Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts

Homeschooling And Bad Attitudes (Homeschool Q&A)



Remember how a few months ago I was working on homeschool q&a posts?  Well, I dropped the ball, and the school year is over now, but I still want to go through and answer the questions I got on Instagram a few months back!  This was a really good one about handling bad attitudes.


How do you handle the frustrating days when they lack focus or don't want to work?

This year in particular I've had to deal with more attitudes about school than I've had to up to this point, and we have definitely experienced days where things just aren't clicking and nobody seems to be focused.  My kids are still fairly young, so I'm sure that I'll be learning alot more about how to handle this in the future (especially when my kids reach the dreaded middle school years).  But these are a few things that have helped me at this stage.

Take a break.  My kids sometimes lose focus because I am asking them to do too much schoolwork all in a row.  Young kids especially need time to let their brain rest in between lessons, so if I know I am trying to cram too much in, I'll give them time to play and rest before we come back to whatever we were doing.

Skip a subject.  Sometimes kids just have an unfocused, off day (kind of like we do, right?).  Maybe they didn't get enough sleep, or have alot on their minds.  Often my kids are even distracted by good things, like a project they want to work on outside.  On those days, I use my discretion and sometimes we call it a day early or do a review day instead of trying to struggle through learning a new concept.  We can always catch back up later, when everything is clicking and flowing smoothly (there are those days too!).

Give a little encouragement.  My kids will occasionally have a bad attitude because they think something is "too hard".  Sometimes a little encouragement is in order.  I point out the things they are doing well, and remind them that the more we do this type of work, the easier it will get.  Then I try to keep the lesson that day simple and short, to remind them it's not so difficult after all.



Realize that sometimes it's a discipline issue.  Many times my kids are not focusing for an innocent reason, but sometimes they are actually having a sinful attitude about their schoolwork.  To me, homeschooling is not just about doing school, it's about training my children.  Training them to be obedient when I tell them to do something is part of it, and if the attitude is an obedience issue, then I might have to do some discipline.

If I do have to discipline them for a poor attitude, I also try to take some time to explain the why of schoolwork.  As Christians, we are learning these things so we can glorify God with our minds, learn more about Him and His world, and serve Him better.  (This can be said of any subject, not just Bible studies, and if you haven't thought of things that way before, I'd encourage you to put some thought into how different subject areas glorify God so you can encourage your kids!)  They also need to obey when it comes to their schoolwork, not because it will be easier for me, but because they need to honor their father and mother (Eph. 6:1-3) and do everything to the glory of God (Col. 3:23).  It might seem like alot to explain to a 7 year old, but it's an important concept, and through consistency and repetition I'm hoping they will eventually accept these things as their own.

Finally, I might need to check my attitude.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's ME that's having the bad attitude about schoolwork!  I rush sometimes.  I get frustrated when a concept is harder to teach than I thought it would be.  I am distracted and have other things on my mind than the task at hand.  I don't always set a good example, and sometimes their bad attitude might be sprouting from my poor attitude!  This is something I'm trying to keep in mind and improve in myself.

That's all I've got!



Moms, how do you handle it when your child gives you a hard time about schoolwork/homework?


Painting With A Twist



After a post yesterday that was very difficult for me to write (and share) and a different heavy post last week, I wanted to lighten things up a bit around here this afternoon!  (Probably for my own sake more than yours.)

We are big college football fans in this family.  This goes back to Derek's childhood.  When he was a boy, his dad took him to the spring practice for their college football team every year, and they created alot of good memories around college football!  So when his dad asked Derek if he and our boys wanted to go to spring practice with him this year, obviously they said yes!  I love that they can create multi-generational memories now.

That left the girls and I with nothing to do on a Saturday, and Derek insisted we should do something fun too.  So he did some research and signed us up for a Mermaid Tea And Painting Party.

I did not even know there was such a thing, but the day arrived and the girls and I jumped in the car to head to the paint shop.

I have to admit, it was pretty magical.  First the girls each got to decorate a little plastic teacup.  They got their faces painted.  Disney princess music was playing in the background.  Then we were instructed on how to paint mermaids by a mermaid.  Later she gave us cupcakes.












