Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Myth #4 - No time!

     “Where would I find the time?” Sure, it requires a sacrifice of time. It means I won't have mornings to myself to do coffee with the girls, or go shopping etc. But I'm trying to look at what I will gain instead of what I will lose. I will be building a long lasting relationship with my children that I believe will last generations. I look forward to incorporating them into the running of the house, teaching them how to be responsible etc. (and just as an aside. It's amazing just who does the actual teaching – in some families, Mom and dad share it equally, in some, granny has specific tasks etc. And in some families, they are able to run their own businesses whilst homeschooling too!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Myths #2 and #3

Myth #2 goes something like this: “Well, you can homeschool because you have an education degree.” True, but you'd be surprised as to how well planned some of the curriculum packages are out there – they literally spell out what you have to read, when and how.

And myth #3 involves the thinking that homeschooled children will never be able to attend a university (or other tertiary institution)?” You'd be surprised to learn that there is a growing propensity of universities seeking out homeschooled applicants as they have already fostered a love of learning and already know how to do their own research and generally know early on which career path they would like to follow. In fact, a number of Masters students at UCT are currently doing their theses on the great explosion in the homeschooling movement. And there are so many ways to home educate a child through high school you would be surprised.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Myth #1 - the 's' word

The most frequently asked, and the first one in my very own line of attack when I started meeting with real homechooling families, was the 's' word – socialization! These homeschooling moms are wacky, I thought. Their kids are going to grow up to isolated and introverted. Little did I realize how much research has been done on this exact front. Turns out, there are two ways someone is socialized – vertically, ie with their age group, and horizontally ie with people of different ages, older and younger. I find it amusing that at school we have largely accepted that it is right for our children to associate with 34 other children of the same age. But on the homeschooling front, because one has the time to link children with adult experts in the field of their passions, the kids socialize with all kinds of people. Fortunately for me I live in Cape Town's deep south, and in my valley there are many support groups, homeschooling co-ops, and many of the schools are open to homeschooled children being on their sports teams etc.

Another primary aspect that attracted me to look more into it was that with each homeschooling family I met, I was quite literally surprised at how pleasant their children were – I mean it - teenagers sat down and chatted with me - who has met teenagers that actually want to talk to adults??? They were respectful, gentle, and genuinely wanted to interact with me, an adult – I certainly wasn't like that as a teenager! And usually I would take my three in tow, and these children would engage with them, look after them, and allow me to have an in depth conversation with their mother – quite mind boggling really.

Black & White or Grey – Part IV

There are some things I'm still pretty sure are black and white. I believe in the Bible, unquestioningly. Again, a no brainer. Abortion can't be grey to me – I am passionate about the rights of the unborn child, and I have come too close to people who have chosen abortion both before the act and after it to believe it is ever right. Hear me when I say I have no problem with the people but I do have a real problem with homosexuality, especially within the church (I'm probably making a reader's blood boil). Murder is black and white. And I have a real problem with child trafficking, child prostitution, child soldiers, domestic violence etc. In short I have a problem with evil. Surely there can be no grey there? God? Continue to show me your truth.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Black & White or Grey – Part III

Some more burning examples on my mind:

Working mothers – I never had a problem with this, until I had kids. Then I thought mothers that returned to work were giving up the best years of their children's lives (please note I am not talking about single mothers at all here. I'm talking about two income families) and to their children's disadvantage. And then along came 2009, and a dark period where God gave me an opportunity to work part time conceptualizing children's activity books which I absolutely loved (there was no money in it in 2009 in case you're wondering!) – and I cannot even begin to tell you how those few months have changed my life. They allowed me the head space to appreciate my children afresh, they renewed a desire within me to be at home full time and to be a mother. Right? Wrong? All I know is had I not been outside my home for a season, I would have seriously blown it with my children.

(and again can I qualify? I still don't think it can be within God's plan for a mother to drop off her child at 7 and pick them up at 5...i think there's a lot to be said for choices in lifestyle and frugal living on a one income budget. Parents are designed to be the primary care givers. But can I really judge? Is it my place? More questions than answers...I'm learning to walk in grace and stop judging too!)

