Friday, February 3, 2012

Where did the time go?

It's February and already I am falling behind on my blogging. For some reason, life has gotten even busier than I expected. A week ago, my husband left for training in the desert. That means I am the only one here to get things done. I haven't had any trouble staying busy. I've been doing a lot of work around the house organizing and redecorating. Our living space is the nicest we have ever had and I am really proud of how it's turning out. I have a few things still left to do, but once it's done I will be sure to post pictures. And of course, there's always school work to be done. By myself and the kids! We haven't had much of a routine lately, we mostly concentrate on taking care of our priorities on a day-to-day basis. Some days, our focus is on academics. Others are focuses on getting things done around the house or running errands. We have also had many days where we have spent time doing crafts or playing educational games. We even managed to have a PE day at a local play area with tons of bounce houses and obstacle courses for the kids to climb through. We all had a blast, and after four hours we were all exhausted! I even managed to help Joey get over his fear of bounce houses. The older boys enjoyed several rounds of laser tag. And I even managed to get someone on one adult time with a good friend.

I really just wanted to check in and let you all know that I have fallen off the face of the earth! I haven't forgotten to blog, I have just been so very busy. Tackling a honey do list when your honey isn't around isn't exactly easy. But it's nice to know that the list will be smaller by the time he gets home.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tackle it Tuesday–1.10.2012

Tackle It Tuesday

I am starting a few new blog memes this year which I am really excited about! I am going to be approaching Tackle it Tuesday a little differently this year. On Tuesdays I will share a list of things I would like to tackle in the coming week as well as share how much I actually accomplished from the previous week’s list. I will also post a tip or share how I tackle specific things in my home and family. I hope you enjoy reading these posts and that they help, encourage, or inspire you to tackle something important to you!

Since I don’t have a last week’s list to work with, today I will share something else. If you have been reading my blog recently, you know I have recently returned to college to earn my BA in English, as a first step towards becoming a college professor. Over the holidays, I fell into the temptation of procrastinating many things, including my own schoolwork. This resulted in less time and effort put into my work, which I promised myself I wouldn’t let happen (hey, we are all human after all).

With the new year, I am determined to get back into my previous routine of finishing my work at least a few days before it’s due, taking notes on my required reading, and putting forth my best effort. That started this week (my school week runs Tuesday through Monday).

Last night I read half of my required chapter and copied and pasted the most important sections into a Word document. Most of my class texts are Ebooks, so this makes it a little easier on me in the note taking department. This morning, since I had to wake up before eight to babysit, I finished my chapter and my study notes before 10am. I also chose my topic for this week’s writing assignment, and completed some prewriting. The paper is due on Monday. This evening, before I go to sleep, I will write my required discussion responses, which are due Thursday, and study for my quiz which is due Sunday. I plan on having all of my classwork finished before the weekend so I can get started on next week’s work Saturday. This will get me back to my starting schedule of completing my work the weekend before class.

In addition to catching up on homework, these are some additional tasks I would like to tackle this week:

  • Help the boys get their room organized (again, I just did this a month ago)
  • Make a dent in Mt. Laundry
  • Finish reading one book I’ve started on my Kindle
  • Bathe the dog

I know that doesn’t seem to be a very ambitious list, but with homeschooling, babysitting four days a week, and this writing class, I don’t have much time for extra stuff this week.

Leave me a comment and tell me what YOU are tackling this week!



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Relationships Before Academics

I have previously referenced in my blog posts that the way we view (as well as the way we DO) homeschool has gone through some drastic changes over the past year or so. This is due largely to the change in homeschool requirements when we moved from Indiana to Washington. Washington law states that in order to be qualified to homeschool, the parent must either have a college degree, be overseen by a certified teacher, or posses proof they have completed a homeschool qualifying course.

