Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

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Wisdom From Debbie Wilson (Marriage Matters Now) on Parenting

Let’s see if these videos will post, I have been having trouble with part 1.  My friend Debbie Wilson (who, with her husband Steve, has the ministry Marriage Matters Now) shares wonderful, challenging, and encouraging words on parenting through the story of her son Josh.  Take a few moments to watch.





Christmas Before Thanksgiving?

I’ve seen a lot of buzz where people are bemoaning the fact that stores are already decorated for Christmas.  Seems Thanksgiving is almost becoming a non-holiday that gets lost between Halloween and Ho ho ho.  Hobby Lobby had Christmas stuff up in August, for crying out loud.  And I think it’s important to make a lot of Thanksgiving, this wonderful season of gratitude.

That said, the Christmas spirit struck me really early this year.  Like giddy, little-kid excited.  Since that feeling has actually passed me by for a lot of recent years (thanks to rush and stress), I’m going with it.  I have realized something.  I’m so tired and foggy-brained these days, I actually have to allot about twice as much time as I think I need for any given activity.  If I think it takes me one hour to get everyone ready for church, I better give myself two.  So it stands to reason that I really need more than a month to get ready for Christmas.

It’s simple at our house.  We don’t do a huge amount of cooking and baking and we don’t go overboard on gifts.  I put up a tree and a wreath and if I get to anything else, it’s lagniappe.  But still.  All this seems to take a lot of energy when my typical mode of operations is half speed.

So…We focus on giving thanks.  We’re doing Thanksgiving crafts and leafy activities.  I’m loving fall, my favorite season.  But I’m getting ready for Christmas too.  Our tree is up.  Gifts are on order, and I’m making sure I have what I need to wrap them.  Mulling over which cookies I’ll make and what the menu will be.  Noting ideas on Pinterest.  Preparing early is going to make it easier to relax and enjoy December.

This month, I’m thankful for early Christmas preparations.  I’m even thankful that the stores have Christmas stuff out already.  And I’m thankful that it’s still autumn and the turkey is yet to be consumed.

How about you?  How do you balance the holidays and not lose Thanksgiving in the Christmas hullaballoo?


Homeschool Mother’s Journal 11-12-11

Image via Pinterest

Linking up with The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week…

We returned from a trip and all got a stomach virus.  It’s a miracle we got anything done.

In our homeschool this week…

We eased back into the swing of things.  I did some school work with those who felt well enough, and worked on catching up on some grading on which I’d fallen behind.  It was a relaxed few days.  I enjoyed working on Thankful Tree art with the kids.  It is so fun to see their creativity and how each one approaches the same project so differently.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

If you are a Christian, let God lead you.  There is no way, really, to explain what this is like.  All I can say that as a Christian I know God leads me and speaks to me.  He is my friend and my leader, but sometimes I do not listen.  I am learning to throw everyone else’s opinions out the window about how I should do things, and follow what God tells me to do, not just in school but all of mothering.  How should I discipline this child?  How should I feed my family?  Why is this child struggling in this subject?  How should I configure my day?  Block out the strident voices and listen to the one important Voice.

I am inspired by…


Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Well, this was last week spilling into this week, but we took a fall break of sorts and visited my wonderful sister and her four sweeties while our husbands attended a conference together.  I got to see most of my family and the kids got more cousin time than they have ever had.  Then we visited my husband’s family too.  We were too sick for our normal activities this week, but we saw a lot of people over the last few days all the same.

We did have eye doctor appointments today.  We have three new pairs of glasses on order.  I can’t wait to see again.  Neither the receptionist nor the doctor (a man of about 70) had ever met a homeschooling family before.  They were full of questions such as “Do they make friends?”  Ummm…Seriously?  When I explained that they had many friends through their homeschool group and church, among other places, it seemed like a new concept that children could make friends anywhere besides school.  I think I could have made a better case for homeschooling in the conversation, but I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback.  Once my friendly children started talking, asking questions, and being their normal engaging selves, the doctor seemed more convinced that we are not some kind of sideshow freaks. I did appreciate that he did not grill my children like some adults do, as if to perform some kind of inquisition.  He was full of questions for me, though, mainly about the legality of homeschooling.  It is amazing to me that some people have actually never met homeschoolers.  Their social circles must be very narrow!

My favorite thing this week was…

Feeling better.  My kids feeling better.  My husband feeling better.

What’s working/not working for us…

Something that is working really well is combining art and writing.  I have come face to face with the fact that I am an artist and a writer at heart and that is the way I teach best.  When I try to force myself into a rigid, cold, academic mold because I think someone expects it of me, our school days lose all their life.  God made me to be creative and when I operate in the strengths he has given me, that energy flows to the kids.  So that is really working beautifully.

I need to work out a better time for grading their work consistently (instead of letting it pile up over a few days).  This is one of my weakest points.  I tend to fall behind but it is something I am determined to work through.

