Lanuguage is powerful

One thing I have re-realized is that I have to change my language. I often say I "have to". I have to go to the store, I have to do laundry. I am trying to say I "want" or I "get", or even simply I am "going to".

The truth is, one implies burden while the other implies a blessing. I want very much to acknowledge the enormous blessings that pervade every single area of my life.

I am blessed to live in this prosperous country where I can linger in a super-grocery store for an hour perusing fresh fruits and veggies and every kind of food imaginable. I have money to purchase food for my children. They will not go to bed hungry. I can have confidence that my food is safe and not contaminated. I take my food home to refrigeration. I have the most amazing kids and a handsome husband to feed!! That alone is blessing enough!

I can apply this thinking to everything. I don't have to walk miles to a dirty river to do laundry. I have heat, a/c, and beautiful home to keep clean. I have a bed to make, a toilet to clean, dog's to clean up after that probably eat better than 2/3 of the world's population.

This is my life. It is awesome! It's blessed and I know it. I need to remember it, and hopefully this small effort, along with the prayers and prayer cards I've placed as reminders around my home will help me form new habits in my language.

I am so blessed to be sitting here by the fire in my favorite house shoes sharing my thoughts on this computer.

Oh and drinking a diet root beer, I LOVE diet root beer!! Gotta be thankful for that!!


Another mommy moment

As I did my make up yesterday the song "Into the Mystic" came on my iPod. Since Christmas this song has caused a profound reaction in me.

As we traveled home after visiting family on Christmas Eve this song came up in the shuffle on my iPod in the van. The sky was bright and clear, and the air crisp, a spectacular winter day. There was no traffic, so I was driving along perfectly relaxed, taking it all in.

As the song played, I looked over at Steven who was napping in the passenger seat, and back at William who was napping in his booster seat then back at Corey and Taylor as they listened to their own iPods looking out the windows.

There was a moment, I'm sorry my words cannot adequately describe. It was a snapshot of our family. I felt a little out of my body as if I were looking down on us from the future. This is a memory forever etched in my soul and always triggered by a few notes from a song.

I had the sense that it was one of the last Christmas moments I will have with my whole little family. All of us traveling together for the holidays, the last year they are all still kids. I wanted that song to play forever, I wanted that moment to go on and on. As the final notes played I felt it slipping away and knew that all I would have left would be the memory and the feelings it wrung from my heart.

The kids were typically oblivious to their mother having another "mommy moment". But maybe someday they will know what it is like to look over a van filled with the most important souls in their life and be so filled with love and joy they can barely breath, and in the very same instance be moved in sadness and loss to their core knowing that it cannot last exactly that way forever.

Motherhood, 17 years in, it still surprises me.


Trust the kids

Trust the children. Is a wonderful book based on John Holt's educational philosophy. Those words changed my life.

There seems to be a belief in education and parenting that children want nothing that is good for them. Children, unless forced to learn, to help around the house, or to eat well, they would never do so of their own volition. I do not believe this. Children want to learn. They want to work. They want good things.

Young children love to assist with housework and chores. They clamor to do "big" things. They are fascinated by their world and ask millions of questions when they are young. They want to learn about their world. Is it a coincidence that these desires and habits tend to dry up at around 9 or so when kids are in school? The answer is no, it's not a coincidence.

Children can't wait to rush off to Kindergarten. They love school, and look forward to it. Why then does this gradually disappear over the next few years? Within a few years, kids hate school, they are bored. Parents and educators scratch their heads and wonder what happened.

When I began to let go of the fear that my children would not learn unless I made them learn. Our lives, our home school began to change in amazing ways.

The children spend the bulk of their spare time in useful, worthwhile endeavors. Sure some time might be spent here and there watching tv or playing a video game but compared to their traditionally schooled counterparts it's largely insignificant.

They spend their time reading, playing music, writing, doing art, playing games and spending time with the sibs.

They want a well run, clean home. They want a home and a family they can be proud of. They are willing to contribute to make that happen.

Sadly, I believe, the rigors of traditional school which tends to characterize their childhood hammers those desires right out of them.

When I refer to "rigors" I don't mean getting an education. I mean the schedule, the pace, the boring repetitive nature of their daily life. My childcare kids get so excited when there is any deviation in their routine. Yesterday was pajama day, and they were thrilled. Anything at all to break the hum drum routine of the normal school day.

