What do I want out of today?

What do I want out of today?

love. I want to give it and receive it. I want to feel it, to engage all my senses in receiving any bit of it my children or husband offer me. I want to be willing to receive it their way. My 1 year old gives love by feeding me pretend food and curling my hair and lately, giving me way too sloppy open mouth kisses. I want to not be too busy or too distracted to receive that love.

I want to give love how they receive it. My 4 year old wants me to engage in elaborate games of make believe. I will make what is important to her important to me because I love her.

I want to believe. I want to believe God loves me. I don’t want to just hope that God loves me or know intellectually that God loves me I want to experience and taste of the love of God.

I want to hope. I scan the sky for Christ’s return. I want more than that though, I want hope in God for today. If He does not return today I want hope in Him, trust in Him, experiencing Him to be what fills and delights this moment. I want this moment and this day to be wonderful because I am savoring the presence of a loving God who extends friendship.

I am not alone. I want to believe that today and I want it to put a smile on my face, a joy in my step and happiness in my heart. Loneliness is crushing to me. When I could find no one available or around to be with me yesterday I felt so alone. I am never alone though, Christ is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He lives within me, is all around me. He offers to me fullness of joy in His presence. Did you read that!? Fullness of joy- as in it can’t get any better than this- He offers me all the joy in the universe and tells me it will be enough, it will fill me. Fullness of joy, my cup overflowing with happiness because I am in the presence of the living God.

I don’t want to complain today. I read a Psalm of Asaph this morning and he said that he complained and his soul was overwhelmed. My complaining is what is making me overwhelmed. God, give me Your grace and strength not to complain with my heart or lips but instead offer thanksgiving to You and those around me. With the help of God, I will not complain about child rearing, about messes, about those who have hurt me, about the sufferings in my life.

Instead today I say, thank You God. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. Thank You that I am forgiven today. Thank You that You do not hold the sins of yesterday over my head in condemnation but instead You say that the righteous falls seven times yet gets up and keeps going every time. (Proverbs). Thank You that I’m not relying on my own righteousness because I am an ugly sinner. Thank You for blotting out the hand writing of ordinances which was against me and nailing it to Your cross. Thank You for wanting me to have life and have it more abundantly. I receive Your life today.

 

For The Children’s Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I you look up this book on line you will find a lot of great and detailed reviews have already been written. Google, “Charlotte Mason” and you will be overwhelmed with a tidal wave of information. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here and do a full review of this book but I do want to take some time to share what I have learned because I liked this book so much!

Charlotte Mason was a teacher and education philosopher who lived 1842-1923. This book For The Children’s Sake Foundations of Education for Home and School was published by Susan Macaulay 1984 discussing Charlotte Mason’s education philosophy.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to answering the question, “what is education?” The Charlotte Mason view promotes reading to children what she refers to as living books. She promotes children spending large amounts of unstructured time exploring nature. She encourages parents and teachers to teach children to observe the world around them, to appreciate rich art and music. The book explains why it is beneficial to the minds of children to not be confined to “kids music” or coloring books but to be exposed to and given the best of what the world has to offer. She refers to much of what is labeled children’s curriculum as “twaddle”. Things that are merely time fillers that don’t engage or enrich the mind of anybody. Give the children the best! The best of music, the best of art and literature.

I like how she describes education as the science of relationships. How do I fit into this world? What is my relationship to the people and things around me? Math is connected to geography which is connected to history which is connected to literature and so on. One of the reasons I want to homeschool is because I believe my children will be more connected to and have relationships with people of different ages and different walks of life than if they were in a classroom.

A big part of this teaching philosophy is teaching kids how to learn. So much of education today is spoon feeding children facts and not letting them use the minds. A so called spoon fed education leads to a crippled mind that does not know how to think or problem solve. Instead, read to your children thought provoking literature and let them grapple with the ideas of right and wrong through the lives of those who came before them. Charlotte Mason taught that in the younger years children should be able to retell orally what they have been learning. In the older grades her students used writing to tell what they have learned. She believe that if a child could retell in their own words the subject studied that at that point they had thoroughly digested it and made it their own. Teaching your kids how to think not merely what to think is the idea.

