Reveling in the glory and beauty of everyday life... all the mess and chaos of raising five little girls!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Each Day....

For several months, books by Karen Andreola have been sitting on my bedside table - books about British educator Charlotte Mason and how her methods can be applied in the home.  I have been inspired by two fictional diaries of a homeschooling mom, and learned a great deal about Charlotte Mason's teachings from Karen's larger, non-fiction volume.  I still have a lot to learn about teaching, about classical education, about igniting a life-long love of learning in my little girls.  But, I do remember, every day, this one simple reminder of Charlotte's. 

Each day, give your children: 

- something to love
- something to do
- something to think about. 

When I get to the end of the day and ponder where I have failed and where I have succeeded as a mom, it is easy to find the flaws.  I can count so many things I should have done, so many things I did wrong, so many opportunities I lost in the shuffle.  Do you feel like that?  As moms, we should have clean homes, well-stocked kitchens, gourmet and nutritious meals on the table. We should have our little ones enrolled in sports and arts activities, they should be learning another language, they should be doing crafts and playing outside, they should be engaged in learning, they should be kind and helpful, they should be happy.  They should be listening to classical music and viewing great art, and playing creatively. Whew!  I can't do it all! 

If I think about those three things, my balance scale of a day's success becomes less weighty on the side of the "should-dos." 

Did I hug and snuggle and kiss and tell each of my children how deeply loved they are by me and by God? 

Did I play with them outdoors?  Help them with a simple task or chore around the house? 

Did I read to them? Were their minds given thoughts from good literature (or the Bible!) to ponder or to "hang a peg" for future learning and thinking?

Sometimes, I just need to slow down. Relax. And pare down life with my kids to the basics of loving, doing and thinking.   


Friday, April 20, 2012

An Apple A Day

Over our Spring Break, I spent some time thinking through how to add life to our school days... how to thrive and not just muddle through. I think everyone (whether in a classroom or at home) probably hits a lull in the Spring as weather warms and indoor study seems less appealing. But, I shared a while back that many of my good intentions have sort of gone astray during pregnancy, family sickness, and in the daily struggles that arise. Often it seems that fun projects get put aside to take time for discipline, training and discipling. And I guess that is part of why we homeschool! :) But - I do want to thrive.

We have set aside our country studies for a while and are taking time to enjoy Sadie's preschool projects with the whole crew. Sadie finished All About Reading, Level Pre-One, and the next level was a bit too challenging for her. So, to bridge the gap, we jumped into the kindergarten program by My Father's World. While the curriculum is labeled as kindergarten, I feel it is really more appropriate as a preschool program. It is a letter-of-the-week style program, which means it concentrates on very basic letter sounds and short vowel reading. It has some very simple math, sweet Bible lessons incorporated with each new letter, hands-on activities, and good book recommendations. We are on Unit 4 and are enjoying the change. I think change is good, especially in springtime. :)

This week was A for Apple. The book selections were fun for this unit. We got to do things like make apple juice jello and write letters in it, and taste test several different varieties of fresh apples. We learned about how "if we remain in Jesus, we will bear much fruit!" and talked about the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians.

Apple Books! Funny - nearly every one of them had an apple pie recipe at the end. :)
Apple Graphing. We counted how many apples of each color we had.
After we taste tested (red delicious, golden delicious, fuji, granny smith, and an Asian pear (just for fun))the girls chopped them up to make an apple salad with Greek yogurt for lunch.

The fruits of the Spirit... and they only grow if we remain in Jesus. Trying to grow them on our own is like bringing in a fallen, dead branch from outside, placing it in a vase, and expecting it to sprout leaves! :)

I have also been trying to be more consistent and efficient with our mornings... getting things done in a timely manner so we actually start by 9 - with beds made, dishes washed, and kids all dressed. That doesn't seem like it should be hard, but it can be! We put out a blanket and pillows and are enjoying morning circle time and Bible before we sit at our desks or the kitchen table for lessons.