It was adorable to see how the girls chose to decorate their teacups, and to watch them as they concentrated on filling in the lines on the canvases with paint (we obviously helped them quite a bit).  Every time I look at the pictures in the girls' room now, it makes me smile.

Afterward I was informed repeatedly that it was the best day ever, and really it's thanks to Derek.  I was a little skeptical about whether this was something we should spend money on, and I probably wouldn't have done it myself, but he signed us up and insisted we go.  Husbands are pretty smart.  It ended up being a sweet memory with me and my three girls!  I'm glad we went (and I'd recommend a painting experience with your kids if you ever get the chance, it was pretty fun!).

When Wiping Faces Doesn't Feel Satisfying



Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil.  Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.  And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us.  Yes, establish the work of our hands.

  Psalm 90:14-17


There are days, as a Christian woman and as a stay at home mom, when it’s hard to keep perspective.  No one is very excited to hear what you are doing day in and day out, and to be honest, it’s not exciting to tell it.  I wipe little faces.  I make meals to fill little bellies. I listen to long stories, agonize through sounding out words, correct attitudes that have gone askew.  I try to mold little hearts, but often feel as if I’m making a mess of it, more like a child forming mudpies than a sculptor forming a work of art.

We all love instant gratification, immediate results, the fruits of our social media-saturated culture. We like to look at our work each day and point. “See what I’ve done! See what I’ve grown!” 

Motherhood is not like that. There is no instant progress, and the dopamine hits are few and far between. 

I read in some book once (maybe Teaching From Rest?) about how in medieval times, when the gothic cathedrals were being built, it took several generations to bring them to completion.  So some may have worked on a cathedral their entire lives, and they were lucky if they saw the end product.

I think often the work that will really last, the stuff that will really matter, is not like building a social media platform. It is like building a cathedral.

This passage in Psalms stopped me in my tracks today, because it is the cry of my heart on those days when it is hard to keep perspective. It is everything I want my life to be, everything I want for my children.

Satisfy us early with your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!  I want my children know the kindness of His mercy early, so they may follow Christ all their days. When the days are long and feel fruitless, I want to rest and rejoice and be glad in the salvation He bought for me too.

Let Your work appear to your servants, and Your glory to their children.  I need to keep my eyes on Jesus, to open my eyes to see the work God is doing here, even in the mundane.  I want to teach my children to do the same, so they will know the glory of the One who made them.

Establish the work of our hands for us.  Remember that there are things that will last for a moment, and things that will last forever.  

Money will be spent.  Things will wear out.  Beauty fades.  Fame is fleeting, and social media kingdoms crash to the ground every day.  Some of these things we need to a certain extent, and some things we don't, but all these temporary things are ultimately meaningless by themselves.  If we put our satisfaction in these things, one day we will wake up and realize we wasted our lives.

But there are things that last forever.  There are souls to invest in, from the woman who needs a kind word at the store, to the friend who needs encouragement, to the children giggling down the hall who need to know Jesus.  There is the work we do for Christ.  Even something as simple as wiping chocolate off the little face of an eternal soul, when done to bring more glory to Jesus, is significant.  

Wiping little faces, filling little bellies, showing patience through frustrations, all the while speaking of the mercy and kindness and glory of our King.  Speaking of what He has done to save them if they will just turn to Him in repentance and faith.  So our children (and others) will know it.  So they will know Him. 



That's the work that is worthy of establishing, friends.  That's a cathedral.  And you may not see what this day to day, mundane faithfulness is building, but God does.

Yes, Lord, establish the work of our hands.


Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible



My arms are filled with laundry as I trudged up the stairs, turning the corner to put the clothes away.  Why is it that the laundry is never done? I think to myself.  But my steps slow down as I near the girls' room - one of them is singing in there.  I turn my hear to listen, and recognize one of the lines (amidst some other made-up words).  To God be the Glory, great things He has done!  The words drift out of the bedroom, and I feel a laugh bubbling up in my chest.

