Friday, October 30, 2009
It's been such a blessing these last couple of months to learn from the experience of many other homeschooling moms with little ones. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I'm grateful for the help and advice on what to do with little ones while homeschooling from Kimberly at Raising Olives, Connie at Smockity Frocks, and especially Tara at Too Many Kids in the Bathtub. The reason I'm especially in debt to Tara is becuase I won her homemade homeschool giveaway which included 10 fun games/activities that reinforce learning of shapes, colors, and numbers. We've only had it a few days, but it has already been such a blessing!
Here's our American Boy with his favorite, the picnic fruit and color matching game. For some reason our 3 yr old loves food. He calls it "pood". His favorite thing to play is food, so when he saw this game he had to play it first. He gets it out a couple of times a day.
Our sweet boy is a ball of energy and I feel sad that I spend so much time shushing him during our homeschool day. He's so happy to have some school activities just for him. Of course, this makes his older sister finish up her work more quickly so she can play, too.
Here they are with a button color sorting game. There are lots of buttons of each color and an index card in each color. My kids love organizing so this is right up their alley. Of course, the real goal of the game is to keep Baby Lu from messing up their good work.
Thankfully, Measle is proud of her burgeoning reading skills and takes time out of her school day to read to her little brother. I have to watch her closely, though. Sometimes she pretends to read while telling a story of her own.
We have a long way to go, but we're doing better than we were. It isn't all fun and games for our American Boy, either. He sits quietly during our morning read-aloud time which lasts about an hour. This way he's in on our Bible time, memory work, and character training. He naps in the afternoon while we read history, literature, and science.
What do you do with your little ones during your homeschool day? To what degree do you try to involve them?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Principles for Making or Breaking a Habit
1. Frequent repitition.
2. Never let an exception occur.
3. Diligence in all areas is required to ensure success in one area.
4. Don't be discouraged by failure.
The context in The Pursuit of Holiness is that of breaking sinful habits and forming holy habits, but the principles apply to all kinds of habits.
Do you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking it's going to be pretty hard to make a habit of our homeschool schedule when we do let exceptions occur. I'm also thinking that we need to be diligent in all subjects or they will all suffer to some degree. Now that I think about it, I'm also a little discouraged because exceptions do happen and we are less diligent in some subjects.
However, Bridges wasn't applying these principles to homeschooling or schedules. And certainly when trying to break a habit of sin it's infinitely more important to be consistent and diligent, but principles are principles. They're principles for a reason. The reason is they're usually true.
On the bright side, the holy habits we're practicing in our homeschool of Bible reading, memorization, catechizing, and character training can be accomplished morning, noon, or night. When something comes up, like the two doctor's appointments that came up this morning, these holy habits can be practiced in the afternoon. The main thing is that they are repeated. Frequent repitition is the key.
I'm also encouraged because I know that in our homeschool not all subjects are created equal. It's not like godly habits or the fruits of the spirit. As Christians we need to pray and study our Bibles and go to church. To leave out one of those habits is to miss a large part of the Christian life. And to have love and joy without self-control makes for a sweet Christian that isn't of much use. However, it's different with school. Some subjects we study deserve greater diligence than others. For instance, character training is more important than math. And, oh how I love math! The Bible is more important than language arts. It wouldn't make much sense for us to expend more energy teaching our children how to communicate than what to communicate, would it?
So, once again I've come away challenged and encouraged by Bridges. I'm challenged to make the formation of holy habits in my children and myself our top priority. I'm challenged to be diligent with my children in this one area above all others. And I'm encouraged that when we don't fit everything into our day, it doesn't mean I'm a failure. I'm not a failure of a mother or a failure of a teacher. It simply means we failed to stick to the schedule that day. And that is not a sin!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
These are the changes I've decided to try in order to make for a more peaceful home. Please give me additional suggestions or comment on the changes that I'm trying.
1. Gone are our big blocks of independent study time. My kids are not able to stay on task for an extended period of time (more than 1 hr.) I'm going to limit their independent study sessions to 45 minutes max. They can't get their math done in less than an hour, so I'm going to have to temporarily shorten their lessons (thank goodness they're each 1 year ahead) so that they can complete them in 45 minutes or less. This will do several things, I hope. It will allow us to spend time on more subjects each day (more on what we're adding to our curriculum later) and I'm hoping it will also help the kids to stay focused until they complete their lesson.
2. I'm not going to try to cram all our subjects into our Bible study days. My kids and I go to Community Bible Study on Wednesday mornings. It takes about 2.5 hrs out of our school day, but it's well worth it. We are all studying Acts this year and are blessed to have a homeschool program in our local CBS. This has meant that our Wednesday mornings and afternoons have been crazy busy. I decided today that we would substitute 30 minutes of Mathtacular for math on Wednesdays. The kids love it and it's a load off me. Again, I'm grateful they're a year ahead in math so I can make these changes without feeling like I'm compromising their education. I'm also making sure we read ahead in Bible on Tuesdays so we can skip our morning read-aloud time on Wednesdays.
