Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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For the Children’s Sake Friday: Week 1

When a baby is picked up, spoken to, and loved, he is starting his education as God planned it.  For all our lives we are human beings, in an active state of learning, responding, understanding.  Education extends to all of life.  In fact, an educational system that says, one bright summer’s day in the dawn of my youth, “There, Now you are educated.  This piece of paper says so,” is doing me a gross disfavor.  The truly educated person has only had many doors of interest opened.  He knows that life will not be long enough to follow everything fully.

~For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, pg.8


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The Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling

~painting by Lee Kaula~

Over the past months I’ve been mulling over my educational philosophy.  For several years I’ve been burned out and paralyzed as I tried to live up to some kind of rigid, artificial, school-at-home homeschool method I imagined was expected of me.  It felt grueling and lifeless.

This past semester I backed off from a few subjects, focused strongly on the 3 R’s, prayed, and observed.  I was inspired by some unschooling blogs.  While I know unschooling is definitely not the right choice for us, reading about families who educate this way helped me understand a lifestyle of learning and exploration.  Soon my kids were spontaneously asking, “Can we research this?”  “Will you help me look this up?”  “Let’s read a book about that.”  I felt refreshed and freed.  I started doing creative learning projects with the kids, and school became fun again—maybe really fun for the first time!

Right before we left for Christmas vacation, I stumbled on a community of blogs influenced by the Charlotte Mason method of education.  I’m familiar with Charlotte’s methods, but it’s been a long time since I considered them.  (Her method is summarized at Simply Charlotte Mason this way:

“A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.”)

   Reading through these blogs felt like answered prayer.  This philosophy seems like the best of both worlds—excellence in education combined with the grace and freedom to cultivate a life-culture of learning.

I had been praying about which books I should take on vacation.  (Don’t laugh; yes, I think God cares about little things like that!) At the last minute, I grabbed For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, which is about the Charlotte Mason method.  All during our week away, as I read, my heart kept saying “Yes, yes, yes!”  When I read the book years ago I didn’t understand it.  This time around it made sense.  I guess timing is everything.

I’ll be honest and say that I’m not too interested in being a Charlotte Mason purist.  In fact, I had her original homeschooling series, read it, found it too much to wade through, and sold it several years ago.  At this point I’m satisfied with a synopsis that gives me the heart of her philosophy, alongside the ideas of others who are putting them into practice.  We’ll still be an eclectic homeschool, but I look forward to seeing how some of Charlotte’s ideas play out as we continue our journey.  Already I have some just waiting to be put into practice during the next part of the school year.

In light of all this, I have two announcements.  One is that I plan to have For the Children’s Sake Friday each week, to share quotes from the book that I find inspiring.  Also, I will have a related giveaway soon.  Stay tuned!


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Internet Safety for Kids (and the Rest of Us)

~painting by Frederick Lufkin Freer~

My 11 year old is learning to navigate the internet.  My husband and I have been extraordinarily cautious with how much we have let our kids be online, but the internet is here to stay and it’s an essential part of how our culture operates, so it’s key that she learns to be safe and smart online in this strange new world.  Here are a few things we are doing and teaching her.  Feel free to jump in with your thoughts and ideas!  I know you all have lots of wisdom to share!

Use an internet filter.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to protect your kids from things they may stumble across (or search for) while online.  No internet filter is perfect, but we’ve been very pleased with Net Nanny.  Not much gets through.  We also take advantage of all the safe search and security settings available on other devices.  Our home computers, handheld devices, and Netflix on the Wii all must be accessed with passwords.  Our kids are not allowed to be on a device that has unfiltered, unrestricted internet.  There’s too much perversion too readily available.

Keep your computer in a public place—no internet access in bedrooms or other hidden places.

Don’t share personal info.  We tell our kids, “Don’t sign up for things without Dad and Mom’s permission, don’t give your real name, don’t tell where you live, where you are, where you go, when you are going on vacation, what your personal habits and routines are,” and so forth.  The kids know that they can’t post their picture publicly.  It’s easy for a predator to piece together personal info and figure out who you are and where you live.

Don’t mistake online interaction for real friendship.  Recently I joined a forum using all my normal caution.  Most of the people on this particular forum were my age and younger—many of them in their late teens and early 20’s.  I was blown away by how much personal, personal info they shared with total strangers, how quickly they trusted each other, and how few inhibitions they have about meeting in person.  I guess I have been naïve, but apparently this is part of today’s internet culture.  These people grew up with the internet and this is how it’s done.  I believe genuine friendships can spring from online encounters, but more often I think it promotes a false sense of intimacy.  Personally, I can think of 3 people I have “met” online that I have one-on-one contact with after 10 years of internet use, and then only after YEARS of very cautious and careful online observation.

Remember, anything you put online is there forever.  Even if you delete it, it’s cached or archived somewhere.

