Alrighty then. Now that I've discussed the problem and the solution we came up with, I can FINALLY share with you what it looked like the first time we tried it!
I'd told the girls the night before they were staying home to help me get the house ready because my parents were coming out for the long weekend, arriving Friday evening. I emphasized several times they were staying home to help me, not just have a day off school. I warned them that whining and complaining would land them back in their classrooms faster than they could say, "I'm sorry." They promised that wouldn't be an issue. And you know what? I only had to remind them once about it.
We started the day out with a bit of a sleep-in and a hot breakfast. Then AJ (age almost-8) helped me wash the dishes ~ which included the previous night's supper dishes, so there were quite a few! ~ while Mack (10) cleaned the bathroom and began tidying up the toy room. After that was done, we tidied up the living room and dining room, getting rid of the ever-present stacks of flyers, mail, school papers, and magazines that pile up on virtually every. single. horizontal. surface, as well as all the girls' things that belong elsewhere. Then I gave the girls an hour break before lunch to go play while I did a few more things inside and prepared a quick meal.
While we ate, I discussed with them our reasons for having this idea and I read to them the high-lighted portion of The Lesson Plan. I thought it was important to bring them in on the whole point behind the idea and both had more questions than I had anticipated about God being a homemaker and all the different spiritual truths that the many elements of homemaking mirror. I'm always amazed how deep these discussions end up going sometimes!
After lunch, AJ cleared the table while Mack and I started making a dessert. AJ did her home reading and then cleaned up the things she and a little friend had played with in the basement guestroom a few weeks earlier while we were finishing the dessert. Once that was done, the three of us made the guest bed, vacuumed and dusted the room. My mother may not have noticed it had been dusted, but I wanted to make sure I accepted and appreciated the girls' help at face value instead of making them feel like it was never quite good enough by either constantly correcting them, pointing out where they hadn't done a good enough job, or even re-doing the job myself afterwards. (you know, like I usually do... )
Since it was indeed a beautiful day, I suggested a siesta, and for the next hour, they played outside again while I read in a lawn chair. We snacked outside and then I went back in to putter while they continued with their play. I LOVE how those girls can play together for hours and hours!!
There were a few last-minute things I needed to pick up in town before my parents' arrival and since I kinda wanted to reward ourselves for a day well done, we headed to town around 4:00. The girls each brought a bit of spending money and we went to the dollar store for some hair pretties for them after finishing the other errands. Last, but not least, we stopped at the grocery store, and in addition to the necessities, we made use of the store's rotisserie chicken meal deal and picked us up a cooked chicken, a long, crusty baguette, and three pre-made salads (the salads happened to be on sale; the meal deal coupon only includes two).
We discovered this idea a couple years ago and do it every so often when we want a treat. The chicken is delicious; the meal costs less than half of what KFC would cost us as a family; the coleslaw, potato, and macaroni salads are virtually identical to KFC's; AND we always end up with leftovers! So we brought that home and enjoyed it while sitting at the coffee table and watching one of the girls' favourite movies.
After the movie was over, bath time was done, the few supper dishes had been washed and put away, and the bedtime and Bible stories had been read, I reflected on the day and decided it had been one of the best days I'd ever had. Because my entire goal was WORKING TOGETHER WITH the girls as opposed to just getting them to 'assist' me in achieving MY goals (or worse, expecting them to follow barked-out directions without my involvement), it went way better than these sorts of things generally do for us. I never got impatient and it didn't matter if something took a little ~ or a lot! ~ longer than normal. It was a fun, relaxing, and yet productive day.
The way they did things wasn't any different from normal. I was. My attitude was different. This was bigger than just house-cleaning and dessert-making. Sure, there were a few things that didn't get done, but I'd prioritized my 'to do' list the night before and so they were all things that either I could easily do even while we had company or that were on my sometime-when-you-have-time-and-you're-wondering-what-little-project-to-take-on list.
I am so thankful God whispered this idea into my mind and heart. I'm under no illusion that each time will go as smoothly as this day did or that my motives will always be as noble, but I can't help but look forward to the next time.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Alrighty then. Now that I've discussed the problem and the solution we came up with, I can FINALLY share with you what it looked like the first time we tried it!
Monday, May 28, 2012
Ugh, I really wanted to finish this post LAST week, so that I'd be just a week behind my original plan, but I just never got around to sitting down and doing it. ANYWAYS, when we left off almost THREE weeks ago...
...I was saying I've come up with what I feel is a brilliant solution to the problem of not really caring for the public school system and yet not wanting to remove my girls from their school friends, since we wouldn't really be able to replace them with friends from a homeschool group or something similar. This solution leaves them in public school with their friends, but also does at least a little to address the problem of "real life" skills having been replaced with subjects that aren't at ALL helpful in the formation of responsible adults.
