Category Archives: Family

Love & Pride Don’t Mix

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. – 1 Cor. 13: 4-10

 

When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. – Prov. 11:2

By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom. – Prov. 13:10

Slowing Down to Speed Up

“I don’t want my children’s education to be so fast-paced and so abstract that there is not time to meditate on the fantastical. I do not want them to treat glorious facts as mundane.”
–Leigh Bortins, The Question

I was just meditating today on the concept of slowing down to speed up, and then I got this quote in a Classical Conversations e-mail, validating my thoughts. The slowing down/speeding up concept is that if you stop and think about what is really important to you and just focus on that one thing… or maybe one or two simple goals related to that thing, you’ll soon end up leaps and bounds ahead of where you’d be if you had a checklist of 10-50 things you’re trying to accomplish all at once. It’s so easy to get distracted and over-schedule these days, yet this “busy-ness” is getting us nowhere.

To share a personal example, last year all I really wanted to focus on was home schooling my children well. I just wanted to be a good mom, and a good teacher, and in a good mood, more often than not. Pretty simple conceptually, although all moms know that this is far easier said than done for nearly all of us. As I focused on just this one main goal–whereas I normally have a minimum of 6-7 challenging goals going simultaneously–I started to feel so light and unencumbered. I actually had time to think, and read for pleasure (!), and just sit and enjoy my kids. I was so unaccustomed to these luxuries that I kept feeling guilty or lost at first. I had a sneaking suspicion that I was forgetting something and that my bubble would be burst at any moment. But instead, what happened was that eventually other goals that I had not previously been able to accomplish when I tackled them more directly and distractedly, began to come to fruition as well. Consequently, not only are my kids and I now enjoying home schooling immensely, I am also in my best physical shape in more than a decade, and I have my own business that is actually bringing in money! And those are just two of the bonus goals–there are several other “lesser” goals that would never even have made my top ten list in the past that I am also making progress on.  WOO. HOO.

Slowing down is such an important thing to do. As much as we like to identify ourselves by our occupations or bodies or reputations, we are in fact vibrant, creative spirits that long for beauty and truth and love. In a world that constantly tries to suck the meaning out of everything, we are yearning to make our lives meaningful. For most of us, I’m willing to bet that our dreams are pretty much just sitting there beside us, waiting for us to turn and pick them up, but we’re just flying by, too oblivious to notice. If you think things are moving too fast, or you’re frustrated that you haven’t been able to accomplish things despite putting them on your “list” for years, try slowing down for awhile. Breathe, and assess your values and priorities. And then if you’re really feeling courageous, try organizing your life to actually support those top priorities, at the expense of lesser ones if necessary. I can almost guarantee it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Classical Conversations Practicum & Foundations Tutor Training

It’s been a while since I’ve written about home schooling, so I thought I’d give an update on the latest. We’re just winding down to our summer schedule, which includes reading more great books at our leisure, practicing Spanish conversation, and lots of time in nature. We also just attended a Classical Conversations Practicum, which is a fabulous three-day, free training for parents (kids’ camps available at a very reasonable price) on classical education as well as the CC theme for the year. This year’s theme is rhetoric. I love these events because they are so encouraging and thought provoking, and I meet the most wonderful people. I can’t resist giving a little plug here, so if you’re interested in attending one near you, check out this link for more details, times, and dates: http://parentpracticum.com.

For CC tutors and directors, there are afternoon trainings during the Practicum for Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge. I attended the Foundations training at this Practicum, and I was really impressed. The trainer had brought a posse of extremely talented, close knit tutors from her community and incorporated lots of demonstrations of ways to present the content in the classroom. Even with a year of tutoring already under my belt, I learned so much from them! It was inspiring to see what good friends these tutors have become. They’re obviously helping to elevate one another to the highest standards of excellence while keeping it lots of fun. I hope to foster this same kind of environment as I direct my own community this year.

Another great thing about the Foundations tutor training was that issues like discipline and classroom management were brought to the forefront and plenty of ideas shared from experienced tutors. I hadn’t had any experience leading a classroom when I started tutoring, and I was primarily focused on creativity in presenting the content rather than setting classroom expectations and having a plan of action for disciplinary issues. I thought that since parents are usually in the classroom with their children, I could leave that entirely up to them, but I’ve since realized that every classroom needs clear expectations and some form of discipline in order to run smoothly. I later found lots of great classroom management ideas on Pinterest, but I wish I would have used them from day one. If you are going to be a CC tutor in the coming year, be sure to spend some time thinking about your strategy for maintaining order. The kids quickly become good friends and are excited to see each other every week, so it’s normal for them to be energetic and chatty when they come together. It’s important to keep things fun, but also to emphasize the importance of respect for others, respect for the property, following instructions, etc. for the benefit of everyone participating.

