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His Mercies are New Each Day

Can we talk about how easy it is to backslide? How easy it is to get through an entire day without reaching for the Bible, or spending time in prayer? About how when we get to the end of our day we’re stretched, and angry. We’re DONE and wishing the kids were in bed. And not. Talking. Anymore. When we are just done answering questions and wiping butts? It’s such an embarrassing thing to speak about as a believer. It shouldn’t be, but it is. It’s a hard place to be, and it’s not lost on the small people we’re trying to lead to Christ each day.
Today was one of those days. One where I pushed our bible time back. When I prioritized chores and school work over bible time. I’m ashamed, but it happened.
I got to sleep in this morning after a fitful night with the baby. And I felt GOOD about it. I reveled in the graciousness of the Lord allowing me to stay home and teach my children; to allow our routine to go with the flow. But by the time I got to 10:00 p.m. I was finished.
I’d forgotten all about how happy I was as we checked off all our little boxes on the to-do list, or the excitement of printing our new L.A. curriculum.
We watched a movie after dinner and my husband jumped up right as it was ending, “I’m gonna go run.” And he put on his shoes, and walked out the door.
Sure, that sounds normal, right? But then things got hairy. The baby starting crying right as I pulled on my leggings to also workout. The kids went out too, but came back before he did, showering and leaving trails of water on our slick tile after forgetting towels. One decided they were going to make a sandwich, even though he hardly touched his dinner. Another needed Paw Patrol immediately or she. would. die. And another spoke without breathing (I mean, honestly!) about Minecraft. All of these things sound fine. Normal. Between 9:30-10:30 is a normal bedtime for us, so they weren’t in the wrong in anyway.
Again, all if it was normal in our home.
But in that moment I was suddenly overwhelmed, and honestly jealous of the way he could just walk out and do exactly what he wanted. I wasn’t kinda jealous, at that moment I was super jealous. And not at all thinking about a Christ-like reaction to my stress and jealousy.
And it isn’t his fault.
It isn’t the kids fault.
It’s mine.
It was my stupid human heart, being all humany. It was my stupid human brain screaming, “that’s not fair!” It was that tiny thread, (not spending time in His word.) unraveling something bigger as I inadvertently came to realize that I’m not in control in an ugly way.
It was me putting my worth and sense of accomplishment on all the things I checked off my list for the day, and all the things still to be done, and not at all on Christ. Or all that I need from Him.
So at 11:00 while he was in the shower, and the house was quiet— because 45 minutes before I’d lost my marbles, yelled at all the kids including the two, TWO year old— they’d gone to bed. Enter my husband, as I’m laying out my mat, “would you like me to hold the baby?”
WOULD I LIKE HIM TO HOLD THE BABY?
I wanted him to hold the baby when he up and left. I wanted him to hold the baby and usher me out the door when I was washing dishes and switching laundry as he enjoyed a movie with the kids. (When I could have but I CHOSE not to, because my husband is an awesome and helpful man— for the record.) And, for transparency, I said it. And he looked dumbfounded, because he was. Because I can’t expect him to read my mind. I can’t, after ten year, pretend like he’s 100% in-tune with with things I don’t say out loud, or things I wasn’t even thinking. I didn’t slam the dryer door, or bang dishes around.
No, I was content. Until I wasn’t.
I was a patient mom. Until I wasn’t.
I was a understanding mom. Until I wasn’t.
I was a loving wife. Until I wasn’t.
I was IN the word. Until I wasn’t.
And I SO wasn’t.
So, here at sit, at 12:38, pouring my heart into words after hearing His word. Feeling regret while the ones I want so badly to apologize to sleep.
I woke up happy to have slept-in courtesy of God’s grace, only to forget to do the most important thing I’m called to do: to teach my children of His grace. To pray with them, and read with them.
I put aside what we should be starting our day with, no matter what, and replace it with earthly lessons, and mundane chores, and an empty promise to “do it later on.”
And a Disney movie.
Don’t be me. Don’t forget to spend time with Him first. You need it mama. I need it. We need it.

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Not Your Average Unschoolers

We are not radical unschoolers. If you know, or have an idea of what unschooling is, chances are whatever it is you’re thinking of, isn’t us.

I’ve read most of the radical unschooling books, I’ve also read my fair share of many other types of homeschooling books. On a scale of one to 100, one being traditional schoolers, and 100 being radical unschoolers, we are like… an 80.

