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Wrapping it Up:  November

The year is just flying by!  I can hardly believe that December is upon us bringing with it the end of 2015!  My oldest son will be turning 17 and I will be....um....well, older than I was last year!

My Writing World

It's PiBoIdMo 2015- have you signed up??

This was the month of PiBoIdMo - the month where aspiring picture book writers check in with Tara Lazar's posts on her blog to see the day's guest writer's post to find inspiration on our craft and attempt to come up with at least 30 ideas for a picture book.  You can check out my posts about the month starting with this one and ending with this one with a few in-between.  Other than reaching most of my much smaller goals for PiBoIdMo this month (I didn't actually get to work on a manuscript), I did get a few other blog posts out and thus have done better than the last few months.  But I really need to figure out a way to work on some manuscripts.  Sigh.  In time, I guess.  If you want to check out some of the other blog posts, here they are:

My Commonplace Book - this is something that I hope will also improve my writing skills; it will certainly lead to more writing topics!

Peaceful Reflections

Book Review Wednesday: Ishtar's Odyssey - finally- the first book review I've done in ages! Hopefully I will get back to at least doing one a month....fingers crossed!

Year One Homeschooling & Orthodoxy

Foster The Good (actually posted at the end of October)

My Book World

Photo by Kregel Publications
Photo by Kregel Publications

It's been a slow month for reading.  I really haven't been doing much of it at all.  I didmanage to complete For The Children's Sake and worked here and there on The Living Page.  And, if you've followed, I read all of Ishtar's Odyssey in time to do the blog post for Kregal Publications.  It wasn't my favorite book by Arnold Ytreede, but still a quality book for family reading during the advent season.

 

 

 

Our Parenting/Homeschool World

This has also been a slow month for completion of homeschooling.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I have determined that it's okay to stretch out a week of schooling (according to the Ambleside Online 'curriculum' that I'm using) into two or more weeks...but I'm not okay with days going by in which we don't do much of anything for school.  Unfortunately there were a few stretches like that this month.  I don't necessarily think that was a bad thing, but I don't want it to turn into habit.  SO - I just need to juggle this around in my head and figure out how to still get a half hour or hour of school into most of our days, even when really busy.

I've also been thinking over twaddle vs. living books as I mentioned in some of my PiBoIdMo posts (yes, even my Writing World intersects with our Homeschooling World).  I'm thinking more and more these days while there can be a huge difference between twaddle and living books, there can also be some overlap.  What's more- perhaps rather than focusing on eliminating 'twaddle' completely, it's just more important to make sure that better quality Living Books make up the majority of your child's reading time.

Homeschooling aside, I've struggled with parenting in general. Nothing surprising. We ALL struggle when it comes to a method of how to get our children to be obedient without killing their spirit or doing it in a non-loving manner.  My son is struggling with following directions without doing his 'growling' thing or actually attempting to push me or protesting by putting his face right in mine with the dirtiest face a five year old can give.  We read recently, my husband and I, Peaceful Parents Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham.  We believe entirely in her theory but putting it into practice isn't always easy.  His behaviors definitely push my buttons whether I recognize his need for guidance in how to display feelings or not and , well, it's a challenge.  So we are working on that. This afternoon was a difficult task - telling him no, he can not go to the neighbor's house as his behavior after church was not of the quality to earn privileges such as that.  While it was difficult, it was manageable, but only because I was able to prepare myself for it.  I knew , getting into the car at church, exactly what was going to happen when we got home and I had 20 minutes to prepare my own set of mind for carrying through.  It's not so easy when a situation presents itself necessitating an immediate response when we are needing to go somewhere or get a list of things done in a short amount of time.  Those cases don't always go the way  I'd like. But I'm sure I'm not the only one in that boat, am I?

Our Food and Health World

My husband continues his health goals in losing weight and becoming more conditioned. doing-the-w30-fb-cover-660x244Have I mentioned since doing the Whole30 during Lent this past year and sticking to a paleo eating style (at least 95% of the time) he has lost over 100 pounds?  The man is amazing as far as I'm concerned!  While I used to be the one doing the attempts at motivation, he is the one trying to motivate me to start exercising now....sigh... the vision is there....finding the time to do it and everything else needs some work!  I'm at least starting to walk a bit more again...if only I can figure out how to keep it up during the winter!  I have a HUGE aversion to cold weather!

