Thursday, September 29, 2011

What happened when my kids drove me crazy...

Sometime last year, my kids were driving me crazy.  Not just momentary chaos, but really, crazy

While they'll probably always be categorized as "good kids", if yours are anything like mine, they are winsome and charming while out of the house, and downright terrible when I'm on duty all by myself.

At that particular time in our household history, they were picking at each other nonstop, disobedient, and - to add an even greater element of community - completely unreliable when Chore Time came each day.

So one morning, I'd had enough, and decided to put off our homeschool studies that day in favor of the study of some New Rules.  We don't really have "rules" in our house besides Obedience & Respect, which cover most bases.  Occasionally someone will lose the privilege of using scissors, and they're usually not supposed to turn on water outdoors without permission, etc., but being obedient and respectful is the main focus.

However...these children needed some additional focus.  (I always call them Children when they're pesky.  heh)

Martin (then 10yo) had begun memorizing George Washington's Rules of Civility as compiled in The Book of Virtues for part of his schoolwork, so I was probably somewhat inspired by them.  Instead of honing in on good manners/situational ethics and backing myself and the kids into a corner, I chose to make a list of what I call:

Rules for Peaceable Living

  1. Speak in a polite way.
  2. Show kindness to everyone (even enemies!).
  3. Obey quickly and cheerfully.
  4. Be honest and trustworthy.
  5. Do your work well.

That day, I begin by writing them out on our new handy-dandy white board in the dining room while they watched in somber silence.  I briefly expounded the points, and then we memorized the Rules together.  They each copied them out, even Laura who was doing kindergarten.  We repeated them nearly every day at breakfast, and still refer to them.  Not as frequently as we probably should, and I haven't done anything cool or creative with them (like paint them on my stairs), but they're a part of our family life now.  I hope this post will give you some ideas for making your own Rules.  I'm certainly challenging myself by sharing them.  Isn't Pinterest the coolest?

If only I had some stairs.  ;-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What happened when I tried to read through the Bible...

Two weeks ago, the kids and I had the pleasure of an impromptu trip to San Antonio.  Visiting with my friend Michelle is always a delight, as she is both resourceful and wise.  The fact that she writes an insightful biblical parenting blog is just a bonus!  Happening to take time to visit her blog this afternoon, I literally dropped my To Do List in order to share these points from a post Michelle wrote this week.

The post deals with the difficulty most moms find when they try to read the Bible systematically.  Surely some of us actually make it (right?!), but I was surprised to find Michelle addressing issues I've struggled with since having kids.  Meaning, for the last 11 years of my life.  For example,recently I set my mind on reading through the Bible again, and was really looking forward to it.  But...

...that was at least a year ago.  If not two.  *cough*

I'm almost at the end of Leviticus, so you can see how far I've actually gotten.  Also, our pastor just completed preaching through the Book of John, so I thought I'd add John for edification's sake while courageously plowing through the Pentateuch.  (In case you were wondering, I've made it all the way to chapter 7!)

Below, are the points of "Busy Moms Finding Joy in God's Word".  Please take the time to follow the link and read the post in its entirety - you'll be blessed and encouraged!

  1. Spend the most time on the most profitable portions of Scripture
  2. Save the portions that I don’t understand for later
  3. Delight in what I’m reading, not forgetting that reading systematically is of great value, too.
  4. Start applying what I can, and trust that God will show me the things I don’t understand later.

Personally, I'm going to stop pressuring myself to "perform" when it comes to Bible reading, and begin delighting instead.  How about you?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Burnt Verdure, among other things...

So the Dude and the oldest boy (Martin) are gone to a guy thing at church, and I've thrown the 3 Youngers outside to play before it's +100F for the day.  I'm sitting here thinking that you and I haven't had much time to talk, and it's about time we caught up.

Firstly, it's S*mmer (so euphemized because it's just plain dreadful.)  Morale has not been very high, and it's somewhat of a struggle to find joy and contentment in our situation.  T*xas (also euphemized, when the need arises) is wearing on us.  I mean, it's worn on me for like, ever, but the Dude is at last itching and forlorn for all the same things as I am.  Woohoo!  Being entirely unable to initiate an evacuation, we're simply praying...and waiting on the Lord to agree with us.  ;-)

Second, I've managed to form thoughts about my children's education into an actual method and approach.  (And the crowd goes wild.)  You may remember that we've been homeschooling for...wait, four years?  My word, it is four years!  It's taken reading, listening, watching, interacting with other families/kids in the community, speaking my own ideas aloud, doing school, and so on...and I'm feeling much more confident than I was.  The Four seem pretty well-rounded, after the emphases we've placed this year.  But I'm no longer fretting about it.  Besides, as with any branch of education, there's always a limitless amount to learn and discover.  Whatever we don't get around to now, we can do later.  (One of my favorite aspects of Homeschooling, that.)

Thirdly, a college-aged girl working in the kitchen at a camp center we were at recently accosted me as I was returning my dishes.  The purpose?  To ask me if I worked out.  paha!  That weekend was completely crazy, and at that particular moment in time, a comment like that was the least thing I was expecting.  Besides being pretty cool.  My innate vanity could have a party, if I allowed...*cough*...but in short, I'm more than happy to have tangible results after a year of Exercising For Real.