Charlotte Mason ran her school on the idea of doing book work in the morning when kids minds were fresh and having the afternoon free for unstructured outside play, exploring the arts and working on projects. I live in an area of the country where if I wanted to implement this it would depend on the time of year. For instance, in  the summer I would want to take the kids out to play before the afternoon comes and it is near 100 degrees and we want to be in the air conditioning! During the winter though we do the opposite, we wait for it to warm up in the afternoon to play outside.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the idea that, “children are persons.” They are unique individuals and their individual needs should be meet. Children deserve respect as well and should not be treated as “projects” but as people. Private schooling and homeschooling has a better ability to make the education fit the child rather than trying to make hundreds of kids in a school fit into the same mold.

I recently listened to this TED talk on education and I thought it was funny that the people who have been deemed the best and the brightest in education of our day are speaking about principles I just read in a book written over 100 years ago. When Angela Duckworth speaks about grit it reminds me of the chapter on forming habits. One teacher speaks on forming relationships with students and another speaks on engaging a child’s curiosity. http://youtu.be/dilnw_dP3xk

This book made me feel excited about educating my kids. While listening to these educators discuss all the problems with the public school system and why it is failing our children and hurting society I was made to feel more confident in my ability to give my children something better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the most of spending resurrection sunday at home

I was really really hoping we would all be over our sickness by Easter Sunday. E was better but now T.J was sick and I had a sore throat so we had to stay home. I was disappointed but decided to work hard to make the most of the day.

I decided to get dressed up and even put on a little makeup. Having on a spring dress helped me to remember I’m celebrating my risen King today! When E got up I told her why I was dressed up. I told her today we are going to celebrate all day that Jesus rose from the dead and that He gives us new life! (Four year old girls are ready for any excuse to dress up!)

We headed into the kitchen and after putting on a youtube playlist of Easter morning worship songs I tied on her apron and we made a big batch of low carb waffles. Since it was a special occasion I wiped up some cream to get fancy! This is an awesome recipe by the way. alldayidreamaboutfood.com. E said our table looked, “oh la la” which is I think the best complement I’ve ever heard in my life! (and you can see in the pic how not oh la la it was!)

 

We have a copy of the Jesus story book Bible which for the most part I really like. Earlier in the week I had started going through the last week of Jesus’ life with her but sickness kind of got us derailed. For the woman and the alabaster anointment I sprayed perfume on E’s feet and dramatically wiped my pretend tears off her feet with my hair. She then painted in with water color a perfume bottle I drew with a permanent marker.

After breakfast I finished reading her through the story of the resurrection in The Jesus Storybook Bible and then we did a little empty tomb craft. Nothing much but I think it helped reinforce the lesson.

Since the reason we stayed home was because we are under the weather the kids laid around and watched 2 movies. An old nest family entertainment video that I borrowed from E’s cousins for this week. My husband grew up watching these videos. They also watched Beginners Bible The Story of Easter that I grew up watching as a kid. (It’s on youtube)

 

I did a mini egg hunt with the kids. I didn’t want to overload them on sugar while they were getting over colds so I just hid 3 pink one’s for E and 3 blue one’s for T.J. 

In the afternoon I took them outside with a mason jar and a pair of scissors and we went hunting for signs of spring. Irises, ferns, the first rose on the rose bush, buttercups and more adorn our table now. 

I listened to this interview with Randy Alcorn I saw on his blog to edify me some since I had to miss church.  https://vimeo.com/212999779

When I did Bible time with the kids instead of reading Proverbs like I have been I read them the story of the resurrection from the book of John while they played with toys on the floor.

I saw on pinterest this idea where you dye your hardboiled egg whites before making deviled eggs. I had some natural food dye and we attempted it. E thought it was fun to eat pink eggs but they didn’t look anything like the one’s on pinterest!

Anyways! That was our day. Life with little one’s is anything but predictable but I’m learning as a mom to try and make the most of each day and opportunity as it comes.

