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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To blog or not to blog: Chloe

I have far less readers on this blog than on my previous one. I think a good portion of this is because the Bella Red had a focused theme of content: theology and the church. The rest probably had to do with my passionate heart coming off a wee bit…dramatic.

Finding Engedi doesn’t gather any one kind of reader; probably because one day I post pictures of my latest sewing project, one day I talk about homeschooling and the next what I learned from Scripture.

So that leads me to my question for today. Do I continue to blog about my everyday life if it adds the additional dynamic of…farm life? I guess that’s what you’d call it. I don’t feel like I have a farm. I have a garden, some chickens (both for several years) and now, Chloe: our milk cow. None of which exist on my own piece of dirt. Do I add one more “thing” to this blog?

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Homecoming Evening :)

As I was wondering this, I started thinking about why I blog at all. Is it to collect readers and be heard? Not really. And I definitely don’t see myself doing it for money anytime soon. So I decided this is simply a journal that I don’t mind you peeking at.

Whether it be on paper, in the sand or on the world wide web, I will always write. It’s just in me. I may not do it perfectly, but it gets the confusion in my head out and simplified so that Jesus and I can take care of business.

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

I didn’t even know a “felfie” was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie!

So the question remains, will I blog about my novice homestead adventures? I think so.

Will I post a tutorial on how to milk a cow? Probably not. Will I share what God was speaking to my heart in the milking parlor? That’s more like it.

So while you may see and hear about our adventures in dairying off and on; fear not, loved readers of my diary, it’s not turning into a farm blog!

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 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

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!

 

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

boy reading bible

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?