One of my greatest joys right now as a mom is to randomly catch one of my children singing a line to hymn.  Or to hear an echo of a catechism question or Bible verse we've been working on as they chatter to other people.  It doesn't happen all the time, but every couple months I catch one of them repeating something that we've been working on, and it makes my heart so happy.

This year one of my focuses with the kids has been developing a morning time routine.  Not only for our homeschooling, but also as a dedicated time each day to pour eternal truths into my kids.  We usually sing a hymn, work on memorizing catechism questions and Bible verses, and read from our Bible, and perhaps one other book.  

I haven't even been as consistent with this as I would like, but somehow things are still soaking through.  It's moments like the one above that remind me why I need to be consistent, why this is important.  I want these truths hidden in their hearts.

This week I have been thinking over a few things that I am trying to remember as I teach my children about Jesus, since we just got a new resource that I am excited to add to our morning Bible time routine (see the end of this post!).  I thought I'd share a few of my little Bible-time "notes to self" here.

Note To Self #1 - Don't refer to the Bible as a "storybook".  To be honest, I'm still working on this one, but I am really trying to not talk about reading a "Bible story" to my kids.  Every other time I tell the kids we are going to read a "story" from a picture book, I'm reading them something that is not true.  I don't want my kids to get the idea that the Bible is just full of nice "stories".  I want them to know it is history!  

So we don't read "Bible stories", we read the "biblical account" of history.  We don't talk about "Bible characters", we talk about "biblical figures".  It's a small shift, but I want my kids to know that this isn't a bunch of fiction - these are accounts of people that really lived, and things God really did!

Note To Self #2 - Memory work matters.  I need this reminder sometimes because when we are having a busy week, our Bible memory work is one of the first things to drop off - but it shouldn't be. I know from firsthand experience that the best way to truly know God's word is to embed it into your mind from a young age.  When I was a kid, we memorized around a hundred verses each year, trying to earn our way to summer camp as part of a program at our church.  Now when I'm facing a tricky situation or doing something wrong or hearing something from a speaker that's just a bit off, the Holy Spirit brings to mind one of the verses I learned as a child.  I may not always remember the reference, but the words are there, hidden in my heart.  I want that for my kids too, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  And the only way to get God's word hidden in their hearts is consistency (and maybe a healthy dose of bribery motivation).

Note To Self #3 - Kids can understand theology.   And probably a lot more than we typically give them credit for.  One of my current pet peeves is when Bible lessons are dumbed down for little ones.  Instead of giving them the real meat of God's word, I think we too often give them a lick and then take the meal away!  

I think I first started to realize this when one of my children asked me why we still sin if Jesus takes our sins away.  Instead of giving a light answer, I had to really dive into our sin nature and justification and sanctification - how Jesus paid for our sins and gives us His righteousness, so we are justified before God when we trust in Him, but we still struggle with sin as God continues to sanctify us while we are on the earth.  Obviously I had to define these words, but I was shocked at how much my little five year old understood!  We underestimate our kids too often.

Note To Self #4 - It's okay to make religion fun for kids.  Lest you think it's all serious doctrinal discussions around here, I have to point this out (and remind myself of this too)!  

I don't take many points from Dennis Prager on religion, since he is not a believer in Christ, but this last Christmas I watched one of his videos where he talked about why it's good to make religion fun for kids.  What he said made so much sense to me.  It gave me some peace of mind as I give my kids the presents, make the Bible-themed snacks (two [swedish] fish and five loaves [crackers], anyone?), play the games, sing the silly songs along with the great ones!  I want to make Bible time fun, so they look back on it with fondness.  

God willing, someday each of my kids will grow to the point where these things I am trying to teach them become personally meaningful and life-changing, as the Holy Spirit convicts them and they truly realize their need for Christ and turn to Him in repentance and faith. I pray for that and it's the reason why I am teaching them in the first place.  But for these little years, they really still need it to be fun too.  It's serious work, teaching our kids about Jesus, but there is no reason we can't laugh while we do it - it may even help it to stick better!



One of the things I do to keep Bible time fun for all of us is to look for new resources periodically to refresh out routine.  We have the Bible we like to use, and the hymn book we sing from, and I am trying to rotate some other resources in and out.  So I was so excited to be able to be on the launch team for these wonderful "Big Words Of The Bible" cards from Tiny Theologians!










