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Archive for the ‘Journey to Homeschool’ Category

Fri Sept 20

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– all the kids coming over and sitting w me on the kitchen floor to eat their breakfast too
– our living room, less cluttered than it’s ever been!
– my friend in my kitchen, cooking something delicious for us while I told her some of my glory stories- everything God’s been doing in my life the last few years except for Texas and God’s most recent miracle
– kids discovering a brand new awesome playground: the skatepark 🙂
– baby turtle show on Netflix , so cute 🙂
– sleeping baby snuggled under a warm blanket
– big kid riding circles around the driveway
– phone call w a political rep and a chance to have my voice heard

– more evidence of God’s wisdom and power w this move

Sat Sept 21

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– roofing day…DH is helping my friend repair the roof of her house, alongside some Franciscan brothers..
– people I love up on a roof

– at last, superman got his flying dinosaur!
– foam Dino’s in their n64 world
– boys arriving at the fair
– my little superman pitcher scoring himself both chips AND pop w bean bags
– our first scavenger hunt, together we came in 2nd!
– 3 boys, even the littlest in a bouncy castle

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– blue sharks splashing in the pool
– the grace of actually being prepared! Sweaters and everything)
– boy’s all tied up in a hammock, swinging way up high w/O falling out
– hazy harbour scene

Sun Sept 22

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– grace here, kneeling on the floor on my pajamas, and w DH still there in bed
– beautiful day, windy but warm

– my little superman’s decision that he would share his love w a friend, and how that hug softened an angry little heart

– baby w his ride-on, scooting all around the driveway, using it as transportation from the steps to the car

– an angel looking down from the clouds
– egg puff w broccoli AND cauliflower
– lesson planning, jumping in w both feet, and w the help of the Holy Spirit figuring out how to work all the weeks while still coordinating the special days w their corresponding lessons ( and this sorting the rest of the weeks out)
– my ‘bday present’ from superman
– a sea of egg cartons

– my oldest watching intently as priests spoke about being a real man after Christ etc…
– my big kid really into the praise w his drum arms
– the incredible blessing of being here and receiving You, twice today
– my oldest rockin’ it on the drums
– our schoolroom all tidy and ready for the first day 🙂

Mon Sept 13 First Official Day of Kindergarten

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– tiny little bums sticking up as sleepy kids roll over
– ‘Are you sleeping’, kid wake up music!
– cool fresh morning, clouds on the way out
– superman deciding to say his prayers all on his own
-w/o the distraction of praise music FIRST thing, breakfast on the table just after 8!

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– perfect first day photos, outside and w his brothers in front of the dino wall
– DH coaching our oldest to draw mountains as practice for the letter A
– DH right away seeing what I no longer noticed: that the table was too high and our son would do much better in the school desk!
– while I was working w my school kid to draw a picture of himself- DH got out the bath foam letters and was helping the littler ones stick them to the wall! So creative 🙂
– my son’s 1st self portrait ( w a little help) complete w monster hands
-the moments where DH was helping his son w school or working magic w the younger two- everything he brought to our homeschool and our day, worth the frustration of having him home w us today 🙂

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– tiny tot curled up on the couch
– a re-do trip to the skatepark, to document the excitement 🙂
– a first day picnic at our skatepark playground
– superman running fast fast!
– fall baby walking in fall leaves

– superhero story time w daddy and his boys
-‘Because of his quackness…. ‘ 🙂

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– baby flying up and down the road on his ride-on toy
– daddy riding on the back and even pulling a wheelie w superman on the tricycle
– family bike time, and my oldest getting faster and faster

– coloured layers in the evening sky
– a beautiful opening prayer service
– w a reception, perfect since I had missed dinner!
Wow, we are so blessed to have what we have w our inlaws, whenever we need something they have been there, and somehow, across great divides, we are all Christ to each other.
– surrender, and God’s timing

Tues Sept 24

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– I’m thankful that I get more Cheerios! ( j)
– – that we get to do 1 page in who Am I today ( T)
– ty for making a beautiful Cheerio tree

– going through some of our school opening even before everyone’s done breakfast when necessary…it helps when we’re running late

– folding diapers while my son practiced his letter As 🙂
– a wonderful meditation, on working out our salvation, and just what God wanted to share w someone on my FB 🙂
– deep green couch and stripes in the cozy blanket,and a perfect spot for a nap

-surprise, a kitty curled in the grass
– spontaneous kitty love 🙂
– the cat that would not leave my side as I walked on, so I told it to come along, and it did
– the kitty walking before me like an angel
-it followed me all the way home, NEVER LEAVING MY SIDE

Wed Sept 25

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– 2 boys attentive w missals
– praying like the woman w the hemorrhage, if I but touch him
– morning prayer of trust from the depths of my soul before Jesus
-our missing blankie, spotted by my oldest on a shelf at church
– baby goldfish feet

– kid sanctioned/initiated quiet rest time
– boy’s snuggled up watching dinosaurs
– my big kid discovering a great affinity for fresh peas, shelling every one he could get his hands on- and eating them all too
– lesson planning from the couch

– love persisting, and hope that kept fighting, despite the evidence
– the boys left to play w DH’s buddy, just the 4 of them 🙂
– an IV bag being squeezed by a blood pressure pump
– That God lets me know about these major events ahead of time, even giving idea of when they will occur, such that I know so clearly that He is in it and behind it
– new experiences: riding in an ambulance to get to the other hospital
– unconditional love all around me in my time of need
– a sweet gesture from DH’s friend, a link to some comforting bible verses
– my sweet SUMITES ( and mom too) lifting me up w words of love and in prayer
– at last freedom to go home and rest

