faith · family · homemaking · homeschooling · kids · learning · marriage · motherhood · parenting · teenagers

How to Not Be Empty

Beware of the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

I really don’t know when I got it in my head that I desperately needed to outsource in our homeschool to be successful.  After Samuel was born I think I was determined not to let another baby hold my older children back from their goals (my goals is more like it). It was a great plan, so I thought… just let someone else teach them, hold them accountable.

What followed was a year of schooling outside the home, in co-ops and online.  How I reasoned that packing this gang of five up in a car and traveling an hour one way was an easier way to educate my upper level students is kinda foggy…but I do vaguely remember my husband warning me, counseling me, shaking his head at me.

At first we were cooking with gas…getting lots of educational stuff done, making friends, going to fun activities, and in general just enjoying the new day to day.  We were busy, and in the beginning that felt as if we were thriving.  However, after a little while I noticed that our lives were becoming less and less centered at home. My cooking became weird, our prayers too sparse, everyone was going in different directions, the littles were being cared for but not cared for, I was growing more and more discontent, and in general just feeling disconnected with myself and my family, especially my husband.

And then a few weeks ago I hit a wall, circumstances collided and my choices became clear…all that is left now is to correct course.  My mom commented, “Mandy, thank goodness you have things you can cut without hurting anyone…the activity and busyness of your life can be easily remedied.”  Her comments are those of a woman who knows what it is like to have responsibilities that cannot be remedied.

The ability to correct busyness is a blessing, almost like a gift, and I am very grateful for the freedom to choose the life I desire and need.

I see now that my outsourcing was about fear and pride…it was me believing that our home life was not enough…that I was not enough.  Ironically, it is the outsourcing that is causing a true emptiness, an exhaustion and distraction that makes me unavailable. It also refocuses our life on things that are not bad in themselves, but result in a deep and true distraction nonetheless.

So, here is my remedy for emptiness…how to not be empty…Go Home!

Women leave home for many reasons, and I only judge myself, we all have stories.   Sometimes home seems the most empty place on earth and outsourcing presents itself as a remedy, and for some this may be true.  However, for me my home is a fountain of grace, a constant outlet of energy, and a nourishing refuge.  Home is my remedy for emptiness, my journey has taught me this.

books · food · kids · learning · seasons · winter

Long Cold Winter

“Ho, Mouse!” says Hare.
“Long time no see!”
So they pop white corn. 
And they brew black tea.
            -Bear Snores On
boys · family · kids · learning · motherhood · parenting

Honoring the Process

When I was a young teenage girl my mom and dad traveled to Indonesia on a missionary trip.  Of all the stories they came back with I remember one in particular.  The home where my parents stayed belonged to a middle class Indonesian family and they had three small children.  My mother was very intrigued by the way the mother of the home handled her children.  The maternal grandmother also lived in the home, and she was as much a part of the children’s daily care as the mother.

What impressed my mother the most was how well behaved the little boys were…how pleasant.  As she watched the ladies care for the children she was shocked to see that the word “no” was hardly ever used.  In fact, most of the day was spent following the children around and gently redirecting, letting the children explore, climb, and play at will.  The mother or grandmother stood by quietly, always watching and ready to catch, hold, and otherwise facilitate the child’s self direction while securing their safety.

One afternoon my mother witnessed the oldest boy eating his lunch while riding his bike in the street with his friends.  The mother was standing on the other side of the front yard fence with a bowl of rice and vegetables, and every few minutes the boy would ride up to the fence and get a bite from her then return to riding.  He ate the entire bowl while playing with his friends.

As a mother I just love that image.

Motherhood is a wondrously complicated and highly individual art. It is shaped by unfathomable impressions, memories, experiences, and nuances.  It is absolutely impossible to know what a mother is supposed to do or why she does what she does.  These things are shaped by something unseen, something that resides in the heart of the mother and is incomprehensible to others.  I told the story above to share just how this heart is developed.  Like a magnet that attracts all the metal in the junk drawer, a woman has been collecting her mother conscious all her life.  The boy on the bike eating his lunch in freedom was given to me second hand, and yet it has been a powerful metaphor for child raising in my own experience.  This is miraculous when one ponders the nature of how we humans go about caring for our young.

I think that most of the skills, knowledge, and abilities we have as mothers are gained through the organic process of living.  And if we stay connected to the vast storehouse that is the present moment we have everything we need to be a good mother.  I have heard women say, “I was never taught how to be a good mother.”  And I agree if what is meant by this statement is more truthfully, I never had an example of a good mother in my life.  However, I do not think this makes it impossible to be a good mother…what wisdom and heart can be found in the pain of a troubled childhood.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

The greatest tool I have ever used as a mom is awareness…just practicing awareness.  In each moment, if I am truly present I am always enough.  I am never perfect, but I am enough.  Within my heart I have everything I need to love and cherish and mother my children…it’s all there, everything I have collected and experienced has brought me to this moment, and I can trust my own heart.  Honoring this process and recognizing it is dynamic is the tricky part.  This gaining and collecting process is ongoing and very much alive.  It is natural to change and grow as a mother as I live longer…motherhood is not static.

Another aspect to this process is that as a community of mothers it would be wonderful if we honored the process in each other.  When a mom says she needs support she is not asking for advice or the latest parenting self-help book per se.  What she needs is for someone to get to know her well enough that she can share her heart with that person.  And it is in the sharing of the heart that women come to themselves, that they learn through communal sharing…women are very communal.  When we honor each other we intrinsically honor ourselves, and this type of friendship is authentic and life giving.

