Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Something to think about

A link worth reading.  What would you do?

The Cost of Speaking Out

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

For the love of learning

"Mom, can I have another math page to do please?"  This is what I heard from my 5 year old son this evening. 

I am always hoping and praying that I do not get in the way of my children's natural love of learning.  Learning is fun.  We are born full of curiosity and a desire to explore and understand the world around us.  As a parent, it is my job to allow that exploration to happen, to encourage learning adventures spurred on by curiosity.

Sometimes education and learning are treated more as something that needs to be spoon-fed to kids, or crammed into their unwilling minds.  This is a very sad way to view learning.  Gaining knowledge and understanding, developing new skills, these things are a process, a journey.  The journey should be more enjoyable than painful.  As a parent, I love observing as my kids learn new things.  They always learn best when it is something they have a desire to know or a skill they want to develop.

I try to let them direct as much of the learning adventure as possible.  Sometimes I act as a guide.  Occasionally I have noticed myself trying to force feed them knowledge.  They resist!  That is always a reminder to me that I need to step back and allow learning to happen naturally.  They might need a break from the subject for a few minutes, days, or even months.  Eventually they will be ready to learn the things they need to know.

Babies are born ready to learn, grow, and develop.  There is no reason for that curiosity and love of learning to disappear.  If you teach your children, do whatever it takes to hold onto their desire to learn.  If you entrust the education of your children to others, stand up for your children and do whatever it takes to help them maintain their desire to learn.

Not everyone is meant to excel in typical "school subjects" like reading, writing, and math.  But everyone does have an area or two in which they shine.  Let's help our children search for and develop the things they are great at!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lunch time!

A typical lunch at our house involves a source of protein left over from the previous night's dinner, veggies, and some fruit.  I strive to feed our family lots of fresh and healthy food.  This lunch included lemon-basil chicken, baked butternut squash (grown in our garden), steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and fresh red peppers and cucumbers.  And yes, my kids eat all these things!

We've certainly had experience with the kids being picky eaters at times.  I have found that starting healthy eating habits young really pays off.  I don't make special meals for anyone who doesn't like what is offered at a particular time.  Everyone is required to take at least one bite of each item on their plate every time it is served.  I follow this rule as well.  When I cook shrimp for my family I tell the kids, "Shrimp has never been one of my favorite foods, but I'm going to try it again to see if I like it yet."  I show them how I can try a bite and then take a bite of something else if I don't like the flavor.  "No, I still don't like it, but I'm glad I tried it."

Modeling healthy eating habits makes a big difference!  I don't expect my kids to eat differently than I do.  I often fix myself a healthy snack and my kids almost always want some when they see me eating it.  I try to give them healthy choices such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts for snacks.  If they are hungry enough, most kids will eat what is offered.

Sometimes we have conversations that go like this:
"Mom, I am so hungry.  Can I have something to eat?"
"Sure.  Would you like apple slices, almonds, or carrots?"
"No, I want something different."
"Those are your options."
"But mom, I'm starving and that is not what I want!"
"People who are starving are happy to eat whatever is available.  Let me know if you change your mind."

As parents, it is our job to help our kids develop good habits.  How and what they learn to eat will make a big impact on their health and well-being throughout their entire lives.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Art lessons

We had some fun and relaxing art lessons today at the "Petracci Academy."  I was the art instructor... with some help from Marjorie Flack, Kurt Wiese, and their delightful book "The Story About Ping."

My daughter Anna and I chose a drawing to work from and we set to work making our own versions of Ping diving into the Yangtze River.  I provided minimal discussion about techniques the artists may have used in creating the original.  I then set to work on my drawing using colored pencils.  My kids watched me for a while and emulated some of my technique as they began to work on their own masterpieces.

Here is Anna (age 7) and her beautiful artwork.

My son Arik (age 5) was a little nervous to begin his drawing.  He was worried that he would mess it up.  With a bit of gentle persuasion, he returned to the table and set to work.  He got distracted part way through so I don't have a picture of his artwork.  But he did a good job!

And here is mine.  (Please imagine this picture rotated, I'd do it if I knew how!  Ping is actually diving down rather than up.)  Spending time enjoying art with my kids is extremely relaxing for all of us.

This was our second time to practice our artistic skills using "The Story of Ping."  You can view our first attempt from one year ago in this post.  It is so much fun for me to see the artistic progress Anna and Arik have made in the past year.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It has been a long time

It has been such a long time since I posted anything here.  I keep thinking of things I could write, and then I either forget them or never get around to typing them.  Maybe soon?

In the meantime, big news in our household.  We are expecting a baby in March!  We are all so excited by this huge blessing from God.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Great news

Some thoughts from Holly and some wonderful updates from Save the Children Orphanage in DR Congo...
You can read about it here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Charlotte and Wilbur

I'm fairly new to life as a homeschool mom, but not as new as I was a year and a half ago.  That small amount of experience has taught me to relax a little bit.  In fact, I am finding that it is best if kids are not super focused on academics at this age.  We "do school" every weekday.  We work on things like math, writing, reading, etc.  We study history and science because those subjects fascinate the kids.  But I'm learning to let go of my previous expectations.  I'm learning to fit our lessons into times that work best for the kids.  I've stopped interrupting them when they are deep in imaginary play. 

