Encouragement, Homeschooling

Motherhood…Cropped To Perfection

 

 

 

   –  “All that glitters is not gold” –

 

In a world that revolves around technology, it comes as no surprise that social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have taken such a powerful hold upon us as people today.  We have been handed open platforms that we can share our thoughts, feelings, and opinions on. We have the ability to stay up to date on current events and keep abreast of the latest trends and fashions. We are able to make connections with other individuals that we might otherwise have never formed connections with to begin with. While social media does offer us many positive commodities, I have become more mindful and aware of many of the not-so-positive aspects that come along with the use of social media.

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in all of the false realities that we scroll past on our social media newsfeeds. Pristine homes of grandeur, perfect figures with flawless complexions, and numerous selfies providing us with only small glimpses into seemingly quintessential lives, more often than not recruit us as the newest contestant on the “Comparison Game Show”. We so quickly make judgements and unfounded presumptions based upon a single photograph…one single photograph. “Her life seems so perfect. She has it all. I could never measure up to her. My life compared to hers is nothing short of a failure. She just had a baby and it looks like she just left a beauty parlor. Why can’t I be like her?” We’ve all done it, whether we like to admit to it or not, but the “Comparison Game Show” is a slippery slope. A slippery slope that if not quickly bridled, can leave us feeling lonely, depressed, jealous, anxious, and cumulatively unhappy with life. One of the hardest hit demographics on the “Comparison Game Show” is that of mothers.

Becoming a mother has been one of the greatest blessings that God has ever bestowed upon me. Truly, it’s all that I have ever wanted out of life. As a little girl I dreamed of being a wife and a mother. It’s where my heart was. It’s what I longed for and prayed for every night from the age of 7. Even at a young age (before the age of social media had even began) I was met with adversity because “I should want a career and more out of my life”. Even at a young age, I began to compare myself to other mothers. In retrospect, it seems almost cretinous that I, still being a child myself, had already begun noticing the tension and animosity that came with expressing my hopes, dreams, and desires. I began to ask myself, ” Am I wrong? Are my dreams not good enough? Will I ever be able to be enough?”

Fast forward to my life today… I am happily married to my husband of 14 years. We have been blessed with 6 beautiful children here on Earth (and 2 more in Heaven). I stay at home and homeschool our children while my husband works outside of the home to provide for our family. We are very involved in our church and enjoy our ministries of working with and teaching other children about God and His love for them. I love my life and couldn’t imagine it any other way! I’m so happy and my heart overflows with joy! God has truly given me the desires of my heart that I have prayed for since being that little girl filled with all of those hopes and dreams of marriage and motherhood, but I have all too easily been affected by the negative thoughts, views, and opinions of others about my life and the choices that I have made.

By comparing myself to others, I have at times made myself feel lonely. I’ve made myself feel depressed and sad, and in all honesty, I too have felt jealous at times while peering into the lives of others. There is an undefinable amount of pressure placed on women today. If you don’t have children, somebody somewhere has something negative to say about it. If you do have children, somebody will have something negative to say about it. If you breastfeed, if you formula feed, if you work outside the home, if you stay at home, if you choose traditional or alternative education choices for your children, entirely organic diets versus diets teeming with chicken nuggets and french fries, right down to the choice of diapers you put on your little ones’ bottoms… someone will ALWAYS hold a different opinion from your own (and some of them aren’t too shy to let you know about it). We mistakenly allow other’s thoughts and opinions to make us feel as though our own thoughts and opinions are “wrong” or that they are not held to the same level of esteem. WHY? WHY do we do that to ourselves?

There are underlying circumstances that we can’t always see from a cropped photograph that pops up on our timeline. Messy kitchens and bathrooms can be cropped out and edited, corrections can be photoshopped, and those magical little photo filters give our skin that perfect glow. We seem to forget that that “perfect” photo might have taken 50 tries to get that right angle of “perfection”. It’s time that we as women realize that our lives were never meant to be about COMPARISON. Our lives were meant to be about COMPASSION! Our love for others can impact the world! We allow the enemy to steal our joy every time that we compare ourselves to others and give life to the thoughts that we will never measure up to the imaginary standards that we have designed in our minds. Life is so much more than selfies, perfectly edited statuses, and cleverly thought out hash-tags.

