Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Let them be kids

These past two years have not at all looked like what I had envisioned when I quit my job to stay at home with my children.  Growing up in public schools and being a public school teacher for five years, I, like most other parents, imagined spending our days together learning and crafting and learning some more.  I thought I needed a plan for teaching Izzy how to read and add and subtract at the age of 4.  I thought I needed to spend time teaching Addy, at the age of 2, her letters and numbers and how to count - you know, the important stuff :)

But God knows best, as long as we listen to His still, small voice.  These past two years I have had to babysit in order to supplement our income.  And, well, having an extra two or three kids that are not my own at our house each day changes things.  I have not been able to do what I had originally set out to do.  It just wasn't feasible.  The other kids were younger, not interested in learning and quite frankly, neither were my own kids.  They just wanted to play.  They just wanted to be kids.

They spent a chunk of the afternoon in the backyard pretending that there was a storm and a tornado coming.

It took me awhile, but I finally let go of trying too hard.  I finally let go of what I thought others would think because I wasn't "teaching" my children.  (Even though I really am teaching my children; I'm just not focusing on all the academic stuff.)

They love their sandbox and have been pretending to be sand castle salesgirls.

I finally realized that children need to be children.  They need time to grow and mature and get ready for all that formal academic stuff.  I finally realized...what's the rush anyway?  Why do we insist that our 3 year olds be able to count to 100 and know all their letter sounds?  If they don't learn those things until they are 6, do we consider them behind?  What's the big deal?  Do we not have faith that our kids will learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it?

C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity wrote:
"Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.  That is why children's games are so important.  They are always pretending to be grown-ups - playing soldiers, playing shop.  But all the time, they are hardening their mucles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest." (Book 4, Chapter 7)
It's so important to give our children time to be children - to play, pretend, build sandcastles, climb trees, and all that other stuff kids do.

They were pretending to be the mom (Addy) and grandma (Izzy) and that tree with the big hole in it was their house.

Another great quote, this time from educator Charlotte Mason who understood the value of play.
"Boys and girls must have time to invent episodes, carry on adventures, live heroic lives, lay sieges and carry forts, even if the fortress be an old armchair; and in these affairs the elders must neither meddle nor make.  They must be content to know that they do not understand, and, what is more, that they carry with them a chill breath of reality which sweeps away illusions...There is an idea afloat that children require to be taught to play - to play at being little fishes and lambs and butterflies.  No doubt they enjoy these games which are made for them, but there is a serious danger.  In this matter the child who goes too much on crutches never learns to walk; he who is most played with by his elders has little power of inventing plays for himself; and so he misses that education which comes to him when allowed to go his own way and act, 'As if his whole vocation were endless imitation.'"  (School Education, pg.37)
They really are learning.  They're growing in a way that maybe we can't see on the surface, but they are, and they're learning the most important things.

Let them be kids.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This and that - ultrasounds, muffins, McGuffey readers, and other stuff

Tomorrow is the day!  We will (hopefully - as long as baby cooperates!) find out the gender of our baby.  I think most friends and family are expecting a boy (except for my brother, but he's probably just wanting to be different, ha) since we have two girls and the girls' two cousins are also girls.  Of course, we will be happy and thankful either way.  A boy would be a blessing but a girl, as my mom said, would fit right in :)

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I've been a little lazy in the breakfast department lately - we've been eating a lot of cereal.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but we like some variety every now and then.  I don't really like to cook a big breakfast during the week so we usually rely on leftover pancakes or biscuits, or I'll cook up a quick oven pancake (honestly I don't make this often because it uses a lot of eggs and I'm pretty stingy with my eggs!), or I'll throw together a batch of muffins.

I'm writing about this because the hubs had to leave for work super early this morning and I know he wasn't going to get up in time to eat cereal, so I whipped up some of my oatmeal chocolate chip muffins last night.  You should try them - they're pretty healthy and they're made guessed it...eggs.  (I've tweaked the recipe a little since I first posted it, so be sure to check it out if you have the original recipe.)

This first picture of Izzy reminds me of what my mom used to say about me - how I would just look longingly at my food like I was in love with it.  Izzy does like food, especially sweets (and so do I...).



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We planted our garden this past weekend - okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, corn, zucchini, and I think that's it.  

Plus our roses are going to be blooming soon!  Ahhhh, springtime :)


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Izzy started t-ball recently - her first year playing.  I think she's having fun (at least she hasn't cried yet like some of the girls), but there are so many girls on the team this year - 18!  So who knows how much she'll get to touch the ball in the games.


