Thriving on a love for learning – for life!

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Today I am reminded of how God is providing exactly what we need – all the time.  The reminder comes by way of an unexpected message that struck to the core of my being so poignantly I knew He sent it.

This week while studying Lewis and Clark, my daughter randomly came across a fun activity book about them – in our home library – a resource we didn’t know we even had. And it’s a perfect complement to our school day!

Recently a magazine lead me back to a book that I was introduced to last year for health. This time, I listened – and it’s given me the results (health balance) that I’ve been praying for – for a year. Amazing. 

All of this is right here – just waiting to be utilized. Of course these recent discoveries lead me to ponder on what other treasures lay so closely near by…just waiting to be uncovered at the right time.

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A man may learn wisdom even from a foe.
Aristophanes

Crushed experiences on what friendship means has been at the center of our children’s hearts much of this ski season. Today we officially closed this season – and with more tears than joy.  The heart ache of unmet expectations – of not being (or feeling) included with your best buds, smothers the joy of a terrific ski season.

Seeing our strong and happy 7-year-old-son well up in tears of disappointment at the dinner table as he spoke about Rick, the boy he’s called his best friend, not ski with him for the race just tugged at my heart. This is a friend our son has loved to imaginatively play with for the last 18-months.  But the family hasn’t been available or our schedule hasn’t matched up to connect, and our son is left wondering “why can’t I play with Rick?” I tell him I don’t know.  He’s left a message and wrote a note – a lot of initiative for a little man. And still, nothing.  Last year we had many days skiing together – and even fishing. This day there has been none. How do I help our son understand the contrasts of these two seasons? How do I shed light on a situation I don’t understand myself? How do I help him with the heart ache of being separated by your best buddy?  Yes, these are the moments that make my heart ache on my sleeve – and it hurts. These are the moments that I question the value of opening our hearts to others outside our family, for the loss of friendship is great.

Our nine-year-old daughter is going through a similar thing – feeling cut out from the group she’s been tightest with for the last 18-months – seeing a new girl, whose already cut her out, now move into her former spot with her friends.  The pain runs too deep for her to know how to respond but to pull away. The pain is overwhelming for a child whose loved her friends and come to believe that they care about her – only to repeatedly feel shut out and not included.  In this, our daughter did ask me to talk to one of the Mom’s. So I did, because it’s either clear it up or let go of the friendship. The cost of keeping one’s heart open to those who seem to shut us out is just too great.  The feeling of rejection begins so early for our children.  The weight of sadness our daughter feels in this makes me feel quite sad, too – and disappointed.  I pray that communication will dissipate the misunderstanding.

As I see our children ache for more time with their very favorite friends, I realize how important it is to set time aside for this.  We get so caught up in Karate classes and all the other “to do’s” that we can forget how important just being together really is – especially for our children, as time is their “love language.”

So for Monday I’ve made a radical decision – and that is to meet with another homeschooling family in the morning to hike and study nature or do an art project with.  It’s totally off the map from our normal Monday routine.  But it’s a plan that responds to what our daughter has said she wants to do, and besides that, change is good anyway!  And then we’ll play some basketball with Rick!  It’s a good day, even though it’s different.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
C.S. Lewis

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It’s such a gift to my spirits when I receive unexpected cooperation from the kids.  If only ever day could be like this.  I wasn’t feeling well at all today, so my expectations for what we would accomplish were rather low.  To my delightful surprise there were far more giggles and joyful attitudes than defiant ones.  I was freed up to do more teaching (and hugging) than refereeing – what a gift this was.

As we delve into the last third of our structured school year, I am grateful to see the quiet ways our children are succeeding.  A passion for reading, a desire for building, and relentless curiosity about how things work are just three of the fruits that have come from our homeschooling year.  The children are far more aware of one another and have healthy boundaries around treating each other with respect (most of the time).

Character development is as important as academic success in our family. For to be truly successful in life one must posses an innate balance of each. It is our vision – our work, to “give” this to our children in the village we live, love and learn in. 

Gratefully we are blessed to be in a dynamic, diverse and caring community.  In fact, come to think of it, Alaskans have proved to provide the most unexpected cooperation we’ve ever experienced anywhere, too.  Yes, it’s a quality that makes Alaska such a nice place to live.  Well I hope this cultural rub stays on for life.

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While attending college in Las Vegas, Nevada I worked at a bank as at teller.  While we had a few customers who were “famous” on local television, there was one man who stood out – one who had changed his name to match his cause.  On his bank account, his name legally was “John 3:16.”  I remember how weird I thought that was – to go to such extremes to communicate a message.  Granted, this John 3:16 person did make a reputation for himself as one who would really get out there, too.  Yet, this was his mission – his calling, to make sure others knew who God was and he allowed himself to be a billboard of sorts for this message.

Today, nearly twenty years later, as I hear the radio station talk about “Happy 3:16 Day”, I remember this man, too.  God’s love is alive – this I know for sure. May you choose to believe so that you allow God’s perfect grace in your life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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Tonight I yearned to disappear in the basement to have some time with my own thoughts…to read, write, and get organized for the next school day. First I did most of the dishes.  And then kids called for help in their bed time ritual. And I surrendered to them.

