The Why: Time Edition

The it the second post since in which I’ve started writing out why we do things the way we do. People who know us are probably thinking, “You mean, the hard way?” …maaaaybeee…

Anyways, I’m mostly recording this for my own sake. It helps me to remember why Nic and I have structured our lives the way we have, and you dear friends (I accidentally originally typed fiends, which made me giggle) just happen to subscribe to the journal of alphabet soup that explodes out of my brain now and then.

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So first I talked about food, which was super easy. Even if people have an opinion, I think it would be difficult to find a good reason for expecting me to do something differently. It was low risk. I likey.

Buuuut, now on how we use our time. A wee bit more touchy when you live sub-level to a multi-lense cellular magnification device.

What does our life even look like? First the how:

Daily, our life looks a wee bit different from many families. First, Nic works when and where it suits him. This means, while he has a lot of work to do, he gets to remain involved in a lot of our daily lives. Most days he and I are up earlier than the kids (more on that later) so we can spend time with Jesus, spend time with each other and then discuss our day.

Sometime Nic eats breakfast with us (yay for us!). Either way, we usually get some things done around here and then he gets to “work”. He heads to the church office, the “office” (aka his standing desk in the garage) or sometimes a coffee shop depending on what needs done.

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While he works for a few hours, the kids and I get our day started. This usually looks like breakfast, clothes and the like, and then slave labor chores. While I finish  absolutely necessary household duties (such as the rolling hills of dirty dishes or the vast mountain of laundry) the kids are supposed to be playing.

Our kids don’t usually get out of bed until 8 or 9 or maybe later for Micaiah. So between the aforementioned tasks and whatever life throws at us, that usually brings us to much time.

The afternoon brings naps (praise Jesus) and “structured” (kind of, I mean structured for me) school with Micaiah. This usually looks like some reading and discussion before I get him started on whatever activities he might be doing on his own.

We eat dinner early, around 5.

Then, we get ready for our evening which may involve guests for dinner, Bible study or outreach night with some teenagers or other miscellaneous activities. Our “free” evenings are few and far-between.

In the late evening we do more chores, a little cleaning up, get ready for bed and the next day. Besides normal bedtime stuff (like teeth brushing) we read a Bible story and pray with our children. Lately Nic has been doing this with the older kids while I finish straightening some things and then put Eloise to bed.

My day goes much better Everyone’s day goes better if I can just wake up to a cleanish floor and orderly throw pillows and blankets on the couch. A clean counter is nice, but I mostly just do it to keep the pests away. I can get from my room to my spot on the couch without seeing the kitchen, so if it weren’t for the gross factor of having a dirty kitchen I wouldn’t worry about until breakfast time. Weird? Maybe. But orderly pillows make for a sane mother in this house.

Mop, girl, mop!

Mop, girl, mop!

Also, if there is more “stuff” on the floor then I feel like I can pick up before Eloise needs to be in bed, I sweep it into a pile and pretend I don’t see it in the morning. Then, I assign that chore ASAP to one of my beautiful children. I don’t even know how the stuff gets there, it’s insane what accumulates in one day. Someday I’ll take a picture for you, then you’ll know were really friends.

Now to the why:

Much of the way we disciple others happens in the evenings: Bible studies, meals, sports etc. So we’ve always put our kids to bed later than the average family. The result has been kind of cool. Our children all get the amount of sleep they need. They just start and end later than many other families. The flexibility of homeschooling means that we can continue this as long as it works for us, not worrying about kids who need to be up to catch a bus or drive to school.

I love that the Hebrew day traditionally began in the evening. The way I spend the end of my day, drastically effects the next one. So I to do my best to prepare for a good day.

I didn't even know a "felfie" was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie.

Because we like to “do things the hard way”. We do a lot of working at home. I prefer things handmade, done ourselves and of course, beautiful. I’ve encountered some questioning on this one. When we moved here, I explained to the nice people on the board and search committee and then the congregation that we want people in our home. We do ministry at home. This was different from both our communities tendencies and the previous youth pastor & family. (Please read as different, not better. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s…ok I’ve digressed :) So, I think they didn’t believe me.