 

Daily Must Do’s

powerofmoms.com/organization-audio-posts-episode-202/

I listened to this podcast on powerofmoms.com and I really like the idea about the daily must do’s. She says that one of her daughter’s teachers had up on the board each day a list of things the students needed to get done before they could move onto things they wanted to work on. She said she applied this idea to motherhood and her own life and she came up with her own list of must do’s every day. This isn’t a list of all the thing I need to work on or a schedule. It’s a list of 7 doable things that I came up with that even if they were the only things I accomplished in a day would bring my family and me joy and make the day productive.

Do you ever have those days when you just wake up grumpy and feeling blah and just want to go back to bed? Maybe you don’t but I do! When I need motivation to keep moving forward with my day this list is there to show me what’s next. It’s not a to -do list to drag me down it’s something to encourage me and move me forward.

I had a teacher in middle school who did a daily must do list kind of idea and I loved her class because it was the only class where the students all filed in quietly and got to work. She was an effective teacher because we all knew what we were supposed to be doing and what we were going to be doing next.

I’m in the preschool and toddler age with my kids now but as they get older I like the idea of using a daily must do list with them. Something like, before you have screen time (or whatever) have you, gone outside? read? done your chores? been creative? Something along those lines- I’m just thinking.

Anyways! Here is my daily must do list that I came up with. This isn’t forever set in stone. I’m sure it will be tweaked. As the speaker says in the podcast, it’s okay if I don’t get to everything. I’m going for progress not perfection.

Megan’s Daily Must Do’s

Get outside with the kids

Bible time with the kids

do something nice for my husband

complete my chore of the day

clean something that is bugging me (I love this and am copying it 100% from the podcast!)

practice memorizing scripture for 10-15 minutes. I’m putting this one here because at this point in life I really am doing well with the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. They are habits for me at this point. (not that there is not room for improvement!) Memorization of scripture not so much. I need to remember that this is one that can be done while washing dishes or folding laundry or whatever if I use our white board and keep the verse I am practicing up on it.

Read something intellectually stimulating. Some day’s I’ll have 2 minutes other days 20. Just give my brain something to think about.

I’m going to write these down and hang them on my fridge so I can see them at a glance.

10 tips for surviving being stuck home with sick kids

In this scenario you are well and the kids are sick. I’m not talking worse case scenario here where both mom and kids are sick. That’s a nightmare where survival really is the correct word to use! I’m referring to surviving the hardship, exhaustion, boredom and isolation that comes from caring for multiple sick children. Thankfully we went most of the winter healthy but this spring has been one thing after another.

I generally make it through the tough parts of motherhood by planning and enjoying outings with my kids. When one of them gets sick and suddenly we are isolated from the rest of the world it’s easy to get down right depressed! Since I have spent so many isolated days over the last several weeks as my kids have caught one bug after another, here are my best survival tips for making it through!
1.take a shower and get dressed. You will feel so much more refreshed and productive then if your hair is greasy and you’re still in your pajamas. Even if it’s noon before you do, it will really improve your mood!
2. eat something healthy and stay hydrated. While putting the many needs of our children before our needs, it’s easy as moms to neglect our bodies entirely and get burnt out. You will be a happier mom with some good fuel in your belly and enough water to counteract some of that caffeine you’re probably drinking!
3. create some order in your home. Your normal cleaning routine is probably going to be too much if you have a sick child needing you. Some picking up will help your sanity though. Aim for something doable like three 15 minute tidy ups before each meal. At the end of the day 45 minutes of cleaning is not enough to have a ‘clean’ house but it’s enough for basic sanitation and you won’t be that far behind when your child gets better.
4. do a small something during the day that makes you happy. For me that’s reading. I worked to find a calm(er) moment during the day and set the timer for 20 minutes and allowed myself to read my book for 20 minutes. Yes I was interrupted several times but it allowed me at the end of the day to point to something I did other than wipe boogers and treat pink eye.
5. If it is warm enough and depending on the type of sickness your child has, get outside. The fresh air will do you all good. Of course it may depend where you live, we don’t have any neighbors nearby so we don’t have to worry about contaminating anyone when we go outside. If your child doesn’t feel like playing they may enjoy being pushed in a stroller. When my 18 month old is teething or has been sick in the past sometimes the only thing that will calm him down is being pushed in the stroller. I put in a lot of walking on those days!
6. Call somebody. The feeling of isolation that comes when you are stuck at home some times for days on end while your children recover can be overwhelming. Calling people on the phone helps with that a lot. Not just texting or sending a message but actually hearing somebody’s voice will help remind you that there is still a world out there and you are not alone. It will also make someone’s day as well for you to call just to say hi.
7. Rotate toys. Kid’s play better with toys and it is more fun for them if they have a limited number of toys in front of them. Instead of letting the kids have access to everything at once have them clean up one activity before moving on to the next. They enjoy the doll house more if the train tracks are cleaned up first instead of having a free for all and not having room to play. Your house will stay cleaner as well.
8. weather permitting, open the windows, spray some disinfectant around, if you’re into essential oils use them. This may or may not kill the germs but at least your house will smell a little fresher and boy can sick kids stink up a house!
9. Try and see this as an opportunity to do things with your kids that you normally wouldn’t have time to do if you were on the go. Snuggle up and read the pile of books, play a board game, do the activity you saw on pinterest.
10. Remember if you are a follower of Jesus to pray and ask Him to help you. He is faithful.

