Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Habit Training

Charlotte Mason recommends working on one habit at a time, then just keeping watch, which she says is easy, over the habits you have already formed. She says (very loosely paraphrased of course) a mother would do better to work at only a handful or two worth of habits in her children in the course of their childhood, than to be scattered and try and work on everything all the time.


I hope I can work on two habits in myself at a time, because I already really desire to work on the habit of fitness. I didn't get completely in my groove yet. But I did two major walks last week (and it was a crazy week with my husband patching a good deal of the siding on our house).


The other habit I want to work on is gentleness. When I correct I tend to scold. I catch myself sometimes. But, I don't catch myself every time. My parents really didn't correct at all. My dad did sometimes. If he did he scolded. My sister was a type of authority figure in my childhood, and she scolded constantly, as you can imagine (when children are left mainly to themselves). But, I spent summers with my Grandparents down in Texas for many the summer. Good memories. My Grandparents really loved me with a real sacrificial love. And, my Grandmother would correct me. And, I love her for that. She did so because she cared. Yet, she scolded. A gentle answer turns away wrath. My oldest has a tendency to talk back to me (I didn't....that's not important because...) and then I have to correct her for this. She is very sweet, actually. She doesn't "talk back" as you see many children in the world "talk back"...she isn't sassy. Yet, nonetheless, she argues with my correction. And, I have to consistently correct her for that. Yet, I've also set her up to argue with me...by scolding I am incurring her wrath.


I Peter 3:4 says


"Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."


Titus 2:4,5 says


"Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."


Perhaps, I, as a woman, have been especially given instructions like these because of the special role I play in raising and training my children. I pray that God will help me change the habit of scolding and continue to keep this habit up as time goes by.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Questions And Answers

Questions



I have two questions for all of you visiting my blog. I love having this blog for this reason. I can ask you all questions and usually I get some answers and often some really great thoughts.


First Question


Well, you all know, I am sure, from scripture that we aren't to Lord over our husbands. We are, after all, their help meets, their ones walking along sides, their partners. We aren't their mothers. One common frustration (and I'm sure if he were in charge of child training he would be AT LEAST as frustrated with me on this one), is when I'm trying to train the girls on something, but my husband isn't "trained" to do that. And, you know, they watch him and do what he does. An example, lining up shoes and boots instead of just leaving them in front of our front door. So, my question is, in your experience, do you think I can properly train my children when the example is not so perfect, of what I want them to do? Sometimes...my example isn't so perfect either. But, when I'm working at training them, I usually work extra hard at training myself at the same time.


Second Question


This question is particularly for Charlotte Masoners out there. But, whatever you style of homeschooling, if you do any oral work with your children, then this question is for you. Oral narration (and also written narration) is core to a Charlotte Mason education. Natalie (my oldest) has never been the strongest story teller. My step-daughter is a very gifted story teller. With her we just have to work on having her keep it brief. Rachel (middle daughter) is very good at saying whatever is on her mind. She may not think about details. But, as long as you convince her she has to tell you some details, she will easily converse with you too. Natalie, is like me. She is very detail oriented, but pretty shy, at least on cue. So, this year, since she is well able, she's graduated to doing written narrations of what she reads. She does a wonderful job and includes lots of details. Yet, I still have her doing oral narrations. This last week or two, she's just frozen, particularly on our Bible reading. She is SILENT when I have her do narrations. I get frustrated sitting there waiting for her. Fifteen minutes pass, she has tears in her eyes. I think she has performance anxiety. That one cue, I'm asking her to recall something.


So, what do I do? Not make her do oral work? Make it optional and praise her if she does? How do I help her out of "her shell"? What if that's just how God made her? And, I make her frustrated with that portion of herself, the same as I'm frustrated with that part of myself - the part that clams up or clammors for what to say in group situations?


Thanks for any input you all have.


 



Answers



Hi!

Question 1:

Yes, I believe that you can train your daughters when your example isn't perfect. My dh doesn't do things the same as me either. Things that I think are important as far as habits, he doesn't, so we're in the same boat, but I try to teach my girls good habits regardless. I read that it takes about 21 days to form a habit and even longer to break one. We don't line up our shoes, but I have a huge container that I got at Walmart at Christmas and we just throw our shoes in there. When it's full, mainly of the girls' shoes, they are told to come get them and take them to their rooms. If you want to train your daughters to line the shoes up, then every single time they forget have them come and line them up immediately. Soon, they will just do it on their own.

