Saturday, March 30, 2019

Tiny Truths Bible Review

I jumped at the chance to receive this book for free from BookLook bloggers in return for my honest review. Isn't it cute? And of course biblical! Over the last few months Reuben and I have enjoyed reading through it. I would say it is perfect for the 2-6 age range, with lots of detailed pictures and good prose. The stories are short, and they do gloss over a lot of the "murder, death, blood and gore" that is in the bible. For example, in the story of Daniel and the Lions Den, they just say that the advisers that plotted to kill Daniel got "in trouble" after Daniel was rescued from the den. And in the story of Joseph with the coat of many colors, they don't go into how he was accused falsely of rape--only saying that he was in jail for a crime he did not commit. I guess that is one way of putting it. We adults know the stuff behind the words. We all know King Darius' advisers were thrown into the pit and devoured--a little bit harsher than "trouble"! But perhaps not something you want to tell a two year old, yet? Yet it does seem a bit "too watered down" at least from my perspective. I know that there are some unpleasant things in the bible, and I know it must be age appropriate--but I think Reuben can handle most of it already. I think it is important to God's redemptive story not to remove so much of the hard things, but rather give your child the full truth (when they are ready) and talk them through it.

What things did I like? I like the cute pictures, and the diverse people groups shown. I liked how each section was short and to the point, and the binding opens easily. I hate it when I can't lay a book flat, guys. Its a struggle as sometimes I am nursing a baby and reading a book at the same time. This book is able to be laid flat without the pages closing!

I have another children's bible: the Jesus Storybook Bible. I couldn't help but compare Tiny Truthss to my Jesus Storybook Bible. I like the Jesus Storybook Bible better, but it might just be because I owned that one since Reuben was born and we have been reading it for three years now. I can't exactly pinpoint why. It feels like the JSB is more "biblical", but I would have to read them together and I don't have time for that. I know the JSB doesn't gloss over as much of the blood and gore as Tiny Truths does.

However, we are thrilled to get it and I will be keeping it in our home library just for further reading with Reuben. He loved it! If anything, it opens the door to conversations and I find myself picking up my bible and reading the original version.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Why I chose Charlotte Mason Method for Homeschooling

I have always known I wanted to home-school my kids. But I didn't always know about Charlotte Mason. My husband was taught at home using the Abeka curriculum. Abeka is what my sister used at the time with her kids as well, so I just assumed I would do Abeka. All of those thoughts I had before I even became pregnant, ever became a mother.

When I became pregnant with Reuben I was introduced to the Charlotte Mason method by my dear and close friend Melissa. At first I was overwhelmed. I had never considered different methods for homeschooling. As I researched it was like the world opened beneath my feet! There were so many approaches and they all looked fun! Unschooling. Classical. Even public school methods at home! For awhile I was overwhelmed. What was the perfect method? Who had got it right? My stress was at a all-time high and I hadn't even given birth yet.

After I delivered Reuben I went through a period where I really had to define why I wanted to home-school. I still felt lost and stressed, afraid to chose one method over another because what if I made a mistake? What if I chose wrong? I could ruin my child forever!

I can laugh now at my thoughts. Thank goodness, because my approach and mindset towards homeschooling has really changed and I feel very empowered. I realize now that I was thinking about homeschooling all wrong. I assumed that there must be a “right” way to home-school and that all the other ways were “wrong”. This public school way of thinking (because the department of education decides for public schools what is the “right” way to educate, discarding the “wrong”) was inhibiting my ability to shift through all my options.

I sat down one day and instead of thinking about all the different home-school options and methods I thought instead about how my child likes to learn. I thought just about him. How does he like to be taught right now, at three? Because even though we do not do “school” as such, he is learning and growing every day.

