Homeschool, Motherhood, The Creative Home, Uncategorized

A Brand New Start

August is when my oldest daughter was born. Her birthday came close to when summer vacation was over and school began  again.  The stores were already showcasing the latest backpacks and were overloaded with notebooks, pencils, colorful binders and whatever was needed to help one become prepared for that first day of school.
Yesterday my youngest daughter began another semester of college. Thinking back 30 some years ,  I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I walked to a new room on campus, meeting my new teacher for the first time and all the new classmates.  It was nerve wracking !  But soon I’d settle into a familiar routine and the strangeness of the situation was gone.  Then all I had to do was keep up with all the tests, papers and exams they gave me!
Our homeschool didn’t begin until after Labor Day.  I tried to make our first day of school exciting each year.  I made the trip to Walmart and stocked up on all the necessary supplies we would need, throwing in a few special items for each child.  Maybe a folder that had kittens on it for Claire or horses for Nan.  I would arrange everything in the middle of the table and put something special by each child’s’ plate.  Pancakes for breakfast, devotions and a quick brushing of teeth and hair and we were ready to start our first day.
As my girls got older and the work piled on (plus their extracurricular activities , perhaps even a job) they would feel overwhelmed .  I would sit down with them and we’d make a schedule of their day, beginning when they got up, to the  chores they were responsible for, to piano practicing, homework etc.  ending with bedtime.  I remember the relief they felt when we had finished.  Seeing it on paper helped them know if they used their time wisely it was possible to get it all done.  And of course life happens and they’d get off their schedules, but I’d remind them tomorrow is another day and you can begin again.
Now I’m alone at home most of the time (at least for now).  Some of my grandchildren will be starting school today or next week, one in kindergarten and two in second grade.  I do miss  those exciting days, when the anticipation is new and fresh.  There’s something about opening a new textbook or writing for the first time in a brand new notebook that I love.  Expectations are high and so are the nerves, (maybe butterflies)!  Thankfully our  mistakes and frustrations of last year are gone.  I am reminded of the verse in the Bible from Lamentations 3:22, ” because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
How wonderful that we can begin again each morning!
We can learn from yesterday but move on to the things of today.  Proverbs 16:9 says: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.  I’ve been learning to give God each day and to listen to his leading throughout the day! regardless of my “premade”schedule.  That gives me such peace, knowing he is ordering my steps, my day and any interruption is God planned.
I hope and pray that each of you, whether you are the teacher or parent of a student or both, have a great year as you help your child navigate through this brand new  and exciting school year.
What are some of your favorite school memories, either from your time at school or one that you made teaching your own children?
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Homeschool, Motherhood, The Creative Home, Uncategorized

Your Home, the Imagination Station

I walked into the family room and there-toga and all-stood a Greek goddess. Her subjects were in an elaborate setting in sheet draped tents. They too had raided the linen closet as was apparent with their Greek costumes, and they were clearly her servants as they bowed to her every command. Our living room was almost daily transformed into some imaginative setting. Often their American Girl dolls had homes and stores and tea rooms on the sofa and ottoman as they pretended they were living in the early 1900’s with Samantha and her cohorts. Summertime meant that they were orphans in the tree house with only bread that they managed to take from the house as their sustenance. They led very impoverished and heroic lives out there in the yard. Such were the different imaginations of my five daughters growing up. How did they come to have such vivid imaginations I sometimes wonder?

Perhaps one factor that made it possible is that when my husband and I got married we decided not to put a TV in our home. We wanted to spend quality time together with each other, our friends and our one day family. The kids weren’t totally deprived as we did get a small TV for the purpose of watching videos (on a VCR back then) which we did on Friday nights. We made pizza and spread a big blanket on the floor. We all ate pizza and watched a movie together in the family room.

Maybe because I was their homeschool teacher who had the privilege of teaching each of them to read. Read we did, a lot of it and that helped grow their imaginations. I usually had a book that I read aloud to them. They loved to listen to classical books on tape we went on trips. Rest time was mandatory at our house as well and that meant reading time for the older ones. I chose curriculum that was heavy on literature, especially historical literature. Each of my girls developed a love for reading. Each of them still enjoy reading and some even love to write.

Our summers were spent in a far away place with no outside interferences like TV, telephones, gadgets and at first even any electricity. We got up when it was light and went to bed by lantern light. The girls would spend their days in the lake pretending they were mermaids or shipwrecked. They hiked and spent the majority of time outside collecting pine cones and leaves for crafts or for making mud-pies. It was the perfect place to grow one’s imagination.

Today technology has changed the way we do things. My young grandkids have iPads and all the many channels TV has to offer. They are involved in many sports and activities at such a young age. Is there room for their imaginations to grow and develop like their mother’s did? Yet when I visit they are playing with their American girls, one of which was their mother’s, and they have set up elaborate homes for them. The staircase is often filled with their many Barbies and make believe scenarios that they play. They love to create crafts and draw and paint. I enjoy watching them play with their cousins and the way they make up fun and creative things to do. Everyone knows that the toddler at Christmas time loves the box the gift came in more than the gift itself! My two year old granddaughter has spent many happy minutes playing in an empty box.

Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

“The ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts.” (Aboutmybrain.com)

An article from Bright Horizons states this:

“Trying new ways of doing things and experimenting help develop critical thinking in children and foster creative problem solving. Furthermore, imagination builds social-emotional development by allowing children to contemplate different resolutions, thus boosting children’s confidence, which can be used in interactions with others. Imagination and creativity are also skills that our children will need when they join the workforce of the future.”

