lilting melody of a  particular Seeds Family Worship scripture song has been running through my head . . . It's simply Matthew 6:31-34.

"Do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?'  or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

I've read this passage countless times and finally finally finally get it.  Oh sure, I understood it before, but now I finally get it.    As in, I see how it completely applies to my life right now and how I can apply it so my family will thrive more.  And it has nothing to do with actual food, beverages or clothes for me.  It has to do with trusting God to meet my needs, whether they be the most basic ones listed, or more complicated ones.  As for the word trouble, you can read that in an Eeyore voice and start feeling pretty sorry for yourself.  But I tend to think of it more like this.  Each day is a gift, with lots of moments that you can pay attention to or choose to ignore.  Some of them are pleasant, some not so much, but we need to be present in all of them.  I can't check out of right now because I am too busy worrying about tomorrow.  What good will that do?  Tomorrow can just, well, worry about itself!   It's kind of like holding a grudge . . . the only one it's really hurting is you.

Our school schedule has been done and redone and done some more and I often feel that when I veer from my original, new, revised plan that I have somehow failed.   So I make another new plan to which I promise myself I will strictly adhere.  But then my kids' skills-interest-needs-whathaveyous change and I'm all aflutter again. 

This week I have taken a lot of time to pause. To be thankful.  To remember why we're homeschooling and why we're here.  I've taken time to squeeze my kids and enjoy their laughter (and a few tears - we had one long, difficult day).  When I've wanted to linger over my schedule, I have simply just not.   I've chosen not to worry about it.  We are going to learn, have fun and love each other . . . and that's it.  It doesn't have to be as complicated as I like to make things.

It's been a lovely, peaceful week that started sweetly, got a little lumpy a couple of times in the middle and then ended sweetly.  Like a neat little sandwich.

In our homeschool this week . . . My favorite day was Tuesday. One child up was early, one up quite late, but what a blessing to spend sweet time with my son alone.  We had an argument at bedtime, something about blankets not being straight enough and I did not have the patience he needed from me, so snuggle time, coloring together and listening to quiet music softened the morning.  My daughter woke up at 10am, so very late, but she was exhausted and needed the rest.  She got dressed, fixed her own breakfast and sunk into the couch with us to enjoy our first devotional from Our 24 Family Ways.  The challenge today is to find a practical way to love God with all of our hearts, souls and minds . . . we decided to withhold anger and retaliation from each other when we feel hurt.  In other words, if one child snatches a toy, the other child will not smack her in revenge, not because we know better, but because we want to show love and grace to one another in order to glorify our heavenly Father. 

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share . . . I realized that I need to remember my little son is male . . . that he needs his body to be busy but also needs space, downtime and an opportunity to decompress . . . much like a grown man.  Oh, woe is me, should I try to baby my little man in training. 

Also, write out the schedule in pencil. It will change.  And that's okay.

Questions I have . . . How much longer will it take me to fully loose myself from the school equals buns in seats mentality?  It is a constant struggle and I don't understand why!  Or maybe I do.  It might be surely is fear of failure, concern over other people's impressions of my family and my lack of confidence.

I am inspired by . . . Seeds Family Worship.  I love their music.  I love what they do.  I love that when you buy a CD, you get two -- one to keep and one to give a friend.

Places we're going and people we're seeing . . . My cousins-in-law and their dog visited last weekend and so did my husband's best friend.  It was a huge blessing for the guys to hang out. 

Today we got to meet a new little girl at our co-op and my daughter is having an after lunch girls-only playdate.  We also stopped at the post office and decorated three packages with at least fifty 17 cent stamps.  The recipients will get a laugh when the packages are delivered, but seriously! They keep changing the postage rates and I need the old stamps out of my piles.  Finally, we treated ourselves to a lunch of soft pretzels and lemonade at a local farmer's market. 

My favorite thing this week . . . Nine years ago, we bought an old house, fixed it up a little, moved in, fixed it up a lot more, moved (almost two years ago), finished fixing up the house and now it is finally on the market.  After being officially listed for just over a day, we have already had several people view the house!  I know it looks good . . . my husband has amazing vision . . . and I think it is priced right.  We will see!

What's working for us . . .  Number 7 on Ann Voskamp's list of 10 Grace Prayers for Joyful Parenting.   "Just for today, I will ask for His grace, the moment when I am most repelled by a child's behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child." 

Things I'm working on . . . Not getting caught up in bedtime, being more purposeful in sitting and reading chapter books and history books aloud to my children while they play on the floor, letting the mess stay where it is in exchange for moments with my children.

