Sunday, March 29, 2020

Finding Normal

As we approach week three of self isolation, I am just now editing our vlogs from week one. What a week that was--relearning routines, being gentle with ourselves because chaos and shock--and discovering God's holy provisions even in the face of fear.

I have been praying for Italy and New York a lot, watching the news (and not watching the news) and talking with my church members. I miss playdates, park adventures, random coffee runs. Reuben's preschool camp was canceled. I had not even told him he was going yet (it was a two hour program for one day) but I was excited for him. My friends are losing their jobs left and right and some of them can't find specific foods at the store. A close friend of mine was only allowed to buy one loaf of bread for her family of 12. Three weeks ago I was moaning about how cold it was and feeling sorry for myself as I did dishes and made beds and wiped bottoms. Now I thank God for our health and pray for a country that is changing right before my very eyes.

we are out of flour now, but I baked a lot the last two weeks!
Here in Lynchburg, VA, the virus is new. When self quarantine started two weeks ago, we had around 12 cases in the state, and zero anywhere near me. Now, two weeks later (as of 3/27) there are 600 cases and 4 around me (only one in Lynchburg as of yesterday). We are staying home. I have autoimmune diseases, my husband always has lung issues and gets everything in his lungs, I have Becky who is normal and Reuben who is always sick and has a lot of allergies. We have gone out a few times and taken the trash out, and done some car-side-to-go orders, but the next week we will be trying to leave our house as little as possible to flatten the curve as much as we can. I am grateful that my husband can work from home during this time and glad we have groceries until next Saturday.

If you are interested in seeing what our first three days were like, I will leave those vlogs below. Follow me on my vlogging channel if you want more. Hint, its mostly shots of my cute kids. Because it helps me take my mind off things...and, cute kids.

How are you guys doing? What has changed in your lives? I am praying for you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

No One Really Has A Surprise Pregnancy

One of the things God has taught me as I have traversed infertility (twice now) is that no one really has a surprise pregnancy.

I have heard (and said myself) about how amazing it must be to just have sex and get pregnant. No complications, no tears, just BAM. I have envied other women who seem to get pregnant with ease. I have thought they were lucky. I have wished to be them.

But you know what? To God, all babies are planned. There are no surprise pregnancies to him. He plants babies in mamas to further his will and his glory. He gives gifts of children as he sees fit. While I worked really hard to have my Reuben, struggling for three years with miscarriages and infertility, God already knew that he was coming. God formed him and knew him. Reuben is mine to raise for this short time on Earth, even as I know he belongs fully to God; and he wasn't a surprise to God.

The same goes for my friends who seem to "get pregnant easily". God knew and gave those women babies too. I should not envy what God has given another, I should not let anger simmer in my heart over what I do not have.

my two sillies
Babies may certainly be news to us here on earth when they come, but now I can glory in the fact that God knew all and loved all, and planned for all.

This simple revelation helped me release my feelings of sorrow over infertility, and accept God's will for me and his gifts of Reuben and Rebekah. I would have more children, if I could choose: but I can't. I must be thankful what God has given and rest in his plan for my life. His plan is good, and I desire to be a good steward of the time he has given me.

So, I thank him for the tiny moments I had with my babies who passed and rest in the joy that God gives to those who search after him. God knows the story of my life and the story of my babies lives already, he is the one I want writing on the pages of my life, a life he gave to my mother.

My life belongs to him, always and forever. And I thank him for my two babies and my five miscarriages, and for my dreams. God is good.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Life is not about YOU

How many people do you know who are dissatisfied with life? With their jobs? With their spouse? 99% of the time it is because they they think life is about them, their pleasures and their wants, their happiness and their desires. This is a wrong foundation to build your life on. So what should you think about? What should you do?

I've made a video about my thoughts below, and would love to hear yours in the comments.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

I feel like a good mother when...

I feel like a good mother when my house is clean.

I feel like a good mother when my child eats all his food.

I feel like a good mother when I cook nutritious meals for my family.

I feel like a good mother when my son is in a good mood.

I feel like a good mother when my baby naps.

I feel like a good mother when I get my “to-do” list done.

I feel like a good mother when the laundry basket is empty.

I feel like a good mother when the toys are picked up.

None of these things have anything to do with my motherhood.

I'm a good mother when I speak kindly to my children, and others.

I'm a good mother when I apologize.

I'm a good mother when I battle my own sin.

I'm a good mother when I give myself grace.

Motherhood is not measured by meals made. Motherhood is not measured by obedient children. My floor could be clean, but if my children don't feel safe and are not being taught the word of God, am I really following God's will?

A clean house and a organic meal can fester as idols in my heart.

A spotless floor and non-GMO produce does not make me a good mother. My worth is not found in things. My worth is not found in tasks. If I am prideful, I am not a good mother.

A good mother is humble. A good mother learns from her children as they learn from her.