My kids said not a word. They thought it was so sad that staying in your pj's for the day was a big deal. We do that a couple days a week! It's great when we are doing a study/reading day and we curl up in our sweats in the family room by the fireplace.

Kids long to learn about the incredible world God created for them, they long for our time and attention. They don't mind contributing to their environment and they want good things. If they don't seem to want that, you have to start asking the question...why?

Just so tired tonight

I am so tired tonight.

I was trying to make serious progress in the basement today moving the playroom, clearing out some clutter, cleaning up post - Christmas. Before (my new resolve) I would have gone into hyper-focus and worked myself sun up to sundown, allowing the kids to hang loose while I accomplished my immediate goals (losing sight of my long term ones). So often, mainly this fall, I would have this idea that we can sit and do more school as soon as everything is "just so". I know OCD. I have the t-shirt to prove it.

It's so unrealistic, and unproductive!! Today, I worked and made progress, that was my goal. I made a great deal of progress in the basement but I was making sure all day long the kids were on track. I stopped to work Algebra with Corey and Science with Taylor. I graded papers and gave spelling tests. I got my housework done, did many loads of laundry, cleaned out the kids closets, gave the foster puppies their shots, and cared for them. I cleaned out and organized the file cabinet which has ALL our personal records, papers, receipts, instruction manuals, you name it. I kept the dishes up and the house neat. I worked on the budget, balanced the checkbook, and paid bills. I talked Steve through making dinner.

I am beat. Really beat. It's 10:45 pm and I am headed to bed.

I am supposed to go to Gab n' Nibble in the morning, the coffee time for the moms in the homeschool group. I am really torn. I want to go, and I need to take that time for myself. But as usual I am thinking I can get more accomplished if I stay home. I don't know. If I don't sleep in, I will probably go.

This was a long day. It was a good day but I am feeling very drained. Did I do too much? Maybe today was the day I should have made time for me. Not sure. Don't know, but I am headed to bed. Blessings~
I said yes today. Well actually yesterday.

We have fostered puppies for the animal shelter in the past and we have all really enjoyed it. We had some puppies this November but didn't have any in Dec. So when my friend said they had two beagle pups that needed placement, I was looking forward to it! These little girls though are sick and have to be put on iv meds. So I agreed to take a litter of retriever/husky pups. There are 5. Steve came home and said, "so uh, how does this play into your year of no?"

I'm not sure. If and when it's too much I will say so.

This is one of the things I do love about being home and having the kids at home. They learn about sacrifice, and love through this fostering. It is very hard to love the pups and let them go to new homes. We have used this experience to talk about many things, adoption and fostering parenting are for example things we have thought about a great deal, and having the puppies has continued that dialogue.

The kids really love this experience. Sure after some time they get a little weary of the work so we take a break. They understand that the work that we do with the pups- housebreaking them, socializing them with people and our dogs, and training them is well spent. They will be better dogs and be more likely to find long term homes. My daughter wants to volunteer in the shelter but I can't give up another day to leaving the home. This gives her the opportunity.

The Year of "No", becomes the Year of "Oh NO!"

Well my well thought out, master plan of prioritizing, and saying "No" was put to the test today. While in a meeting for my volleyball league my phone rang off the hook. I was called to sing in a telethon this weekend, my friend Toni, our youth minister called about the March for Life, the music minister called about cantering for funerals, and also the library rang me up. Not to mention the kids calling 3 times, my mom once, and my hubby.

That's when I realized this was not going to be as easy as I thought :(

The meeting was very good, I feel good about it. I am not going to be able to do everything and don't feel guilty about saying no to some of the these things. I just feel a little overwhelmed, even calling to say no is one more thing to do.

When I got home the kids had not finished their school work, and they had not done any chores. I was disappointed. They can do better, they certainly know better.

I had a very firm conversation with them, and explained that this was their responsibility. I do not own the problem, they do. They learned we would be having volleyball this evening and knew better to even think about asking if they were going. They apologized, looked contrite and then, they got busy. They got ALL the work done in less than 2 hrs!

I wish they had held their own when I was away this morning but I was proud of them for at least making it right without excuses or argument.