Things I'm reading . . . One night this week I went to the library by myself for the first time in at least 10 years.  Don't tell anyone, but I spent at least ten minutes just wandering around smelling the books.  I checked out three titles: The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and Coming Attractions by Fannie Flagg.  I was so excited about Coming Attractions because I had never heard of it and thought I was going to get to read another great novel by one of my favorite southern authors until my husband pointed out that Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man is the exact same book.  I felt a little sheepish about that one.   I think I can read the two books in two weeks if I turn off the television, but it's more likely I will be renewing them twice so I can have them for six weeks!

I'm cooking . . . with my children. 

I'm grateful for . . . slightly improved vision, spiritually speaking . . . the ability and opportunity to homeschool . . . friends who call me just to talk through things.

I'm praying for . . . for my husband to do well at work in the next few crucial weeks.  What happens this month and next will set the tone for the next six months.

A photo to share . . .

I caught everyone having a little reading time on Monday after our guests left. They must have been craving quiet.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Rest, Refresh, Reset

In my life this week…I'm relishing calm.  Getting into the groove of cooking again.  Making large dents in looming projects.

In our homeschool this week…We started a weeklong break on Tuesday.  Time to refresh, complete projects, hang out and just be.  We have read a ton of books, worked and played.

I am inspired byAnn Voskamp.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeingClassical Conversations with our wonderful friends on Monday, a new friend for Charlie today, cousins for the weekend

My favorite thing this week was…my daughter now knows how to make microwave popcorn.  She is so proud of herself.

What’s working/not working for us… Using a whispering voice when my children are arguing is working. More snuggles are working a lot.  Hiding out in the bathroom to pray for my daughter's character and attitude is working wonders.  Comparing myself to other moms is not working out so well.

Questions/thoughts I have…Am I doing it right? I know, there's no answer for that.   It's not even a valid question.  

Things I’m working onpatience, friendships, a playroom for my kids, lesson plans for the next few weeks

I’m reading…a curriculum book for my little Kindergarten Sunday School class.  We start a new school year this Sunday and my son will be in class with me

I’m cooking…in my crockpot again.

I’m grateful for…daily grace.

I’m praying for…the right balance for my daughter's extracurricular activities and the ability to release the things I cannot control. 

A quote to share
"Homemaking is about making a home, not about making perfection.  A perfect home is an authentic, creative, animated space where Peace and Christ and Beauty are embraced.  {Perfect does not equate to immaculate.}" - Ann Voskamp

A photo to elated children with the octopus in the playroom

Linked up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap Up

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
linked up with The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, August 26, 2011

Short and Sweet - Week in Review

Do you ever notice that time goes faster on some days than others, whether you are having a ball . . . or not? This week was full of really fast days, almost as if the second hand was ticking at double speed.  It was a good week though.

Monday we had our first session of Classical Conversations for the school year. The kids have not looked forward to this in any way since last year, but since Mom knows better, we planned to do it again regardless. My daughter is in my class and my son has a new tutor this time. After our four hours together, the kids had changed their tunes and thankfully are very excited about the rest of the year. We covered history, science, math, Bible, Latin, geography, English grammar, drawing, public speaking -- and socialization -- so we came home and played for the rest of the afternoon.

On Tuesday Charlie woke up like this.
He was so offended that I dared suggest we do a reading lesson when I had no homemade chocolate cupcakes in the house. We did some of our schoolwork early and headed to the doctor for the annual well-child visit for both kids. We did not touch ANYTHING while at the doctor's office and ate an extra gummy vitamin, just in case. Afterward, we met Daddy for cheese pizza at Costco and then headed to a friend's house to play a while. Leftover schoolwork was finished before dinner. After dinner I moved my workspace to a more centrally located spot in the house. It's the best thing I did all week.

On Wednesday morning, while his sister and daddy were still asleep, Charlie helped me make those chocolate cupcakes.

We had two successes for Wednesday. Number One: We figured out if I write all of Miriam's reading lesson words on a dry erase board, we have a much better, more focused lesson. And Number Two: We had friends over and the little girls didn't fight.  In fact, we didn't see them for four hours, save the five minutes they came downstairs to gobble up freshly iced cupcakes and yummy sugar-sprinkled cookies.  I will not mention the part about how my daughter snuck a glass of milk upstairs on purpose and then accidentally spilled it on the carpet. 

Thursday brought us the new behavior chart, which we found free here at Heart of Wisdom. It is wonderful. All I have to say is "go move your clip to yellow" and boy, do they ever shape up.
For my own heart training, I posted this abiding mom chart on the fridge to gently remind myself how to be . . . as opposed to how to mother, how to act, how to do.
(find one to print for yourself here)
And Friday we started our next big project, "Operation Awesome Playroom." The kids are so excited that we are turning our guest room into a playroom that they have camped there for the last two nights. They are hoping I will make the transformation while they sleep, but they are mistaken this time. We "did school" all morning and had a wonderful time learning about Maine. Did you know that Maine produces more toothpicks than any other state? One hundred million a day to be exact.  Miriam really gets a thrill out of showing little brother the things she has learned. 

