Thursday, September 30, 2010

And to your right, you'll see the Volcano Mom

I should be a volcano.

I roar like one. And I give some really good growling indications that I’m about to explode.

It would be a handy excuse because then I could blame my temper on my volcanic ways.

No such luck.

Now--it happens from time to time at my house--I’m like Pompei. About to explode with anger and let it bury my whole home in grey ashes of guilt.

But, quite honestly, that’s not who I want to be.

There’s no love in that.

And so, now, today I unveil to you...dunh,dun-na-nahhhhh!--


In general, I’m not an “angry” person. I don’t have a continual scowl. I’m not looking for a score to settle. I’m not out to hurt anyone....

I’m just like anyone else. Except that, when I am disrespected or stressed my anger builds like a volcano and then explodes with pyroclastic power that can decimate hearts and wound spirits.

Some people bury their anger. I let the whole world know about it.

But Proverbs reminds us that “Only a fool gives full vent to his anger.”

Huh. How about that?

Now, I’m angry and a fool.

Not something I want left on my tombstone.

What I love about Mediated Learning is how it intertwines with using scripture so well.

The biblical book of Ephesians tells us to put off the old man, the angry man...

How does one do that?

First, prayer.

Second, use the step called Self-regulation. Self-regulation is a big fancy-schmancy term for saying, “take a moment to choose the right thing.”

Self-regulation involves taking a deep breath and turning your heart in a new direction.

My moment of self-regulation looks like this:

“Jesus help (deep breath). I lay down my life and choose Yours. Amen.”


It doesn’t feel that way when you are seeing red and ready to yell and scream and stomp your feet. But making the choice to follow Christ is a simple choice, not always an easy one.

If you find your anger building and you are about to damage a relationship with your family or friend, take a step back. Try some of these statements:

*I feel I’m about to say something I’m going to regret. I’m going to leave this room and I’d like to talk about this when I’m not so hyped up about it.

*Let’s take a moment to calm down and talk about this later

*My favourite one: Strife break! Be back in five!

This past season in our life has been a bit stressful. And it’s brought to light how I react to stress. I get a bit angry and frustrated. We’re all human and we all have our triggers when stress arises.

Some of the Mediated questions I’ve asked myself regarding my anger is:


What is going to happen if I continue choosing to live in a state of anger?

What needs to happen in order to stop blowing up?

What else can I do to deal with stress?

Who is keeping you accountable in this area of your life?

I know that I cannot change myself. That is the work of the Cross and Grace in my life.

But my first step is one that requires falling on my face before my King and Saviour and saying, “Help. I need you.”

And through the strength He gives me, I’m able to gather my kids on my lap, with husband by my side and say, “Let’s pray for Mom today. I’m angry and frustrated and I don’t want to be. I don’t want to yell or lose my cool. I’m sorry. Please forgive for the times Mommy has blown it.”

We pray.

I cry, not caring if I look weak or not.

And I fix my mind on the Truth that I know: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

CF focus: Behaviour

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Left in a place of Success

As we are dealing with my husband's injury, a few challenges have arisen.

First, is that our daily routine is out the window.
I'm not an anal routine follower. But, like most people, I like when things have a certain order and comfortability to things. That's a distant memory it seems.

Then there is the sleep issue.
My husband has been waking up many times in the night in pain. I wake up with him.
When I awake in the morning, I am a grumpy bear.
Grunting or barking orders at all family members.

I put up this little reminder on my chalkboard door:

Being sleep deprived I found I would easily get frustrated with them, couldn't understand why simple concepts weren't being grasped, wondering why they were barking back at me (surely, they haven't learned it from me???!?)
I wrote the note on the board so that I would be reminded that if I started to get frustrated to just end the session in a place of success.
Where our life is right now, is not the time to push on through tough areas. I just don't have the time to invest working through the cognitive issues.
And while I know this will only last another week more, I can put aside the feeling that I must make my child learn this now.

So, instead of sighing, I started smiling and saying, "Way to go, Champ. We're stopping here today. Proud of you."

Later in the afternoon, I was running back into the house for the fourth time wondering if I forgot anything else. I felt weary, worn, and frustrated by my brain not thinking as fast as it normally does.
I came close to tears. "Please God. Help me. I'm trying. I really am. It's taking all my energy not to yell at my kids right now because I'm tired and irritated by every noise they make. I just came in here to take a deep breath and calm down."