Question 2:

We do CM, but I don't ask for either narration. We have more discussions instead. I'll ask what can you tell me about a certain animal that we are reading about and we go from there. I guess that would be considered a narration. Have you thought about doing a narration cube? It usually has things on it like: tell me your favorite part of the story, favorite character, etc. You could have her roll the dice and whatever it lands on, is what she tells back. I have also thought about doing this with my girls. If she still has trouble, then I would have her do the written narrations. It sounds like she is doing wonderful with those anyway. Those are usually the hardest of all. I wouldn't press her to tears though. I think if you make it fun with the cube, then she might not freeze up so much. It could be that she just isn't sure how to form her thoughts so fast to tell you. When she can write them down, she has time to think about what she wants to say.

Hope this helps,

Penny


 

On number one. Of course, everybody has this issue. (Both moms and dads…) So this is how I deal with it. I tell my husband (NOT in front of the kids) that we are working to develop such and such habit in the kids. He always thinks it's a good idea, even if it's not his habit. (If he looks at me and says I wouldn't waste my time, I drop that one.) Then after that we all hold each other accountable while we're working on a habit, so the kids end up making the best police. They really love to point out where mom or dad slipped up. I don't point out when my husband slips up on the habit we're working on, I leave that job for the kids.

Question 2. My oldest doesn't like to narrate either. So if she freezes, I give her some crutches to get her going. For example: What was the name of the main character? What did he/she do that was good/bad? Why? If it's Bible, there is usually some characteristic either negative or positive being displayed in the story, so I ask her what it is, if she has that characteristic. I just start out with a narrow question and then start broadening them. Usually it gets her going. Not always, but usually.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Scattered

What makes one person stressed, doesn't do the same to another person. What makes one person relaxed, is not the same in another. When the Bible tells us repeatedly not to compare ourselves with others, why do we do so?


Weekends are notoriously chaotic for me...that is unless my husband and I head out for an all day outing. I love summer for this. But, when at home, weekends become chaotic. I don't want to blame it too much on my husband. Truly without his help, they would still be chaotic. But, my husband has such energy and enthusiasm and so much doesn't conform to my schedule that he does throw a lot of chaos into my weekends.


I ask myself, what else went wrong with my yesterday to make me feel stressed at the end of the day? The baby...She is now almost two. She really is acting two already. That is chaotic in and of itself. But, there are little ways I respond to her that are just me forgetting. For one, we have a gate on the kitchen. I just need to remember to keep it locked so she doesn't raid the water maker and the cabinets. Then, when she throws tantrums because I'm not picking her up and walking around with her, or because I'm not giving her a piece of food, or because her sisters have a toy she wants...then I need to just pick her up and put her in her crib. After a few days of doing that consistently, she improves. A swat does nothing for a tantrum. Little ones like that really don't understand in my viewpoint. But, that is something I need to keep in my arsenal. For, when for instance, she tries to repeatedly empty the contents of my desk drawer.


It was also stressful yesterday because with my middler girl as I have been trying to re-introduce wheat to her for the last week and a half or so. At first it was fine, but recently she's gotten those tummy aches back. Plus, she starts being repetitive (singing the same song over and over, or repeating a phrase over and over) and emotional with her sisters. I'm doing Gluten Free again. This time I tried only natural wheat, no preservative, made either in a sourdough or a soaked buttermilk fashion. That seemed to help the reaction on her tummy. But, behavior wise, it's become a challenge again. If you have an ADD/ADHD child or a child on the autistic scale, and you are looking for something to help their behavior naturally, I'd encourage you to try gluten free and also preservative free and see if it works for you. If that doesn't work, try going dairy free as well. It's a lot of work at first, but not so much when you get used to it. Sometimes I think about trying it myself as I have real ADD like symptoms myself, but I love my wheat. My Gluten Free Daughter, however, says she is lucky when she is gluten free, because I make her special gluten free things that the other girls don't always get. What a sweetheart.


Another noteable part of my weekend that is making it stressful to me is a time committment. When I know I have to get up in the morning, that is when insomnia and anxiety set in. That's why I'm awake at 6:30 in the morning. And when insomnia sets in I'm tired all day and can't think straight.


I really shouldn't commit to any morning commitment - even doing nursery at the church. There is nothing in the Bible that says I have to do that. Personally, I like having my children with me in church as much as possible. We've been going to two churches. One has nursery and childcare and we really enjoy the pastor's heart for people. The other is made up mostly of homeschooling families, is focused on the leadership of men in their households, and children sit with you in the service. We enjoy this church too, but wonder about true diversity in a church. We like them both. Yet, when nursery duty stresses me, why do I need to feel compelled to do it? Especially when I don't mind keeping my little one in service with me.