Thurs Sept 26

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– coming into nanny’s room, a little brighter and inviting, a tiny gift of hope
– baby brought me a pirate ship to sail the blanket sea 🙂
– my SUM sisters walking by my side through all of this w words of love and divine wisdom
– breakfast in bed, delicious apple pancakes
-Oh Lord, I thank You for making Your ways so clear to me.
-morning rest: prayer, love over fb, and some music to help me feel better

-3 boys w playdoh…
– a lunch date w just DH and baby
– light but hearty lunch
– baby giving me a horseshoe fry
-out the window, a dome-like globe in the sky, as I continued to think about our ‘miracle baby’

– beads for a special project
– words and messages of love and hope all around me
– a spontaneous hunt for apple pie, just because we can

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I Woke up early, but I’m a little later than usual getting these up!

Fri Feb 1

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Spring scene out the window
Sharing the wonder of the Mass, The Greatest Miracle, with the kids
The baby’s fascination with the egg carton toy
my boys with the complete alphabet train all set up
a disco lamp
when I got lost driving, God leading me back to the way I know
Driving home, into the sun
streetlights against a sunset sky

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A night out at the bowling alley
A run in with an old friend
A Speed bowling match with DH

Watching our 3 year old clean up through his sobs whatever he could find in the clean living room
How a little toy and a 2 minute you tube video made it all better

Sat Feb 2
Grace even in the storm (Grace in the storm – in that moment, there at the fridge etc – I still could trust, I still knew you had a plan and part of me could still trust, and I wasn’t alone. I didn’t reach for your hand, I couldn’t, but still you held me. )
mutual humility and partnership
Seeing real changes in my husband, fruits of my prayers
Permission to try homeschooling for a year

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A night of women and fellowship
Being right there, part of the story – the moment when someone asked God into her life for the first time
Finding my new faith plaque hung up by the kids bed
Opening my mass readings booklet to discover the feast that falls on this special day – God showing off

Sun Feb 3
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An awakening deep in my heart; Realizing deep down after all these years I still want and need a Daddy
-Awe at DH’s words – ‘the long arm of the Lord’ -God who is this man and what have you done with my husband!!?

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-my little look alike angel wearing my mom’s glasses
-an indian feast for brunch
Fluffy flakes falling soft into mom’s back yard
One boy holding the other’s hand, to help him feel better while his foot hurts
snow covered trees at the entrance to our park
A glimpse of the astonishing: magestic beauty – a great owl sitting in the tree just up from our house

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The imprint from the outdoor plug in the snow
Snow peaks lit by the colored railing lights
Finally seeing our house all lit with Christmas lights and candles in the windows
my new faith plaque hung up on the nail over the kids bed

Mon Feb 4
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Snow spattered on the fence
-your grace, providence – continuing to bring order out of our clutter
Little boys watching over their brother’s shoulder as he practiced writing
Your grace to call me to rest; to go have fun with my family in the snow
the baby with sock mitts
shovel sled
Fortified dome of snow (fort)
My oldest helping his baby brother make the sign of the cross

Tues Feb 5

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Possibly finding a way to finally motivate the boys to clean up quickly in the morning
A window of white
Cut and paste with the kids
2 dinosaurs on boats

our snow fort (J)
My star wars shirt (T)
My best friend encouraging me and holding me accountable

-the God-given ability to multitask – with DH’s help cooking, prepping dinner, movie night and confession, and truly being able to give sufficient attention to each

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A table fit for medieval heroes
Shiny metal cups
Homemade quesedillas -Delicious and easy
Tortillas with chicken and cheese on a plate speared with a sword
The taste of brass and rich creamy chocolate milk
a hearty ‘CHEERS’

-that my drive to church is uneventful
Sudden warmth in my cold hands during group rosary before the tabernacle
Single tear – at your passion – because there was no other way (for us to be with Him) ( ‘ someone has to die, you or me’) and He loved us that much, so as to go that far to be with us! Accept His love.

-the availability of weeknight confession
–that through God’s providence in timing, I went past the accident before the officers arrived – and thus was not caught in the line of traffic and made late
– an inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a simple way to pray daily for my kids: 3 hail mary’s for faith hope and love, one for each child.
puss in boots dancing to the end credits
shadows silhouette on top of the cabinet door
the red angel lit by the archway lights
a frost flower on my kitchen window

Wed Feb 6
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Frost flower by day
a pattern of tiny droplets of water frozen on the front door glass
Love gifts – Marriage wisdom from Ann
Watching my oldest create the car of his dreams on the doodle card, complete with fast wheels and flames out the back

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God’s orchestration – plans – joing CCO for mass and the Q and A with the theologian
A parking space close by
49 min on the meter
Promise of a powerful weekend with God – an upcoming retreat entirely on evangelization!
Theological discussion
Catching up with an old school friend and her family after about 13 years (over a decade later)
Theological thoughts continuing to churn around in my brain
Watching the world go by with a theological mindset – seeing every person in a new light
People watching through God’s eyes – seeing each one and their relationship to God, seeing them as God sees them – a soul/person with hopes and dreams and wonderful talents to make the world a better place.
The surprise arrival of a friend at the food court

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baby sitting and bouncing on the step
her little baby gumming the pop bottle lid
a home win and a shootout
A whole world of fluffy flakes falling quiet outside the parkade

Thurs Feb 7
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Finding everything I was looking for for valentine’s day
– finding baby’s socks put away in his drawer (wrong drawer but still so cute)

