What I Learned in October

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.October path
What We Are Reading:
The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos
The Story of the World Volume 1
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter
The Pond People by Clara Dillingham Pierson
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb
Indescribable: 100 Devotions abut God and Science by Louie Giglio
Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
Don’t let this list intimidate. We usually just read one chapter a day. Slowly reading the books, narrating back the reading for the day, and short discussions, have richly enhanced our learning.
Living Education
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I am new to Charlotte Mason. Well, this is not entirely true. The first friend to take the time to sit me down and explain how she homeschooled her children explained Charlotte Mason and her methods to me. But, I am new to understanding and taking hold of the philosophy of Charlotte Mason.
Upon hearing about Charlotte Mason, I was immediately drawn to the idea. Being a lover of the written word and high quality literature, I was hooked.
But, just as the seed in Mark 4 became choked out by thorns, my instant draw to the lovely way to educate according to Charlotte Mason became choked out by the idea that I needed to do more. Longer lessons. Complete more. Produce, produce, produce.
Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who believed in using Living Books (books said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit) in order to educate the whole child. There is much more to learn about Charlotte Mason and you could begin here: Simply Charlotte Mason if you would like to learn more.
This Charlotte Mason philosophy brings me a sense of freedom and peace in educating my girls.
Rather than working against the natural way in which my children and I were created, we are now working our way back to the way in which we were designed to learn and live.
We are reading and learning from Living Books. We are spending regular time observing and learning in nature. We are learning and practicing the skill of narration: retelling stories or portions of literature from memory.  We are looking at art and reading poetry.
I am lessening my words with each passing day and allowing my children to process, think, create images, connect ideas and be led by the Spirit.
We are filling our minds with the lovely. We are dwelling on beautiful ideas. We are keeping our lessons short and we are wanting more. We are being led by the Spirit and our homeschool is alive again.
Nature Study
Nature study is one of my most favorite parts of the week. We get outside. We use all of our senses. We observe. We learn. We laugh. We get excited about the beauty of the Lord all around us.
We are using the book, Exploring Nature with Children to help focus our learning. This book has a weekly nature walk activity, a nature journal activity, a poem, and a piece of artwork to study.
Enjoy our photos of our nature study.
What did you learn this month? What books are you reading? Please share your learning in the comments! I’d love to read it!

What I Learned in September

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Sept Path

Here we are wrapping up September. This is year 3 of homeschooling for our family and it’s been the smoothest transition thus far. I attribute it to several things. One being that we continued some schoolwork all summer, but never missed anything fun that came up. Two being that it’s year 3 and in my experience year 3 is like a magic year. When I was a public school teacher, I found that year 3 of teaching the same grade level or same curriculum really finally came together for me. And, three, many of the changes we have made to handling discipline in our family, have brought about greater peace for us all. Amen to all of the above!

My Reading this Past Month

  • Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio
  • When Parenting Isn’t Perfect by Jim Daly
  • Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (I try to read this once a year!)

Our Reading this Past Month

  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton
  • What to do When It’s Not Fair by Jacqueline Toner
  • What to do When Mistakes Make You Quake by Jacqueline Toner
  • Story of the World Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer

Back to school 2017

1-2-3 Magic (123 Magic)

A very wise counselor shared with me the idea of utilizing the 1-2-3 Magic approach for stopping negative behaviors in my children. Think of any lower level behavior you want to stop: arguing, whining, badgering, and complaining, etc. There are many short youtube videos you can watch to learn more about this approach.

Here is how we are using it and finding it successful in our family:

First I set up the plan with the kids. I explained to the kids that we have been allowing behaviors such as arguing and complaining to ruin perfectly good days for us. We want to deal with the behaviors in a quicker way so that we can get back toward whatever God has called us to for that day. I told them that if they argue (complain, whine, badger), I will say, “That’s 1” and hold up 1 finger. They have a choice to make. Stop or continue. If they continue, I will say, “That’s 2” and hold up 2 fingers. If they choose to continue, I will say, “That’s 3” hold up 3 fingers and say (as unemotionally as possible), “It’s time for a break.” I will designate a spot for a break and tell them I will let them know when break is over (5-10) minutes.

After the first explanation of this plan, one little darling almost immediately thought she would test it out! Okay, here we go! Help me, Lord!

Darling child, “Can I have a snack?”

Mom, “No, it’s 30 minutes until dinner.”

Sweet, darling child, “But, I am HUNGRY. I haven’t eaten for 10 minutes! Why can’t I have a snack?”

