You Know You’re a Homeschool Mom When…

You Know You’re a Homeschool Mom When….

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You spend your Saturday morning drinking coffee and reading about earthworms….

Yeah-  I’m really wanting to get down and dirty….well, not really dirty, but….

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THIS kid is so worth it!

My library shelves are overflowing with nature books, but I was thrilled to be able to buy one more sources this year at the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschool Conference…

I’ve been eyeing this product by Barbara Shukin for  a couple of years!  So yesterday I finally started browsing through it and saw that one of the things to study in Spring is the earthworm! So….

…. today I sit reading up on earthworms in Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study and looking up earthworm farms on Amazon.

Yep, I’m going to do this!  Has anyone here done this before?  I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips you have to offer!

 

 

What are you doing for nature study this season?

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Gratitude Challenge: The daily mundane

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Gratitude turns what we have into enough. ~Author Unknown

Consider This:

“I tend to get lost in the details of a large-family life when I’m right in the midst of it.  It takes a certain fortitude, after all, to look at a pile of dishes and see it as the makings of a cathedral. The daily mundane is holy ground because the ordinary tasks of a monotonous Monday are where we meet our Maker,” says Sarah Mackenzie, author of Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace.  Isn’t this true of us all?

2016-05-14 18.05.52Homeschoolers or not, don’t we all get lost in the daily mundane and forget that this is truly where we meet our Maker?  We get lost in the daily tasks that we’d just as soon forget (dishes, laundry, cleaning up messes, handling sibling arguments, etc.) and we forget that even in those tasks we are doing something bigger.  Sarah tells us in her book that many of the medieval cathedral builders never saw their work completed as the cathedrals would take over a hundred years (more than a lifetime) to complete.  Yet, the builders devoted their lives to this work- giving glory to God.

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We look at the cathedral today and it is not at all mundane.  But think of that builder who lugged stone after stone after stone, never seeing the beautiful work that we see in front of us today.  They gave it their all.  Mundane stone after stone. Mundane day after mundane day.

We too are giving our work to God.  Everything we do is work that God sees – even if it’s not a medieval cathedral to worship Him in.  Isn’t our home a mini-cathedral? Isn’t that where we encounter Him each and every day?  Should we not be grateful for each and every encounter, even in the mundane?  For even in washing those dishes, we are serving Him.  Even in making that bed, we are serving Him.  Even in picking up those dirty socks, we are serving Him.

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.   ~ Matthew 25:40

For even in the mundane tasks we do that serve our family members, we serve Him. Shouldn’t then, we be giving it our all?  Doing our best?  And giving thanks at the same time?  Thanks for the ability to do the work. Thanks for God allowing us this time on earth to do it?  Thanks for giving us others to serve so that in doing so, we are able to serve Him? Thanks for knowing that it really does make a difference, no matter how menial or small it seems to us at the time.

What are some tasks you find to be mundane, but upon further reflection, can find some reason to give thanks?  Reason for gratitude?

Consider also: 

” For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”  G. K Chesteron (Orthodoxy)

Gratitude Sharing:

  1. My 3 living children – lovely gifts of God.

  2. Mashed potatoes – comfort food.

  3. A child observing, “It’s a lovely day!”, despite the grey clouds overhead.  Children see beauty when some of us can not.

  4. Four white tails leaping away through the yard and into the woods – thankful to the brief glimpse of their presence and reminder of the creatures surrounding our home.

  5. THIS…..

    Wow. Just Wow. Oh, and yumminess!

    Wow. Just Wow. Oh, and yumminess!

 

What is on Your Gratitude List This Week?

Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!

Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!

 

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Book Review: Teaching From Rest

Book Title:  Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace

Author:  Sarah Mackenzie                                                                              

Genre: Homeschooling; Education

Pages:  89

Publisher: Classical Academic Press  (ClassicalAcademicPress.com)

Why Did I Choose It?  I saw the advertisements for the book last year and,honestly,  the concept of rest pulled me in!  Rest?  What IS that?  I had a feeling it wasn’t about sleeping until noon or handing out lessons from my bedside, but I found the title appealing and had to find out for myself what it was all about!

A Bit From The Back Cover: Those who have made the decision to homeschool their children have done so out of great love for their children and a desire to provide them an excellent education in the context of a warm, enriching home.  Yet so many parents (mainly mothers) who have taken up this challenge find the enterprise often full of stress, worry, and anxiety.  In this practical, faith-based, and inspirational book, Sarah Mackenzie addresses these questions directly, appealing to her own study of restful learning (schole) and her struggle to bring restful learning to her children.