Some Fun Stuff

This past week I bought 2 tickets for Fancy Nancy the musical at the children’s theatre at The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.https://www.arkarts.com

I checked out several Fancy Nancy Books from the library and took E to the dollar store for her to pick out some ‘fancy stuff’. She picked out a pink tiara that came with a wand, a purple tutu, necklaces, and pink sunglasses. Every time we sat down to read a book she wanted to get ‘fancy’ first!

Saturday I packed up the kids and we headed to Little Rock. I didn’t really know what to expect from the Arts Center since I had never been before. It was something that I would have enjoyed but it was definitely not for kids! About as soon as I walked in a security guy in a black suit started following me around and I quickly realized he was probably panicking at the sight of two kids coming in to view over 100 year old Claude Monet paintings! I put them in the stroller, did a quick spin around, realized I needed to get them out of there and headed outside to the city park which is connected to the museum.

I do think it would be neat if a wing of the museum could be turned into something for teaching kids about art. Maybe hanging up replica’s of famous artwork for them to view or something like that.

It was a beautiful day Saturday! Sunny and in the 70’s! In the park there were these ducks and birds I had never seen before. Somebody must have bought some unusual  varieties of ducks and introduced them there. Two of the ducks had babies. I had never seen ducklings so small and I was thrilled that E and T.J got to observe ducks with their babies in their own habitat. One of the mama ducks had 10 babies and E watched with much anticipation as they headed towards the pound and one at a time clumsily plopped themselves in!

We had a picnic by a fountain and I laughed as a brave duck used to being fed by people approached T.J and E threw herself in front of him yelling, “Get away from my brother!”

We found our seats for the musical and watched as all these little girls came in dressed up like E was. I had so much fun watching her watch the musical. She was literally on the edge of her seat, taking it all in. A few times she looked up at me with the biggest grin on her face looking like she was wondering what was happening.

(E doesn’t like her picture being taken, I had to snap a photo before else realized what I was doing!)

T.J was on my lap and it did take quite a bit of effort to keep him there and quiet. Next time we go I’ll try to plan to just go with E or else go when someone can come with me to have an extra pair of hands.

Earlier in the week on a colder cloudy day we visited this place called Share The Love Kid’s Club. It was clean, there was plenty to keep the kids entertained for several hours and the staff was very helpful. If you’re ever in Conway looking for something to do with your kids, I’d recommend it. FYI I’d say it’s geared towards kids ages 1-4. It’s $10.00 per child without a membership. 

Grit and Motherhood

I just finished last night this really interesting book called Grit by Angela Duckworth. Angela Duckworth is a psychologist who has devoted herself to the study of what she has defined as ‘grit’. The subtitle of the book is The Power of Passion and Perseverance. I was familiar with the work of Angela Duckworth because I am a part of a Facebook group of diabetics who follow Dr. Bernstein. The group is called TYPEONEGRIT named in reference to Angela Duckworth’s studies.

As a stay at home mom my mind is spinning apply all the principles in this book to my calling of motherhood.

