Sunday, February 26, 2012

Being Good

Bean isn't a "good kid" and I'm not embarrassed anymore to acknowledge it.

Really, there's no confession needed because it's pretty obvious. Anyone who's been around him for even a short period of time, especially in a position of either authority (teacher, older relative, babysitter) or equals (friends, classmates, peers) has likely dealt first-hand with some of his challenges of impulsivity, attention-seeking, stubbornness and/or listening.

On multiple occasions, in multiple settings, by multiple children telling me about Bean's wrong behavior, it has become clear to me that they identify him as "the bad kid." About year ago I began to wonder if his friends at school might have been giving him that impression too (they certainly were giving me that impression). My hunch was confirmed a couple weeks ago when he told me that when he was in school he was "a bad kid," but now he's not anymore.

Bo and I rarely use "good" or "bad" to describe anything, definitely not our children. First off, those words are pretty vague and you always need additional words to describe what you really think anyway. When we discipline, we instead try to use different qualifiers to describe the choices, words, and actions of our children, not our children themselves, and then we relate it to the associated consequences. In addition, we try to express our optimism that anyone can make their wrongs right and they can start making more right choices more often (we especially do this when they are talking about "bad guys"). Lastly, if you know Bean, you also now how important it is that we remind him that it is not his responsibility to correct the behaviors of others, but just set the best example he can be.

Thankfully we are past the point where Bean believes the lie that's he's a bad kid. He came to this conclusion on his own too. I hadn't even realized the extent to which he believed it or else I might have tried more intentionally to convince him otherwise (though I doubt it would have made a difference). Right now I'm wresting with how important it is for me to help him be a "good kid" and if that should even be a goal at all.

I'm thinking it's not.

Certainly obedience in children is convenient for adults, especially when dealing with groups of children, like in a school setting. But, as Daron Quinlan said, "Disobedience is not an issue if obedience is not the goal." Think of any influential person in history. Where they obedient? None of the historical figures we've learned about recently in our homeschool were obedient. Galileo? Nope. He was a heretic, remember? Martin Luther King, Jr.? Not him either. He lead thousands in civil DISOBEDIENCE.

As a Christian, I do, however, want my children to be obedient to God's will.

Bean heart is probably more genuinely aligned w God's will than mine is. He more desperately seeks after God by reading the Bible to learn more about God. I don't ask him to read the Bible; he does it on his own and for long stretches of time too. Earlier this week when he was going to his grandparents' house for the night I reminded him to pack books to read. He packed his Bible among a handful other books. I didn't even know until we got there and I unpacked. He has a passion for prayer and for others. He will stop whatever he is doing to pray if he hears someone is ill or injured. Just this morning in the van he wanted to lead us in prayer when I told the kids that two of our friends were in a terrible accident earlier. He has a sense of social justice and generosity that I wish I had. He has two banks at home one for him and one for Heifer. His bank is empty, but the one for Heifer has every cent he's earned since the beginning of the year. "How can I think about buying something for myself when some people don't even have food?" he said yesterday.

All of this and his peers think he is a bad kid, yet yesterday a friend told me I was "good" because I had planned to do something charitable. Planned. I hadn't even gotten the courage to actually follow though on it. I have been dragging my feet about it, being completely disobedient to God's clear calling because of fear of how it would inconvenience me.

What Bean does in private is his of his own honest heart. A lot of what he does in public is to get attention. Isn't that backwards for most adults? We do "good" publicly to make it look like we are good people even if are intentions aren't pure. I know I can be guilty of that.

So as a parent of a child who Bean has probably hurt, or a children's ministry teacher of his who he's likely ignored, please forgive him. Please be patient with us as I try to teach him proper social behaviors. But also know that I'm not going to demand automatic obedience from him. Charlotte Mason reminds us, "Obedience is valuable only insofar as it helps the child towards making himself do that which he knows he ought to do. Every effort of obedience which does not give him a sense of conquest over his own inclinations, helps enslave him." From what I can tell, Bean has a natural obedience thing budding with God privately. I'm going to use that as a foundation to help him have better real life interactions with others. It's going to take longer, but I'm hopeful that it will have more long-term positive effects than me trying to teach him to just be a "good kid."

She's a Vegetarian

For Lent, I'm giving up meat. It was kind of a spur of the moment idea. Lent crept up on me and I hadn't given it much thought. I had been thinking however about the need for our family to be more conscious of the food that enters our body and the bigger reasons about why.

I have a growing guilty feeling of eating meat and the toll that it takes on this Earth that God created for us to live on and to protect. I feel worse if our meat's not local and instead factory farmed somewhere miles from here. I feel horrible for people who have to labor in risky conditions to provide me that meat. There are many other reason, but basically I want to reduce my family's consumption of meat.