3. I am committed to tweaking our schedule until we find a happy and productive routine that allows peace to reign in our home, not stress. Stay tuned for a revised schedule that will include a new subject.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Now I just have to make room in the clothes storage closet. Yikes! I have 5 or 6 space bags crammed into some shelves and hand-me-down coats and shoes in the "dead space" of the closet under the stairs, which also serves as a broom closet. I'll post on that closet later. It's actually in pretty good shape right now, I just have to find room for three new boxes:)
Friday, October 23, 2009
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The question is what does it mean?
My husband is a pastor and very passionate about the sufficiency of Scripture. He gets frustrated because through the years he’s seen people try everything from getting charged from singing great praise songs to making sure their kids are in super youth programs to try to bring their spiritual lives to new heights. But according to 2 Tim 3:16, God’s Word is all we need. God could have chosen to reveal Himself to us through osmosis or by zapping, but He chose to communicate to us through the written Word. Of course, we know the Bible is not just a book, but that it’s the very words of God, breathed into men chosen and guided by Him to write His Word. Isn’t it amazing that we can know God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, the One whose name is “I Am”, the One who always was, is, and will be, the very One who grants us each breath and knows when we’ll take our last, the One who knows our thoughts and words altogether, the One who is both our Judge and Deliverer? In light of this, doesn’t it seem ridiculous that we don’t devote the better part of our lives to studying His Word?
How can a Christian not be passionate about the Bible? How can we really think that the world has the solution to our problems? Why do we keep trying to reinvent the church to be more attractive to the world, when we belong to God, bought and purchased through the blood of His Son? Why do we need programs and gimmicks, video arcades and bowling alleys in our churches? Why don’t we believe that God’s Word is enough?
According to 2 Tim 3:16, our knowledge of God, our ability to obey Him, and our service to others all hang on our commitment to studying the Bible. There is no short-cut. There is no buy-out option. None of us will progress in our spiritual lives apart from the discipline of Bible study.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Then there are our books. We were already book lovers and collectors of books before we started using Sonlight curriculum, now it’s getting ridiculous. We’ve also been fortunate enough to inherit books. We have the complete Nancy Drew series, countless other assorted mysteries such as the Peggy Lane and Connie Blair series, and a complete Encyclopedia Brittanica set. And these are just the books given us by my aunt. Then there are the 100 greatest books my parents started giving me while I was still single. They truly are the gift that keeps on giving! (One per month for over 8 years!) Then there are the books from my studies. All my College and Graduate science texts, a whole bookshelf full, that I just can’t bring myself to get rid of, especially since we homeschool. And on our trip to Indiana I discovered my sister-in-law also used Sonlight the last three years and she let me bring home the books we’ll be using next year. My husband and I love books. I haven’t even gone into all the biographies, history and political books, and works of fiction. Thank goodness my husband has a library at the church for his commentaries, church history, and theology books. I actually went through our books last year and got rid of 5 boxes of them. I sold them back to a local bookstore that gives store credit in exchange for used books. Can you guess what I used the credit for? You got it, I bought more books. Needless to say, I must get around to reorganizing our books!
Then there are our drawers. I want to get rid of all the drawers in our house. Is that even possible? It’s not that I never organize our drawers, it’s that they never stay organized. Most people that come to our house probably think I’m a pretty decent housekeeper. I like things to be neat and organized. If only they could see our drawers, though! And the drawers in my girls’ room are the worst! They have 5 top drawers, 3 of which serve as catch-alls. They have 6 other drawers (for clothes) and one cabinet, as well as a closet. Is this overkill?
I need some motivation and organizational tips. Please help and encourage me! If nothing else, hold me accountable. They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. I admit that I have a problem and that I’ve been in denial about it. Please, help!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
You've heard of a Tale of Two Cities, well this is my Tale of Two Journeys. While my husband was busy taking pictures of all the beautiful scenery, I was chronicling a much different vacation. I thought I'd post a few pictures of our trip through Baby Lu's eyes. This was quite an adventure for her!
"So this is what playing dominoes is all about. There's nothing to it really."
"I can't believe my good fortune- someone left a step stool right underneath one of those fun looking doodads I've always wanted to spin." Notice the complete lack of remorse.
"You say it's how warm in Texas right now?"
The realization sets in that going up is a tad bit easier than going down.
"Oh, here we go if I just squat down like this I feel much more secure."
"Aha! Now how am I going to get that boot off? I need another hand."
Check out her winning recipe below.
4 chicken breasts
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (LOW sodium)
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 Regular size Jar Salsa
Put chicken in crock pot and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Pour soup and salsa over the top. Cook on High for 3-4 hrs. Serve over rice and add sour cream and cilantro.