Contraception – never thought two ways about this – got married, started taking the pill happily, and I still remember being horrified when someone suggested to me that I pray about when God wanted me to have kids. I remember it as clear as night and day – the horror that I should hand over the control of my body to God! Surely not! I had a plan, which involved being married for 5 years before the pattter of little feet! But here I am, many years later, three children down the line, and I am against many forms of birth control, simply because what isn't advertised is the fact that so many of them are abortifacents. I read a couple of articles, and was so convicted in my spirit that I don't think I can return to that path ever again. (read this for starters)

Right? Wrong? All I know is this. When I got married, I vowed I never wanted to have children ever. And then slowly, surely, God massaged my heart until he told me that I would have a son and to call him King Arthur (a.k.a!). I have never looked back. That God knew me so well, that he promised me a child and gave him his name – I know that my children were chosen and purposed. What for me is even more beautiful, is that God gave me a princess (another big hurdle – I had told God I never wanted girls because of my past)... in August of 2008, I gave birth to a princess and sobbed for hours, so overjoyed and thankful that God had given me a girl.

I know, soberly, that had I had children earlier than I did, I would not have had the grace, nor the heart to parent them well. So … his gracious timing? His gracious seasons?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Black & White or Grey – Part II

Brennan Manning refers to it as the “Ragamuffin's Gospel” in his book by the same title. It's the grace that says so matter what you are, no matter what you've done, you are loved. And not because of ANYTHING you have done. That's the good news – no pressure people. No perfection needed. That's Christ's job. Just by accepting His love, and BEING you are loved, and accepted.

And now I get to my point. The point that for so long I have lived my life by black and white standards. The church has taught me this (the do's and don'ts, the ways to be approved/accepted), therefore 'this' becomes law. I have come to a place where I see the church is terrified of this gospel of grace – because it means they could possibly lose control of their congregations. This is the crunch - the only thing I should be doing is following Christ with my whole heart and allow him to lead me into what is right for me. Ruthless trust people. RUTHLESS TRUST. It's him and us. All the way to the grave and beyond. Just him and me.

Let me give you some examples, of black and white issues I still believe, and areas where there are shades of grey.

I believe there are shades of grey when it comes to schooling. I don't think mainstream school is for everyone, and neither to I believe homeschooling is right for everyone. I do believe that we should seek God as to what is right for each of our children. I'm choosing to start homeschooling one of mine, but I'm not yet sure about the other two. Right? Wrong? I'm completely at peace with it because I have saught (goodness what is the past tense of seek?)...and I know I can stand before God with a clear conscience.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Black & White or Grey – Part I

So here's the thing. I grew up believing from an early age that there was right and wrong, black and white. There was only one way to live that was right (that was largely controlled by the rules I think church instilled in me, and being the person that I am, if you persuade me with a logical argument 9 times out of 10 I will believe what you say). So I heard, I understood guidelines for living, and applied them to my life. has happened. Years have passed. The zeal of youth has waned and I have become a questioner. Let me qualify that - there are some things I don't question – categorically – I don't question the existence of God. That's a no brainer to me – been there during university – the darkest period of my life, and the search was the most illuminating.

But the issues I now question aren't so much about the existence of God, or the nature of pain, or any of those great theological debates. It's more a growing awareness of the immensity of grace – of why what we believe is called the good news. Any of you ever wondered why it was called the good news? Dunno about you, but I certainly have never run down the streets crying out “Have you heard? I've heard good news!” at the top of my lungs.

No people. We've missed the boat. We phone each other about sports scores, shopping deals, people's birthdays, births, competitions that have been won. But we don't tell people about the good news. Why? Because fundamentally, deep down, we don't believe it is good news.

I'm not saying I've figured it out. Yes, I pay lip service to the fact that I am not going to hell (perhaps I need a fresh revelation), but I think the life Christ died to give us is so much more than just eternal life after the here and now. I believe he died to make this life full of 'good news'. And I think part of that is his extravagantly rich Grace.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reasons We're Homeschooling - the other ones

