My Favorite things in January 2019

The first month of 2019 is beginning to wind down. I have decided this year I am going to share my favorites things about each month. As one that always liked filling in the blanks of my favorite color or book and the list goes on, this will be my online version. When I filled out those blanks in the past, I would sometimes put a few answers for each blank because I have a difficult time narrowing it down to only one little answer! This year since my phrase for the year is, “Less is More”, I will only share three to five things, activities, moments, as simply as I can. Here I go!

  1. Yoga With Adriene This lady has been a regular in our home through her youtube video sessions since my husband found her for me two years ago. Yoga has been a game changer for me mentally, emotionally and physically. Plus, she is funny, so that helps. The Fall was busy so I began dropping my daily morning yoga. I decided to pick it up again nearly daily at the beginning of the month, and now I remember again why I appreciate it so much. It is my new morning coffee.
  2. A Slow Beginning. We entered into this month slowly after the speed that December always surprises me with. My husband was still off of work for the first week. We stayed home a lot. We played in the snow for two weekends. I took a break from Instagram. We started one new homeschool subject every week, besides reading books, because we are always reading. Reading slows me down. It has been really wonderful. I was even bored at times, which was a treat!
  3. Exploring a plant-based diet. I really never thought I would say that. Hamburgers are one of my favorite foods. Around the same time, my husband and my naturopath suggested a break from eggs and meat as something I haven’t tried for the inflammation in my bladder and in my sinuses. I came home crying. I have changed my diet several times, but I was always able to keep meat in my diet. It is how I meal plan, a chicken meal, a beef meal and so on. I am reading and I cannot say what this will look like in the long run, but right now I know I want plants to be the focus of what I put in my body. The PlantPower Way: Whole Food Plant-based recipes and Guidance for the Whole Family by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt has been the first cookbook that has encouraged me on this journey.
  4. Working on a craft each Saturday. A time to sit and craft. I have a scarf I am knitting and embroidery I am making at the moment. I have a few moments to do something like this at night but I appreciate this more open-ended time to do it, as long as the kids allow me to. Wink. Wink.

Embracing the Freedom.

As mamas, we are all fine artists.  It is the dance of teaching our children the fine discipline of following through with a schedule and allowing your kids freedom to follow their bursts of creativity and imagination. Here is an example from last night.  I’m in the kitchen washing the stack of dishes that have piled up. I said I would be only fifteen minutes, but then they began building a boat out of blankets. They are working together, creating a plan, and there is no way I’m going to barge in.  This is sacred space. My planned agenda, doesn’t compare.

I tell my kids what we are going to do,and then they become lost in play, their highest purpose in my opinion.  What is a mama to do? I am faced with this decision often, probably daily, and sometimes many times in one day.  How about you? I have made choices and sometimes they contradict each other. There is no right answer. We want that, right?   But friend, there simply isn’t one right answer. In our first year of homeschooling, I forced so much. When, I didn’t, I felt such shame.  In this third year, I am receiving the day as it is more, with all its “so called” interruptions. They are not interruptions, but worthy endeavors.  They are what our kids and can I dare say us, have been made for. There is a time and a place for both. The discipline of working through math problems in the morning.  The “we will still do handwriting even if you do not want to do it” thing. In this case, it was the evening, and I let the play ensue. They are getting along after all! And what is more important than “socialization” right?  I want to assure you, as well as myself, You make beautiful and wonderful decisions mama. You do.

The freedom as a homeschool mom can be both amazing and overwhelming at the same time.  Sometimes it depends on what day or season it is, or dare I say, my current emotional state.  Here are some words to remind you of the good in this freedom:

You are not limited to doing homeschool in your house the same way every day.  Has Math been a struggle? Try it at a different time of the day. Do it in a different way.  Put a timer on for 15 minutes, so your little one knows there is an end to what might feel like torture to them.  It is amazing how much you can do when you have a focused child. Play a game that includes numbers and call that math for one day a week.  I have seen when we take a break from school,even only one subject, my children naturally navigate back to what sparks their wonder. They learn so much more when they think they have initiated it.  You really can switch it up. As someone that likes doing things the same way, I need that reminder, and maybe you do too.