It's never easy to make choices, it's not easy to put yourself out there and find that sometimes you can't please everyone. Making changes is not a cake walk, especially when you are trying to walk away from cake!!

For now I need to get to bed...5 am wake up call, as usual.

Oh one of my daycare parents brought me flowers today! I kept her daughter over night while she did an organ transplant at children's hospital. Poor thing worked 18 hrs was off for about 6 and went back to work...and I got flowers! She's a single mom and works really hard. God bless her.

Night, Robin
So many things I love about homeschooling! Where to begin???

I love today. Today we worked on essays, and reports, algebra, consonants, reading, math, history, soooo much!! We went for a long bike ride up the bike trail to the park.

William's goldfish Cosmo died today. We buried him in the backyard. We had a small ceremony, he decorated his grave. It was very sweet. We had an opportunity to share some thoughts about life, and death. He was upset and I comforted him. He wasn't rushed off to a bus.

Look around

What an amazing surprise a little warm weather can be!

Two days ago winter took a spring break, and the temps topped 70 degrees...ah, it was so nice. Today it will be in the 60's tomorrow the 50's and by weeks end winter will be back in town.

No matter, this little reminder of the warm spring weather was perfect! People were in such a good mood. As I went to church, and shopped everyone was soaking it up. Windows down in the car, coats tossed in the back seat, and little ones not bundled up to their eyeballs, then shrouded in blankets as moms scurried into stores. Everyone I saw had a little "spring" in their step. (pun fully intended)

In the Charlotte Mason Method of education nature plays a vital role. The children take time daily to enjoy nature in all the seasons, and they gain an appreciation and love for God's work.

It's so uplifting when you take a moment to appreciate God's glorious Creations. In every season there is beauty and joy. In winter we are blessed by Christmas, and New Year's. We reflect on the old, and prepare for the new. We resolve issues, and find hope in a new beginning. We spend more time inside with family, and if we are wise we will wrap ourselves in that opportunity like a soft, cozy blanket.

Soon we are itching for the outdoors and God faithfully provides a smorgasbord of sights, colors songs, and smells for our hungry souls to feast upon in the spring. We tan, we bask, we play and swim in the summer, and then we gingerly move into fall, eager to pull out warm sweaters, and take long walk in the cool breezes with leaves crunching under our feet.

Creation is too spectacular for words, at least for my words, but in my prayers and praise my soul sings out to God in thanks and that is a language He fully understands. That expression is sufficient and I think it is also His favorite ;)

Don't breeze past His wondrous works today. Even though winter has settled in for a stay there is so much to appreciate. Look around.

Sometimes things get a little sideways. Today we had lots of commitments at our parish, and we were out of the house early and returned late. Now we are settled in and trying to unwind. The house needs some TLC but no one, least of all me is itching to hop and get busy. So then what?

Don't you just hate it when that happens? It's life. Life happens and we can't always keep it all "just so". I'm not worried about it. Tomorrow is another day.

I'll rally the troops around 8 or so, and we'll straighten up. I'll be up at the usual time (5:15) and I will make good use of that time.

I have a good plan to run the house, a solid plan.

Picture this...success.

Do all homeschoolers have calendars, schedules, and Venn Diagrams on poster board in the house? (TY Susan) I am adding the diagram! It will help illustrate the plan this year.

There are 4 areas of my life that are priorities: Faith, Family, Health, & Finances

In each of these areas there are many issues. Each time I am pulled or considering something, a purchase, a new commitment, an activity, or choice, I want to refer to this list/diagram and see if it makes the cut. If it doesn't, I need to say no.

This will be a new exercise for me. I don't normally give this much thought to commitments. Someone asks and my first instinct is to always say, "yes!" This is needed mostly for me but also for the kids. When they want to take on some new activity, or spend money on some new widget gadgety thingamabob, I want to be able to show them why I am saying no. (Of course my simple "no" is sufficient, but they are old enough and frankly need more training in sacrificing for long term goals).

In addition to the list/diagram I am adding a year long calendar, alongside the monthly calendar.

As much as the kids, I forget to keep a long term vision for our family and my life. I think this will help. Somehow Lent always sneaks up on me for example. With the yearly calendar, I can see exactly how many weeks I have to prepare. When I need to say no to some cool thing the kids want to do or buy, I can show them how many weeks are left until we buy new Six Flags memberships and remind them that we are saving for that goal.