 

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Radical unschooling extends to parenting. Out of all the things that could separate us from other unschoolers with a bold line, this is it. While we do give our children a lot of grace and space to make their own decisions, we have limits and their actions have parent-determined consequences.

I think one of the biggest examples of how our parenting slightly reflects radical unschooling but then dramatically differs is words we allow the kids to use. “Bad words” became a topic about a year ago. The kids were pushing boundaries, asking what words were okay to say and which were not. Words like heck, crap, sucks, and even the ones they”d only sound out, “shhh-iiiii.”

Herman and I both agree that “bad words” are just words. Jesus wouldn’t have scolded someone for saying “sh*t” because it wouldn’t have even been a thing. He probably would have though they’d sneezed. They made the decision that words that get a wow factor when they hear them from others aren’t words they’d ever say. (At least for now.) But words like heck, crap, and sucks (like, “oh, that sucks!”) weren’t bad, and we’re okay with that.

However, we have a very strict policy that if an adult ever corrects them they’re not to argue that we allow them to say it, just apologize and try to never say it around them again. We also ask them not to say words like that during co-op, play dates, or while participating in clubs because not every parent agrees those words aren’t bad, and we all agree they’d never want to be the one to get someone else in trouble for teaching them a new (bad) word. The novelty of those words wore off quickly and none of them use them anymore. The most controversial things they say are, “shoot” and, “see you later, hater.”

There are just some things I feel more comfortable teaching my children in a “sit down and listen for ten minutes” environment, and then there’s other things that I don’t think a special song, or curriculum is needed for them to learn something organically. You’d be surprised the things your children learn when you step back and allow them to lead.

Hayden has always been a traditional learner. So, during the short time span we ALL unschooled fully, he was bored, and sometimes felt lost when it came to finding something else to learn about. He’s a sponge and absorbs so much all the time, but for some reason the freedom to choose when and what to learn about overwhelmed him. He’s done an online curriculum since. So, not everyone in our home unschools.

We also:

-Have screen time limits because we notice hard-to-handle behavior and  bad moods when we don’t. Yes, we’ve tried before.

-Have strict rules when in stores or unfamiliar places because I don’t trust strangers or that the kids won’t push boundaries in public settings. The golden rule for stores is “one hand on the cart at all times,” and we remind them when they do let go and try to roam (Because they’re still kids and need reminding.) that, “if I cannot reach out and touch you, I cannot prevent someone from grabbing you and running away.”

-Have some sort of almost daily lesson. We do drop it if we are going to be gone all day, or if the weather is nice and we don’t stay indoors. Perks of almost-unschooling.

-Don’t force reading. I think this is the most controversial thing we do, and also the thing that makes us resemble unschoolers the most. We work on letter recognition, counting, letter sounds, and sometimes blends, but there are not tests, grades, and required memorization. We do make exceptions, though. Like, Gabriella was diagnosed with Dyslexia. Her doctor was super cool about it, and told us that unless we had plans to put her in school, to go slow. Allow her to take her time learning and use resources that best work for her and that a large number of school children are discouraged by their dyslexia because of peer disapproval and rushed education, and she’s lucky not to have those issues. She’ll be starting a program called All About Reading soon, though it’ll be on her time and not rushed.

So, while my kids aren’t free to do as they please all day everyday, they do have more freedom than most. I kinda wish I could coin a term that works better with how we live, but for now unschooling it is.

What are your opinions on unschooling?

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Oh, Hey. Remember Me?

I’ve been having a hard time writing here lately. 

I’ve been feeling like, “Who on earth would be interested in the things I have to say here?” and “Why would anyone be interested in the things that go on in our home on a regular basis?” “Why would anyone care about my journey in faith?”

We’ve met some opposition lately. In our unschooling journey, firstly. People who feel like it’s their business to become involved in the what, how, and why of our teaching. So I’ve had to take a step back from this blog and the facebook page, as well as my personal Facebook page. Reducing my time between log-ins to 12-24 hour lapses to help ground myself and the children and what we’re doing. Why we’re doing it.

Secondly, in the past few months, I’ve had things happen that have made me question my own faith, as well as the faith I’ve put in others I’ve been soul searching since my last post, and I’m still looking. Still searching for where I belong when it comes to community and friends, but mostly with how I fit myself into what I’ve always assumed was a square-shaped faith box.