education is life itself. John Dewey quote at

  1. It's more about home than school (homeschooling). How is it that we have come to a place where we accept that our children, over time, identity more and more with their peer group than with their families? How is it that we accept that other adults get to influence our children with their thoughts and worldviews because they spend more time with them in their waking hours. I want my children near me in their formative years, where I can influence (yes I did say that) and shelter them (yes, I even said that). There's enough time for them to face the world. 
  2. I want a better quality of life – for my children and for myself if I'm honest. Watching my friends rushing from here to there all day every day seems like school is a junior rat race, which quite frankly, if I'm given the choice I simply don't want to be a part of it! Their kids are shattered by the end of a day, and not always pleasant to be around because they are just exhausted. I don't want someone else to get the best part of my kids day, and to have to be content with the dregs.
  3. I want my kids to have a golden childhood and to enjoy their youth. I want to be able to do 'school' on rainy wet days and enjoy the days with sunshine. I remember having a golden childhood because I was allowed to be a child... before I became a teenager. In today's world, children are forced out of innocent childhood far too early for my liking, (because of society, but enhanced by school) and thrust into adulthood earlier and earlier. That time will come – but I will guard their chidhood carefully.
  4. I believe I can give them a better, individually tailored education – my children can steam ahead when they want to, and I can go painstakingly slow whenever they need to. I can catch their passions early and fan them into flame.
  5. I want to inspire my children with a lifelong love of learning and discovery, I want to be there for their Euraka! Moments.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reasons We're Homeschooling - the general school one

It's hard to actually know where to start.

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire. W.B. Yeats quote at
  • Hours of school (and here I refer directly to Junior school) - for a Grade 1 to be at school from 8am to 2 pm is lunacy – if you are telling me that you need all that time to instruct my children, then explain to me why you still need to send them home with homework every day? To reinforce a concept? Really? That can't be done in class? (or is the real issue the size of the classes hampers this individual attention?) And then why is time given to them so they can watch TV? Or do 'busy work' whilst a teacher marks other things/prepares something?
  • I have a real issue with homework – Children are being sent home with increasing amounts of homework earlier and earlier. Why is there not enough time during class to teach this all? The endless projects, reading, etc. Either something is fundamentally wrong with teaching styles/methods, or there is too much required in the syllabus to cram into a short time. Homework is necessary evil because of the large sizes of classes in school today. This leads to incredible pressure on very young children. Something has to give...and I'm not willing to let it be my child's life.
  • Class size: How can a teacher adequately monitor the progress of 35 children in a class? And here I speak from personal experience. Even at a high school level I could not help those that were falling behind...I simply had to let them go or refer them to remedial teachers for help. I focused on the core group of students, and tended to always aim to extend them and my students with higher capabilities. At junior school with fundamental building blocks of learning taking place all the time, this is even more critical.
  • Different learning styles can seldom be accounted for, not only in the way in which learning takes place, but also with regard to the difference between boys and girls. (However a school in our local community does account for this, and very well I might add.)
  • Starting ages of schools – without taking into regard the different developmental paces, schools, decided by the government, can start anything from 4-7 years across the globe. Who said that this was the best age to start teaching them? Has anyone ever queried the connection between the growing problems with literacy these days and the early age we're forcing their brains to make connections? And why is it that boys struggle so much – did anyone ever stop to think perhaps it would be better to start them later than earlier?
  • I have a problem with the stripping of innocence - how children in today's world have little or no time to be children, to play and have fun – indeed, grade 4 (age 10) children are taught about anal sex...because the state says it is a good idea. How can it possible help a child so young to know such details? I don't want the innocence of my children shattered before they need to know just because some politician has adopted some liberal world view. I'm simply not ready to handing over my child's education to the State and have them taught only what the state tells me is relevant. (Just a teeny nursery school example – we're very strict with what we allow our children to watch, and how much time they can spend in front of the TV. So imagine my surprise when King Arthur came home from school telling me all the ins and outs of the Ben 10 – a show he had only watched once with us. He could name all the aliens etc – and purely from what his friends had told him in the playground – imagine what else he could learn in a few years time!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reasons We're Homeschooling - the system one

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
Abraham Lincoln

How powerful is that thought? What are the goals of the state designed curriculum? I'm really thankful that we do live in Africa, and that the South African education system is far better than the American, (and by the way the patriot in me wants to acknowledge that Zimbabwe ranks higher than SA being linked to CIE), but still!

Kelly Crawford, quoting Johan Wesley: 

“Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. I ask, then, for what end do you send you children to school? “Why, that they may be fit to live in the world.” In which world do you mean, — this or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only; and had forgot that there is a world to come; yea, and one that will last for ever! Pray take this into your account, and send them to such masters as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise, to send them to school (permit me to speak plainly) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all events, then, send your boys, if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large public schools, (for they are nurseries of all manner of wickedness,) but private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavours to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together.”