And then softly and gently, like only my Heavenly Father can, I heard Him softly say, "Way to go, Champ. Let's stop here today and take that breath. I'm proud of you for not losing your temper."

God is the perfect parent and we can follow his lead and leave our kids in a place of success.

I changed my blackboard door. It now reads:

Criteria Focus: Challenge

Birthday Party at the Firehouse

First we played at home with our own homemade firetruck (thank God for cardboard boxes)
And then a tour of the firehouse

Discussion on hoses
A demonstration of masks
A quick visit to the ambulance
The truck spraying us with water
a photo of the day out

And finally, the firetruck cake!

Planning a party

OK, so the photo in this essay is sideways. My on-again/off-again relationship with iPhoto continues as I wonder why it won't turn my pictures sideways for me. In the mean time, you get to crane your neck and squint and try and see what I've written on the page.
Aren't you excited to read this post?

OK, so the haphazard photo above indicates the planning that my eldest daughter and I did for her 8th birthday party. I sat her down and we discussed how we were going to plan the party. I asked questions the entire time.

What do you want to do at your party? What do you want to eat? What things are usually found at a birthday party? What kind of party favours? What kind of decorations? etc, etc, etc.

She planned out her whole party. I just took notes and made the odd suggestion here and there.
We talked about her different ideas and how we could remain within budget while we shopped for all of the different parts of the party.

Then I taught her how to spread out this major undertaking over a week's worth of time.
We talked over all the elements of her party and decided a day to do certain activities on. We also knew that we would be in town all day Friday and unable to do anything at home for preparation of the party and we factored this in.
Our conversation went something like this:
"Ok, you have listed a few games here. What do we need to do to prepare the games?"
"I could gather the materials for them and put them in a box. Set them aside until Saturday."
"Great idea. What day would you like to do that on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?"
I wrote that down in our action list under WEDNESDAY.
"What about decorations? You have listed here that you want streamers and balloons."
"I found yellow streamers in the art cupboard but we need to get orange streamers and some balloons."
"Ok, when do you want to decorate?"
"Well, we can't Friday because we're in town. So maybe, Thursday?"
"Thursday sounds good, but we need to get the balloons and streamers. When do you want to buy them?"
We then assigned appropriate tasks for each day regarding the rest of the party.

My daughter was very proud of her plan.
We talked about the importance of breaking things down into bite size pieces and stretching them over a few days.
"What would it be like if we had to prepare everything on Saturday morning?"
"We wouldn't get to make my cake and there would be no decorations. Too much to do."

And then a few days later when I had left something to the last minute and ran around like a crazy woman thinking "why am I doing this at the last minute?" I was able to bridge it all together and my daughter saw why planning reduces STRESS!

Criteria focus: Goal Planning

Where do I leave my children??? Where do I leave myself??

During a recent ML workshop, Therese asked the parents, "What is success to you regarding your child?"
I loved the answers.
In particular, was a response that a mother gave us. She had taken her child out of school after several negative experiences. She shared with us the struggle it had been to even introduce subjects back into her daughters life because she related the subjects back to the negative experiences at school. She looked at us all as we sat around the living room and said proudly, "Success for me is that my daughter sits beside me the whole time while I read her a book."
I think we all wanted to cry and clap our hands.
This mom had made so much progress with her daughter.
And most importantly, she had left HERSELF and her child in a place of success.

Leaving your child in a place of success is all about cultivating an attitude that wants to continue learning.
How many days have you and your child thrown the math book in the drawer, with a frustration-laced voice saying, "Fine. We'll just do the rest tomorrow." ?
Tomorrow comes and we are inwardly groaning as our child is avoiding the time spent on math. If our children's last experience with the topic was an exasperated effort, why should we expect them to greet the next opportunity with overwhelming enthusiasm?

What would it mean to your child if when you saw them struggling, you went back to where they last had success and left the lesson there? How would it change the outlook on tomorrow's lesson? Would you have time to prepare for Mediating Challenge the next day if you left the lesson in a place of success?

Seems rather ironic, but to go forward, you need to step back.