I’ve clearly lost the passion that drove me in the beginning, because, it’s not about who will read, or who is interested. This is a personal, family blog. This is a neatly organized scrapbook of events, stories, and struggles. This is the place where I share my opinion on faith and life.

I’m sorry, to anyone who does read posts, for being so absent. Hopefully, I’ll find the drive to share again soon. ❤

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Step One: Run Until You Catch on Fire

I like to run until I burn. Running so fast smoke starts to billow against my windblown skin until finally, a flame kindles and then bursts into a raging fire burning its course and leaving me burnt out and charred. I do it every couple of months. I run ragged, and I don’t mean like, cross country, miles on a treadmill running, I mean filling my days with countless activities, parties, and trips to the store while towing along all five kids. It gets exhausting for me, for them, and probably for Herman too. For a few months, I spend every waking out doing something. Then one morning I wake up and realized I’ve pushed me and the kids too far. None of them want to get up and go, and neither do I.One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the ability to go at our own pace and set boundaries for myself, but I find myself constantly forgetting to do that until I’m on fire, and burning to slow burning embers, glowing with the last of my energy, until I end up ashes on the floor.

It’s been like that the past few months, and I think I’ve turned to ash along with my kids that are appearing a little more gray than usual. Our weekly church activities have come to a close for the summer and as much as I love the kids and the time spent with all of them, it will be so nice not to spend my Wednesdays preparing for the evening lessons. It will give me time to spend in prayer about where I see my family in terms of roles at the church into the next year and give my brain a break from children’s bible lessons. (Joke’s on me since I still have five at home and VBS is around the corner.)

I realize it’s been quite some time since I’ve updated here and that comes from two places:

  1. I’ve been writing a book. I’m not ready to elaborate on that, but when I am, you’ll know and my word count here will probably increase since it will decrease on Word.
  2. Refer to above paragraphs. I’m burnt out and spent. I’m ready for the slow summer that’s inevitable since I don’t enjoy or feel comfortable taking the kids too many places during the summertime when all of our hot-spots are overly-crowded.

We’ve filled our months with growing seeds and transplanting them to a garden, raising chickens that are giving us pretty (and yummy eggs) and we joined a new co-op group with some friends we met through girl scouts, and it’s been the best fit for us as far as homeschool groups go, yet. I have still been sharing tidbits in pictures and short sentences on Instagram and Facebook so if you don’t follow us there, please do! Here are some pictures of what we’ve been filling our time with to catch you all up.

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The beginnings of our garden (a couple months ago) and the girls feeding and watering the chickens

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A more recent picture of the larger garden after we transplanted.

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Ella got herself 50 stitches in a fight with a fence. 😉

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Summertime swimming is back!

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What I Learned in My First Year of Blogging

When I first started researching, I read through so much information, and most commonly post about, “what I’ve learned after a year” or “do this before you start blogging,” and most of it I just pushed to the side, because I like to do things my own way. Some of it, though, I should have paid more attention to, and here are the top three things I wish I knew (and actually applied) when I began:

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1. Don’t go public until it’s exactly what you want. When I started out, I stuck with the layout chosen for me, was still sorting through the colors I wanted to use, and playing with branding for my site, and changed it all just a few week in… more than once. I also didn’t do the best job of checking my spelling and grammar, which for me, still makes me cringe. I’m a grammar buff, but I don’t always catch my mistakes. I was so excited to go live, I just jumped and then was still finding errors that were plain silly months later. Which leads me to number two…

2. Invest in Grammarly!!! Seriously, just do it. I started with the free version a few months after I began blogging, and went back through every post and fixed them. What a mess. I guess I could have used Word to check my spelling and grammar, but copy and paste didn’t dawn on me… I also didn’t pay for Microsoft until my husband started his own company. I promise this isn’t an ad, and I also promise Grammarly will change your writing– the paid version will recognize not only spelling, but grammatical errors, commonly overused words, and words you, specifically, use too often. It extends to your email, Facebook, or anything else you use on the inter-web.

3. Save posts you’ve written at about the same time for another day. When you’re on your writing game, you’ll pound out posts left and right. Posting them immediately can cause two things:

a. They won’t get equal attention, and if monetizing your blog is something you’re hoping to achieve (one of my goals, but not my reason for blogging) in the future, you’ll want the stats to be consistent.

b. You have nothing to fill times of writer’s block or busyness.