This month we started the Nativity fast that is practiced by Orthodox Christians. I'll admit, we've never been ones to follow the nativity fast as well as we do the Great Lent fast.  But this year, my husband decided he wanted to do another Whole30 for the fast.  While my love for sugar was reluctant, I assented to his wish....well, for the most part.  He's doing a whole30 which I help with by keeping completely compliant for the meals (with a few minor exceptions on Thanksgiving) and I'm doing my own modified whole30- while not whole30 approved, is certainly a step up for me as I remain about 95% paleo,  I'm not adding sugar to my teas, keeping my meals whole30 compliant, sticking to non-processed snacks for the most part (at least at home) and attempting to increase my water intake.  And I'm doing my best to keep Wednesdays and Thursdays as days we not only observe the Whole30 rules, but stick to abstinence of meat products as well in accordance to the Orthodox fasting rules.

Our Faith World

Again, the nativity season is upon us.  I'm trying hard to keep up with my morning bible time, adding an Orthodox Advent Study to my materials. I purchased this last year through Sylvia Leontaritis at Orthodoxmom.com.  Unfortunately, I never got past the first week last year.  This year is still a struggle to keep up but I am sticking with it thus far.  I have actually learned a few extra things about the Theotokos I hadn't known before and I always like reading passages from the Old Testament that were prophecies of the birth of Christ.

We were disappointed to know that my husband has been scheduled to work both the nights of Christmas Even AND the night of Christmas Day.  He will be forced into missing both church services.  It's a struggle to not want to pout and think ill thoughts of those in charge of his schedule....  but we are trying to stay positive and be grateful he has a job and, really, other than church - which is of course the most important part of celebrating the holy day- we can do the other celebrations any time...and have planned to do just that.  Yes, Santa is such a NICE man, that he's decided to wait a few days to visit- so we can all open presents together....  cool dude, isn't he?

Other Parts of My World

Hmmm....what haven't I covered?  My son's girlfriend came up from Florida for a few days and visited.  She was able to watch him in one of his last football games of the season.  It was really nice to have her here.  Of course, it was really sad to watch his sadness in the days following her trip back home.  But they are able to at least count the days to the next visit which isn't terribly far off...though I'm sure it seems a terribly long time to them.

Thanksgiving was spent here at home as it usually is.  We had a quiet day- my husband  worked the night before so he slept for a number of hours during the day after he came home and prepped the turkey and chicken (long story that one).  The kids and I lounged in the living room watching the parade and dog show.  It was nice that I didn't have much cooking to do since I was inspired to do the majority of it the day before.  THIS is something that I plan on doing again!  I was sooooo thankful for a low stress day on Thanksgiving!

The days continue to get shorter and a bit colder though I can't complain about temperature just yet, especially for October.  And we've found an excellent 'handy man' to help us with cleaning gutters and other household/outside tasks that makes prepping for season changes all the  more easier.  We also installed a new pellet furnace in the basement and a pellet stove insert into our fireplace.  Between the two, we expect our electric bill and the hassles of last year's woodstove to be a thing of the past.  Time will tell but we are hopeful and feeling warmer already.

It's now 4:08 in the afternoon as I write this and I can see the color changes of the sky in the west already. This indicates to me as the day is nearing an end that I really should be thinking about ending this post and starting the evening meal.  So, until next time- take care and drop in and say hi sometime!

What did you do during November?

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The fact seems to be that children are like ourselves, not because they have become so, but because they are born so; that is, with tendencies, dispositions, towards good and evil, and also with a curious intuitive knowledge as to which is good and evil.  Here we have the work of education indicated.  There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion.