The kids haven't noticed yet. I expected Bean to first realize it because he has recently been proclaiming his love of meat. I think it makes him feel ferocious. Anyway, I've been experimenting with some new recipes with mixed results. The most well received so far has been a curry egg salad with sunflower seeds. I used greek yogurt instead of mayo because I despise cooking with mayo. So mom, no need to worry about our protein intake. We had 1) eggs, 2) sunflower seeds, 3) Greek yogurt on 4) a whole grain tortilla. I felt even better about it cuz we had a three veggies too, choppd celery in the egg salad, wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves (then in the tortilla) and a size of raw carrot. All those were organic too, which addresses many of the reasons to go meatless too. It tasted great and was visually appetizing. I'll have to get a picture sometime.

This week we also tried these salmon bites. Tey nibbled about it, but the rest of us devoured them. Bo wasn't home for lunch so he didn't get to try. But, the day before he made this curry rice sans potatoes because no one in our house like those. Bean picked at this dish, but the rest of us really liked it. Bean generally doesn't like rice, nor Tey, but it is growing on Tey. In general Bean licks his plate clean, literally, if I let him.

This coming week, new recipes I'm planning on making homemade are black bean soup and also some sort of veggie pancakes. If anyone has favorite meatless recipes to share, I'd love to hear recommendations.

For lent, I'm also randomly reading some of Paul's letters in my quiet time. I've always admired Paul's writing. Really, he's a fantastic writer as was Luke. So I've been thinking: it's crazy how he can be so full of praise even when in jail. He's doing God's will and can see God's hand at work even in the greatest of hardships. I'm so very humbled because at times I feel like I deserve something from God because I am following his calling on my life. I feel like I'm making sacrifices, so should earn something in return, right? Those thoughts of entitlement quickly get swept away when I reflect on the challenges Paul faced in his ministry and his worshipful heart in all of it. Oh if I could have an attitude of gratitude instead of entitlement.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Counting is Taking Off

When I post stuff like the following updates on our homeschool, my sincere hope is that it does not seem that I am bragging or boasting. Really, it is just helpful for me to remind myself that we are actually accomplishing anything each week and that I can, in fact, help my children learn. My confidence in that comes and goes. And I should re-emphasize the "helping" aspect of homeschooling; for the most part the kids are learning a ton on their own and I follow their lead.

Tey has been enjoying counting to 100. Sometimes he just counts out loud, but when he has the numbers in front of him, even if not in order, he can do it without error. One day he counted while jumping, which was a fun way to get sillies out too. Of course, with rockets, it is always fun to count backwards! We've been doing that a lot just because the kids enact shuttle launches all the time. Props to Bo for finding this counting maze that gets a space shuttle into outer space. I love when we can build on our nocturnal theme. He actually printed it for Bean, who then pushed it aside thinking it was too hard. Sneaky Mommy then introduced it to Tey who finished it with a little scaffolding. ;)

Bean attempted it today and completed with without any help though he wanted me to sit next to him. I knew seeing Tey do it would ease his reservations. I can see that we have made some strides with him as far as overcoming his fear of failure, but we still have a ways to go. Relating a task to something he knows really boosts his confidence. In this case, I related it to dot-to-dot, but told him it was squares. I dunno what he was afraid of, he can do dot-to-dot counting by threes! It's all about presentation with him. I need to remember that. Bean's made great strides in math and we actually finished his Singapore math kindergarten curriculum, so we are doing first grade now. Contrary to my expectations he writes in his workbooks all the time. Our oral mathematics and real life mathematics complement the workbook/curriculum stuff well but there is comfort in knowing that we are learning systematically with the curriculum. Number bonds are his favorite and I'm going to try to slow down and really reinforce it to really make sure he's got that down pat because I know it's the foundation for later material.

Mei has picked up on counting too. She generally does not enunciate most of her words, but I can tell the gears are turning in her little head. For her counting, she points and goes "Hmm, hmm, hmm" and it sounds a lot like "1, 2, 3." Similarly, when she says "Bean Bean" is sounds like she is "Ga Ga" but as if you had your mouth closed. It's like she keeps the back of her mouth closed or something. I'm thinking she'll soon come around to more actual words, especially since she picked up "owl" in just one day of us trying to teach her it.

Update: Today Bean also did similar space counting worksheets, one counting from 5 to 500 by 5's and one counting from 2 to 200 counting by 2's. 


Everybody in our little eaglet nest is embracing the nocturnal study. Mei learned to say "owl" earlier this week. 

Disregard the pink and black box taped to the window, that is our makeshift light table for Bean to copy constellations.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Real Life Ryan Gosling

Have you seen the homeschool version of the Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl" meme? Some of them are too hilarious to admit they could be true. Like the one about eating Cheerios out of a measuring up with a ladle for dinner. Even Bo cracked up laughing at that one.

But they are made up. Right? I'm not sure.

I'm blessed to say that my hubs is this patient and encouraging all the time and it's for real. He truly is the best. I would not have ever accomplished as much as I have in my adult life without his constant support and this is especially true for our most recent family adventure to homeschool our three children.

So for Valentine's day, inspired by the Ryan Gosling meme, I made my own little craft (aren't I getting crafty these days?) about DH and some of the sweet things he's done over the past couple months.

