Tuesday, May 10, 2016

credit where credit is due

Some of my past posts have been a little bit of a downer and critical of some of my tendencies that I am not so proud of. Things that make me human.
Humans are flawed, we all have things we wish we could do better but I am taking today to stop looking back at the things I have done wrong in my almost seven years as a mother and before I do another thing, I must praise Jesus for seeing me through. Even when I did not seek Him, He was there. In the times when I have reached the ends of myself and when I recall the worst points of motherhood, each time He brought me to repentance and humility and showed me what it truly means to grieve my sin and how only He can fix what I have broken. It is because of Him that my children love me, because I have shown them how unlovable and unloving I am on my own.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28

Even when my eyes are clouded by frustration, annoyance, selfishness, and despair (all temporary, earthly distractions), Jesus is there, working it all for good and for His glory. And I'm so thankful, because you know what? My kids are pretty great. When I look at a group of kids on the playground or when I peek through the windows at Sunday school or even just as we're shopping at Target, I am (99.9% of the time) so happy that Leila and Cameron are the ones I get to call mine. My children make me laugh and stump me with hard questions every day and they are turning into really neat little people. I am looking forward with so much joy to homeschooling Leila and Cameron because I want to spend time with them, want to see who they are becoming, and want to have not just a front-row seat, as many supportive parents do, but an active role in the next thirteen years of our lives together, and I want them to have an active role in mine. Being a human is hard. We are sinful, selfish, and struggling. I want to figure out how to live this life well and I want to figure it out along side of my three most favorite people in the whole world.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Confession: Mommy School

B is for Bubbles
Leila showing off her bubbles (2013)
I have a confession to make: I've homeschooled before. When our daughter was three, Wes and I decided not to shell out the thousands of dollars for preschool but instead I created "mommy school" and we did homeschool preschool. It helped that my own mother was a preschool teacher before becoming a mommy and she shared with me all kinds of great resources to teach colors and numbers that she had saved. It also helped that preschool is awesome and lesson plans were easy by just going through the alphabet, one letter a week. I found free worksheets online (yay pinterest!) and had Leila practice tracing and writing the upper case and lower case letters and the rest of the time we just did activities that started with the letter of the week: B is for bubbles, C is for Candy Land, G is for (mini-)golf, etc. We had a great time mostly just playing together. However, Mommy school also happened to be during my "angry mama" phase I mentioned, so things weren't always as cute and smiley as they are in the picture and I didn't follow through very well once I ran out of ideas and steam. We still read lots of books together and visited the library weekly, something we continue to do now, but there was also a lot of television time instead of hands-on activities and days we just stayed home instead of pursuing adventure or a new experience because I couldn't handle the thought of dealing with both kids outside of the house. Now, of course, I'm wistful about the easy (curriculum-wise) mommy school days and sorrowful that I was angry so much of the time.
When the time came to enroll Leila in kindergarten, Wes and I briefly considered continuing to homeschool, but at the same time we were looking forward to our first foster placement and the thought of sending at least one kid out of the house for part of the day was very appealing to me. I've said before that Leila loved kindergarten and so I don't regret sending her, and it maybe extended my sanity in the fostering months to have that break. In any event, I have sought forgiveness from God and from my children for my anger and I look ahead with joy and anticipation of the blessings to come. I know homeschooling my now elementary-age children won't be all giggles and games, but I'm confident that my heart is in the right place (thank you Jesus) and I'm eager for the opportunity to do better this time around.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

on schedules and routines

this is a unique position to be in - looking forward to homeschool but currently having my daughter attend public school. I don't know what the statistics are on families who make the decision to homeschool and then immediately pull their kids out of public school, but anecdotally, just in blogs and other stories I have heard, it seems to happen more frequently than making the decision and then finishing out the school year. Although, knowing that Leila will be staying home in the fall, I reluctantly send her off each morning (and Cameron's been begging to stay home from his two-day-a-week preschool ever since we told him he would be homeschooled for kindergarten), I am thankful for this time of preparation.
In addition to continually examining and softening my heart (God has done a miracle in me; my prayer now is that I don't get in His way and squander this incredible blessing), there are lots of external projects and things to consider. Our homeschool room is almost finished. Leila has been enjoying doing her homework there in the afternoons and as you saw, Cameron and I spent time in there on the days he is home. To be honest, it's currently the cleanest, most organized room in my house, so I find myself gravitating to the uncluttered white table and bright sunshiny window when I need to get some work done too, even though I have my own desk under the stairs.
I'm also trying to be mindful of routines and using this time of preparation to create good habits, both for myself (do the dishes immediately after every meal ... ugh), and for my children with chores and also general getting ready tasks that they are capable, at five and almost seven years old, of doing themselves but often get done for them in the morning rush.
Oh, the morning rush. I wonder if knowing that this won't be an issue in six weeks makes it such an issue now. Probably not, I know mornings are hard for most families, but my goodness. Leila and Cameron must be growing because my normally early-risers have been sleeeeeeeping in lately, which is nice for me and my quiet morning time, but not so nice for creating a relaxing and joyful sendoff for the day. Instead of blessing Leila with a kiss and a hug before school, I am barking at her to hurry-up-and-get-your-shoes-on-and-stop-messing-around-with-your-water-bottle-and-no-Cameron-I-can't-get-you-a-drink-of-water-your-sister-is-late-for-school-and-I-already-heard-the-first-bell-ring-hurry-up!! as I practically shove her out the front door. No wonder kids seek refuge with their friends and are adversarial to their parents at such young ages when mornings are so continually fraught with tension.
As I look forward to the fall, I am crafting a routine instead of a schedule. To me, a schedule says we will all wake up at 7am on the dot with breakfast on the table by 7:30 then family devotionals with an eye on the clock to be in the classroom at 8am to spend exactly 45 minutes on each subject, moving seamlessly from math, to writing, to history, or so help me and everyone smiling and compliant and joyful all the live long day.
Instead of rigidity, our routine will be an order of events, but not require us to adhere to specific times. If, like this week, everyone's a little tired, we may not roll out of bed and eat breakfast until 8, and then proceed with our day, and if everyone's up by 630, we'll start early and have time for a picnic or an extra-long hike after lunch. This flexibility allows for us to spend additional time on academic subjects that need more attention or are just really enjoyable! There is also freedom to read a little longer, to take time out for heart-reaching correction instead of demanding a quick behavior change, and to get up and try again when we make mistakes. This allows for grace and is a gift that we can give each other every day. I can't wait!