For example, all through December and almost all of January, I wrote only one post. When I realized my brain was over-stimulated, I took a purposeful break. When I opened up WordPress again, I wrote not three, but FOUR posts within the span of a few hours. I released them slowly in case I got caught up in life again. Publishing them all at once would also deter people from reading each one. That’s a substantial chunk of time they’d have to spend reading each post, or they’d have to remember to go back and read where they left off, assuming they remember. You will have your avid followers that read no matter what, but to grab the attention of others, you’ll want to “market” or showcase one post at a time.

So, don’t be like me! Nip future mistakes in the bud by learning from my mess. Do you have any favorite blogging resources? Share them in the comments!

It’s been a good year, and I can’t wait to see what I learn in the next one. Maybe by this time next year, I’ll be paying my electric bill with words… maybe. 😉

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A Month of Christmas Week 4: Christmas at Home

This year, Christmas filled our entire month of December. It was fun, but also exhausting, and if you’re asking right now, next year Christmas will be sloooooow, and not FULL. (But, if you ask me next year around Christmas time…. haha!)

We spent Christmas Eve-Eve in downtown Austin passing out goodie bags, coffee, hot cocoa, and soup to the homeless population. There are a lot of people without homes, and this year has been exceptionally cold, we’ve had snow twice so far! This was a new tradition we will be continuing. It took quite a bit of planning, but it was worth it. Something we did that I felt was important was that we went to the people standing or laying around the area we stopped in. There were a few people who gladly came to the van, but others you could tell were apprehensive, but happily accepted what we offered when we came to them… or maybe it was because of the cute kids. 😉 It was super cold out, so we rewarded the hungry with a trip to McDonald’s… at 11:00 p.m., totally good for them and all.

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Christmas Eve started slowly since we didn’t end up back home and in bed until almost 1:00 a.m. Even our early-bird Lylah slept in on Christmas Eve. We spent the morning cuddled in our bed drinking coffee, then baking and watching Christmas movies. We then headed to the church for a beautiful candle lit service (that I didn’t get any pictures of) and then to Grandmas house for our Christmas there. You can read about Christmas at Grandmas here.

 

 

We don’t “do” Christmas lists in our house. The kids don’t get to choose the gifts they get on Christmas morning (My children are 100% aware Santa isn’t a real person, and also know Christmas is not about him… they also know not to tell your kid, if you’re wondering.) So Christmas morning the kids woke up to their one present under the tree, and they all almost died of happiness. Kindles for the smaller kids, and a computer for Hayden. None of them expected these things as they’re pretty extravagant and they know that, so the surprise was even more significant than a typical Christmas morning surprise.

We had a huge breakfast, featuring snowman pancakes, and we snuggled up on the couch (it was actually cold out!) and watched a few movies, and navigated through the new Kindles and set up Haydens computer. We enjoyed spending a slow day together, enjoying each other, and reflecting on the story of Christmas.

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A Month of Christmas Weeks 3 & 4.5: Family Christmas…es

Christmas this year covered the entire month for our family! We love Christmas, so it wasn’t so much of a hardship. We “visited” Mexico, Italy, and initially, we were going to visit France as well, but REAL (AKA, our) traditions come first. The third week in our Month of Christmas was spent at grandmas (Hermans mom) house. They hosted everyone for a BBQ dinner and gave gifts to all of the grandkids. Ella and Lylah got beautiful matching dresses, Hayden got a new pair of Converse, socks, and underwear, Ryder got a remote control car, and Emma got a cute Dora doll. I L-O-V-E kids, so Christmas with Hermans side of the family makes me extra happy since the oldest grandchild is our nephew Cayden, who is 11.

 

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This photo is purposely cropped to hide full faces family.

 

Good food, and loud fun, was enough to fill my cup. I love the noise, and children running around in a blur, it’s okay, you can call me strange. 😉

 


 

Jumping over our Christmas, which we do alone in our home, we had Christmas with my side of the family. They (mom, stepdad, siblings and grandparents) went on a cruise and didn’t return until after Christmas, so Christmas extended beyond… well, Christmas. I always love the time we spend together, but there’s always something so magical about getting together, sharing food, and exchanging gifts with people you love.

 

I hope if you had Christmas with your extended family, it was just as amazing as ours, and to see how we spent Christmas day in our home, follow this link.