Thursday, September 27, 2012

{Autumn Pause}

For three-and-a-half glorious days this week our address was 9 Cottonwood, Sunriver, Oregon.

The warm September sun kindly smiled down upon us, and we gratefully soaked in every moment.

We played, we rested, we ate.

We played, we rested and we ate some more.

We took time to watch, to listen and to just be.

The breathing, appreciating kind that is so necessary for the soul.

Not a bad way to usher in my favorite time of year.

I'm pretty sure we need to make this a tradition.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

{A Season}

I've been up with my Little Miss several times over the last few nights. She's fine, overall, but let's just say she's required frequent bathroom trips. The disturbed sleep patterns had me groaning with fatigue, frustration and self pity as I finally dropped into bed the other night. Just before drifting off to sleep (sleep that would be disturbed throughout the night) I moaned, "It's like having a newborn again!"

This morning I woke up and looked at the clock, startled. It was already 7:00. I had slept through the night! And I felt, once again, the way I felt seven, nine, eleven and fourteen years ago when my precious babes finally made it through the night without squawking me out of my blissful slumber.

I was a new woman.

I propped myself up in bed and did something I hadn't done in days. I cracked open my Bible and journal and began to read, write and pray. Looking back over my journal, I saw that it had been several days since my last entry. My instinct was to be hard on myself, as though I had somehow failed. Tsk, tsk.

But then I thought of my newborn baby years. And I thought of my friends who are still in the phase that demands that they survive on very little sleep. And I remembered how easy -- and sometimes necessary -- it is to fall into survival mode. Survival mode drops everything extra. And that's okay; it's only for a season.

I was dropping the "extras" left and right. The quiet mornings of solitude? I slept instead. That final hour was too precious. I stopped exercising. Walk? No sirree. That would require effort. I began to eat like my children. Peanut butter and jelly? Why sure. Mac n cheese? Bring it. Whatever is fast and easy and doesn't require me to think.

My body started to rebel, but I reminded myself it was only for a season.

So it was with great relief that I opened my Bible this morning, refreshed after a good night's sleep. I was eager. I was hungry. And, as is always the case when my heart is yearning, I felt the Lord draw me to Himself. And you know what? He wasn't angry with me. He wasn't looking at the date on my journal. He wasn't raising His eyebrows over the hot dog I ate at Costco. He knew I was tired. He knew that I had a terrible kink in my neck. And He loved me. He loved me so very much.

My eyes landed on 2 Chronicles 24:13, and I was filled with hope: "They rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it." I knew that my own temple was operating at a mere fraction of its potential. I also knew that its original design had nothing to do with me. It was God's work. Which meant that He would continue to build according to its original design. Furthermore, He would reinforce this temple. I just needed to let go and let Him work. It was time to move out of this season, brief as it was.

And so I asked the Lord to help me do some reinforcing, that I might begin to live out the purpose for which I have been made. A purpose which was mapped out long ago when my Savior walked this earth and began to beckon to the weary, "Follow me."

The children woke up and the house became a whirlwind of activity. By noon I was dragging, but I took a deep breath and put on my walking shoes anyway. I headed out the front door and hustled my little temple around the neighborhood. It was invigorating and uplifting. Squirrels scampered across the lawns, paws clutching precious treasures. Crows shouted violently from the treetops. Leaves began to dance across the crisp, almost-autumn breeze as I gradually increased my speed. It was just what I needed.

As I headed toward home, I thought of the diversity and beauty of seasons. Each season brings change, and with change comes growth. At times the seasons are dark. Certain seasons require creativity and extra effort just to get by. And that's okay. Because as long as I continue to follow my Savior, each season will bring my temple closer to its original design.

One day the design will be complete and astonishing and perfect as I gaze fully at the Creator. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

{ABC Lapbooks For Early Learners}

When my younger children were in their preschool years, they really wanted to “do school” like their older siblings. Our budget was very limited, however, so buying curriculum for the early years seemed unwise (if not impossible). Necessity being the mother of invention, I searched for a way to incorporate the main subjects in an engaging, memorable way for my little ones.

Read about my solution over at The Homeschool Classroom!
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

{A Glimpse into Our Homeschool: Afternoon Handwork}

A little while ago I posted some ideas for dealing with b-o-r-e-d-o-m and its attack on little (or not so little) people in the home. One suggestion was to write several activities on Popsicle sticks, place the sticks in a jar and invite the children to pick out an idea when ennui strikes.

We started school last week, and I've found that the little stick idea is coming in quite handy. It's especially nice during our afternoon reading session when I suggest that my kids choose "handwork" to bring into the living room.

But let me back up and give you a little glimpse into our home on a typical afternoon:

The children have a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00. Often, if the weather and our activities permit, I sneak out for a 30 minute walk during this time. It's a wonderfully uplifting and invigorating way to reboot before hopping back to an afternoon of school work.

When I return, I prep the kids for what's to come. Usually I say something like, "We'll start reading at 1:00, so pull together your handwork!"

There is much happy scurrying (they like handwork), and the children eventually congregate in the living room, hands full of quiet activities. (Many of these activities are written on the Popsicle sticks, just in case the little one needs a quick idea before we dive into our books.)

"Handwork" is anything that will quietly occupy a listener for about 30 or 40 minutes. It could be knitting, sketching, coloring, sewing, building or creating. Once they're all settled, I squish down into my rocking chair and begin our Bible chapter for the day.

This month we're reading Matthew. Before I begin the chapter, I give each child an age appropriate detail to listen for as I read. (For example, when we read chapter four today, I asked Aidan to be listening for the names of the first two disciples.) This keeps their minds, hands and hearts focused -- a perfect after-lunch transition.

After our Bible chapter, we move on to our literature selection. We just voted on our next book, and the kids unanimously chose All of a Kind Family. So today we started the first chapter as they continued with their activities.

This reading time provides an ideal pause before we jump into the final afternoon work of science, history or art. My kids' hands have been creating, their minds have been working, and their hearts have been receiving. Which means that my heart is nourished, too.

* * * * *

Here are some favorite "handwork" activities we've collected along the way. Many are also featured on my school room Popsicle sticks which Little Miss Avery Kate is loving right now. I'm not sure how long her enthusiasm will last, but I shan't borrow trouble from tomorrow.

(One more note: I'm including a link to each item, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Some of these we've acquired from different sources, including garage sales, thrift stores and as hand-me-downs. So keep an eye out!)

Okay, here goes:

What ideas can you add to our list? I'll fill up as many Popsicle sticks as I can!  

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