Grit is essentially consistently doing the work today to accomplish a very long term goal. Today as mothers we are changing diapers, kissing boo-boo’s and teaching right from wrong because 20 years down the road we want our children to be confident, well adjusted, God serving adults who are in a position to give back to the people around them.

She explains that successful gritty people believe that their job is important. I believe that doing a good job raising my children is the most important thing I can be doing with my life right now. More than an important job, I believe it is a calling from God. Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:7, Titus 2:4. I believe my every day work, even when it feels mundane, benefits not only my family but society and future generations.

Successful people know where they want to be. They have well defined specific goals leading them to an ultimate goal they want to achieve. Successful people also have either one or just a few very specific goals that they are working towards. They say yes to what will get them there and they know they have to say no to the things that won’t. They are not people running around in circles trying to do it all. When making decisions about how I am going to spend my time and energy I need to ask myself the question, “Is this going to enrich or take away from my job as a mom?”

The author includes a section on how we can build grit into our kids. How can we help our children be passionate people who persevere? I know I want to instill in my children an attitude of getting back up when they fall down. She tells parents and educators to teach kids about their ability to learn. Literally showing kids photos of brain growth and giving them an understanding of the brains ability to grow and change has been proven to move people from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a ‘growth mindset.’  A person with a fixed mindset believes that some people are born smart and others are not while a person with a growth mindset views people and themselves as having the ability to learn, grow and change. The first mind set leads to giving up when the going gets tough while the second mindset leads to overcoming obstacles and getting back up after falling. Essentially, learning about learning can change a childs attitude from “I can’t” to “I can.”

She also tells parents and teachers to emphasize with children that failure is okay and to create an environment where it is okay to fail. The child should be able to see their parents learning from their mistakes and moving on with lessons learned. She also emphasizes praising effort over accomplishment.

The author interviews many of what she refers to as, “high achievers” which makes the book a fun and interesting read. I like getting to “listen in” as she picks the brain of hard working successful people and to read their stories of where they came from and where they are going.

Here she is presenting and summarizing her work and ideas in a TEDtalk. It really is worth watching, it’ll get you thinking!

 

 

My week without internet..

Saturday was my last day of taking a week off from the internet. There were a couple times I had to check a date or rsvp to an event and I wanted to take a quick peek at our family photos but I spent no more than 10 minutes the whole week doing that kind of thing.

This week I’ve been really busy taking care of my sick little boy. He has a virus tha’s going around. He had an ear infection that was confirmed to be healed up after taking antibiotics. I took him to the doctor again this weekend and the pediatrician said it will just have to run it’s course.

What’s been different about my week without internet? I’ve been less distracted. In my spare moments I’ve read real books instead of reading blogs. I’ve done a better job at making sure one thing is picked up that the kids are playing with before they go onto something else so my house has stayed cleaner. I’ve prayed more. Friday I took our van through the car wash and both my kids were sleeping. I really wanted to take that 5 minutes of no one needing me to take a peek at my phone but instead I prayed. Instead of taking a photo of my kids and posting to Facebook I sent texts to my parents and grandparents who (mostly) are not on Facebook so I was better at keeping in touch with the people I need to most. I sat and held my kids while they watched T.V which is something they always want me to do but it feels like I’m wasting time. I’d rather be getting my housework done while they watch the show. (Being honest here) Since I was taking a break from the internet I just held them and watched their show some with them which they really liked. (not a whole show, but some!)

I finished copying down in a notebook the book of Romans like I had mentioned in an earlier post. It took me about 8 hours and 15 minutes. Each time I sat down to write I would either set a stop watch or look at the clock and then make a note when I stopped of how long I had been writing for. I say ‘about’ because it was easier to keep track of if I round up or down to an even number. Instead of recording I had written for 19 minutes I would record 20 etc.

I have a new appreciation for the man Tertius who wrote the epistle for Paul. I’ll have to thank him when I get to Heaven and ask him how long it took!

Mostly I’ve been so busy I’ve been wondering how I had time at all to read stuff on the internet but I guess a few moments here and there adds up.