I can’t help but wonder if people called Wesley divisive or extremist for making the aforementioned comments. Perhaps not. Perhaps they simply said, “That may be right for you, but it’s not what the Lord told us to do.”

Here's another thought provoking one from Van Til:

“Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum…. The result is that child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food…. Modern educational philosophy gruesomely insults our God and our Christ. How, then, do you expect to build anything positively Christian or theistic upon a foundation which is the negation of Christianity and theism?…. No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.                                      

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”
G. K. Chesterton

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
                                                                          Ronald Reagan

And let me once again state, that I know of two incredibly powerful families who function as God designed families to function, even though they send their children to a public school. They are shining beacons of light in an otherwise dark environment. It can be done....if you know that God has called and therefore equipped you to it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reasons We're Homeschooling - the personal one

It is easier to build strong children Frederick Douglass quote at

Time and time again I have been convicted about the importance of family. Our families re the only thing of value in this world. The only legacy to last. There si a beautiful allegory that compares everything we do in life to building sandcastles on the beach that the tide of time WILL wash away. But the people with whom we build those sandcastles, and the time it takes, those two things can never be washed away. This is our legacy.
Braveheart and I hope to equip our children to enter this world as secure, confident men and woman who are unafraid. We hope to equip them with their identity and destiny with God's leading (an aside – this is one of the greatest tragedies I saw when I was teaching – teenagers leaving school unsure of what to do with their lives, unsure of who they were). We want to ensure that they fly out our hands as straight and true arrows, expertly crafted and equipped to land on target.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
                                                  when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127

In the words of Charles Spurgeon:
A man of war is glad of weapons which may fly where he cannot: good sons are their father's arrows speeding to hit the mark which their sires aim at. What wonders a good man can accomplish if he has affectionate children to second his desires, and lend themselves to his designs! To this end we must have our children in hand while they are yet children, or they are never likely to be so when they are grown up; and we must try to point them and straighten them, so as to make arrows of them in their youth, lest they should prove crooked and unserviceable in after life. Let the Lord favour us with loyal, obedient, affectionate offspring, and we shall find in them our best helpers. We shall see them shot forth into life to our comfort and delight, if we take care from the very beginning that they are directed to the right point.

“We know the worth of dead, or rather lifeless treasures, but who knows the worth of living treasures?
                                                                     - Joseph Caryl

Children are compared to "arrows". Now, we know that sticks are not by nature arrows; they do not grow so, but they are made so; by nature they are knotty and rugged, but by art they are made smooth and handsome. So children by nature are rugged and untoward, but by education are refined and reformed, made pliable to the divine will and pleasure.
                  —George Swinnock, 1627-1673.

We realize that we must live out our marriage and our parenting with the big picture in mind always. We must ask the question—how is what we are doing now going to change the future and affect future generations?
                                                                Leah Smith, American Vision

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reasons We're Homeschooling - the God one

(Perhaps before reading this read the "Read Me First Page"!) I have thoroughly enjoyed the pursuit of understanding the ethos behind homeschooling, the conversations I have had with many homeschooling families, and the inner delight and excitement that has dawned within me. It witnesses within my spirit, that this is right for our family; that although we know of no one else who does this, it is for us, at this time.
God has shown me time and time again, that this is a season for me to stand on my own before God, and seek him for what is right for me, rather than watching women I admire and trying to emulate what they's about vision vs formula. The endless guilt, and pressure to do as others do – this path is one God is leading me down to ensure that I can live free, and that I can trust him with all my heart and lean not on my understanding.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Surprisingly for me, there are a number of scriptures in the Bible that talk of education – instruction/teaching etc. This has confronted me on two levels – one, do we dare to take these scriptures literally and believe that it is our job as parents to teach and educate (a sidenote - I am sadly bemused how easy it is to selectively obey scriptures). Secondly, it doesn't make much sense to me how you can still do this if one's child is not at home interacting with you on a day to day basis. School takes them outside of the home for much of their waking time.
There are ancient paths that lead in the way everlasting - This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jer 6:15-17)
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6 4-9)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. 
(Prov 22vs6)
This is what we are called to, to train them according to their bent – some scholars believe that this includes training them up in their vocation – as parents we can so clearly see our children's strengths and weaknesses, we can see their giftings and abilities. With an ear close to God, we can channel them from an early age, and cut out years of wasted time and energy, and help them walk into their identity and destiny with a flourish! None of this ending school without knowing what to do!
Throughout these proverbs there are references to a father and mother teaching children, receiving instruction, with reference to young children being taught. Surely it should be our primary goal as parents?

