Thursday, September 27, 2012


A child reminds us that playtime is an essential part of our daily routine." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Getting into new habits have been tricky business around here.
It seems that it is taking 5 times longer to get into a new morning routine. Probably because it is rife with training and attitude checks and character growing. 
Those things take time.
They can't be rushed.
Or shouldn't be, anyway.

So, our intentional learning right now is on mastering the new routine at our home. We have reading, math and some other odds and ends tucked into our day.
And play.
Always play
...but at present, we are working on mastering our morning routine.

My sunny dream is to have the new routine run the course of one hour, start to finish.
At present, it is taking three.
I'm patient about it, though. I know that once we nail this, our home life will run a lot smoother. 

Right now, we are focused on getting the routine down and all items done in order. There are plenty of moments filled with mediated discussions where we talk about change, WHY we are doing things the way we are doing them, how these bridge and relate to other areas of life.

And an audiobook helps, too.

What about you? What new routines do you have that are taking a while to realize? Are you being patient with the process or do you feel like throwing your plans out the window?

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark too read. -Groucho Marx
Books are our main source of learning and inspiration today.
Picture Study from Children's Prayer in Art
Beethoven's life story, followed by his music

inspired by another book, we get out our Qwirkle blocks and make tricky patterns
Then we read and read and read

We eat the last watermelon from our garden and save all the seeds for next year
And then we read Dr. Suess's Many Coloured Days
We are inspired to create

My son grabs the water markers and colours in Dora ...
meanwhile eldest daughter pulls her nose from a book long enough to write a poem about her Colored Day.
Yellow is the kind of day
That makes me feel just like a monkey
Swinging all around
Peeling bananas, feeling jumpy

I added my Colored Day poem and drawing:
Some days I feel rushed 
like a siren blaring red
Like a rabbit busy hopping
Or a chicken with no head

The last line was a big hit with my son!

My six year old proudly displayed her Colored Day and poem
Sometimes I feel blue
Like a ram who lives in a shoe
I feel sad like a blushing blueberry

Time to jar the last of the drying hot peppers

And a quick walk before dinner

We needed a place to cool down from the heat

I just love these stripey pants

Rush home to make dinner and feed our new neighbours. We spend 5 hours listening to stories of tremendous travel--our new friends have travelled to 25 different countries and are only 25 and 27.
I am now wiser about toilet customs in the Far East.
A glorious day.

September 26

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion." -Henry David Thoreau

We made plans
Pumpkins won prizes
Walks by the river

Followed by walks in the river

And a walk home

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lies, Trust and Rocks in the River

The world is not an easy place for anyone. To give Helen her way in everything is a lie to her. You've got to stand between her and that lie. Don't give in. -Annie Sullivan,Helen Keller's teacher, from the film The Miracle Worker

Sometimes we believe lies about ourselves.

Perhaps it's "I'm not smart", "I'm not beautiful", or "nothing will ever change".
These lies lock us in place. They are like a pair of sunglasses placed over our eyes and everything we see is coloured by this lie. Instead of seeing a situation for what it truly is, we allow the lie to be re-enforced in our lives and in our way of thinking.

Today was a day to stand between our daughter and a lie.

My husband had made a request of our daughter. And she didn't take it well. She had her opinion and her idea and she wanted her own way.

I could see both sides of the issue and asked to see my husband privately. I wondered if he was just not hearing our daughter's heart or if he was misunderstanding the way she was thinking.

As we talked, my husband said something that opened my eyes to the big picture.

"She is believing a lie about herself. This is not about her request, this is about her self-image and self-esteem. She is believing that she is not good enough and her request is to stay at the level, rather than to walk in the Truth that God has spoken over her in His word."

Wow. I didn't see that at all. But as soon as he said that, I realized he was discerning the situation for what it was.

I invited my daughter for a walk along the river.

The river is a good place to toss thoughts into. It has the ability to carry them away or submerge them and hold them in place like a rock resting on the bottom.

I prayed silently, asking God to see the big picture and not to get hung up on the minutiae of the problem.

"It makes me so mad," her voice is firm, while she tosses a rock. "He never lets me do what I want. I always have to do what he says. He never listens."

I know this isn't true. My husband is the best listener I know. He is the most careful person I know at holding the hearts of others.

I decide to bridge things for my daughter. I open up and tell her about how I thought those exact same thoughts of God a few weeks ago. I share with her how God was asking me to let go of some old ways of thinking and to take action on His word. I didn't like it. The feeling in my chest was hot. My anger at Him was real and I, too, felt like God never lets me do what I want. I always have to do what He says. He never listens to me.

