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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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.

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.

The Process in Childhood Activities

I had grand last minute plans for this afternoon. Peanut went with her dad for some “snow-caching” (her term for geocaching with snow on the ground), and it was just me and Bubba. After their spur of the moment departure, I quickly decided I was going to make up for the guilt I had been feeling for not putting my two year old through a more substantial “early learning regime”. Peanut had a much more structured toddlerhood.

While I was doing in-home child care, I either ordered a toddler curriculum, or wrote one for the small group I had. I haven’t done any of that with my little guy. My child care enrollment slowly dwindled down after he became a toddler, and I didn’t seek to add to the attendance. My desire to do group activities was also dwindling. I was thinking about this the past couple days, and I felt as though Bubba was missing out on more targeted learning activities.

Our together time today started when I broke out my playdough bucket, and found that there was maybe half an ounce of usable playdough left! I gave him what I had, then got out what I thought was my playdough recipe and started making more.

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After I mixed all the ingredients together, I realized this was my aunt’s Salt Dough recipe that is baked so it can harden. Oops! I changed our plans again. I finished making the salt dough an I decided I was going to incorporate some learning into this two year old’s time!

I sat down with him and began making letters for him, placing them on a cookie sheet. He wasn’t too happy with me. Before things got out of hand, I broke out my Christmas cutters, and started having him make shapes. We got two shapes on the cookie sheet, and those went into the oven before I realized that he didn’t want to bake them at all. How boring!

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It was at this moment that I realized what I had been doing wrong. I was trying so hard to give him a lesson to learn, a project to complete, and a tangible outcome. I had to remind myself that HE IS TWO YEARS OLD. The poor child does not care about the outcome. He doesn’t look at something and see a project to complete.

HE WILL LEARN THROUGH THE PROCESS.

I look back on that hour we spent at the dining table, and AFTER I learned my lesson, I can see so many lessons that Bubba learned.

Instead of making shapes to bake, I rolled the rest of the dough out for him to do with what he pleased. As he was picking out shapes, he started telling me the story of how we made cookies for Santa. He remembered this wonderful time with family and fun!

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I cut out a circle with him, and he said it looked like a snowman. So we built a snowman. And talked about all the pieces to a snowman. I added eyes and a mouth, and he suggested a nose. I added arms and a hat and he said it looked like the snowman from the book The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. He said it needed “the boy” from the book. Yay for literacy! I love incorporating books into activities, and he did it for me!

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I stepped in to the kitchen for a minute, and when I came back, Bubba had tried to pick up the snowman. He had pinched some of the dough and deformed the shape. He started whining, “Fix it Mommy! I can’t do it! Fix it!” I gave him a gentle nudge to fix it himself, and he replied back with, “I can’t! I’m just a boy! I’m just a Bubba! I can’t do it.” Eventually, he did whatever it was he was trying to do. (Sometimes I just have no idea.) He is working on understanding what he is capable of, and trying new things. 

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He tried to make a turtle with the playdough mold, and the sticky dough didn’t work. When he got upset about it, I asked him if he could make one himself. He wouldn’t, and I made a ball and called it “my” turtle. I pinched out a little piece and called that its head. I added two little nubs and called that its legs. I tried very hard to keep the shape as vague as possible, to see if he would accept it as a turtle, and he did. He made food for the turtle and added a longer tail for it. He was broadening his creativity, and stretching his imagination.

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It was only an hour, and I had planned on a nice, structured lesson for my son. It was in that hour that I was reminded of the most important lesson when it comes to teaching our young ones. It is the process of learning that teaches the most. I found, also, that once my perspective changed in this respect, my patience for him grew. Clean up time went much more smoothly. Not because he didn’t whine and refuse (he did), but because I was reminded that clean up time is PART of the process. And my response was much more calm.

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