These cards each represent and important Greek or Hebrew word that it would be helpful for kids (or you!) to know.  I knew some of these, but some of them are new to me as well!  I am going to add these to our Bible time rotation - we will discuss one each day until we get through them all, and then work on memorizing them.  I am so excited to have a colorful fun resource that also teaches Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words that will be so helpful for my kids (and me) to learn!

The cards are launching on Friday!  
I'll be reminding you on Instagram if you are interested in snagging a set, or you can hop over and follow Tiny Theologians to stay updated and see all their resources (I'm eyeing the ABC Attributes Of God cards and the Fathers Of The Faith cards too)!

Note: I am on the launch team for the Big Words Of The Bible cards and received a set for free from Tiny Theologians!

An Update, With Thanksgiving



Over the last week or so, I have heard several people mention how Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for them.  Maybe they lost relatives around that time of year, or they moved and are away from family.  To be honest, I think I could have dedicated more thought to this over the years.  I haven't had any sort of major traumatic event happen close to a holiday in my life to this point, and I can see how that would kind of ruin a holiday.

I bring this up only because our church is going through some hard stuff right now, right before Thanksgiving.  I wouldn't call any of it "traumatic", but I can see a little more personally how some holidays may become difficult after a major change.



But it also seems to me that Thanksgiving specifically would become a little more important in those circumstances as well.  I think in our American culture, we get so caught up in the trappings of Thanksgiving - the family, the turkey, the football, the pie - that we forget what the whole point of the holiday is.  It's for giving thanks to God for all He has blessed us with.  Sometimes it might be harder to see those blessings in the middle of all that is lost.  But they are always there, and how insulting to the Creator if we throw all His good gifts aside just because we don't have that one gift that we want.

All that to say, I'm thankful for many things this year even though this November has been filled with more heartache and stress and loss, in my own life and those around me, than some in the past.

I'm thankful for my precious children.

I went upstairs today to clean up the boy's room, and found a stack of papers all about fish beside Wyatt's table.  They are crinkled and bent from multiple readings.  He's his own little person, and I love seeing who he is becoming.  It just was a tangible little reminder at how much of a privilege is to raise and shape five precious and unique individuals.  I love that I get to do things like pick up dirty socks, change dirty diapers, and straighten wrinkled papers for all of these precious people.



I'm thankful for my husband.

Derek and I haven't been getting much couple-connection time lately, because he has been so busy tearing out flooring, putting more in, tearing apart bathrooms, and painting kitchen cabinets.  He's been working so hard to bring our vision for this house to life, and still doing his best to take care of the kids and me (especially since we all came down with a stomach bug last week).  He's something special.

I'm thankful for this house.

The remodeling process has been rough, and we've had multiple setbacks - from unforeseen delays, to ordering the wrong thing, to contracting a stomach bug, to even theft (someone stole $1000 worth of wood from us - how does that even happen?)!  I think I have finally accepted that I am not going to get the entire house put together before the Christmas season, and the Christmas decorations are just going to have to go up while we are still moving in.  It's a messy Christmas, and that's okay.  It'll come together eventually!



I'm thankful for my family.

This is a season of upheaval for us, in our house and in our church, but the people are the same.  I'm so glad I have my family (and friends too!) to lean into right now.

I'm thankful for my church.

Aside from the aforementioned upheaval, I can see that so many people are trying to handle everything in a godly way.  Maybe we won't always completely succeed, but the heart is there, and seeing that lets me know we are in a good place.



I'm thankful for my Bible study group.

So many of the ladies made me meals and watched the kids during the move!  They have showered me with love during a transition year, when I was sad about the need to quit our MOPS group in favor of homeschool stuff.  I needed the help with this unexpected move, and they stepped up and filled the gaps.  They've been such a blessing to me.

I'm thankful for audiobooks.

With the way the last three weeks have gone down, I'd be out of luck for my book club if we didn't have audiobooks!  Time to read a physical book I have not.

