Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Insecurities and Perspective

Don't get me wrong, being a stay-home mom is my dream.  It's just that lately little insecurities here and there have been popping up.  I don't even speak them or write them down, but they seem to accumulate somewhere in my "emotional bank" -for lack of a better term.  Little things that the rational-me knows are insignificant and some truly don't bother me on most days.  Yet, when they all add up together, I can get overwhelmed and start to feel down on myself and doubtful.

My hair that had started thinning at the beginning of my diet is now growing back and nearing two inches long...you know how every short hair cut goes through an ugly stage in the growing-out process?  I've found mine.  It is hot on my neck in the summer heat and looks like I've got a major case of frizzies if I pull my hair back -which I do regularly because the baby loves to pull hair.  So, I resolve to roll my eyes at myself and chalk it all up to loving myself as a stay-home mom of three.

Many of the homeschool moms on Facebook are joking about how many books they are buying and all the curriculum choices they are making for different subjects.  Others are posting pics of their homeschool rooms and new decorations for the upcoming year.  I'm not buying curriculum books, our curriculum is free, online, and comprehensive.  I don't have a homeschool room to decorate, but I will make the girls clean their desk before we start school...  I am completely okay with not being like those other moms.  Every homeschool is unique and developed to meet its individual needs.  Sometimes I have a nagging little thought that maybe I am missing something by not doing the same things other moms are.  I push that little thought away, but it likes to pop back up when I'm feeling low.

Money is tight since I am home and I didn't take a summer job.  We have enough, but not extra and we watch closely what we choose to spend each month on the little extras.  It's an added stress, not a huge deal, but again, there.

And then there are my three wonderful children who I love so much that I want to be the absolute best mother they could ever have and meet every need in the best possible way.  Mom-guilt is natural for all mommies and my perfectionist self loves to pile it on.

So, I read an article today that I totally related to.  I could've written it...except the author is much more eloquent than I am.  It was basically saying why can't it be okay to just be me?  Why do I have to strive so hard to be perfect?  Why can't life be good enough when I am being me?  I needed the change of perspective.  After reading that article and praying about my feelings, I felt much better.  I looked around at my cluttered little house. 

Instead of a walking hazard of toys on the floor, I saw a baby boy's play area where he has so much fun banging toys on the tile entry way and then leaves them there so we can't open the door.  How long will I get to enjoy his pleasure in the simple things?  Instead of my daughter's hamper of clean clothes that she hasn't put away in three days, I saw the evidence of a little girl who loves to play and avoids chores at all cost.  My little girl who will one day grow up and leave an empty hamper.  Instead of a frumpy, aging woman in the mirror, I saw bright brown eyes with laugh lines and hair that has volume and beautiful soft curls.  Perspective people.  Love who you are.  Accept yourself for who you are and the way God has made you.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What does God want for us?

Life gets overwhelming easily when we don't put our faith in God.  Especially for me because I want so badly to get it right the first time.  Making decisions that directly impact my future or my children's future, is hard for me.  When I take the time to set all the stuff aside, get quiet and seek the Lord, He relieves all that stress and pressure.  He gives me clarity of thought.  He gives me wisdom and insight to the decisions He wants for us.

Most recently, this came in the form of homeschool planning.  I've been contemplating how to schedule our school days.  Our baby is going to be a toddler and his needs are changing.  I've gotten to know the learning styles and habits of my older two, and in certain subjects they need more accountability or support than in others.  I can't focus on all three at once all the time, so having some ideas and plans set in place ahead of time will help.

In addition to wanting to meet the individual needs of all three of my children in a day, the content of what they learn is on my mind.  Our curriculum (Easy Peasy - Allinonehomeschool.com) is a Christian-based program, but I feel God calling me to live out my faith with my children.  Not just following someone else's bible time, but personalizing our family's experience with Him.  I don't want to teach my children religion.  I want to share the blessing of a relationship with God with them.  I spent time praying about it by writing my prayers in my journal and looking through the bible verses I've been looking over recently in my own personal time with God.  I felt God leading me to study with my children a topic that I've pondered many times and have always desired to be better at...we are going to start out studying "What does it mean to seek God with our whole heart?"

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ah! Summer is nearly gone!

Vacation Bible School was a good experience.  I had volunteered to work the whole time, but was only scheduled to do the first shift of 2-3 hours in the mornings.  That ended up being perfect for us.  I got to know some of the other volunteers at church and how things are done there.  I was tired and ready to have a break at the end of each shift...part of that was not getting much sleep that week.  Something, teething or food -I don't know, kept the baby up at nights.  He would take his morning nap as soon as I buckled him into his car seat and I got an hour break before returning to pick up my older children.

Being in the nursery with him worked!   He enjoyed exploring and playing and he got used to the environment!  Last Sunday he lasted almost through the whole service and they only had to call me because he bumped his head and wouldn't let them console him.

