Home and Family, Homeschooling

Just keep going!

It’s official.  Cold season is upon us.  One daughter’s family had just kicked their coughs and sniffles, and now at our house the 5 month-old has been coughing for a few days, and it is spreading to the other kids. We went into the doc to verify it wasn’t anything more concerning than a normal cold, and he told us not to worry….but to be aware that everyone seems to be catching it.  (Translation-if you’re lucky enough to still be healthy, don’t go anywhere, meet with anyone, or leave your house.  Goody.)  Time to make sure each family has what they need from the store, and revamp school plans (slightly).

The plan:

Mom has been up for a few nights with the baby who isn’t sleeping, but the other five children are awake at their normal time to begin the day.  Hmmmm. Time to simplify. What does school look like with one eye open in between yawns?  Group time will involve less reading aloud (Mom is getting a sore throat), but more art and hands-on activity.  Individual work will utilize more learning/tutoring DVDs and less individualized verbal instruction.  Snacks now include spiced cider (for everyone’s sore throats), less dairy, and more fruits/veggies.  Breaks may happen at unusual times; if the baby goes to sleep, so does Mom.  Naps are allowed for whomever needs one.  But the basics get covered.  Outside time is still fun.  And we press onward.

Even if things turn for the worst (flu, bronchitis, etc.), we can continue to do something.  Charts of who had which med when, graphs tracking hours of sleep or fluid intake, learning about the science of the human body and infection fighting, and history/science/art/Schoolhouse Rock videos are waiting in the wings.

Life is a school, and when life changes, we may need to adjust.  We keep going as best we can.  And we do it with a smile and as a family.  If our children can learn that, everything else may be simply icing on the cake!

Home and Family, Parenting

Mom is ALWAYS paramount! (rant warning!)

A wise and godly man I revere, Ezra Taft Benson, once counseled mothers, “Be at the crossroads… take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going—when they leave and return from school, when they leave and return from dates, when they bring friends home. Be there at the crossroads whether your children are six or sixteen. In Proverbs we read, “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”   This quote has been on my mind due to a number of frustrating conversations and events in the past few weeks.  It seems we’ve stopped caring about certain family basics in the name of “me time” and “fulfillment” in our society! What has happened to ensuring the care of our minor children?  All of them.  They are minors until they turn 18!  So many moms who seem able to understand that 5 or 6 year-olds need time, attention, and encouragement from mom somehow struggle with the idea that as they grow all those things need to continue!  The attention and encouragement you give a 15 year-old is different than that you give a smaller child, but they need them none-the-less!  And if you are never home, it isn’t going to happen!  It doesn’t really matter if you’re gone due to a blossoming career, or community service, or retail therapy.  If you’re not there, you’re not there.  (I realize some moms need to work to put food on the table.  That decision is between you and He whose children these are.  I’m talking about two-incomes for sake of the “fun stuff.”)

I am not advocating helicopter parenting.  Children need to experience life, try things, fail sometimes, learn from it, and keep going.  I’m talking about being there when help is needed. You simply can’t schedule those times when they will need you to be there for them!  The frustrations of a 7 year-old need to be addressed; that reality doesn’t change when they are 17.  In some ways, it only becomes more vital that we be there!  (The challenges a 17 year-old faces can be much more life-altering than those of a younger child!)

Think of your family as a ripple in a pond.  The ripple may be small when your children are young, but it needs to grow as they do.  As their circle of friends and number of activities increases, so should the circle we embrace.  Having your teen’s friends in your home for game nights, or attending their games or concerts used to be the norm.  Why did that change?  Teen’s are NOT mini-adults!  They have questions, and quandaries, and knowing that their mom (and dad) will be there to listen, advise if necessary, and cheer is soooo important.  No job, club, activity, or personal pursuit is worth more than the bonds that can be established when you spend time with your teens as you drive car-pool, make dinner together, help with schoolwork, or talk after a night out with friends. Include those who are important to them in your life. One of the most cherished memories I have of raising my teenagers is the day a friend of one of our boys showed up unannounced and asked to hang out.  Home was a bit of a battleground at the moment, and our home was a trusted refuge.  We had a wonderful day filled with good food, work, talking, a video, and time to just be still.

If you chose be a parent, be there.  Help Your children AND your teens see how important they are.  Encourage them in all they do.  Laugh with them.  Cry together when needed.  Set them free when they have been taught, fed, nurtured, and given all they need to be successful as adults.  Isn’t that the way you want them to parent your future grandchildren?

Home and Family

Back in the saddle again

When I looked up the origin of the idiom “back in the saddle again” I found it came from exactly where I thought it did, and so it is the perfect title for this blog because I’m BACK!  It was originally applied to cowboys and jockeys who were returning to work, riding on their horses again, after taking a break or recovering from an injury.  (http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2010/06/back-in-saddle-again-autry-whitley.html)

While not a cowboy, I am returning to work(ing on my blog) after an extended hiatus due to illness, three family households relocating in two weeks’ time, surgery for my sweetie, a new grandson (read-bed rest pregnancy for my daughter), a child’s heart surgery, the holidays, and life generally exploding… and while my desk chair is more comfortable than sitting atop a horse, it could be considered my saddle.

The good news is that the surgeries went well.  The moves are done, and everyone is close to settled and fully unpacked.  (The new housing situations are much better, and so worth the nightmare of the last five months!)  Mom and baby are doing well, and he’s an absolute joy! The illness still comes and goes, but if that is the worst thing happening….I’m in great shape!

What have I learned?