I found this quote in the book, For The Children's Sake (chapter three on Authority and Freedom), taken from Towards a Philosophy of Education (p. 46) which is volume 6 of the Charlotte Mason's homeschool series.  I have not ventured so far as to read many pages of the Charlotte Mason 6 volume set yet.  I found it very overwhelming at first (I bought it well over a year ago) but am now eager to begin again as soon as I am through with For The Children's Sake. I 'think' it's serving as a good prelude to Mason's own works.2015-04-01 15.36.44-2

I have reread the above quote over and over.  It resonates with me.  As the author, Susan Schaefer Macaulay, points out , "the first task of education is a moral one".  I wholeheartedly agree.  I can't possibly say I have educated my child if I ignore morals and the teaching of our faith and  don't spend time to foster the good heart that my child was born with as well as attempting to weaken the tendency to do wrong. So while I strive to offer my child all that I can in the way of reading skills, math skills, knowledge of history and science and the other academic areas, my ultimate goal is to weave our Orthodox Christian faith in God along with good habits and morals into those lessons and all parts of our day.

Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training

We do not start our day without morning prayer and our bible story.  It simply isn't done.  I feel I failed my older kids on this current determination of mine.  We often did our morning prayers as a family and occasionally did some bible reading, especially during Lent; however, too often we also skipped this important part of our day in our rush to an outside activity or the chaos of the morning.   My priorities are set right now.  Bible and prayer comes before any academics.  If I get nothing else done in a day, it must be that.

Right after bible stories with my younger son, we go over our habits list.  I printed out a list of habits that I want to currently instill in my son.  While Charlotte Mason followers believe in working on one habit at a time, I realize there are smaller habits that must be worked on continually.  So my list may be a little long, but it's the goals we are specifically targeting right now (my son is 5).

  • Say “Excuse Me, Please” when interrupting
  • Say “Please” and “Thank you” when asking for something
  • Do morning and evening chores daily
  • Always Hang Up Your Coat
  • Always put shoes in closet basket
  • Always put dirty clothes in laundry in hamper;
  • Pay Attention -  Always listen and only ask ‘what’ one time IF NEEDED. (Adults avoid repeated directions; say “Alexander, pay attention to what I’m about to say…)
  • Place tissues, wrappers and other trash in the garbage.
  • Use a fork or spoon when eating a meal.
  • Use a napkin to wipe your face and hands when eating.
  • Always be honest.
  • Be kind to others and our pets.
  • Always do the right thing even when you don’t want to do it.

As you can see, some of them are pretty basic while some are a bit vague.  Where is God in this?  Good Manners.  Kindness.  Honesty.  Always Do the Right Thing.  These are things taught in the bible.  When we talk about them, we talk about bible stories and what God wants for us.  We were made in His image.  What does that mean?  It means we are to be loving, kind, honest people who always strive to do the right thing.

Will my son always do the right thing?

No.

Do I?

No.

My son is a person.  Just like me.  And we are all sinners.

So what do I do when he falters?  Shall I chastise?  Shall I send him off to a corner? Tell him he's lazy or bad?

No.

Children can be helped to acquire habits of Godly beings.  The habits of being respectful, being honest, doing the right thing? They need to be modeled.  So when he lapses in his own display of these moral habits, I must use the habits I'm tryining to instill in my approach of correction.  I must be kind.  I must respect and care for my child in a way that not only teaches, but fosters the love I want him to display.

It's not always easy.  I sometimes falter too.  And then what?

Apologize.

Always, Always, ALWAYS apologize to your kids when you have wronged them or fallen short of the habits you are trying to instill in them.  What good is it to tell someone what they must do if you do not display that habit yourself or to arrogant to admit your failures?

And now to my main point of this post:   Foster the Good!

When I notice my son has done something in accordance to these habits- I bestow praise.  I take notice.  "You put away the silverware so nicely today- it makes it so much easier for us to find a spoon when we need one."  "You were so kind to your friend at church today.  I'm sure you made him very happy."  "I like the way you said your prayers without jumping around today."  "THANK YOU for using good manners!"

We help a child the most when we notice and focus on their strong points and demonstrate a real liking and loving of his personhood. My son has an avid imagination. And he loves, loves, LOVES to draw and write!  There are signs and drawings posted all over our house.  That's one way I try to demonstrate a liking of his personhood.  I can do this by listening avidly to his wild crazy stories and by respecting his love of making all these signs and drawings.  As much as the clutter on the walls and fridge drive me insane (I'd much rather the fridge be bare!), I realize this allowance is honoring him for who he is. Eventually, they do get taken down, but there are ALWAYS MORE.