Other morning commitments I question myself about over and over, are soccer and Friday School (co-op). I'm not doing either of these things right now. They stress me. I'm not the Mom I should be when I have early morning games to commit to and when I have early morning co-op to commit to. I just need to remind myself that God made me unique and like Timothy I just need to take a "little wine" for my stomach. I don't really mean to drink wine, but to do what I need to do to take care of myself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Oldest Girl

I find myself being really hard on my oldest a lot. Anyone else have that experience? I expect a lot of her. I expect her to set an example for her sisters. I expect her to lead by example and not by strong arming...to keep her temper in check. I expect her to do her jobs independently, but not try and be "the mom" when it comes to making sure her sisters do their chores (this is a REALLY hard one for her). I think those are good expectations...Yet, I think, I need to do more to encourage and praise her.


This last one is a particular issue with her. I'll send a sister in to help her with a chore because she often takes the brunt of chores because she's in charge of the chicken eggs and because she is just very good at doing jobs. Then, instead of it being a help, she practically stops doing the chore and gets after her sister/s for not doing the job right or staying on task. Then, almost every time (because I want to be consistent with the consequence), she ends up having to do that job all by herself. Somehow, I've got to figure out how to break this cycle.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Unit Cubes

families_of_unit_cubes

 


Only my girls would play with unit cubes like this. The black and white cubes on the end have to do with whether the person is a boy or a girl. The other colors denote which family they are related to. The number of blocks have to do with how old they are. :)

The Girls

The Youngest Girl - Yes, I am cute.

 


sisters_yes_look_at_the_lens

Yes, I did want you to look at the lens, but I didn't mean with your mouth open.



 
sisters

That's better.



 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Couple Of Beach Shots

Just a couple of beach shots. I took the older girls out to the beach Saturday. We had a hard end to our day as I ended up in the ditch in the evening on my way home and the girls and I had to wait for a tow truck in the dark. Fortuneately, my car doesn't seem to have been damaged.


Jon had a bad day too, since the siding project revealed a rotten beam under the house that he'll have to replace. We live in a Manufactured Home which has no value on the books (in terms of appraisals). The previous owners put in their own decking, and unfortuneately bolted the decking into the siding precipitating its demise and allowing a place for moisture to get in under the house and onto the beams. Jon already replaced a beam under our kitchen when the front deck fell apart. He discovered the rotten beam then when he was demolishing the front porch. We really don't want to put any money into this home as it doesn't have any value. But, we've got to keep it livable. Anyhow...that was his day and he watched the little young'nn while discovering this. What a man. :)


Here was our day (the good half):




 

beach_2




 

beach_1




 

beach_4




 

beach_rachey's_face




 

beach_riah




 

beach_3


Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Little Seamstress?

I'm not too much of a Seamstress. Not yet, anyhow. But, while I was gone my 8 year old wrote this up. Do you think she's going to be a Seamstress? Or, maybe a Pattern Maker?





2t_pattern


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Day

My Six Year Old


My six year old is outside singing at the top of her lungs "get your energy out!". That is after all what I told her to go outside and do (get her energy out that is).


My Oldest


My oldest has been trouble hearing the last few weeks and her ear recently started hurting her, so we went to the doctor this afternoon. Wax in her ears and Swimmers Ear. We got some drops for the Swimmers Ear.


Studies


We went to the zoo yesterday and after our schooling today, we went to the doctor, so things seem hectic. But, so far, so good. The girls are enjoying their studies and doing well. I'm really working with Rachey with reading - she still struggles with basic phonics. I think she's bored with math though. I think I'm just going to print off worksheets from Math U See's worksheet generator - because basic adding/counting is too easy, but lots of words too hard. I'm being flexible with our schedule this year and I'm just counting days - to 180+. The zoo doesn't count. Today was our 7th day.


Tomorrow


We start dance tomorrow. The girls are too excited. Oh, the energy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Ever Evolving Schedule

I just keep altering my schedule. I've been reading a lot about Robinson and watching his video on his site, and I am persuaded of a couple of things.


