Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When I Exercise, I . . .

You'd think by now I'd be convinced of the benefits of exercise.  Hmmm, then why is it still so hard to incorporate into my life?!  Well, home schooling three daughters, taking care of a baby, cooking, cleaning, running a home business, teaching a few music lessons, and tutoring for Classical Conversations all seem to take some time too!  Anyway, this is not a pity party, it is just life and reality and we all have many demands on our time. But I was realizing again recently (as I just re-started an exercise program) that when I am consistent with exercise I do enjoy many benefits and I thought I'd list them here, both for my encouragement and for yours!

1.  When I exercise, I have more energy.  It's just true.  It seems like I would be more tired, but as long as I don't overdo the exercise, I do have more energy.

2.  I drink more water.  This is a good thing!  I need more water and less coffee in my life!

3.  My silly back with it's old injury feels better when I exercise.

4.  When I exercise, there's no mental guilt "Oh, I should exercise."  I already did it.  Done!

5.  Exercise uses my muscles and gets my heart pumping in ways that help my body.  Though I feel very busy  most days, I don't use my body in the same way that I do when I exercise.

6.  Faithful exercise on my part sets a good example for my kiddos.

7.  Most of the time when I start exercising, I think, "I don't have time for this."  Then I just do it anyway.  20 minutes (yes, still doing that ridiculous 30 day shred) and I'm always glad I did it, no regrets.  Plus, I can easily waste 20 minutes on facebook on any given day.

8.  My clothes fit better.  Yeah!

9.  Exercise helps my posture.  I am always trying to improve my posture!

10.  Exercise helps keep the snacking at bay.  Why would I work hard to exercise and then ruin it with some  silly snack?

What is a benefit you enjoy when you are exercising regularly?  Leave a comment and help me be even more inspired!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Daddy-Daughter Dates

Since the beginning of the year, John has been very consistent with taking one of the girls out each Saturday for a Daddy-Daughter date.  No surprise, they LOVE it!  Whether it's a trip to the library, fun at the Seminary gym, or a trip to the park, they love their extra special time with Daddy.  It has been so sweet to me to see how they respond to John's affection and time together.  He usually takes advantage of the time to try to initiate a bit of more meaningful conversation too, asking them some "heart" questions.

Last Saturday it was Clara Anne's turn.  They went to the library, and Clara Anne got to choose lots of books for Daddy to read.  Being read to seems to be one of Clara Anne's love languages; nothing makes her happier than curling up next to mommy or daddy and enjoying a good story.

Near the end of the date, John began to ask Clara Anne a few questions about her spiritual life.  Her answers were surprisingly perceptive.  First, he asked her where she had been growing in her spiritual life with Jesus, and she responded that she thought she was doing better at being more thoughtful and not so careless.  (I can affirm that this has been an area of struggle for Clara Anne...carelessness and thoughtlessness have been difficult for her to overcome, but we have seen progress lately!).  This is a wonderful reason to praise the Lord, because HE has to change her.  We were seeing these habits come through in many areas of her life--thoughtless speech, careless or reckless actions, sloppy work in her school lessons, etc.  John and I were frequently talking to her, using lots of words to try to help her see these habits as foolish, but ultimately the Lord has to give the power and motivation to change.  We are so thankful that there has been measurable and significant progress in these areas!

John also asked Clara Anne what was still a struggle for her.  She shared that she knows that sometimes she has a bad attitude, because "sometimes you really, really, really, really don't want to do something, Daddy!"  I can also attest that this is the case (for her and for me, now that I think about it!).  Now that Clara Anne is 8, she can tend to think that she has the better answer, that she can be in control of her own life and schedule, and that she doesn't need follow us so closely as her parents.  But, I think it was very good that she recognized this and hopefully the Spirit will use that to help her surrender her attitudes to the Lord as well!

Seeking to be a godly parent certainly gets a bit more complex as our children get older.  Looking back now, it seems so simple when your two year old disobeys, the punishment is clear-cut and then it's over and you move on.  But issues of character take more time, conversations, and communication.  May the Lord give grace as we parent our children, shepherding them to know and love Him!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Well Children, Sinful Pride, and the Stigma of Socialization

Today was an historic day.  Finally after a year and a half, I took the girls to an American doctor.  It's so funny, when we lived overseas I carefully scheduled our doctor's appointments based on times we were traveling to Hong Kong or Thailand, but here in the States I figure I can go to the doctor anytime--and then it doesn't end up happening!  Thankfully the girls haven't been sick, but it was time for a well child checkup.  So today I took Clara Anne and Chloe and we made a visit to the pediatrician's office.