Mom, “It’s 30 minutes until dinner. And, that’s 1,” holding up 1 finger.

Dear, sweet, darling child, “But, I am so hungry! Why can’t you tell me why?”

Mom, “That’s 2,” holding up 2 fingers.

Lovely, dear, sweet, darling, child, “Oh great! So you can’t even tell me why!? I just want a snack!”

Mom, “That’s 3, time for a break. Please go sit on the stairs. I will tell you when break is over.”

Precious, lovely, dear, sweet, darling, child, “Why did you have to talk to that counselor!” stomping off to the stairs.

I am not worrying about the behavior on the way to the stairs because my goal is to quickly and unemotionally stop the badgering and to reset. We are doing that by taking a break.

I set a timer for 10 minutes and then call to the child, “Break is over.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the child returned in a pleasant mood, ready to find something to do until dinner.

Flash forward to the next morning. Darling child, “Can I make pancakes for breakfast?”

Mom, “That sounds good, but we have to leave in one hour so there just isn’t time today.”

Sweet, darling child, “But, why can’t I make pancakes?”

Mom, “We are leaving soon. And, that’s 1,” holding up 1 finger

Child sulks off grumbling something under her breath, all the while developing self-control.  We move on with our day.

For more serious infractions such as physically hurting someone, damaging property, or aggression, you go straight to 3 and the child takes a break. Usually a more serious infraction also involves some sort of restitution in our house…fixing what they broke, mending the relationship, doing something physical to get the aggressive behavior out appropriately.

Be Your Own Health Advocate

At age 25, when I first became ill with an ultra rare disease, aHUS (atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome), doctors had little idea of what was going on or what to do about it. And, I didn’t know that when a doctor said, “Let’s try XYZ to treat you,” I should say, “Why? Explain this to me.”

I didn’t realize the doctor was not my boss. The doctor is not all-knowing. And my life is not in the doctor’s hands.

In a healthy patient/doctor relationship, the patient is free to ask questions, seek clarification, share about their own research, and discuss concerns. If a doctor does not accept this from you as the patient, you should strongly consider finding a different doctor.

I have had a few wonderful doctors over the years. Besides accepting questions and thoroughly listening to me, the wonderful ones are those that admit when they don’t know something and then they seek to learn.

What about you? What did you learn this month? Is that a tough question to answer? Don’t worry! God has an answer for that. James, 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Need wisdom? Need to learn something? Need to see a breakthrough in a certain situation in your life? Need greater understanding?

ASK GOD, the one who gives it to you liberally!

 

 

What I Learned in June

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

IMG_0581June! The month with the longest day of the year. Days full of light. More freedom from routines.

I love this path photo above. Sometimes the Lord just lays out the path in front of us. He says, “You have been stumbling over the rocks, sticks, and waves long enough. I have set this path before you. Take it! Follow Me!” He cuts away what needs cutting away and reveals His perfect way. His way which may not feel perfect, definitely doesn’t feel easy, but nonetheless, it’s His sovereign, Holy, wise plan. When I follow it, His fruit is displayed and my heart is at peace. Oh, Father, you are so good!

Books I am reading (which are encouraging me to follow Him):

  • Matthew
  • Taming the Giants: Stripping the Power from Overwhelming Emotions by Cathy Dickinson
  • Anything by Jennie Allen
  • Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner

Books I am reading with my girls:

  • 24 Family Ways
  • The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein
  • The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Fox

We are participating in a reading challenge, which encourages us to read books from all over the world: Give Your Child the World. Some books we’ve thoroughly enjoyed during this challenge:

  • Owen and Mzee The language of friendship. By Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu
  • Off to class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes
  • Stories to Solve: Folktales from Around the World by George Shannon
  • A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World

June books

A Summary of My Learning This Month: 

Traditions

Kids love traditions! They love having special things that are unique for our family. They love knowing they can count on the repetition of the fun activity or event or food. We have developed a couple of easy, new traditions which are helping to bring greater family connection. With our girls nearing the teenage years, we are facing a new dynamic…our kids don’t always want to spend time with us! It’s strange, new, sometimes nice, and sometimes a threat to our closeness. Traditions are helping to maintain some together time.

America’s Funniest Videos (AFV) in the big bed! We ALL load up in our king-sized bed. All the humans in the house as well as our 2 cats and we laugh and gasp at the crazy things people do on video. Fun, light-hearted time to relax and laugh together is a beautiful thing.