She looks at me and then throws a rock with gusto. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." I say. "And here's the thing. Submitting your heart to God's will is really about choosing to believe the Truth about God's character over my feelings. I had to choose to believe that God is a good Father who will only ask me to do things because they will produce good fruit in my life as I obey. 

"I let go of the lie that God should let me have my way. 
I had to let go of the lie that I always have to do what He says, as though He's some bully whose twisting my arm. I had to choose to believe that God only asks me to lay down something because He needs my hands free to pick something new up.

"I had to let go of the lie that said God never listens to me. I know that isn't true. Psalms says that He saves my tears in a bottle. That is a pretty big show of unremitting care and thoughtful listening to my heart. I had to embrace the truth that God hears me and He holds precious the concerns of my heart."

"I don't want to talk about this right now," she says, picking up a boulder and smashing it into the water for emphasis.

"I know. But there are a lot of hard things in life you just have to push through and this is one of them."

"I guess."

I invite her to sit close. We sit and study the water, watching the tiny whirlpools that form from a hidden undercurrent. Aren't our hearts just like that? I wonder to myself. Full of powerful undercurrents that only make small signs on the surface.

I sigh and reach for my daughter's hand. "What I didn't know at the time was that God was trying to protect me from a lie that I was believing about myself. That in His goodness He was saying 'no' to me, so that I could say 'yes' to the truth. God saw things that I couldn't see about myself. And that's how it is with your Dad. He is able to see something in this situation that you can't. And the real question for you today is: will you trust your father?"

She is quiet and I can hear the river moving forward, taking my words with it. Would she hear me?

She looks at me. "This is hard."

I smile. "I know. Learning to trust your father's judgment in this situation is training your heart to trust God's voice in the future. Are you ready to do that?"

She shrugs.

I give her some time and tell her that she has a few moments to make up her mind. She sits beside the river and tosses in rocks, while I pray my way up the hill.

The leaves are yellow and the day is like a cat on the porch-content, curled up on itself with a relaxed peacefulness.

I wait. 
She comes.
She has decided to trust her Dad's decision.

I smile and tell her I am proud of her. We pray.

We decide to go and talk with her Dad again. We come up with a few optimistic alternatives to present to him.

"You can present these ideas to him and give him some time to think about them. In the end, even if he doesn't choose to go with your ideas, are you ready to trust that Daddy is making the best decision for you?"

She stares at the ground for a moment and breathes a heavy sigh. Her green eyes look into mine as she looks up. "Yes, I am."

We walk home. We share our ideas. We wait for his decision.
His original decision stands, although he points out the benefits of her suggestions and compliments her on taking the time to think of other approaches to the situation.

My daughter's heart is accepting and she gives her Dad a hug. "I will trust you," she says.


For our family, this is what Mediated Learning has taught us to do in times of conflict or misunderstanding. We take time to slow down, assess what is really going on, ask questions and listen to each other's hearts. 
It's allowed us, with God's grace, to slow down and self-regulate. It's allowed us to make time to ask God what's really going on in this situation.

It's given us tools to be as gentle with our children's hearts as the Father has been with ours.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Autumn Walk

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.   -Elizabeth Lawrence


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Competence: Imagination Released

Yesterday as we worked on our Nile Rivers, we ran into a Mediated Learning moment.
After working with the Mediated method, I have learned that when excuses arise, there's often an issue of competence hidden behind the words of defeat.
Perhaps you can relate:

"I can't do this, Mom." My six year old is confident that she is unable to build a Nile River with rock, dirt and sticks.
"Sure you can," I enthuse.
"No, I can't. I don't have a good imagination."

This is a good place to ASK QUESTIONS. I could be her cheer leader and say, "Of course, you can! You can do anything you put your mind to." Instead, I want to find out WHY she believes that she doesn't have a good imagination.
"Can you tell me more about that?"
She shrugs. "It's just no good. I can't create anything amazing."
I nod, pray and take a moment to think about how I will approach this topic. "Come with me," I say and I reach for her hand.

We walk into the living room and head to a corner that is filled with a newly made doll palace. There are necklaces, tea towels, blocks and sponges spread out in a colorful array creating a friendly abode for all of my daughters favourite dolls.
"Hey, look at this! Who made this amazing fort for her dolls?"
My daughter shrugs,"I did."
"This is incredibly creative." I point out a few details that astound me. A sponge couch, a necklace chandelier and a bedroom that is divine. I tap her on the shoulder and say, "This came from a geat imagination."
She hesitates. "Mo-om. It's not like that. I do this all the time. I don't make Nile Rivers all the time. I just don't have a good imagination."