After just a few hours of observing him and thinking about his interests and personality, I jotted down the following. Reuben likes to read books. He loves to be outside. He can sit still a very long time at the table. He can color for hours. He enjoys learning and he wants to always be near me. He is a person and thus deserves my respect and patience. He does not want to be treated like a child. He wants to do what I do. He is naturally and insistently inquisitive. (why why why why all day long)

I stopped researching homeschooling that day. With the above things in mind I decided to cultivate a home-school method based around my child's strengths. His strengths and interests would be the tools I would use to cultivate his garden of learning. I then only had to till up my own soil and discover what foundation I had to build upon. What moral beliefs do I have about education? Moreover, what is the ultimate purpose behind learning and school?

Well, that was a simple question for me to answer. The purpose of life, not just school, is to serve and glorify God. That, I decided, was my mantra. To educate Reuben with God's will and plan and glory in mind. To teach him to love learning and to show him that he is born to learn; that he will be learning and growing forever, not just at school. Education is life. I am taxed not just with forming and educating Reuben's mind, but cultivating his whole person and encouraging him to grow good habits and learn to make his own decisions.

And just like that we slipped right into Charlotte Mason. Not only is her method about school; it is an entire philosophy about childhood! It is a way of life. I love everything about it! Not only does it fit what I believe about education, it fits Reuben's style of learning and his interests! It was like a light bulb lit up my heart.

I know there is no perfect school, and thus no perfect home-school. I know one method is not better than another. You can, obviously, make Jesus and God the center of any method of home-school you choose. One of the things that makes homeschooling great is that it can be molded to the child who you are educating. It is not supposed to look the same in every home, or even for every child. Each home-school should be evaluated separately for each mother (or father) is the principle, counselor, teacher and nurse of her own classroom. Unlike a public school where they must (due to time constraints, budgets, and personnel/staffing issues) create a status quo, home-school lets us mothers choose individual interest-led approaches that can vastly improve the education and life of our children.

The more I read about the Charlotte Mason method the more I love it. I am currently listening to three podcasts that I highly recommend to you if you are also interested in this method! The first is Wild and Free. The Wild and Free podcast has been so encouraging. My fears over homeschooling have been soothed and I feel so empowered as a woman that I CAN do this, I CAN learn alongside my son and teach him. I have also been listening to Charlotte Mason Says. CM Says is a podcast where John and Crystal are reading through the second Charlotte Mason book with some discussion involved. I don't have time to read her book right now, so listening to it on the podcast is really helpful. The third podcast was recommend to me by my friend Melissa (the one who introduced me to this method) and it's called A Delectable Education. Check them all out!

We are loosely doing a Charlotte Mason preschool with Reuben right now, and I can't wait to start him with "year zero" (kindergarten) when he turns five.

Will you be homeschooling? What method would best fit your child?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Wisdom comes from the Lord, not Facebook

One of the things I have slowly learned as I take more and more space from Facebook is that wisdom comes from the Lord.

I was a Facebook drama queen. I loved my Facebook groups. Responding to all the bickering about marriage, kids, broken washers, lost puppies, spouses and jobs felt purposeful. I liked polling the masses through a well-worded Facebook status when I had conflict. I even enjoyed giving and receiving likes. Is what you said witty or thought provoking? Like.

I felt good about myself when I received likes on my status too. And comments. I checked my notifications like it was part of my religion.

In short, I created on Facebook a whole little world just about me and what I like and my opinions, complete with pictures.

I am sure there are people out there who use Facebook with boundaries in place and update their status intentionally. I was not one of those people. I know most people who use Facebook are not  those people. Or Facebook would not be the gossip-centered cesspool that it is.

Here is what I have learned. Instead of posting in my Facebook mommy group about how upset I am about my husband doing X Y or Z, I should instead talk to my husband. Venting about whatever my husband did that infuriated me with a bunch of strangers on the internet won't solve or defuse the situation. So why did I participate in this style of gossip?

