Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Look UP!

When things are tough and storm clouds block the sun.
When too much thinking is sending you in circles and you feel dizzy.
When memories of Egypt make you sick.
When the future is vague and decision making is daunting.
When life seems vain, heavy, pointless or just plain hard.
When you've forgotten why you're here and where you're supposed to be going.
When you know the destination but somehow you've lost the way.
When the way seems too steep or is covered in fog.

Where do you look?

Self help books, psychologists, friends, hugs, stories, inspiring quotes ... these are the tools of our world, and we hope they'll help us make sense of confusion, depression, anxiety, fear.

Danger!  Be careful where you look!

Don't look back ... blame, regret, shame, guilt ... a futile archaeological dig through the past
Don't look forward ... ambition, striving, anxiety, dread

Don't look in ... analysing, over-thinking, worrying, feeling inadequate
Don't look out ... searching for an easy fix, Knight in shining armour, mirage, million$

Don't look around ... comparing, coveting, fearing, judging, wishing
Don't look away ... avoiding, procrastinating, escaping, wasting life

LOOK UP ... to the Lord who knows you better than you know yourself!

Psalm 121: 1-2 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."

A story ... I was always very good at getting muddled up in reflection and introspection, and thought myself into confusion and condemnation.  That's how I know about the traps involved in looking back, forward, in, out, around and away!

When I didn't feel worthy, no amount of praise from others made me feel like I was 'enough'.  Thankfully the Lord showed me a better way.  A year or two ago when everything should have been rosy, I was still quite bothered by ups and downs.  One day when I found myself in a deep, dark hole of seasonal depression, I went to bed to pour my heavy heartedness onto the pages of my journal.  I felt guilty, knowing I was focusing on myself, but I grumpily thought, "I don't even feel strong enough to pray or read my Bible!"  

The Lord nudged me though, with a gentle reminder, "Here I am" ... feeling somewhat petulant, I decided I would just open my Bible before writing in my journal.  

With that simple act, a switch was flicked!  The darkness was fading.  Momentarily I was frustrated that I wouldn't be able to capture the blackness in words ... but quickly I tossed aside that silly thought, and realised it was a blessing.  The Lord had thrown me a lifeline and a torch!  

The Lord showed me then that my mind can be a trap, tangling me in lies, but in His Words I have truth and freedom, assurance, and the peace that passes understanding.  That day, I searched out His promises in my Bible.  I stopped sulking and prayed even though it was hard to start.  And I took comfort in verses like this gem:  Galatians 2:20  "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

He has planted this experience in my memory now, like a nifty short-circuit.  If I feel things crowding in, I KNOW that if I just look at Him, He will do the rest.  He will give me rest.

Psalm 121: 1-2 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interesting bytes

Just taking a moment to share some of the interesting bits and pieces taking place here recently!

We had a wonderful time at an athletics carnival this week last term.  The kids actually participated instead of shying out at the last minute!  No pressure, they just loved being with their friends and went in running races, long jump (J. won a ribbon), high jump, tug of war, hurdles, throwing and novelty events.  I'd love to share the group photo, but can't be bothered asking a hundred people for permission!

Obviously inspired by watching lots of Bear Grylls shows this year, the kids created a water filter using things they found in the yard and an old t-shirt.  They did it all while I was inside answering an email ... earlier they'd decided to wash toys and scrub pavers just for fun!  They mixed muddy water in a pit they dug in the gravel path, and I heard one child comment that it still tasted a bit dirty after the filtering process ... at that point I joined the conversation to say that although their filter might be great, there could unfortunately be pesticides or chemicals in the ground in which they mixed their water (we live in suburbia).  I didn't manage to catch it on camera.  They are keen to go camping so they can try out some other bush survival skills ... shelters and fire I can get excited about, but I'm not keen to replicate scenes involving snakes, bodily fluids, carcasses or knives!

A friend lent us an Engineering Connections DVD, in which Richard Hammond reveals the secrets behind some well known super-structures.  We spent several days last term learning about bridges, photographing and drawing them and building models ... the DVD increased our understanding of engineering exponentially!

Inspired by Suji, I created a free Weebly website to organise links to the websites the kids use.  The kids can now click on THEIR page, and easily access whatever they need to via neat drop down menus, organised mostly by subject.  MUCH easier and cuter than our shared, crowded Safari bookmark bar.

We discovered Storybird, which is a fun site where you choose from heaps of awesome artwork to illustrate stories you create.  I set up a 'school' for my family, where we have a class library of the stories we write using Storybird.  It's FUN!

