Thursday, March 21, 2013

The lazy, unbusy life and other random chattering

The evening light is yellow.  Second day of Spring and I'm ready to head for Hawaii, or any other state that is warm.  I want to sink my body down onto a pile of warm, soft sand and nap in the afternoon sun listening to the ocean...

So much for daydreams.  The good news is that my kitchen is clean.  I've recently come to a realization about myself.  It's this:  I'm a little lazy.  You see, I've always known that I like I clean kitchen.  Most nights most of it gets done, but when it comes to those last few things I quit.  I sink myself onto the couch with my crochet or a good book and I'm content to let the rest sit.  I hate, hate, hate it when I get up in the morning and the work is already waiting for me (when does that NOT happen when you have a household of 5 people) but I'm lazy enough that I do it.  Fine with me.

Really though, the boys are getting good enough that most nights someone helps with dishes, some nights the boys work together and do all the dishes.  I love it.  I love being the lazy one and still getting the work done.

Here is my philosophy on chores.  Want to hear it?  Well, you've been reading this long...  My thoughts on chores are that the squeaky wheel, it needs to be oiled and worked more.  This is what I mean:

Mom:  Hey (son), will you gather all the trash from the house and take it out to the bin?  Then wheel the bin out to the street.  Tomorrow is trash day.

Son:  Mooooooom, (falling to the floor) I've been working aallll day.  First I had my chore, then I brushed my teeth, then I did all of my school, and now this?  *Aren't there child labor laws in WA?  Is this slavery?

Mom:  Thanks so much for helping me out.  I really appreciate it.  When you finish that work, and I wrap up the dishes we'll be done for the night!  What a relief.

Son:  Moooom, are you serious?  Do I really have to do all of that?  (Beginning of the meltdown) My brothers never have to do anything like that?  They just sit around all day playing LEGOS and you hear that?  They're laughing?  They're laughing!  And I just have to work, work, work until my legs fall off!!

Mom:  Thanks again. (And I walk away thinking, ' and you just signed yourself up for garbage night for the next month or two until you're done whining about the work.)

So it goes.  **When that sweet son of mine responds to my request to take out the trash with a "sure" or "ok," then I know he can do that task anytime again without too much fuss.  Just gotta break him in.  I adapted this method of working my kids to the bone for 8 minutes a week about a year ago, and now my boys are pretty successfully broken in to jumping up to help me with most anything most anytime.  I love, love, love it!  On occasion we have a meltdown or sudden death due to chores, but it's just on occasion.

So life has been moving pretty smoothly lately.  I'm recovering from my near-emotional-crisis that took me from December into February.  Thanks, some of you have been checking on me.  I'm so loved!
The sun is coming out these days and doesn't that make a huge difference?  As much as I never want to move again, not at least for 20 years or something, I really would like to skip Winter for awhile.  I'm going to look into a 'Happy Light' for next Winter.  I figure I could put it in the school room...maybe we'd all be feeling better?  At any rate, Spring began yesterday and I was waiting for it.

I have gathered seeds and my materials and I need to get my indoor seedlings started.  Ralph and I have all these ideas about the yard this year but they just sit in our heads collecting dust.  I'm determined to have a veggie garden again no matter what, and I recently ordered a handful of succulents, hens and chicks and lavender for the yard anyway.  Maybe our yard progress will be haphazard and unorganized this year but I guess that would just be a repeat of the last few years.  No loss.  I'm just thankful I have dirt to climb around in and plants to care for, it soothes my soul, getting my hands in the dirt.

Next week is our last week for Classical Conversations classes.  As much as I treasure our weeks together and love seeing all my friends, I desperately long for a little peace and quiet.  We're planning to take a little Spring break ourselves.  Not going anywhere (though it would be super fun to get our bikes fixed up and do some exploring), not spending gobbs of money, just an ice cream here or a 2nd hand store there, but just getting a little break from the usual.  This time of year is the long part.  Every day I have to argue with myself about getting school started, and some days the boys are doing a LOT (too much!) on their own while I fool around doing anything BUT school.  It's a good time for a wee break. I'll try to get in equal times of play with the boys and my own work done.  Practicum is sneaking up on me, and I have some prep to do for training again.

It's such a battle to keep from the distraction of busy in today's world.  I found it simpler when the boys were young.  It seemed ridiculous to sign them up for every activity, but as they get older I have to fight off the ideas that the boys are missing some grand experience of life.  For now, we're keeping it pretty calm.  We still have karate, which I love largely because the boys have class twice a week within 2 hours on an afternoon.  I love it because it's 7 blocks from here and Joe and Nate have ridden bikes alone, or we all ride/ walk together.  I love it because classes are in the afternoon and that keeps our evenings open for Community Group and chilling out together at home.

I think kids should just be.  They should just be left to their own devices sometimes, or a lot of the time.  Leave them outside.  Leave them to figure out what to do.  Right now I have one kiddo grocery shopping with his dad, two in the back yard ripping apart a broken wooden chair and using the legs as drumsticks.  I like that.  I like letting them figure out things to do.  Sometimes they're destructive and I have to stick my head out there and bring them back down to planet "this stuff is still my parents' stuff,"  sometimes they get in fights and I help them talk it out.  More often not.  I want the boys to learn to navigate life.  Sometimes they get hurt.  I'd rather have them getting hurt in the backyard then on a stupid text-gossip-rumor.