Visiting Tree Houses! Can a tradition be a tradition if it’s only happened once? I don’t think so. But, can we can count it a tradition if we plan to repeat this activity? I think so! My husband found us the most lovely “House in the Trees”in Tigard, Oregon where we played games, ate snacks, read books, watched Lassie and Little House on the Prairie, pretended to be pirates, slid down a slide to exit the house, drank coffee, and connected as a family. This activity is begging to become a tradition!

Sunday afternoon tea. We bake gluten free scones, put some cheese and fruit on a plate, and each get a warm beverage of our choice, and enjoy a little sit down, lovely time together before the busyness of the week takes off the next day.

Schedules

Although my children fight the idea of using a schedule for homeschooling, we all breathe a sigh of relief now that we have made the adjustment to having blocks of learning times scheduled each day. I purchased some cheap, very basic planners from Michael’s. I have always resisted using any kind of planner or schedule book because I feel so boxed into the format they use. But, the planners I found have very little on them. On a two page layout for each week, they contain only 5 days of the week, Monday-Friday, and contain 6 boxes per day, as well as a notes section.

Planner pic

Sunday evening, I sit down and think through our week and each day. It takes a considerable amount of time and brain power, but it avoids so much conflict, anxiety, and debate throughout the week. We often make adjustments to our schedule. It’s all written in pencil. But, it’s working very well for us to have a general idea of what each day holds. It’s also giving us a chance to see how long things actually take and helping to provide necessary and important breaks.

Recently, while visiting a science museum, our children’s anxiety and moodiness heightened after we’d been there for several hours. No one was ready to leave, but there was so much talk about what we were going to do next. I thought of our planners and the boundaries they provide, and quickly and verbally explained a rough schedule for the rest of our time at the museum. Everyone let out a deep breath, and my one daughter looked at me and said, “Thank you, mom. I just needed to know what was coming.”

I pray you are learning, growing and seeking what the Lord has for you. I’d love to hear what new “take away” you have to share. Please consider sharing in the comments. Blessings, dear reader!

What I Learned in May

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

IMG_0943

Each month, I am looking for pictures of paths as I go about my life. I love paths. They depict a journey, which is exactly where I find myself. On a journey. A journey of leaving behind old, non-fruit bearing patterns, and seeking out the path the Lord has for me. The picture I chose for this month depicts my journey through the month of May. Sharp edges, beautiful, rugged, cutting away, some smoothed down rocks, trees rooted holding on to their foundation for life. Yes, that describes my month.

It’s the cutting away that is rough. It leaves me feeling rugged and edgy at times. But, when it’s all said and done, I am smoother. My heart more beautiful. And my foundation more secure.

Thank you, God. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not leaving me the way I was. 

Books I am reading (which are aiding in my refining):

Books I am reading with my girls as read alouds:

books in May

A Summary of my learning this month:

Let Your Yes be Yes

Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

When I have a deep conviction or belief about something, but I allow something to continue which goes against that  belief, I will have anxiety, unrest, turmoil inside…no peace!

An example of this is our homeschool schedule. If I have a belief that our school day should start by a certain time, but I allow my kids to sleep later each morning, dawdle, procrastinate until past our start time, then I am already beginning the day with conflict within myself. In contrast to this approach would be to clearly communicate the expectations the night before and have a plan in place for how and when the kids will wake up. I can expect there will be conflict and complaints about waking up and adhering to the schedule, but I won’t have conflict within myself. I will have peace within myself because my yes will be yes and my no will be no!

Letting Go of Control

The following quote by Sally Clarkson in the book, Different,  summed up what I am learning about letting go of control, “It is possible to be content even when life feels out of control. And, that as long as we assume we could not be happy until we control all the circumstances of our lives, we will continue to be unhappy.”

My prayer closet preparation for the day each morning, allows me to remind myself of God’s greatness. I speak it aloud to Him, not because He needs reminding of His power or Sovereign control, but because I desperately do. I speak it aloud to my loving Heavenly Father, and then I breathe and rest in knowing I don’t control this life. This life which feels so out of control at times, is actually out of MY control. But, it’s not spinning wildly. It’s being held together. It’s been perfectly planned. And, I have a joy in knowing HIs purposes are greater than mine.

People Need Hope

Through desperate actions, an old friend reminded me how hopeless the world is around us. People around us are taking drastic actions each day. Taking deadly drugs, downing large amounts of alcohol, leaving their loved ones, harming themselves, and even killing themselves because they have no hope. If you are a Christian, a follower after Christ, you have a responsibility, I have a responsibility. We need to be sharing about the source of our hope. Jesus is the only never-failing source of hope, and the world desperately needs to hear our message.

