Monday, August 30, 2010

A Rant...

Fascinating post that tells the story of a family's journey to heal their son's autism.

As an aside, (basically unrelated to the post, I know nothing about the author's spiritual leanings) I find it interesting and strange that "natural" medicine is often only embraced by people with a New Age world view, and is often outright rejected by Christians. If we believe that God created our bodies in amazing ways, then we ought to believe that our bodies can be healed if we will only work with them in the way God intended them to work. As it is, the people who think we evolved from apes have more faith in our bodies' Very strange. Very backward.

I have a child who I firmly believe would have been diagnosed autistic, if it hadn't been for avoiding vaccines and being diagnosed with gluten intolerance early. She has a sensitive system, moreso than most perhaps. But, sooner or later, the onslaught of chemicals and toxins we can be exposed to on a daily basis is sure to catch up with even the strongest ones.

This doesn't mean we live in fear. I think it's very common for this to lead to fear-based decisions for our children. Our children are still in God's hands, no matter how many "best" choices we make for them. But it does mean keeping our eyes open. It means paying attention, not just accepting the status quo. And I think it means never giving up on finding answers to the health issues our children may have. Never settling into a sense of "this is the way it has to be." That's not a comfortable way to live, I can say from firsthand experience. But our kids are too precious, have too much to accomplish in the world that needs them, for us to give up and allow them to function at a level that is lower than they were intended to function. Never give up. There are answers. There have to be. God works miracles every day.

OK. Who else needs the soapbox today?

Friday, August 27, 2010


Something I've been wrestling with a lot lately, is indecision over what I should throw my energy into each day. Laundry? Cleaning? Take the kids to the library? Get the grocery shopping done so we don't have to do it when Daddy's home? Sit down and read to the kids? Plan some field trip? Work on the free photo book I want to order? Meal planning? Or should I just throw caution (and nap time) to the wind, and go hang out with a friend?

I'm fully able to accomplish what I put my energy into for the day, but I can't do everything. I often stop and pray for direction but sometimes don't get any specific instructions.

What about you? How do you decide where to spend your energy?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiny Chicken Eggs

See that cute little yolk? One of our baby chicks from last spring just started laying! :)

Workbook discoveries

We did workbooks today for school. The principles of Charlotte Mason discourage long hours of book work for children of this age, instead encouraging you to stick to short (like, 20 minutes) periods of time that will allow the child to pay attention for the entire time and therefore develop habits of paying attention rather than getting frustrated or drifting off mentally. I think we adults could use some practice of a similar type!

Anyway, this kind of work is new enough to my kids and they are still curious enough that once we start, they don't want to stop! That's a good thing!

Things I noticed today:

-Hannah recognizes all her numbers but cannot yet write them well. That's a pleasant surprise to me, since we haven't focused on learning them at all. The writing part is completely in-keeping with a CM philosophy. Writing comes as their hand-eye coordination develops - sometimes not till 6 or 7, depending on the kid. She seems to be drawn more to numbers than letters. What do I do with a math kid? I suspect she and her Daddy will spend lots of quality time enjoying math together. :)

-Teaching opposites is kind of hard! I'm pretty good at finding other ways of describing things, considering I've been teaching piano for 15+ years...but that one had me baffled a bit today. Eventually I just pointed out the answers, trusting that over time the concept would catch on. Then we moved on to something else.

-Audrey did well with colors - choosing the right color crayon to color the picture. She had a little trouble remembering green and purple for awhile, but it came easily today.

Yesterday we were all so tired of being cooped up in the apartment that we went to my parents and played outside for awhile. It was time to focus on P.E. for the day. :) The girls also did a bit of yoga with me this morning. That's always entertaining.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spiritual Directors

This post brought tears to my eyes tonight. The thing that will make the greatest impact on our kids is to know the presence of God. No amount of training, nagging, or discipline will replace it. How are we inviting the presence of God into our homes and demonstrating it for our children?

Remember Who You Are

We had a rough day around here yesterday. Fussy baby, restless kids who kept fighting and getting in trouble, and a grouchy mommy (me!) who needed an attitude adjustment. There wasn't much school accomplished, though I did manage to park us in front of a library video about Beethoven before naptime. Audrey promptly fell asleep. I guess it was boring. :)

Once we got the kids put to bed last night, Nick went to bed too because he's fighting off a cold. Suddenly, at 9:30pm, the house was quiet and I was alone! Nick and I are leading worship on Sept 5th, (come worship with us!) and I'm in charge of the song list this time, so I found myself working on that. In the midst of worshipping and trying out songs, I heard God whisper, "You forgot who you are, today." Well, that would explain a thing or two...

