As parents it is helpful to stay one step ahead of the kids. However I am discovering that already this is getting harder and harder. Already both Two and Avril have become adept at using their reasoning to argue their case. Two being older is a little more skilled a that. For example, we have been having problems with Two getting up early in the morning. This gets the animals all wild which generally wakes up the other 2 and the day begins. We have talked to Two about this and told him he can’t be getting up so early. So last night I had put the kids to bed and was working in the living room when Two reappears and says, “I think I know why I have been getting up so early–because I go to bed too early. I think I better stay up and watch a movie.”
My oldest child is 5. A few days ago he asked for a piece of paper and pen. I wasn’t paying much attention, but all of a sudden he says, “Mommy look I wrote my name,” and he did without prompting from me. I had showed it to him before but not for at least a week and still he remembered it.
Later I was showing Avril a trick using a cup and water. When you hold the cup upside down it traps air in it. When you put it in the water the air stays trapped until you let it out by turning the cup ever so slightly and a bubble escapes. The next night she was explaining it almost word for word to Two.
The morning Proeun and I were excited about Thanksgiving and all the good food and getting together with family. Then in the midst of going to the library and grocery store for last minute supplies I realized that I haven’t taken this opportunity to explain what Thanksgiving is really about. Obviously they are able to grasp much more then I have given them credit for. I suppose the actually story can wait but not the idea that it is about being thankful–not food and sweets. I am not sure how I will do that yet but I’ll keep you posted.
The Bible has a couple stories of people searching for the lost. There is the story of the shepherd leaving the other 99 sheep to look for the one lost. Then there is the story of the woman looking for the one lost coin in her house. This morning I kept thinking of that woman as I tore my house up looking for a lost rebate card that had arrived in the mail on Monday. Word to the wise, when you are a mother with 3 young children do not leave anything undone and never leave anything important on the table. I delayed putting away the card when it arrived and for 2 days I had been thinking (Holy Spirit promptings perhaps?) that I needed to relocate the card. Today I tried to do just that only to discover it missing.
Last night we had been watching “18 Kids and Counting” and Mr. Duggar was talking about the importance of guarding our reactions to things and that kids will watch carefully your reactions and follow that much more then what you say. All while I was looking this morning through my messy house while trying to cook breakfast and with kids practically hanging on me the whole time I felt my temperature rising. I just needed a moment to think about where that card could be and I wasn’t getting it. On top of that I was failing the test. I kept striving for right reactions and not blowing it out of proportion but tempting things kept coming.
We are trying to transition from using credit constantly to using cash only. This is our first month and so whatever money we have has to get us through. It will be close until I get paid again. Our food is coming primarily from the pantry (thank goodness I stocked that up this summer). We are avoiding unnecessary driving and attempting to lay low financially for awhile. In this environment I loose a sizeable rebate card.
I kept thinking we can adjust somewhere else, it’s not worth it to loose my temper with the kids and the Lord will provide but my reactions were not reflecting peace. Finally I called the company to see if there was any chance I could get another. I didn’t have my hopes up. But low and behold customer service is not dead, it was no big deal and I will receive another card in as little as a week. So all that stress was virtually pointless. I have been loosing stuff a lot lately. My phone a fews weeks ago, my wallet the week after that and now this. Maybe there is a lesson I am supposed to learn? Hopefully I will be done loosing stuff for awhile, but I know I didn’t ace the test today.
Until college I never considered myself a writer. In fact it wasn’t until about 2 years on the job as a freelance writer for a local ethnic paper that I really considered myself a writer. I have had some poems published and have some notariety in this area. At one point my dream life was moving to a foreign country, living there for several years, then writing a travel guide about the area and using that to fund the next move and couple of years. I saw myself working in publishing and being a great writer. I was working at a bookstore at the time and dreaming of having a book on the New York Times best seller list. This was before having children.
Shortly before I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I decided I would quit my full time job and try to make a go of the writing thing. Not to write travel novels and guides but magazine articles with a focus on food. Within the month I was pregnant. I still held on to this dream, until my 2nd child. Then I realized it was probably going to be really difficult to write anything significant with 2 little children.