Finally sharing my wonderful news
Your faithfulness

TY God for making farmers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE

Being part of a real-world example of the power of the HS in our lives
everything falling into place, a simple formula for holiness and walking in the spirit: Choose and ask.
delicious muffins

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1. My birthday was on the weekend. Turning 26, was not quite as controversial a birthday for me as 25 (I started to feel old last year, 1/4 of a century is a LONG time and of course, 25 is practically 30 and then you’re over the hill :P)
I will be giving the day it’s own post at some point (that’s the plan anyway) but it was one of the best birthdays ever. I left it up to God and the day before DH asked if he could play in his work softball tournament next day, and when none of his friends were free it was decided that I could play too. So we did. And it was a ton of fun, a time of community etc with DHs old coworkers and I even scored a run (finally!) Running that hard did however leave me feeling pretty sore the next day, and almost a week later I still haven’t got all the kinks worked out.

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After that I had not 1 but 2 home-cooked birthday dinners. My mom was out of town until evening so even Sunday brunch was out for her, but my borther offered to cook for me there instead. I requested the awesome chili and creme fresh they sreved at their wedding. Then on Wednesday evening my mom cooked a 4 course meal for me: leek and potato soup, spaghetti with two homemade sauces, her famous caesar salad and the piece de resistance: strawberry mousse 🙂 Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I wish I had a better photo.
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2. The routine has gone alright the week, especially given the fact that I’ve been sore all week since playing softball. The house became more of a mess over the weekend – I guess with my birthday I gave myself a bit of a pass on the housework that day, and then again because I was so sore on Sunday. All the stuff I was on top of, well, I wasn’t anymore. As a result there really wasn’t much chance to do further delcuttering, as I spent most of the week just playing catch up and trying not to get behind in anything else. I did get the play food/real life play things (doll clothes, cash register etc) all gathered up into a storage tote this week to join the trains though 🙂

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Because the social aspect of school is so important for DH and because it seems to be the only way to see another family, we are going to start going to the library on Moday mornings. I actually wrote that Monday’s school acitivty cna be social time, for kids AND mommy! I actually think it will work out really nicely and could even facilitate going to daily mass one day a week – gulp.

Yet God also led me to an even better opportunity to address DH’s concerns than the library. As I was finishing off my routine for DH to print, I was still working to incorporate exercise, especially getting out the door for a walk. I remembered how the mom of 6 says they’re all done schooling by 3pm and the kids are out the door to play and the thought magically popped into my head: Why not walk to the playground each day to meet the school bus and let my boys play with the other kids after they get off the bus? It would let my son ‘see 5 other kids at the same time.’ I was fairly sure that at least on nice days this would be a practical option as enough kids would stay behind to play and enjoy the sunshine so we tried it on wednesday and there were about 6 other boys little enough to be around my son’s age (He’s 4 and they were 5-7) that stayed to play for about half an hour.
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3. I awarded the first CAR! ! My middle kid earned his 10th star on sunday night and got his first car. My oldest has *ahem* 2 stars so far.
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Also, one night my oldest told Daddy that mummy knew all the lorax songs, so Daddy said ‘she can teach them to you’. My son replied, “Mummy’s always teaching us stuff’ 🙂

4. Faith notes

Rosary dilemma – I’ve decided to go back to the 1 person a day roation I used to have for offering things up. I’ve also found a block of time when I can get away from at least the two biggest kids and pray the rosary, alone, in my room. It’s only after we’ve read their rosary book, eaten breakfast and gotten dressed and tideid their room that I will put the tv on. And when I first do they are the most engaged in it. So 10 minutes is spent getting kids dressed and their room done and that leaves 20 minutes of free time where I can actually disappear! The first morning I just knelt on the bed and didn’t try to do ANYTHING else and it was so much more effective. I spent time feeling so close to God and Mary and I even smelled roses, while the kids sat on the couch (as opposed to getting into trouble!)

– I came across this really neat commentary on Jesus’ Baptism. It was posted as a comment on Spiritually Unequal Marriage, in response to this post: Where Did it Go?

“This brings me to something I listened to on a TV program concerning Jesus’ becoming the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Food for thought…It comes from first John the Baptist’s ministry and then to the actual baptism of Jesus. First they asked the question as to why John was not sent to the Temple to preach repentence and baptism. They said that it was because the priesthood was contaminated with sin and therefore God sent John out in the wilderness to separate himself from them and to preach Christ’s coming as prophecy predicted. Now here is the awesome part (I hope I can convey it correctly). When Jesus went to the Jordan it wasn’t to be purified from sin as we know but it was so that God Himself would anoint him as the High Priest for the people according to the Old Testament Ordination of Aaron concerning annointing the High priest (see Numbers 8). They studied the traditions of how High priests passed down the office of High priests to their sons. There was a ceremonial washing of water, then the High priest anointed his son with oil. when this was done they would say “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” thus passing on the role to the son.”

-I read this habit-making post this week and these words really stood out: “do things at the same time every day and find your self a different person”. All I could think was, “Oh My Goodness YES!!!!!!!!!!!!” It is amazing the difference implementing a simple routine is making in my life!

-But I need this: How to Cultivate the Habit of Focus . . . . . in an Age of Distraction

5. We had good school time every day this week and finally got to try out everything I’ve been trying to incorportate. Since I didn’t feel up to hauling out the bikes I decided we could just play some running games in the back yard as our ‘gym time’. Trouble is, even red light green light is almost beyond them and other than tag I couldn’t think of anything besides our jail game to get them running around. So I’m asking my readers, what are some good gym games we can play to get the kids moving? My kids are 4 and almost 3.