Who am I? Well, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am called to worship leadership. I went through a long period of time that I doubted that, but I feel like I'm waking up again after a long sleep. I know that through relationship with God I'm completely forgiven and covered with the blood of Jesus. God doesn't love me less because I mess up, or more when I do well. My behavior or achievement has no bearing on my relationship with God. I know that God has called me to raise my children, and that He will equip Nick and me to do that. I have a Divine calling, and I'm Divinely equipped. This creates a confidence - not in my own abilities, because as soon as I trust those I fall flat on my face - but on Who God is in my life and what He is asking me to do. It's a moment by moment reliance on Him.

I'll be the first to say...I don't do this steadily. But I'm learning. And I'm determined to get there. This is the only way I know how to parent. Prior to discovering that I am a better parent when I lean on God, I was a mess. This parenting thing is far harder than I can manage in my own strength.

I love the story of Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles. She had 19 children and the story goes that she often couldn't find a private place to pray. (I know the feeling, and I only have 3!) So she developed a habit of pulling her apron up over her head. The kids played around her feet but knew not to disturb her, and she was in that "secret place" where she could be refreshed. I don't think I'll start wearing an apron for this purpose (although I have seen some cute ones!), but the principle stands. As moms, we have to do whatever it takes to find that refreshing we need, or we will have nothing to offer our families.

The calling of God on our lives gives us dignity and confidence and poise. If you know you're a princess, you act like one! (Can you tell I have three little girls?)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. - 2 Peter 1:3

How do we get everything we need? Through knowledge of Him who has called us! So without that knowledge, we do NOT have everything we need. It's really kinda arrogant to think that we do have everything we need, apart from knowledge of Him. On the other hand, if we know Him, we should be confident and enthusiastic about life. He's promised everything we need!

So...this is easy to say and harder to walk out. Think I'll go get started...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This is the morning we had...

Attempting to salvage the rest of the day...

Someone Please Explain This

My children, while still holding their breakfast in their hand, or still having a full plate, will ask for a snack.

AHHH!!! *Runs away to hide in the closet*

Monday, August 23, 2010

My kids LOVE this site...

On Loving and Respecting Our Kids

Something that I woke up thinking about this morning:

I remember when I was a kid, people would often ask my mom why she didn't put us in school. She had many reasons, I'm sure, but the one reason I remember her giving the most often was this: I love my kids. I want them with me. I miss them when they're gone. That made a big impact on me as a kid. I felt wanted and appreciated.
To this day, I don't know many people who feel that way about their kids. I often see people complain about having their kids home from school, etc. I don't love being with mine all the time, and I need frequent, regular breaks. But I pray often for God to keep my heart soft toward my kids. If I'm angry or frustrated with one of them, I ask Him to change my heart so I can treat that child with respect and kindness.

The thing that I think helps the most with this, is to remember my imperfections and God's complete forgiveness and love for me. It's only through understanding how much I'm given grace that I can really give grace to my kids and other people around me.
I think this is a huge part of being able to homeschool. Those are some long hours with my kids. I get really really tired sometimes. But I want to fall in love with who my kids are as people. Hannah is incredibly organized and correct. She can bring order to chaos, and that is something people will value in her for the rest of her life. Audrey is so full of joy. She has an amazing sense of humor and she's not even 4! Tessa is so tolerant and patient. She just loves people and loves to communicate. They really are incredible people. We have some hard days, but rather than focusing on those, I want to focus on my kids strengths and allow the process of parenting them to help me become the person I'm supposed to be, as well as helping train them in the way they should go.

What about you? What traits do you appreciate in your kids? What do you do on hard days to refocus and change the atmosphere? Any thoughts about creating an atmosphere of respect and love in your home?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cabin Fever

All the kids came down with colds this week. Tess hasn't really been sick before, and she is so funny about it. Her nose is running nonstop and if I don't get to her in time, she'll wipe it on her arm and yell, "UGH!!!" Just exactly how we all feel with a cold.

We traded a day at the apple farm with Daddy for a Saturday morning with no Daddy so he could get his work hours in, and we had to stay home from church this morning while he was scheduled on the worship team...and the walls are closing in a bit. Currently the girls are bathing and grooming their Barbie dolls in the bathroom sink and I just finished sitting in the living room staring at the wall for a few minutes. Sometimes it helps, ya know.