Then my 3rd child came along and my dream changed. Instead of the writing life I wanted to devote my time to mothering my 3 blessings and pray that more would come. Oddly enough for 7 years–since my senior year in college–I had been writing for a local paper. At first it was just 2 or 3 articles every couple weeks and since I had to come up with my own stories I didn’t think that I would ever be able to increase to make it a steady income. But while my dream was changing God was fulfilling all my dreams. Now I can say I am a full time mom and part time writer and make a good part time income while working out of the house. If I do have a story I have to go to it is normally for a short period of time and I can arrange it around my husband’s, mother or mother-in-law’s schedule. I even bring the children with my on occasion.
Avril is my own little writer. She has an intense interest in letters and writing. When she was a little over 2 years old she would ask me for a little, “journal” and pen and would write. She understood how you would start at the left and go to the right and would right on lines.
Now I am working on my own blog, though I still have to work on consistency I am having a blast.
The past couple of days I had really been stressing about educating the kids. I knew that second guessing yourself and not feeling qualified to educate your child are feelings common among homeschool moms. I didn’t think I would have a problem with that. I feel qualified to teach literature, and Algebra. Imagine my surprise when I began doubting my ability to teach my young children. Yes I was scared of Early Childhood Education.
I knew that the TV and computer were draining many hours away from my children. I knew I had contributed to the problem by not monitoring it while I was busy with other things. Yesterday I put a major effort into coming up with things to do with them only to be frustrated by continual requests for TV and computer. I went to my parents and poured out my heart. My mom said, “you can’t get so frustrated just because they ask. Just be firm, provide consequences and realize it is a process.”
So I thought about that. I had been ready to go buy all these curriculums and schedule the days of my 5 and 3 year olds. Truth be told I would just love for them to play and entertain themselves–to be free and unstructured for awhile. The problem is I am a structured person and I wasn’t sure how to get them playing.
I turned to the Adventist Home Educator manual for ideas and this quote from Ellen White once again inspired me, “For the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, nature the best lesson book. . .He should be surrounded with the conditions most favorable to both physical and mental growth.” Education page 208. The Manual also quotes liberally the Moores who advocated when it came to schooling it is, “Better Late Than Early.”
So I was reminded once again that homeschool is not about curriculum and textbooks, it is about real activities and experiences. Cooking and cleaning, reading together, going for walks, even the occasional movie but its about living life together. I have plenty of ideas about how to amp up the learning, more reading throughout the day, art projects, cooking and cleaning together on a daily basis, having morning and evening worships, walking the dog and taking care of the chickens and other animals. Winter is still a problem, but I am encouraged, now I just need to put it into practice. More to come on our progress.
The last month has been really intense for us all. Financially we have been going through alot of changes, but it is the seasonal changes that have really thrown us for a loop. Saturday daylight savings time ended. Now we face nearly 4 hours of darkness before bedtime. The weather has been colder and it has been much less comfortable to spend time out of doors, though we certainly have plenty to do. Through frequent visits to the cousins’ houses Two has developed a fondness for computer games that has grown to a near obsession.
So we are facing long, cold days indoors with both the TV and computer to tempt the attentions of my son. Also I am nearly exhausted from the previous month which comes at the end of a very intense year. Through it all I am struggling to keep the family on a path to betterment. While there are certainly some valuable shows on TV and some good games I am trying to impress upon the children the need for balance. Once last fall I was talking Mavis to the chiropractor. They had free cookies in the lobby. Two had one before the appointment, one on the way back to the room and one on the way home. He told me about half way through the 3rd one, “you shouldn’t have let me have so many cookies, my tummy hurts.” I try to explain that TV and computers are like cookies, too much makes you sick, but it is harder for them to feel the effects.
Luckily Two has now transitioned to an interest in chapter books, so I am actually enjoying the stories as well. Last night we went to bed and read for an hour before bed. Normally that time would be spent watching TV.
So I keep striving to maximize not only my time but alos that of the children. To bring our family together, through time well spent and meaningful interactions. These long winter evenings can be used for good or ill. So far it is no looking good but I am hoping to make a difference.