Three years later, (yes three, gotta love slow moving change where the roads are dirt) it’s finally actually working like that. For a while, even I was wondering why I didn’t go to this or that. But remaining homeward oriented has paid off. Young mothers, unbelieving neighbors, employees from the business across the street, people who know people on the aforementioned list, and completely random people who know this is a parsonage are all among the many visitors we get in any given week.

A walk.

A talk.

A cup of coffee or tea.

It starts differently, but inevitably some need whether emotional, physical or spiritual, mine or theirs is always met.

It’s beautiful.

And it’s just one of the many dreams that have come true for me lately. See, fairy tales do happen: in the way of good and perfect gifts from God.

Again, working at home allows us to be available to people and gives us a unique opportunity to show people we care by setting our work down or involving them in it.

As a socially awkward (awkward is such a fittingly awkward looking word!) introvert, it would be a bad idea for me to be leading on up front situations. And as a creative person it doesn’t work out well if I take on administrative roles. By that I mean that I’m fine through the whole process and everyone else is panicking.

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We’re all gifted differently. Women are different from men and different from each other. We continue to try to evaluate things (read: I occasionally overanalyze things) to ensure that we’re honoring the Lord, our brothers and sisters in Christ and our community with our time. It’s a lot to balance.

Let’s just say I’m super-dee-duper thankful for grace.

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Tapestry of Grace vs Classical Conversations

When I came across the idea of classical schooling, I was sold. I immediately went on the hunt for curricula, long before I had school aged children. I had a friend who was going through the same process; She landed on Classical Conversations and I was impressed with Tapestry of Grace. Although we are happy with Tapestry, I recently attended an informational meeting regarding CC just to check it out. I walked out with a lot on my mind.

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This week I flipped through the catalogue and informational pages considering all that I had heard. All in a single moment it dawned on me, “I am not doing this.” “What?” My husband asked. “What we’re doing works wonderfully for us, why was I even thinking about switching?”

Here are some of the reasons that I don’t believe CC would work for our family. I don’t necessarily think that Tapestry is a better curriculum than CC, it’s just better for us.

  • The “majors”: At least in my first and second glances, some of the things that are huge deals for CC are things that I would not normally push quite so heavily. Just one example, I want my children to be very familiar with their world. I would want them to tell show me any country on a map. I also require them to understand the events of history geographically. But drawing from memory isn’t a major for me. It’s definitely not harmful to learn these things, but I have other things I want them to use their time and brain space for. Again, this is such a personal preference thing.
  • The yearly schedule: I currently homeschool year round. Maybe I’ll write more about why another day, but suffice it to say a traditional school year would drastically change things in our household.
  • The weekly meetings: Using a 32 week curriculum 50 weeks out of the year means great flexibility. When my son was enthralled with the culture and history of Egypt and the Israelites’ time there, we spent five weeks studying it instead of three. In fact, when I ask him to tell me about ancient cultures, he begs to tell me about Egypt whether I that’s what I”m looking for or not. Our flexible schedule allowed this. When you’re on a schedule with other families, there’s no staying behind to dig world war II style trenches in the back yard to spend an extra week living like a soldier. Everyone else is moving on.
    • On the flip-side, this could provide the kick to move on if a family had a tendency to get behind.
  • Latin: I know. I know. I know! All of those benefits of Latin, right?! Yes, but so far our family has decided to begin with Greek. It also aids in truly grasping the English language. Yes, it’s not as foundational as Latin, but if my children want to use English in the future they will have the tools they need. This is still up for discussion here and there between the very handsome head of our household and I. The thing that has us leaning toward Greek is that our children could pick up the original New Testament and read it for themselves. Done. Sold. From Alpha to Omega, I’m there.
  • Independence. This goes pretty much hand-in-hand with the flexibility issue. I have a super-independent spirit AND I’m an introvert. These two don’t exactly make me want to show up an pitch in with a bunch of other people to follow a program that doesn’t allow me to do my thing. You know, like this week is Super Science Week! It’s the end of our unit so amidst reviewing I planned five different areas of science for the kids to dig into this week. Yay for microscopes! I start to itch and squirm at the idea of squeezing our homeschool into someone else’s mold. I mean, isn’t that the beauty of homeschooling?!