As I was mulling this over and still feeling a little dissatisfied with just leaving things exactly the way they always have been, I suddenly thought, "why couldn't I keep the girls home from school every now and then to do these things with them?" We used to miss a morning of classes each week the entire school year to attend shops and/or home ec classes (which, of course, aren't part of the curriculum anymore in our province). Why couldn't I do something like that with my girls at home?
I so totally can!
And so just like that, the solution presented itself. I talked it over with The Man and he was all for it. It will be a full day or a half day based on what I'm hoping to accomplish and what's going on at school, but it will roughly average out to two full days each month. We will work together doing things like cleaning, organizing, baking, cooking, meal-planning, grocery shopping, and in the future, hopefully some hand-crafty-type stuff and/or sewing. I'd also like to include some service-related ideas from time to time, but haven't figured out any whats, whens, or hows yet!
Certain things like garden work will be determined by weather, but I am generally going to aim for Thursdays, so that if there is homework due to missed school, they'll have the weekend to work on it. Both girls understand there may be some of that as a result of this decision. I haven't decided if I'm informing the school or not. Most friends I've talked to about it say not to bother. I'm inclined to agree that it probably isn't necessary, and my girls are doing well enough in school that missing an extra two days a month won't hurt them. But at the same time, I feel like some explanation might be helpful for the teachers, especially in the colder months when I see this thing being a fairly clockwork-like occurrence every other Thursday.
I also haven't really decided if there will be a formal "scope and sequence" for each day or if it will just generally be my routine to-do list for the day done with the girls. There are a few things I would like to learn better, myself, and those days I see being a little different from usual ~ things like learning how to make perogies, pie crusts, canning, etc.
I also don't know exactly how I am going to tackle the spiritual aspect of this idea, so I'm all ears if you have suggestions. Because of the time lapse between these days, following a theme will be tough, but if I could find something where each lesson is kind of a stand-alone topic, that would work. I just purchased Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware, but those are larger themes broken up into shorter chapters so I see that being better for a daily thing. So yeah, it's not like I have this all figured out or anything!!
Two Thursdays ago was our "pilot episode," if you will, but I'll leave that for another post. It was originally part of this one and that just made it all WAY too long again, but it's already written and scheduled to auto-post, so you know you won't need to wait indefinitely for this one!
Sunday, May 27, 2012
I saw this quote a while back and thought to myself it was a reminder desperately needed:
“We live in a church culture that has a dangerous tendency to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God. Our heart resonates with the idea of enjoying God’s grace. We bask in sermons, conferences and books that exalt a grace centering on us. And while the wonder of grace is worthy of our attention, if that grace is disconnected from its purpose, the sad result is a self-centered Christianity that bypasses the heart of God.
If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of, ‘the message of Christianity is that God loves me.’ Or someone might say, ‘the message of Christiantiy is that God loves me enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die for me.’
As wonderful as this sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn’t it incomplete based on what we have seen in the Bible? ‘God loves me’ is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if ’God loves me’ is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?
God loves me.
Christianity’s object is me...
The message of biblical Christianity is not ‘God loves me’, period... The message of biblical Christianity is that ‘God loves me so that I might make Him – His ways, His salvation, His glory and His greatness – known among all nations.’
We are not the end of the gospel, God is.” (some emphasis added)
Labels: Sunday Sermon
Friday, May 18, 2012
The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farm house in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, "Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?"
I replied: "But I did have a drug problem when I was a kid growing up on the farm."
I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.
I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher. Or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me. I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profane four letter word.
I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and cockleburs out of dad’s fields. I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline or chop some fire wood. And if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the wood shed.
Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin, and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America might be a better place today.
Did you have a drug problem like this growing up? Do your kids? I kinda hope mine will be able to complain about this kind of a "drug problem" someday.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I was reading through some old posts a while ago, and with Mother's Day coming up and the constant messages from society around me telling me it's my RIGHT to EXPECT pampering at least this one day each year, I thought I'd repost this one as a reminder to myself and hopefully an encouragement to others.
I've wasted many valuable messy opportunities with my girls because I've often declared their little projects are just more clean-up for me and more clutter in their room.
I still have trouble with those feelings, but I'm learning there are some things are more important than my feelings on clutter and half-completed or disintegrating projects strewn about the house. Crafting with kids IS messy. It DOES generate more clutter. It definitely means more work for mom.
And this is where it seems so many of us get held up ~ why we don't allow our kids to go nuts with paper, glue, scissors, paint, and tape. Why we secretly dread what precious works of art they'll be bringing home from school today. Why we think up excuses to NOT participate in these sorts of activities with our kids.
