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 hand-towels

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.