6. I have been working to reincorporate cheese back into my diet. I kept forgetting to have it daily but whenever it would cross my path I decided to stop hesistating and go for it, a little at a time. I’ve also bene trying ot have a single english muffin spread with cream cheese in the mronings. Well, it must be working, because on Monday night CCO ordered pizza for dinner and I had two pieces. 2 pieces of take-out cheese-covered pizza, of the knid that made me feel just awful the next day – and I hardly felt a thing! Also, while baby was squirmy with gas and kept me up for an hour in the middle of the night, he DIDN’t scream the whole time, so that is also progreess 😛 Operation Cheese-Re-integration is a success!

7. Last year my 2 year old had a Wiggle themed birthday part which he loved, so when I heard the wiggles were coming I thought I’d like to take him this year. Turns out it’s their last tour together as we know them, as three of the 4 will be moving on to other things and will be replaced. Yikes! Clearly this is the time to go!

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I bought 3 tickets, one for me and one for both of the bigger boys, as my oldest also expressed interest in seeing them. I made them a chain to count down the days… I think I might be as excited as they are!
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Aah! My quick takes are getting seriously backed up. The first is waiting on an unfinished post, and most of them relate to it, but then since most of them build on each other as well, they are all just waiting for that first post to get things moving… And then of course, since they’re so late anyway, I feel like I want to put the pictures in too, before I put them up, which makes it take even longer…

On a slightly related note, I realized I never wrote up a SINGLE quick takes this time last year, so I would love to put one or two of those up as well.

1. This week I have 3 Routine/Organizational things to share:

First off, one afternoon this week all 3 of my kids went to sleep so I finally got to tackle my kids activity/craft cupboard.

Ta daa!
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I don’t have a before photo but suffice it to say that it looked nothing like this.

Secondly, After taking with the local Mom of 6 who is sort of my homeschooling mentor, I learned a number of tips to better organize our things and our life. A big one with the routine has been mornings; my old routine had us eating breakfast about 9, but it made all the hours before hand very unstructured and a lot of time got lost as a result. She told me they have meals at 7:30, 12:30 and 5:30. I was already doing the second 2 mealtimes, so I decided to plan breakfast earlier and when I restructured the routine with this in mind, it made a world of difference! I couldn’t believe how much I was able to accomplish before 10 o’clock. 😀 Who would have thought that having a clean kitchen every night would actually help me get the laundry put away!

And lastly, this week I also started a new habit that when I keep it should solve the bulk of my routine problems on days when I’m tired. After a good weekend away I came back wanting to jump back into our routine, but was hit hard the next morning with tiredness, an surrounded by complete disorganization, as the house and especially the kitchen were in complete chaos. When I walk into my kitchen half-awake to see the sink and counters covered in dishes and no clear space to prepare breakfast, let alone begin to shuffle the dirty dishes around, I freeze, sigh defeated and unless there is something grab and go that I/we can eat out of the fridge, I walk back out of the kitchen still hungry. When I’m tired, I find it almost impossible to think through the steps involved to tackle a mess like that. I know I want to follow the routine and have to work on the self-discipline for that, but how do I handle it, when the house/kitchen is a disaster and I’m so tired that it’s completely overwhelming?

It was the kind of morning that could throw off my best laid routine if I was homeschooling. From time to time as I’ve walked along this path towards hopefully homeschooling the thought of one of these mornings will cross my mind now and then: would I be able to stay on track enough to get through the housework and lessons, or would everything just fall to pieces? Of course I could have a day like that once maybe twice, but it certainly wouldn’t work with that happening 2-3 times a month.

I knew that if I’m going to continue to pursue this plan God has for us, that I’ve got to solve this problem. And the only solution to this kind of problem, is to never have it in the first place! Because on a tired day, I need my kitchen to be clean and ready to go for breakfast, not piled up with dishes till there’s no counter space!

The solution then is ALWAYS do it the night before, because I can’t predict when I will be tired! So even after a tired day, I found the energy that evening to clear all the counters, run the dishwasher, plan my meals and set out a few breakfast things ready for morning. Who is this new me?!

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[This kitchen counter is one of the areas I have yet to declutter :P]

2. I’m also learning more about what stops me from keeping my heart open to love God and others. Looking back to even the day before I can see so many opportunities, so many things I should have done, if I was truly following God’s lead. There are so many little moments, when the kids or DH have asked something of me, and I, focused on something else have plainly said ‘no’. The key to keeping my heart open to my loved ones and to God is to not reject them in these little things, but to say yes, even when it’s not what I want.

Lord, I pray for the grace to keep my heart open even when it hurts, so I can stay in the Spirit, ready to follow where Your every lead.

-Lately I’ve been finding it harder and harder to fit in my rosary each morning. I’ve already been splitting the decades up as I have a free moment, but lately it seems the kids would never leave me alone long enough to even get through the opening and one decade! I have been realizing that of course, one decade prayed from the heart is far better than five prayed while very distracted, but I get something different from each of the mysteries, so it seems a shame to only ever get to one or two of them.

And it’s gotten even harder because now I’m offering it for 4 people instead of just 2 – I used to use the first 5 decades to focus on the mystery and then the other 5 to offer prayers for others but now the decades are all taken, leaving me inclined to try to focus on the mystery, the virtue AND the person all at the same time. I know it’s common to offer each decade for a different person, but again, the mysteries and virtues are all different, I don’t want to exclude anyone from any of them. Hmm, MAYBE I could assign a decade to each person based on the virtue they need MOST???

Also – I seem to be able to get in at least 1 decade every time I nurse Noah if I go off by myself with him, so maybe I’ll try to do that more often.