Fourth, you'd be shocked if you knew how many books I'd read in the last year or so.  I mean, I'm shocked.  It wasn't so long ago that I despaired of ever having time to read again.  *blink*  More on this later, but what started out as reading-ahead-for-Martin (11 now!) turned into a recommendation for the Kindle app by my brother, which turned into me having the entire world at my fingertips, despite being stuck in Smalltown, TX.  Who could've even predicted this?  Definitely not me -- sworn protestor of electronic "books".  Hum!

But I've got to keep this quick.  So let me at least leave you with a quote from one I've just started!

Brief background:  The BBC's recent version of Little Dorrit was recommended highly a couple years ago, and the Dude came across it just last week in our own Smalltown Library.  We're on episode 11...nearly finished.  It's not quite what I expected, even as a faithful Dickensian, but it's terrific and very well done.  Since I'd just finished Mary Barton on the Kindle app, I downloaded Little Dorrit for my new bedtime book.  (Mom read it to us ages ago, but I didn't remember the story.)  It opens simply and beautifully, and is going to be a great read.

 "A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in southern France then, than at any other time, before or since.  Everything about Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid sky, and been stared at in return, until a staring habit had become universal there.  Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses, staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts of arid road, staring hills from which verdure was burnt away.  The only things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines drooping under their load of grapes.  These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air barely moved their faint leaves."

That it stirred within me memories of another place in which an August sun blazes, producing "hills from which verdure is burnt away" and "vines drooping under their load of grapes" is only somewhat nostalgic.  The fact remains that Dickens is a master.  His characters with their various layers and curved noses is just a bonus.

Hope to speak to you again soon, dahl-ing...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sitting still for a moment...

December 8th came and went last week.  The kids and I were sitting at the table doing school, chatting, and I must've been writing out a list when I suddenly gasped, realizing we'd been home from our Trip for two whole months.  It's official.  The Great Trip of 20-10 is well over, and we are back into Real Life again.

I found it hard to come home...which, ironically, wasn't in the travel plans!  After +5,000 miles, it was exhilarating to have actually pulled off such an amazing trip (and on such an unreal budget), but it was daunting to suddenly face the Day-Ins and Day-Outs.  Sometimes we both secretly wanted to stop unpacking and simply reload the Suburban and head out again.  Somewhere.  Anywhere!  For 9 weeks, that had been our routine:  unpack, repack, and drive on to do it again.  It was a bit overwhelming to face an overgrown yard (the only thing we hadn't managed during our absence was the lawn - oops!), cooking, church duties, e-mails, and dishes again.

Even though it was wonderful to be in Our Own Space.  *happy sob*  That was admittedly the best part.  We slept and slept.  So happy to be in our own beds (and in our own rooms! plural!!).  No consideration for being seen in one's jammies by near-strangers, or any of that socially acceptable stuff.  I mean, it's great fun to be with people you love (whether you've met them before or not, right Jem & Jada?? rofl) but at the end of the day, a family needs to be its own unit for at least most of the time.

So as tempting as it was to throw chores to the wind and drive away to a new (unscheduled!) adventure, it's lovely to be home.  Even though it does mean I'm in charge of...well, everything again. 8-|

Tonight I found this post on Hands On Projects at Jimmie's Collage on my reader.  (Endless resources and good advice over there.)  The "homeschooling vs.everything else" is a skirmish I've only recently triumphed over, and I chuckled to see Jimmie unwittingly writing about one of my own secret dilemmas.  So now you know.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What happened in Denver...

So we got into Denver on Tuesday night, August 3rd, exactly 36 hours after officially commencing our Great Trip of 20-10.  The next morning - Wednesday - I was a little miffed to find that Denver, land of granola, mountains and cool, was being threatened by a storm system and was therefore warm and humid.  *blink*  How wude!  I mean, it wasn't 108F, but it was still warmish, when I was so looking forward to some real live non-summer.

We went to the Denver Zoo with our friends that day, which was terrific.  The only negative bit was that it was...outside.  But the day very quickly redeemed itself by cooling right down to about 65F by 6:00pm.  I dug a sweater out of the suitcase as fast as you can say Bob's your uncle, and was probably the most happy person on earth that particular evening.  Sweaters in August...old and dear friends...steak.  It's a winning combination.  :-)

Sorry for so many weather references, but...I live in one of the Extreme Summer states, so planning this cross-country excursion during August and September is a big thing.  In fact, as I write this, I'm sitting upstairs in a seaside cottage on Camano Island, Washington, next to an open window.  And as we begin Week 4, I can quite happily report that I have still not adapted, and am relishing every minute of delicious, normal, humane weather up to this point.

However...we're not yet in Washington in this series, so I digress...

The following days in Denver (Week 1, Days 4 and 5 for those of you at home following along) were happy and slow.  We stayed up late, but not too late, and caught up on sleep and face-time with our good friends of the Peterclan.  Jessica and I went shopping, but not with strollers, as we used to do in the Old Days.  I was reminded of all the ways she influenced me back then, and was humored by how much we still have in common.  After living far away from everything you know for eight years, and having to say goodbye to friends who move away, I suppose it was sort of soothing to find that certain friendships don't skip a beat despite the amount of time that goes by.

And I'm eternally glad to be going home to such friends at the end of our Trip.  In case I haven't said it enough lately, God is good.  (That's my new slogan, if you hadn't noticed.)

Next destination:  Utah!