Since my current schedule allows me four nights a week of bed times, I felt this one was important. The girls asked that I curl their freshly washed wet hair. Unexpectantly we ended up having a few sweet moments in the bathroom together. Our oldest read a story for the benefit of our youngest while I combed and put curlers into “Sunshine’s” hair.  Sweet tender moments of being together like this is what makes life grand. 

While reading with our youngest, “Little One,” I was thrilled to hear her also begin to read in Spanish, too.  It’s most exciting to see her begin to connect with decoding English and Spanish. One has to love the immersion program!

While reading with Sunshine, I enjoyed the peacefulness of simply being together – and sharing a great story.  She was occupied with sketching – a skill she’s naturally talented with, and one that isn’t tapped enough in our busy life.  More sweet quiet moments that honor the blessings of our day.

In the end, I am grateful for the freedom and availability to focus on what matters most tonight – our children and our family.  Oh, I had just remembered that I was going to take Sunshine to a sewing class with me – but that got lost in other unexpected activity.  Oh well. 

I pray that our choice to read aloud with our kids instead of with ourselves, and to meaningfully close the day in prayer with our children as consistently as possible will have long-term positive effects!  The fruit is a peaceful home and gratitude for being able to simply be with our children in a gentle, affirming way.  Yes, these are the tender moments that our lives are built upon – they are what matter most!

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It’s quite amazing to see what the most innocent of expectations can create. Trouble, always hassles to surrender. Perhaps in some ways having expectations are like holding a road map.  But tonight I am reminded how much of the scenery I miss when my mind is so committed to the destination (expectations).

Tonight I have the unusual opportunity of being home alone with our , “Little One.”  I was supposed to be at a very special Yoga class tonight. But, no baby sitter was available and my daughter seemed to be too sick to leave with a friend.  So it seemed like a great chance to dote on Little One – to play beauty parlor together and to have a good time. Well, all those grand plans went down the proverbial drain when she fell asleep at 5PM and woke at 6PM as grumpy as a bear woken during hibernation.

My expectations of sweet mother-daughter togetherness were blasted as she had screaming fits…and refused all the “normal” 6PM choices.  We went from a peaceful home environment into the most stressful situation her behavior has created in a long time. Off balance from illness, hunger, and tiredness, she was not someone I wanted to dote on. Still, I tried to stay on track – offering her all the items for our evening and she rudely refused them all.  I had also stated there was an early bed time.  Well of course the nap through that off, too.

Finally after eating a bit of some healthy food we settled into watching a bit of “Little Einsteins.” “Sit with me, ” she had screamed.  Finally, when Little One calmed down, she used nice words and we sat together and shared the best 20-minutes of our entire evening.  When I announced that we would have a short story because we stayed up longer watching to video, Little One loudly protested with all her body’s might. Sadly, I had to close the book and walk away. 

The most painful part of parenting is following through on the consequences I have laid out for our children’s choices.  Surely when I don’t, we all pay for it in worse ways. “Can I have a second chance?” Little One asked.  For so long I have done this too many times that this has become the pattern she’s come to expect. I said, “No. I will be happy to read the story you want in the morning.”  She protested loudly again. My heart is pulled so hard. Our dear child has no idea how hard it was for me to walk away and not read a story together.  One of my favorite activities with the children is sharing stories.

Oh, parenting is a challenge. Whew. And I know it’s not getting easier. I pray that by doing what I said I was going to – consistently, that our children will learn what real life is about – being accountable for the choices they make.  I pray also that in the end, our children know they are always loved, accepted and safe in our home – even when we don’t like their behavior.  By keeping mine in check with healthy boundaries, I pray that they will be better people, too.

Still it’s hard. I want so much to read her that story tonight…to end the night in a sweet “you’re the best” kind of bonding cuddle, to close the day in the way I had expected. It’s painful, as I write, to feel the disappointment of not having shared a special mommy and daughter evening (esp. as we get so few of them).  As I wrap up this anticlimactic evening, I realize how much expectations set me up for this tonight.  I was not open to how things flowed. I was not willing to sway too far from my plan (time with daughter and time with self).

Hmmm, powerful lessons on expectations. God, please help me to surrender to the multitude of expectations I have for myself – and others. I see how these block me from the true gift of the present you give us every day.

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Being home and being sleepy does have its benefits.  For me, it means choosing priorities carefully and moving slowly.  It also means being becomes a greater priority than doing. It’s a struggle to surrender to this internal drill sergeant that keeps telling me what to do. Yet, it’s in the quiet spaces of being that sweet, tender memories are made.  Relationships have space to bloom!  Conversations happen.  Being charges us up for the doing.

The children are strengthening their relationships together as they get more kid time to just play and create – and cheer one another on the WII!

As I move slowly, focusing only on what matters most, I am grateful for improved health, sunny skies, and a sleepy state that slows me down to enjoy this space.  “You’re almost better than me.” Skywalker says to Little One while they play the WII.  I love to hear the sportsmanship and sibling love bloom on this spring break.

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