This week, Elisa finished her phonics program. She still stumbles over words with more than three syllables, but is fun to sit and read with her! The last lesson was simply a fourteen syllable word: supercalafragilisticexpialidocious! As a treat, we read it together, and then enjoyed watching the scene from Mary Poppins where Burt and Mary sing that silly song! It was a celebratory sort of break in our day.

A lot is up on the air as far as our plans for next year. We have the opportunity to join a new classical co-op, and aren't sure how that will change curriculum and our daily load... I'd like to have things well sorted out before our little blessing arrives, so that when we start up in the fall I can just "open and go." We'll see! :)

And.... this week, counting gifts and miracles.... we saw a double rainbow, brilliant in a patch of blue sky on a rainy afternoon. We rode our bikes past a huge moose munching willows in the creek. We jumped in puddles and picked up worms. We tried on two garbage bags full of perfect-condition new clothes. We found used bunk-beds for a reasonable price. I listened to three kids sing "Christ in risen from the grave!" in perfect unison and sweet lisps. Raina slept in undies for all of her naps.... and so much more!

Friday, April 13, 2012


This week I passed the 25 week mark in this pregnancy. Our fluttery little one-pound princess is beginning to stretch and push and wiggle, more and more. I feel terrific - but the beginnings of Braxton-Hicks contractions, sore ligaments, and the constant drooping of my jeans :) remind me that I carry a little life with me all the time. I am so thankful.

I don't ever want to take for granted the joy God has given us in our children. I realize more and more with each pregnancy how lightly I need to hold on to these lives... how tender and fragile and miraculous they are.

This week two women I know lost babies in the middle of their second trimesters. I cry for their pain and I ask God, why them? Why not us? Our babies have all been born healthy, vibrant. Why are we so blessed? Sometimes I wish I could trade others' pain and give them what we have been given -- because we have so much already. I love the little girl in my womb with all that is in me, and I would never wish sorrow on our family. But I would take it from another mom. If I could.

It's a strange thing to pray and cry for another person's loss, and then rise up and realize your own life just goes on... I am so sad for those families... but I still swallow prenatal vitamins and count glasses of water as I nourish the heart still beating inside of me. I still pray for her safety and her health. I still smile when she kicks.

I remember feeling that way after a weekend immersed in the homeless culture of downtown Seattle when I was a student there. How does entering into the suffering of those around us change our day to day lives? How can it? I see the homeless, and I go back to my comfortable house with carpets that need vacuuming and bright windows to wash... I read about starving children in Africa, and I still have to plan a menu, grocery shop, pull meat from the freezer to serve for dinner.

We live in a world of brokenness. But we still have to make all the day-to-day decisions and do all the day-to-day tasks.

I don't have profound answers... just thoughts... watching aspens bud and quiver out my window, thinking how God still holds it all together, weaving tapestries of life that we don't understand, braiding together destruction and beauty, bringing brokenness into peoples' lives, and gentle healing and hope amidst it all.

Our blessings - cherishing the life we live and the joys we encounter - God's gifts. And just because these fun pictures from a few weeks ago brighten my post. :) God is good. And we are safe - even when it doesn't feel safe in a world so riddled with heartache. Safe in His love and His sovereignty.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Resurrection Tree

I have to admit, I am not a crafty mom. I don't keep a lot of art supplies on hand, mostly because I am too frugal to purchase fun things like pom-poms and glitter and stickers. We have crayons, and paper. And that is about it. But we still have fun getting creative!

I wanted to do some Easter crafts during this week of preparation for Resurrection Sunday. So, I pulled out Noel Piper's book "Treasuring God in Your Traditions," and we gathered fallen branches from our yard to create a Resurrection tree. The girls helped me recall details of Holy Week - from the triumphal entry to the Last Supper, Good Friday and the joyous Resurrection.

It was a simple, fun project that hopefully helped to cement those details in their little hearts. And, it makes a nice centerpiece!