Review:  This book is amazing! Seriously-  I think this book has helped me in my homeschooling process more than any other book I’ve read.  In the Book, Teaching From Rest, Sarah gives real practical advice on how to simplify our days and our ‘curriculum’ to a point that allows us to accept our limitations, trust in God to make the miracles happen, and teach from a true state of rest (note:  Rest is NOT a state of ease ).   Sarah covers a variety of ways to achieve our end goal including prayer, morning time, lightening the load (and how to do that), understanding the  limitations of published resources, simplifying the schedule and much much more!  This is a book I firmly intend on reading each and every year through the rest of my homeschool years.  It will have a permanent place by my bedside for those moments I’ll need a few moments of  review and ‘pep talk’ from Sarah! 

I hope to write more posts soon on Teaching From Rest.  In the meantime, I just finished planning for an upcoming book study I am conducting on Facebook.  It starts THIS FRIDAY!!!  (May 20, 2016)Don’t panic- if you don’t have the book, buy it now… Friday we are only going over the introduction, so if you’re not in the group yet, join and catch up when you get the book!  The rest begins Monday.  The schedule for reading is on the Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1112029392194451/

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Fellow homeschoolers, let me know what you think of this book! And feel free to list other recommendations for my other readers!

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Winding Up Year One

We took a walk today…finally.

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One of the biggest things of the CM method I wanted to implement this year was nature walks and nature study.  And if I grade myself according to the quantity of time we actually spent doing any of those things… I failed miserably.  At least, the way I would grade it.

However…

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My son LOVES nature.

So I must be doing something right.

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We have read a lot of nature books.  In the winter, when I was a sissy- yes, despite the very mild winter we had- we stayed indoors a lot.  We watched the birds and we read books.  He does love the nature books.  Though he did NOT seem to appreciate the Burgess book on birds….everyone on Ambleside raves about it.  But my boy?  He was bored out of his mind.  I finally put it down for awhile.  I got the Burgess chapter books instead.  Much less valuable information is inside these little gems, but he loves them. And we still read his nature magazines and other books.  And since the kid recognized , all on his own the other day, a red breasted grosbeak… the first I’ve ever seen and have never pointed one out to him in a book (in other words, he looks at the bird book himself quite often), I’d say we are doing okay.  :)

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I’m still using Ambleside as a guide for next year…but I am going to use a lot of my learning I absorbed from Teaching From Rest to tame things down and simplify quite a bit.  There’s no need for me to be stressing.  This kid is a sponge.  He’s soaking up knowledge everywhere we go.

I’m continuing things through the summer but at a much much slower pace and with time to enjoy life and , well, especially nature!  At least, that’s the plan! 😉

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Gratitude Challenge: Perceiving the Blessing

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If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.     ~Frank A. Clark

Consider This:

While we may not have control over our environment, we do have control over our perception of our environment. Have  you ever noticed that some people living in poverty can smile and laugh and seem to find joy anywhere and over the most simple things?  While others who have so much – high incomes, large homes, three vehicles- seem to grumble and whine over the most mundane things? It would seem to me that the person living in poverty could certainly find something to grumble about: hungry belly, cold drafts, unpaid bills.  And while there are some that do, others are able to look around and  see beauty.  They still smile.  They  praise God.   What is the difference?  That’s right- gratitude.   It’s all about their perception.  It’s about the difference between those that are truly grateful in their hearts and choose to see joy, rather than those of us who focus on the negative and choose to see strife.

It’s about looking at the simple things, and seeing the blessing.

What do you see here?  Just a couple pieces of fruit? Hmmm… maybe…but look closely…

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I see reds, yellows, oranges, greens and browns.  I see fruit, food, sustenance.

I see creations of God.

I see nutrients- vitamins- enzymes- a way to nourish the  body God has given me.

I see a snack for a laughing child, a hungry man or an animal.

 

What do you see here?  A couple of weeds?

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I see yellow- the color of the sun.

I see water nourishing a plant God created.

I see a bouquet of love offered to a mother from a son.

It’s all in our perception.  It’s how we look at things.  I am truly grateful for the apple, banana and clementine.  Grateful for the creation of such sweet foods.  Grateful I can use them as nourishment for myself and my family. Grateful to God for his goodness.  I am grateful for the dandelion…rooted firmly in the ground reminding me that I too am rooted as a child made in His image and strong to stand my ground.  Grateful that it symbolizes my marriage- for we are rooted together, Ted and I,and can whether the storms. Grateful for the bouquet brought to me from a child, full of love, naïve to those who would call such beauty a weed.