I can't wait to try this recipe! Heather's recipe perfectly captures the quick and easy part of what I had in mind. I'm sure it will be tasty, too (we love Tex-Mex)!
Thank you to all who entered this contest! I am going to make my way through each and every one of your wonderful recipes. Check back often for more giveaway fun.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Mr. Monk with his cousin at the Covered Bridge Festival in Bridgeton, IN.
Off on our hiking adventure. I'd have to ditch the stroller in about 100 paces. I carried Baby Lu for the duration of the hike. I had a sore neck and biceps the following day, but lots of good memories to go along with them.
View of Sugar Creek from the suspension bridge at Turkey Run State Park.
Our All American Boy hiking on ahead of Big D on trail #3 at Turkey Run.
Our gracious hosts in Indiana, Big D's big brother and his saintly wife. They had 15 people in their home (7 under 10) for almost a week! We so enjoyed our time with them!
Mr. Monk hanging out with his big cousin, 4 years his senior. He shadowed his cousing the whole time we were there. What a blessing to have such a mature and kind 14 year old for your son to look up to.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Pop and GrandMary live in a vary fancy retirement village with a dining hall that is as nice as the place my parents take us every year for a special holiday brunch. Big D and I had a little talk with the kids as we were walking in to the dining room about how they were to use inside voices, etc. Ours were the only children in the large room and I was so worried that they'd cause a commotion. At one point a woman came over to say hello and complimented us on how well-behaved our children were. Big D and I beamed and Mr. Monk blurted out, "Oh, we're usually not like this. Only when we're in public." One lady, when she learned we were from Texas asked us if we watched the game. I told her we didn't watch football and our 3 year old then blurted out that, "We only watch cartoons!" Also, every time the waitress came by to offer anyone coffee, our 3 year old would say, "No thanks, I don't want any." (I have never given coffee to ANY of our kids, much less the 3 yr old!" At least he was using his manners!
GrandMary and Pop let Mr. Monk and Twinkle Toes stay the night with them. Here's Twinkle Toes posing with GrandMary before we left.
Oh, and the kleenex in the hotel room was the same height as Baby Lu. I'm sure you can conjure of that image on your own.
Don't you just hate eating on road trips? We don't eat fast food. My kids have missed out on this world. Measle said at one point last night, "There's another Old McDonalds." We did stop at McDonalds once and Big D got Mr. Monk a Big Mac, his first. I've never seen anything like it before. He went nuts over it! He couldn't believe there was anything that tasted that good! Even as I was telling him not to get used to it, his dad was telling him about the Wopper.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I have a $25 Chili’s/On the Border/Macaroni Grill/Maggiano’s gift card that I want to give away.
I am a very unimaginative cook. I’ve told you before that my goal in cooking is to feed my family well for as little money and time as possible. We’re usually at the swimming pool from 5-6 pm so I like having meals that can be cooking while we’re gone. There’s nothing like coming home with cold, wet, hungry kids to a house that smells like yummy dinner.
To enter the giveaway leave a comment with a delicious, low-cost, easy prep meal-in-one dish that can be prepared ahead of time. It can be a crock pot recipe or one that bakes in the oven for at least two hours.
I’ll draw the winner upon our return, which I think will be next Monday.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
This was Measle's seat with the door closed.
Do you know they had the audacity to ask me if she had opened that door? I was like, "First of all, no she didn't. Second of all, if a 5 year old can open the hatch from the inside the plane in mid-flight, don't you think there's something wrong with that picture?" I'm sure they were just worried about a law suit. Big D took pictures and he was mad enough to sue. I reminded him that thankfully we had no damages!
We ended up missing a connection in Houston, so our homecoming was delayed even more. When we finally landed at home we were all ready to get off the plane and kiss terra firma. We have not flown since then. I could go the rest of my life without flying again.
So, that's why we're driving to Indiana. Aren't you glad I explained?
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
I’ve always thought this verse meant that I needed to inconvenience myself, even make sacrifices for the Lord. This is the definition of sacrifice I had in mind; doing something difficult, denying myself, like we sacrifice for our kids. Studying this verse would result in my making a list of ways I could give more, be more, do more for the Lord.
Lately, the kids and I have been reading a lot from the Old Testament. We read about the first Passover where God told Moses that He would pass over only those households with the blood of a sacrificial lamb spread on the lintel and doorposts that dark night in Egypt when the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land. We know there is no atonement for sin without the shedding of blood. Remember that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. They were both of their first fruits, so what was the difference? Abel offered a blood sacrifice acknowledging to God his sin and his need for atonement, while Cain offered only grain, whether in ignorance or in rebellion we do not know.