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Izzy turned 6 (6!) a week ago and I've been thinking a lot (a lot!) about officially beginning school.  My hope is to begin year one (aka first grade) of Ambleside Online sometime around July (since baby is due in September - I'd like to get a month or two in before baby arrives) and I've been thinking about transitioning into the real deal rather than hitting her with it all at once.  

So, we started doing some light reading lessons again using the McGuffey Primer (I slacked during my first trimester - reading and anything homeschooling related made me queasy).  I have the primer downloaded on my kindle (since it's free), but it was a little difficult to use because many times Izzy would point out a word and, of course, the kindle would move to the next page.  Frustrating.  So I had planned to buy a hard copy, but decided to first check our local library - I don't know why I didn't do this already.  Turns out they have the whole set of McGuffey readers!  Plus, each book has only been checked out maybe 20-25 times, so I'm betting I could just recheck them out over and over again.  Score!  

We went to get the primer yesterday and Izzy got so excited to hold the actual book and open it up and try to read it for herself - much more excited than when we read off the kindle.  There's just something about a tangible book I guess :)  So, if someone else wants to butt in and borrow these readers from the library, I'll just have to pony up the 4 bucks and buy our own copies.  I think they'll be worth it.

I think that's good for now.  I hope you're having a lovely week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When I want to give up

So.  This whole staying-at-home-and-homeschooling thing is not the easiest job in the world.  (And I know you're thinking...uhh, hello?)  And, yes, I knew that going into it.

And it may be harder for me than someone else because of the way I am.  I'm a perfectionist.  I expect things to go my way.  I have a tendency to get frustrated when they don't.  And I'm hard on myself.  I sometimes wonder if I'm cut out for this.

I haven't officially begun homeschooling my kids just yet, but I will at some point this year.  My oldest just turned 6 (!!) and will begin year one (aka first grade) in the next several months.  The thing is, I'm pregnant with our third child and due in September.  So this is a big year - officially beginning homeschooling and having a new baby in the house!

Now I really wonder if I'm cut out for this.

But I can't think like that.  I just can't.  That's where it starts...believe me, I know.  It starts in my mind, with me telling myself that I just can't do it, that it's too hard.

I can't let myself believe that it will be too hard.  I can't tell myself, "Oh, I don't know how I'm going to do it.  So I may as well just give up."

I won't give up.

No, it won't be easy.  But I won't give up.

It will be hard.  But I won't give up.

I will be tired and I will cry and weep.  But I won't give up.

I will want to give up.

But I won't give up.

Now I know I could make things easier and less stressful.  I could go back to work - then I wouldn't spend the majority of my days disciplining my kids, cleaning up after them, etc.  It sure sounds less stressful when you're on this side of the fence.  Or I could send the kids to public school.

But to me, that would be giving up because those two things are very important to me:  staying home and homeschooling my children.  I'm not saying that I think every mother should do these two things, but I truly feel that God has called me to do so, for many reasons of which I may write about in the future.

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity:
"That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time.  When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly.  When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptations - he is disappointed.  These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; buy why now?  Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level:  putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before.  It seems to us all unncessary:  but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us." 
I won't give up because I know that God is working in me and this is how - through my staying at home with my children.  He is making me more loving, patient, kind, gentle.  He is teaching me to give myself.  He is making me like Him.  And that is not easy because it's against every fiber of my selfish, sinful being.  I want to run away and do what I think is easiest for me.

But the only way is to do the opposite.  To lose myself and run to Him, trusting that He will give me all that I need.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

The busy mom's oven pancake

This past Sunday was Easter, and I did not plan ahead for breakfast.  Which is sort of unlike me because I'm usually excited about making something special for breakfast on holidays/special occasions; something besides cereal or toast.

This time, however, it was already 8:00 a.m. before I thought about breakfast and we still had to fill and hide Easter eggs before the rain moved in (and it did before lunch).  The girls said they wanted pancakes and I just did not feel like have time to sit in front of the griddle watching pancakes for 30 minutes.

Sooooo, instead I made up an oven pancake.  It took me probably 3 minutes to whip together and then I was able to hide the Easter eggs in the backyard while it baked in the oven.  The hubs cooked up some bacon and right before we ate I sliced up some strawberries.  Yum!

This oven pancake has a different texture than a regular pancake.  It's more eggy and almost spongey, but it's very light and delicious, and best of all, quick and easy!

It kinda looks like bacon on the top, ha!  But that's from the cinnamon/sugar mixture that I sprinkled on before it baked.

printable recipe
Oven Pancake

2 tbsp butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place the 2 tbsp butter in a 9 inch cake pan (you may want to spray the pan with cooking spray first – my pancake stuck!) and place in the oven to allow the butter to melt.