A good mother bows her head before God and knows she is only a good mother because of Him.

I want to be a good mother.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Preschool Tour (homeschool)

Here is a cute little video I made with Reuben highlighting some of the things we use in our preschool.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

February Mother Culture

I didn't finish everything in February. February was HARD. I babysat at least one extra toddler four days a week, and on some days had two extra toddlers! Also, tragically a friend of mine (and community leader) died recently leaving behind a four year old and her husband. Our community has been in shock ever since. I've been randomly frozen in sadness thinking of her and her son. I can't believe she is gone.

After feeling guilty about my progress on my mother culture goals for about three days, I decided to just roll over Feb into March and push everything back a month. The purpose of Mother Culture isn't to finish my list, but to cultivate my own learning and make intentional time for myself. February was crazy, March will be hopefully less so. I'm grieving a loss and need to give myself space and be gentle with myself--time to knit and read will come later.

Right now I am half way through I Said This, You Heard That, and about 1/4 the way through Lord of Chaos. I'm finding it hard to make time to read, and knit! In the evenings I am usually just so exhausted I lay on the couch and watch my husband play Zelda Breath of Wind while my knitting sits on the floor because Becky is nursing. It is what it is.

I did manage to knit about 6 inches of the bottom!! I have four more inches to go, and 2 inches of k2,p2. So close! I will be making short sleeves so, I really am a week or two away from finishing if I work hard! I am loving the Engle pattern--its SO SOFT and I think it looks great.

I also wanted to start on sourdough bread making this month too, but I have zero motivation to make bread from scratch right now. Maybe later.

How was your February?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Not What I Expected

This first year of homeschooling has not been as I expected. I envisioned effortlessly reading good books to my happy, well-groomed children. I dreamed of days spent outside but forgot about the muddy floors and bad attitudes, and the sticks. The sticks that are thrown. And the tears from those who receive said stick to the face. I swear we spend five minutes happily playing, and 20 minutes fighting over whose turn it is to use the swing.

This year, instead of an easy path towards educational enlightenment, I have been thoroughly humbled and trounced by my own home-school.

The biggest lesson I have learned in my first foray into educating my own wild offspring is that I am a sinner schooling other sinners. I am a sinner and I can't forget my own sin as I teach.

It isn't like I would change this year of preschool. It isn't like I wish I had done something different. But, I have thus far been appalled at my own sin. I am lazy. I don't want to read another book. Sometimes I skip whole paragraphs, especially in Bert Dow Deep Water Man. What kind of person puts paragraphs in a children's book? And why did I ever buy this book? (Well, it was because Bert Dow Deep Water Man is written by the same author of another of our favorites: the one about bears and blueberry hills. But that one has significantly less words and almost no paragraphs.)

Reuben went through a period where he wanted to read Bert Dow Deep Water Man six times a day. I used to try to hide it. Picture books need to come with a word count attached to it or time warnings for lazy mothers who don't love their children as much as Charlotte Mason.

But seriously, why is it so hard for me to stay present with my children? I am constantly distracted by my house; the meals to cook, the laundry to do. Not to mention the internet, social media, knitting, and reading books. And the noise my children make. Why must they make so much noise while I am trying to teach them?

Looking back at this year I have to laugh at myself. I am not a good at homeschooling. In between reading poetry and enjoying tea, I have to remind Reuben to keep his hands out of his mouth and to stop playing with his tongue. No one told me this would happen. Our habit training has gone from my lists of the 10 commandments to “stop touching your face/mouth ALL THE TIME”.

Someone needs to nominate me for mother of the year.

Well. All of the above is true. But what also is true is that I have unaccountably and irrevocably fallen in love with homeschooling. It is empowering and healing, to take control of my own education and “reeducate” myself as I attempt educate my children. Like motherhood, birth, and “postpartum,” homeschooling is another way for God to make me uncomfortable. Another way for Him to teach me about my own sin and my own limitations. Another way to make me see that I can't do it without Him and to surrender.

Surrender should be the new name of my home-school. I mean, we don't have a name yet. I know some people name their schools—in many states you are required to think up a name. I think I'll call ours Surrender School. Me, surrendering to Christ and hopefully teaching and showing (by example) how to do so to my children.

Next year, we start Kindergarten. I'll try to surrender to muddy floors, to sticks, to reading for long hours and learning to love it, to incessant questions that are not at all related to the subject matter I am attempting to impart, and to love, family, and sin.

May God be praised.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Homeschooling an Extrovert

I keep seeing comments in my home-school groups about extroverts.

"Help, my son is an extrovert, how do I home-school him?" 

"My son needs more social interaction he's an extrovert and I feel he doesn't get enough socialization at home"

"I can't home-school my son because he's an extrovert" 

Most of those who make comments have kids the same age as mine, in the four to six year old age range.