Our words and actions hold so much power, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to use them. We have the ability and the opportunity to lift one another up and encourage one another as God’s Word instructs us to do (1 THESSALONIANS 5:11-13) or we can tear down, destroy, and destruct. Social media is permeated with keyboard warriors that seem to know every detail of our life and the way that we “should” be doing things. They are entitled to their thoughts and opinions, but we don’t have to become a slave to these. I know what God has called me to do. There is such freedom that comes from finding your identity in Christ as opposed to finding your identity in the thoughts and opinions of others. I am who God says that I am! I don’t have to be anything else! I know the calling that He has placed on my life, and I don’t have to offer explanations or excuses to anyone for it. Others won’t always agree with me, and that’s OKAY! They don’t have to! God has placed a different calling on their lives, and it is simply that…it’s THEIRS…not mine. When the harsh words flow and the unfriendly comments post, I can simply smile and move on.

Regardless of choices, thoughts, and opinions, we as mothers do hold some common ground. We are all just momma’s that love our children, and we are doing the very best that we can everyday. Let’s ENJOY the life that God has given US and ENCOURAGE others along their walks as well. Reality isn’t perfection. Reality is puke covered t-shirts, and baggy eyes from sleepless night. Reality is stretch marks and endless piles of laundry. Reality is filled with good, happy wonderful times, but it is also infused with pain, sorry, disappointment, and grief. I don’t want to feel like I need to crop out the mess. I don’t want to edit out the imperfections. Those messes and imperfections are reality…my reality. It’s real motherhood… real motherhood and all of the beautiful chaos that comes with it. Ask yourself today…Do you live a life that revolves around comparison, or are you leading a life that is fueled by compassion? Hang in there momma’s! You are making a difference in the world, one set of sticky fingerprints at a time… regardless of what anyone else may say.

handprints

Free Unit Lessons, Homeschooling

The Incredible Eye

The Incredible Eye

One of the things that we studied this year in Biology was the eye. The eye is an amazing sense organ that is reactive to light and pressure. Did you know that the eye muscles are the fastest muscles in the body or that the lifespan of your eyelashes is only about 5 weeks? This unit study can be used for various ages. Listed below are just a few various links to different free activities that I have found on the internet along with photos of the cow eye dissection that we performed this year. Feel free to contour the unit study to your family’s learning needs and desires. Happy Homeschooling friends!

https://www.lenstore.co.uk/eyecare/101-amazing-eye-facts This is a list of interesting facts you might not have known about the eye.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vN1UfMn2GA Here’s a fun song to help learn the anatomy and physiology of the eye

http://frogpondfarmdrafts.com/anatomy-of-eye-labeled/free-and-printable-eye-diagram-for-anatomy-of-eye-labeled/ A free anatomy printable of the eye

https://layers-of-learning.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Eye-worksheet.pdf Anatomy fill-in worksheet. The answers are also located on this site.

https://www.homesciencetools.com/product/cow-eye-dissection-kit/?gclid=CjwKCAjw5dnmBRACEiwAmMYGObmvaCBdHyHt7a9jq4M_1YY4TMvtuelK3r8WrRrVNsz_h5k1M5LJdxoCjY4QAvD_BwE This is a link to a cow eye dissection kit. Below are some photos of our cow eye dissection this year.

coweye3.jpg

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mNs_TcUyHc You can watch a cow eye dissection here.

https://allinonehomeschool.com/science-year-1/ Scroll down the page until you reach Day #46 SENSES. Complete the reading, activities, and games via the links listed on days #46, #47, and #48. This is broken up into activities for lower grade levels (L) and middle grade levels (M). (This is the site we primarily use for our homeschooling. We love all things Easy Peasy!) 

https://online.seterra.com/en-an/vgp/3802

https://www.sporcle.com/games/smac17/human-eye-anatomy

http://academic.udayton.edu/gregelvers/psy323/labels/eye.asp

These are some interactive matching games to help reinforce the anatomy of the eye.

Be sure to take pictures of your activities, crafts, and projects, and list any books you might reference during your study. Print off your papers and stick them inside your homeschool portfolio. (If your state allows for this assessment option)

Encouragement, Homeschooling

When Mommy Goes Back to School

 

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”

C.S. Lewis

dreamstime_m_40595392(1)

Your daily routines… same things, just on a different day. You know what to expect and though life can at times seem mundane, you are seemingly happy, peaceful, and content. But then, just when you feel like you’ve kind of got your stuff together and are feeling pretty good about all of your efforts, with everything is in its place, and you know what lies ahead of you, God throws a curveball into your life that you never saw coming. A curveball that knocks your lights out and leaves you trying to grasp if those birdies looming above your head have just become your new reality.