-The other thing that has bothering me lately is trying to fit in the special prayers for my husband, and anyone else I offer them for. I always feel I need to do the rosary first and then when I haven’t finished that I feel I should do the rest before trying the other prayers. But I realized that was just an old construct, and there is nothing that prevents me from praying those prayers while working in the kitchen, as they require a little less focus that the rosary, so I’m going to adjust the routine accordingly 🙂

-Something to try and remember: Whatever DH does, just love on him, and let God deal with him.

3. This past weekend I had a second weekend of walking in God’s will, I tried to control as little as possible trusting that whatever happened was God’s will and abandoning myself to it – only I ended up doing it for God, but not WITH God. I guess I was so focused on not controlling anything that most of the time I forgot about the relationship, I forgot about Him. 😦 I guess I also forgot to slow down and appreciate the moment.

However, the time was definitely fruitful. I know God was close, I just didn’t feel His presence much, but I sure saw Him working. My only goal for the weekend was to find an opportunity to share something that God had put on my heart. Because my top focus was on others, and I was waiting so much on God and His timing, I spent a lot of time with my in-laws, and especially making a point to help out my MIL whenever I could. It certainly made for a very peaceful and happy weekend.

It was so nice going down to the country. We’d already spent a 2 nights with DH’ parents, so Dh and I let the kids make the call on whether we were going to go join them there since DH was undecided and I was trying not to control things. I am sure that it was the right choice and God definitely blessed our time there: we got to go for a family trip in a family friend’s boat, we had a great conversation sitting out around the fire, and I finally did get the opportunity to share what God had put on my heart.

Spending the weekend with the in-laws was nice for all of us, the kids loved it, I loved that we got past all the other pleasantries etc, and into some serious discussion, mostly surrounding homeschooling. We were all sitting around the fire when DH brought it up. Turns out they already knew. But even more than that, DMIL is fine with it!!!! She actually understands why I wouldn’t want the kids in public school! DH still seems pretty set in his ways, but her support can only help God’s cause!

4. Recent discussions have made it clear that DH’s biggest objection to the homeschooling is not the faith-based content but the socialization of the kids. He says he wants them to be part of society and when you’re in grade school, society happens at grade school. He also said the nice thing about school is they can see 5+ friends every day and where else could they get that?

As a result, I’m not sure if it would be a good idea or if there really is any point to getting the pre-kindergarten curriculum to run with the kids this year anymore. It seems like I wouldn’t really be proving anything new to him. As a result it seems unwise to go ahead and spend the money on something he doesn’t agree on, if it won’t make much difference anyway. It may be that it would be better to continue with my little homespun ‘curriculum’ and school day schedule, so that when the time comes I can just change up the work that we do? It will let the kids get used to having a routine, which I’m learning is very important for them. I’m still trying to discern this one, because I know I would benefit from working with an actual curriculum, but it probably isn’t really necessary.

5. Great news relating to my kids and media influences: the CARS cars have now become the auto-cars- the characters from the Auto-B-Good show that emphasizes Christian values and biblical character and condemns anger and violence etc. 🙂 It all started this week because professor Z’s monocle broke off, and I heard my son call him ‘professor’.

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Not a bad resemblance eh?
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I was only too happy to help them choose the right car for each of the other characters in the show.

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Landslide
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Maria’s Press Conference
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6. I’m learning more about what a difference changing just the focal point can make for a picture. Take these two photos, I checked the settings and the only thing that is different is the focus point, but the 2nd one looks so much better.

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I find this especially interesting, because the focus point in the better one is the fence, and the people in the photo are actually out of focus. I always try to make sure the people in my photos are in focus and it usually bothers me if they aren’t. Recently though, I am realizing that photos can look very good even if the main subject is out of focus. I guess I need to play with this a bit more when I’m taking photos. It seems that having people out of focus can be good – as long as they are further away and not too close.

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In this photo I was aiming at the Lego, but I found I liked the picture better when the focus was on the kids heads. I found I was able to capture the abundance of Lego just as well when it was a little out of focus. I guess the goal is not to always have the main subject in focus, but if it is going to be out of focus, especially if it’s a person, then it will only look right if the person is further away. I find that my photos of people who are out of focus because they are too close usually look pretty sloppy.

-On a related note I have to remember that every time I back up to take the same photo a bit further away, even if I’m not changing the zoom, that I still need to adjust the shutter a little higher to make up the difference in the lighting.

7. My birthday is on Saturday! It’s kind of snuck up on me this year, I knew it was coming, but it was always so much closer than I thought, every time I thought about it. The thing is, I really don’t even know what I want this year. Last year it was easy; I really wanted a shelf under my kitchen window. This was low on DH’s list of priorities and I knew I’d be waiting a long time otherwise, so I asked for that for my birthday. And I love it.

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But the only other semi-major project on my honey-do list was the back yard steps, and DH and DFIL put them in back in the spring 🙂 So I’m at a bit of a loss! There is a part of me that wants a new memory card, as this one is over full and I keep having to go through and clear recent photos to make space for a few more – but another part of me doesn’t, because it feels like even one more card would be too many to keep track of, to keep the photos in order and be able to find the hard copies of the particular photos I was working on etc.

There is also a part of me that wants a long stretch of time uninterrupted to work on blog posts or photos, especially the ones from my brother’s wedding because it would free up a lot of space – but I don’t want to spend that much of the day away from my family either!

I’ve asked God to let me know what He wants me to have, but short of asking for something homeschool related, I’ve got nothing!