Friday, June 18, 2010

I figured it out!

Yes, well, it's taken me some time to come up with a look I really like for my blog (and yes that's important to me!) and so I am choosing to let y'all know where I am and what this is about! And I'm still working on some blasted font issues (grr!!!)

p.s. for those of you who are thinking about creating a blog, these little videos were so helpful to me – I clearly am a visual learner, and someone who likes to be taught rather than figuring it out on my own!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Planks and Specks

I see this more and more around me as God opens my eyes. Somehow as Christians we have come to this place of desiring to control others and squash them into a box of conformity. God reveals something to us, for us, and because it is so awesome and life changing, we demand, nay, we command that others live their lives according to the things that God has shown us. And so if we look at Christianity today, we find unhappy people trying to be perfect, instead of a people lovingly following their own God and unashamedly trusting his leading in their life.

I love that 'they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony' and wonder if that's where the key is. It's Christ's work that sets us free – free from sin, death, condemnation - free to
be ourselves and to live to bring him glory. It is the word of our testimony that makes the world of difference. And by that I don't mean the story of how I cam to know Christ. I mean the daily re-telling of how he is changing me, transforming me, making me all he created me to be. When I share this with passion and truth, it cannot help but ignite something within us.

I am most moved by the power of God evident in other people's lives, not their words.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cyber Sadness II

I read this article a long time ago, and was so sobered by it - again it speaks to the very fabric of society as we know it changing. What is the norm for us in relationships may no longer be anything recognizable when our children are young adults. What also fascinated me (apart from the fact it was published in the New York Times!) was when I read it, my heart ached for the challenges that will face my boys, and when my husband read it, he ached for the challenges my daughter will face. Lord guide us and lead us!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cyber Savvy

A friend of mine has vowed to stay abreast of technology as it develops, simply so that whenever her kids start using 'apps' and social programs like Facebook,Twitter etc, in later years she will be able to relate to her kids and understand cyberspace alongside them. That got me thinking. Too often, in my experience, women fall behind keeping up with things like this because they don't use them on a daily basis, or just simply have so many other things on their plate that it doesn't feature on the grand daily plan (I for one haven't got a clue how to connect the tv, video, dvd cables and would rather use my time in the evenings to do other things than learn!). But what when our children venture into cyberspace and start using new technology? I, for one, think it's a good idea to walk alongside them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Waiting for Superman

I am passionate about education and learning, and if you are at all interested in either of those things, grab a tissue and watch this. I am so thankful I live in Africa sometimes, and that I had a Zimbabwean education!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cyber Sadness I

Many of you who know me well will know my heart's longing and desire to be in a community and for the ideas written of in Titus 2 to be alive and kicking amongst us. I am walking into the Son and finding peace that my life is filled differently now to how I thought it would be. But that doesn't stop my heart from yearning for real live contact and a living breathing community.

I find the Internet, and blogging communities wonderful and yet so sad. I know that many people have 'real-life' friends so to speak, as well as their Internet buddies, but it seems like the very fabric of our society is changing. I realized with some amusement the other day that if I had kept my stamp collection from when I was a kid, it would probably have a great value attached to it if my children one day sold it – who out there still writes actual letters? When last did you receive one? Gone are the days that were the norm (gosh now I sound like a granny!).

Don't get me wrong – I am thankful for the advances in health care, in transport, in human rights etc. But my heart yearns for the lost emphasis on family, on community, on closeness, on morality, on manners and discipline. I read this poem recently on Spunky's website, and found it sadly thought provoking. It reminded me of a quote I'd also read elsewhere -who warms your bed, your lover or your laptop? Let's get our priorities right ladies!

Mom's on the Computer (to the tune of Cat's in the Cradle.)