2019 has been a year of big changes for us! In case you didn’t know… change is difficult for me. I don’t like it at all. I hate uncertainty. I thrive off of schedules, routines, and lists. I love the safety and security that comes with having a routine. I love making to-do lists and the satisfaction that comes from putting that little check mark beside a completed task. After an extensive self analysis, I discovered that I found a large portion of my self-worth in what I was able to get accomplished. Life felt great without the worries of what I was going to be doing that day, the next, and the following week…or so I thought.

Yeah, I thought I pretty much had life my planned out. The problem being, I had gotten so caught up with “being in control” and “scheduled”, that I began to rely more on myself than I did on God. I prayed and asked God to help with situations as they would occur, but instead of leaving things in His hands, I took it upon myself to try and remedy the situation…usually making a big ole’ mess of everything.

As a homeschooling mommy to six children that had made her place as a wife, mother, and homemaker, I never envisioned myself going to college, but God had a plan for me. At 32, after being out of school for almost 15 years, God provided me with an opportunity to further my own education. I have to admit, I was overwhelmed with the fear of failing. I just didn’t know if I could handle full time classes and schoolwork on top of everything else I already had on my plate, but when God has a plan for your life, He always makes a way for you! I have been able to further my education while being at home with my children, and for that I am so thankful!

Returning to college has been an amazing experience thus far. This process has richly added to our homeschooling  journey. I have been able to incorporate some of the topics from my coursework into fun and exciting unit studies for my children. We have been learning new things together and I enjoy the experience and opportunity that much more for it. I recently wrapped up my first semester back to college with a 4.0. God has been so good to me and has been with me every step of the way. I don’t know what God has in store for the days ahead, but I know that I trust Him, and I’m excited for the new paths that He is paving in our lives.

 

Homeschooling

How I Teach Handwriting To My Little Ones

handwriting.png

Over the years I’ve experimented with more curriculums than I can count. Some curriculums have worked well for some of my children while some have not. All children have different learning styles and interests and I try to accommodate each one’s varying learning needs and interests.

I like to teach some subjects individually while teaching others as a group with all of my children at one time. Handwriting is one that seems to work well for us as a group.

Each of our children has a whiteboard with their name on it. When we start our lessons each day, the kids grab their whiteboard and marker and head for the living room. I have a whiteboard that I use to demonstrate the process and technique for each letter. I like to start with just a few letters a week until each child has confidently mastered their entire manuscript and cursive alphabet.

You can sing fun songs or play silly games to help keep the children engaged during the writing lesson. This is a relaxed, fun, and creative time for the kids. Have fun with it! I’m a huge advocate of learning through play! Learning shouldn’t be a chore…it should be a desire! Having used numerous handwriting books and curriculums in the past, my kids soon tired and became bored with them. They lost interest and it just wasn’t fun for anyone…including me!

An example of my handwriting teaching method would be as follows:

I like to let the children preview the chosen letters first. We incorporate a phonics lesson while learning the correct handwriting technique for each letter simultaneously. The first time I demonstrate the letter, I like to draw dots and connect to form the letter. Then I will draw the letter giving only directional cues. Then I will ask each child to attempt to draw the letter. It may take some of your children a little longer than others, but just keep encouraging them!

We learn the uppercase and then the lowercase manuscript letter. Then, we learn the uppercase and lowercase cursive letter. Make sure to provide extra help to any little ones who are struggling to master a letter or number. It’s crucial to build their confidence and to encourage them to keep trying!

I also like to let the children take playdoh and form the shapes of their letters on the white board after they are finished writing. This helps to reinforce the lesson (plus who doesn’t love playdoh).

I know this sounds overly simple, but that is the beauty of it! It’s easy, fun for the kids, and it works! It works! I’d love to know some of the things you have used to teach your little ones to write. I always love hearing from others and learning about your ideas!