Even at a young age children have vivid imaginations that are ready to be developed given the time. Time. I think that’s really all that is necessary for that creative spark to ignite. Time alone with a few resources and few outside distractions. Time to think and fill their space with make believe. To just play. I loved watching my children play and my grandchildren now. It is amazing what the mind can think of when not inhibited or weighted down with distractions. The next time your living room is transformed into a scene out of your children’s creative juices be awed by them and even join in….if your imagination allows you to!

Homeschool, In the Kitchen: Recipes and More, Motherhood, The Creative Home, Uncategorized

Strawberries & Weeds

 

We were out playing in the backyard by the slide and these purple little flowers caught Ayelee’s attention. I love how simple a child’s delight can be. I wondered when was the last time I ever picked wildflowers?

We played out in the sun until Ayelee started to almost turn pink and then we went inside for some refreshing strawberries and “Gentle Sweet.” Gentle Sweet is a stevia and xylitol mix that I buy from http://www.trimhealthymama.com. It tastes just like powdered sugar (to me it tastes better!) and I know it’s having zero impact on Ayelee’s blood sugar levels or her teeth. I highly recommend Gentle Sweet. It is also a wonderful sugar substitute for baking.

 

Ayelee kept giggling as she ate. She couldn’t help but show her enthusiasm for the delicious snack. I’ve had so much on my mind lately and I need to slow down. I think about Ayelee’s joy in finding the purple flowers or relishing the sweet and juicy strawberries one bite at a time and I wonder…the extent of her joys are in these purple flowers or our hugs or our story-time. Her biggest worry right now is that mommy will tell her “No more strawberries.” She doesn’t know what trials look like yet. She doesn’t know there is even greater joy around the corner and with greater joy comes greater heartache. My husband Gabe is currently serving overseas. She is probably confused that her daddy is still “on an airplane” but she is shielded from the reality of his situation. She is just so trusting. In that moment, I wanted to be as amused and excited about purple flowers as much as Ayelee. I thanked God for his goodness and His glory displayed in all things. In Gabe being overseas and in His hands. In purple flowers and in Ayelee’s innocence. Even in the refining moment of being humbled by a child.

 

Ben Ben wasn’t as excited about strawberries as we were :p Pictured above is this sweet little aloe plant that I found at Aldi. I love Aloe Vera plants for their healing powers. Growing up my mom always kept a huge Aloe plant in the house and used it on our cuts. Now I like to use it not only for cuts but for my skin! Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated. It also reduces stretch marks so it is a great moisturizer during and after pregnancy. If you aren’t about plants then I highly recommend this pure, non-GMO, food grade aloe vera gel for your skin and hair…
Organic Aloe Vera Gel Great for Face, Hair, Sunburn, Acne, Razor Bumps, Psoriasis, Eczema – 12 oz.

Homeschool, In the Kitchen: Recipes and More, Motherhood, The Creative Home, Uncategorized

What a Mother Really Wants…

Mothers. They are one of the most honorable and beautiful gifts to mankind. Whether they have physically produced life or birthed a life spiritually through prayers sweat and tears, women were born to be mothers. To love, nurture and fight for humankind.

I have seen many mothers walk many different paths. I have seen some jump into unplanned motherhood and they did it with a heart of joy. I have seen other moms fight for their child in prayer and fasting, a warrior and a nurturer at the heart of who they are. I think we all understand what an amazing gift a mother is. This may be why we feel so much pressure when Mother’s Day rolls around.

If you are like me then every year your heart does a little bit of gymnastics as you suddenly remember you have to get your mom a gift! Then the twists and the tumbles persist from feelings of guilt. Why guilt? It’s guilt for not having already planned ahead. You gotta plan ahead for something that is completely heart-melting, useful, original and well…her favorite, right? Every year I end up getting something for my mom that feels half-hearted, that feels like “Here is something because I couldn’t find anything else.” Terrible, yes. Am I the only one?

We all have expectations and young mother’s can look different from seasoned mother’s expectations. I asked some moms from different walks of life what they wanted for Mother’s Day and their answers surprised me a little. I will read you a little of their own words…

“Ideally it would be like a weekend away. Not anywhere fancy but just my husband, my baby and me in a different place and away from all other responsibilities and social media.”

“Honest to goodness, I don’t want any gifts. I feel like just being able to finally celebrate the day with my kid is good enough. We usually do a pancake breakfast and then it’s just a normal day!”

“Really, what do I want on Mother’s Day? To be mom, but to have my kiddos and husband see that there are hard days and easy days, sad days and fun days. But I wouldn’t trade this special calling for anything!”

“I always just want to spend time with my kids and my mom. Of course I love cards from them but the gift of their presence is always what I want.”

“The number one thing would be a healed body and second would be my husband being home.”

“Unrushed time with my mom, dad, husband and baby all together and not to have to worry about dishes or anything like that.”

“That my family would go back to being family, like it used to. That gift would supersede all others forever. I would want to have my house CLEANED. Everything from the smallest detail to the largest window.”

Others who wrote me pretty much said the same thing with a back massage or a card just simply letting them know they are appreciated 🙂

Are you a mom? What is it that YOU want for Mother’s Day? Comment below and let’s share ideas. I think what we really want is to just keep on loving our kids knowing that they appreciate us in this very special calling that motherhood is. Some chocolate wouldn’t hurt either!

Featured in these photos are my mom, my mother in law and my firstborn Ayelee Sarah, the one who made me a mom.

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