But we forget...
Motherhood is not. about. us.
Motherhood is not even about MOM!!
Motherhood is about SACRIFICE.
And raising children to be adults. Teaching them, training them, celebrating their accomplishments, consoling them in their failures, and yes, even punishing them for their disobedience. Hoping and praying they will surpass our expectations and example.
Motherhood is tough; no doubt about it. It's rather inconvenient from time to time. Doing all these things with two or three kids (or however many you may have!) is definitely more work than doing it with no kids. But we chose this! It is what we desired. Yes, most of us made the choice without having a hot clue about how much of us the job would demand, but we still chose it.
We WELCOMED God's gift of family. We rose to the calling and willingly accepted the office appointment of a lifetime (in all respects!): motherhood.
Someday, when I'm older and watching my children parent their own children, how am I going to feel when I hear the little ones saying things like: "mommy doesn't let us paint because it makes too much of a mess," or "mommy doesn't have time to play with us because she's too busy working on her computer."?
I don't know about you, but that prospect almost breaks my heart.
But I can do something about it YEARS before my grandchildren are even a physical possibility!
I can help prevent that future scenario from happening by not acting it out NOW!! If I want my daughters to value the creativity of their own children, I need to place a high value on theirs. I need to treat each dubious work of art like a masterpiece! I don't need to hang it above the fireplace in the livingroom or in my formal dining room (which I don't have anyway!), but my girls need to know I love their gifts ~ both the kind they give, and the kind they possess.
A cousin's wife recently told me of a time when she'd visited her mom's house and she'd noticed that her son's fingerprints were STILL on the patio door from the last time they'd been there to visit. She'd commented on it to her mother and her mom had said she liked to leave them there because this way she could see how tall he was getting.
I don't necessarily want a patio door covered with greasy fingerprints, but that is precisely the ATTITUDE I'd like to have about those little things. Things that usually just get seen as an annoyance ~ another mess to clean up, another chore to add to the never-ending "to do" list ~ I want to see it rather as a way of loving and raising my daughters so they will desire to be selfless mothers someday.
I want them to be much better mothers than I am, but if they never surpass me in their desire to be godly mothers, I need to make VERY sure I leave the very best example I'm capable of. I don't want to be ashamed of what I modelled for them. I don't want to see years from now how selfish I really was. I don't want to break my own heart.
And that simply doesn't allow for raising children while focusing on having things MY way. Or getting what I consider to be enough ME time. Granted, this is easier for me to say now that my girls are both in school full-time, but it's amazing how tempting it is to still insist I get some "sanity time" in the few hours between when they get home and when they go to bed, or how much I look forward to getting them off to bed. It's a constant battle to change my attitude.
But change it I must. Because this is not about me. It's not even just about them.
It's about raising generations and about understanding the trickle-down effect into the future with every decision I make. How I parent my two girls and the decisions I make don't just affect them; it affects how they will raise their children, too.
This is SO much BIGGER than me.
* the picture at the top of the post is a necklace I ordered/assembled for my birthday two years ago. I saw the disc and pearl pendant here originally, and knew I had to have it. (and I knew I had some birthday money coming!) I added the girls' birthstone charms, purchased from Down 2 Earth Jewelry on Etsy. I wear it almost every day. The jingling around my neck is a constant reminder.
Friday, May 11, 2012
I guess it probably started about the time AJ* (the child formerly known as Fidget) started kindergarten, which is coming up on three years ago already. Mack* (formerly Peanut) had been in school for two years already and I'd always had a problem with how long the school days are, particularly in the warmer months. But obviously, the length of the school day isn't really the strongest argument against public school and so we just left things the way they were.
Every now and again, I'd look into homeschooling a little more seriously, especially since, after a few years of blogging, I'd gotten to know a lot of homeschooling mamas and had begun to see it in a very different light from what I had always previously envisioned. But as always, our convictions weren't strong enough and so we just left things the way they were.
This spring it was different. We REALLY wrestled with it this year. This time, we were [this close] to deciding to make the switch, but just couldn't get past how much it would affect the girls socially. I can't imagine how much it would hurt Mack to be removed from the three friends she's been close with since kindergarten. Even if she had weekly scheduled play dates with her former school friends, it wouldn't be the same. She'd forever be "out of the loop." There is no homeschool group in our area that we'd be meeting with on a regular basis that would have other kids our girls' ages. There are very few homeschooling families in our Valley. And our church is so tiny that even there, there are really no other kids our girls' ages who attend more than about half the time. So "replacing" her school friends with church or homeschool group friends isn't even a possibility.