Crowed sourcing for answers on the internet with a bunch of strangers deserves it's own post, but I've always been dissatisfied with the answers given. Homeschooling an extrovert is the same as homeschooling an introvert, in my opinion. You look at the child and how he learns and help him learn what you want him to know in the best possible way. My son is an extrovert. He loves people. We do more play-dates because he (and I) are extroverts. However my daughter is NOT an extrovert. She is an introvert that gets dragged along because my son and I are extroverts. She regularly asks to go home and is happiest curled up on my lap or playing by herself. She runs away from people when they talk to her and does not play with strangers until she has seen them quite a few times.

I can't home-school both an introvert and an extrovert at the same time--it would be like trying to walk both north and south. One of them is going to have to "deal" with the fact they might be out of their comfort zone for awhile. When I have my "extrovert" chip turned on (which happens naturally for me) I try and be aware of what my daughter (the introvert) needs. For my daughter I hold her right now. When she is older she might retreat to a book during our outings or venture off by herself. She will learn to create the boundaries she needs. For my son when we are home for long periods of times I become his best friend. We hang out a lot and talk together constantly while my daughter enjoys her home space. He learns how to create the boundaries (or lack thereof) that he needs.

What I am trying to say is that it is always going to be push and shove. We won't always be "social" enough for my son just like I can't always be "introverted" enough for my daughter. Honestly, I can't create enough socialization for my son because there is not enough socialization for him--like me, he can be friends with everyone but as soon as he is alone he wants another friend. I am the same way. I love to hang out with a group of people but it doesn't last forever.

That brings me to my next point. I've noticed a disturbing trend in homeschooling to make every experience positive. I've seen moms stress to perfect every interaction for their child. They worry when their kid gets bullied at the park or doesn't seem to have enough friends. This is natural, this mother's worry--to a point. But when we let it consume us, or when we try to control it--that is where the problem lies.

Homeschooling has positive and negatives. While we can tailor our school to the way our kid learns, I don't think we should try and manipulate our child's every experience. Children need to experience life just as much as math and history. And life teaches hard lessons as well as fun ones. Children need the negative just as much as the positive to be successful in life.

I want my child to know that the interactions he experiences are not about him or even about having fun, or making a friend. His interactions, his school--is about worshiping and glorifying God. He shouldn't be comfortable or socialized "enough." He needs to be challenged emotionally and physically and in math and science.

I want to give him ways to deal with negative experiences. Life is just going to harder as he grows and he needs a solid foundation to deal with it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

How I overcame my Fear of Homeschooling

I knew I needed to home-school Reuben. I knew it was best for him and what he and I wanted. I knew that when he was born, intuitively, like it was etched upon my heart along with the curls of his hair as they placed him into my arms that first time.

But I didn't know anything about homeschooling. And I had a lot of insecurities, a lot of questions, and a lot of fear. 

What if I couldn't do it? What if I ruined him academically? What if he grew up and hated homeschooling? What if it took all my time and I resented him, or it drove us apart? Suddenly, despite my high-school and college diploma, I felt utterly dull. What was I thinking, undertaking the education of one small boy--an education that would impact the rest of his life? 

Sometimes it is easier to trust someone else. That way I could blame them if he "failed". Did he get a F on his report card? Must be the teacher. Or the school. Definitely not me, his mother. Nope, I am Not To Blame.

No. No matter where I sent him to school, his education would still be, at least in part, helped and aided by me. And if I sent him to school, I would have no say who he was around, how he learned, what he learned and what kind of foundation his education was built on. I want him to have a biblical foundation--that God created the world, that he has purpose in God, not a Darwin-centered or vocational centered education. I want him to know he is learning for the rest of his life, not to "get a job" one day, and that learning doesn't start and end at 8-3.

And, I kinda want to be there to see the light in his eyes when he "gets" something. I want to enjoy his first experiences reading, his first time writing in cursive. I want to be the one to talk him through a difficult subject or explore a new interest. I don't desire some teacher, with no time and 23 other students, to be the one to feed (or squish) the subjects he loves. I don't want him stuck sitting down when he might want to move, crammed in a desk when he might want to run. 

Yet I felt horribly disqualified. I don't know anything. Or do I? You see, mainstream education has trained teachers that already know their subject to impart their knowledge to their classroom. I am not trained in every subject my son will learn. Sure, I have some education classes under my belt because I was an English ed major in college; but that was years ago. And the stuff they teach you about handling a class full of kids is not relevant to educating one child.

I once again am thinking of education as four walls and government run. Homeschooling, as long as I follow the laws of my state--can look like whatever I want. Whatever my kid needs. I keep forgetting that.

I don't have to know, right now, everything I need to teach my child.

I can learn with him.

We can learn together.

And that--that one simple fact, that we could learn together--took all the fear away. If I can't remember how to do long division, I will simply learn before I teach my son. If I can't remember the names of the periodic table of elements, we can learn together. 