Find your rhythm, what works for your kids as well as yourself.  What worked last year may not work this year. It does not have to look anything like anyone else’s.  It can be helpful to get ideas from friends or Instagram. It can also be helpful to let go of what everyone else is doing (Take a break from social media) and watch your children, and be honest with yourself.  Take notes on what works well and what does not. Then, ditch what doesn’t work well (Yes, even if everyone else is doing it) and keep what does work for your family.

Limits or Boundaries can be your best friend.  We have speech this year for my son at one two afternoons a week.  I was not thrilled about this. That meant all school and lunch needed to be done by this time.  That hour before is much more of a hustle than I would like, but it has been a surprise gift to have this limit.  We have a reason to get all of our school done so we can play or run errands after speech. I have that hour while my son is in speech with my daughter, so I get one on one time with her where we learn and play just the two of us, outside of our house.  This feeds my soul as well. I am not torn between “getting things done” with looking my daughter straight in the eye!

Here’s to embracing the freedom we both love and hate for the simple fact that we have the gift of freedom.

Here’s to embracing days that feel off and discovering the unique joy that can be found in them.

Here’s to receiving this season in your family’s life because it will never be again.

Here’s to choosing to dance this dance and knowing you have many mamas around you dancing a similar dance and you are not without partners my dear mama.

Receive this season of homeschooling…

As I lay on my couch one afternoon, a thought came to my mind in the rare moment of quiet in the house.  

Perhaps sisters, it’s about receiving your homeschool, in other words, your children, in the exact season that you are in right now.  It is not about where you want to be but where you already are. Dreaming, setting goals and having hopes have their place. I have many dreams for our homeschool, but when I am honest, I can often focus more on the dreams than the now.  It is easier because you do not have the challenges in your dreams!

It’s not about crafting the perfect homeschool year with all the best books and manipulatives.  Those are amazing, but they will not be amazing if they do not fit with your family, your very own kids, in this very season.  Allow me to elaborate.

If you have a baby, it probably is not the time to try out intensive curriculums, that you or your children do not already know how to use yet.  You will not have a lot of time to prepare for them. Instead, it’s probably more of a time to keep it as simple as you possibly can. Read books.  Let the audiobooks read while you are able to nurse the baby. Your rhythm may have to follow the baby for a time, until the baby can fit into the rhythm of your family.

In this season you might be working part-time.  No, it’s not ideal, but your family needs the extra money.  We are all facing our own not ideal situations. You get three full days of being with your kids, and you fit the majority of your homeschooling into this time.  It’s during those days that you choose to be hands on with your kids. This is when you do the hands on science experiments your son loves. You save the children’s independent work mainly for the two days you are at work.

So, really your first step is to know the season that you are in.  Focus on what you do have. We often focus too much on what we dream of having.

Instead, when we begin homeschooling, we research and gather all the information we can.  We look to other mamas on Instagram that we admire and we try to model them. We make a list of all the books we are supposed to read, and collect curriculums like kids do stuffed animals.  We think it means success.

We forget to ask ourselves, what season am I in?  What am I truly able to do? How am I wired? What do my children need right now?  What do I need right now? Ask these questions and others that come to mind, dear friend.

Then, each season reexamine your heart, mind and season.  Ask the questions again.

What if we redefine what success means for us?  We are homeschoolers after all. What if success means a peaceful home and children who will open a book anytime they have a spare moment?  Decide what success means to you and your family. It does not have to be Instagram worthy either.

You are the mother they need.  You are also the teacher they need.

We all think we are not enough.  We think, that other mama, she has it all together.  We wonder wouldn’t my child be better with her?

No, they would not.

They were given you.

Homeschool as only YOU can.  This is why I am writing this right now.  This may seem obvious. It does, when we think about it.  But, honestly, this was quite the revelation for me as I lay on my couch, and this is my third year of teaching!

Our  years most of the time don’t look like our plans. Why, don’t we actually receive the season we are in?  Perhaps, a dream you have, is meant for another season. Put it on a shelf in your mind and mark it for later.  Some plans we may use for later and some may grow new and different wings.