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Can you believe I have 2 teenagers in my home?! I can’t!

As we move into this season more my prayers are gradually changing. When my sons were young boys my focus throughout the day seemed like it was always making sure they stayed alive. The balance then was allowing them the space for fun and adventure without hurting themselves or others. I was constantly yelling “slow down”, “stop running”, or “use your words”. My guidance and direction were to keep them safe and training them to be considerate and respectful.

Now that the boys are older, the game is quickly changing though the dynamics are somewhat similar. I still want to give them space to have age-appropriate fun and adventure in ways that are safe, respectful and God-honoring. The difference now is that I HAVE to train them to learn how to have better judgment and make decisions from their OWN godly convictions.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine about the complexities of parenting in this season. She now has a son in college so I have much to learn from her! After talking to her about how she navigated through these years with her son I gained much insight. Much of the things I am learning in this season are also helping me parent my younger children:

Allow them the opportunity to make mistakes often. 

Protecting my children is a natural instinct. I am learning, though, that there is wisdom in recognizing the times when it is best to step back and NOT shelter them. There are valuable lessons learned from difficulties and challenges and ESPECIALLY from the ones that come as a consequence of our mistakes. Life and experience are amazing teachers. I must trust God and know that He is in control and not be afraid to step back.

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Get out of my comfort zone and connect with the parents of my children’s friends.

Accountability is important at any age. Though it usually feels awkward and is not something I always feel like doing, I must make the effort of connecting with the parents and making sure we are on one page. We must not shy away from asking questions. My son was recently invited to a home he had never been to before. Among other questions, I asked the parent if they had firearms. It felt so uncomfortable but I am so glad I asked. Later, I read this article that perfectly expressed why this is one question a parent must not hesitate to ask.

This is especially important as our children get older and more independent. We must open the lines of communications with the people they are connecting with, children and adults.

Make time for fun.

I have to intentionally make time to have fun, laugh, and connect with my sons. This one is not difficult but is so essential and easy to miss. My interactions with my boys HAVE to be more than giving instructions and correcting behavior. I have to make time to converse, listen to their stories, be interested in their world, learn about their friends. When I nurture an intimate relationship with them, it makes it so much easier to lay down rules and address more serious concerns. It’s much easier to listen to someone you trust and love. A relationship is paramount in this season.

I’ve always said that God has used parenting as a way to minister to my own heart more than ever. Parenting teenagers is teaching me to have courage and trust God more than ever before. In the end, it reminds me of a truth we forget often, He is the ONLY One in control.

What things have you learned as you’ve parented your own teenager?

 

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Have you considered homeschooling your children and aren’t sure if you’re cut out for it?

homeschool not for tests but for life quote

Many parents want the benefits of homeschooling but don’t get past some of the stereotypes of homeschooling, and simply dismiss the idea.

We fear the unknown. My goal in this post is to shed light on some of the main objections or comments I have heard from other parents. You will also find below links to support groups and local events that will help you get started.

 

Common Questions to Homeschooling

What About Socialization? 

Let’s think this one through. What do we really mean by “Socialization”. Are we saying that if we educate them at home our kids won’t learn how to act like kids their age? Is the fear that they won’t “fit in” or will be considered “weird” and “different” by their peers.

If that actually happens, I wouldn’t have a problem with any of it. I DON’T want my kids acting like other kids their age. Yes, I want them to be different and stand out. With the way things are going in our culture now, if I’m raising my children to fear the Lord, they will stand out.

I think what many of us actually want is for our children to be social. We want them to know how to shake a hand firmly and look people in their eyes when talking to them. We want our child to have compassion for a child that’s being bullied at the park and have the courage to stand up. Yes, we all want our kids to know how to play with kids their age. Isn’t it awesome if they also learn how to have the patience to play with younger kids. What if our children are social enough to value a conversation with the elderly neighbor.

Homeschooling is a great way to make our children social, compassionate, patient, leaders. Our days are full of opportunities to fellowship and do life with people of all ages. I think making our children social is the least of our concerns.

I’m Not That Patient

I hear this one all the time. My answer is the same all the time. I’m not patient either. I homeschool, not because it comes easy, but out of obedience to the Lord.

Some people deal with difficult bosses or coworkers. We don’t think, “I’m can’t work, dealing with a boss is too difficult”. Instead, people find ways to work through their difficulties.

Homeschooling is the same way. Because I know that this is what the Lord want for my family and I see the benefits of educating at home I know I have to work through the difficulties. There ARE many days I lose my cool. Many mornings I can’t get through the lessons. So many times I feel like I’m failing them. I pray through them, seek advice and support, but never give up. The stakes are too high!

I Don’t Have a Teaching Degree

Legally, in Ohio, you don’t need a teaching degree to homeschool your children. I think the real question behind this one is, “Am I qualified”.

First, there is no one that knows your child better than you. That alone keeps me motivated. Thankfully, there is an endless amount of curriculum and resources available to help you get started. You can match them to your child’s learning style or interest. Depending on what you need you can find some that are all-inclusive (in terms of subjects), free, online or not, live-stream, and more.

Programs I LOVE and have used often:

  • Headsprout – Amazing reading program! I especially love it for boys. They have a program for early reading and one for reading comprehension.
  • Schoolhouse Teachers – You can find all subjects here for preK-12th. You will also find great resources for the family and parents.
  • Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft Classes – Use minecraft to teach different subjects. My boys have really enjoyed some of these.
  • Starfall – Great reading program online. FREE
  • Cathy Duffy Homeschool – Find reviews of ALL SUBJECTS and hundreds of homeschool curriculum. This is a great place to start as it will give you a bird’s eye view of what is available.