We're going to have to conjure up a way to spend some time in the sunshine this afternoon...but I also want a nap!

Friday, August 20, 2010

First Day of School

Hannah started kindergarten this week.

I have to tell a little back story about this. My parents made the choice to homeschool me back in the 80's in Southern California. Most people didn't even know it was legal, in fact I remember being closely questioned about why we weren't in school...pretty much everywhere we went. The grocery store, the dentist... To this day I'm not sure why everybody was so concerned about it, but they were. I guess maybe the culture really has changed significantly with regards to schooling.

Anyway, my memories of my childhood are very sweet. I'm the oldest of five. After a couple of hours of bookwork, we spent our days playing outside, reading, baking, creating, gardening... We each had our strengths and weaknesses, but overall we excelled in school. When I was 14 my parents and I together made the decision for me to attend Christian high school. It was time, for us. But I loved being homeschooled.

When it came to our own children, there has been very little question what we would do. OK, that's not completely true. There is a small part of me that wants to put my kids in school, and go do something more "grown up" than wiping noses, reading picturebooks, and working on manners every day. So we have considered other options. But in the end, what has always won out is the experience of teaching my own children, of having long days to play and learn together, of experiencing education as a family unit. This is what we wanted for our family. Life as school.

Though in some ways I've been doing this for years since we didn't send our kids to preschool, this week was our first "real" school week. I'm happy to report that it has felt as natural as I hoped. This is what I know. This is the lifestyle I loved as a child and am excited to recreate in my own home. I know this choice is not for everyone - there are as many different family situations as there are families, but I also know so many people who don't feel confident enough to teach their own children, though they would like to. I am, by nature, an exhort-er, so I'm quite sure that in expressing my own experience I will come across sometimes as trying to persuade you to homeschool as well. If you are confident in the education choices you have made for your family, please don't take offense. But if there is something in you that longs to do this, please follow along in our journey. I'll try to be as realistic as possible, but I'm not going to hide the joy that I have in the privilege of doing this with and for my children. It's the most fun I've had in a while.

End of short back story that was really long.

We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Sometimes it surprises me that I can say that as confidently as I do, except that everything I read about it resonates with me so deeply, that even if/when we incorporate other things in order to accommodate needs, I will always see us as Charlotte Mason homeschooolers. I'll reference some things at the end of this post, if you want to learn more about this way of homeschooling.

All that said, I bought a $1 teacher's planning book at Target. It has a row for each day of the week and 6 columns for subjects. I am using it more for a school record book, so that I can see what we've done each week. In the state of Colorado, we don't have to do formal school until age 6, so the goal for this year is to spark a love of learning in Hannah (and also in Audrey, age 4), and to have her pick up things along the way. So I'm not doing every subject every day.

After breakfast, we pick up the house and get dressed for the day. If there is too much commotion or some sort of emergency that keeps this from happening, we flex with it. Ideally, we'd be ready for school by 10 or 11am at the latest. Some things we did this week: Reading together followed by narration - the kids telling me back the story they remember. Starting nature notebooks with a walk around my parents' backyard in the forest. A field trip to a you-pick apple farm. A trip to the library and math games on the computers. A first piano lesson. A video (from the library) about the artist Michelangelo and his works of art. Learning to play leapfrog in the living room. About 20 minutes of workbooks. And life skills like making beds, organizing toys, and sticking around to work out a conflict instead of running away. Today we didn't get any school done because of a trip to the nutritionist, but Daddy's working Saturday this week, so we'll make it up tomorrow with looking up wildflower names to write in our notebooks, and reading books together.

It's that simple. It's that fun. It's that natural. It's not hard. It actually gives a structure and a goal to our days at home together that I'm grateful for. I'm so excited for this year.

More about Charlotte Mason:
Charlotte Mason Bio
Simply Charlotte Mason - tips and ideas
Ambleside Online - free online book lists/curriculum
Charlotte's Original Series - SOOOO good.

Why another blog?

Answer: I don't know. It's not like there aren't enough of them out there. Nobody has much that's new to say. (I will refrain from singing Barenaked Ladies "It's all been done." Oh wait, nevermind.) I had another blog, one that I've been writing for years now. But when a season of life has ended, I have always had a need to go buy a new journal. Even if the old one isn't full. I see this the same way. Because in several ways, things are different than they were a few months ago. And I want to write about it. And this is the easiest way. So here I am. Nick will hopefully be around some too, but I'm not sure. It's up to him. He's currently asleep on the couch behind me. :)