I have realized that the reason I make those types of posts is because I enjoy simmering in injustice against my husband and having people tell me I am “so right” to feel that way and “they completely understand” my anger. I have found it's easier to feel justified about how hurt I am than it is to actually talk to my husband about the problem.

Today I was reading my bible (you should try it sometime) when I was hit by a bombshell revelation. No, not the biblical kind (I mean, I am not adding to the word) but a personal growth kind of revelation. All this time I have been going to Facebook like it's the source of wisdom. Do I have a problem? Make a post about it. Receive feedback. Am I bored? Check my notifications, groups and messages. Am I angry? Happy? Sad? Update my status with the appropriate emoji and wait for people to comment. Do I need to vent? There is a group for that. And I am in it.

Instead my process should look like this: Do I have a problem? Pray about it. Communicate with the people that the problem actually pertains to. Am I bored? Seek out God and his purpose for me. Am I angry? Happy? Sad? Read my bible and thank God for my blessings. Do I need to vent? Pray. My prayers should be that I don't speak in anger.

Now I am not saying that Facebook is the cause of my problems. Clearly that is my heart. But it has provided people with an easy way to indulge in gossip and selfish behavior.

I could pray and make an edifying post that glorifies God, for sure. But do I? Has that been my track record? Maybe 2% out of 98%. Honestly, it is so much easier to vindictively type away on my computer than it is to go to God with my problems! Facebook allows me the ease of throwing God to the side and gratifying my flesh in the comment section.

Well, I am done with allowing this idol in my life.

Take a good look at your own Facebook habits. And the types of comments you see on your feed. And perhaps log out and see how you feel.

I'm not going back.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Diet Woes and a Health Update

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know I have gut problems. I finally found a diet that works (dairy and gluten free, preservative free and low sugar) for my myriad of problems. I have a wheat allergy, a dairy intolerance, insulin resistance (prediabetic), and chronic constipation. When I don't change my diet I have the following symptoms: brain fog, joint pain, anxiety, tired all the time, constipation, miscarriages, sugar cravings, stomach pain, eczema, itchy flaky scalp, ear issues and low immune system. Wehww, even I am tired after typing all that.

Thankfully after suffering for years I know what to do. If you have followed my journey I tried a bunch of things and went to a lot of doctors (and got nowhere) before stumbling upon the paleo diet 5ish years ago. The paleo diet solved 90% of my problems. Than I went keto after that. Keto solved the problem the paleo diet did not solve: my brain fog. However, keto made my constipation worse. So still not ideal. Also keto isn't very fun and I didn't like it.

Now for the last 6 months I have just been dairy, preservative, low-sugar, and gluten free eating almost 100% from a cookbook called "Nourishing Meals". Eating this way solves all of my issues most of the time as long as I make sure to not eat a lot of carbs or honey (because of the diabetes) and exercise. I have to exercise twice a day, every day. I usually do after breakfast and lunch as these times are the easiest for me. That only leaves dinner, so I try to eat something low carb for dinner so my blood sugar is not high. I do yoga after breakfast and go for a walk with the kids after lunch (bonus: it puts Becky to sleep for her nap). I do check my sugars with my monitor, and if I don't exercise it is usually 140 or higher two hours after eating. That is not good.

I have learned that I can't eat out. Maybe once every 2-3 months. I also can't eat food other people make. Mostly because they are not gluten free and a tiny bit of gluten destroys me. And also preservatives, sugar, dairy... they can be hidden in a lot of things that someone without my range of issues is not aware of. "Person A" can tell me "its gluten free" but the last thing they cooked in the dish had gluten in it, so I'll be in a world of pain. I have two good friends who are also gluten free and I do eat after them, but I am no longer going to eat anything after anyone else. It makes events hard sometimes. And it makes people bringing me meals almost impossible. 