My computer arrived just the other day,
It came on the porch in the usual way
So many blogs to read and games to play
My child learned to walk, while I twittered away
And he was talkin’ for I knew it, as my friends list grew
He’d say I’m gonna be like you mom
You know I’m gonna be like you

And mom’s lost on the computer, lettin' dinner burn
Little boy wanders, he just wants to learn
When you getting off mom?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
we're gonna have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said "thanks for the wii, mom, come on let’s play"
"Can you teach me how it works?" I said “Not today”
"I got a blog to write" he said “that’s okay”
And he walked away while the computer never dimmed
He said, “I’m gonna be like them, yeah”
You know I’m gonna be like them

And mom’s lost on the computer lettin' dinner burn
Little boy wanders, he just wants to learn
When you getting off mom?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
We're gonna have a good time then

Well my son came home just the other day
iPod in his ears, while he texted away
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and he said with a smile
"I'd really like to Mom, but talkins' not my thing"
"Check my status, for what's happening"

And mom’s lost on the computer lettin' dinner burn
Little boy wanders, he just wants to learn
When you getting off mom?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well my blog's retired and my Facebook out-of-date
My son texted, “Hey mom, I just can't relate"
I said, "I'd like to see you if you have some time."
He said, "I'd love to mom but skype if you don't mind."
"You see my website's down and my workload just grew."
"but it's nice texting with you, mom"
It's been sure nice texting with you."

And as I typed “c u later” it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

© 2010 SpunkyHomeschool All Rights Reserved

And then there were Two (or three, four, five!)

The next three months appear to be baby boom months – many of my friends and people I have met are about to pop or have just given birth. I remember having King Arthur, and the huge jump it was for me to have children, and then having Aragorn two years later was a much larger jump than expected! Mine were all still very young when another one came along – know looking back I can see that, but at the time I thought it was normal!

Here are some things that helped me in adjusting to a toddler and a newborn:
  • we read our children loads of books about new babies before one was born, making sure that nothing would be a surprise (crying, breastfeeding, nappies, sleeping etc), and also using those books as a springboard to talk about their feelings and to treasure them that our love for them would never change. Here's one I just loved – "And then there were two" (the author escapes me just now!).
  • Reassure and affirm the elder child all the time – talk about what a wonderful big sister/brother they are going to be, how wonderful if is that baby is going to have them for a big brother/sister etc, so that it's not always babe that is getting all the attention. Be conscious of this when talking to others about the baby too if your eldest is in earshot. (You can ask people you know well to make a fuss of your eldest at the hospital first as well (before they start oogling at the newborn)
  • We also gave a present from the newborn to the elder sibling/s at the hospital on the first day they came to meet the newborn. (They also brought one of their special toys to give to the baby as a way of welcoming them into our family). This makes them feel special and I think it encourages the bond of openness and love – and it gives them something new to play with whilst mom and dad reconnect and give the new bundle some special cuddles!
  • when you are breast feeding, make a special juice for your toddler, one that he can only have when you are breastfeeding. Or give him water in a new special cup that he can only use during this time. You can also include a snack for him as well. That way, when baby is being fed, he is too.
  • Have a regular place that you will breastfeed, and place a special box with some quiet independent activities for your toddler to do whilst you are breastfeeding. And let me stress that word – independent!! Stickers, coloring in, play dough, a new car, threading activities etc. That way he knows it is his special treat and a special time to be with you in a different way.
  • The best advice I was ever given was by my sister-in-law who was a great routine based mom. She encouraged me to guide my babies into the same sleep routine as my toddler – so I did. And let me assure you, it was my sanity saver for the last four years! There was season where every day, at lunch time, all three of my children would rest. It enabled me to catch up on sleep, or read, or just breathe. It transformed me – I was a much better mother for it. I watched others in disbelief trying to function through the day with different nap times and no sleep or down time for themselves, especially during those sleep deprived early weeks. If you handle pressure like that well, go for it, but if you can nail this one, it will change you!
  • On a side note, if your children are now older than mine were, an no longer need a lunch time nap, don't think you're doomed! My boys now have 'quiet time'. Every day, after lunch, they play quietly in their room. My mantra is “I don't want to hear you, I don't want to see you”. This time gives me down time too, and gives them a time to rejuvenate themselves for their afternoon play or activities. If your older children are not used to this, I would strongly urger you to create pockets of this time in your day BEFORE babe comes. Start it as a game - “Sweetie, let's play this game. Let's see if you can play in your room quietly for 10 minutes. I'm going to set this timer, and when you hear it go off you can come to me and get a reward (say a smartie)”. Start with small pockets of time and gradually work your way up. I recommend some back to back slots as well – 10 minutes, reward then another 10 minutes. I think time like this is invaluable, if you need a power nap, or if you are trying to settle babe etc. Older kids will love it if it starts as a game!
  • I strongly recommend that during one of the babe's regular nap times, you consciously set that time aside for your toddler/older child – leave the laundry, washing up, tidying etc. Make that time a period where you just invest into her life. It will fill up her 'emotional tank', and if it becomes a regular part of the daily routine, you can remind her that her special time with you is coming if there is point where she is nearing melt down.
  • If there are sleeping arrangements or routines you need to change when babe comes, try as best you can to do that before the babe's arrival, to stop the older children from feeling displaced.
  • Children love to be involved – girls especially. Let them see where the baby clothes are going to be kept, how small they are, let them feel the powder and nappy cream, let them see the shoes and the cot. Show them pictures of when they were newborn, and if you have, of when you were newborn too! Let little girls have some nappies to put on their dolls etc.
  • ... and above all, remember babies are a lot tougher than we think! Ever watched the maternity staff handle babies? They don't handle them as gingerly as we do! Let your older kids hold them and love them – allow them to bond (whilst watching with an eagle eye!)