Questions/thoughts I have…

This has nothing and everything to do with school.  How can I make our bedtime routines better so that our mornings flow smoothly when we get up?  I know that making sure everyone tidies their rooms and lays out clothes for the following day is key.  We are really good about early bedtimes, but it’s the leading up part that needs help.  I read a great post by Sally Clarkson this week on this very thing.  It inspired me and made me determined to work more on this.  Speaking of Sally, I know I mention her a lot but she is a person God is using in my life right now to help me become a better mother.  I have lamented the lack of older ladies who are willing to share their wisdom with us young moms, and I’m grateful for those like Sally who are stepping up to the plate.  I’m not idolizing her, God has just put her writing in my path for this season when I need it very much.

Things I’m working on…

This week I really want to get the house clean enough and the laundry caught up enough that I can sit down for awhile with a cup of tea and my knitting.  It’s fall, and I’m craving some cozy knitting time.

I’m reading…

The Message paraphrase of the Bible.  I only pull it out every now and then, but it’s a refreshing change.  Also Rod Dreher’s blog.  It’s different from other blogs I read and I don’t always agree, but Rod’s writing always makes me think.

I’m cooking…

Homemade bread tomorrow.

I’m grateful for…

Getting to see my sister last week.  We so rarely get time together.  If you have a sister you get to see often, treasure that gift!

I’m praying for…

Someone I love who is having health difficulties.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

This is an awesome idea for a birthday, especially for an adult.  Imagine getting so many notes from people who love you!

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Family Meal Table Conversation

A facebook friend recently asked what she can do to make family suppers last longer.   It really doesn’t take that long to eat a meal, particularly if your children are small eaters who don’t ask for seconds.  We often have an idea of what a family meal should look like…lingering around the table enjoying each other…But sometimes this isn’t reality without some help.

Sometimes it helps to have some conversation prompts to get the words flowing.  Once the family starts talking, sometimes they don’t want to stop, but it’s getting them started that’s the hard part.

One question we ask at the end of each meal is “What was the best thing that happened to you today?”  It began as a way to add some uplifting conversation to the meal, and it became a tradition without us even trying!  Now if we forget, the kids remind us.

During the meal I have also begun asking, “Does anyone have anything interesting they saw or heard today?”  Or, “Silas, what is the most interesting thing you heard today?”  This has really added to the conversation and slowness of our meals!  We have talked about everything from politics to military heroes to sharing our faith to wise and unwise choices.  While our “best thing” can be limited to a few words, talking about what we find interesting often leads to great conversations.  This is a new question, but I’ll probably keep asking it at each meal until interesting conversation becomes a habit.

One day, I imagine that we will have only young adults around our table.  I want to make sure that we lay the foundation now for great discussion.  If we cultivate the gift of sharing now, I trust that it will continue easily when our children are grown.  We learn to communicate, and we also learn to listen and appreciate the ideas of others around the table.

What about you?  How do you make family meals unrushed and meaningful?

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5 Ways to Save Time on the Computer

The computer can be a colossal time-eater.   Here are a few ways I have found to streamline the time I spend online (besides the obvious one, staying off altogether).

1.  Use a feed reader.

I subscribe to all the blogs I read regularly on Google Reader.  It’s a one stop shop, and now scanning through all this information takes just minutes.  I’m able to subscribe to things I feel are truly helpful to me (blogs about Christian mothering, homeschooling, and health, for example) and skip the distractions that come by just surfing around.

2. Do things in batches.

How many times have I gone to the computer to look something up and ended up being there for 30 minutes?  Looking something up turns to “just checking my facebook for a second,” which turns to answering correspondence or following links.  I try to make a list of things I need to do or look up online and do them all at once, instead of wandering to the computer many times a day.  If I do need to look something up quickly, sometimes I will stand.  When I sit down in that comfy chair I’m tempted to stay longer!

3. Use a handheld device.

Maybe this goes without saying since most of us have smartphones these days, but using your phone or other handheld can be a big time saver.  I think excessive multitasking can be detrimental, but it is nice and efficient to be able to check Google Reader, for example, when I’m doing something mindless.

4. Don’t get embroiled in pointless discussions and activities.

When I first became acquainted with the internet, I thought I had to respond to every question if I knew the answer, jump into every conversation if I had an opinion, and defend my position at all costs.  Now I know that 99% of the time, the conversation will go on just fine without me and other people smarter than myself will comment.  This leaves me free to join discussions that are truly meaningful and important.  Some people really enjoy games.  I find them a waste of time.  I am sure there are things I do online that other people would consider a waste of time.  The point is not to skip everything fun or recreational, but rather to choose wisely and do what is helpful for you.

5. Read meaningfully.

As I mentioned in #1, I try to mostly read things that will actually help me become better at what I do, or what I’m passionate about.  Sometimes I succeed more than others.  But my time is limited and the internet is almost unlimited.  So I have to choose wisely where I will put my reading time.