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jul 27

1. Routine: I can’t seem to find something that works for us… There are days when I get up early and can plan a good breakfast etc, I can devote all kinds of time to the kids, but then later when I try to do anything else I can’t; I’m peppered with questions and requests, I give them a toy they want and they want another 5 minutes late etc.. . I know praying and especially the rosary are important, and the earlier in the day the better, but I’m having a hard time finding a time when they will leave me alone enough. And I can’t involve them yet because they don’t have the attention span. I don’t know what works well…. not really – save having things planned ahead, but when I try to plan, bam kids want me then too.

A good plan would be chores and school activities in the morning, and walk and rest in afternoon. Then have supper ready, and daddy take the kids would guarantee some of that quiet down time i crave….
This will only work once the temperatures go back down a bit, right now I find it’s too hot to be out in the sun past about 10 or 11 o’clock.

A key to success, might be to involve the kids in everything I’m doing etc.. chores, my blog, my photos? – Well, I tried it. I liked the idea of living holistically, invovling my kids in what is important to me, and then vice versa. But even my 4 year old got bored of looking through pictures pretty quickly 😦

2. No. The key to success, I think – is to purposefully stay off the computer as much as possible, ideally all daytime hours, but at least all morning and have 40 min or so very productive, after DH is home and I’ve done a bit of cleaning. THEN I can engage the kids more and fill their needs? THEN I can have supper already cooking when DH gets home.

Something else that might help, if I need them to leave me alone to read or write, would be to give them puzzles. Puzzles really seem to hold their attention and keep them occupied.

3. On Saturday night God turned my world upside down when He showed me His plans for the future.

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DH and I went to a homeschool seminar at our local church. As with the Theology of the Body session in the fall, this was something I wanted him to hear from somebody else and not just from me. The idea had cropped up and intrigued me in the past, but I figured given my organization and procrastination difficulties that I was not cut out for it, and I would be happy to submit to my husband and send our kids to public school, if that was what God wanted. But that night God turned my world upside down when he showed He had other ideas.

The couple that was giving the talk began explaining what they do etc and within minutes I was already considering trying out a kindergarten program with the kids this year as a first step. It was just like with Montreal, by the end of their talk God had completely changed my heart. So much of what they said resonated with me. They explained the how homeschooling helped them to be more organized, and they specifically mentioned that it’s important to declutter your home. Their reasons for homeschooling were the same as mine but there were even other benefits I hadn’t considered as well. The also explained how homeschooling was just an extension of what they already did each day, and suddenly I could see how easily it could fit into our life too.

God has been calling me to be obedient. He’s been calling me to true biblical submission as a wife. That means: deferring the authority etc for final decision making to my husband, even though he doesn’t share my faith, EXCEPT in cases where it would go against God’s law etc. THIS is not a morality issue and IN LIGHT OF SUBMISSION I was perfectly happy to let the kids go to public school, if that was what God wanted from me – BUT God has made it completely clear that this is not an area of compromise.

Overall DH was less than thrilled, but that said, the decluttering thing was not lost on him. I was not at all surprised when he brought up that point that evening. I already knew this was going to be the deciding factor: if He had to submit to this homeschooling stuff then I definitely had to take seriously his wish for a less cluttered home. And I am, we’re already talking about ways we can start to tackle this problem. The promise of a tidier home is the way to make this idea appeal to him. And quite frankly, I’m sick of living in such clutter, I find it makes it so hard to get anything done.

4. Faith Notes

-3 things to remember: slow down, take time to give thanks and keep your heart open to God and others.

-Let suffering make your valleys into sheltered places to light a match and see the face of God…. –Ann Voskamp – A Holy Experience

-Thank you for giving me a cold while on vacation, when I have extra hands – it’s better than if I was stuck at home with the kids!

-Actually, this cold, this suffering, could be birthing the new graces needed to make this big change : live simple, walk in spirit, declutter, change my focus and then educate my children!

5. On Saturday afternoon my best friend brought the baby out to my mom’s house so she could meet her. It was an interesting girl’s afternoon, as my 7 month old was the only male present, and we discussed labor stories, mostly hers. We also took a couple pictures no the deck to finish the photo story and I had DH bring the kids at the end, so they could meet the new baby too.

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6. It seems God is quite involved in the July photo project. I’ve found over and over that if I wait and follow God’s lead on the project, each day He helps me to get the perfect photograph. When I am patient and just wait on His timing He gives me the perfect inspiration, the 20 or 30 minute time-slot I need, He lines up all the perfect circumstances and even sometimes provides the perfect subjects as well.
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Also as I’ve been doing this project, I’m finding I have to take less and less pictures to get my shot each day. The photo for EYES was a major exception, but only because I had never taken a direct self-portrait with my new cameras, ever. I don’t know why, it is so much simpler than trying to take a decent photo in the mirror… Point and shoots were always too close but SLRs give anyone the necessary distance to get in both head and shoulders easily, just by holding the camera out in front of them.
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7. On Monday night we made it down to see the tall ships. It was just a nice night out with the family, but we ended up sitting for about an hour waiting for the fireworks, so I had the opportunity to play with some nighttime shots. We all enjoyed looking at the boats, the fireworks were pretty spectacular and I have the cutest photo of my little guy, dressed of course in a nautical outfit for the occasion 🙂

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July 22

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Ahhhh! My world feels turned upside-down!

On Saturday night DH and I went to a homeschool seminar at our local church. As with the Theology of the Body session in the fall, this was something I wanted him to hear from somebody else and not just from me. The idea had cropped up and intrigued me in the past, but I figured given my organization and procrastination difficulties that I was not cut out for it, and I would be happy to submit to my husband and send our kids to public school, if that was what God wanted. All the same, I still felt open to the possibility and perhaps even a little bit drawn to this particular event.