Coming from a very loosely regulated state (and not yet having a college education) prompted me to find out what options were available to me to complete the required course. Most of what I found required attendance at several seminars and quite a sum of money. Then I found Barb Shelton's correspondence course, which was a perfect fit for me. I signed up, paid my enrollment fee, and purchased the required reading materials. This all started a couple of months before we moved, as it was my goal to be prepared legally once we arrived.

Of the many wonderful materials I studied, the writings of Marilyn Howshall are what stuck with me the most. Marilyn's writings are not based on a method, rather on a lifestyle that is at it's very root centered around the Bible. Although I was only required to read a few of her books, I ended up purchasing and devouring everything I could find written by her. When even that wasn't enough, I ended up finding a Yahoo group, as well as a Facebook group called Home Educated Mom. It was here that I got to know the heart of what makes a Lifestyle of Learning unique from every other method or approach I had ever encountered. This post will be my  first in a series discussing her writings, and the impact they have made on my life.

In her book The Two-Pronged Educational Myth, Marilyn talks about the way our society views education versus the biblical meaning of education. The world says that if we fill our children with subjects, topics, and information then they will be prepared for life. However, the Bible tells us that relationships are where we should begin. The heart-level attitudes, intentions, and motivations (what Marilyn refers to as AIM in many of her writings) of our children will show through in the fruit of their relationships. And where do our children learn to relate to others? From the relationships within the family! Marilyn says:
"A biblical model of education and discipleship combines principles of learning for a whole-life education. Children are instructed in right-relating practices within the family and with their own learning process."
Here's an eye opening thought - God actually cares deeply about the discipleship and education of our children! He doesn't just want our kids to get any old education, He wants them to have the BEST possible education - one that is biblical! Which means that discipleship and education (not meaning only academics) are equally important in shaping our children's lives.

Ok, you may be thinking, so what does that LOOK like? What makes this different than what I have already been doing? A biblical Lifestyle of Learning means that learning happens in the middle of everyday life. Our children will learn using specific tools (which I will discuss further in a future post) and specific principles will influence all activities and relationships. Our children will work toward developing individual scholarship. Take note: individual here means so much more than independent, the two words do not mean the same thing at all. One aspect of a Lifestyle of Learning I truly love is the use of living books and notebooking. We have used both of these wonderful learning tools in our home for years and enjoy them so much more than workbooks and textbooks, although these have their place as well. Individual discipleship between a parent, who's aim is to be led by the Spirit, and their child will result in relational fruit (as well as all-around happier household, in my own experience). The parents must be committed to following the leading of the Holy Spirit in all matters (educationally AND relationally) and show constant interest in those things their children are interested in. A true LOL (abbreviated from here on) means taking the time to observe, talk to, and encourage our children to help them develop their interests, as well as their gifts, bents, traits, and abilities. And last but not least, a LOL means putting relationships first, resulting in family purpose and meaningful relationships between all family members.

Ok, so what about content? Skills? Academics? I won't dig too deeply into these issues until later posts in this series, but instead I will leave you with this quote from the author:
"When the acquisition of knowledge serves character formation, skill will always be found to be a by-product of the process."
 A LOL requires much more of the parent, but not in the same ways many traditional methods and curriculum do. There are three major areas in which the parent must first begin to change before they can make changes within the family.

  1. Devote time and energy to personal scholarship, as led by the Holy Spirit, in order to experience true growth and change,
  2. Allow the Holy Spirit to to disciple you (through your conscience) in order to address your relationships biblically,
  3. Embrace the process of bringing your children into right relating practices with you as the Lord leads you to do in your own relationships.
Although it's been nearly a year since these truths were opened up to me, this is still the point I am at in my own transformational change. I have made other small changes here and there, but my focus will remain in the area of relating with my own children until the Holy Spirit has told me to move forward from here. There are so many things wrong in this area, not just in my children, but in my own heart as well, and He is showing me more with each passing day. I am so thankful I have began this journey with the Lord and with my family and I know we will forever be changed. I am already seeing fruit, slowly but surely and I am beyond thankful I am no longer blind to these sinful behaviors. At first, my heart was very heavy seeing all that needed to be changed within my own heart, but as the Spirit is showing me the things that need to change, He is ever faithful to lead me through making those changes. It's a very slow, and sometimes painful, process, but the rewards are great. 