E. and I went to Kid's Camp during the holidays ... 5 days of crazy fun and fellowship for about 60 Year 3-6 kids.  I was surrogate Mum for 5 delightful Year 3 girls, whilst E. shared a dorm with 8 other 8-9 year old boys!  Not a lot of sleep was had, but the fun included dawn walks, Gala Night plays, elective activities like Survivor, Bootcamp, Chocolate Making, Beading; a photo challenge.  The Olympics involved lots of water games ... and a flouro porridge war!

I have been reading a stack of highly recommended Home Ed. books ... they deserve (and shall have) a post all of their own.

Our days have been rich in recipe invention, books shared, Bible reading, bike rides & impromptu picnics, family, friends and fellowship.  We're all full of energy and loving the warm, sunny days of Spring.

How are things at your place?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm Back!

Here's a little hello from me.  For a few months I needed to sleep more than write, but I'm feeling great again!  I just thought I'd warn you that I might get a little excited to be back into writing here again.  Here's why I was away.  I'll write about more interesting things and post photos another day :)

Fortunately ... I turned 30 something in May.  Umm, calculating ... 37.  I'm blessed with forgetfulness!! Easier to remember, Elijah turned 8 and Jasmine 7.  They delight me every day, and I'm so glad to have time to just savour their words, soft cheeks, cheeky giggles and sincere debates.  It's all a marvel.

Unfortunately ... at age 37 I felt like I'd passed my peak (sounds pathetic, but true) because I was always SO tired.  I got sick too, with a respiratory infection or virus that lasted most of two months.  It became hard to cook, clean, or even read aloud, and I was starting to think if we couldn't find the cause I might have to accept that a change of pace was God's plan for me (in hindsight, I guess it was, for a time).  I considered looking at back up plans for the kid's education.  Like s-s-school, with someone who might be awake and energetic.

Fortunately ... I had an 'ok' day here and there, enough to manage.  The kids were fine apart from sick of having a sick Mummy.  Pete was great (though exhausted from doing so much after work).  Even on bad days, I accepted that I had to rest, and stayed in bed and read the Bible, scribbled notes, let the kids play, slept and enjoyed the kids talking and reading to me.

Unfortunately ... for the second month, the kids had it too (no-one seems to know what IT was).  Then Pete.  The worst headaches, pains and coughs we can recall.  It was a nasty bug!!

Fortunately ... as I found out sometime in the midst of that, I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis and anaemia, and now they're being treated I feel normal again, which is more than I hoped for.  Really, I was just praying to live.  Thank you Lord for allowing that!!  I've also cut out foods that make me feel sick (not much, just gluten, dairy, oats, coconut and a few minor things) and so I have energy again and I feel really well.

Please excuse my possible verbosity.
I'm just a tad glad to be back!

Monday, April 23, 2012

ANZAC Day books, pages and interactive sites

It will be ANZAC day on 25th April, and it's the first time we're really going into it much with the children.  These are the resources I chose to use with my 6 and 7 year old - of course check them first by yourself to make sure you think they're suitable.

Books:  I'll share these with the children a few times.  I won't write book reviews as I don't have time, and Jeanne does it so well anyway ... follow her link if you want to see book covers and read enticing details!

DD6 and DS7  -  "Why are they marching, Daddy?" by Di Burke
                         -  "What was the war like, Grandma?" by Rachel Tonkin
                         -  "My Grandad marches on Anzac Day" by Catriona Hoy

DS7 only - "A Day to remember" by Jackie French

For the last few weeks DS7 has also been reading a chapter book with his Dad, a fictionalised account of the whole life of Simpson's Donkey:  "Simpson's Donkey - A wartime journey to Gallipoli and beyond" by Peter Stanley.  This was his own choice, but so timely!

Interactive activities:
Flags of countries involved in WW1 and WW2, uniforms, Anzac puzzles & captions, women in war

Printable Pages:
Printable ANZAC vocab cards K-3

and I may use some materials from the following pages, but haven't previewed them yet:
Activities to accompany "My Grandad marches on Anzac Day"
Victorian education page
Early childhood resources
Australian War Memorial
Printables, these look good
Word searches, crosswords and more interactives/ printables on various Anzac themes
Scholastic wordsearch & activity

I saved this link for possible use in the future.

DS7 is going to a dawn service, but DD6 will only watch the later march on TV as she's very sensitive to noise.  We'll make Anzac Biscuits of course!  I've lost my recipe but hope the one I found online will be as soft and chewy as it claims.  I hope to get around to a timeline and mapping activity too ... and we're sharing family stories of course, the few that we know.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Homeschooling when Mum is sick

I've been sick for a over week, and the little change-of-season cold I thought I had has outstayed it's welcome.  We've done half-days all week.  Just the bare academic essentials.  Each day starts with our Bible study and prayer time;  a few read alouds when my voice is working, or DS7 feels like reading to us;  the kids proud to work independently and earn play money to spend in my Star Snack Shop; lots of play, cubby making and craft.

