We Are The Branches

Today was probably one of the hardest homeschool days I have had in the past two and a half years. It was emotionally draining, exhausting and so very hard.

And of course, I probably made it harder.

Peanut and I clash sometimes. I love my sweet girl so very much. She is so much like myself, which is what most of our problems are.

Today was a day of struggles. Peanut struggled to stay on track. And she didn’t. Three hours later and her work wasn’t done (not for lack of understanding, just because she wouldn’t, then she’d cry because she didn’t want to, then she’d say she was horrible at it- she’s not) and I would struggle to keep my cool. And I didn’t. I struggled to stay calm about Bubba and his refusal to have a bowel movement anywhere near the bathroom. I halfway didn’t. (Is that possible?)

Although it was a hard day, and most of our bookwork, and a fun science experiment didn’t get done, all was not lost.

We sat down for breakfast, the three of us, and afterwards had Bible Study. John 15:5

I am the Vine, and you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will produce much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.

We actually had an amazing discussion about John 15:1-2 also, how Jesus is the Vine, the Father is the gardener, and we are the branches. We talked about being pruned to produce good, tasty fruit.

And what I loved about this, is that our neighbor actually has a wild grapevine. So the children understood how the grapes were good, but not as good as store bought grapes. The neighbor doesn’t prune them. And they understand pruning because their father is a great hobby gardener. And the kids are always out there helping him.

I am actually looking forward to more discussions this week. I think this is a great springboard for learning the fruits of the Spirit, and working on developing those in each of us (myself included!).

Academically, the day went so horribly wrong. But I believe we laid the groundwork for some amazing life lessons this week about the kinds of fruit the Lord wants to grow in us.

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I’ve Given Up

As I watch my 3 year smile and ask me countless inquisitive questions about every item in our surroundings this morning, I am fighting the urge to hush him. His sister is trying to finish her math so that we can get on our way out the door for a play date with their cousins.

And then he takes the lids off his puzzles and tells me they are going to be sleds for his feet in the snow. I look at him and say, “You mean skis?” “Oh. Yeah. They are my skis.” I just slowly gaze at him, watching him smile at his imaginative accomplishment as he slips and slides around the dining room on his makeshift skis. Then all of a sudden I remember that I probably shouldn’t allow him to step on the lids of his puzzle boxes.

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But why not? The poor kid has been trapped in the house for over a week, the frigid cold preventing any kind of outside play. Why can’t he come up with something that will entertain him and release some energy? Why am I always so drawn to corralling my children into what I want them to be, into how want them to behave?

In that brief moment of clarity, I decide to just give up.

I give up trying to mold my children into carbon copies of myself. They have their own personalities and their own ideas of “fun” and “play”.

I give up trying to curb their imaginations because “that’s not how we behave in the house” or “that’s not on our schedule”.

I give up feeling like I should have rigid rules and beating myself up because I can’t get my kids to obey them. (Aside from the essentials like loving one another, obeying God’s Word, and no drinks on the carpet. Those are all a given.)

I give up having a set time for school to start. A lot of times, 9:00am just isn’t going to cut it. Especially with a new little one coming this summer.

I give up harboring a feeling of failure on my part and frustration with my beautiful children.

I’m giving it all up. This isn’t what mothering is about. Motherhood shouldn’t be a battle, and sometimes, I feel like the battle is with myself. Or I’m making up struggles with my children, but really, they just want to be themselves.

I’m not giving up parenting, or Biblical correction. I’m not giving up instruction or guidance. What I’m giving up is controlling my children because they aren’t what I want them to be, or they aren’t behaving exactly as I wish, or they aren’t doing something how I would have them do it. My controlling nature has caused so much frustration in our days, and caused me to resent certain parts of our days because I dread the struggles with getting my children to “do it right”. But no more. I GIVE IT UP.

What I hope is that giving up these things listed above, I am making more room for joy, for love, for relationships, and for the beauty in the lives God has given me to raise.

A Year of Catch-Up

Recapping the past year in one post…

I will start with April, since I did happen to post up through last March.

April: Peanut turned 7 years old and wanted a “Rainbow Party”. Many friends came, and they all had a blast.

rainbowparty
Party Table

 

rainbow cake
Fondant and Buttercream Rainbow Cake

May: My twin sister and I had a quick three day trip back to San Diego to support our sister in the loss of her daughter at 30 weeks gestation.