Like I said, this is far from a list of things wrong with CC. Tapestry of Grace just so happens to be working perfectly for us…so far!

I would love some homeschool mama feedback! What works for you?

 

Our big “thing”

I read. A lot.

I clearly remember my parents coming home from a parent-teacher conference with grim looks on their faces only to report that I was a book worm. Apparently my teacher (one of the best out there btw) had to tell them that I was even reading when I wasn’t supposed to be, zooming through books faster than I could get them from the library.

Today, I’ve moved on from Nancy Drew (most days!) and try to read things that will grow me as a believer, wife and mother. I often seek out books and blogs and articles to help me parent and homeschool “right.” It’s almost as if I feel like there’s a perfect combination that, if I could just narrow it down, equals a recipe for perfect children. Of course, to write that it seems ridiculous, but that’s the reality of my strivings.

11169793_10103099164671053_774557601831639369_nI’ve developed a sort of way I go about things (always being adjusted slightly) that seems good to me. In all of my likes and dislikes I’ve found resources that I turn to.

Montessori preschool, waldorf play, reggio amelia too, building independence, Bible-based discipline, classical homeschool, sustainable/whole foods. And there is a blog and book or ten about all of them! But as I look at families who seem to have any one of those “down,” I can’t help but wonder about something. If waldorf is our thing, or interest-lead learning or even classical schooling, where does Jesus fit? I mean really, should Jesus just “fit?”

I asked my husband about this about a year ago when I was expecting Eloise. None of those things equal Godly offspring. Only God’s grace can do that. 

So how do I make our “thing” Jesus. When people look at our blog, Facebook pages even our home and our family, I want them to see Jesus. Do they see wooden toys? Children studying Greek? Or do they see the love of Jesus? The peace of God?

Since I’ve started thinking about this a couple of things have changed:

I’ve loosened up on a few things. Learning to depend on God’s grace means I don’t have to strive for perfection AND I don’t have to worry about what other people think.

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I’m slowly learning to see things more through my children’s eyes. This means more fun, more yes answers and less teacher-voice (at which my son’s eyes automatically roll anyway). It also means more discipline. I’ve seen a look of contempt come from some of my friends’ older daughters toward their mothers. When two women live in the same house, some amount of conflict is inevitable. But one thing I think would prevent some of this is good discipline early on. God’s authority, God’s grace. If they get that, they’ll be just fine.

We’ve been more intentional in our Bible study. We had already done a Bible story before bed, but now we try to make it more enjoyable for our children all ages and in different ways. Family Bible study should be something they look forward to, right?

Also, I’ve been keeping my children with me in service. The baby is the only one I’ll occasionally pass off.IMG_1212 Not only do I want them to learn to sit in church (quietly obviously…one day. Sigh.) but I want them to learn to listen and participate. (Side-note: one of the biggest obstacles we see in Christian teens is that once they’re given their own youth pastor, they’re no longer taught to learn from the main pastor. They’re only required to sit still and keep quiet.)

I’m sure there are more ways, maybe even some I don’t notice. (I hope!) These are just some things I’ve been wrestling with, and this happens to be where I share them. I’d love to hear your take on Jesus being the center. Here’s a verse I’ll leave you with today, one my wise and wonderful husband brought excitedly to me a while back:

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring
Malachi 2:15

 

Our American Idols: 3 Ways You Can Do Your Children A Favor

What is most important to you?

I’m finding more and more that people say, “family.” If it wouldn’t hurt feelings, I would tell you specifically how I’ve seen the effects of this is the lives of people around me. My husband and I are passionate about pouring into the lives of young people in order to see them grow into Godly adults. As I look around at the twenties, teenagers and younger, I see devastating results of their parents lives revolving around them.