I didn't really know what to expect from this visit, except for paperwork and a brief checkup, but actually the doctor was quite thorough.  He took his time carefully doing a physical exam all while asking the girls questions about life, school, their favorite subjects, their favorite foods, whether or not they could ride a bike,  etc.  He did a little bit of testing too--quizzed Chloe on her colors and asked her to identify some items in a look and find book.  She did great, really no problem at all, but then stumbled a bit over her ABCs, of all things.

The silly part is that I felt my mama bear defenses rising a bit at his quizzing and testing.  Early on he had noted that we home schooled and asked me a bit more about my curriculum choices.  I explained a bit about Classical Conversations, but I'm not sure if he really understood.  I know it's so dumb to feel even the slightest bit defensive about my girls' education, simply because I know how the girls are doing, and truly he doesn't.  Spending 10 minutes in a room with my girls is not equivalent to knowing how they are doing generally with their studies.  But when Chloe stumbled over her ABCs, I felt pride rising in my heart and the urge to justify, wanting to interrupt, "Chloe, tell me the linear equivalents.  Or tell me about the Kush.  Or tell me three kinds of rock."  I wanted to shout, "This child can sing 10 minute history timeline song from Creation through the Seven Years War!"

Oh, sinful, prideful heart!  Thankfully the Lord restrained me in that moment, and I did not interrupt or justify or say anything at all.  And that was a good thing.  This little incident, which took no more than a few minutes, reminded me again of my humble state before the Lord, and that more than even Mr. Kind Doctor knows, my children's education is ultimately in the Lord's hands.  My children can have knowledge of many things, but without knowing and fearing the Lord, they are lost.  I have no need to be prideful or posturing--I certainly don't want to teach my girls to be that way.  Knowledge and education are a gift and mean nothing if not related to the overall framework of a biblical worldview.

So, even when a few minutes later the doctor recommended that I look into extracurricular classes (swim, dance, sports, science at the zoo, he mentioned them all specifically) in order to promote socialization, I could smile inwardly to myself and not even worry about it.  Non-homeschoolers seem to have this idea that home schooling means that we don't interact with anyone else.  He has no idea that my girls have quite an extensive social network--friends at church, friends at CC, friends overseas, friends near and far.  I understand his concern and even can appreciate it, but I do think my girls are actually quite well socialized.  They relate well to their peers, adults, and children younger than them.

All in all, it was a great visit to the doctor.  Everyone is healthy and growing well.  Clara Anne is in the 75th percentile for height, 50 for weight, and Chloe is 95th for height and 85th for weight.  They are tall girls!  I am thankful for their good health, a gift from God.  And, I am thankful for the reminder again today that all of my efforts as a mom to educate, train and teach them are in the Lord's hands.  He gives understanding and my fervent prayer for them remains that they will know the Lord and follow Him closely, all the days of their lives.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Scheduling Time: Reflections and Musings

This past Monday began a new spring schedule in our home.  Thanks to my husband and his big-picture organization skills, we took some time to evaluate what we had done in the fall, what worked well, and where we needed to improve, and then he actually made a spreadsheet to put on the side of the frig and keep us all on track.  This is something I would probably never do if it was up to me!  I have a tendency to slog along, day by day thinking that something should change, and then getting caught up in the next thing that needs doing and not taking time to step back, look at the overall situation, and decide where to change.  I appreciate so much that he is not like me!

So, a new schedule was made.  Part of the new schedule (insert deep breath here) involved getting up at 6am.  In fact, that was pretty much one of the key parts of the schedule--early to bed, early to rise.  And, the morning was stacked with activities, so that getting up at 6 was crucial to using our time well.  For both John and me, using our time well is an overarching goal of 2013.  To help us do that, we have tried to assign "slots" of time for various activities: home school, piano practice, preparation for Classical Conversations, memory work, reading aloud, family time, etc.  We tried to be realistic in that use of time, too--I tend to be too optimistic sometimes and then wonder why I am often running late!  (i.e. "I just didn't think it would take that long!")

When the schedule was first made I thought the girls would really buck at having such a firm plan for life's activities, but in fact they have been totally excited!  It seems to have helped them to recognize and clearly differentiate between "now this is school time" and free time, for example.  They are excited about knowing exactly when their free time will happen, and I am glad that they all know that 5pm every day means clean up time before supper at 5:30.  Too often in the past we had not set a specific time to clean up and then we'd be rushing around before bed trying to get things put away, bedtime would get delayed, and everybody would be cranky!

As well, one of my goals for 2013 is to maintain my early morning time with the Lord.  I have to face the truth that if I don't get up early, I just don't get enough time in the Word as I need.  So, 6am it is, which, if I get up right away, gives me a full hour to sip a hot cup of coffee, spend time in prayer and Bible study, and make sure I'm ready for the day before we wake the girls at 7 for family prayer time.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how this week has felt non-rushed, even though I am much more aware of the time and packing it full of activity.  The truth is, when I am disciplined with my time, it actually frees up time.  I got a nap two different days this week, and this afternoon found myself with a free hour, which we used to take some new Chinese friends to our neighborhood park on this balmy January day.  No one even wore a coat!  If I hadn't been structuring my time well recently, I'm sure I would not have had time for an outing without sacrificing something else I should have been doing.