June: Wonderful news, I was pregnant, and so thrilled.

July: My twin sister and I hosted a yard sale, Peanut had a very successful lemonade sale, and the next day I had some concerns, which resulted in an ultrasound. The test showed one healthy baby and one “non-viable egg sac”. One week later a follow up ultrasound at about 6 weeks, and both babies had not survived. Oh. And I turned 30.

August: Three weeks after the  devastating news, I finally miscarried. I was hospitalized due to blood loss. It took me three weeks to build my blood levels back I up to where I could stand for more than a few minutes, and clean my house. We also started second grade for Peanut. And I made a wedding cake for my neighbor. (Probably shouldn’t have done that- healthwise.)

wedding cake for neighbor
wedding cake for neighbor

September: I took on the role of co-teacher for our homeschool group.

October: Bubba turned 3; we celebrated with a Pirate Party. Bubba and his cousin dressed up as Jake and Captain Hook for Halloween.

Bubba's Birthday Cake
Bubba’s Birthday Cake

 

The Birthday Pirate
The Birthday Pirate
Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating

 

November: I announced to the Facebook world that I was 12 weeks pregnant! (yes, again! the pregnancy in the summer wasn’t announced nor was the miscarriage, other than to family and close friends at church)

Baby at 12 Weeks
Baby at 12 Weeks

December: I honestly can’t believe it’s over already, but we reflected on the gift of God’s Son, made over 20 dozen cookies and enjoyed family and friends.

So, 2013 was truly an eventful year. It was filled with grief and sorrow, but also with wonderful memories, beautiful family moments, and so much love. I learned, last year, that God is faithful, no matter our Earthly circumstances. That submitting to His will brings about peace I couldn’t even imagine. I learned many things about myself, about my faith, and about my limitations. And I can honestly say that it was a good year. Not because of what happened during the year, but because the year was given to me as a gracious gift. And because I am a different person than I was last January.

Basketball, Bible Study and Boys’ Underwear

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Saturday was Peanut’s first basketball game of the season. She has gotten really good at making baskets. She was “so super excited” to play her game.

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She’s been working on her dribbling, and trying to be able to dribble without looking at the ball. She’s improving, too.

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The game showed a lot of areas where we need to work on. Like, explaining to her *how* a game actually works. Tonight’s practice was promising, though. And she was playing defense amazingly in the scrimmage. She also was paying attention as to when to switch to offense. So this Saturday’s game should be fun.

My Tuesday Morning Bible study has been really convicting. When Jeff and I came together to decide that closing my child care would be the best decision for our family, I was very encouraged that: A) we made a decision together as a unified husband and wife; and B) Jeff would be encouraged that I could actually give him the space he needed to lead our family in the financial realm of life.

This was a HUGE step for me to take because I like to be in control. Of our money, of planning, setting goals, of everything. And God has been teaching me that HE is ultimately in control, and I NEED TO LET HIM DO HIS JOB.

I realized, by studying pride and humility, that I was trying to take back control of our life, and searching for ways I can work in some child care clients to make some extra money. Which is basically telling God, “You’re in control. I know that you’ll work things out. In the meantime, I’ll try to fix this on my own. I don’t trust you 100%”

I am a work in progress, you know.

On a lighter note, I loaded up on these today. Guess why.

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Bubba is doing amazingly well, and much better than I expected. Is it wrong of me to have low expectations for a 27 month old boy in terms of potty training? I only began this endeavor because he kept coming up to me and saying, “Mama! I pooped! Change me!” I figured I’ll give it a day or two, and if it fails miserably (which it still could) then we won’t speak of it again, and try another time.

He had zero accidents today. Until I left him in the care of his Daddy while taking Peanut to B-Ball practice, during which he peed in his underwear two times. And I got an exasperated phone call asking me where all the underwear was. Which is why you see the above. I stopped at Family Dollar and picked up a couple extra sets and some pull-ups for the church nursery on my way home tonight.

big boy training pants
(excuse the poor image, my phone was the closest thing I could grab at this moment)

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Preschool??

 

ImageYou know, I’ve been driving myself crazy the past few weeks with what to do with my 2 year old and homeschool. I mean, he’s going to be three this calendar year, and he has to start school right? Right?