It does not help that Reuben seems to have inherited a lot of my issues. Poor kid. Sometimes when he tries a new food or has a lot of new things he gets sick and throws up. I don't think even he understands it. Becky does not have any issues that I have noted thus far, and I am so happy for her! I never wanted to pass on my health problems to my kids, but like everything else I don't get to choose. It just happened. At least I know how to help him deal with it so he is not in a world of pain like I was in my 20s. 

I am very lucky that I am strong enough to babywear. I am lucky that I found a diet that works for me so I can function. I try to remind myself of this at potlucks where I can't eat anything or when someone offers to bring me food and I have to turn them down. My health comes with a price and that's okay. I have to make my health the number one priority so that I have energy and vitality to live. 

I am learning to make everything from scratch this year. I now make bread and all nut milk from scratch. To supplement for calcium, I eat egg shells (properly cooked). This week I am making sourdough (gluten free) and ordered a yogurt maker. I also make my own salad dressing, but I have only been doing that for a month. It takes a lot of time but I feel great. Preservatives do drain my energy and hurt my gut. So does soy. Those last two things are in most prepackaged foods, so I try my hardest to avoid them. Bonus, we buy less plastics! Although that was not intentional!

How are you doing on your health journey, friend? 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Jesus holds Motherhood Together

Sometimes I feel like I am the only thing holding the world together. My world is small. About the size of my house. But within this tiny domain, I reign as one of two ruling monarchs (I'm the Queen). But I also moonlight as the scullery maid, so it's not all crowns and silk.

I do the dishes. I wash the floors. I nap the babies. I pick up, haul, schedule, list, change, and regulate in many different ways and sometimes on an hourly basis.

I make no money. I do make happy memories, fun messes and a lot of life discoveries.

On top of the tangible drudgery, I do a lot of emotional and mental work. I set the mood of the house. I support my husband, not only physically but emotionally as well. Daily I am teaching my small humans how to manage their own temperaments. And there is the delicate transaction that is responding to a tantrum in just the right way. I try to deescalate it by methods that not only teach my son how to better manage his emotions but to cope in a way that leaves the glass “half full” instead of “tipped over shattered on the floor” for the rest of the evening. If you have a toddler you will know of what I speak.

Today I was sitting exhausted in my recliner chair watching my non-napping one year old dump out a box of toys and feeling very out of touch with my world. The dishes were half done, Becky (the one year old) was wearing only one sock and my son (3.5) was whining for me to get up and retrieve a puzzle for him. All I wanted was a hot pot of tea and a nap and some quiet.

All of a sudden I remembered a book a friend had given to me when I was researching homeschooling. You see, I wasn't home-schooled and I was dealing with defeating thoughts that I couldn't do it. She gave me this book called “Teaching From Rest” that I still need to read (it's on my shelf, next to more Charlotte Mason books). But it was just the reminder I needed at this moment. Because yes, I do want to home-school from a place of rest and peace. But more than that—I want to parent from a place of rest and peace! I want the peace of God to just envelope my whole life and become my foundation so that it springs out of the wellspring of my heart. I need Parenting for Rest and Peace, the book. If such a book exists.

'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,'declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 41:13-14 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” ~Psalm 91:1-16

I also need to stop living like I hold any part of this world together. Jesus is the only one who holds the world together. He is supposed to be my strength. And he is the glue that fastens everything. In him I rest and only by his strength and by his mercy do I accomplish a task. One of the reasons I get so run down and tired is that I try and rely on my own willpower. This is a lie. I am who I am only by the grace of God.

Jesus holds motherhood together. He created it for His Glory. Motherhood is not about what I want, or what I envision for my kids or my family now or in the future. It's for one thing and one thing only: the Glory of God. And I don't know what that looks like but I do know what it does not look like. It's not me whining. It's not me giving up. It's not me carrying the weight of lists and toiling alone. 

It is me, day after day working in abject surrender to Christ and his will. No matter what comes my way. 

So stay strong, sweet mom, strong in his word, strong in his presence and point those little ones to Christ.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ~ Luke 12:22-26