Tonight we went to a picnic at a lovely park with our Classical Conversations group. All of the other children were dressed in play clothes, but mine showed up all dolled up (their choice). Somehow they had it in their heads this was a formal occasion.   I took the opportunity to snap a couple of cute photos, of course.

I feel like I blinked and this wonderful week is gone.   But there is grace and hope in tomorrow and I will savor it!

I'm linking up with the Weird, Unsocialied Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap Up!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Crispy, Cheesy Waffles

This recipe makes enough for my family of four, but it is easily doubled, tripled . . . quadrupled? ;)

Crispy, Cheesy Waffles
Prepare the Sour Milk:
2 T. apple cider vinegar plus enough milk to make 2 cups (let this sit for 5 minutes)

Combine Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cups flour (We have a grain mill and love the taste of freshly ground flour the best!  You can use whatever flour you have on hand. Substituting 1/2 c. of cornmeal is a delicious twist.)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 1/4 t. baking powder

Combine Wet Ingredients
2 c. sour milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup oil or butter
2 eggs

Combine wet and dry ingredients (just enough and not too much!) until most of the lumps are gone.

Butter waffle iron.  Pour enough batter to fill your waffle iron about 2/3 full and sprinkle cheddar cheese or fiesta cheese blend on top. We use a Belgian waffle maker for this and it yields a very crispy, fluffy waffle.  When the waffle is ready, place it on a cooling rack for a few seconds to keep it from getting soggy.  You do not need a fork for this.  Just pick it up and eat it with your hands. I eat mine right off the cooling rack . . .

If cheese is not your thing, omit it and throw some butter and pure maple syrup on your plate.  And use a fork, please.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Never An Extra Ordinary Day

Every day is a little different at the Sprout Schoolhouse but let me tell you first about the similarities. 
1.  We always get out of bed.
2.  We always eat breakfast.

Other that these two items, nothing is ever the same.  Some might consider this unwholesome, loosey-goosey or downright bad for the children.  But we don't - variety is the spice of life! We have busted out of the "bottoms in chairs for X amount of hours" paradigm that public, and many private, schools embrace.  We don't want our children to grow up to be content to sit at a desk all day . . . we want them to discover a passion for living that grows outside of the proverbial box.

Here's the thing. My husband owns his own business and he is free to work whatever 70 hours a week he wants . . . it's very flexible.  Sometimes he works late and sleeps in.  Other times he goes in early and comes home early.  Then there are the days he takes off spontaneously and we go to an amusement park or something else equally fun. And then there are the days when he goes in early and keeps working until way past everyone's bedtime.  Like tonight, for example.

So, when Daddy is home, we hang out with him.  We try to do what he wants to do and we bask in the glow of the whole family being together. 

I'll tell you what my ideal "school day" is like and then I'll tell you what really happens.  Ideally, we wake up at 7am.  I, already showered, dressed and had my quiet time before the rest of the family, have my coffee that I set up the night before while the children get dressed, brush their teeth and come downstairs to a nice breakfast of cold cereal and fresh fruits.  We all eat together as a family and have a time of devotional and perhaps listen to some praise music to start our day.  Daddy goes out the door for work and the kids run out to the front porch to wave and yell their goodbyes to him.  The kids come inside and we start our schoolwork.  First we pray for the day and mark the calendar.  The kids check their first workboxes and find a fun activity inside, an activity I have carefully and lovingly prepared the week night before. We move on to a reading lesson, then math.  Another workbox with something fun inside. A craft or puzzle, perhaps.  While one child is working with me, the other one quietly works alone. Three hours later, we are finished and eat a delicious homemade lunch.  School is over for the day and we can focus on chores, fun and activities outside the house.  The children are in bed by 7:30 and the adults by 9:30, gearing up for another full day.

And now here is what really happens.  Since we (the adults) stayed up until midnight-thirty last night, we are tired.  A small boy wakes me up by poking me in the forehead repeatedly and then pushes my glasses onto my face all haphazard-like while pulling my arms out of bed and saying, "Mommy, it's morning time.  Get up.  I need to get downstairs so I can have the first waffle." 

Waffle?  Don't you mean corn flakes? 

"Mommy, please make me a waffle.  You promised."  Pouty lips turned into a square.

I trudge downstairs, trying not to fall as the little person is still pulling my arm to guide me where he needs me to go.  There's nothing he can make me do before I pee, so I head to the bathroom and forget to lock the door.  He follows me in and gives me a great big bear hug.  While I'm going. Thanks, little guy.

I've forgotten to set up the coffee maker the night before so I am fumbling around with that.  I check my email and get completely distracted.  Oh yeah, I was suppposed to be drinking coffee.  I pour myself a cup and down it.  Feeling better, starting to feel ready to take on the day, I go back to my distracting email and eventually notice that Charlie has been very quiet.  He is curled up on the big blue chair, wrapped in a blanket, petting the dog, completely naked.  His pajamas are under the coffee table.