I can’t *not* put him in some kind of formal education. You know?! Everyone’s kids are doing preschool- it’s the social norm. I even sent Peanut to the Private School down the street for prek at 3 and 4 years of age. And if he’s not in a preschool, then I sure and heck better be teaching him something, right? I mean, I better get cracking on those lesson plans and curricula for his every waking hour. When I taught Child Care, I paid big bucks for a curriculum because that’s what all the parents wanted their kids to be exposed to. So, I have to find something to fill his little mind with all the information that he should be learning right now!

/ end sarcasm here

Sheesh. I can’t believe I almost got sucked in to believing this again. Don’t worry, I’ll probably get sucked in to the “my kid can recite the alphabet forwards and backwards and multiply through 10 before his third birthday” comparison again in Bubba’s toddlerhood.

But for right now, this moment, I’m going to enjoy his toddlerhood. I’m going to crack up whenever he asks me if his ramen noodle is “the biggest I’ve ever SEEN??” (just imagine a grover-like voice and wide eyes as he holds a noodle above his head) and I’m going to tell him he drew a wonderful boat on my gas and electric bill. I’m going to let him cut his coloring pages with scissors, and run around the house like a madman, almost crashing his dump truck into the kitchen cabinets. 

We are going to read stories, and sing songs, and play with puzzles. (By the way- my kid can put together a 24 piece puzzle faster than any other two year old I know!) We are going to play ball, and build blocks and pretend to blast off to outer space. I’m going to let him “help” with cleaning the bathroom, and he’s going to stick that darn stepstool on my foot AGAIN while I’m cooking because he needs “to see what mama’s doing”. 

And just to satisfy that secret guilt and the wanna-be teacher inside of me, I found http://www.abcjesuslovesme.com for a free toddler curriculum that I’m going to be selectively picking and choosing from. Mainly just the Bible Curriculum. Because I need a reminder sometimes that he’s not too young to learn about what really matters.

And he’s going to watch Sissy do school every day most days. And one day, when he’s ready, he’s going to want to do it, too. 

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Sleepless Nights

My heart gets slightly less melt-y when I hear the pitter patter of my little guy’s feet through the house at night any more. Especially when it’s too-dark-to-roll-over-and-check-my-phone o’clock.

Somebody has been getting in my bed while I’m dead to the world and I wake up to constant kicks, squirms, wiggles, and once he even sat up and laid across my entire body.

I think he was in my bed three different times last night. I seriously lost track, and it kind of muddled up with my dreams, but I do remember putting him back in his bed once last night. And I remember telling him to go back to bed at least once, too. Maybe twice.

This has been going on for days, and I can’t get a full night’s sleep anymore. Oh the joys of motherhood. We’re going to have to have a talk about what’s MINE. Like my bed.

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This is what I woke up to this morning.

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Notice the pantry contents in the dump truck? And he admitted there was chocolate in his mouth.

I am going to sit on the couch, sip my lemon tea with honey, and watch some cartoons with the kids. There’s a craft project floating around in my head, we’ll see if I can get to it today.

Sick Day

Ugh.

There is a bug in our house, and I have caught the brunt of it. My head aches, my chest feels full, my sinuses are loaded with pressure, and right now I feel like I’m on a commercial, talking to a smiling pharmacist in their white lab coat and fake smile. You know which commercial I’m talking about, right? The one where they point us viewers to aisle five.

Except I don’t like to take medicine. I can’t wrap my mind around taking a pill to stop a symptom my body obviously needed to create. I don’t know why I think my body wants every sinus in my head to be filled with mucus that’s just stuck there not moving, but I do. It goes along with the thinking that medicating a fever is a no-no. Or maybe it goes way, way past that thinking.

I did take that Emergen-C stuff that tastes like chalky, fizzy, raspberry chalk-water. A few times in the past few days. And I got worse.

But, I will count my blessings. Jeff came home today and told me that he was sick with a stomach bug. All I can say is, I’m glad I’m not puking. And I will only baby him if he stays home from work. (Which he said he won’t do.)

During this sick day, I didn’t get any chores done. But the sheets I ordered for my bed came from Amazon today (yay for two sets of sheets now!), so I managed to throw those in the washer.

I took the kids to the library for Preschool Story Time. It was a nice 1/2 hour where I didn’t have to think about anything.

Peanut just took a math test, copy work, and Bible Devotion, so it really didn’t take any effort from me.