Next in this series, I will share with you a little more about the educational side of LOL. Until then, if you like what you have read, please visit Lifestyle of Learning Ministries here, where all of Marilyn's materials are available for purchase as ebooks. Also, make sure to check out LOLACHE (Lifestyle of Learning Association of Home Educators) online membership site and watch the videos there. 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Love's the Word for 2012!

While reading through my long neglected feedly blog collection this afternoon, I noticed a lot of posts about the New Year and new beginnings, resolutions, and goals. But what really caught my eye were the bloggers who chose to dedicate the new year to a theme - a word. SO I have decided to ride on the coattails of those who have gone before me and share my theme this year with you...

This year, it's all about LOVE! What exactly does that mean to me? How does that fit into my day-to-day life? Here are some love related goals I have for the new year...

It is my deepest desire to know God more, worship Him more, and honor Him more, not just with my words and songs, but with my actions. The best way I can think of to show God how much I LOVE Him is to obey Him. I have always obeyed Him to the best of my ability in the little things, but it's time to get serious about my relationships. That starts with my relationship with my Creator and Savior, for without Him, I am nothing. This year, I am looking forward to listening for His leading in all areas of my life, finding opportunities to obey, and learning more about how to be truly LOVING from the One who first LOVED us.

By following the example of Christ, I hope to become a more LOVING helpmeet to my husband. By putting God first (where He belongs), I will be able to show my husband more LOVE, respect, and honor. By putting God's will above my own, I will also be putting my husband and his needs above my own, because that's what His Word commands wives to do. Yes, I LOVE my husband, and he knows that, but I have plenty of room for improvement as a wife and a best friend.

I have already experienced some major changes and breakthroughs in my relationships with my children in the past year, but this year I want to grow even more. I will take the time to really listen to them and be with them. I will take more interest in the things they are passionate about. I will validate their interests and encourage them to try new things. I will be more aware of my words and how they affect my children. I will repent when I have wronged them and ask for their forgiveness. I will speak life, LOVE, and encouraging words to them daily. I will be more affectionate and remind them often of how very much I love them and how blessed I am God chose me to be their mother.

Now that I am a college student, it is easy to let other things fall by the wayside because I have homework or other deadlines looming. But the education, discipleship, and care of my children should always come before my own. I will make every effort to make sure learning happens everyday. I will look for more real-life learning opportunities for my children and encourage them to explore new interests in an effort to attain new skills. I will lay off on the table time, and make sure I am focusing on the true objectives of education as God intended it to be (more about that in a future post). I will encourage them to work towards figuring out what God's purpose is for them, and provide the means for them to move towards that purpose. 

Let's face it, when you are at home everyday with your children, repeating the same tasks and routines day in and day out, it can get a little mundane. Burnout is always lurking just around the corner and it is easy to feel underappreciated or discouraged. The truth is, God has placed me in this house, with my husband and children, and given me the task of raising and taking care of a family. There is no "job" in the world I would rather be called to do! However, it is sometimes easy to forget that. It truly is a calling. My ministry is to my family. This year, I will remind myself of that when I start to feel sorry for myself or compare my life to the life of another. Everything I do, I will do with LOVE, devotion, and a smile because I know it is my Lord that has given me my tasks to complete, no matter how small or tedious it may be. I will not complain about folding the laundry or washing the dishes.... much ;)

I hope you now have a better understanding of how focusing on LOVE can have such an impact for change in one person's life, and why I have chosen to make LOVE my highest priority in the coming year. I also plan to be blogging much more. I have so much to share and it is important to get it out there so that it might bless someone else in some small way. I also really miss having a regular journal so to speak of our family's daily lives. 

How are YOU planning on making the most of the New Year?

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