No secrecy.  My husband and I have all passwords to any accounts our children have.  We also have each other’s user names and passwords for all accounts.  We have access to each other’s accounts, whether email, forums, or Facebook whenever we like, although truthfully we rarely do—the point is that we are free, honest, and open with each other about our online lives.  We don’t hide our internet histories from each other.  We discuss the sites we visit and what we read.  We don’t have secrets.  Secrets destroy lives, families, and relationships.

What about you?  How do you teach your children about internet safety?  How do you keep yourself safe online?

 


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Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

Need a super-easy and really delicious sugar cookie recipe at the last minute?   Reposting from the archives!

1 cup coconut oil (I’m guessing softened butter would work just as well, or its evil twin, Crisco)

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

5 T. water

4 t. vanilla

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

3  1/2 c. all-purpose flour, chilled (I keep mine in the freezer.)

Cream coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Add egg and water, mix well.  Mix in dry ingredients.   You are aiming for dough that’s the consistency of stiff play dough, but not crumbly.

Roll into 2 smooth logs.  Roll logs in granulated sugar.  Wrap in waxed paper and chill completely.  (Actually if you use flour from the freezer like I do, you sometimes don’t have to chill…)

Slice into 1/4″ slices and place far apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from pan immediately.  Enjoy with a glass of milk!


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Creamy Turmeric Tea: A Yummy Anti-Inflammatory Drink!

I learned some time back about the reported amazing health benefits of turmeric (the bright yellow spice used to flavor curry).  In fact, I’ve personally used it for its apparent anti-inflammatory benefits, instead of NSAID drugs (which come with a boatload of true and scary warnings on the label).  But to tell you the truth, turmeric was just plain nasty mixed with water–although it worked!

Then I ran across this recipe for creamy turmeric tea.  The name is something of a misnomer, because it really is a warm, spicy-sweet, comforting, delicious drink.  It’s become a new favorite at our house.  It tastes nice AND it’s good for you!  Click on over and try it, you’ll like it!

 


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Advice I’m Glad I Took as a New Mom

I started having babies young; I was just 21 when I got pregnant with my oldest.  I’d never given any thought to a philosophy of mothering.  I had taken care of younger siblings and I had babysat a lot, I knew I would breastfeed and be a stay-at-home mom, but beyond that I was pretty clueless about pregnancy, birth, and mothering.

Early in my pregnancy I was surprised by a call from an old family friend, a mom of 8.  She had simply called to encourage me, and she probably still doesn’t know how that simple call changed the course of my mothering career, simply because she had brought things up that I had never thought about.

She showed me that I needed to be intentional in how I handled pregnancy and birth.  She encouraged me to be nurturing and responsive to my new little baby.  Here are a few things she shared that I’m so glad I put into practice as a new mom:

Eat healthfully and exercise during pregnancy.  Now I know that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and clean proteins with limited sugar is best.

Prepare for birth by practicing conscious relaxation.  Go limp, like a rag doll.  Practice this till you can maintain this state of relaxation for a long period of time.  She sent me a book on the Bradley method of childbirth, which in my opinion is the best way to approach natural birth—or any birth, for that matter.

Shoot for as little intervention in birth as possible.  My friend had all home births.  I was having a hospital birth, and she reminded me that Jesus was in the hospital too.  I needed to have a clear idea of what I did and did not want and be willing to stand up for those things, within reason.  I wrote a birth plan to clarify these wishes to my doctor and hospital staff.

Breastfeed right away.  Follow baby’s cues and feed her as often as she wanted to eat.  Don’t use a pacifier.  Breastfeed for at least 2 years, while baby’s brain was growing the most.

Hold and snuggle baby and respond to her cries.  This is a baby’s only method of communication.  Cuddle and comfort her.  Holding and loving on her would not spoil her!  God designed babies to need many hours of touch and snuggles each day, and he designed mamas to meet that need!

Sleep with baby.  Co-sleeping did not work for us, but it was a relief to know that it was OK to bring baby to bed if I needed to.

These principles helped me establish a solid, nurturing relationship with my baby that carried us through some tough times later.  I’m so thankful for an older mom who was willing to pass her wisdom on to me!  It saved me untold grief!

Did you have an older woman who guided you through pregnancy and the days of new motherhood?  What did you learn from your mentor?


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Read Aloud Thursday: The Newborn King, Frosty, and Rudolph

Linking up this week with Three Thinking Mothers for their Christmas book roundup.  I wish I had time to write about all my favorites!

Beautiful, pictures, simple text, clear message.  And you can find it cheap on Amazon.  I have the board book version which is great for little hands.

We got oversized versions of these classic Golden books at a library book sale a few years ago.  I’m a sucker for vintage illustrations, as evidenced by the many I use on my blog!  These just make me happy.