Bubba played with the Fisher Price Farmhouse I dug out of the closet the other day (I still think it’s hilarious that he tells me it’s our new toy. It’s older than he is.) and he played with that most of the day. I put my bucket of animals with it. So there were lions and sharks and cows and elephants and snakes in the farm. We did, however, have a very educational discussion about what animals belong on the farm.

Lunch was macaroni with shredded cheese. When Jeff got home, we watched The Lorax, and then we fed the kids leftover pizza and put them to bed.

I really wish I didn’t feel so crummy. I missed a really great Bible Study with the girls from church tonight. We are studying Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Perhaps I will feel refreshed and renewed tomorrow and I can get my chores done, buy AAA batteries, do some cooking, and finish up Peanut’s school week with time to spare.

Little Blessings

I was blessed today by a fellow mother taking Peanut to a homeschool gathering for me, to allow me to give Bubba his normal nap routine. I packed her lunch, and off she went to a beach party in our church’s gym.

It was quiet in our house this afternoon. Just Bubba and me after lunch. And we spent about 20 minutes playing blocks and building “blast offs” (rocket ships). Our “hats” kept blowing away, and he had to keep chasing them. I loved just sitting down on the floor with him, watching his imagination soar, and testing it, to see how much more he would pretend.

Then we quietly read some books together which isn’t normally just him and myself, and I put him to bed. It was so peaceful, and I loved the opportunity to focus solely on him.

Tonight, Peanut is at basketball practice, and I am home with Bubba again- my hip has been hurting badly today, and I cannot sit on those folding chairs.

And I am loving the one-on-one time with my precious little boy. 

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He is growing up so fast, right before my eyes. He amazes me every second I spend with him. I feel like I need to slow down and savor every moment of his toddlerhood, because he is quickly becoming a sweet young boy. I wish there was a pause button, a rewind button, a playback button. I will satisfy myself with pictures, and precious memories, treasuring them in my heart like only a mother can.

Tell me, how do you stop, and take time to revel in your childrens’ childhoods? 

Redefining Myself

These past few days have been filled with organizing. My thoughts, my game plan, my time, my chores.

I am coming in to my new role slowly, and it’s not a terrible experience. You see, the beginning of this year brought a big change. I am not longer defined as a Child Care Provider. From now on, I am merely a Wife, Stay At Home Mom, and Homeschooling Mom, with many responsibilities on my to-do list. I think that I used to put a lot more weight on the title that brought home the most money, and these remaining titles don’t bring in nearly as much money for the work that’s required of them. But these- the roles I have in my family are the absolute, most important. I am thankful that God has made his will clear in my Child Care career, and thankful for the opportunity to focus on what matters most.

And so, the journey begins.

I’m learning to trust in God, and to not try to control things that are out of my control.

I’m working on completing a Home Management Guide- a complete list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to keep the home clean, organized and semi put together.

I’m working on giving the children more responsibilities around the house. Bubba helped me clean the bathroom today, and Peanut folded two baskets of laundry and put them away.

I’m trying to get a routine that can be relied on with the kids.

I’m taking my sewing machine that was Jeff’s mother’s to the craft store for a Sewing 101 class this week.

And I’m actually starting to get our picture frames back on the walls. By the way, that reminds me, I want to be able to check off something on my Unfinished Projects list at least once a month. I’m working on it, but time creeps by so quickly!

I will say one thing about all the changes going on. I have definitely noticed an attitude change in Bubba. He is happier, and, although he does experience the usual two year old outbursts and temper flares, he has a lot more patience throughout the day. Which makes my heart happy.

Revival

The Lord is teaching me new things. My soul is ready, but my heart is nervous. I am a fearful person. I am not accustomed to change. I get set in my ways and I don’t want to be moved. But the Spirit has been softening my heart for months now, and I can see now that God seeks a revival in my life.

This isn’t about coming back to Christianity. This is about maturity. Growing in the Spirit. Cultivating spiritual fruits. And letting go of the control that I thought I needed to have.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I am learning truths about who God is.

About learning to trust Him.

About my role as a follower of Christ.

How I am not defined by how much money I make.

How my success in life is not defined by what I do outside my home.

How keeping up with my laundry and dishes glorifies my God.

How God is in control of my life, even when I think I am.

About motherhood, and bringing up Godly children with values and virtues.

About stepping back and allowing my husband to possess the authority that God gave him.

I am excited to see the results of these changes, but I know that the road will be hard. I know that through this process, God will expose truths in me that will hurt. I am only ready with the strength I gain through my Savior, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.