Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Fruit of my Labour

Today has been an uplifting and oddly sobering day...

I have spent the afternoon dwelling on how deeply thankful I am that I am disciplining my children the way I am.

I know I don't always do it the right way, and I may not always say the right thing....but when you see the fruit in your children's lives: the life, the hope, the affirmation they get from knowing that you are disciplining them out of love...then it is well worth it. I am so thankful that healthy, involved, hands on parenting was modeled to me and that I started shaping and molding them early...because again, the benefits are just so worth it. All the days of consistency, the perseverance in repeating the same thing over and over, the patience, the tears....IT ALL PAYS OFF...eventually. And today, I saw a glimmer of that. A bright shining shimmering ray of hope.

And that glimmer makes me want to help other women who seem to be in the darkness, who admit to me with tears and gut wrenching sobs that they don't know how to do this. As mothers, we all need tools. We need to share with one another and carry one another. How is it that in mothering, we can too often be locked into our own silent cells?

And this old pupil of mine from my teaching days in Zimbabwe came to have dinner with us. Again, fruit of my labour - two years of inspiring this student whilst teaching her about geography has led her to be doing the most amazing work with the WWF (and no, not the wrestling acronym!) now. She has au paired in America, and pays me compliments on my children (what every mother loves to hear). But as I chat with her my heart is hear how much I played a role in her life and yet how distanced and hurt she is from  her parents. My heart is heavy with prayers of hope, and of healing.

And again I am struck. This mantle of parenting is no easy task. But it is, beyond a shadow of doubt, the most important one...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pools, Parenting and Pointers

This afternoon has been one of those times when you remember parenting sure isn't for cowards!  I have also been reassured that real parenting, the parenting that lasts, takes time, consistency and sticking to your guns.

As my feet are still healing, today at gyn was just pure swimming for me with the kids. Swimming lessons are paying off and they are like fish, embracing the water and the freedom it brings. Aragorn took off his arm bands and swum all on his own - to tell you I was proud would be an understatement.

Sadly, I had climbed out the pool to phone Braveheart who works fairly close by (bags and towels are right there), to see if he could come and watch Aragorn's miracle, when on turning around, I saw him pushing his sister under...and keeping her there.

I charged in, rescued and settled Belle, and then started the parenting bit, in full view of endless other parents. He had done this once before, so this time I was not messing about. I calmly gave him the price of his actions, the consequnece: I banned him from swimming for the rest of the afternoon. For him (and understandably) his little heart was broken. And that's when it started to spiral out of control - his geuine sobs turned into a full blown angry tantrum where listening to mom was not an option.

So me? What did I do? I whipped out some tools I'd learnt a while back. I acknowledged his feelings, and how frustrating it must be to have to stop swimming; I reminded him of the reason he had to stop swimming...and then I gave him a choice. he could continue to cry (in the change room) or stay in the swimming room quietly. Sadly he did not choose, and so I chose one of the optins for him.In our family, failing to listen, or showing disrespect is dealt with quite severely.  (I've seen too many boys grow up to be teenagers who don't respect their mothers, and I  strongly believe that we are preparing for adolescence now....right now, we are cultivating the attitudes that will stay them for the course of their lives.) Any how, after a good 20 minutes or so, the waters were calm.

A lady came up to me at this point, and spoke such life to me - she complimented me on sticking to my guns, and being consistent, and making sure the lesson had been learnt (it's not like anyone could miss the screaming kicking drama in the corner of the pool!). She said she had never seen such thorough parenting (she's now a granny), and was so encouraged to see parenting can builds character and where children learn consequneces. I could have kissed her, I needed that after being in the war  - she may very well have been an angel!

And to top off the afternoon, just a little later, I took Belle to the toilet, and I left King Arthur with strict instrucitons to stay on the step. Sadly on my return I found him playing in the pool as well - and so he also had to face a concesquence for not listening to me. We spoke a lot about our relationship, and trusting one another, and what happens when that is broken.

And that got me thinking about the conversation we're going to have at dinner tonight - about instructions and our responses to them, about choices and consequences. This is what our children need to be taught - that every action, every thought, in deed EVERYTHING we do has a consequence - if we listen or not, if we learn or not, if we apply ourselves or not, if we are kind, or not...think on anything - it's the pure truth. How are we training our children to learn to make wise choices, and to face their consequences?

Food for thought huh?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creative Co-Ops

I think I should just plain give up on the attempted apologies for my tardy posts.....ahem!

There is so much to share....but right now I shall attempt to catch you all up on some wonderful Fridays in our home.

Last year it felt like I was an honorary member of a co-op - I didn't really do much in that group as my two eldest were still in school, but this year with King Arthur 'officially' being schooled at home, we are now active participants! I've given Belle and Aragorn the day off school on Fridays, as I just didn't want them to miss out on the fun or relationships: and they're beginning to get used to the other children and form some special friends.

