Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Been hiding out...

Sorry, I disappeared for a little while, there! I twisted some muscles in my back a bit, and felt it best to stay away from my desk and computer for a while.

Actually, for a few days, even just the thought of sitting at the computer made my back wrench!  But I am mostly healed up now, and anxious to get back to blogging and all other things cyberspace.

Besides my moments of disability, we've been doing school and life.  We had the privilege of a two week visit from a dear friend, Heather, who is a huge blessing to our family.

Macy had a 48 hour fever thing, and we've had a couple sneezers and sniffers in the house.  Even poor Heather got to share our germs while she was here.  (I'm so sorry, Heather!)

Since we're quite a few weeks into the school year now, we've gotten accustomed to our flex-schedule, and have worked out what is expected of each of us.  Also, having a guest with us gave me some new ideas and perspectives of some things I want to improve on.  Isn't it funny how having an outside observer around can cause one to notice the cracks?!?

With a surprise visit from my very dear mother and father in law, this week has become a special treat away from any boring routine.  So, between this week and the last two with company, there are some extra hearts to love and be loved by... this is what life is all about, isn't it?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kids & Nature Study pics

I snapped this picture Monday morning. The girls were ready to get this new week started! Andrew was still just waking up...in good company!  (Yep, those are pj pants)

The rest of the pics were taken by Sydney when she took the girls outside for a little nature study...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Charlotte Mason Help

Here's an additional post to the Literature Series I had posted over the summer.  This topic is ALWAYS on my mind:

I've been scouring websites and blogs for Charlotte Mason inspiration as we enjoy these beautiful first weeks of our new school year;  going on nature walks, studying Leonardo da Vinci, pulling out the time-lines and maps, snuggling together with our favorite picture books, having great discussions about our Bible lessons.

I like to use Charlotte Mason methodology as much as I can.

In addition to Ambleside online and other curriculum sites (listed in a previous post) that use a literature approach, I've found some incredibly helpful blogs.  Just click on the pictures below to visit each site.

Simply Charlotte Mason is a valuable resource (full of book recommendations, organizer/planners, a blog, articles, and curriculum helps).   This is at the top of the list!    (picture credit:  from SCM website)

Charlotte Mason Home Education is a wonderful one.  It's packed full of tips, how-to's, and freebies.  (pic from CMHE)

Handbook of Nature Study blog.  She gives many free downloads, and nature study challenges.  She also posts lots of pics of their family's nature study finds.  Good stuff!  (pic from HNS)

Practical Pages (blog).  Every post includes a printable download.  Lots of practical tutorials notebooking, copywork, art appreciation, etc.  (pic from PP)

Click this link to access a nicely done "Living Books" book list at Charlotte Mason Home Education.  (pic from CMHE)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Temper tantrum love from this mother of six

So, my littlest sweetheart just turned two.  The five that went before her, were two years old at one time also.  Yes they were!

I've seen some tantrums!  

Just so you know, my kiddos are pretty incredible... smart, sweet little things!  But every now and then they have their moments.  We try to be consistent.  We try to use some good psychology.  We don't have situations where our toddlers rule over the house with their whims and desires.  They know this house is run by Mom & Dad, not them.  But that selfish desire to have their own way rears it's ugly head from time to time.

My Janie is giving me a little more practice in dealing with tantrums than any of her older siblings.  She's so darling, and her little moments of self-indulgence just melt my heart.  I've seen stubbornness in children before, but she is not ashamed to let her feelings be known.  I am sure it is the sign of a girl who will one day become a strong, godly woman!  Don't ya think?

Like I said, we've done this before, so we've had some practice.  Between that, and the fact that I've been dealing with these tantrums as of late, I've come up with a pretty good system.  There's really never a one-size-fits-all answer for anything, but here are some tips for new parents who may be dealing with tantrums for the first time, and don't know which school of thought to follow.

1.)  If your child doesn't throw tantrums:  Congratulations!  Enjoy that!  I've had a couple of kids who made things easy for me in that way.  Just please try to be understanding of the parents around you who are struggling to find the right solution for their families.  It's the "you haven't walked in their shoes" thing.  You know.

2.)  Every child is different:  You can keep having babies and keep having babies, and they will keep coming out different than the rest!  I know I'm stating the obvious, but after you have a few children, you really do realize this truth in a very big way.  Once you think you have things figured out, you realize you don't!  Keep this in mind when you have to tweak and adjust your methods with the varied tantrums that come from varied persons.  The same goes for these tips... take what works, and leave the rest.

3.)  Be proactive:  In many cases, if your discipline is consistent and your (loving) authority has been established, you can prevent most tantrums by avoiding triggers.  Triggers for tantrums can be being hungry, tired, or frustrated.  For instance, I rarely see a tantrum from Janie on a day when I have kept her belly full, made sure she got to nap/bed before she became overtired, and when I explain what is expected from her in new situations before they occur.  

4.)  Explain, explain, explain:  I learned this valuable lesson from my firstborn's piano teacher.  This lady started teaching children when they turned three, and would have a room full of little squirmers for group lessons, all lined up along the wall, sitting like statues.  She would tell a new three year old when they came in the room... "I expect you to sit here, like this, with your hands this way, (for a 40 minute group lesson).  This is how we do it here.  You are big enough to do this, and you will do great."  She had confidence that they could, and they heard it in her voice.  Those kids knew they could sit still, behave, and obey, because she believed they could.  Watching her do this blew my "young new mom" mind.  I now employ this way of explaining what's expected (when I'm on top of my game, of course) with the smaller kiddos when we're going into any new situation.  Children have a much better reaction to a situation when they know ahead of time how they will be expected to act.