  • I am not, have never been, nor will I ever be “supermom”…and that’s okay.
  • Homemade bread is best…for my budget and my health.
  • I am surrounded by people who are willing to help at the drop at a hat.
  • Who you choose as a realtor makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
  • My homeschool mom friends are wonderful sanity-savers.
  • Teaching children to work at a young age can translate into walls getting painted, boxes getting packed and carried, and order being re-established more quickly.  My grandchildren ROCK!
  • My grandchildren can handle just about anything when the adults in their lives are happy, and they can find their favorite toys/games.
  • We live in an amazing day and age when medical challenges that would have been devastating fifty years ago can be addressed, repaired, and life can resume.
  • A written list of priorities can keep your ship from sinking.
  • A sense of humor is an absolute must to survive the ups and downs of life!
  • Prayer is very real power, and miracles happen everyday!

And so I’m back.  With a head full of thoughts, ideas, and new connections made in the last number of months.  I hope this finds you and yours blessed, happy, and growing each day!



Home and Family

Life’s little surprises

Last evening we had a bread baking class in our home.  Our new neighbor and her teen-aged daughter came over and we made bread, meal-in-one wraps, and cinnamon rolls together.  (Recipes for basic breads posted on 2/21/2013.)   Then we ate results of our labors in a shared meal.  While the cooking was fun and the food was seriously tasty,  my favorite bits were the unexpected moments.  Having a young woman really talk to me about life, school, and goals is something which hasn’t happened since my children grew up and left home.  Watching her mother’s face as she realized how much money she can save as she cooks from scratch was such fun; seeing how much her father enjoyed the food was even better.  (We’ll be cooking more together as school gets out for the summer.  I’m looking forward to that!)

Other unexpected events included our three-year-old grandson playing with their son, and keeping him busy.  Our five-year-old grandson who struggles with focus spending 40 minutes on a book of word finds;  I was blown away.  Even the 16 month-old twins were enjoying the meal and visiting.  It was surprisingly relaxing and we have a new family on the block who will be a tremendous boon to the neighborhood.  Who knows?  We may have just gained a baby-sitter, and willing hands for the garden.

The entire experience reminded me why we live in communities.  We are here to serve, share, and find joy in each other!  While I am not an extrovert by nature, I still feel gratitude when a sweet experience like this one happens.

May you have a great day filled with a pleasant surprise or two!

Home and Family

Networks aren’t just for computers

It has been a crazy few months at the cottage. We’ve gotten through a surgery, a move, wild weather, a leaking roof, more than a few fibromyalgia flares, teething toddlers, potty training, and other unexpected events.  As I look back, I notice that one of the things that makes life do-able is my network.  Not one on the computer.  This is the one that consists of friends and family who make a wonderful difference in my life.

I have daughters who let me play with their little ones while they edit what I am writing, and help me with all of the oddities of computers that leave me wanting to pull out my hair.  My sons and daughter-in-law come and help with the physical stuff I can’t do so that life keeps moving.  My husband is patient, and does whatever he can (even as he is convalescing). And I can always count on all of them to make me laugh- at myself, at life, and at the unexpected.

There are women who come to talk about home schooling or cooking or preparedness and end up talking about everything under the sun.  Classical Education Group is great for my morale, and the “class after the class” when one or a few of the ladies plant on my couch to chat is often my favorite part of the night.  In my network there are RNs who are more than willing to let me pick their brains, women who have the ability to make me smile just because they are there, and some of the hardest workers I have ever known!  They let me try and help them as they work to raise and teach their children, and they help me with the crazy projects I get myself into regularly.  Bottling 400 lbs of apples as sauce, and cubing beef for three hours comes to mind.  Or trying to clean and touch up paint for workshops held in my home.  They are the best!  I have other friends who are farther away but are always willing to be there via a phone call or facebook chat.

Everyone needs a network.  Parents with children at home, empty nesters, grandparents, those who are still waiting for a family, and everyone else.  We are here to serve and grow together.  The good Lord put us here to form networks of real people who build each other.  Friends, family, and community.  A wise man, Spencer W. Kimball, once said, “The Lord does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other…”  I am grateful for those in my life who are willing to be His Hands.

Who have you invited into your network?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Kinesthetic learners

Do you prefer to actively participate in an activity rather than passively?   Are your children always fidgeting while they are working on their schoolwork?  Would your spouse rather conduct business or have a conversation while holding something in their hand?  If you answered yes to any of these, there is a kinesthetic learner in your family.

When trying to recognize a kinesthetic learner, look for the following “tells”. When a kinesthetic learner is deep in thought, they will generally look at their hands as their fingers or thumbs are moving, or they will doodle seemingly aimlessly.  They will often seek to please you by doing something that they hope will help.  Sitting and listening is not easy for them.  They are always moving.

If given a choice of activities, they will often choose something that allows for movement and active participation.  Kinesthetic learners will generally jump right in to a new situation.  They prefer to learn as they go.  As young children, they can be mistaken for a child with ADHD or some other challenge due to their propensity to get up and move, or sit and fidget.  A lot.  They learn best while doing something.  As you read to them, let them point to things in the pictures, or turn the pages, or perhaps quietly color or build with blocks as they listen.  Spelling can go more smoothly, and be learned more completely, if you have them finger-spell (ASL alphabet)  or do some kind of movement (jumping jacks, march in place, etc.) as they learn their lists.   Movement engages their brain’s pathways for retention.  Working with it rather than against it can be satisfying to you both.

When a kinesthetic learner is upset, they will often say nothing.  You can read their emotions all over their body-clenched fists, drawn brows, stomping feet.  When they are excited, they jump up and down, grin, wave their hands in the air.  Rewards come in the form of making their work and your approval easily felt-hugs, high fives, pats on the back, or do a little dance with them.

Some of the most successful tools for teaching kinesthetic learners include:

  • puzzles
  • coloring books
  • crafts/art supplies
  • science kits
  • games
  • building kits
  • models
  • dioramas
  • time lines they create
  • American Sign Language