All of this to say, a more focused, disciplined schedule is showing itself to be good for all of us.  I am trusting the Lord for the strength to persevere, and trying to be wise about where I fit in certain activities.  One practical change I am making is to not even turn my computer on until the afternoon, when home school is done and the majority of the day's work behind me.  I also am seeking to redeem the time while nursing Charis by reading a book, rather than checking my email or doodling around on facebook.  I always have lots of books I want to read but never enough time to do it (or so it seems) so this will be one way to read, even if it's just a few pages at a time.

As I get older, I think I am realizing more and more that my days are numbered.  The time seems to fly by so quickly, and I really desire to redeem the time and live intentionally.  I know the Lord will help me and I'm trusting Him!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A New Year

A new year is upon us!  One of my goals in this new year is to blog at least once a week.  Life can be so busy, so crazy, and so full that sometimes I find myself just caught up in the whirlwind of it all.  But I have missed blogging the last few months and hope to return to it, even on a part-time basis, in 2013.  For now, after a five month silence, you might wonder what's going on with our family...

We are 1.5 years into a 4 year degree here in Kentucky.  John has been doing very well (in my humble opinion) with his studies but has lots of work still to do.  He is also teaching now for Liberty University online, which he can do from home; the perfect job, really, for a PhD student.  We are praying earnestly about where the Lord would have us after this degree is complete.  It's a few years off, yes, but we are seeking His will and direction so that we can perhaps begin to make some plans.

Our family became involved with Classical Conversations this past fall.  CC is a nationwide organization but with local chapters.  It is a way for homeschooling parents and kids to join together to help each other do classical education at home.  Each week we meet on Tuesday mornings from 9-12 to learn together, and then I review and/or expand on the information the rest of the week during our home school time.  We love it!  Much of the information is set to music and so we spend a great deal of our review time singing things like   the multiples of numbers 1-12, history sentences like "As the Heian government weakened in Japan, shoguns began to rule and expel all foreigners.  During the period of isolation, circa 1853 Commodore Matthew Perry of the US restored trade, allowing the Meiji to modernize Japan." and a science snippet like "what are some plant systems?  Some plant systems are photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration."  It's a fantastic program and all of my girls are loving it.  I am tutoring a class of 7 and 8 year olds on Tuesday mornings (including Clara Anne) and that has been great.

Clara Anne just turned 8 on Christmas Day and was so excited to order the Liberty Doll with her birthday money.  She loves sewing, listening to stories, and creating artwork.  She is very verbal and frequently uses words in their correct context that astonish us.  She also loves to write stories and thanks to Grandpa and Grandma's gift of an "Illustory" she wrote her own book about Charis' birth and it was bound and sent back to her.  What fun!

Chloe is 6.5 now and has a beautiful high singing voice that she often uses to entertain Charis.  She lost her two front teeth just before Christmas and looks darling with a big gap there.  She is thoughtful towards her sisters and usually quite sensitive to others' needs--my big helper in the kitchen!

Christin is 4 and doing well being a new big sister!  She loves to hold Charis and often asks to "hold her just for one moment, Mommy."  She has a dry sense of humor and can make us laugh just with her expressions sometimes.  On our recent Christmas vacation when we were all sleeping in one room I overheard her say to Chloe during the middle of the night, "Chloe!  You are not lying correctly on the bed!"  (They were fighting over the available space.  Unfortunately it was Christin who was lying the wrong way, as it turned out!).  Christin is frequently determined to do things herself--which can be good or not so good, depending!

Baby Charis has been such a delight to our family!  She brings us so much joy!  She eats and sleeps well, and smiles at anyone who will give her a little attention.  The girls can really get her giggling as well!  She is not really mobile yet, so is in the golden age of babyhood where she still stays where I lay her down, but is interested in playing with toys or simply watching what is around her.  She is a little blonde, blue-eyed girl, who totally looks like she fits in with the family.  She's a precious little person; we're so thankful for her little life!

I've been busy with a new baby, teaching a few piano/voice lessons, tutoring for Classical Conversations, home schooling, and then selling Norwex.  I had a fairly busy fall with my business so that was a blessing to the family finances.  Sometimes I feel like I'm going 7 different directions but that is ok--trusting the Lord to help me prioritize my time and not waste it; time is a precious gift that we're given and I try to use well each day.  Life is full and busy and wonderful, so I try to enjoy each day, no matter how nutty it seems, since someday I will look back and remember these crazy days with great fondness.

So that's a brief summary of our family at this point in time!  We are trusting the Lord for His leadership and guidance in 2013.