In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, milk, 2 tbsp sugar, vanilla, and salt, until well blended.  Add the flour and blend until smooth.  Pour into the cake pan (after the butter has melted).  Mix the cinnamon together with the 1 tbsp sugar and sprinkle on top of the batter.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.  Serve with maple syrup.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pregnancy update and where I've been lately

First of all, some of you may have noticed that I was MIA from this blog for about 2 months.  Well, I guess that's what the first trimester will do to ya.  Or to me anyway.  

Around week 8, which was about the time of my last post back in January, the whole first trimester funness really hit me.  I've actually never suffered from morning sickness with any of my pregnancies (thank the good Lord), but this time around hit me harder than the last two times.  I felt exhausted.  Sluggish.  Unmotivated.  I would even venture to say depressed.  (From what I've read first trimester depression is a real thing.)  I never got sick, but I felt queasy and not just from food.  The thought of reading made me nauseous.  Blogging made me nauseous (hence my absence).  Thinking about homeschooling preparation made me nauseous.  Most of the activities that I would normally enjoy just did not bode well with me.  It was weird.

But, I'm finally past that first trimester and feeling much better.  I still get pretty tired and I need more sleep, but for the most part, I'm back to enjoying the normal stuff.

Now, on to a pregnancy update!

1. How far along?  17 weeks, 5 days as of today.  The above pic was, obviously, taken 3 days ago.

2. Total weight gain/loss?  Who is losing weight at this point?  I think about 8 pounds gained, eek.  I didn't keep track of my weight regularly before I got pregnant so that's a ball park.

3. Maternity clothes?  Pants but not shirts.  I can still fit into about 3 pairs of my pre-pregnancy jeans, one with which I have to wear a belly band.  So, when I run out of jeans, I break out the maternity ones.

4. Stretch Marks?  Well, I still have many, many stretch marks from my first two pregnancies, so I have no idea if I'm gaining any more.  It doesn't matter at this point, ha.

5. Sleep?  No consistent sleep for me anymore.  One of my favorite ways to sleep is on my belly, and I just can't do that at this point *frowny face*.  So, I've had a hard time finding a comfortable position, plus my legs have been achy during this pregancy, and that doesn't help me sleep either!  Aaaaannnndddd, I have to relieve myself about 2 or 3 times a night.

6. Movement?  I'm pretty sure I felt a little moving around about a week ago.  It's always hard to tell in the beginning because it's so light and fleeting.  I've felt what I'm pretty sure is the baby moving a few times since then.

7. Gender?  Don't know yet.  We'll find out in about 2 weeks!

8. Food Cravings?  Fried crappie!  But nobody has caught any yet :(

9. Belly Button in/out?  It's been stuck out a little ever since my first pregnancy.

10. Wedding rings on/off?  Still on!  We'll see this summer, though.  I've never been pregnant during the summer, and I'm sure this one's going to be a hot one (it's already been around 80 degrees a few days).

11. Labor signs?  Nope.  Thank goodness.

12. What I miss?  Sleeping without waking up every couple of hours.

13. Milestones?  Just a belly bump.

14. What I'm looking forward to?  A new baby and not being pregnant!  I'm just not a fan of being pregnant.  But it's all worth it :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

A great weekend

We just finished Easter weekend, and it was a good one.  There are a few things that I think make a full weekend:
  1. Plenty of quality time spent with family.
  2. Plenty of time spent outdoors.
  3. Maybe a little cooking/baking together.
We definitely checked off all three of those items this weekend.

Saturday we spent most of the day outside (I spent more time inside than Jared and the girls because I'm still plagued with pregnancy exhaustion) working on a little landscaping - planting flowers and what not.  The girls were so good helping Daddy plant and water.

Izzy took her job manning the faucet seriously.  And I'm pretty sure our next water bill will be a bit higher - she kept forgetting which way to turn it off.

Jared decided to move one of the cherry trees that was in the backyard to the front.  Izzy worked hard shoveling.

Addy just watched and ate her apples.

Later we went inside and made our rice krispy eggs.  I'm thinking this will be a yearly tradition - this is the second year we've done it and the girls love it.

This year we added sprinkles.

There may be a surprise inside those...

Easter morning.  I made a big oven pancake (I'll post a recipe later this week - it was really good!), cut up some strawberries to go with it (with pancake syrup, of course), and Jared cooked up some bacon (he can't eat pancakes without bacon).  We always try to eat breakfast together on the weekends.  Jared leaves for work too early during the week to eat with us.  

Egg hunting time!

They had to crack open every egg, of course.

It rained not too long after the girls hunted eggs and when it finally quit in the later afternoon, we went for a walk.

Love this picture of Izzy.  She looks so much older!

Throwing sticks of course.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too!