1 Peter 3:15 says,  “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect“.

Whew, and we are on to June. I don’t know about you, but for me, this month has been exhausting. Sometimes the Lord turns up the heat and the growth He takes us through is a bit grueling. But, it’s done in love. Oh, dear one, never forget, it’s done in love. Whatever place you may be stuck in right now, He won’t leave you there. He loves you too much to ever leave you there. Look to Him. Keep looking to Him and He will pull you out of that place. 

padden

 

 

 

A Girl and Her Purple Guitar

She’s relentless.

“Can I just look on Craigslist? Please, mom?”

“Yes, you may LOOOOK. Did I say we are buying? No. We are looking. Your sister just turned 12 and she just got a guitar. You are learning piano and that keeps you busy. You may look and see what’s on Craigslist, but we are NOT buying a guitar for you right now.” My long, drawn out explanation was in one ear, and you know the rest.

Our 9-year-old, Abby, was already entranced in the beautiful instruments she saw flash on the computer screen. “Oh, mom! Look at this one! It’s so beautiful!” Her eyes lit up and she clapped her hands together with excitement.

“Yes, that is really nice,” I say while passing by on the way back to the oven to check on dinner. “But, again, we are not buying one.”

After dinner the daunting topic returns. “When can I get one, you guys? I have enough money. I want a guitar so bad! There’s this one that has numbers on the top. It’s for a little kid. I don’t want that one. But, there’s this other one. It’s purple and really shiny. I would love to have a purple guitar.”

“Let’s just wait. You just started talking about guitars a few days ago. I am sure your sister will let you borrow hers when she’s not using it. Besides, I know you don’t believe this, but it’s actually really good for us to have to wait for things.”

Again, my words were tuned out while the daydreaming began.

Abby big guitar

Days passed and this pattern continued. It seemed that an hour couldn’t pass without the word, guitar, entering into the conversation. No longer was it just guitar. Now, she was very specific, purple guitar. She was set on getting a purple guitar.

She’s relentless.

And, I am exasperated.

Finally, it got to where we had to ban the word, guitar.

“No more. We will tell you when we think it’s time to buy one of those, those, those instruments. But, until then, no more talk about gui…those instruments!”

She walked away defeated and I walked away feeling uncertain.

Hasn’t my prayer every day this week been for my girls to draw closer to the Lord? Haven’t I been praying for them to find their own ways to connect with God, apart from me or anyone else? Haven’t I played a large part in instilling a love for music in my girls? Constantly having music playing? Taking them to music class weekly? Insisting they practice the piano?

The next day, in my prayer closet, I realize, I have not even prayed about this purple guitar. It’s been a daily topic. A regular source of contention in our home, but not once did I seek God for wisdom. I answered, “no” before ever bringing it before the Father.

“Lord, you know her desire. But, Lord, I don’t want to spoil my kids. I want them to know how to wait. But, Lord, she loves music. She loves to worship and talk about your love. Please, Lord, give us your wisdom. Give us your heart and your eyes to see what this desire of hers is really all about. And, Lord, if it’s your will that she gets a guitar, please make it clear to us.”

Finally, the peace I needed, rather than the constant irritation around the subject. I still didn’t have an answer but I knew that I was open to what the Lord wanted and wasn’t going into this decision alone.

Towards the end of her piano lesson, I hear the topic come up again.

“Do you know how to play the guitar? I really want a guitar. Mikayla got one. But, my mom won’t let me get one.” I hear her spill it all out to her beloved piano teacher, Lindsey.

Talking from the other room continues, until Abby runs into where I am, breathless and wide eyed. “Can I mom? Please, mom? Come on, mom, please?”

Lindsey, seeing my confusion, explains, “I was just telling Abby about my guitar. I just got a new one last week. I have my old guitar at home. If my sister doesn’t want it, it’s all yours!”

“Really? You just happen to have a guitar at home? Well, it sounds like you need to check with your sister. And, I will need to check with my husband. But, it sounds like it may be a possibility.”

“Oh, just out of curiosity, what color is the guitar?”

“Oh yeah, it’s purple.”

Really, God? I just prayed this morning. I finally just handed this one over to you. Here you are bringing the answer right here to us. We didn’t have to search online and wonder what your plan was. No, you walked that purple guitar right on into our house!