I'm thankful for the Hallmark Channel.

When you are really in a Christmasy mood but can't decorate (aaah!), Hallmark Christmas movies fill that Christmas-shaped hole.  We signed up for Fubo this year during the month of November and December specifically for football and Christmas movies.  You don't even need a major satellite subscription anymore to watch the channels you want!  What an age we live in.



I'm thankful for Christmas cards, and all the people who send them.

It's easy enough to keep up with people through social media these days, but it's not the same thing as when someone sits down to write out your name and send you a Christmas card.  There is so little of the personal touches anymore because of social media, but at Christmas everyone suddenly remembers that the mail exists, and there are wonderful people at a mailbox on the other side of the line.  It's a special thing.  Christmas cards, don't you ever die out.



I'm thankful for Christmas.

I'm thankful for all the fun Christmas trappings, and most thankful for the Savior who we celebrate.  The gift of our salvation through Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection - that's the greatest gift, and He is the only thing that never changes.



Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends!

I'm hoping to get back to a regular posting schedule soon - I've got something about "The Anatomy Of A Hallmark Movie" in the works in my brain, so stay tuned! 


A Third Birthday Letter To Clarice



My Sweet Clarice,

Darling, amidst all the paperwork and packing and moving, you quietly turned three years old a couple weeks ago.

We celebrated your birthday by taking a trip to the zoo as a family.  We asked you which animals you wanted to see and you said "E-wah-fants!"  Your voice is the cutest thing right now, high-pitched with a lisp.



Your hair is just as curly and delightful as it's ever been.  You are more active right now, so the curls don't stay in perfect formation.  They fluff and fly as you run around, and form the perfect frame for your sweet little face.  I've been intentionally telling you lately how pretty your curls are, and your blue eyes light up every time.

Your favorite food is definitely "choc-wat".  You went out with grandma for your birthday lunch a few weeks ago, and she told me that when she gave you a hot fudge sundae, you took a bite, sighed, and declared "Choc-wat is the BEST!"  You are a girl after my own heart, darling!



You are still very attached to one particular bear, your pink "first birthday" bear.  I've bought a couple replacements and backups for your bear, because it would be so sad if you lost it.  You call it "Baby", and carry it with you everywhere - and you are delighted whenever you get the chance to treat it like a real baby, by putting it in a stroller or strapping it onto yourself like a baby carrier.  You found the backup a couple weeks ago, dubbed it "Other Baby", and now you carry around both of them.  You came downstairs in the middle of the night a couple weeks ago, scared because of a bad dream, and you were clutching a "baby" in each arm, their heads tucked under your chin.  It was so impossibly adorable, I couldn't even stop myself from chuckling.  You act happy and sheepish whenever I tell you that you are a good little mama to your "babies".

When I think about you at this age, I think of a little girl with big feelings. When you are happy, your smile is so huge it takes up your whole face, and I dare anyone not to smile back.  When you are sad, the whole world is ending, and your blue eyes drown in tears.



Whether you are so happy you might burst, or sad enough to get my shirt all wet, when I pick you up to give you a hug your little arms wrap around my neck.  It's hard to want to put you down.  I walked past the mirror when I was carrying you the other day and realized how tiny you still are.



You are such a joy to me, darling, and the one I can always count on for a smile or a snuggle.  You light up all my days.  You have grown so much in the last year.  You have become such a wonderful big sister.  You have started talking more and more.  Your personality has become even more fun, if that were possible.  But you are still my sweet baby girl, willing to cuddle on my lap and dragging around your teddy bear.  I can't wait to see how you grow over this next year, but I also hope it doesn't happen too fast.  I know I'll want these days back.  I'm loving life with you so much right now, at three.

Love You More, Baby Girl.

-Mama


All About Breakfast



Confession:  I give my kids Marshmallow Mateys for breakfast sometimes.

Now that we've gotten that dirty little secret out of the way...

Lately I have been branching out a bit on breakfasts for the kids.  When I went to the homeschool conference this summer, one of the speakers said that you can't really get mad if you gave your kids sugary cereal with nothing more substantial added in, and they act all crazy later.

