Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thoughts on Older Children Part 2: What Did We Expect?

Honestly, what did we expect?

There are lots of expectations we have for our dear children - how they will turn out, what they will do, and how they will act as adults.

This is one thing that I wish I had thought of when my kids were younger. Since I had put my everything into these little beings, all hours of the days and nights, raising, thinking and planning for these children, the obvious expected outcome is that they are going to turn out pretty darn good.

I became aware that this thinking is incorrect, in a very humbling way.

For years, I expected my kids to mature to the point where they would not fight with each other. I thought this way because when kids are little, their fights are really dumb. They were most likely fighting over a toy, someone getting more cookie than the other, a sassy statement, or a rolling of the eyes. There were times when I would just throw up my hands and say, "Just don't fight and argue! Stop it!"

I really expected them at some point, to pretty much stop fighting and disagreeing with each other.

{During a time when they were getting along nicely}

One day I realized that this was the wrong perspective. It happened on a day when of course, two children had another dumb fight. Then that night, my Sweetie and I had a disagreement. About something really dumb, like the tone one of us had used when talking. I realized, when reflecting that evening, that there was not one bit of difference in both of the fights that happened that day.

I realized that instead of teaching my children not to disagree, I need to teach them how to disagree correctly. Someday they might move in with roommates, get married, have children, and have relationship with lots of people. And they will have disagreements. Because they are sinners.

We all need the skills to calmly discuss issues as they arise. To overlook small things that might annoy us about others, things that really don't need to be mentioned. To take a break when a fight is getting heated and beginning to get nasty. (This is something that we have all been working on in our family. To recognize when things are going to get out of control and to ask for a break. And then to take that time and think and pray about reconciliation. I cannot tell you how this has helped the arguments in our home!)

To approach the other party with humility, in Christ. And when I say "in Christ", I am meaning with the mindset that all of us are equal as sinners, and all deserve God's curse and wrath. But then remembering that Christ not only took my place but also gave me his eternal reward.

Instead of trying to teach my children not to fight, I want to and I need to remember, to give them these tools.

{Another happy photo}

We need to not expect our children to never lie, to never lose their temper, and to always keep their rooms clean. I look at myself and I struggle with all of those things, and I am 42 years old! Parenting is full of discipline and wise council, but it is also very full of grace. God's grace, which we all are in such need of.

"Admit it, we're all still a bit of a mess; that's why we need God's 
grace today as much as we needed it the first day we believed."
{Paul David Tripp - New Morning Mercies}

And then this scary thought hit me: my older kids might not turn out like I wanted at all. They might (heaven forbid) make wrong choices. They might actually make some very bad choices. I need to, in some ways, expect this. After all, when we examine, deep down, the way we thought when we were that age and then honestly think about how we act now at times, we still make poor decisions. And learn (sometimes) from them.

God is working on us and sanctifying us. He is working on our children and thanks be to God, sanctifying them too. We need to remember this and have faith, that his plan is perfect. We also need to remember to pray for our older children. They need that very much, too.

Each day our goal should be to live in peace, hope, and courage, not looking at all of the things that are going on inside or around us. We have faith because we are forgiven, and because we are blessed because Christ lives in us.

And we do have peace, because ultimately we know, in faith, that he is working through ALL THE THINGS that are going on with our older children.

Thoughts on Older Children Part 4: Who Drew the Map?
Thoughts on Older Children Part 3: Let Them Fly
Thoughts on Older Children Part 1: Communication is Huge

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thoughts on Older Children Part 1: Communication is Huge

For weeks now I've been thinking about writing about older children. I've got a few of them, and life has been quite interesting as they get older. So this last week while nursing a bad head cold, I spent some time writing. I have four topics that I'll turn into a 4 part series, which I'll post here on my blog.

I have a couple of reasons for writing this:

First, this is written to me. I have been jotting down these thoughts and some of the quotes I have read, and needed a place where I could easily reread them and be encouraged.

Second, I know that all moms are going to hit this stage in life. I am no expert (far from it) but thought I would share my humble thoughts.

Also, in these posts you won't get any juicy information about my older kids. In fact, I am referring to them all collectively, so as to keep them anonymous. On a side note, I have many times in the last couple of years, wanted to either blog or put on Facebook, things that are going on with my older kids. Mostly all trivial, fun things, nothing serious at all. But a couple of years ago one of my offspring told me that they resented at times, things I shared about them with others. I realized that I am actually invading their privacy, not only when I post things online, but also do what all moms do when they get together: talk about their kids. Now some of these conversations are profitable, and are sisters-in-the-trenches kind of talks, that are private and meant to encourage. But I am trying to be more careful, both in my personal conversations and on social media, what I share about my kids.

Now, my thoughts.....

Communication is Huge

This is something that my mom did with me as a teen, even though I didn't really realize it until years later. I look back and remembered that I shared lots of private things with her, and she was able to advise me. That doesn't mean that I always took her advice or that her advice was always the best, but we did have many deep conversations.

Why didn't I notice this relationship until later? Because she started conversations about normal every day things with me, every day. Talking with her was a normal thing. So when deeper things did come up, it was not a big deal that we were talking about it. There were things I did not share with her, things that she will never know about. But I did confide some things to her and see now that it gave depth to our relationship.

