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)

Reading Stack & Real Life: Double Update!

IMG_2007I often wonder what future me will look back and wish I had done differently, mostly when it comes to parenting. I wonder what my kids will wish I had done differently. None of us are perfect, and we can all look back and find fault. That’s why it’s so important that we rely on grace, not perfection. I guess I say this as sort of a disclaimer. I don’t claim to be better than the generations before me. I have much to learn.

Over the years of overanalyticalizationizing everything, (thank you Rachel W. in 9th grade for that description of my brain functions) I have noticed some of the effects of the world I grew up in. Today for example, I’m terrified to tell you that I have a dream, because what if I fail. I grew up feeling like perfection alone was acceptable, anything less was not worth my time.

I’m sure my parents never intended for me to feel this way. But I began to stop trying at anything. I only did things that I was pretty sure I would not only succeed in, but be on top. MVP. 4.0 1st place. I felt like I had failed in doing anything less. Because of this, I basically got out of the habit of practicing or studying. I only chose activities and classes that I knew I would do great at. Sometimes, if I had some kind of adversity, I would accept second best. Often, I would hope for an injury to fall back on, just in case.

Nic recognized this early in our marriage, probably around the time I wouldn’t give 100% rock climbing until I got hurt (or angry). Since we started figuring this out early, Nic has always encouraged me to practice different things. He encouraged me to do things that I enjoyed, even if I’m not very good at them. (Ahem, painting…)

So before I show you my newest stack of reading materials, I have to be a little vulnerable.

I think…I want to be…a flower farmer. I love the idea of rows and rows of beautiful flowers. I’m hoping to work towards growing for market. (Flowers for you, flowers for me, flowers for everyone!) I’m not looking for a full-time job, so this won’t be an enormously large-scale thing. But maybe it will help support our endeavors to grow our own food.

That was way harder to type than you will ever know! I’m not exceptional at growing things. I can grow things, but I’m always running into some hiccup and things only grow…so, so.

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So step one: Read The Flower Farmer

Step two: Successfully grow flowers. Lots of them. I’m going to try to grow more flowers than I ever have before! (Yaaaayyy!)

I’ll probably fill out an application to the market, just in case things go really well. Sellers have to notify them when you’ll be there (every week). So if things don’t pick up right away or I don’t have enough every week, I won’t worry about it.

Somewhere between steps one and two I should probably figure out whose property I’ll be using for this adventure of mine. (Since, the hubs and I are basically squatters renters in a parsonage situation.)

Also I am working my way through the other three books (more slowly since my favorite UPS guy brought my flower book). I’ve been feeling (and dragging Nic along too :) like we’re falling into habits we would condemn in others. We are not spending enough time making disciples who make disciples. We aren’t doing a very good job asking people to be a part of our everyday lives in order to set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. So the other books are helping us to delve back into what the Word says about the physical & spiritual care of others.

So there you go, a reading stack and some real life Elicia for you.

Good day!

 

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.

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?

 

A Little Vacation

Our family took a train ride a couple weeks ago. We wanted one last chance to see some friends before they move even farther away from us. It was the best weekend away we’ve ever had with our children. Our hosts had already thought of tons of fun things to that our children would enjoy. Our kids enjoyed not being drug around to see people they don’t know and do things that are no fun. Happy kids = happy visit, a much different pace from our normal whirlwind family trips. Here are a few moments:

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We were blessed beyond words. The only thing we could have asked for, was more. For time, talk and delicious food!