Sadly, parents are often unaware of how God designed their unique children because they have an ideal in their mind and they treat their young ones as if their children should be exactly what their parents imagine them to be. I struggle with this myself and battle daily to figure out what makes my children tick and encourage them in those directions. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I fail.

I’ve been pregnant four times in the last 6 years. I have the privilege of raising three of those children and hopefully some more. Each one of them is so unique and by God’s grace they can do beautiful things to further His Kingdom. But that may not happen if I make them the center of my world. We do our children no favors when we live like this. Here are some things I’ve seen and steps I’d love for you to join me in taking to love our children better and to the glory of God.

When people make their children their number one priority, they often fail to discipline properly. I frequently see either a fear of making their children dislike them or a tendency to micromanage their children’s behavior for fear that they might appear to be bad children. Both of these model how to fear man, not God. I tend to struggle with the second, but I’m constantly reminded in my Bible reading that it is vital to help my children understand God as their authority, sin as their illness and grace as their cure. This is the goal of discipline. I must try my best to 1. Discipline consistently according to God’s standard of right and wrong (no more, no less) and do it in grace.

When a child is the most important thing in the world to you, they’ll copy you in one distinct way. If your Creator is not your number one priority, it won’t be theirs either. At least not at first. Your idols can easily become their idols. God is great and gracious. Many in my generation are slowly figuring out how to reprioritize now that we look back and see how things didn’t work out for our parents. I’m sure we’ll look back and see how we could have done better, but I pray regularly for God’s grace to get me through this adventure with children who serve him! Sports, friends, looking just right, family, work…the list of firsts goes on. But one thing I can tell you is that very few of the young people that we spend time with have any sort of understanding of a Christ-centered life. Reading, praying and serving are often simple inconveniences in their “Christian” life. I desire to 2. Model for my children what it looks like to live for Christ.

Finally, when we treat our kids like they’re the center of the universe, they grow up acting like they are. It sounds a little simple and a little crazy at the same time. I’m sure there aren’t many people who consciously think this, but a great many act like it. When parents do everything they can for their children out of “love” they rob their children of experience, work ethic and humility. Have you noticed it too? Every teacher, coach, boss, parent (everyone) should work to make their life “better.” I so badly want to 3. Help my children develop a Biblical, eternal worldview.

As someone who hears what tweens, teenagers and young adults are saying when you, their parents, are not around, please (I’m begging you and joining you) teach your child:

What God’s grace is all about,

God’s Word and

How to serve others.

 

 

Chores/Responsibility Chart Download

Happy chicken eggs

I looked high and low for a chores type chart for my son. He is 3 and totally capable of doing many things by himself, but he and I both need a reminder and incentive to keep us on track. … Continue reading

I is for…

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Insects inside and Indians!

We discussed why Native Americans were called Indians, why they wore the clothes they did and even visited local historical sites! It was a fun couple of days.

Politically incorrect you say? Nah! None of my Native friends care, and polls show (concerning sports teams) a vast majority don’t. So let’s not put words in anyone’s mouth and enjoy this letter craft just in time for a lesson on the friendly multicultural Thanksgiving feast!

Find our projects and more at:

The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection

T is for Tree!

We found this idea at 1+1+1=1 The thing that makes this one a little extra special is that my three year old wrote Uppercase and Lowercase Ts on the paper. This is the first time he wrote letters that weren’t traced or instructed step-by-step.

So blessed by doing preschool with him!

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Make Fun Stuff: Fly Me To The Moon!

In the first Make Fun Stuff post, (which you can find here) I showed you our pirate ship. Today I’m going to show you a new mess that you can enjoy making with your little one on a new frontier: Space! We had a blast making this little diorama and lots of fun playing with it too!

Fly Me To The Moon!