I enjoyed the small taste of working with young children again after being home the past year.  I'm still good with kids, but I'm not interested in getting back into the field anytime soon.  Life with three children, my hubby's disability and homeschooling are enough to fill my days.

We're down to four weeks of summer left.  I'm excited for the school year to start and I also want to savor the time we have left before the busyness of the school year begins.  My brain is quickly filled with all the potential plans for the future and trying to make the most of the present as well.

I was blessed to get to spend some time with my oldest two on their own at our church's family skate night this week.  We had a blast.  I was able to join them in skating while my hubby stayed home with our little guy.  The girls and I participated in the games and played our own version of tag during the regular skate.  It was fun.  I exaggerated being surprised or upset over getting tagged, played up the chase and thoroughly enjoyed the laughter of my daughters as we played.  My tween didn't want to hold my hand, but enjoyed me being near.  My youngest loved skating holding hands and the added leverage to keep her balance.  It was a great evening together.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Update

What is God doing in my life?  Well, I think He is enabling me to be more aware of things going on in my life.  I often find myself contemplating things and roles of myself and other people around me and the impacts they have.

My oldest graduated to the "Junior High" group at church and we've started going to church both on Sundays and on Wednesdays so she can be as involved as she wants to be.  The girls are really enjoying going, and I'm struggling to figure out how to do it.  I've put the baby into church nursery twice and the longest he lasted was through the beginning worship music before they called me down to get him.  He just isn't used to other people caring for him.  Sigh.  The hazards of being a stay-at-home mom.

He is too loud to stay in the sanctuary.  The nursing mom's room is great, except mom's tend to talk and then I can't always hear the message.  I've been bringing the stroller and pacing the lower level halls where they have TV's that show the sermon and the message on speakers throughout so I can at least hear it, but it isn't the most enjoyable way to do church.  On occasion I have dropped off the older kids and gone home to listen to service online where I can let the baby just play instead of being strapped into his seat for two hours, but I always feel so guilty doing that...our church is only 5 minutes from home, so I'm not far!  I know it is just a season of life, so hopefully I'll figure it out soon.

I've volunteered to help in the nursery next week for VBS (Vacation Bible School), so I'm hoping that might help the baby get more comfortable being there on Sundays after spending a whole week in the same room.  Or maybe, I should try just volunteering to be in the nursery with him for a few weeks to see if that makes a difference.  That might be the key.  God knows!

On another note, our summer is going well.  We've been on several outings and while I've found many ways to stay cheap and reduce the amount of gas I have to use, I'm finding that less travel and a slower pace at home makes for a happier and more relaxed summer experience for everyone.  We had a full two-week break from anything school related and have just started up doing some math work on the days we don't go anywhere.  I've also added in audiobooks for when we're in the car, and some read-aloud books at home in addition to the 30-minutes of reading they do for the summer reading program through our library and Barnes and Noble.

Right now, I'm most excited to be starting to plan next year's school year.  I have a plan for which subjects we'll do each day of the week, and am narrowing down exactly which levels of each subject to teach.  My hubby approved ordering some workbooks of printables so I don't have to print so much at home (it will end up being cheaper than buying printer ink in the long run).  So I'm excited for those things.  I really want to start writing down plans in my planner, but I'm afraid to get too far ahead of myself.  I don't want to have the whole year planned in there, just to decide to change it up once we get there.  I think I will do maybe the first few weeks in my planner and then wait to see how it goes.  I'd love to have the whole year done and ready to go, but from experience I know that half the fun of doing school is the planning.  I need to leave some of the excitement for later!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Countdown to Summer

We have 9 days of school left this year.  It's hard to believe we made it to the end of our first year of homeschooling already.  The time has flown by, we've done so much and it feels like we could just keep on going because in all honesty, it has been a blast! 

The upcoming summer "break" is going to be full of more learning experiences where we'll continue learning and developing our relationships in a more active and hopefully relaxed way!  I've been busy planning activities and experiences.  Reading and math will be continued at a more relaxed pace.  Our city sponsors some free learning "camps" (they're really just a couple hours on specific days) that we've signed up for, we got some great deals on summer passes/discounts to the skating rink, bowling alley, movie theater, and local swimming pools.  The kids are ready and excited for the summer. :0)

I'm looking forward to picnics at the parks and hoping that it truly is a relaxing summer of fun and not too busy.

* * *

A more bittersweet anticipation of this summer is our baby's first birthday.  I'm excited because he is such a doll and I am thoroughly enjoying the little person he is.  I'm anxious to get back to eating the same foods as the rest of my family again.  I'm saddened that his first year is so quickly passing.  He is so much fun, I hardly notice that he's quickly turning into a toddler and his babyhood is ending.  When I do notice, I'm so busy I can't spend much time being sad over it.