Each week, 5 other families join us and so far we have had fun times at someone's house, and an outing to a farm and a cheese factory - I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

This co-op kick started the year at Cm's house.
Laid back and for of creative flair -
my kids enjoyed making the flying bean bag toys the most!

Co-Op #4 (excuse blogger!) - outing to the cheese factory. My boys hated the factory
but loved the goats and playing with their friends afterwards!

Co-Op #2 - outing to a rural laid back farm in Noordhoek!
Didn't even know one existed! So lovely to let my boys see a farm
first hand - and Belle LOVED the cows!

Co op #3 at dear S's house - we made out own butter from cream,
as one would on the farm! My I learnt something I never knew how to do!
The kids highlight was making their own books about their farm visit and
eating lunch with friends.

Suffice to say, this little group really is worth its weight in gold, and the moms are awesome. Without a support network like this, homeschooling has the potential to ab a lonely and daunting road. I am SO thankful I have these women beside me on this road...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homeschool Helps

King Arthur and I are having a blast having just learnt about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

What follows is a list of sites we have loved on the the internet - many of which have an interactive element and are just plain fun, even if your kids aren't learning about this stuff.

Hope you find it useful! - this is the Birmingham Museum site - King Arthur enjoyed the printable activities and dressing up the Roman soldier! - love the BBC and the input they give to children's education. This site is just great - again, King Arthur loves doing the archaeological dig for Roman Artifacts - we're hoping to make some food from ancient recipes here!

And I got a little carried away on Egypt!

A whole unit of work -

Love these coloring in pages -

A great site with basic elementary style info on heiroglyphics

A site with a great many links on Ancient Egypt

Great site with all the heiroglyphics linked to our alphabet with templates

excellent lapbook for slightly older children

A great general sharing site – Homeschol Share, but specifically some stuff on Egypt

 Egyptian Craft ideas: make a pyramid -

Mazes - 


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A quiet oasis

In the last few days I have stumbled across a rare gem.

 And I share it here, in the hopes that you will travel over, stay a while, and catch something beautiful that will refresh you.

holy experience

And these two posts....they speak VOLUMES...
on joyful mothering,
and on homeschooling.

Hurry is the death of prayer - Samuel Chadwick

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Being Kneaded

My heart has stilled over the last few days.

And I have been tenderly kneaded by my Maker.

I have been made to pause, to see things anew, afresh.

And my heart has leapt. This feeling of him kneading me, molding and shaping and changing me..

....sends tingles down my spine.

It makes me sprout tears. And gut wrenching sobs.

It challenges me to be all that I can be. All that he's made me to be. Simply by letting him do the work.

He has stopped me. Held me. Lovingly shown me that there is actually a different way of living. A life of grace so much deeper than anything I am used to.

A life that measures my children as immeasurable gifts.
A life where joy is important, and sadly too far forgotten in my life.
A life where delight carries weight.
A life where hurry plays no part.

My heart has found its way to a quiet oasis.

And I am inspired.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homeschool - Truth or Dare?

It is 6am on a Saturday morning, and I am not in bed, and I am not on the road, but sitting on my new couch (yipee!) writing.

I am not in bed because some strange voice over the wall woke me up - just weird. And sometimes, when I'm awake, I'm awake. No going back to sleep for me.

I am not on the road as Braveheart desperately wanted a sleep in, and my foot problem has taken a few steps back. Cutting the shoes did nothing. The pain has diminished on the balls of my feet, but those inserts made the rest of the shoe too small which caused the sides of my feet to be in agony! However, I am now the very VERY grateful owner of a pair of Body Geometry cycling shoes, and again, have met an amazing cycling shoe specialist. I am eagerly yet nervously anticipating a ride, as this investment had better work....

These weeks are passing in a blur and it's just no good blogging in my head (thanks M for my nudge :)).

Homeschool. This journey we have embarked on is going to change me more than anything else, I suspect. So far, I have realized that it is time to re-prioritize things. For example, being the task focused, product vs process, achievement orientated person I am, I am realizing that all of that must come second to my relationship with my children. Inverting that order almost seems unnatural to me, but it is the path of life. It is more important to honor, respect and develop a relationship with each of my children than it is for me to get somewhere on time, or be able to tick off all that we have done in a day.

Secondly, my teaching background is not necessarily an advantage. It is TOO easy for me to recreate school at home, and forget that homeschooling is more about the HOME in schooling. So it's just as important for King Arthur to bake with me, or be exposed to the drudgery of chores or the monotony of errands as it is for him to do seat work, etc. I need to relax a lot more, and allow for inspiration to over take me. Being handed a curriculum that is spelled out for me, rather than a framework where I have to make individual lessons also means I can be lazy, and see Sonlight's way of doing it as something to achieve, rather than allow my natural bent to take over. I've just started tutoring again (?!), and find myself able to make those lessons inspiring and creative, whereas King Arthur's are pretty mundane. I'm learning to see his education as something fluid, not set in stone.