As we've established, I have nothing against breakfast cereal, but I did think she had a point.

So while we still do Coco Puffs for breakfast occasionally, I've added a few other things into the rotation, with the intention of helping my kiddos get some brain-sharpening, focus-encouraging nutrients in, especially on school days!  Here are a few of my current go-to's.

Oatmeal - One of the reasons I used to default to cereal was because it was a quick, easy breakfast for the kids - but I've learned that oatmeal is fairly quick and easy too!  And it's healthier and more sustaining since they are getting the whole grain.  I use old-fashioned oats, and add a little brown sugar, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, apples, or cinnamon.  The kids think I'm the best mom ever when I add in chocolate chips (but it's still less straight sugar than cereal!).

Muffins (made with freshly-ground flour) - I mentioned that I got a grain mill this summer, and I have to tell you, I love it!  When flour is freshly ground, it still contains all the nutrients that the whole wheat berry contains, so it's more sustaining, has a lower glycemic index, and it's healthier.  But beyond that, I like the way baked goods taste when they are made with fresh flour, and the texture is chewier (which I actually love!).  I have a few go-to muffin recipes from this book. I try to make one batch every week so they can be our on-the-go breakfast, but that doesn't always happen.

Hard-Boiled Eggs with toast - Also quick to make, because I just pull them out of the refrigerator!  (Are you noticing a theme here?  I like quick and easy breakfasts.)  I have to be careful with this one though, because sometimes I forget I boiled the eggs and we don't end up eating them.

Yogurt - We don't eat yogurt as often as I'd like, because with five kids and me that could get expensive really quick.  But sometimes I buy a big container of plain yogurt, and I mix it with honey and frozen berries for the kids' breakfast.  This is also one of my favorite breakfasts for me!

Cereal or Donuts - Everything in moderation, right?  Sometimes cereal or donuts is just easier, and I don't shame myself or anyone else for going there.  Having a sugary breakfast sometimes is fine in my book.

What are your breakfast go-to's?  Any other quick-and-easy ideas for me?

What I Learned In Our First (Real) Year Of Homeschooling




This past week we finished up our homeschool year.  I have to say, I was a homeschooled student, but coming from the mom side is a whole different thing.  There are a lot of advantages I have as a homeschool mom from being a homeschool student myself, but there are also a lot of things that you can't learn until you are on the teaching side of it.  I thought I'd take a little time today to reflect on what I've learned over this first year of homeschooling (first real year anyway - in my book, kindergarten doesn't count).


Homeschooling Is Great For Developing Patience

I would in no way consider myself a patient person.  Patience is something that I've struggled with over the years - I get impatient when things don't go smoothly, when I have to repeat myself, when things don't go my way.  Getting married cured me of some of that.  Having kids has grown me even more.  But having my kids with me 24/7 and teaching them myself at home is a whole other ball game when it comes to patience.

When I mention that I am homeschooling my kids, I've had lots of moms say to me "Oh, I wouldn't have the patience for that."  This year I learned that I don't have the patience for homeschooling either.  The secret is, a lot of moms who choose to homeschool don't have the patience for it.  But homeschooling is an excellent facilitator for sanctification.

I know you've heard it said that if you ask God for more patience, He'll give you opportunities to practice it, and that's exactly what homeschooling has done for me.  It hasn't always been pretty, and my deep-seated impatience has never been more obvious to me, but I can honestly say that at the end of this year that I am more patient then I was at the beginning of the year.  And that's purely through God enabling me and giving me practice at developing patience through this thing called homeschooling.  It's hard, but I know this is exactly why I should be doing it.

It's Okay To Change Curricula In The Middle Of The Year

I mentioned in a recent post that we ended up changing curricula in the middle of the year.  A lot of homeschool posts will advise you against switching your curriculum, will tell you to give it a really good chance before you drop it.  And there's some wisdom in that.  You obviously can't be switching curricula constantly - it would waste a lot of money and stunt your child's learning.  But this year I learned that when something just isn't working, you should find something else that will.  I'm so glad we didn't muddle through the whole year with the curriculum I had originally bought for reading - finding a curriculum that fit was so life-giving to our homeschool days!  Switching curricula mid-year does not mean you are a failure for starting with the wrong one.  When you are in the early homeschooling years with any kid, it's going to take a little trial and error to figure out what will work best with your unique blend of personalities.  I imagine we might have to switch curricula mid-year again at some point since I have five different kids with unique learning needs, and that's okay!