I thought I was bouncing back, but today my cough is rough, my head is pounding.  Then the guilt and doubts set in about the learning we haven't done this week ... even though I know the kids are doing fine, and I know they constantly learn even without my input.  But the question niggles ... am I doing enough?

The kids are supposed to be benefiting from tailor-made lessons, one on one time and a rich learning environment.  They are itching to get out and play.  With friends.  We had to cancel another play & learn together day at a friend's house.  After a short walk around the block, I wasn't even up to doing the bare minimum.  Instead the kids watched a new DVD (remember good ol' Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote?), played with playdough, messed around outside.  Now over lunch (easy, baked potato wedges) they're watching a phonics DVD.  DD has decided to pause it to copy some sentences, DS has lost interest and is building lego vehicles.

I know I could talk all day about Tidal Homeschooling, the benefits of kids having free time to be kids, opportunities for independence and responsibility, and Natural Learning ... but still I feel inadequate and need a little more reassurance today that I'm not making a big mistake by homeschooling the kids.

Some people homeschool through chronic pain and serious illness ... and this is just a flu or sinus infection.  I'm overreacting, right?

Here are some articles I dug out to help me get some perspective:


Whatever state I am

Busy Mommy Media

Professor Mom

And a story which warmed my heart

There are lots of excellent tips in these pages, and after reading them I feel much more peaceful about this.  I'll continue to do my best, look to the Lord for encouragement and comfort, rest and read, let the kids play and maybe ask them to read me a get-well story.

This is where I'm at today.  I hope it helps someone :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking forward to ...

SWIMMING a lot ... we bought a half season pass and discovered it lets us in to 5 local pools as often as we like for the next 4 months.  We're all excited.  The kids were trying so hard to pin drop to touch the bottom of the deep end today, but I'm not sure if they did it yet.  Now if the sun will just get up and shine, we'll be set!

READING the Bible ... I'm using this 'read the Bible in a year' plan, for the first time.  I guess I usually read the New Testament several times a year, and favourite other books like Psalms and Esther, but I needed a plan to help me tackle some harder books more systematically.  I like how this plan has a different focus every day of the week.

LEARNING.  We're exploring some interesting topics this year, including A Trip Around the World, the Human Body (various books, activities and models) and Sword Fighting (the scriptural kind) ... and I always love playing with the kids in Maths, Writing, Science and Art!!

READING some wonderful books together.  Little Pilgrim's Progress, The Book of Virtues, and lots of "maybes" which I have to sift through my filter (Philippians 4:8) ... hopefully many beautiful stories, some timed to coincide with studies of particular countries.  Plus the usual stacks of maths, science and history books we always seem to gravitate towards.  These books all add up to lots of snuggle time ... ahhh, bliss :)

FITNESS ... the kids are keen and we parents also want to improve our fitness, so we're on a mission to build up our stamina, fitness and endurance, to prepare for a few family fun runs and bush walks throughout the year.  Hopefully with persistence (and perhaps prayer and antihistamines) my legs will stop becoming so unbearably itchy every time I do more than stroll.  We also intend to play tennis more often (like more than twice a year) and go for family bike rides.  Last week I went canoeing, which was a fun way to start the year!

BUILDING ... lego, meccano, paddle pop sticks, car tracks, Zhu Zhu pet playgrounds, science kits, old fashioned games like marble mazes, balsa wood toys, real furniture.  We're all into it and have many ideas and plans.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS ... repainting, regrouting, replacing some carpet with timber laminate floors, reroofing the cubby house, starting a vegie patch.  I can picture it so well, if only it could be done as easily as dreaming about it, but somehow I think it'll take more than a month to finish :(

THE OLYMPIC GAMES.  I've written them on our calendar, just in case there was a danger of us missing them.  We're pretty excited about watching many of our favourite sports (eg. gymnastics, swimming, diving, equestrian events) and being inspired by Paralympians.

EVENTS and EXCURSIONS ... some are already booked, many more will be added as usual.  This is something I really love about home ed., that we can do so many interesting, educational and fun things on a small budget, with minimal hassle and next to no paperwork.

ART, WORD PLAY & MUSIC ... the tools are there, I just have to set them up and go for it.  I want to paint a canvas or two, perhaps play with some book ideas and re-learn the keyboard.  I can tap out a few tunes (playing by ear) but have forgotten how to read music and play chords.

BLOGGING as a way of making sense and remembering, and in the hope that some of it may be helpful, interesting and encouraging to those who read it.

I hope your year has gotten off to a great start!
What are you looking forward to?