Review games was another topic we spent a good deal of time on, including more great demonstrations. This was an area I hadn’t anticipated spending so much prep time on as a tutor. Every week, I’d agonize over finding the perfect review game, and I felt like I had to come up with a new one every week (at least for the first half of our year). There was a lot of trial and error. Again, I found tons of stuff on Pinterest, but it was hard to gauge what would work with my kids until I actually tried it. I had kids who were very competitive, and kids who were not at all. I had a couple kids who rarely wanted to play any game, no matter what it was. I was tempted to take it personally when a game didn’t work out. At the training I found out that most of the tutors struggled with these very same issues. It would have been great to hear this last year just so I’d know I wasn’t alone or doing something wrong. Turns out I really only needed 4-5 good games for my class and there was one they requested almost every week. I had a fantastic first year as a tutor and I LOVED my class dearly — these are just little things I wish I’d anticipated to make the year even more amazing. I have no complaints — I just mention these things here to help others who may be preparing to tutor for the first time.

Our new community is growing nicely and I’m excited to see who the Lord brings to join us over the year. We have more Info Meetings to hold over the coming months, and it seems that more and more people are hearing about CC all the time. We had 70,000+ students nationwide last year! It’s really exciting to be part of this dynamic community, which is stretching my whole family on so many levels. I look forward to reporting more as our journey continues to unfold.

 

 

Fortified (I’m Turning 40 Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is the much-anticipated big day… the day I happily wave good-bye to my thirties (not that it was a bad decade, by any means) and turn to greet a fresh new decade ripe with possibilities and full of the promise of great ongoing progress. I guess we all love fresh starts, and although we can theoretically have one any day we choose, it always helps to have the momentum or pomp and circumstance of an appropriate event like a milestone birthday to take full advantage of the opportunity.

So, I keep getting asked what I am going to do to celebrate. In fact, I began celebrating at the beginning of the year and will continue to do so for as long as possible…hopefully forever. My gift to myself for this year and this decade, at least, is unprecedented health and balance. For one thing, I decided to get back into athletic shape, similar to when I was in high school, playing sports year-round and setting school and local records left and right. I want exercise and athleticism to again be part of my daily regimen, and even identity. I love the discipline and the connection with my body, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with working out regularly. So, as I’ve blogged about before, I signed up for a Spartan Race and am enjoying the training immensely.

I’ve also been pampering myself a lot more. I’ve never been much of a girly-girl, so for me one of the ultimate luxuries is making time to read, for pleasure and for my own education. Sitting down with a cup of organic decaf coffee and a great book for even half an hour is the equivalent of a spa day or a week’s vacation at this point in my life. On a similar note, writing just for the sake of writing is another guilty pleasure of mine, which is why I began this new blog earlier this year. In fact, at this very moment, I should be cajoling my children to do their math work (we home school), but since they’re playing happily together outside and the baby is napping, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to flex my fingers and reflect on how I’m feeling. Math can wait, especially on a beautiful day like today.

I like to keep things simple and natural, and every so often I have to remind myself to shed the unnecessary and get back to the basics. I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, somewhat as if I’ve been rediscovering what I’ve always known and loved about myself. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve been given. Are there things I want that I can’t have right now? Things I regret? Sure, a few. But overall I am in a really great place, and it feels very solid and secure. I certainly didn’t get to this place by myself, but I’ve worked hard to get here nonetheless, and there are things I’ve learned along the way that can’t ever be taken away from me now. In short, I have so much more than a birthday to celebrate, so it’s hard for me to plan a day, or a week, or a party that could possibly capture who I am and how I’m feeling this year (especially on my budget – ha!). Instead, I will do my best to celebrate my Life, and all it includes, to the fullest, each and every day. Cheers!

Loving My Strong-Willed Children

Setting Limits bookI’ve been reading several parenting books lately and wishing I had accessed the wisdom in them long ago. The one pictured here, “Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child” was really great. When I picked it up, I was just thinking of my daughter, who is very stubborn but also has so many wonderful qualities. I wasn’t having any particularly difficult challenges with her, I just wanted to be prepared should any arise. As I read this book, however, I realized that my four-year-old is also a strong-willed child, and that was why I WAS having so many challenges with him. I am also pretty sure my youngest will be just as intense. Yay.