It’s all in our perception.  We can pass these things by unnoticed, or even scoff at the ‘weed’, the seeds, the simplicity.  Or we can look deep and perceive beauty. What do you perceive?

Gratitude Sharing:

  1. Sunrise

  2. God ALWAYS hears my prayers

  3. Colors – beautiful reminders of His covenant

  4. Periwinkle – such small but abundant beauty in early spring

  5. Spring breeze through the window

 

What is on Your Gratitude List This Week?

Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!

Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!

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Gratitude Challenge: The Struggle Ends & Journal Tips #1

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The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.  ~ Neale Walsch

 

Consider This:

Keeping a gratitude journal (Joy Journal, Happiness Book, Whatever YOU wish to call it) can stop the struggle and the pattern of negative thinking that can create even more stress in our lives. Gratitude can stop the negative thinking and greatly lessen the impact of stress. In forming our gratitude lists, we are essentially cultivating and retraining our thoughts to be positive.  We are stopping ourselves to see the amazing things happening around us instead of dwelling on the everyday stresses, the chaos, the grief.  And there really are AMAZING things happening despite all of those things.  And if we focus, truly focus, on looking for these things- we will begin to notice more and more and our grateful hearts will swell with goodness – with GOD.  And while stress and grief will still occur, we will not struggle as before as it will not drag us down into nothingness- for we will keep on focus on what is good.  And we will look to God. And we will conquer all.

Photo By Codesign / Pixabay

Photo By Codesign / Pixabay

Occasionally, I’ll share a few tips with you to help you keep motivated in keeping your journal and making sure it stays a positive experience for you to help focus on thanksgiving rather than the complaining so many of us in today’s society takes part in.

Today’s Tip:  Be CONSISITENT.  Change takes intention and formation of habit.  Write in your journal EVERY DAY.  Some journal keepers suggest doing it at the same time every day.  I always start adding to mine at the beginning of the day at the same time I do my bible reading (another new habit I hope to keep up with) as that is when I am already focused on positive thinking and seeking God in all things.  That’s what works for me, and I keep it handy on the kitchen counter through the day to add as I go.  But you do what works for  YOU.  Maybe it’s the beginning of the day. Maybe at a coffee break. Perhaps at the end of the day when the kids are in bed (something to add to the list…).  Find a time, and make it happen!  Use the gratitude challenge to end the struggle. Remember, change takes intention!

Gratitude Sharing:

  1.  Pascha – Pascha is the feast of the resurrection of the Lord as celebrated by Orthodox Christians…  the ultimate celebration for the greatest reason.  My favorite verse from the service “Come receive the light from the light, that will never be overtaken by night, and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead” will be in my head for weeks to come!  Christ is Risen!

  2. My six-year-old spotting a rose-breasted grosbeak on our deck!  I’m not sure what part I’m most grateful for… seeing this beautiful bird for the first time ever, or the fact is was my six-year-old that spotted it- KNEW what it was- and not from me teaching him….just from all the time he spends looking at the bird book….and yes, he obviously read that name and remembered it ALL ON HIS OWN… wow.

  3. erasers –  because we don’t need to be perfect; we just need to keep trying and give glory to God for second chances!

  4. Sharing gratitude with others.

  5. The sound of my husband’s hum… happiness, contentment, love.

What’s On Your Gratitude List This Week?  

 

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Gratitude: A diet of the mind, heart, and soul

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Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.

                           ~ Brian Tracy

 

Consider This:

Matthew Kelly, author of The Seven Levels of Intimacy, tells us in addition to the need of a disciplined way of eating to fuel the body and bring it to maximum performance, we also need a diet of mind, heart, and soul.  I believe gratitude is a part of this diet.  We must have gratitude for not only the big things in life – new job, new home, new baby – but we must have it for the little everyday things as well – the smile of the person in your office, the dishwasher working one more day, the giggle of that sweet baby.  Seeing all of this with a heart of thanks will change your perspective.  It takes discipline to stick to any diet, including the diet of giving up negativity and sticking to a heart of gratitude.  Make it a daily habit.  It will change your life.

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Gratitude Sharing:

  1.  Foods on the earth – God’s creation!

  2.  Morning coffee time – reflective, encouraging, intimate, time with God.

  3. Glue – to show that pieces CAN be mended!

  4. Weeding away the old to make way for beauty and newness underneath.

  5.  The Lamentations of Good Friday….piercing the soul, weeping that leads to the glorious resurrection!

What’s On Your Gratitude List This Week?  

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