We can take it one year at a time. I don't have to think of the end picture--a competent 20-sometime man named Reuben and whatever-the-job he has, because that end picture might not even exist. I only have to think of the here and the now and what needs he has at four. I can do four. Five will come when it does and we will do five together. Six will come and go like the flash of lightening that is life. Seven. My boy, lord willing, will be seven and we will do math together at our kitchen table and if he cries I will tell him I used to hate math too, but lets find another way that works. Because there is a lot of ways to do math, but only one mother who wants to do it with him.

We can learn together and God will be enough. God is enough, for me and for him. And God gave me this boy, this wild running boy, to teach and to train, for the time he has allowed, and I won't squander it. I won't squander a bit of it.

Friday, February 14, 2020

How to Let Go of Control of your Children (and be okay)

I definitely struggle with micromanaging my children. I don't like it. I don't want to do it. But naturally, as their mother, I think I know what is best for them. And if I am not careful I can get stuck in the rut of constantly correcting their behavior (don't do that, don't touch that, stop fidgeting, put that back, that isn't how you do that, you made a mess again, why can't you listen, why can't you learn).

I feel like a record on repeat sometimes. I hate to hear myself, like a parrot, telling my child what to do and how to do it hour after hour, day after day. I hate to hear myself exasperated, again, that my four year old son can't remember rules that I can't even remember, or that I have just made up. So many "rules" are just things that come naturally to me. Things that might not come naturally to a four year old, inquisitive little boy. Things that I expect him to just "get" and "understand" when what I need to understand is that he is four and confused, and needs a guide, not a angry ultimatum.

I don't want to squash his creativity or put him in a box.

I may know that we don't pour muddy water all over ourselves at the park, but he may not. What may occur to me, might not occur to him and I shouldn't get angry at him for not adhering to my invisible rules. I guess I might be allowed to be angry, but I should not take it out on him.

He may want to color out of the lines. He may want to put stickers on his crayon box instead of in his sticker book. Or on the wall. Or on my cell phone (it still has one on it he put on "for mommy"). Yes, it's a pain to clean up, but is it really worth "laying into him" about? Does he need to hear a lecture about how he ruined my day with stickers?

I remember when Becky broke a glass. She was trying so hard to put it in the sink so mommy could wash it, but she didn't know it would shatter. I almost cried from how precious it was, how proud of herself she was. Her little face lit up as she hefted it over the side. "I put it up for mommy. I big". And it broke. I just couldn't be mad at her. She was so confused, it broke my heart! I think that is how I should see a lot of what my son does. He is trying to do what is right, but he just doesn't know what it is. Or he is trying to do what he wants, and needs to be helped to learn the world doesn't revolve around him. Just like I am still learning that it does not revolve around me and what I want for my kids, or how I "need" them to act.

So many times I get mad at my kids for not understanding what is clear to me, as an adult. I forget they live in a totally different world and that it's okay they don't know all the rules yet. They don't understand they shouldn't yell the word penis in Walmart, or ask people if they have one. (Yup this happened) (And it was okay).

My children are exploring this world and learning every day. I need to give them space to do this. I shouldn't, once again, expect little adults.

I also have been trying to let go of my children and give them to God. The above is part of this. I think I know what is best for them, what they should do and say and how they should act. But, I don't. Only God knows what is best for them, and what plans he has for them.

They are His, anyway.

I am terrified of losing my kids, of having something bad happen to them. But every day I lay down their lives before the Lord. Them, I, and this world... we are only here because he wishes us to draw breath. And we will draw breath until he decides to bring us home. I hope nothing ever happens to my kids, but I must trust God. He is enough, and will always be enough. I will have no other idols before Him, even if that idol be my own child.

Giving up control is hard. And scary. I like to be in control. I like to think I have it all together. But, don't worry. You are worse than you think you are--we are all mired in sin. I am sinful. I am fallen. I have only my savior to thank. My kids are always, have always been in Jesus' hand, and acknowledging that is part of laying down my life for Christ and taking up my cross to follow Him.

Do the good works. Follow your path that God has for you (not the path you want) and die daily to your Old Adam. Trust him with your children. He gave them to you for a reason. Trust him.

Monday, February 10, 2020

January Mother Culture

I am enjoying having some structure for my own growth! So, how did I do with my January goals?

I knit about 1/3 of my engle sweater--but as it is all stranded colorwork, I think I did great! The rest of the sweater is all one color, and should be an easy knit in the round to finish up in February. I also modified the pattern (by accident) in the beginning to that is why mine looks different...I'll go more into that on my project page.

My second goal was to read Missional Motherhood. I'm almost finished with it! Its such a good read, very encouraging, very humbling. I've learned a lot about motherhood, the bible, God, and myself. I highly recommend it for any woman. Even if you don't have kids--all women are called to nurture something, and that is the main point of Missional Motherhood. I also loved how she gives a overview of the old testament and highlights how it correlates to mothering. Foundational stuff, and something I have never seen in any other "mom book" out there-- a clear picture of Motherhood shown through the bible. She goes book by book. It's amazing. I didn't know there was so much in the old testament about motherhood. In short, read it.