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‘rocket sounds’

You will need:

  • Old fashioned clothes pin
  • Egg Carton
  • Large paper or file folder
  • 2 Popsicle sticks
  • Small piece of fabric for flag
  • Washable Paint
  • Glue (all purpose/hot glue)

 

I laid out our file folder under everything to protect my coffee table. I then cut the lid off of the egg carton and used it as a paint tray.

  • Paint the bottom half of your clothespin with flames and the top half as an astronaut.
  • Cut one end off of your carton and separate into two egg slots. Make a hole in one. Glue your carton pieces onto both ends of a popsicle stick, the one with the hole is the bottom of the rocket.
  • While your rocket and astronaut dry, paint the egg carton white/gray. (My two year old’s attempt to paint it made it look perfectly moon-like – so let some of the carton color show through!)
  • Also paint your scenery: dark blue or black sky a little white space on the bottom for the moon and yellow or white starts. You could add some planets too! My toddler wouldn’t have had the patience to do so :)
  • Assemble your flag: glue the fabric to your second popsicle stick
  • While everything else dries, push your astronaut through the bottom of the spaceship to that the flames come out the end and he sticks up into the cockpit.
  • Glue your flag to the moon and your moon to the background
  • Make sweet rocket sounds and enjoy!

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Feel Free to Link Up your favorite messy projects in the comments!

 

Make Fun Stuff! – The Pirate Ship!

Role playing is incredibly important play for young children. It is also my very least favorite way to play. One of my dearest friends recently said that she would rather read 100 books to her daughters than play house with their dolls. In our house, it goes just a little bit differently.

When I don’t think that I can possibly fix another zebra’s owie with my amazing veterinary skills or lose one more army guy battle, I break out the paint. Yes, I would rather clean paint (or clay, or markers…or even glue) off of every table (and child) in my house than “talk guys” as my two year old would say. So, I decided that I would share some of the fun things we make!

But first, some tips on being crafty with kids:

  • Don’t run to the craft store and buy a bunch of stuff. Be frugal. Not only will you slowly acquire supplies inexpensively by buying one thing here, another there, but you are teaching you children to be resourceful! The dollar store can be your best friend, or your worst enemy if you go overboard.
  • Don’t stock up. Unless I know I’m going to be making 3 pairs of “binoculars” soon, I don’t keep every toilet paper roll we empty. If we’re feeling crafty, we work with what we have. If you’re not a spur of the moment person, plan your activities in advance or only keep enough “supplies” to have 2 or 3 projects on hand for rainy days.
      • Idea! Do an inventory check in your head and then do a 10-15 minute google/pinterest search. For example: crafts with egg cartons. Don’t spend more than a few minutes searching, pick something and get to work!
  • Store up treasures in heaven, not in the garage. Yes that rocket your four year old made is precious and if he becomes an astronaut you might wish you had it. But instead of collecting plastic tubs full of evidence of fond memories, it makes for a more peaceful home if you just bury yourself in the memories themselves. I give our projects 1-2 weeks. I let our kids and their friends play with them and wear them out and then throw it out. If you’re a memory evidence hoarder, try keeping a picture of their art which you can store digitally!

The Pirate Ship
(or other sailing vessel, if you’re not pirate people)

The little one's mine :)

The complexity of your ship will highly depend on the age of your boat builder.

Supplies:
Milk CartonOne straw for each mast
Brown paper bag
Cardstock (old file folder)
Crayons, markers or paint
Tape or glue
Scissors

Step 1: Paint or cover with brown paper bag(I chose to cover. I didn’t think my two year old’s attention span would last through painting) I folded/gathered the paper to a squarish point in front to make it feel more ship-shaped.
(older kids could cut holes in their carton to make it more dimensional on deck or cannons etc)

Step 2: While ship is drying, color or paint some sails – be creative! You could even make a fabric flag to0!

Step 3: Use strong glue (such as hot glue) or tape to attach your sails to straws.

Step 4: Poke holes and attach straws using the same medium as above (duct tape for us haha)

Step 5: Add accents to ship including windows, cannons, board lines etc

A sword fight aboard!
A sword fight aboard!