I still got on the computer (not online) and wrote for 20 minutes each morning before the kids woke up. Writing is something that really makes me happy and clears my head and focuses my mind.

The biggest change I saw that came from my no internet week was how I felt when I got back on Sunday. I was excited to catch up with people but then after I posted on FB I kept worrying if I sounded nice enough or what people would think. I was caught myself rushing through doing things with my kids to try and get done so I could have a few minutes to read on-line. I found myself feeling kind of overwhelmed because there is so much that I want to research and read on the internet but motherhood just does not allow that time and I felt frustrated. I felt more peaceful this week when I wasn’t trying to find time to go on-line because at this stage in my life the time is just not really there. Do you get what I mean?

I was also disappointed yesterday because I spent the little time that I have before the kids wake up on line so I didn’t have time to write or read my book all day. Writing and reading real books makes me happy and is more fulfilling than reading short blogs on-line.

Anyways, I think my time off the internet was good for me. So good in fact that I’ve decided I’m going to take the next month off. April 20th is a month from now. I may post on here during this time. This blog doesn’t feel as time robbing as things like social media. I’m working on writing some things that I’m excited to share and I’m reading a couple of really good books that I want to review.

Happy first day of Spring!! Enjoy your week!

How do you cut out the distractions in your life and what things take the place of those distractions?

Today’s must do’s

Today I must spend time out side, feel the sunshine on my face and BREATHE

Today I must put down the distractions, the phone, the social media, the multitasking and CONNECT to what’s in front of me

Today I must SLOW DOWN and LOVE. SLOW DOWN enough to receive LOVE. My children can’t put their arms around a mom constantly on the move, distracted by a million tiny things. TAKE THE TIME to SAVOR the details. When things get crazy, push aside the temptation to keep plowing forward and instead STOP. I once heard a mom say something along the lines of, “be the eye of the storm in your home and to your family.” Be the one who is the CALM in the chaos.

Today I must GET OUTSIDE MY OWN HEAD. Seek to be in the moment. BE PRESENT. Experience the sense of smell, touch, taste, sound and sight of the moments of today. Experience the moment fully.

Today I must say YES. YES to the game of hide and seek, YES to the time it will take to teach a little one something they need to learn.

Today I must LOWER THE BAR. Everything does not need to be done every day. People before dishes that need done, people before my checklist I want completed.

Today I must be THANKFUL and show GRATITUDE. Feel the thanksgiving in my heart, offer it as worship before God and let it come off my lips to the people around me. “I’m so THANKFUL I get to be your mama,” “I’m so THANKFUL you are in my life.”

Bath, Brush, Books, Bed

When I was pregnant with T.J I found ‘America’s Supernanny’ Deborah Tillman and became obsessed with watching every episode! I can’t remember now if I was watching them via Netflix or Youtube but either way I learned so much from watching that show. It was amazing to me to see these crazy, out of control and even hopeless families get turned around for the better with a framework of structure, discipline, and the establishment of family rules based on love and respect.

One thing that caught my attention was how well the youngest of the children responded to routines. So many negative behaviors disappeared simply by setting up an environment where the child new what to do next and knew what was expected of them. The routine that stuck in my mind was the little children’s bedtime slogan she used. She called it the 4 B’s- bath, brush, books, bed. I started saying that to E over a year and a half ago and I am still saying it. I guess that I have now adopted it as one of those parenting phrases that annoy the kids ha ha!

It really works though. After dinner at some point I clap my hands and say, “bath, brush, books and bed!” The kids take off running for the tub. Once I had 2 children we don’t do a full bath every night. If they are not very dirty a wash cloth on little faces and hands works but most nights I do give them a bath. It’s something fun that they enjoy and it actually gives me a few moments to sit down and rest while they play and I supervise. After bath it’s pajamas and brushing teeth. At that point I will usually do a board book with the baby then lay him down before spending some one on one time reading books with E.

My husband’s job makes establishing family routines difficult but bedtime is one area that I have managed to build a little soothing structure for the kids that I can do regardless of what shift he is on. I know a lot of you are in the same sort of situations so I hope to get some feed back on this and hear what routines you have in place for your children that bring stability and peace to your family.