My third goal was to grow in the art world. I love drawing and painting, but alas I don't have any skill in the above areas. You can only get better by practicing--so I want to make time to do that. I didn't make nearly enough time this month, but that's okay. In January I drew two things, (and none of them good, but that's just my opinion). The first was Becky, holding a balloon, and the second is supposed to be a tree but looks like an overly large bush. Neither are painted, but both use colored pencils. It's a start, and more than "creating art" I did have fun drawing with the kids and it helped me relax. So.

Next month, I hope to draw more and have a finished sweater. Today I am just trying to get over the fact that Becky refused to nap. Oh, well.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

How to Be Creative with Kids

I am a creative person. I love to make, to do, to list, to plan, to dream. I am Choleric. I am an ENFP.

I have two kids and have decided to home school--meaning I will have to be really intentional about forming boundaries to be creative.

Here are two major things I have learned about myself and about how to keep my creative spirit alive with two kids, a house, and a life.

  1. Spend less time wasting time. I am, like most millennial and generation x-ers, the proud owner of an apple iPhone, a computer, a Nintendo switch, an Audible account... you get the idea. I can waste a lot of time consuming and thus have less time for creating. It is all right to relax, but I know I can get lost in the rabbit hole of YouTube and suddenly two hours are gone and it is time for dinner. I try to pick up my phone as little as possible. This helps me be productive and creative with the tiny amounts of time I have to myself.

  2.  Create space for myself to create. With two kids, I can work forever. There is laundry. Dishes. Noses and bums to wipe. Crafts to do, mac and cheese to cook, hair to comb, baths to run.... the list goes on and on. Now that Becky is two, I try and give myself some me time every day. We do a hour of tv or video games after dinner, and while Becky watches Daniel Tiger and Reuben plays Mario on the Switch, I do whatever I want. It has helped me feel like a new person, giving me time to read a book or knit. I try not to get on the computer because I have found that spending my time on the computer leaves me frustrated. Spending my time creating leaves me feeling motivated and ready for the evening, with dishes to do and a kitchen to clean. 
I used to feel really guilty about allowing any television in my house. I no longer feel that way. I realized I was parenting for my fantasy self--aka what I thought a good parent should do, what I thought the "ideal" parents was. I need to be realistic, and an hour of media a day is not going to ruin my kids. It doesn't mean I am a bad parent.

Even when I create space to be creative, I still suffer from frustrating feelings. I find time to knit and read, but I no longer have time to sew--something I used to dabble in before I had kids. I try to accept that this is a season, and be real with myself. I acknowledge my own constraints and am honest with how much I can reasonable finish in the time I have. It's a processes, and I am far from perfect.

How are you creative with kids? Any tips for this stay at home mom? I'm linking up with Brita today for her Love Blog challenge!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

10 Years Blogging

Well, I've been talking to the void of the internet for 10 years. In the course of 10 years, I've started three YouTube channels, two Etsy shops (one closed now) and begin making knitting and crochet patterns, and failed as a fashion blogger (something I tried 5 years ago lets not relive it). I've blogged through one awful breakup, one amazing marriage, two babies and autoimmune diseases. I've made friends.

Blogging does wonders for my mental health. I highly recommend it if you are a outgoing stuck at home person like me, looking for more creative ways to unburden your soul.

I thought since it was my birthday (last month) that I should take some pictures of myself. There are not many that don't include kids. I took these super quick while the kids played outside and photo bombed me. And I updated my site with them. It has been four years since I redid it, and it was past  time for sure.

Well, this is mid life. I am half way to 68. I have not become less awkward. That is really my only surprise. I thought at mid-30 I would be more poised, less two-left-feet. Instead I am the same awkward girl who perhaps has learned better to think before she speaks, but still says the weirdest things at the most inopportune time. If there is a class on tact and poise, I need to sign up.

So far I like my 30s. I have some aches and pains from autoimmune problems, but it is nothing like the debilitating pain I used to get in my 20s. I have found, for the most part, how to manage my symptoms of whatever-I-have. I wonder if I will ever know? And yoga really helps. 

Anyway, I have a few gray hairs that thrill me. I don't mind them at all, and am excited about getting more. Isn't that weird? 

I have wrinkles but they are those ones that come and go and only appear when I smile or am very tired. I am not very excited about wrinkles--but what can one do? It is a privilege to earn them, to be granted this long a life of three and a half decades. I am okay with it.