First off (and Charlotte Mason supports this as well), that kids can and should teach themselves. Charlotte says (loosely paraphrased), don't do for a child that which he or she can do for themselves. I'm also convinced that we can expect a lot more out of children than our society expects of them. Particularly, they are much more able to do math and to read and understand reading than society gives them credit for. Robinson says that the schools now are two grade levels behind schools from the 1960's. Additionally he says that those schools were two additional grade levels behind the schools of the 1930's. With all of the "systems" of learning that have been implemented, what has happened?? Charlotte Mason speaks of this a lot - systems of learning get in the way of real learning quite often. Could it be that teaching to the bottom of the class doesn't work? Could it be that giving the child something currently out of his reach, but something to shoot for, something engaging is key to learning?


Secondly, Robinson believes you shouldn't bother teaching science until after the child has mastered Calculus. Under his program a student usually masters calculus sometime between the ages of 14 and 16. He says the science taught in public schools is really just propaganda and that students can't do proper science until they have a strong foundation of algebra and calculus. I absolutely love math, so I'm glad to hear it said that almost all children can reach this level of math - with enough fortitude. Charlotte Mason is definitely strong on science, but not through text books or other systematic methods of learning, but through nature study.


Lastly, Robinson urges parents to do extensive amounts of math, followed by reading and writing, with the reading being primarily high quality classic literature. Pretty much with Robinson you would do two hours of self-taught math, followed by two hours of reading, followed by two hours of writing. He has had tremendous success with this (in terms of college readiness) both with his own children and with many others who have decided to follow his program. The problem, to me, with Robinson, is that it is very narrow. There are other topics I want to cover with my children. And, while I want my children to learn to be primarily self-taught, I also see the value of having a teacher direct you - especially with certain subjects - like geography, spelling, art, music. Robinson argues that you can't do it all, and that when you try to do it all you end up not being very good at any one thing. That is an argument that I need to keep in mind! I am queen of distractibility and sometimes I make my life quite misterable by spreading myself too thing. Yet, I think there is a balance. I can choose a liberal education, such as Charlotte Mason promoted, and I limit some of my activities, so I and my kids don't go batty! One such subject is science. I am tortured about this, since I have already bought the text, but I think that I am going to go with a nature study gentle style of science, like Charlotte Mason suggests. This takes one subject off my plate and affords time for nature walks. I'm also extending child-taught math time and reading time in my schedule, encouraging my eight year old to teach herself and giving me a break from hands-on time.


So, here is my new daily schedule I am hoping ot follow. The booklists will be the same, except for the science text.





 

daily_schedule


Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Middle Girl

rachel_portrait



 

rachel_cows

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Maps

I was adding some map references to my sidebar today (mainly for my own reference). In the past, I've had the hardest time finding good map resources. I know lots of pre-packaged curriculums come with good resources, but since I'm not going that route, I needed to find some good resources. Here are some good ones, if you are in need of these too.

I think it is neat to do geography with whatever studies you are doing. Geography is just like a time line, but instead of giving your subject a place in time, it gives them a place on our globe, and puts what the kids study in reference. Geography doesn't need to be anything fancy. Just find on the map where it is, mark it, draw a picture if you like, color in if you like. And, if the process is simple, kids just love maps.



Here are some resources:




Resources To Buy




Free Online Geography Resources


Natural Gardening

Natural Slug Treatments



  • FLOWER POT - Prop a flower pot upside down with a stick to allow the slugs to get in. Check the pot toward the end of the day and remove the slugs.
  • BEER - Place old plastic containers in the soil around damaged plants and fill with beer. Dump in the morning. Repeat every evening.
  • COFFEE GROUNDS - Surround the damaged plants with coffee grounds. Slugs won't want to cross and you'll fertilize your soil.
  • VINEGAR - Spray vinegar on slugs that aren't on your plants. It will kill them, just don't spray on your plants, it will kill those too.
  • Toads, rove beetles, lightning bugs, and ducks all eat slugs or their eggs.. I'm fresh out of the first three in the Northwest and somehow I think putting a duck in the garden would be a detriment to my garden, not just the slugs.


 

Natural Grasshopper Treatments



  • Chickens will eat grasshoppers if they have access to them. My problem is that our chickens don't have access to our garden or my greenhouse.
  • Sink glass jars into the soil. Fill to the halfway point wit a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part of molasses. The hoppers are drawn to the sweet smell of the molasses, they dive in and drown. Clean traps as needed.
  • Black Strap Molasses: combine 4 ounces of this with one quart of water. Spray directly on hoppers. This will clog their pores so they cannot breath resulting in their death.
  • The other encouraging thing I read is that there are worms that eat grasshopper eggs and when grasshopper populations go up, then the worm populations go up and then eventually grasshopper egg populations go down.