First Steps

The first thing I would tell you to do if you are just thinking about homeschooling this coming year is to read through the laws and requirements in your state. A great website to start with is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

Next, I would tell you to reach out to someone you know who is already homeschooling. There are great sites and FB groups online where you can find articles and people who can answer your questions and share resources and ideas.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Ohio Homeschooling Parents – A FB group of more than 6000 parents in Ohio. Some of the admins are homeschool parents who are also certified teachers.

Christian Homeschool Family Picnic – A family picnic on August 8th. Games, food and fun. Will get the chance learn “How to get started in Homeschooling in Ohio” and ask questions. Will also meet representatives of different local co-ops.

Home Educating Families Meet-up – Meet homeschool families, find encouragement, and support.

I would love to be of any support, also. Please feel free to comment below, ask any questions, or even send me a private message.

 

 

 

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little-melba-and-her-big-tromboneOur understanding of history has a powerful effect on the way we see the world and especially the way we see ourselves.

Growing up my learning of African-American history was limited to slavery and civil rights movement.

I was making the same mistake with my own children. One day, my oldest son asked me: “Why have we always the weakest and the oppressed?”

Much of our history in this country is of oppression, but there is more. We are not weak, we are not victims. There are stories of amazing men and women, even DURING slavery who contributed in amazing ways to society. This year we have learned about numerous black scientist and inventors and have all been inspired!

I am excited as I plan this week. I finally order all the book son this list of 12 Children’s Books That Teach Kids About Black Heroes. Some of these were available in Kindle version, which gets delivered as a loan through your library, instantly.

I am especially looking forward to reading the children’s book on Gordon Parks:

Gordon Parks was a prolific, world-renowned photographer, writer, composer and filmmaker known for his work on projects like Shaft and The Learning Tree.Through my library, I can also borrow the movie of Gordon Parks, which will be great to watch as a family.”

Through my library I was also able to borrow the documentary on Gordon Parks’ life, which will be great to watch as a family!

Looking forward to the things we will learn as the list includes some people we have not heard of.

Share history resources YOU have used to inspire your children.

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There’s always a lot to do in our home, with activities and chores. This week we are scrambling as we get ready to host more than 20 people for Tslow-down-quote-1hanksgiving!

 

Yesterday, while I worked in the kitchen cleaning and cooking I thought about the pile of clothes on my bed that I still had to fold. As I put away the last few cups, I heard my little girl ask me “Mami, can I sit on your lap.”

She didn’t ask me to read a book or to play with her, simply to sit on my lap. It touched me because I realized that she was just asking for cuddle time and attention. I stopped and sat on the couch with her and spent a few moments listening to her sweet ramblings and tickling her chubby toes.

Our days rush by full of activities. We all have good intentions and want to be faithful to the needs of our families but it is so easy to overlook their REAL needs, I do it all the time. More than a clean kitchen and folded laundry my kids need ME. I have to be reminded often to slow down and spend time…quality time with the people that I love. The kind of time that involves REAL CONNECTION.

After the few moments with my daughter I went on to tackle the next thing on my list, and then the next. Many things DID get done yesterday, but as always not all. In the evening, while the laundry lay on my bed, STILL unfolded, I invited my girls out to the patio. The night was clear and warm…65 degrees! Very uncharacteristic in mid-November in NE Ohio.

We grabbed our pillows and blankets and looked up at the stars. It wasn’t long, but such a special time. My 5-year-old even saw a few “shooting stars”. I knew they were airplanes, but I loved listening to her as she closed her eyes and made a wish.

It’s the next morning as I write this and I STILL haven’t folded the laundry. I just finished writing in my journal a short list of amazing things that happened yesterday. The moments under the stars last night with my daughters made the top of the list. It added much more value to my family than any completed chore.

What ways have you found to best connect with YOUR children? Board games? Walks? Reading together? Would love to hear from YOU!

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screenshot_20161117-073654_1Remember the goals YOU had before you had children that you’ve set aside for later or maybe even forgot about?

The busyness of motherhood and everyday life has dampened some of this passion. My obligations at home have pushed out the time to nurture and pursue my dreams and intentionally plan for my goals. 

My new morning routine has released a fire inside me that’s been there for so many years. It has transformed me in so many ways. I’ve written about it a few times. Amazing how using the early morning hour has made so much possible. Some example of these are daily journal, read books, excersice, read the entire New Testament in 8 weeks!

These are all  things I would do sporadically or just didn’t get around to it. Managing a household, homeschool, and caring for 6 kids left little time or energy for these.

Because of my morning routine now  I am even pursuing of a childhood dream; writing my first book! There’s no way I had time to take on a project like this before without sacraficing my children and husband.

The key to reaching this goal is that it is getting done a little at a time.  Every day I schedule to write 200-400 words. I only write during my morning routine when everyone else is sleeping. Though reaching this goal will take time, just working on it every day gives me a different kind of joy and purpose.

So many benefits from my morning routine. My passion is to share this with as many moms as possible because it’s something I wish someone would have told me 10 years ago! 

What would YOU do with one extra hour in a day?

Would YOU consider going to bed 1 hour early and waking up 1 hour earlier?

Read in this post what things you can get done during this hour and start YOUR journey toward self-care and maybe pursuing a dream YOU’VE set aside.

 

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