If there is one lesson you can walk away with today, it's this:

Criteria focus: Challenge

September Learning

We've been around and learning when we haven't been running up and down the road to hospital appointments for my man.
Good news: He doesn't need surgery! Yay!
Yay! with high kicks, pom-poms and some cheesy cheer that spells the word Yay! one letter at a time: Y-A-Y exclamation point

We've received mystrious packages containing precious goodies, like:
Geopuzzles! Yay! Y-A-Y!
We've watered the garden while it rains
Geo boards
Shucking corn
trapping spiders
practicing cursive
Yes, that laptop is ancient. My husband's first laptop and it's travelled with us many a year. My daughter does typing on this. I consider this a history lesson in the progress of technology.
Friends brought us meals. This is the best way to help people during a rough patch, I think.
My daughter has now started reading this book and LOVES it.
A horribly dark picture of our littleclock book indicating that we learned about time...perhaps in a dark room
A sideways picture proving that I know very little about iphoto and how things load in that photo program--this is a swan made of tanagrams or as my box calls them "Pythagoras"
A stop at the library
Made friends with a toad
played kitchen outside
Read this book, made a pie, destroyed all evidence of pie in a matter of minutes

Monday, September 27, 2010

That Kind of Day

Today we read "One of those Days" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

It seemed appropriate for today's post.

Some days are just not as great as others.

Some days are the:
scribbled in a library book day
marker all over your little boy's face day
beautiful day but can't seem to get outside day
frustrated that you ever started to recycle day
can't find your camera to document the blandness of the day day
library phones to inform you that you returned the wrong CD's day
favourite clothes are still in the wash day
didn't sleep much last night day
turn the radio on as it finishes your favourite song day

but as Rosenthal's book says, "Every day turns to night and every night brings a brand new day."
Here's to a good night's sleep, quiet devotions and the sun rising tomorrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Workshop #1 Get started!

I just came back from another fabulous workshop. (Woot! Woot! Therese and Jocelyn)

Mediated Learning workshop#1 was held at the lovely Kendra's home. I enjoyed meeting everyone (shout out to Kendra, Faith, Paul and Bev and Lisa! I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Is it time for a break yet?")

We had loads of fun and a good time learning about everyone's story regarding homeschooling and mediated learning.

Attending this workshop has got my brain ticking.

Yes, my brain is making the same sound that a time bomb makes.
Draw your own conclusions.

So, in an effort to be helpful to those attending the workshops, I will be making some posts that you can access immediately after you've attended a particular workshop. These posts will be connected to what parts of the material you can implement and some of my own stories on how I put the information into practice.
I hope this provides some help to everyone.
Expect those to be up and running in a week's time.

In the mean time, check out this post right here to give you some ideas to get started.

Mom, can you help me?

I'm often asked throughout the day, "Mom, can you help me with this?"

Those words should be a little alarm bell for a potential mediated learning moment.
Now, you can't mediate EVERY moment. You learn to pick and choose through out the day.
But if you are just getting started with the mediated process, then let these words be a CUE for you to be prepared to ask questions and have your child start working toward solution.

Today's example:
Word searches.
Word searches are currently my plan for spelling and geography. All the puzzles are about places, capitals, countries, etc.

Anyway, we eventually hit a snag and couldn't find a word.
"Mom, can you help me?"
"Sure. What's the problem?" (Process question)
"I can't find Burma."
"That's tricky. How do you spell Burma?"
"Are there any letters that stand out to you in that word?"
"Not really?"
"Do you see any smaller words inside that word?"
"Hmm, what do you think would happen if you looked just for 'm-a' throughout the word search?"
"I don't want to do that."
"Well, what do you think would happen?"
"I suppose I might find it. But it seems so hard." (CHALLENGE)
"Yes, word searches are tricky. But do you remember yesterday when you were trying to find CAMBODIA? (BRIDGING) What did you do?"
"I looked for the 'I-A' at the end of the word. But it took forever."
"Well, it did. But you know, you kept at it and wouldn't give up until you found it. And I know you'll do the same with Burma. Let's try."

I needed to come back to this example and instill meaning into it. We talked about how certain games and puzzles have strategies and that it take s a bit of time to learn the clues in order to be successful at solving them.
Don't be afraid to go back to a moment and mediate it further.

By the way, Burma was eventually found. (Leaving them in a place of success)

Criteria focus: Challenge

Piggy Bank Plan

This last week I set aside some time to do a ML activity with my middle daughter.
She will be five soon and loves arts and crafts.

With Mediated Learning, the more you mediate,
the easier it becomes to make it a part of your whole way of life.
But if you are just starting out, try setting aside half an hour and mediate a project with your child.

Today I wanted to work on Asking Questions and Goal Planning.
I had just finished paying the kids for their chores, when my daughter found an empty plastic jar and said, "Let's make a piggy bank for my coins!"
I was about to run and gather materials when I realized that we could make this a mediated moment. (INTENTIONALITY AND RECIPROCITY)

So, we sat down and developed a plan.

