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.