5.)  Talk, talk, talk:  Same thing, huh?!?  But communicating does wonders, doesn't it?  If I can see that Janie is overtired and there is the possibility of a meltdown trying to put her in bed (which is now my fault for not putting her to bed on time), I try to distract her when I see her start to complain.  I shower her with love and smiles, and we talk about what great fun thing she is going to get to do in the morning when she wakes up.  Instead of trying to discipline that bad attitude out of her, I avoid an unnecessary battle by loving her lots and talking about how big she is, and how well she obeyed today, etc.  We can work on "how to have a good attitude" and "how to obey" in the morning when she's fresh, by explaining, talking, role playing, and training.
6.)  Try to look through the actions, into the heart:   When I was a new mom, I saw tantrums as a challenge of my authority.  I thought it was as simple as a battle of the wills.  Things may sometimes be that simple, but feeling upset and threatened by a lack of respect for my authority can keep me from a real understanding of what's going on my little child's heart.  I like to try to think, "Is my sweetheart scared of this new, big situation?  Does she feel like she has lost control of her whole world, and doesn't know how to cope?  Is she upset about more than this, and I haven't been paying attention to what may have led up to this?"  Children's minds and hearts are complex, just like an adult.  Just because they are under our authority does not make them less of a person, with less important feelings.  Look into those little eyes and try to see if they are searching for understanding, trying to grasp why that fleshly nature can't have what it wants. Take time to whisper a quick prayer for wisdom and understanding.  And try not to react as if your little one is your enemy.

7.)  If necessary, ignore:  Once Janie has "tantrumed" to the point of no return, we have to just leave her alone for a while (not REALLY alone, of course- just not paying attention to her).  It's not a punishment and it doesn't scare her.  She actually doesn't want anyone talking to her or trying to fix it when she's that upset.  So, intentional ignoring works great once she's decided she'll settle for nothing but a good cry on the floor.  She actually only has her tantrums at home or in the car.  (I think I do a better job of being proactive when I'm in public.)

8.)  Timing is everything:  When your child has lost their emotional control, it is not a good time to "teach them a lesson".  They have lost their capacity for rational thought at this point.  For instance, once my littlest sweetheart has reached the climax of her meltdown, crying and writhing on the floor, it's time to step back.  I try to approach her every few minutes, and for Janie, it takes several attempts of asking if she's ready for a hug (reconciliation).  But I don't hover over her, begging or lecturing while she's out of it.  I keep trying every  few minutes with an opportunity for her to choose a good alternative, and choose peace and reconciliation. If she's unapproachable when I try again, I make it quick and leave her to her fit.  Eventually, I get to make my last pass, with open arms and smile, and she is finally ready to melt into my arms when I again say "are you ready to be done, and hug Mommy?"

9.)  Do obedience and behavior training in the good moments:  In case it sounds like I'm a pushover, I'd better add that it is a VERY good idea to obedience train and teach self-control!  It is just most effectively taught when a child is well rested and in good spirits.

A Pilot's Story from Sept 10-11th

Leading up to September 11th, I always spend time reflecting and remembering 2001.  Here is an amazing testimony that is definitely worth watching!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lord's Day Thoughts

 God is big, truly AWEsome, and more amazing than I can comprehend!  How desperately I need Him and His mercy and grace.  When I think of how hugely powerful my God is, I am overcome with thanksgiving because I am His child.  I am His. 

Here is what is on my mind and heart today...

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Psalm 46(KJV)

Oh my God, He will not delay... 

my refuge and strength always.

I will not fear.  His promise is true. 

My God will come through always!

Lyrics (Kristian Stanfill- Always)

I feel so safe, protected, and confident in Him, my Sovereign God.   

Here is the message of HaKadosh (the Holy One), the True One, the one who has the key of David, who, if opens something, no one else can shut it, and if he closes something, no else can open it.  (Rev 3:7 Complete Jewish Bible)

Week One: How we did

We did our thing!  

Of course, real life took over.   Yes it did.  

The schedule was very helpful.  Without it, our week would have led to complete frustration.  That schedule hanging on the wall gave us the ability to embrace real life, knowing that we could get right back on track as real life would permit.  The tasks would still get done.  (At least the important ones.)  The day would have some order.  And Mom would keep her sanity!

 I remember a time when real life would have frustrated me to the pointing of giving up on a schedule.  I also remember a time when real life would have been ignored for the sake of "school".  What a nice place for me to arrive at, six kids along- real life and organization walking hand in hand.  Not the perfection of a "dream" homeschooling day, but children who are learning about hard work, disciplining themselves, being flexible as life happens, and having some fun, too!  
Andrew- 6th grade
Macy- 1st grade

My high school aged kids don't seem to hang around when I'm pulling out the camera.  I hope to sneak up on them some this year, to capture a kodak moment here and there when they have their noses in the books.  But for now, here are some moments from this week:

Austin (11th grade) reading to baby Janie

Macy invited her little sisters onto her blanket at blanket time , so she could read to them.

More musical blankets- Tessa (3) and Janie (2) wanted to be together

This is how the girls came down on Tues morning... play dresses over their jammies and climbing all over the place.  That's Macy climbing over the chair onto her sisters.

Another pic from our impromptu nature walk.

Part of our welcomed "real life" this week... a visit from one of our favorite friends, Crystal!  I think she's dancing with the girls for a video Sydney was making... now that's love!
More real life love... dog-sitting a fence jumping, cat eating Rhodesian Ridgeback.  

We sure fell in love with this big sweetheart of a dog, Rowdy.

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