When we got there it was like coming home. I didn’t know everyone but there were some familiar faces and it truly felt like a family.

The couple that was giving the talk began explaining what they do etc and within minutes I was already considering trying out a kindergarten program with the kids this year as a first step. It was just like with Montreal, by the end of their talk God had completely changed my heart.

It was all very timely for me. We had just had an encounter with some 9 year old kids at the playground and it scared me a bit what these 9 year old kids were capable of. You can think of the evil that is in the world and it was so hard to see that kind of behaviour in kids so young! They were only 9! Children are growing up far too fast these days and childhood innocence is just slipping away. It just further strengthened the fact that I don’t want my kids to be around that, period.

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This quote in particular stood out to me at the talk: ‘a lot of people don’t feel they have the energy to homeschool, but do you have the energy to undo everything your kids learn that you don’t want them to, at the end of each day?’ I don’t want my kids to live a completely sheltered life, but at the same time, I’ve seen the change even a little media influence can cause. My kids are 4 and 2 and ever since watching CARS 2 and the most mild of spider man, they now like to kaboom their toys and each other, and there’s nothing I can do about it, try as I might, I can’t get them to un-learn that behaviour. So, where I can I would like to try to limit those negative influences (and fill them up with wholesome stuff like building, racing, adventures, good heroes and role models etc. )

You won’t always see results on the report card, but they kids are benefiting. It certainly can’t hurt them to be as removed as possible from the problem behaviours. “After 11 years of schooling I’ve never had to suspend a single kid! We don’t have the problems with our kids that our parents had with us etc” – Homeschooling Parent. In fact, when they asked their oldest son if he wanted to go to public school for grade 12 he said ‘no, I see enough of the world already at work… I know I don’t want to be around that.’

So much of what they said resonated with me. Their reasons for homeschooling were the same as mine but there were even other benefits I hadn’t considered.

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Schooling at home allows you to keep siblings together, instead of them spending the majority of their day apart. My two oldest are so close and I would hate for them to lose that bond by being seperated for the majority of the day. Of course, it also lets me be continually involved in their lives, instead of only seeing them in the evenings as well. Already I was mourning the loss of access to my childrens’ world. DH’s coworker told him one day ‘ just wait until your child goes off to school. All of a sudden they become their own little person, with their own interests and their own friends and there own places to go etc..’ In other words, once they go to school as a parent you are no longer included in their plans etc. I know children need greater and greater independence as they grow but to have that firm a divide, so young? so soon?? Once that shift comes, I know that the place I have in their world can never be recovered, it can never be the same as it was before. Right now when he sees his friends, Mummy also sees his friend and his friend’s Mom. It is a time for adult socialization as well. Once a child goes to school, it will become a chat at the door and then drop him off at his friends house-and leave. I’m not ready to lose out on his world like that, not yet.

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Some More pros:

– It takes less time than regular school -where: lunch hour, breaks between classes, the commute itself all add to the length of the school day.

– As a result you can get a little behind, go on field trips and even take a day off to go to the beach etc. And, you can make sure that if your child isn’t at their best for whatever reason, they can take a test another day, without worrying about doctors notes etc.

– Learning is so natural. If a child is struggling with something, you can just wait 2 months and then go back to it, and usually will work itself out.

– Most kids love it – the thought of my kids being eager to learn excites me. Lots of kids in public school don’t want to be there, especially as they get older, and I know there were days at private school where I felt that way too, but when you are your kids teacher, you can focus more on the things they’re interested in and make learning fun for them.

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There is of course, the big question of socialization. It depends of course, on what the term means to you. If it means children have the ability to interact with others in society in a healthy way, then there is no reason they can’t learn this at home. If we are teaching our children how to live and interact in the real world, then who should they learn this from, other kids who make all the same mistakes, or adults and/or older siblings who are in the real world on a daily basis? And of course, they still need to interact with children their own age, which is where extra curricular things come in; playing with the neighbourhood kids, sports and other kids group activities.

My biggest reason for not homeschooling was the thought that I couldn’t do it. I’m so disorganized and I tend to procrastinate and I just didn’t feel I could or should even attempt to handle that responsibility. But some of the other parents who homeschool mentioned how they had similar organizational issues etc, and that homeschooling actually helped with them. They lamented how during the summer they miss the structure that schooling provides. In the summer it’s harder, because they find they lose the sense of routine and focus they have during the school year. I just thought to myself, ‘routine and focus, I need to get me some of that!’

They also explained how homeschooling was just an extension of what they already did each day, and suddenly I could see it would be the same for me. I realized with sudden clarity, that I do this already. I’ve already taken the initiative and purposefully worked to teach my kids colors, letters and numbers, and recently to even help my oldest read a few words now and then. I just slipped into the role naturally, and somehow I intuitively knew what to do and what to say to help my children learn.