Homeschooling

Do You Have A Name For Your Homeschool?

higher than i homeschool

This year we began our 9th year of homeschooling. Saying it aloud sounds so strange. It seems like just yesterday I started on this new, exciting journey. I often think of what I would tell the younger me, the homeschool rookie, the mom who was afraid she was going to destroy her child’s life if he couldn’t diagram a sentence by the age of 5… Oh momma, there is so much I wish I could tell you.

Fast forward nine years ahead and so much has changed! Our lives have shifted and we have entered into yet another season of life. Our six children are growing with leaps and bounds ( as are my thighs and the number of grey hairs on my head, hehe ). Over the years, I have used a variety of curriculums and have experimented with different homeschooling methods. (That’s another blog) I’ve spent more money that I care to admit on curriculums and learning resources that we have ended up hating altogether or they just didn’t work for us. I’ve been a participant on the comparison game show. You know, the one where you question your choices and abilities and begin to question whether you can actually do this whole ” homeschool mom” thing. The one where you sit and ugly cry because Little Suzy is the next child prodigy and your child just ate the end off of a glue stick…yeah, that game. WORST GAME EVER! I have no desire to ever participate in that game again. I’ve felt like giving up more often than not. I have let others thoughts, opinions, and negativity lead me down the road of questioning the calling God placed on my heart, but I quickly came to realize that what others thought didn’t really matter to me after all. ( It took a little of time though) I know what God has called me to do and I alone will have to answer for my obedience to His calling. No one else…just me.

I in NO way am claiming to be a homeschool mom veteran who has it all figured out with all of the answers resting at my fingertips. I make mistakes every day…lots of them, but I am choosing to learn from them. I’m not ashamed of my shortcomings or failures. They are helping me to grow. All of these bumps in the road over the last nine years…and I know there are plenty more awaiting me…have helped to shape me. These bumps have actually been blessings. These bumps have been opportunities that God has given me to choose Him and His ways.

My intro became a little longer than originally intended (oops…that tends to happen ), but I said all of that to say this…Momma, if God has placed a calling on your heart to homeschool your children, trust that He will equip you to do it. Sure, there are going to be some hard days, but there are also going to be some amazing days. There are going to be long days of even longer division that leave you ready to run for the hills, but there are going to be some AWESOME ” I get it” days. Days of seeing their little eyes light up when they finally understand the concepts behind what you have been teaching. Days of listening to your once struggling reader laugh as he fluently reads through his chapter book. Days of gathering hands to pray as a family before lessons begin for the day. Making memories that will last a lifetime with your children…that’s the important stuff.

So, when those tough days do come, what do you do? You remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. You have a fresh start, and a new beginning waiting for you. You try again! You keep going! You keep pressing into His Word, seeking Him with your whole heart. You remind yourself that if He has called you to it, He’s going to help you do it!

During a conversation with some of our friends at church, it came up in conversation about whether we had a name for our homeschool. Honestly, it’s not really something that I had put a lot of time or thought into before. This conversation got my little wheels turning and I began pondering on the idea of “naming” our homeschool. After tossing around several ideas, I kept coming back to the same one…”Higher Than I Homeschool”. This name is derived from one of my favorite Bible verses…one of my go-to’s. PSALM 61:2 “…when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” I just LOVE this verse! Countless times I have recited this scripture to help calm my heart and mind, and to usher peace into the storm whirling around me.

This name helps to remind me, especially on those really difficult days, the ones that I find myself feeling so overwhelmed and discouraged, that I have to lean not on myself, but on HIM! In a short answer, no momma, we can’t do it all. We ourselves can not successfully juggle every minute detail in our life to sheer perfection…not possible, BUT we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us! He is our rock and our refuge, and He is going to equip and guide us through this busy, messy, loud, crazy, and chaotic season of our lives.

Give yourself some grace momma. No, you’re not perfect, but in the eyes of your children, YOU ARE! God has blessed us with an amazing opportunity to shape little hearts into big lives. We have to strive to make every day count with our babies. The days are long, but the years are so short. Embrace your struggles today momma and know that God is molding and shaping you into what He wants you to become. As much as we are trying to teach TO our children, God is teaching us much more THROUGH our children.

I hope my children will one day look back and remember just how loved and cherished they were. I hope that they will remember a mother who shared her heart with her children and taught them to pray. I hope they will remember where they need to go and who they need to lean on when the storms of life come their way… our Rock, our Deliverer, our Comforter, The Lifter of our Heads, The One that is Higher than I…than all of us…our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.