Also, just a note in years past, we've dealt with other problems.


We've dealt with flea beetles on our tomatoes. I was happy to treat my tomatoes with a concoction made of garlic, hot peppers, onions that I sprayed on my fledgling tomatoes. It worked. It kept them off enough for the tomatoes to develop. And, funny thing is we haven't had a problem with those since.



Last year we had corn borer worms in our corn. We just cut off the ends of the corn and we put that end of the corn in our burn pile. It was a pain, but we didn't have a repeat with the corn this year.


It's cyclical and rather than killing off all bugs and creating super bugs and risking potentially harmful residues, I'd rather take the extra steps.

Oh...and...I'll just have to learn that things don't have to be perfect.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Busy

I have been so busy lately, and handling it all right. Well, the truth be told I've been less busy than the past. That is I gave up soccer for my girls - at least for now and since dance hasn't started yet and Natalie is without a violin teacher, my schedule is oddly empty of extra-curricular activities.


But, I've been busy because I've had to put my heart and soul back into our business. Business has been slow to say the least. I am grateful I am able to focus better and do my work more effectively than in years past. This week will be about a three times six hour work week for me (three evenings this week, but other times I will switch days with my husband and make it into work that way). Plus, today, I sort of cheated and did some work in between assignments for the girls. That sort of stresses me.


My work is web related. Our business isn't related to homeschooling. And, it isn't my desire to work outside my home. So I've fought our business in years past. My husband agrees, if there were another way, we'd do it. But, we need to be able to provide for our obligations, not to mention provide for employees. So, this is where we are at right now.


It's funny...how your kids' books can speak so strongly to your heart as you go about this homeschooling thing. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't want to be a farmer's wife. Shortly before she married Almanzo, she asked him to not be a farmer. He told her to give him three (or four - I can't remember) years to make a go of it and then, if she wanted, at the end of the three (or four) years, if they weren't making a good living, he'd do something else. Funny thing is by the end of the book the first four years, Laura realizes farming is in her blood too, and that it is worth it. I'm not saying I want to farm. But, more than that end conclusion, what I am compelled by in the book, is Laura's attitude. She's working hard, she's by herself and she just figures it's her "job". If you've read the book, maybe you know what I'm trying to say. Well, I just figure, right now, if I've got to do both roles, it's just my "job". No matter how many children I have, despite doing two roles, I still have it so much easier than past generations. Why do we complain so? Most of our stress is of our own making. A lot of mine was trying to attain a standard of perfectly pleasing my husband, my relatives, or others I know.


I hope these are truths I can hold onto. I hope what I'm saying is true.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Often?

Today I was driving on my way to a dentist appointment and I felt led to pray for my family (immediate and extended) and our country. I thought as I was driving..."how often do we listen to Christian radio, singing what are basically praise songs to our creator, yet we don't really contect with Him directly?"

In my early days as a Christian, I connected a lot, I felt driven to connect to the Lord, yet it wasn't a deep connection, I don't think. As I walk with the Lord longer, I have the opportunity to really deepen that connection - to turn to Him for absolutely everything.

Here I am...this woman of God...really a disappointment, to myself at least. But, isn't that the point? We fail. He picks us up. He picks up everyone who is willing to come to Him with a sincere heart. And, so, once more, I think I want to be like, what I heard (but still have not read for myself) the mother of John and Charles Wesley was like, constantly putting her prayer apron over her head and communing with a living God. Look at the fruit that act produced.


Regarding Susanna Wesley read this, taken from Wikipidia:


“Under no circumstances were the children permitted to have any lessons until they had reached their fifth year, but the day after their fifth birthday their formal education began. They attended classes for six hours and on the very first day they were supposed to learn the whole of the alphabet. All her children except two managed this feat, and these seemed to Susanna to be very backward.” (Haddal, 1961, pg.14) “The children got a good education. Daughters included, they all learnt Latin and Greek and were well tutored in the classical studies that were traditional in England at that time.” (Haddal, 1961, pg.15)


And from In Touch Ministries:


Shortly before she died at age seventy-three, Susanna wrote Charles to describe her faith. She admitted that for years she struggled with doubt and confusion about her salvation, but that she finally had complete peace. 

"When I had forgotten God, yet I then found He had not forgotten me. Even then He did by His Spirit apply the merits of the great atonement to my soul, by telling me that Christ died for me."