Most of all I love my family and the life we have created here. I am middle 30s, blessed, and happy. God is good.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Mother Culture 2020

I was introduced to the term Mother Culture in 2019, and at first I thought it sounded lame. Mom culture? Don't sign me up. But as I have grown in my faith and in my motherhood, I have learned that being a mother isn't something I do part time. It isn't something I put on and take off. It has wholly encompassed me and revolutionized my life. It is my life. I am a mother. It's not just another notch on my to-do list or a slot that fills my itinerary. It's not like a college class I take for a semester or a part time job that I clock out of at the end of the day. I am Mother. Mothering is now my identity. 

And thus I grew to cultivate a mother culture in my home.

Mother Culture is a way-of-life, the skillful art of how a mother looks after the ways of her household. With a thinking-love she creates a culture in the home all her own. A mother does a lot of taking care, so she needs to take care of herself, too.

The best way to describe mother culture starts with one of Charlotte Mason's main foundational principles: that we learn always. This is something she wanted to ingrain into her students and thus, into her mothers. And, if I am not learning and growing, how can I expect to teach my children that education is a lifestyle?

If I think about it, my home already has a culture. But a critical analysis, an awareness of this culture  helps me see the negative aspects of our atmosphere and adjust accordingly.

Thus I have decided that every year I am homeschooling my children, I will be schooling myself. My education is just as important as Reuben's.

These are my mother culture plans.

I want to read through the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series this year (I wanted to finish it last year but only managed to read 5 of the 14 books). Thus I'll be working my way through the rest in 2020, at least as much as I can!

I also plan on water-coloring at least once a month...we will see how THAT goes. Paint and toddlers......

Read Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman
Knit: Engle 

Read: I Said This, You Heard That by Kathleen Edelman
Read: Lord of Chaos Robert Jordan
Knit: Engle 
Bake: Sourdough Bread

Read: The Battle Plan for Prayer by Kendrick
Read: The Beth Book Sarah Grand
Knit: Knee-high warmers (my own pattern)

Read: Pilgrim's Progress
Read: A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan 
Knit: Happy Mitts

Read: The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
Read: Risen Motherhood by Jensen Wifler
Knit: Nimbus Cloud

Read: Charlotte Mason Companion
Read: The Path of Daggers by RJ
Knit: Flamingo Mitts

Read: Home Education (reread) by Charlotte Mason
Read: The Rainbow D. H Lawrence
Knit/Crochet: wash cloths and handtowels

Read: You Are What You Worship by M Sharrett
Read: Winter's Heart by RJ
Knit: something for Becky for winter (3t)

Read: A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
Read: Garden Spells By Allen
Knit: Something for Reuben for Winter (5t)

Read: Redeeming Money by Paul Tripp
Read: Crossroads of Twilight by RJ
Crochet: A stocking for my husband

Read: Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason
Read: The Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield
Knit: Fox Scarf

Read: Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul Tripp
Read: Knife of Dreams by RJ
Knit: Twisted Cowl

I would also like to publish my book (that I wrote in 2016) at least in audio format on my YouTube Channel. But you know, I have two small kids, a house to run, and autoimmune issues, so let us not get ahead of ourselves.

Do you have any Year goals? What do you think of Mother Culture? I plan to do monthly update posts to highlight what I have learned.

Monday, January 27, 2020

complaints and obedience

I spent the first few years of motherhood complaining. It's true, just read my blog posts. While it was hard, and life is still hard in many ways, I am coming to learn that trials of all kinds are the way God refines me by fire.

Today I read this during my devotion time:

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered."  Hebrews 4:7-8

I was struck by that. Jesus learned obedience by what he suffered. He didn't complain, moan, or whine. He offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to God--he didn't rag to his disciples about what trials his father was putting him through, unjustly. And of all the people he is the only one who could have claimed that it was unjust--because it was. He died for our sins.

Suddenly I viewed my complaint filled Facebook post on my moms group about how late my husband works, how my toddler doesn't sleep and the whines I deal with in my son (he's four) in a whole other light. A cheap and sinful light. The text I sent my friend about how "awful my day was" and how "tired I am". All my whines and mom-angst, all piled up before my eyes.

And there is a lot of it. I am...good at complaining and feeling sorry for myself. 

Life is hard. But instead of running to Jesus and offering up my prayers, I have consistently complained, whined, and thrown God's blessings into the mud. Life as a mom of two isn't a cakewalk--but Jesus was called to die on a cross after being beat to death, and he didn't treat his calling the way I treat mine, which right now just involves child-rearing, husband-serving, and cloth diapering.

I mean, I don't know what the future holds for me. Will I be called upon to die of cancer? Taken in a car wreck? Heart attack? I would aim for peacefully in my sleep, but I don't get to choose how I meet my savior. But now I know I want to follow whatever God has in store for me with obedience, the obedience he shows to his own heavenly father.

And, In comparison to "murderous death on a cross," motherhood doesn't sound so rough. I mean, in today's day and age I don't even have to fish for my dinner and cook it over a fire pit like the disciples would have. I have hot water that comes out of a tap, and I don't have to weave my husband a garment or sew him underwear. I get to buy that stuff at a store.