You Will Be Miserable If You Don't Learn To Stop Comparing

I remember seven years ago, as a brand-new mom, I struggled constantly with comparing my baby to all my friends' babies.  I doubted myself whenever another child started rolling over, walking, talking before my own baby.  Every new mom has to learn not to compare her baby to others, because every child learns and develops at their own pace.  I eventually became secure as a mom as I learned those things.  What I didn't expect was for all those insecurities to come roaring back as soon as my oldest hit school age.  This year I had to re-learn all over again that kids' learn and grow at their own pace, and that this will necessarily affect the way we homeschool.  While kids' need to be challenged to grow, there are also times when they are just not ready for a certain academic skill and you have to sit back and wait until they are.  Learning when to challenge your child with a new skill and when to wait a bit - and learning to stop comparing your child to other children - is part of becoming a good homeschool teacher.  



You Actually Can Have A Baby In The Middle Of A Homeschool Year

I have to admit, I was nervous about how having a new baby in the house would affect our homeschool year.  This is the first year we have had a legal requirement on the amount of days we needed to do school, and I was really worried that having a baby would make it hard to hit our target. But I learned that having a baby in the middle of a school year is not really a big deal.  The great part of homeschooling is that it is so flexible!

I tried to get ahead a bit by schooling a few days here and there over last summer, but we only accumulated 20 extra days.  When Georgie was born at the end of October, I took the entire months of November and December off, and we didn't do a single thing (aside from some field trips).  But we still finished up our school year before June!  Our school days after Georgie arrived were laid-back and simple - we did practically no school work in the mornings.  When the little ones were down for a nap in the afternoon, then we would work on our reading, language arts, and math.  When the younger ones got up, we'd read our history and science books together.

I was surprised and encouraged to see that homeschooling fit easily into our new life stage - and the key was letting our days be flexible.  I'm actually glad I didn't have to deal with getting my kids out the door in the morning and picking them up by a certain time every day, not to mention all the extra preparation for lunches and school events - it might actually be easier to have a baby without sending my kids' to a school building!

Learn To Love What Must Be Done

I am admittedly an academia-loving person.  I get excited by school supplies.  I love studying and learning new things myself.  I actually love the idea of teaching my kids history and science!  But there are some areas of being a homeschool teacher that I was not as excited about.  I've had multiple friends make comments to me too about not looking forward to homeschooling, not feeling excited or passionate about it.  However, through this first year of homeschooling I've learned that it is possible to learn to love what must be done.

I can't remember where I first heard this phrase, but it has become a constant refrain for me this year, as we pushed through our lessons on days when I was just not feeling it.  It's impossible to be passionate and excited about something all the time, and I think to be successful at homeschooling you have to realize that. You can push through and learn to love what you are doing anyway.

It's the difference between the newly-married, heart-pounding love, and the steady deeper love that you have when you've been married for years.  As the fresh excitement of the school year faded, and the seeming drudgery of daily work took over, I learned that there is a deeper satisfaction and passion that develops when you push through, as you find the meaningful in the midst of the everyday, as you learn to shake things up and give yourself a fresh perspective throughout the journey.

That's how you learn to love what must be done, by sticking with a commitment even when you don't feel a superficial excitement about it - there's a deeper accomplishment, and yes, even a love, that comes with the commitment.

Next year is my first year homeschooling two kids in two different grades, so the learning has just begun!  Stay tuned.

Homeschool friends, what was the biggest thing you learned in your first year of homeschooling?


Lots Of Firsts - Georgie At Seven Months


Georgie Bea is seven months old, and this post is late!  Whoops.  I'm blaming vacation (even though it was a month ago).