But if we don't talk at all to our kids, there is not progress. Think about it, how do we expect to have deep conversations with our children if we can't talk about small things with them? And did you notice that I used the word communication and not just talk? That's because sometimes, actual talking is hard. I have noticed this with one of my kids, and we actually have deeper text messages than verbal conversations. I have made a point to text this particular child each day, to encourage and keep that communication line open.

It's work, communicating with our children. I have a list of things to do a mile long each day, and sometimes my kids just don't feel like talking. Some days I realize that the only communication we have had was my giving instructions or reprimanding. Many times it is me telling them how they could have re phrased that sentence a little less sarcastically or for the fourteenth time that their room is messy. But then I am reminded that I don't particularly like being with someone where our only communication is instruction.

Please don't read into this and think that I am saying that you should become best bosom buddies with your older children, never remind them to do their chores and always compliment them. But I do want to encourage you to have just a couple of conversations about something, anything, during the day. Sports, animals, a movie you all saw recently, their plans for the day. Keeping those important lines of communication open.

Each week I don't communicate enough, so I am writing this to myself as well. By God's grace may we as moms deepen our relationships with our older kids by simply asking how their day went.

**An Addendum: My sweet step mom read this post above and had just seen this very good article, on creative ways to start conversations with your children. Check it out.

Thoughts on Older Children Part 4: Who Drew the Map
Thoughts on Older Children Part 3: Let Them Fly
Thoughts on Older Children Part 2: What Did We Expect?
Thoughts on Older Children Part 1: Communication is Huge

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Week In Images

 My week......

This note that Nutsy left on Dad's lunch......

because she loves him.

This blossom......

because spring is coming.

This first place girl.....

because it was a job very well done.

This beautiful walk......

because the weather is getting warmer.

This wildflower......

because I am thankful for simple beauty.

And this crazy girl.......

because she is a nut, but I love her.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Homeschool Co-op 2016-17

I was looking back through my blog posts and realized that I have never blogged about our co-op this year.

It is the smallest it has ever been, with only 6 children. Only Nutsy and Dasher are in it this year - Bookworm is finishing up high school and also took a total of three college classes over two semesters.

This year, my friend taught through Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Astronomy.

Each week the kids fill in their notebooks and read the text.

Then when we get together weekly, they do fun experiments.

Here they were showing how a solar eclipse works.

Making volcanoes, since there are volcanoes on Mars.

Here they were making clouds to show what the gas planets are like.

And just this last week they made ice cream, using ziploc bags. This was in honor of Neptune, the coldest planet.

We split our year into two 12-week sections. The first 12 weeks I taught a unit study from Homeschool in the Woods on Elections. This was perfect timing, since we were going through our own Presidential elections.

Here, we marked all of the states after the election.

The second half of our co-op year, my friend did a unit study on The Constitution.

Each week she would talk about a different aspect and then they would complete components of their lapbook. She did supplement and added things that they are currently learning about the Bill of Rights.

I spent the whole year teaching both grammar and writing.

For grammar we finished up level one of IEW's Fix It Grammar, and halfway through, began book 2.

In writing we focused on the second half of IEW Student Writing Intensive Level B. We really worked on 5 paragraph essays, perfecting topic and clincher sentences, and having solid introductions and conclusions. When appropriate, I would assign them essays on signers of the constitution, or the presidential candidates, so that it combined what they were learning in their other classes.

And in just a few short weeks, we will be done with co-op for this year! We do plan on continuing this next year. So far we haven't done too much planning, but I plan to finish up the Fix It Grammar Level 2 and than I am looking into taking a break from SWI and doing History-Based writing lessons. We will most likely add something science that my friend will teach, and then each of us will choose an elective type subject to teach each semester.

I am very thankful for our co-op and the discipline and opportunities it gives our family!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Meet the Menagerie

4-H season is upon us again, whether we are ready or not. (Not)

Almost all of the animals are at The Farm, so I thought I would introduce them to you.

This year, each girl is taking both a goat and a lamb.

Bookworm's lamb is named Archie.

He is a Suffolk, and right now weighs about 85 pounds. She is wearing gloves because we had to live-vaccinate the lambs for sore mouth. It can pass to humans so we used gloves for the first few weeks.

Here is her goat Scorpius. He is a Boer goat that she purchased from one of our favorite breeders.

Dasher's lamb is coming tomorrow! She is super excited to work with him. She does help work with the other animals too.

Her goat is still at another farm because she was only born 6 weeks ago, and has not weaned yet. But that is going to be fine, as she is showing her in the feeder class, so there is not minimum weight.

Nutsy absolutely loves her goat Canyon. He is already 59 pounds and walks really well.

She is working to build up his endurance for driving each time we go out to work with them.

Nutsy's lamb is named Ariel. She has been getting him used to having his back legs touched.

4-H is a sacrifice, but I have found that my kids learn so, so many good things through this.

We are feeding 6 afternoons a week, so either Bookworm or myself drive the 17 minutes (yes, we kept track one time) to The Farm.

We have numbered the pens and each day the girls monitor the feed the goats are getting.

Every couple of weeks we weight them all, which happens out of the back of my mini van.

Each time they go out to feed, they spend 30-45 minutes working with their animals. Even when we had so much rain a couple of weeks ago, Nutsy was so determined to work through it that she put a scarf around Canyon so he wouldn't get cold while she trained him.

The girls are determined to place in showmanship, and they all want to see if they can get into the final drive in the market class. 

This take time. And sacrifice. But hard work will pay off, and through this whole process my girls are learning this.