First I asked the question: What does a pig look like?
Once my daughter determined what a pig had as far as body parts, we moved onto the practical part of putting the pig together.

I asked, "What should we do first?"
She said, "Paint it pink."
"Then what?"
"Um," she thought, "Let's build the face.
I wrote that down then asked, "What should we do after that?"
"Poke a hole for the money!"
"Is that everything?"
"I think so."
"Well, we are going to paint the pig, make the face and then add a slot for the money. Sounds like a good plan. "

Then I went back to each individual step and mediated that:
"Step One is painting the pig. What will we need to paint the pig?"
She thought for a moment.
"Well, we'll need paint and a cloth to clean up spills."
"Yep. Does mom usually have you put something on the table?"
"Oh right. A newspaper."
"Anything else? Let's pretend we're painting, maybe that will remind us."
My daughter and I pretend to paint and then she recalls that we need water in a cup and we need paintbrushes.
With that step determined, we moved onto step 2. (see below after this picture)
Painting the pig body
Step 2 was make the pigs face.
She had already determined what a face was made of so I said,"What should we make the eyes out of?" We did this for each facial feature and wrote a list of materials to gather.

After that, we discussed Step 3.
Make the slot for the coins.
She decided that I should use the exacto knife to make the slot.

Then we went and gathered all our materials.
In the paint room, we saw a smock and realized that we hadn't thought of that part, but we were glad that the smock was with all our painting supplies.

Once the materials were gathered, she set to her task. She kept me informed as she progressed from one stage to the next. (Mom, I'm done the painting part. Come, see. or Mom, I just finished the nose, can you glue down the eyes for me?)
And, as you can see. It turned out great.

Afterwards, we talked about making the plan.
"Plans are really helpful, aren't they?"
She nods.
"Can you remember a time when we used a plan?"
She thought for a moment. "Yes, when we went to the beach with our friends. We made a list of things to pack in our bag so we could have everything we needed." (BRIDGING)
"That's right. Why do you think plans are helpful?"
"So we don't forget stuff."
"Yes. They also help us do things in order and when you do things in order it makes the job easier. Was it easy or hard to make your pig?" (MEANING)
"Right. Do you know why?"
"Because we made a plan."
"And we followed it step by step."

And that's how you make a piggy bank.

Criteria Focus: Goal planning.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update and what seems to be a lot of eye make up

This looks like a wear a lot of eye make up...but I don't. I realize I am a bit racoon-ish however it is merely a ruse. It's my clever way of looking like a Super hero with a mask.
I'm creative like that.

Wednesday September 15

We start the day with drawings.
And since Dad is home recovering from his fall, mom has this to say :
God bless the person who invented audiobooks!
Sorting and building
The start of something creative
the start of much mischief!
Building towers
Flash freezing the last of the huckleberries
More mischief!!!
Sigh. His brand new overalls are now christened.
creative cooking with my eldest daughter
We made a piggy bank
Mischief to the power of ten.
I. give. up.
Clean clothes, you are my elusive dream that I must chase in a never ending quest.
This is the pillow palace that my kids made for Daddy-man
A day full of blessings...double blessings actually!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday September 10

The day began with me not feeling so well and a pledge to stay on the couch....

and learn about nutrition.
Play some Monopoly and have my 7 year old monopolize properties and win the game!
My daughter found a workbook in our "fun drawer" and wanted to try a few things out

Discussions on life jacket, safety and swimming

Dictionary look up for the word:mandatory

Character Training: a little game I like to call "Yes, Mom, I'd be Happy to do that!"
Proof that my kids are the greatest kids ever. While on the phone with my grandmother they made me special treats. Check out my kebab with the beans. They did this to make me feel special. I am among the most loved in the world.

Baking without a recipe--my eldest loves to create
Reading more books
My seven year old just got a book with her Dad. They went to the store and bought the book in the Dear Canada series regarding the Depression. She's reading it all by herself. Sniff! sniff! We usually read them outloud but this time she wanted to read it herself. It was done in three days. It's official. My daughter is an avid reader.

My middle child loves this tape. We play it a lot.... inspired math games, so we played Double Shutter and used the abacus to learn how to subtract

Soap making via inspiration from the Melendy family in the book "The Saturdays"

And what is the day without a little bit of mischief from our little man?
A very dull day indeed.