A friend once said that after having two, having a third, fourth or fifth just comes so naturally – and I can attest to that! Belle was born and our family just carried on - it really does get easier the more you have!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another take...

Thank goodness I was never sent to school...Beatrix Potter quote at
I stumbled across this man today, and love what he has to say. Sir Ken Robinson is a man after my own heart, and although he is not a supporter of homeschooling per se, his views on education encouraged and excited me. Here is a man blazing the trail when it comes down to creativity and education. This is what we have lost, this is what our schools today are lacking, this is why we are choosing to homeschool our children.
Current systems of education are based on the manufacturing principles of linearity, conformity and standardization. The evidence is everywhere that they are failing too many students and teachers alike. A primary reason is that human development is not linear and standardized, it is organic and diverse. People, as opposed to products, have hopes and aspirations, feelings and purposes. Education is a personal process. What and how young people are taught have to engage their energies, imaginations and their different ways of learning.

In this talk, I make a passing reference to fast food. Let me elaborate briefly. In the catering business, there are two main methods of quality assurance. The first is standardizing. If you have a favorite fast food brand, you can go to any outlet anywhere and know exactly what you will find: same burger, fries, cola, d├ęcor, and attitudes. Everything is standardized and guaranteed. By the way, this “cheap” food is also contributing to the most costly epidemic of diabetes and obesity in human history. But at least the standards are guaranteed.

The other method of quality assurance are the star ratings guides, like Michelin. These methods do not prescribe what’s on the menu, when restaurants should open, or how they should be decorated. They set out criteria of excellence and it’s up to each restaurant to meet them in their own way. They can be French, Mexican, Italian, Indian, American or anything else. They can open when they choose, serve what they like and hire whom they want. In general they are much better than fast food and offer a higher standard of service. The reason is that they are customized to local markets and personalized to the people they serve.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Finding my Voice

I have found my voice! This would explain the silence of the last few weeks - after having started this blog I just wasn't sure what I wanted to really write about, or what the focus of my blog should be.

But I've found it - after much soul searching.

This blog will be an encouragement to women: an encouragement to be all that they can be as a wife and a mother. An encouragement to make this a community that allows a fellowship of the heart, where they can be real and vulnerable (whilst having the choice to be anonymous).

So I shall write to my heart's content, about life, love, family and motherhood!


A Narrow Scrape

My father had a cycling accident over the weekend, and after scans and MRI's, the neurosurgeon now thinks the accident was caused by a burst blood vessel in my dad's brain. Just God that he was riding with someone that day, and that my brother was back in Harare. Still waiting for more tests so we shall see.

What fascinated me by this process, was that when I go the call, I realized some things:

1.Is anyone really ever prepared to accept death? Do people really come to a point where they are ready to die, and loved ones ready to let go?

2.It is so easy to look at other people facing death, or those who have lost loved ones and judge them for the way in which they are handling their grief – unitl we ourselves are faced with a similar thing.

Just thoughts I am mulling over....