Just as the law was meant to show God’s people their sin, the sacrificial system was meant to serve as a sober reminder that the penalty for sin is death. There is no way to work your way or buy your way out of it. You can only pay for your sins with your life. And animal sacrifices, never sufficient to atone for sins in their own right, only served as a copy or foreshadowing of the atonement Christ would bring in His perfect life and sacrificial death for His people. “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:12-14)
And then it came to me. How many times had I read that the bull or lamb that is offered as a sacrifice for sins to the Lord must be “without blemish”? Why did it have to be without blemish? Of course, because the animal sacrifices were copies of Christ, who would live a perfect, holy life. He was truly without blemish, totally unstained by the world. God in His infinite holiness and justice cannot accept a sacrifice that is not “without blemish”.
I think I finally get it. It’s not that I’m supposed to make a sacrifice, it’s that I’m supposed to be a sacrifice. Paul is telling the Roman Christians, and us, to be holy! He could have said it this way. “Your blood is not required to pay your penalty, since Christ already shed His blood for your sins. Because your death is not required, offer your life instead as a sacrifice.” His Jewish audience would have understood the requirements for an acceptable sacrifice. They would have known this meant they were to be untainted by the world.
The next verse confirms this. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2
I never looked at it quite like this before. The things on my "do more for the Lord list" may still get done, but getting them done while having unrepentant sin in my life misses the point. I think Psalm 40:6&8 sums it up nicely. "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears you have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart."
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I believe activities can be used wisely to help develop self-discipline in children. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding kids and activities today. Some complain that kids are too busy and don't have time to just be kids anymore. Others say that these activities can be blown out of proportion and be detrimental to the health and closeness of the family. I propose that there's a happy medium where kids can gain a great deal from sports or the arts, while not sacrificing family priorities.
Twinkle Toes and Measle also take music and art lessons and ice skating in the winter. Big D is extremely artistic and musical and didn't get to have many lessons as a child. He's always felt strongly that if possible we would provide these opportunities for our kids. We are blessed that my mom and dad pay for our two oldest kids to take piano and my mom even picks them up and takes them for me! We are also very fortunate that a friend comes to our home and gives Measle violin lessons once a week. The older kids also take art from a wonderful Christian woman who is a retired art teacher. Monk has often referred to her as his "other Grandmother". God has graciously provided for us in this area and we believe our kids are benefiting from it.
1. Cut down on the amount of free-time they have (idle hands and all...).
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
If there’s one thing that great men and women share in common, it’s discipline. I read the book Condi a few years ago and was blown away by the hard work and dedication that young Condoleezza Rice applied equally to her studies and her hobbies. She was an outstanding figure skater and concert pianist in addition to her scholarly achievements most of us are familiar with. Condi’s parents had grown up with racism as a stumbling block to their dreams and were determined that nothing would hold their daughter back. Condi says of her parents that they “were very strategic” in providing opportunities for her and teaching her the value of hard work so that her many and great accomplishments would shield her from any racism.
Now my children are not up against racism and I don’t share the same career goals for my daughters that the Rice’s did, but the take home message remains the same. Instilling discipline in our children and teaching them to work hard will prepare them to accomplish great things in life. Of what use will they be to God if they are lazy and undisciplined?
Jonathan Edwards, arguably the most influential theologian and philosopher our country has produced, was an extremely regimented man. He made a scientific study of how much sleep he needed to be most effective for the Lord and resolved to sleep no more than was necessary! He also ate and drank only what he deemed necessary to have the energy to serve God and others to the maximum of his capacity. In his quest for the disciplined life, Edwards determined to not merely choose between right and wrong, but to choose between good, better, and best.
Jerry Bridges says it this way. “There is no place for laziness and indulgence of the body in a disciplined pursuit of holiness. We have to learn to say no to the body instead of giving in to its momentary desires. We tend to act according to our feelings. The trouble is we seldom “feel” like doing what we should do. We don’t feel like getting out of bed to have our morning time with God, or doing Bible study, or praying, or anything else we should do. That is why we have to take control of our bodies and make them our servants instead of our masters” (from The Pursuit of Holiness p.111).
So, how do we do this? My husband and I don’t live on a farm, so there are no chickens to feed or cows to milk. Our toil is light in this day and age. Can you imagine doing all your laundry by hand and hanging it out to dry? I buy most of our food at the grocery store, although my husband does grow some vegetables. We have a lot of leisure time. How can we guard against our children becoming soft and lazy?
Here’s where you come in. I have prepared a second part to this post sharing what we’re doing at our house to help discipline our children, but I want to hear from you first. Is that cheating? I want to know how you are teaching your kids the value of hard work. How do you guard against sloth in your home? Where’s the balance between “letting kids be kids” and giving them responsibilities so that they won’t always act like kids? I can’t wait to hear from you and get some good ideas for our family! And don't forget to tune in tomorrow for the next installment.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.