I am spread thin. Getting Aragorn and Belle to school is the most stressful part of my day. The round trip takes me about 45 minutes, and then within about 3 hours I do it all again! And there are two things at work here:

  • I feel the pressure to get King Arthur's work done when they are at school so that I can enjoy Aragorn and Belle when they return from school
  • I have seen that I do not yet posses enough grace to have them at home with me. They've been sick this past week, and trying to do school with them at home is just ... frankly impossible. I know it was the exception and they were sick, and I am in sure in normal circumstances I would find a rhythm, I am sure I would learn, but right now, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God knew what he was doing - he's easing me into it, one child at a time!
OK. So that's me. Now onto King Arthur. He is doing so well, and is somewhat so content ( I say that because there are some grumbles about it being boring, or about having to do the same things every day (red flag to self - change something!!!!! Spice things up a bit!). Not once has he mentioned friends, or missing them, or wanting to be at school. Sure, I've organised a few play dates, and we have co-op, but he is happy. I can see him just soaking up all this time that he has with me.

reading to his brother and sister
(on the OLD couch!!!!!)

doing maths whilst baking
feel-good muffins

Singapore maths blocks

Ancient Egypt - lego pyramids and
Egyptian collars

Measuring weights on a homemade scale

Sonlight is delivering every one of its promises. He loves listening to the stories, and there are certain aspects (the doing parts) he loves more than others. His boredom with some of the phonics and Maths was because it was just too basic for him, so in his reading program I have jumped him ahead 10 weeks. The beauty of homeschooling - a tailor made education! I've yet to figure out exactly where to peg him in Maths without missing any foundational concepts, but again - such freedom. Were he in school, he would be so bored waiting for the rest of the children to catch up.

A friend calls them "A-ha" moments, and I love getting to be alongside him whilst he learns, watching that proverbial light bulb go on. I am enjoying my learning moments too, although they are a lot more challenging than I thought they would be!

Kids are awake - enjoy the weekend all!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On the road again....

Today was the first time in about two weeks I managed to get on the road again - and it felt good. Amazing isn't it, that when something we so take for granted is taken away from us we start to really appreciate it. Having this foot problem made me realize how crippling it must be to lose the ability to be mobile (pun intended).

The seemingly innocent inserts worked wonders - no pain in the ball of my feet, but it has compressed my feet at the top, so I'll need to cut my shoes. Small price to pay to reach my goal...34 days till race day.....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sole Solution

 I love my new podiatrists. Seriously. He is my new best friend - okay, well not quite. But the man I saw (Chris Delpierre at the sports Science Institute) is a legend.

Turns out, in laymans terms, that the fibrous fatty pad that sits over the bones on the balls of one's feet, has in my case moved. Yup. No padding left, just bare bones.

So he's designing these special false pads to go into my shoes, and we're hoping that my feet will be fooled...

Loving the knowledge of what is actually wrong...and looking forward to a pain free ride this weekend!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind....

I love that song. It's so eerie and sweet and innocent.

In a recent marriage course we have been hosting, God brought me to a standstill.

It came about as the women in the group couldn't understand how the men in the group wouldn't read any books on marriage, or parenting, or personalities etc. And for the women, this seemed the most natural response to 'problems' :- find out from someone who has walked the road before, learn from their mistakes, learn what works and then do it ourselves.

This flummoxed the men. Their response went something along the lines of :- Why learn from someone else? They're not me, they're not like me, they don't know my circumstances. And their overriding response was "I can do this (with God) alone".

Fascinating. All the women I know read endless books on parenting, on marriage, on relationships - self-help books or teaching books, however you want to label them. Men? Largely just not interested. Willing to go it on their own and to learn, in my eyes, the hard way. Fascinating! (The more I learn about how different God created us the more so many things make sense!)

The part that turned me into a statue though, was when one of the men asked me how many books on parenting I'd read. My answer? Many. Then he asked me what kind of parent I was. Naturally I said a perfect one (ahem this was said with much jest!)...

Then WHAM! It struck me. I have been searching for answers for years. I borrow/buy endless parenting books looking for solutions, looking for answers, but friends, although I may find them I quickly forget them. I have been unable to see that THE ANSWER is right in front of me, in Christ. If I seek him, and him alone, I am convinced I shall find what I am looking for. After all, sin't he the one that gave me these 3 particular children to bring up?

A friend sent me this later, and again, just fascinating....

Men don’t change easily.  Men don’t like to change; and because men are actually programmed not to change, but to solidify their opinions and their identities, it often leads to men killing others in one form or another.  In fact, men are rewarded, admired, and elected for not changing! Unfortunately, this feels like most of human history.  Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy.  But when 150,000 people die, it’s a ‘statistic.’”  Too often, we men are able to live in this detached world of statistics instead of inside of our own sacred humanity.  No wonder Jesus’ first preached word was “change” !
In the wars of the 20th century, most countries involved claimed to be Christian—filled with people who claimed to base their lives on Jesus and his teachings.  This is what happens when religion does not really change people, but is just the group to which you happen to belong.

Food for thought huh?