Abby guitar

Now, of course I have no idea if Abby will ever really learn to play the guitar. I don’t know if this is a phase or if she’ll be a lifelong guitarists. I don’t know. And, I don’t have to figure that out. What I do know is that when left on my own, I had anxiety in my heart regarding what to do. I handed it over to the Lord, was flooded with peace, and He provided His answer.

A purple guitar brought right to our doorstep.

Once again, He proved to me:

He knows and cares about every detail of my life.

He desires for me to come to Him with everything.

He loves me.

 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:30-31

 

What I Learned in April

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

April Path

A few months ago, I began blogging about my monthly learning. I hope to be a life-long learner and I find it helps to solidify my learning if I take some time to reflect and write about it. I would love to hear about your learning in the comments below. This month, I will begin listing books I am reading or listening to as well as books I am reading with my daughters, ages 9 and 11.

  • Headstands are hard! I used to be able to do headstands  anytime I wanted. They required little effort. Out of nowhere, I began to wonder if I could still do a headstand. The answer is a big fat NO! But, I am working at it. There are YouTube videos with tips to help build up the muscle and balance needed. And, just attempting a headstand is hard work!
  • “Crooked” talk vs. “Straight” talk. “Crooked” talk is saying things or asking things in a sideways way, uses guilt and manipulation rather than just talking “straight”. “Straight” talk is saying exactly what you mean or what you are requesting. Example: “I wish I had some ketchup to put on this dinner.” (Insert whiny voice) Me, “So, think about what you need and what you want to ask me.” “Straight” talk example: “Mom, can you please get me some ketchup?” It may seem like a small change, but I think it can have a large impact. I had noticed a lot of whining and complaining in our house. When I learned about “crooked” talk and “straight” talk, I realized how much  of this complaining could be eliminated by simply stating our requests directly to the person we’d like to ask.
  • Rereading the same passage or chapter of the Bible, over and over again for a month, is an excellent way to gain meaning from the passage. Scripture is truly a living book! My girls and I read chapter 4 of Philippians almost every weekday this month and gained something new each time we read it. Now, I am looking for which chapter we should focus on in the month of May. What is your favorite chapter of the Bible and why?
  • At 9 1/2 and almost 12, my girls are not too old for read alouds! This month, I began reading aloud to my girls during school time for about an hour each day. I am reading science books, fictional books, biographies, and historical picture books. Suddenly, learning came alive! Now when my husband gets home from work, the girls are able and excited to tell about some of our learning from the day. A favorite topic this month has been Ruby Bridges.
  • Spring is a beautiful time for “Nature Walks”. My girls have thoroughly enjoyed checking out books from the library about birds, plants and animals in our area and then looking for them when we are out in nature.
    nature walk abby
  • Books I Have Been Enjoying this Month:
    • 1 Timothy
    • Titus
    • 2 Timothy
    • John
    • Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
    • Teaching from Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie
    • The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson
  • Books We Have Been Enjoying this Month as Read Alouds:
    • Philippians
    • Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham Pierson
    • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
    • Discovering Evidence for Creation and the Biblical Flood by Michael J. Oard, Tara Wolfe, and Chris Turbuck
    • The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
    • The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America
    • National Audubon Society First Field Guide Mammals
    • Common Wildflowers of Washington and Oregon

IMG_0427

Piano Praise Beauty

 

Something about the piano praise medley on Pandora brought much needed inspiration this morning. There were no words playing from my speakers, but the words played in my heart. The words echoed,

beauty

beauty

beauty

On a dark, dank, wet day, there is beauty.

The melody repeated and the Lord highlighted the beauty all around. Temptation to go looking for His beauty filled me, until He pointed out that I didn’t need to move from the spot where I was perched at our paint stained kitchen table.

The words from Philippians 4 flooded my heart,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

My pen began to slide along my journal, pouring out beauty.

Beauty in the sounds.

Beauty in the breath.

Beauty in the light.

Beauty in the soul.

Beauty in the raindrops.

Beauty in the squirrel discovering the feed.

Beauty in the shine off the wind chime.

Beauty in the Easter garden awaiting the sun and warmth to aid the grass in growing.

Beauty in the empty cross and tomb reminding me death has no sting.

Beauty in the mound of soil ready for it’s plants.

Beauty in the Easter egg project my 9-year-old left strewn about the table waiting to bless her cousins.

Beauty in the school posters hung on the wall signifying learning happening within these walls.

Beauty in the stack of books laying horizontally longing to be read.

Beauty in the mud covered boots reminding me of the tromping my 11-year-old did the day before.

Beauty in the signs of life all around.

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