AJ, on the other hand, would have an opposite, but related problem. She is an incredibly random little girl, giving very little thought to potential benefits/consequences to her thoughts and actions, but when it comes to playing, she always has a preconceived notion of how it's going to go. And when it doesn't go that way, there's almost always a bit of a meltdown before she pauses to reset and move on. (usually with a bit of adult 'assistance') Removing HER from her friends at school and not replacing them with new friends, we felt, would likely only exacerbate this problem.
The school has my girls during their peak learning hours virtually every single day. By the time I get them, they're tired, sometimes frustrated, and ready to relax and do something FUN for a couple of hours before bedtime. I don't blame them. They have a few small daily responsibilities around the home and yard, but I want them to enjoy their "carefree" school years. Saturdays are supposed to feel like a change from routine, too, and though they have a few weekly chores they need to complete then, too, Saturdays are generally reserved for play and FINALLY getting more than just half an hour to do what they feel like doing.
And then I thought of (what I feel is) a brilliant solution: a compromise.
Which I will discuss next week because this post is already too long! ;)
* I decided it was time to move on from calling my girls Peanut and Fidget because they're kinda outgrowing the cutesy names!! Peanut/Mack is 10-1/2 and Fidget/AJ is going to turn 8 next month.
Friday, May 4, 2012
I got a really great piano arrangement book for Christmas called "Sunday Morning Blend," where each song is a combination of an old familiar hymn and a newer praise and worship song along the same theme. (Seriously, for all you church pianists out there, this is a series worth owning!!) I know virtually all the hymns, but often the p/w songs aren't familiar to me. So again this week, I found myself practicing a song for offertory that I wasn't familiar with.
Enter YouTube. What an incredible resource it can be! It took no time to find the song and I instantly loved it and wanted to share it, especially for any of my fellow church-members who are going to hear it on Sunday. Now you won't need to wonder what I'm playing either!
No matter who you are or where you are this weekend, I hope you'll join in the song...
sing to him a psalm of praise.
Labels: Sunday's Song
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Wow. It's been, like, half of FOREVER since I blogged. I guess that was kind of expected, given the thoughts I voiced in this post at the end of last year. But unexpectedly, I haven't really missed it as much as I thought I might. And given the busy-ness of the last couple of months, I didn't have much time to think about it either!
But now life is returning to normal (and, of course, I use that term quite loosely...), and I find myself with time to actually sit here once again. From about the middle of February until just yesterday, I was working part-time at a local accountant's office, printing off tax returns and preparing tax return packages for all the clients. It started out pretty light ~ just two or three 4-6 hour days a week ~ but rapidly turned into four days a week, often with one or two of those being full, 8-hour days. Last week I worked SIX straight days, and then Monday and yesterday. But now I'm done. The Canadian income tax filing deadline is April 30, and while there are always stragglers, the office staff doesn't need additional help to keep on top of it anymore.
It was a good job. I enjoyed it. But I missed being a full-time mom, wife, and homemaker. In fact, I think the job confirmed what I feel is my mandate as a Christian wife and mother and made me want to be better at my REAL job. I was consistently behind in what I normally accomplish. (I can't imagine how much WORSE it would have been had The Man not been around to reguarly wash dishes and vacuum!) Or I was too tired to really care. My fuse was shorter. I forgot a lot of things I was supposed to do, even if I had them written down in my day-planning notebook.
Now, spring having finally reached the Canadian prairies, gardening and yardwork season is upon us. I started the raking last Saturday and got most of the leaves taken care of, but I realized we hadn't raked after the hedge got trimmed last fall so there's tons of twigs and branches yet to clean up. And the lawn will need mowing very soon. Some patches could already use it, but most can wait, especially since this week is cool and damp.
The seeds and seedlings will be purchased this week or next, and I'm hoping to get most of them in the ground before next weekend. I normally wait for the Victoria Day long weekend to seed my garden (which would be May 19-21 this year), but I'm hoping to have it all done earlier this year. The plants won't go in before June. You know, "risk of frost" and all that Canuck craziness. (incidentally, there's snow in the forecast twice this week... :P)
There are also some indoor projects I'd like to complete before school's out at the end of June, too, like finish organizing the girls' clothing (started in early April, but far from done), and a thorough cleaning of their room along with the front porch/playroom, including a toy and stuffed animal purge. I did it almost exactly four years ago and it felt SO GOOD! And the best part was, they didn't really even notice!! (how's THAT for a sure sign that your kids have too much stuff?!)
The bookkeeping really needs some serious catching up and the office clutter hasn't been dealt with in so long that I don't even remember doing it. I know I've tidied the desk and bookshelf, but I suspect the growing piles of paper behind the door and the closet have never actually been touched.
And then, before I know it, it will be summer holidays, woo-hoo! :) What have YOU been up to??