I thought it would be kinda cute and funny to use pics of him from when we dated in college. It's a great reminder that 13 years ago we could never have imaged our life being like this. Man, if he even suggested in college that he work and I stay home with 3 kids and also homeschool them, I no doubt would have left him right then and there! Haha!

Bo has had my back from grad school, to earning my PhD, to finding a job and working it for almost 2 years, to quitting to homeschool. He's my partner and best friend in this crazy new life that God has called us to. I can't imagine the test of faith it has been for him to endure the ride with me thus far with all the unexpected twists and turns and obstacles. If that's not love, I dunno what is.

So to my sweet Bo on Valentines Day, I love you and your real love for me!

Here are some close-ups of the pics:

Happy Valentine's Day

The kids got Valentine's Day cards from their grandparents and on it were X's and O's.

Bo: "What does "X" and "O" stand for?
Bean: "Well, "X" stands for "ten."

Thanks to the hubs for teaching Bean Roman numerals last week. That made me smirk today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moments to Remember: Blast Off!

Mei flying a rocket around the house.

I think our unit study on astronomy and nocturnal animals is rubbing off on her.

Unconditional Love

Are you on Pinterest? I am. It's an obsession. I'm an ideas kinda gal with sometimes little follow through, so like Johnnie 5, I want "more input!" and Pinterest delivers. I don't have a single creative bone in me and Pinterest lets me steal be inspired by others creativity.  For me, it's extremely cathartic to mindlessly pin, pin, pin after a long, tiring day of homeschooling. 

Speaking of long and tiring days, have I mentioned that homeschooling is long and tiring? Well let me tell you. It's long. And tiring. Maybe not for people who have been planning to stay at home or to homeschool, maybe not for people who have been doing it for a couple years, maybe not for people who have experience working with numerous children of multiple ages at the same time. But for me and especially as we are days are long. And tiring.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. But sometimes they drive me nuts!!! Late this afternoon was one such time when I took them to The I.D.E.A. Store to pick out some arts and crafts materials for Valentine's Day and for our homeschooling. That part was awesome. The I.D.E.A. Store is awesome. My kids were being awesome. It was in the parking lot when one of them made a very disappointing choice. Grrr! It took every ounce of my being to keep my cool, to not freak out and to try to make it a teaching moment. 

That moment was not made. I just had to bite my tongue because it was the end of a long, tiring day. I had used up the rest of my patience reserves 2 minutes prior when I attempted to keep them from messing around with the check out counter. I knew that nothing that would come out of my mouth at that point could be positive. So I kept it shut. We drove in silence. 

When we got home Bo took over and I disappeared upstairs to make this.

I'm gaining an appreciation for arts and crafts when before I thought they were pointless and just created something that would eventually end up in the garbage. If for nothing else this it calmed me. I channeled my frustration into bending the wire hanger. I loved the scratchy, natural feel of the burlap and knew that it would allow me to cut imprecisely and not worry about it having to look perfect. I just wanted to make something beautiful. It turned out better than I expected. Thank you Naptime Decorator for the inspiration.

I hung it on the offenders door. I want my kids to know that I love them unconditionally. Even after a long and tiring day. Even after they have committed an offense. We are all rough and all imperfect, just like this burlap heart. I need to remember that more about myself and about my kids.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weakness and P.E.

It was a long week. I'll just say that. Over the past several days I've gone back and forth about how much to talk about the inner workings of our homeschool and my views on it. We have a lot of struggles, a lot of joys, and everything in the between. I'm still figuring out how to blog about our lives and what to include. I have found numerous homeschool bloggers to be extremely helpful and the best ones are those that lay it all on the table. The raw ones provide the such comfort and encouragement, or at least strength in numbers that we are trying our best and that is all we can do. 

The utmost comfort comes from my heavenly Father. In our weakness, His strength shines through. So I think everyone in my family must be burning from His rays now. I know he has uniquely created each one of my kids and also me. I am also certain that this is where I am to be and somehow I am to raise and teach them. So, wisdom, discernment, and patience are what I am praying for most now.

Well, onto the fun stuff. Eventually I'll do more formal P.E. with the kids, but in the meantime, I'm being ok with just making sure they are active at least an hour a day. But really, who has to make sure kids are active everyday? They are so energetic, it seems like they never get tired. Anyway, I also don't have a set schedule of aerobic, muscle strengthening, learning a particular skill, etc., but we just go with the flow and have fun at this point. I'm cool with that too. When it is raining outside and I'm not feeling creative at all, we can always rely on our default: running around the house. Mei has picked up on this very quickly. And has added flying wings. I dunno if she made that up or saw her brothers do it. Anyway, she is pure cuteness when she does it.

One thing I can feel accomplished about this week is sticking to our responsibilities. The boys helped a ton with their basic responsibilities as well as assisting me out with laundry, cleaning the kitchen and generally cleaning up of the house to have friends over. Bean also helped me take down the Christmas tree (yes, I still had my tree up). At Grandma and grandpa's house they had a blast getting leaves out of the flower bed. 

My hard little workers! They were so proud of themselves. I was too. Ok, maybe I can do this.