I suspect that the reason I have been struggling with my parenting lately is because I have not been honoring the process…I tend to demand a type of static perfection.  And this is lazy parenting. Awareness demands that I stay present, plugged in, and connected with my kids.  As far as I know Moses has not come down off the mountain with the 10 laws of motherhood, oh wouldn’t that be easy…or maybe not.

Maybe being a good mother is kind of like standing at the fence and feeding the child while he rides his bike…being that stable source of nourishment while the child rides like the wind.  Maybe it’s just being willing to roll with it and trust that what’s in my bowl is enough.  Maybe it is acknowledging where and how my bowl is filled.

 And maybe what makes a great friend and support is that I honor that process in you.              

                

fun · homeschooling · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · learning · parenting

Homeschool Convention

I am going to the Texas Homeschool Convention with my sweet sister-in -law.  I have not gone to one in a couple of years, but this convention has a lineup of seminars that interest me…they are practical and informative.  I am especially interested in the seminars on high school transcripts/portfolios/scholarship applications.  I am also looking forward to introducing my SIL to the wonderful world of homeschool books and curriculum.  She and my brother are planning to homeschool their children.  Emmelia, their daughter, is my godchild. They are expecting baby number two, and I am super excited! 

homeschooling · kids · learning · math

Math Facts Boot Camp

The strategies I learned as an assistant in a math rehabilitation classroom in an alternative school years ago are strategies that I use to this day.
I believe wholeheartedly in learning the basic math facts.  I believe in drill!  Drill for the skill!
My third grade student is in my math boot camp this year.  If all we accomplish this year is learning the basic math facts and learning them with speed and confidence, I am very confident that this foundation will ensure success for future abstract skills.  
If your student is struggling with math, if they falsely believe that they are “bad” at math, it could be that math facts drill is just what they need to regain a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
Below is a list of where to start…this is how I progress through the basic facts of addition and subtraction.  In a later post I will share some great tricks to learn the multiplication and division facts quickly and with a bit of fun!  
  •  doubles ( 1+1, 2+ 2, 3 + 3, 4+ 4, 5 + 5, 6 + 6, 7 + 7, 8 + 8, 9 + 9)
  • doubles plus 1: Child uses what they know about doubles and adds 1… sounds like 8 + 9 is the same as 8 + 8 +1 which is 9
  • doubles minus 1: Child uses what they know about doubles and subtracts 1…sounds like 8 + 7 is the same as 8 + 8 -1
  • number plus 1 or plus two ( 5 + 1, 4 + 2)
  • number plus or minus zero (5 + 0, 6 + 0)
  • commutative property (3 + 2 = 2 + 3) 
  • ten combinations ( 5 + 5, 6 + 4, 7 + 3, 8 + 2, 9 + 1)
  • ten plus a number (10 + 4, 10 + 7)
Subtraction
One great way to teach mastery in subtraction is to teach it in relation to addition.  For example, once the student knows (or maybe you are using this method to teach addition as well) that 8+2=10 you can easily introduce fact families.  You might say, “We will use these same numbers (10, 8, and 2) to memorize 10-8 and 10-2. 10, 8, and 2 are a fact family…and they stick together.  10-8…who is missing?  Well, it’s two of course!  10-8 is 2!”  
Most fact families of 3 make 4 facts. Example:
  
8+2=10
2+8=10
10-2=8
10-8=2
0’s can be tricky. Example:
7+0=7
0+7=7
7-0=7
7-7=0
Doubles make 2. Example:
2+2=4
4-2=2
A creative way to make your own set of fact family flash cards is to pick up the paint sample cards at a home improvement store that have four colors.  Write each fact from the fact family on the 4 different colors.  If you were to make all the fact families from 1 to 18 in this way that would mean you would need about 100 paint samples.
Fact family paint sample flash cards can also be used for multiplication and division facts.
No time spent learning these basic skills is ever wasted.  It can be fun, and it definitely improves a child’s attitude when they know their stuff! 
Here are  a few helpful resources I have found.
    
books · homeschooling · kids · learning · play · winter

January Preschool

Make coffee filter snowflakes.
Learn the snowflake song by Jean Warren.
Cotton-Ball counting.
Have a tea party and serve Blueberry muffins and Ceylon tea.
Make bird feeder pine cones.
Learn the Seven Continents song.
Make a paper patch quilt and practice shape recognition.
Learn the meanings of the words: greedy and generosity.


Cut and glue vegetables from magazines onto a cut out soup pot.  
Practice the names of vegetables.  
Help make a pot of soup with mommy.  
Play which onion is bigger.  
Practice setting the table properly.
Field Trip Ideas: Ice Skating, Quilt Shop, Kitchen Store
.




cleaning · cooking · faith · family · homeschooling · kids · learning · marriage · nutrition · organizing · projects

Daily Docket

Special Day– Birthday, Name day, Feast day, Holiday, Saint.
Pace- What speed do I have to go today?  Do I really need to be running like a hare, or can I take it slow like a turtle?  Knowing the pace of the day is good for me.
Priorities- What are the top 5 things I have to get done today?  Did Slade ask me to do something for him?  Do we have appointments?  Do I need to pay a bill or make a phone call?
Parenting- A mommy focus for the day.  A special lunch for Elinor.  A walk with Sophia. Be patient and speak softly today.  Play airplane with Sam.  Talk with Addy late tonight.  Practice piano with Caroline.
Partner- Something sweet, something small, something kind, something for Slade.
The Plan- A skeleton for the day…when I will do what’s on the docket.
Daily Readings- One sentence that captures something inspirational from my readings.
Prayers- Just a reminder, a little circle to remind me to make prayer a priority.
Pantry to Pot- Start dinner at breakfast.  Make meal times intentional and nutritious.
Project- If I have time what is one project I can tackle today?
Professor- What are the school goals for today?
  Water- Remember to stay hydrated.