An Autumn Celebration!

Strewn toys, sweet drawings on my refrigerator, empty treat trays, decorations (that aren’t placed just so anymore), and frosting bowls with finger trails in them. Signs of a day well spent.

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Micaiah wanted to celebrate this beautiful harvest season. “A fall party!!” he kept saying.

He planned games, made decorations and wrote his own invitations complete with a handprint turkey.

He was kind enough to let Adriel choose and make treat recipes (with help from Grandma of course).

We practiced welcoming guests, taking coats and offering beverages.

I am one proud mama. I set out one decoration and helped a few mothers understand what the mysterious turkey card meant that their child brought home. Grandmas helped with the cookies. Other than that, this was a kid-thrown fling. How cool is that?!

It was a time of enjoying friends and showing love.

Blessed, I feel. (How Yoda was that? Sorry)

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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

 

Playing With A Purpose! Preschool at Home

I love to learn. So even if I hadn’t set out to do preschool with my son, our playing would have ended up somewhat educational. I am not naturally administrative or organized by other people’s standards (I think my systems work just fine :) so I wanted to share how I approached the tiny sprout of preschool that we’ve begun this year.

Style

The first thing I decided on was a style of learning that suited my child and I. It didn’t take a whole lot of thought since I have a

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photocred Tammy Deshner

super easy going kid and we play together frequently.

I love the idea of Montessori-style activities. This makes it easier for me to be patient while my son takes his time on the ones he likes. (Sadly I often have a shorter attention span than my 2 1/2 year old son.)

Micaiah and I both love crafty learning! Anytime he can create something, we both have a blast! As we do more activities, I’m starting learn more specifically how the help Micaiah engage better in learning.

Content

I jotted down a few categories in my Moleskin and then listed specifically what I would like him to know by the holidays. (I’m pregnant and due in the new year so I’ll reevaluate what I think I can handle after we do this for a while. Plus, I want to take plenty of time to do Christmas-specific activities.)

I want my son to begin to learn letters, shapes and counting as well as learn about God’s character from His Word. (He’s pretty much got colors down.) Knowing my son and his natural interests, I’ll use them to help him learn these! As we develop skills and knowledge through different activities, I love to see him delight in learning something new even if its simply through a conversation we have while playing.

Micaiah LOVES animals. At two years old, he doesn’t just identify a “bird” but knows a flamingo from an eagle from a hawk from an ostrich and so on. This boy reads elementary school level animal books and wants you to help him identify every unique animal in it! Therefore…

  • We’re doing an animal alphabet using coloring sheets I made from free images online. He learns the letter that the animal’s name starts with and a fact or two about it.
  • We count animals when we see them in groups in images, books and out-and-about. (He can count to six but would rather say “one, two, one, two…” so that he can get through the whole herd.)
  • We started out doing a shape every two weeks, but I found that it was a little to much for him. So, we talk about shapes when we encounter it (and I think if it) and he seems to be catching on just fine.
  • Bible “Lesson” (see below in Resources)

 Structure

I balk at the word. But I decided that I had to schedule specific time or we would never get anything done! Beyond that, I simply have an objective and allow him to choose from lots of activities that I can use to guide him toward that objective. Very simple and it may need to grow as our family does, but right now we both enjoy this easy-going pace.

Resources

Bible –  The purpose for growing and educating my children is to develop young disciples who glorify God and further His kingdom. I had intended on doing very short memory verses/biblical ideas. This turned out to be to much for him so I ditched it (not the Bible all together obviously). Because we already do a family Bible reading/prayer time each evening, I simply ask him comprehension/teaching questions when things come to mind. I also think this helps him create a habit of thinking about/talking to the Lord anytime – not just at bedtime, mealtime and church.

If I’m still reading my Bible when he wakes up in the morning, I open to a Psalm or something simple and read a few verses. This way he has personal exposure to a real Bible and who God is (not just a storybook). Plus, any time in the Word for Micaiah is good time in the Word!

1+1+1=1 has been an indispensable resource and a great encouragement

Intentional Homeschool – This site is relatively new, so it’s fairly small so far. I do love their vision and think it will become a great resource.

Twisty Noodle – Free printable coloring pages for many animals, dinosaurs and a whole lot more!

Google – Seriously, I find free coloring pages soooo helpful. I also print off a real photo of each animal. (I remember find the real thing so much more interesting as a kid.) It also piques his interest if I let him get on the computer and do a little “research” on the animal with me. Between google and pinterest, I can find crafts and coloring for any crazy animal we pick!

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I find myself referencing regularly.

How did you help your kids learn “the basics” in early childhood? Did you include spiritual growth?

Matching Kids Pajamas

The other day, I set out to make something for my little girl to come home from the birthing center in. She should be here around the coldest day of the year, and I wanted some warm pajamas that could buckle in to the car seat. I finished a pair of footless pajamas only to have the snaps start popping off as soon as I was finished. (I’m guessing it’s because I’ve been trying to use up notions that my grandma bought who-knows how long ago.)
Soooo….I got off the bottom, added a ruffle and WAH-LAH! A night gown! Since I made my son a pair of pajama pants to match I figured I might as well show them off.

PhotoCred EliciaJohnson

I used a pair of newborn footie pajamas as a pattern for the top half of the gown. I then just cut two extra wide rectangles (the same width) and pinned the ruffle on the way I wanted it. I then sewed the right sides together, back stitching over each gather. I don’t have a serger so of course I zig-zag stitched all of the inside seams.

I won’t even pretend I am an amazing enough seamstress to make this all up on my own so here are my other resources for using existing clothing as a pattern and making children’s pajamas. Check the tutorials sections of these websites:

Made By Rae

MADE

It’s Always Autumn
Here are a few of my Little Dude flying a plane for us in his new PJs!

PhotoCred EliciaJohnson

PhotoCred EliciaJohnson

PhotoCred EliciaJohnson

It was to late to charge my camera battery so I’m sorry for the bad lighting and the instagram look!

What are some of your favorite online craft resources?Do you have a favorite tutorial?!