I realize I need more coffee.

I fill my cup and start rearranging books in the school room.  Meanwhile, I forget to make waffles. And I don't hear my husband get up. He comes downstairs for his breakfast and I am just standing there with no food.

"Oh, good morning.  Uhhhhh.  Let me get you some eggs."  Daddy gets on his computer to check his distracting email.  I bring him his eggs and he asks me if I did anything different to them today.  "Why? Is there something wrong with them?"  "No. They just taste funny." 

"Mommy!  My waffles!"  Oh, sorry.  I tell him we can have waffles for lunch (I promise) and offer him some yogurt.

A familiar noise shouts out to me.  It is my daughter and she can't figure out how to get out of the bed.  I tell her to get up, get some clothes on and get downstairs because Daddy needs to get to work.  It is 9:30 after all.  She still can't figure out how to get herself out of bed, so I go up to help.  I offer her a dress.  "I don't like that one."  How about this one?  "It doesn't fit." How about this one? "It feels funny." But you liked it two days ago . . . Eventually she is dressed and I realized that I am very hungry.  Why didn't I make myself some eggs?  Everyone is dressed so we head downstairs in time to see Daddy before he heads to work.  He asks me if I have any lunch for him to take.  "Uhhhhh. Yes, I can give you a ham sandwich."  No, he would rather go out for lunch today.  We say our goodbyes. 

It is now 10:15.  Three hours of school plus 10:15am . . . that puts us at almost 1:30 to finish if we don't stop for lunch until we're through.  We can do it. 

We have a devotional and my kids tell me it is not as boring as they thought it would be. We pray for the day, that we will learn and love and glorify God in what we do. We dance around the kitchen to the CD from summer Vacation Bible School.  We check our calendar and read a couple of books.  I remember there are wet sheets to wash and go upstairs to take care of it.  I come back down to find the children playing with their rock collection.  They're getting along, so I don't interrupt. 

The phone rings and I get off course. Again, with the distracting email.

By now it is lunchtime so we eat. I notice a strong smell and decided we better work on the pile of brown and black spotted bananas waiting on the counter.  One kid peels some, cuts them and puts them in a bag in the freezer.  Both kids help make banana muffins.  They mash, measure, stir and watch the oven like little hawks so they can tell me when the muffins are perfect. 

Although we have just eaten lunch, we stuff ourselves with warm banana muffins.

We take turns with reading lessons and sort of behave.  Charlie climbs on the back of the couch and watches his sister intently.  He looks forward to being able to read all of those hard words like her . . . goats, sock, little . . .  She gets frustrated and pretends that she is suddenly incredibly nearsighted.  She can't read the words unless her nose is firmly affixed to the page.  I get frustrated and remind her that she wants to learn how to read. 

She finishes her lesson and we start on math.  They love math and are good at it, so this time is pleasant for all of us. Sometimes we ditch the textbook and play a fun game instead. 

We plan to do history and Latin today, but the kids are more interested in coming up with their own science experiments, so we go with that instead. I pull out my tidy planner and mark it up with all kind of changes. 

We take some time to sing our history songs, and Latin songs, and science songs.

I remember my rotting laundry from hours ago.  It still smells so I wash it again in our new-fangled low water washer.  I remind myself that it takes water to get clothes clean and that if I could go back in time, I would have kept my old washer.

I come downstairs and find the children snuggling on the couch, watching a cartoon.  I leave them there and do some chores.  They get bored and play outside.  They take turns spinning the composter and compete on the swings.  Who can swing the highest?  It's a tie.

My son, almost five, comes to me and wants me to hold him.  I gaze into his eyes for five minutes, taking in the wonder of who he is.  These days are truly precious.

I make dinner and we hop in the van to take some to Daddy.  He's in his busy season and can't take a long break to eat.  Covered in drywall mud and paint, he eats standing up and shows the kids how to put up bathroom tiles.  They can't wait to grow a little bigger so they can do it too.

It's 8:30 and we arrive back home, just in time to read books and get the kids in bed by 9:00.  One child's head hits the pillow and he is asleep.  The other child tells me she cannot sleep without one more story, one more stuffed animal, one more hug, one more kiss  . . .

I head downstairs to plan for tomorrow and relax and reflect on the day. 

I wonder if we did enough.

I remember that we covered some major areas . . . reading, math, Bible, memory work, play.

I remember that my children are each other's best friends and had time play together and love the family today.

I remember that my children love to learn and are able entertain themselves.  And that it's a vital skill.

I remember that I haven't taught my children how to stand in a line.  We'll get to that eventually . . .

I remember why we are doing this.

And I remember that I forgot to make those waffles.  (But I definitely don't remember to set up the coffee for tomorrow.)

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