I don't want zombie kids.  Pretty sure that apocalypse is closer than we could ever imagine.  Zombies, and we're growing them right in our own homes.  Just feed them what they want and plug them into the closest electronic device, leave them.  Pretty soon they'll be unable to focus in the presence of  that orb of light in the sky.  They'll be unable to speak and only make noise when their devices are removed or turned off, or heaven forbid...something goes wrong and it turns off.

There is my rant.  Seriously, though, I know these zombie-kids because I've come far too near to losing my own boys.  A few weeks ago I decided just to turn all that media junk off during the week.  Spring is springing and my boys were getting way addicted.  They get a few hours over the weekend and I'm so, so happy with the changes around here.  Waking up kids!

*these are real quotes from my household
** this really, really does happen, too.

Now that you've reached the end of my blogpost, stop over and feed my fake fishies.  They're cute, and I don't think I've fed them for a few months.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Survival Mode for a Homeschooling Mama

Gonna be real with you, folks. This has been a tough season for me. I've spent most of this year doing some digging around in my heart-closets, I've discovered more junk than I knew a heart could hold. As I've been seeking The Lord, talking to a friend or two, crying, I've still been needing to do my job.

Believe me, I'm wishing there were subs for this. Wishing I could call in sick. But sadly, as all mothers know, life doesn't stop when you're sick, or tired, mad or heart-sick.

So this is why someone coined the term "survival mode."  Some days are just like that. Me, groping along withy boys, doing my best when I'm having a crummy day.

Admittedly this is much easier than it used to be. The boys are older, can all read, write- do a few things alone. So I've kind of worked over the last year or two to help the boys to do school on their own some days. The boys call it 'easy school'. I call it mom is lazy (or upstairs journaling) school.

We have a white board in the school room, I write down a checklist for each of the kids. They love this!  Then I just send them off to work. They can work through math, some language arts, review CC, AWANA, Latin, on their own. I usually double their assigned reading.

And then I go, clean of I'm mad or cry if I'm sad.

I've been reading and learning about grief (in my case, delayed grief.)  I'm learning about grief containers.  Allowing myself certain times of the day, certain places to let myself grieve and be sad.  It doesn't always seem that simple, but I'm learning.

I'm also learning about self soothing.  Taking care of myself like a mom would care for her sad little one.  Take a bath, take a walk, take a cup of tea or a phone call.  Do some of those things that help me to feel a bit better, or just things that have been points of joy for me.

So we're rolling with it, the boys and I.  Homeschool wouldn't be complete without it's fair exposure to 'real life' studies, right?  While I mostly work to protect the boys from the harshness of my emotions, I allow them to know that I'm working through things, I've been sad, and it's not about them.  It's the best I can do until I train a substitute.   Applications?

Friday, March 1, 2013

River Ice

 Early this month Ralph & I took the boys for an outing, just a walk along the frozen riverbanks.  Seems we were starved for fresh air, I breathed long and deep the sunshine.

We drove for a change to a nearby park and walked South toward the sloughs filled with bird life, quiet and open.

The frozen ice on the riverbanks was a treat to discover.  Treasure for us all, something to collect, something to crush- a boys' delight.

February has been winter warm.  I've said it before, I'm certain.  Seasons are a constant reminder to me.  A reminder that though change is a guarantee, God's faithfulness is behind it all.  He will be the same, and life will continue to change right before my eyes.  He is steadfast, God is faithful. I'm so thankful.

School is going well, we're nearly 2/3 of
the way through the year.  This year is so very…academic and different.  A steady, almost predictable kind of day each day.  I didn't ever think this day would come, our routine is set and easy to keep.  Some days we have glitches.  A few weeks ago I spent the morning mopping more than 10 gallons of water out of our flooding basement instead of teaching.  The boys helped me with disaster recovery…call that life school?  Our journey with Latin has been a delight, and we're seeing it everywhere these days.

I recently spent the afternoon with my sweet friend and her 4 kiddos, all 7 and under.  I was shocked to realize just how far away I had come from being a mama of little ones.  When did my life get so quiet?  Well, a new sort of noise litters my house.  Giggles from a far off room.  Boy noises, (need I say more?) silliness, Oh, the silliness.  I had NO idea about the silliness!  Lord help me with that!

The realization of how quickly it's all going serves as a reminder that my days of speaking in to the boys lives are few.  I'm waking up to the present again- I have today with these boys and I'd love to just spend it on educating, and snuggling up on the couch, reading to these boys and laughing with them at their own silliness.  Teaching them God's Word, being transparent in a way that allows them to see that I desperately need God is all these days are for, right?

It's easy to get caught up in the hubbub.  What you couldn't know is that for the last six months I have been doing the hard, hard kind of heart work that sucks the very breath out of a girl some days.  I've been counseling and journaling.  Workbooking and praying through very old heartache, and some that's not so old.  But this season has been so good, so rich and vital to my life.  I want very much to live with a heart of flesh.  It's God that does this work, now isn't it.  Try as I might I just cannot heal myself.  It's amazing how in a quiet hour of prayer God can draw pain and hurt out of me and replace it with peace.  I've a long, long way to go.  But I'm going.

Alrighty, I wanted to spend more time
writing, but time to get to life again.  For now, more pics:

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