I realize that now I am dealing with a BELIEF issue. My daughter doesn't believe she has a good imagination. I ASK more questions in order to find out what's going on.
"What is the biggest challenge with building the river?" I ask.
She blinks, then says simply, "I can't put what's inside my head into the box. And I can't tell you what I see in my head because you'll see something different in your head, and it just won't work."
"Oh, I see." I empathize. "That happens to me sometimes. Let me tell you something about creativity. One of the things God has given us with the gift of creativity is that it is constantly unfolding. We get an idea, but once we start to work with the materials for that idea then our creativity kicks in. The picture in our mind might look one way, but once our hands hold the material and we move parts around, our brain starts to think of new ways to design things." Then I use the BRIDGING technique. "Just like when you were building your Doll House in the living room. You had an idea and gathered your materials. Once you started to work with everything, then new ways of using the beads and cloths came to you. Look at the beautiful home you created."
She smiles. "Yeah. I guess."

She's feeling better about her imagination, but I can tell she isn't 100 per cent on board with the project yet.
"Let's look at the project and gather our materials together. Once we get everything in one spot, you might get some new ideas."
We pull everything together. She is grumpy when she sees the dirt from the garden. It has clumps.

This is the time to serve her. This is the moment to go out of my way for her breakthrough.

 I jump up and tell her that I have just the thing for the soil. I dig through our garden shed and find an old flower pot that has a screen-like bottom. "How about we use this as a soil sifter?" I grab a handful of soil and shake it back and forth in the pot. The clumps turn into fine particles of dirt.

My daughter beams. "Yes, yes! This is what I wanted."
She looks at a picture in a book on Egypt and says,"I think I will do the river like they did it in this book, but make it a bit differently.
I smile big and know that she has unlocked from her previous state of feeling incompetent. She is ready to create.
"I'm excited to see what you come up with," I say.
And it turns out to be stunning.
I am learning that the key to unlocking a feeling of incompetence in your child is made up three things.
1. Ask Questions
2. Listen
3. Like Christ, serve. Go out of your way, however inconvenient it is at the moment, to serve your child and help eliminate excuses. Sometimes that means you remove the challenge, other times you think WITH your child of a solution.
 I've learned that the greatest thing we can do to eliminate incompetence is to walk with your child. Make it "our" journey, not "their" journey.
Once confidence is regained, then let them go and watch what they come up with!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Big Four.....oh!

Little boys are a ton of fun.- Tori Spelling

Some boys want trucks for their birthday.
Others want guns.
My son asked for Ancient Egypt on his fourth birthday.

So we built the Nile river, him and I
While his sisters did the same

Then we went indoors and built pyramids

Followed by an hour of house design and a plethora of books

There may have been farm animals involved in some of the day's antics

Four bowls of apple cobbler, which is now named "Apple Gobbler"
and lego fun ensued

Happy Birthday, mister!

September 18

Oh, what I wouldnt give for a plate of fried green tomatoes like we used to have at the cafe. Ooh! -Ninny Threadgoode, Fried Green Tomatoes

Some days call for a silly start to breakfast...

...followed by good news that just had to be shared with one of my most favourite people in the world: my bro...also known as Uncle Babaganoush
 (thank you Apple for the ipad and face time features!)

My eldest proudly displays the pumpkin she grew
These are just some of the MANY tomatoes we have at our house. Math and tomatoes are going hand in hand this week. Counting, multiplying, measuring, etc.

And...when you have tomatoes coming out of your ears, you must eat them.
Fried Green Tomatoes to keep this girl's soul happy to the brim.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” ― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

Grand visions of starting school in a clean house, with everything organized and in place, were still in my head this morning when I stumbled into the living room to pray this morning.

Perhaps I could offer up a prayer that the visions in my head could somehow translate into reality for my living room and kitchen. 


The truth is that I have 300 tomatoes creating their own version of Occupy Wall Street on my kitchen counter. They have set up camp and they aren't going anywhere until they turn red. starts in the midst of dirt covered potatoes, canning jars and reluctant tomatoes.

An exciting year ahead of us as Dad takes on a larger role in homeschooling. 

The day started with a great hour long discussion that flowed outward and filled the whole day up. Thoughts of Christ and His love and character.
Discussions on our failings and need for grace.
Stumbling about like we are walking in the fog, trusting God for the next step.

It's a quiet week to a year that holds the promise of being a mighty whirlwind.

Looking forward to blogging about life, learning and love at our house again.
Thanks for tuning in.