Growth And Eating

We are solidly into size 2 diapers and 6-9 month clothes, though I still make some smaller sizes work as well.  Her feet are big enough for shoes now, but since it's summer I rarely put shoes on her.  She looks adorable in her baby swimsuit (I will share pictures on Instagram soon).

Georgie has really filled out over the last couple months, and I love her chubby little cheeks!  We started food purees this month, and she loves them.  She often lurches toward the spoon if I don't bring it to her mouth fast enough.

She is still cuddly and sweet when I feed her a bottle, and she snuggles into my and reaches up to touch my face.  I love that she still does this, even though we are no longer nursing.  She can almost hold her own bottle now, but I try not to let her too often when we are at home, because I want to enjoy her baby snuggles.



Sleeping

No change, she's still amazing.  She does have a harder time when I first lay her down lately, but she's usually still asleep within 15 minutes.

Firsts

We went on Georgie's first family vacation this month!  Maybe I'll get around to posting about it before the summer is over.  She had her first plane flight, and did wonderfully on the plane.  She met her Uncle Jeff and Aunt Rae for the first time.  She saw the ocean for the first time (even though she won't remember it).

We also started solids for the first time (which she loved)!



Personality

Georgie hates water, and always gives me this desperate, betrayed look when I put her in the bathtub.  She hates getting sprayed with the sunscreen.  Aside from those two things she has generally been an abnormally happy baby.  It's not hard to get her to smile!  She also has the cutest little baby laugh (I know, I say that about all my babies).

Of course, as we've passed the 7 month mark her teething has gotten a little more aggressive, and she has had some days where she just gets upset whenever I put her down and wants to be held all day.  Whenever I pick her up she immediately gives this triumphant grin and pats my shoulder, and I have a vague feeling that I've just been played.  Still, I usually just try to accommodate - she'll be crawling soon, and then who knows if she'll want me to hold her?



---

Georgie Bea, 

How you've grown this month!  You are starting to look like an "older" baby.  The happiest place for you to be is resting on my hip, and you grin at everyone who looks at you.  I love your sweet smile and dimples, you charm people wherever we go!  Even the people on the plane couldn't get irritated that they were sitting by a baby because you were so darn cute.  I love how your eyes follow me around when I'm not holding you, and you lean toward me with your little raised eyebrows whenever you catch my eye.  I'm still your favorite, and you can be attached to my hip for as long as you want, Baby Girl.  I love you more than all the stars in the sky.

Love Always,

Mama


936 Pennies Review - Recommended!



I somehow found Erin Lynum on Twitter a few years ago, and I specifically remember clicking through to her blog and reading her post about receiving a jar of 936 pennies as she dedicated her baby at her church.  The 936 pennies represented the weeks she would have with her baby from birth until their 18th birthday.  In that post she challenged moms to make sure they were spending their 936 pennies well.  That idea stuck with me, so when I saw this book, I knew exactly who had written it and I snagged it!

I would classify 936 Pennies: Discovering The Joy Of Intentional Parenting as memoir/encouragement for moms.  Erin shares a lot of her own mothering journey and ways she has learned to "spend her pennies well" over the years.  She doesn't get preachy or tell you what you "should" do, but instead presents her personal experiences as an encouragement and challenge to parent intentionally, with the passing of time in the forefront of our minds.  Her kids are about the same age or perhaps slightly younger than mine, so while there were certain sections that I no longer struggle with as much, I could deeply relate to 95% of the book.

There were a couple little quibbles I had here and there with how she worded certain things, but I can definitely say this book is solid doctrinally and is thoroughly grounded by biblical truth and the gospel.  She doesn't just focus on superficial suggestions to make our days smoother or more fun, but she digs down deep into what it means to parent our children with not just 936 pennies but eternity in mind.  I especially enjoyed the chapters toward the end about memory-making and keeping (something I spent some time writing about last fall), and about how we can gain some time back by using technology well.

I highly, highly recommend this book!  I found myself so encouraged to invest in my kids and put some of my own strategies in place to use my time with them in a way that will matter for eternity.  I also think this would make an excellent baby shower or first birthday party gift, along with a jar of 936 pennies, of course.  If you are a mom, check this one out!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.
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