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The speakers said that to school a 5 yr old would take less than 2 hrs a day. Of course it’s not like that when they’re older, but you work up to it. And I’ve always kind of liked marking… really, I COULD do this! (Also for the record, I’m feeling committed to this idea up till about grade 6, and then we might consider letting them make their own decision, if my children want to go to public school. Junior High and High School are scary prospects too, but I would feel so much better about them knowing that my chldren had that firm faith and character foundation first. )

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To finish off their talk, they gave us a list of their top 10 Homeschooling Tips:

-1. PRAY: saints, guardian angels, patrons etc
-2. Discipline – hardest to discipline will be the hardest to school – oldest
-3. Declutter your home
-4. Organize everything else
-5. Establish a gentle routine – simple meals, simplify prayer life etc
-6. Adjust your expectations
-7. Take it one year at a time
-8. Take time off to enjoy life – skip a day, go outside etc
-9. Concentrate on etc teachable moments
-10. Trust your curriculum, most problems re just small learning hiccups and if you wait a few months they go away…

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Half way though their talk or so, I was convinced. But back home, it was hard. To DH it was just information, a passive thing that we went to, but he could tell from how I was talking that my mind was made up and he was not happy about it.

Now, especially in my marriage God has been telling me that I need to be obedient; He’s been calling me to true biblical submission, as a wife. That means deferring the authority etc for final decision making to DH, even though he doesn’t share my faith, EXCEPT in cases where it would go against my faith – God’s law etc. THIS (homeschooling) is not morality issue, AND IN LIGHT OF SUBMISSION in my heart I was perfectly happy to let the kids go to public school, if that was what God wanted from me – BUT God has made it completely clear that when it comes to school this is what He wants and our boys education is not an area of compromise.

It should come as no surprise that I want to use a faith-based curriculum, so as to give them a firm foundation in the faith. This is especially important to me because we live in a spiritually divided home. DH of course does not want a Catholic, or even a faith based curriculum… He asked me to teach a non-faith one if it’s so important to homeschool, (though really he just wants our kids to go to public school like he did.) However, I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking God didn’t create the world etc, so why would I purposefully teach them such a thing? In a way what he’s asking would be 2x the work; I want to raise them in a strong faith anyway, so it would be great to impart the faith while teaching them core subjects as well.

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And then, when I think about teaching with a faith based curriculum, I would be right there learning and growing with them. THIS future really excites me; the chance to go through a solid faith-based education, MYSELF! There is so much that I don’t know and we could be discovering together!

Overall DH is less than thrilled, but that said, the decluttering thing was not lost on him. I was not at all surprised when he mentioned it to me that evening, he’s been expressing a desire for less clutter for a while now. And there it was on the list, more with the organization: they specifically mentioned that it’s important to declutter your home. I already knew this was going to be the deciding thing: if He had to submit to this homeschooling stuff then I definitely had to take seriously his wish for a less cluttered home. And I am; we’re already talking about ways we can start to tackle the clutter. I knew this was the best route with him, focus on the decluttering, that is the best way to make this idea appeal to him. And quite frankly, I’m tired of living in such clutter, it makes it so much harder to get anything done.

And the 1st tip after decluttering? Organize the rest. That’s the other challenge, the bulk of the clutter in our home is things that just never found their proper place yet. When you move it takes a while ans sometimes several tries to find a home for everything and so many things still don’t have one, so they clutter up my counters and beyond. I long for a less cluttered home that STAYS that way, because EVERYTHING has a place to get put away in. That is the bigger problem I have with organization, with a secondary being getting myself to put things back in their place. But, with the things that have a place, I am getting better at putting them away.

So my goals over the next few months then are to declutter the house and then to getting a little more organized; both my home and my life (schedule etc.).

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I feel a real sense of relief just knowing clearly what God wants, and I have such peace about this path – just not in my marriage. Ah well, I guess I expected that. It did cause division, and oddly enough all the dust left me alone at church the next day but it actually didn’t bother me. And if that next morning I had any lingering doubts about what God had revealed, my time in Mass that day completely melted them away: The Homily was all about sheep needing good shepherds – God might as well have just whacked me over the head with a lightning bolt! ‘The shepherd chooses to move the sheep to a higher pasture – what do the sheep think? ? Bahh!!!! But it’s what we need.’ ‘Invest in the important things’. – ‘Do the work…’ ‘Teach’, ‘shepherd’, ‘use your gifts’, ‘to benefit’, oh, so many words were just jumping out at me; they were all for me that day.

I had thought that homeschooling was not my calling but then, just like with Montreal, God wooshed in and changed my heart. Of course, I was open to His guidence. This is BY FAR the biggest calling from God. Some people are called to witness by mixing with the world, and some are called to witness by standing out. God wans me/us to stand out.

It’s a cross alright. A sacrifice, of my time and also an area of tension in our marriage. A cross to bear, to follow the Lord. DH doesn’t want this, he really doesn’t, but God has made it clear that this is not an area of compromise.

I will serve. I will die Lord (to my desires) It is also a big sacrifice of ‘my time’. Still, as they grow there will be more and more time for me… (you’d think I could learn to embrace my time with them while I still have it!!!)

After the tension it’s caused I found myself worrying and stressing about it again but God gently reminded me, He is in control, and I just have to trust Him and take it slow, focus on the decluttering and then a kindergarten program, and let Him take care of the rest.

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God has put so clearly on my heart, that I need to do this. (not just for them but for me as well) I NEED structure and organization and focus and routine! I’ve been focused too little on my kids; they should be my top priority, but most days they just haven’t been. This NEEDS to change. I’ve known it for a while and same with the clutter and now this calling might just be the catalyst I need to really start making these changes! (for example: looking at my 6th purse: maybe in light of homeschooling and this new future God has for me, I don’t really NEED this… ) This, teaching my children, this is what I need and God knows it. It’s what they need to truly blossom and what I need to truly thrive in my vocation of motherhood.

Some articles on homeschooling:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2009/03/pros-and-cons-to-homeschooling-why-we/
http://www.familyministries.com/HS_Crisis.htm
http://www.raisingfive.com/2007/06/shelter-is-not-place.html

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