Appreciation of the person they are  helps them to learn self-respect and self-confidence.  We must love the person they ARE. The person they ARE was made in the image of God.  There IS good there and it must be recognized and tended to.  If I focus on all the times (and there's been plenty) he's drawn on the table, floor or wall, then I am not focusing on the good.  Rather I focus on the times he's done right and drawn and written marvelous things on paper- paper I must provide often so that he's not tempted to draw in the wrong places!

2015-03-27 21.11.36My son loves to be read to and he loves to play games and he loves to be a part of what I am doing and he LOVES me to be a part of what he's doing.  So I need to make sure these things are happening.  I need to make sure he is read to often (rarely a problem) and I need to make sure I sit down and play a game with him from time to time (a bigger problem I need to tackle) and I need to figure out more ways to let him be a part of helping me out through the day so that it doesn't kill my nerves. 😉  And I need to take a few minutes here and there to watch him and join him in his free play time.  All of these things are ways to show him love, respect and opportunities to practice the habits and moral attributes we are trying to teach.

As Susan Shaeffer Macaulay states, "...everything seems to come back to love and moral framework".   When we demonstrate the morals and values we want our children to have, when we treat them as persons and love them for who they ARE, they will shine.  Macaulay contends, and I agree, the curriculum is all that goes on outside of school hours as well as what we do in school.  It is the balance that counts as education takes place during all of the waking hours and in all of our waking actions- not just the math lesson, science lesson and bible reading.

We absolutely must foster the good in our child every day in every possible moment.

What are some ways you foster the good in your child?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been reading several homeschooling books as of late and they have me doing much reflecting on my past and current methods of homeschooling.

In short, the three books are these:

                

All of the above books really are must have's in my personal opinion.  ESPECIALLY if you are looking at wanting to educate your child in a relaxed setting with high standards.  If you need to learn about teaching from rest, look no further than Sarah's book.  Her insight on what true rest is, is uplifting and spot on.  And if you are looking to understand the methodology of Charlotte Mason and the why's behind  this methodology, thus far (I admit, I haven't finished this one just yet) Susan Schaeffer Macaulay  does well in explaining that our education that we give our children really CAN be a joyous celebration of life and prepare them for life in a fashion that will far exceed what most are able to procure from the public school setting.

While I have finished the first two mentioned above, I am torn between wanting to tear through "For The Children's Sake" as I thirst for more (I'm in the third chapter of 6) to going back and rereading  what I have covered thus far and just let it simmer.  There is much to glean and reflect upon.

I have a feeling I will do both.  I am eager to see what else she has to say... and then, I believe I'll go back and use Charlotte's own methodology and just read ten to 15 minutes... reflect, perhaps do a written narration and just let it soak a few days before moving on.

In the meantime, I'll share with you what I have highlighted so far (well, some of it... I have gotten a bit carried away with the highlighter in this one!).

"Parents need to evaluate their priorities.  They need to consider why they respond, "We wouldn't have tie to read a book together every day.  We don't have time to hike/camp/paint/talk with our children."  What is really important?"

"Look well at the child on your knee.  In whatever condition you2015-10-12 10.32.39 HDR find him, look with reverence."

"Charlotte Mason rejects the utilitarian view of education and the conventional standards of her day.  She challenges us instead to identify the child's actual needs and capacities; to serve him as he is, on the basis of what is right and good for him as a person."

"By being allowed to learn at their own speed, the children taught by Charlotte Mason were happy with their mastery of skills.  They did not 'fail' or 'pass'.  They learned how to read and write accurately.  A high standard was expected, but at a level appropriate to the child's ability.  It was like climbing one's own private ladder.  It was not to be like a race."

There's much more I could share  but I will leave it as this for now.  there is much more highlighted words  I'd like to write about but have no time to write a novel today!  Okay, maybe it won't be a novel, but I'm sure I have many more posts waiting to be written in the back of my mind....but I must reflect a bit more before writing them.  So for now... read over what I have written above.  Mull it over and then share with more your reactions.  What are your own thoughts about Susan's words above?  In the meantime... I have more reading to do!