We all had the post holiday blues today. We didn't really want to dive back into school work. So, we made brownies and homemade pizzas and that made everything a little better.
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This fall she wrote an essay on what made her unique. In her writing she talked about how much she loves being home schooled and how it has allowed her to have a closer relationship with her siblings; especially her baby sister. Last week I walked into the kitchen when she was baking a birthday cake for me. Seeing the two of them like this. Day after day. My heart couldn't be more grateful for the path God carved for our family.
This morning the rain stopped and the sun finally made an appearance. The kids got dressed, grabbed their new nature journals and out we went. There is nothing I love more than having the chance to explore and enjoy the outdoors with our children. There are so many things fighting for their attention. To be honest, there are so many things fighting for our attention too. I want our children to see the beauty in the world God created. To see the value of exploring and using their imaginations. I want them to be in awe, the same way I am when I see the world around me. I pray I can lead and nurture them to have a love and enjoyment for slower days. Agendas that are free from the hurried life this world tries to impress upon them.
I loved these words I read today from Heidi Steffen. I couldn’t agree more with her thoughts.
"We have all heard the famous words by Henry David Thoreau, “All good things are wild and free“. In preparing for homeschooling my children, who with each year are getting older and older, I stopped to really think about this quote.Childhood doesn’t last forever. In fact, it doesn’t last very long at all. And so many of our children are being robbed of a childhood that is wild and free.
I believe it is up to me, as the parent, to give my children a childhood that is free from the busyness and stress, free from the addiction to things and to technology. I am not saying here that we say no to it all. But I am saying that we, as parents, need to teach our children, need to guide our children in making good choices. We need to model good choices. As parents, we must remember that we are being watched with every choice we make. It is not what we say that matters to our children, but what we do.
In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst has said this, “The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul"
When our children are young, it is up to us as parents to mold them, to assist them in their choices, assist them in choosing their “Best Yes”. Habits are formed so early in life. I want to choose the “best yes” for my children while they are young so as they grow, they learn to choose the “best yes” for themselves. Often it isn’t so much saying no to technology but saying yes to being with our kids, saying yes to outside time, to reading, to games, to playing and spending time with family and friends. Because with every “yes” to technology, comes a “no” to something else; and usually that “something else” is so much better. For our family, it means limiting the stuff we buy, being choosy in how we fill our days and use technology. Is our family perfect in this? Absolutely not. But I know that I don’t have to make these often difficult decisions alone. God is right beside me, ready and willing to participate in those small day to day choices that we make, those small, seemingly insignificant choices, that end up adding up and shape us into who we are today. And He is ready and willing to forgive me when I fail. I’m so thankful for His grace. Every day affords an opportunity to start over. It is never to late when we have grace."
It is hard to believe her elementary years have come to a close. As I look back on these years, I am so grateful for all of the time we have spent together. Four years ago, we decided to homeschool; making the decision to take it a year at a time. I was scared to head out on this new journey alone, but I clearly see that I have never been alone. God has provided every single step of the way.
There are definitely days when I question myself. Days that are challenging and exhausting. Yet, I truly believe that some of the most rewarding things in life take hard work, perseverance, and complete surrender to God.
As parents we all must make choices for our children and no choice will ever be completely perfect. There are things we sacrifice no matter what direction we chose. Each family and each child is so unique. For us, this lifestyle decision has been such a blessing.
There are new adventures ahead as we will have a 6th grader, 3rd grader, and Kindergartner in the Fall. I feel blessed to have these days with our children, watching their hearts as well as their academics grow. We will continue to take one year at time, seeking His plan for us always. Today, I rejoice in another year of schooling together and look forward to the summer months ahead.
There are so many things in today's culture fighting for our children's attention and time.
Organized activities, music lessons, clubs, sports, and playdates.
Digital devices with endless games, music, and social media.
These things can all be great and utilized in amazing ways, but I think it is so important for children to have time to be free. Time to be bored. To explore. To play. To imagine. To be by themselves.
Some days its easier to say yes to the other stuff, but every time I say "no, go outside and play", I am so grateful.
It was a cloudy warm morning. I saw her through the back door, still in her Frozen night gown; running up and down the yard with sticks and flowers. She was singing and dancing as she played.
I smiled. I know that feeling so well. That feeling of childhood; where you can go as far as your imagination takes you. I watch her like this often, hours spent in our yard; living a world she creates so beautifully.
This is my reminder. Some days they will fight for everything but this solitude of "nothing to do"; yet the feeling of boredom can inspire amazing memories and creativity.
I notice that when our schedule gets too full, my whole demeanor can change. When I forget to give my days to God and try to do them on my own, I find myself stressed out and grumpy. Last Friday, was one of those days. It had been a long week filled with unusually busy days and unexpected changes from our normal routine. Many things had built up and I found myself impatient, using an unkind tone, and bulldozing through our home. And then there was this moment. I don’t know what happened prior to it, I don’t know what either of us said, but we both broke into laughter. We stopped what we were both doing and just enjoyed this time. It changed the whole day and was just what I needed to reset. I am thankful for the gift of laughter. I am so grateful that God created this way to revive our soul.
Today, we enjoyed a beautiful day at a local garden. You did some school work, painted, sketched, explored, and played for a few hours. As I watched you all play and work together, I was filled with such gratitude. I will never forget the year Big Sissy started Kindergarten. It seemed like our time together was always rushed and always too short. The school days seemed long and the family time was never enough.
I would often see a mother and her three children taking leisurely walks together during the mornings. I was curious what it would be like to home school; to have our time back. I was even a bit envious every time I passed her. I longed for something different for our family.
Another year passed and God kept pressing on my heart. He began to speak to Daddy as well. That year we prayed fervently to God. We asked Him what His plan was for our family. The following year we began homeschooling. I am so grateful we followed in faith. Our life has changed in so many ways. I feel like we now have time to really grow together and we have time for un-rushed conversations. It is such a blessing to see the provisions of God when we obey Him.
Today you were finished with your letter activities and you wanted to work with play dough on the porch. I love that you have always played so well independently.
You and your love of painting. It really is something special.
Mama and the big kids sat on the back porch working on math, while you played in the yard making mud pies and special stew. Love these simple days.
You have been writing and illustrating books the past two weeks. You love to read me your stories in progress and I love to hear them. You have grown so much this year in your reading and writing abilities. I love that I get to be a part of your learning experience daily. I love you Bubby.
A couple nights ago in bed you said, Mama we didn't paint today. I realized that with being outside so much recently, and dealing with some house issues, it had been a while. You were missing it. Today, I gave you the water color tubes and let you mix colors. Then you created this painting. You have always told us what you are creating, but today was the first day we could really see it too. Flowers and grass. I love watching your passion for painting continue to grow.
You love to draw and I love seeing how over the years this talent of yours has evolved. It reminds me of your uncle. I remember when we were kids and I would watch him do the same thing for hours.