He and I are testing new foods on a regular basis and passing most of them.  The ones he hasn't passed are common allergens anyway, so they may always be a bit of a trouble digestively, we'll see.  Right now we are slowly trying the milk "ladder", which is a slow and progressive way of introducing dairy into a non-dairy diet to be as easy as possible on the body.

My health has greatly improved since we passed eggs several months ago.  Eggs have such a wealth of nutrients that I needed.  There was a point where I was starting to wonder how long I could keep up with the strict diet I was on.  My hair had begun to thin and the weight fell off each week with no effort (aside from the diet).  I had to consciously eat extra to ensure I was getting the right amount of nutrition.  I even had to add extra fat to my diet to get what I needed while still being able to feed my son.  I've become pretty good at judging my dietary needs from my energy level mentally and physically.  We have made it so far and I am so thankful that we have been able to add so many foods to our diet.  My hair is filling in again (I have a fringe of short hairs around my head), and the weight loss has slowed to almost maintaining my weight.  I'm about 8-9 pounds more than I was at my wedding.  Our baby, he just continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  He's big for his age and chunky in all the right places!  He is definitely getting all he needs. :0)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Even stay-home moms need a break once in a while!

It's funny.  My childhood dream was to be a stay at home mom so that I could be there for my kids as they grew up.  My own mom was able to be home for the majority of my school years and when she did have to return to work, it was noticeable.

In my silly dreams, I would be home with the kids when they were young and then send them off to school and be home for them before and after their school day.  The house would be spotless because I'd have all that time to myself, all errands would be accomplished and I'd have plenty of me-time during the school days.  Real life...I don't know what a spotless house is, and if mine ever is...it would be such a shock I think I wouldn't feel comfortable until I cluttered it up a little.

Granted, I'm a homeschool mama too.  I replaced my career outside the home with a career inside the home.  I'm still teaching, I just get paid in hugs, kisses, sassy attitudes and rolling eyes. LOL!

I absolutely love being home with my kids and homeschooling them too.  It is not easy and I don't love it every day.  There are days and sometimes weeks where I just want to book a hotel room with a Jacuzzi tub and go on a vacation all by myself!  Mother's Day is coming and I always thought the moms who wanted a day away from their families were crazy and selfish.  But I have to admit, the idea was a little appealing last week.  It was one of those weeks that I was running out of steam.

We're in our final month of school.  We've pushed hard to finish the year by the end of the month.  We started school late, so we haven't taken many days off from school in an effort to make up some time.  Truthfully, we could school year-round and we don't need to push so hard to finish this month.  But, the kids are accustomed to the public school year and anxious for summer to start in June.  That schedule is ingrained in my head too, so we may add in some learning over the summer, but I don't want to be obligated to have school. 

Thankfully, my hubby was also feeling the pressure for a break and decided out of the blue to take a 3-day weekend.  A 3-day weekend was just what we needed and I feel so much better! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Planning is so much fun!

We finalized several plans for next school year this week and I've completed my year-at-a-glance schedule for next school year!  Woo-Hoo!

The biggest thing I was waiting to confirm was whether or not we were going to put our girls into an enrichment program for homeschoolers.  Several families do this, and while I don't think it is necessary for the educational aspect, our kids were expressing a desire to be around other kids more often.

We've joined a Homeschool Group that shares our Christian faith and offers monthly opportunities.  We are slowly getting to know the other families.  We also visited two "enrichment" programs for homeschoolers this month.  One was a Christian Co-op and the other was a secular "Options" program offered through the public school system.

Surprisingly enough, the co-op wasn't the best fit for us this year.  I was a little disappointed that it didn't work out, but I know God has us in His hands!  It required parents to lead one whole class and assist in a second class of the co-op.  I didn't feel ready for that commitment with my youngest still quite attached to me, and me still figuring out this homeschooling thing at home.  Only one of my older kiddos enjoyed the day we spent there.

We did end up enrolling in the options program.  It was scary for me to consider, but our girls really wanted to be around other kids more and I'd heard several other Christian families saying their children attended.  The in-person visit was reassuring to me.  It is managed by a homeschooling veteran (a mom of eight!) and a member of the evangelical church that the program uses.  Several of the teachers were also church-goers and very up-beat about their role in the classrooms.  I don't have to commit to teaching, just supervising a lunch hour or two throughout the year, and both of our girls loved the visit and asked to start going right away! 

The other plus that I liked, but didn't want to be a deciding factor, was that they offer a free curriculum lending library to families enrolled and it also gives me a break for a few hours each week where I will just have the baby to worry about.  I have to admit I am looking forward to that built-in opportunity to focus on my youngest and the house.

With that piece of the puzzle complete, I was able to finalize my plan for the year so we have 36-ish weeks of school, built in breaks, and some extra days for flexibility.  Now I can focus more on curriculum and summer planning!