Sometimes for one reason or another I call off school or end the day early. It seems like there is plenty of time to make it up right? Having that calendar staring back at me will help me see how close summer really is, and remind me that every choice to slack off today is a choice to work when we'd rather swim in June.

4 days into the new year, so far so good! LOL I pray I can still be focused at 44 days, and 244 days!!

My friends are making similar decisions about their time and families. They are changing their choices, picking and choosing activities. While I am grateful for this, as it truly bolsters my confidence in my decisions, I find myself fighting off a little panic over it too. In some ways I am afraid. I'm afraid I will miss something. I'm afraid my kids will miss something.

I realize this is bigger than I first realized. Initially as I imagined making changes I knew it would be a different experience for me. Now as the time approaches and I have to actually face the consequences of those choices... well I am wavering a bit.

I see now, I am much more dependent upon this role in my life and this support system than I have previously recognized. I've made close friends, the kids enjoy their peers and my participation feeds me in many ways. I often lead activities and feel very good about that work. I really have needed it for sometime to bridge the gap when we moved. But I know I am running around too much. Our school time is often spent preparing, traveling and participating in the activities. My home life suffers, our school time suffers. I have no time for laundry, running my house the way I want, or tending to myself and my relationships.

Part of me is having a hard time accepting a truth. Truth, I live 30 minutes from this particular group and the friends we have in it. This small group has been a life line for me through this relocation and recovery (post -Katrina) and the thought of branching out, and away from them frightens me a bit. I know intellectually that I will still see my dear friends, and that we will still join in certain activities but another truth is that instead of seeing them several days per week we may see them a couple times per month...yikes! I have made their support central to my life, maybe too much?

Life is really changing. I prayed for it, hoped for it, and expected it, and now I am sad about it.

Isn't that typical!!

Lord, please help me to move through these changes with a calm, quiet heart. I hear you calling me in different directions Lord, to places I know I need to go. I have confidence that the life I can only glimpse now, is what I am meant for, but this comfortable place, even though it is difficult and painful sometimes, is familiar. Help me overcome that comfort zone and give me courage Lord to try new things, and follow You in every area of my life. Amen.


To tweak, or not to tweak, better yet where and what to tweak...

No not my eyebrows, did that this weekend...ouch.

I'm referring to contemplating the new year and how it relates to our school. I realize I will face many tough decisions. Homeschoolers have so many wonderful choices now! Almost too many. We will begin playing volleyball in a few weeks, music lessons, and a new session of co-op classes. We may even start book club again, that was fun.

I am constantly working to find a balance between our own school activities and the things we enjoy (just us) and the organized opportunities available to us. It's challenging. I think we do a pretty good job but it's work and doesn't happen without thought, prayer, effort and organization. So I am tweaking again. I love that we have the freedom to make these choices! I treasure this freedom!

One thing I know is that this calling requires me to be ever, always flexible. Rigidity is not compatible with homeschooling in my humble opinion. If you aren't really tuned into the children, to your home and to the reality of the situation you will miss important opportunities for growth.

One element I have missed, one opportunity for growth, is that I have not been tuned in to to my own personal needs much over the last couple years. I have quieted the personal desires of my heart, ignored the signs of complacency, boredom, loneliness, and I have failed to recognize that I have changed.

Please do not misunderstand, I am very happy. But as moments and seasons have passed I have been too busy to recognize that I miss time alone with friends and nurturing those friendships. It has not been some deep pervading loneliness, but rather an absence of the boost that my adult relationships bring to my spirit. I stopped challenging my mind a little bit with the heavy readings and studies that I so enjoy. I stopped exercising, and found more pressing needs to fill than my own. As a result I've missed opportunities.

So as I tweak this semester I will be weighing more of my needs into the equation. I know intellectually how important it is to care for myself, and to stay energetic. I know I am a better mom, wife and teacher when I am personally fulfilled, challenged and nurtured. I know it. But it is so easy to push that aside to lead this event, or meet that obligation. Then slowly ignoring those needs becomes easier. Thankfully I recognize this area of imbalance and can bring it back into a healthy place in a few weeks.

Lord please help me to always seek the balance that will best enable to fulfill all that you have called me to be and to do.