What I am trying to say is I have been convicted. I want to stop complaining. I want to learn a biblical way to deal with trials. Even when Job complained to God, God told him he had no right--and Job ended up apologizing.

We are his vessels to shape, his creations. I can rise above my circumstances and see the Joy God has for me. I can learn obedience through my trials, too.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Becky is Two

It seems like just yesterday I was birthing my Becky, but now she is two. Two and sleeping through the night for the first time, two and waddling around doing everything big brother does, two and giving me hugs with her little arms and wet kisses. I love two and I love my Becky. Happy Birthday sweet wonderful girl! You are amazing and I cherish every day with you.

You can see Becky's birthday vlog here!

The Fires of Heaven

(Spoilers for the first 5 Wheel of time books below)

Mat and Rand face their first battle in this book, just like Perrin did in the Two Rivers in The Shadow Rising. I know they have been in battles before, but this is the first one where they are not doing others biddings but instead giving orders and carrying a lot of the weight. 

This is also the first book that has a sex scene in it, between Rand and Aviendha. I didn't see that one coming at the beginning of the book but now I see the attraction. Why Rand gets three women all tangled up in a love triangle is beyond me. He is denser then a stone when it comes to romance and it must be the pull of Ta'veren that ensnares them, because Aviendha seems to resent Rand most of the time and Elayne is a princess, not some peasant to be attracted to Rand's shy farmer's persona. She would have been raised to appreciate a refined man, I think. 

It baffles me. 

The only one that really makes sense is Min. She's perfect for him, gentle, and not pushy. I think of all three she alone really understands him. At least that is the way I see it-- Rand is a clueless idiot for most of the first four books and each woman (well, except Min) has pursued him, not the other way around. I can't see how this is going to turn out, but I bet Elayne is not going to be happy if Aviendha makes Rand her warder, not to mention that she slept with him. I laugh every time she tells Nynaeve that she isn't worried because Aviendha is watching Rand. Hah, hah.

Mat also has some lady troubles. Mat is peculiar to me, mostly because I have never met a man like him-- a man who does what is right but complains so much. He's like a whiny baby the way he moans about duty and dice and woman yet he gets what he wants most of the time.  

Nynaeve being broken by the Forsaken was also very interesting. I didn't think she could be broken, but I know she will heal. She is strong, and she will beat Moghedien. Birgittte reminds me of Min, but like...if Min hung out in taverns and liked to fight, instead of just a tomboy. I hope she finds her other half.

Who killed Asmodean at the end?? I really liked him. I liked seeing more men that could channel, as all you really see are women, and not much is known about the men. 

Moiraine will turn up again, I think. We didn't see her killed and I feel her story isn't over. Poor Lan, he will blame himself.

The biggest thing I took away from the book was Rand's change. He is really growing up and becoming jaded.... I feel for him. He is in pain and he needs help. He is shouldering the burden of saving the world and ready to lay down his life all by himself. I can feel his loneliness. He is isolated from friends and family because he is the dragon reborn. People want to control him and manipulate him. He has to look out everywhere for danger and worries about the people he loves. He also is undrer attack mentally due to the taint and Lewis Therin. Poor Rand!

Well, on to the next book. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

flying kites and changes

Today, the kids and I flew a kite outside in our side yard. I was a mix of emotions.

One, I am getting over our miscarriage we had in January. Mourning that little life. Closing a chapter on newborn dreams and tiny clothes. I'm in a good place now, but still get depressed occasionally. I thought this one would stay. I had morning sickness--I never had that with any of my other miscarriages. Today, I am sad that Becky won't get to meet her baby brother; she won't get to be a big sister. Reuben won't get the little brother he always wanted. Next time, if there is a next time, will be a different baby.

My emotions were swirling for a different reason, as well. I was thinking of my father. My biological father. I have only a handful of memories of him---phone conversations where he would just try to undermine my mother's authority, a few cards and letters, all written by his new wife who I guess was trying to send me things "from him" because either he asked or she knew he should be doing it. Everything in her handwriting, never his. I have memories of him as an adult, when he started acting weird because he chose drugs and...that is it. Nothing after my wedding. We don't talk.

But there was that one time---the one time we flew kites together. One day at a park that still exists next to the apartments we used to live in. I was around 5 or 6, I guess. And as I flew kites with Reuben, I wondered--is it a painful memory because I don't know how to feel about it, or because of the lack of other happy memories with him? That day, I was happy, there with the wind and the kites and the sky. It was fun. I remember my dad laughing and playing with me, I remember feeling loved and accepted and alive.

Now I was flying a kite with my own children. I hope they have more than just one or two happy memories with me.