We spend hours each day simply reading.  Lately we have been re-reading Charlotte's Web.  While I made dinner tonight, Charlotte and Wilbur appeared in our living room.  Big sister, Charlotte the spider, got out magnetic letters and spelled Some Pig, Terrific, Radiant, and Humble in her web.  Little brother, Wilbur the pig, said words like Salutations and talked about what they meant.  As a home educator, I think of these activities as spelling, vocabulary, etc.  But even more important, these experiences allow us to bond as a family.  They give us the opportunity to laugh together.  The kids are learning to love learning.  I sat by a cute little pig during dinner and the pretty little girl sitting across from me became a little girl named Fern.

Homeschool seemed very mysterious  to me before I started doing it.  Since then, I've come to appreciate the simplicity of home education.  Teaching young kids is about building relationships, not knowledge.  Teaching is about nurturing a love of reading and learning.  It is about encouraging imagination, creativity, and curiosity.  It doesn't take much more than picking up a great book, reading it together, and giving kids time to play.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Judgement or Grace

Sally Clarkson is an author I have grown to really appreciate.  If you are a mom, I highly recommend her books to you.  Any of them!

You can get a little preview of her writing and her heart in this great post on her blog.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Parking lot encounter

Just got back from a night time grocery shopping trip.  I almost always do my grocery shopping at night, since I don't have access to a car during the day.  I look around and pay close attention to what is happening in the parking lot.  I tend to be pretty cautious (read, paranoid) about being alone at night or in remote places no matter what time of day it is.

So, back to tonight... I was putting my groceries into the car when 2 tall teenage boys approached me suddenly.  "Do you have any change for me and my brother to get some food?"  "No, sorry, I don't."  And they skated off.  I usually don't carry any cash, but tonight I had a little.  Or I could have given them some of the food I just bought.  Or taken them into the store and bought what they wanted.

But, I tell myself, I did the right thing.  The safe thing.  They probably just wanted cash to buy something I wouldn't want to support.  And my heart answers, "But what if?"  What if they really were hungry?  What if they really did need help?  What if those were my kids?  How would I want a stranger to respond to them?  What would be the best response in a situation like this?

It is important to be safe, yes.  But my heart just isn't satisfied by that answer.  How I wish I could read into the minds or hearts of those I encounter in situations like this.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One hundred

This is my one hundredth post!  A list of 100 seems appropriate.  So here I go... hope you don't get too bored.

100 things I am thankful for:  (in no particular order)

1. water from the faucet, safe to drink
2. listening to my daughter's voice as she reads
3. the joy and adventure of imagination
4. warmth of the sun on my cheeks
5. clean, soft sheets
6. flapping wings, chickens running through the yard
7. bare feet on cool tile
8. a home to live in, learn in, breath in, grow in
9. my husband's loving words, kind eyes
10. warm showers
11. the blessing of food to feed hungry little tummies, and big ones too
12. two hands, able to accomplish all my chores
13. spiders, surprising me with their unexpected hiding spots
14. fruit smoothies
15. kids with lots to say
16. little legs running fast
17. watching cousins play
18. second chances
19. memories
20. libraries full of books
21. my son, so full of joy and enthusiasm
22. the sky, robin's egg blue with wispy white clouds
23. freedom
24. forgiveness
25. friendship
26. family
27. laughter
28. soft butter on homemade cinnamon-raisin bread
29. nap time
30. powerful hymns
31. leaves blowing in the wind
32. brightly colored butterflies
33. hum of hummingbird wings
34. a cat's slowly blinking eyes
35. kids, fascinated by simple things
36. hugs
37. tender kisses from my darling
38. rainbows
39. God's promises
40. friendly service in tiny towns
41. meaningful conversations
42. meeting new babies
43. time with "old" friends, and all friends
44. last minute plans
45. kids learning new skills
46. time to think
47. clean floors
48. choices
49. watching my kids treat each other with kindness and thoughtfulness
50. our yard, space for the kids to run and explore
51. prayer
52. hearing God's voice
53. watching the kids' excitement over life's small pleasures
54. chocolate ice cream
55. warm days at the beach
56. splashing in the waves
57. attending church as a family
58. unexpected sightings, llamas walking down our street
59. tea parties
60. gardening
61. hiking with my family
62. dusty shoes from a path worth hiking
63. spending quality time, not money
64. studying history
65. collecting and eating fresh eggs
66. sweet thank you note received in the mail
67. taking time to be grateful
68. a house so quiet that I hear the clock ticking
69. folding small clothes, some pink and some blue
70. Charlotte (the chicken) announcing to the world that she just laid an egg
71. curious children, excited to learn and explore
72. teaching my kids about Jesus in all aspects of our day
73. home school
74. gentle reminders from God
75. walking and running 5 miles, a feeling of accomplishment
76. new Playdoh
77. looking up words in a dictionary
78. the end results of difficult conversations
79. art projects with the kids
80. the Bible, God's word, medicine to my heart
81. my kids and husband!  Oh, how I love them!
82. headache free days
83. beautiful sunset colors, orange, pink, and purple
84. the moon, glowing in the clouds
85. little ones, still small enough to hold and rock in my arms
86. words of love, making little eyes smile and glow
87. sheets full of holes, reminding me to be content and thankful
88. loudly purring cats
89. access to healthcare
90. hope and grace
91. relaxing yoga
92. puzzles
93. singing songs about Jesus with my kids
94. pond refilled by rain, swimming ducks
95. advice from friends
96. turkey vultures and hawks soaring in the sky
97. homemade spinach lasagna
98. memorizing Bible verses with the kids
99. smiles
100. picnic lunches

Thank you, God, for all these blessings in my life!