What I love about this book, though, is the way it talks about the children, describing them as “aggressive researchers” and explaining that they are just wired to learn the hard way most of the time, and that they need to collect a lot of concrete data/evidence in order to know what their boundaries are. I felt so much relief and compassion as I read, because I realized a) that there are LOTS of kids like this out there, b) the parents didn’t do anything wrong to cause the kids to develop these intense personalities, and c) they’re not little anarchists, but rather just determined little scientists trying to figure out how things work in their world.

I got a lot of tools to implement in this book, and I’ve already started using them regularly (and making mistakes with them, too). I realize how inconsistent and vague I’ve been with my discipline and instructions over the years, and am trying to be much more focused going forward. Even with the mistakes, I’ve already had a significant breakthrough in my relationship with my daughter, which I believe was set in motion by this book.

This all started with a goal of yelling less at the beginning of this year… who knew there was so much more to it than just that. Yelling was a symptom of much deeper and more complex issues lying beneath the surface. Although I wish I’d seen them sooner, it feels great to be dealing with these issues so productively now. Better late than never. Yet another lesson in agile mothering!

Two Years as a SAHM

Today is a day of extra celebration for me. Two years ago on this day I left my career to fully pursue my calling. It was more than a leap of faith… I playfully nicknamed it my skydive of faith, and that year became my “Year of Living Fearlessly.” I also decided to home school my older two kids (then 7 and 5) that year and became pregnant with our fourth child.

I am normally a very responsible, level-headed kind of girl who enjoys stability and security, but I also have my moments of insane courage, and I haven’t regretted a single one. I would never advise anyone to make the same decisions I made. I would only advise you to follow your gut, your heart, your truth… whatever you want to call it… that thing that you know deep down that you need to do to stay alive in every sense of the word, that is birthed in love. Once you figure out what it is, just go for it! For me, it was staying home with my kids and home schooling them, but that was only the beginning.

Every path has its twists and turns and nasty bumps, but the struggles that you choose are much easier to go through than the struggles that just happen to you when you’re stagnant or going in a direction you got pushed or trapped into. I used to think I was a control freak, but it turns out I just wanted to be assured that someone far more capable than me was in control and that there was a plan that I would be happy with. Once I was convinced of that, I shifted my perspective from one of “taking control” of my life to one of surrendering to my best possible life, which equals far less anxiety and stress, and A LOT more gratitude.

 

Shout Out to the Orange Rhino

I’m a goal setter. The cool thing about setting goals is that once you identify those things you want to accomplish, a host of helpful resources start popping up wherever you look. That’s what happened when I set a goal at the beginning of 2014 to yell at my children less. I love my kiddos dearly, but I have a habit of yelling when I’m tired or frustrated (which is a lot)–short, intense outbursts to let off steam and then I am fine–but I worry that my kids are not and that I’m teaching them poor communication skills and poor anger management. Once I realized and owned up to my problem, I set my goal, and then picked up one of those free local parenting guides with all the cutesy classes and coupons. Lo and behold, to my surprise, there was an article about the Orange Rhino and her journey toward yelling less and loving more. “What??” I thought. “You mean I’m not the only mom who struggles with this issue? There are actually support groups for the many, many parents who have recognized their need for help with their anger and yelling??”

I immediately found Miss OR on Facebook and “liked” her page. Then I found out about her 30-day Challenge for yelling less and signed up. To be honest, I sped-read through the daily e-mails because I was simultaneously starting a new Spartan workout regimen to meet another of my goals and didn’t feel I could handle too many challenges at once. I only practiced a few of her suggestions on the days assigned (sorry if you’re reading this, OR), and I yelled as much as usual during those 30 days. However, I STILL benefited greatly from her challenge, believe it or not. Just knowing that I am not alone in yelling too much at my kids and feeling guilty has alleviated much of my stress and guilt. For some reason, hardly anyone talks about this issue, even though it is apparently rampant among parents. The OR page is approaching 50,000 likes, and I have since checked out other parenting resources that have told me that EVERY parent deals with anger and lashes out at times.

I have since incorporated more of the tools Orange Rhino discussed in her e-mails, along with some others from other parenting books, and have noticed a definite shift in my attitude and approach to parenting. I am yelling a lot less, and loving even more. I still have a ways to go, and I know that this is an ongoing journey–for me and for every parent on the planet. I just wanted to take a moment to thank the Orange Rhino and others like her who are willing to admit their struggles, and who have the courage and dedication to overcome them and teach others to do the same.