A lot has been changing lately. In good, and hard ways. The loss of our baby. The milestone of two that Becky reaches soon. Things at home are becoming easier and I am enjoying being a mother again. Kids play together, they demand less of me and are stretching their wings. I am loving, loving homeschooling preschool, and we start our kindergarten program this April! I am growing as a person. I feel like as a mother I am an ever constant butterfly, always undergoing some type of transformational birth and death, sometimes simultaneously.

This is the season of birth in creative endeavors, a birth of new books to read and fun patterns to design and knit when I have time. The death of pushing myself to go to hot yoga, because I just can't anymore and it got to be too expensive. The birth of having more independent kids, of homeschooling and habit instruction. Of becoming my children's teacher as well as mother and friend. But the death of having my own close friends, because of the looming task that awaits me of raising R&R. It crowds out the space I used to have for mommy dates and coffee meet-ups and bible studies. I can still do a few of those things, but not in the same capacity this extrovert would like.

By the way, I think it is utter bull that you can't be your kid's friend. Friends know when to tell you when you err and how to lift you up when you are down. It's a friends job to point you to Christ. Thus I endeavor to be a good friend to my brood of snapdragons, my hatchlings, my Reuben and my Rebekah. I won't hold myself above them, but rather work with them to teach them and be taught by them.

Life is good.

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

sea turtle

I made Becky a Unicorn, and Reuben a turtle. A very fun crochet project, and he loves it. The turtle was made out of 100% wool and stuffed with wool left over from my wool pillow.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Shadow Rising

I finished book four. I am now listening to the audio books--reading the tiny print from my thrifted finds was hurting my eyes, mostly because I have time to read at night. (Spoilers from first four books below)

I read this about three months ago and never wrote the post, so I can't remember much about my dislikes. I really enjoyed getting to know Perrin. Faille is perfect for him. I cried when he found out his family was dead. Poor Perrin. Having chapters with Elmindreda was thoroughly entertaining!  Nynaeve is becoming one of my favorite characters. I love her! She is strong, and a spitfire. If I had to pick a character to be, I would pick her, although I am probably most "like" Egwene.

The white-cloaks are insufferable. I will never forgive them for watching and Emonds Field was attacked.

I hope Perrin and Faille have lots of babies. I hope Elaida curses the day she overthrew the white tower. I have a suspicion that Siuane and Leane will regain their powers somehow.

On to book five. Perrin is the first one to face an army all on his own here, the first time he "leads" instead of just following others. I feel like the three men (Perrin, Mat, Rand) are gaining more control of their futures instead of being dragged along by Moiraine.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Charlotte Mason Kindergarden Curriculum

Reuben (my eldest) starts homeschooling this year! I am so excited. I am creating a curriculum for him based on Charlotte Mason's teachings. I decided to make it available for free to you guys, if you are interested in seeing what we are doing. My curriculum includes teaching Reuben to read (our goal for the year), instruction in math and handwriting, as well as handicrafts, puzzles, nature identification and bible/scripture memorization. We will also be incorporating basic flute lessons and habit training. Structured outside play will surmise the foundation of our school experience.

This is where I will be posting all of our lessons as PDF downloads for your convenience. Each PDF will include a week of lessons and my notes, and any printables I have designed and used. The lessons build on each other as you can imagine, so if you download number six it assumes you have read 1-5.You are welcome to download these and use them yourself for your own kindergarten as-is, or adjust as needed for your child. Enjoy and may your homeschool be a happy one.

Term 1 

Week One - Dandelion
Week Two - Red Clover
Week Three - Musk Mallow
Week Four - Poppy
Week Five - Thistle
Week Six - Fox and Cubs
Week Seven - Lady Orchid
Week Eight - Cornflower
Week Nine - Forget Me Nots
Week Ten - Red Campion
Week Eleven - Ox Eye Daisy
Week Twelve - Buttercup

Term 2

For term two, I got tired of making weekly printouts. I decided to go the book route.
We did 12 weeks for term two, and I used the following books:

Nature Crafts for Kids
The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children 
TinkerActive Math Kindergarten Workbook
Seabird (first half)
Paddle-to-the-Sea (second half)
Looking at Paintings Dancers
Looking at Paintings Self-Portraits
Classical Music Cds (from Goodwill)
Learn to Letter Primary Writing Tablet (from Walmart near the crayons)
The Usborne Big Book of Spanish Words
Ambleside online year 0 booklist
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
North American Wildlife
Nature Anatomy
The Christian's Treasury of Stories and Songs
My first book of Cutting

I took each book and divided it up so we finished most by 12 weeks.
Here is how I portioned it out.

Term 3

*have not planned yet*

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below. I welcome suggestions too! Next year, we will be doing full Ambleside Online!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Becky's Unicorn

This was Becky's Christmas present! I made her a unicorn. She loves this plush and carries it around for hours. This is the first plush I've ever knit and I felt like a novice during many parts of the process, especially the sewing-limbs-on part. I am pleased that she loves it, and I hope she will cherish it for many years to come.

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