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

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