Introverted Mom

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Summer is officially hit our home! For the first time ever, we are taking a few months off from school. I am working my tail off to plan next year. Okay, no I’m not. I am working hard when I feel in the mood. My mind is loving our break. Too much TV has already been consumed for both me and the kids, many books have been devoured, the house is clean and board games are being played. A few afternoon naps may or may not have happened. The girls and I are relaxing (possibly a little too much). It’s good. All of it.

Work must happen, even at a snails pace. If you read my last post, I am really struggling to make decisions on our social goals. The kids are semi-extroverted. They get that from their daddy.  Being around others, really fills their energy and allows them to enjoy alone time. Too much alone time, and they start to feel depleted. They need social interaction for their mental health. Of course, I need to do my duty and make sure they are not some weird, unsocialized homeschoolers. (Yes, I am being sarcastic.)

I am a major introvert. I enjoy people in small increments. Too much people time, and I become a hot mess. I get cranky, exhausted and feel like I have nothing left to give to anyone. I take time every night for a long, hot bath with a good book in order to stay the joyful mom the children love. Large gatherings  are overwhelming. Going out of town or having guests in town for more than 3 days will cause me to be a hermit for double the time.

The homeschool community is a wonderful support for families, especially if your extroverted. We have this stigma, that being homeschooled, somehow makes you unsocialzed, yet the public schools view of socialization was hell for me. I left school every day having nothing left to give.  For years, I have felt major guilt for being introverted. The kids never complained. Not once.

We could be in co-ops with other families 5 days a week, exploring core and non-core subjects, along with making a bunch of friends. In order to do that, you have to either teach a class or pay a higher fee. First, we need time to do school, so that schedule would never work for us. Second, I don’t want to teach other peoples kids….. anything. Our big goal this year is to find more outlets for these social butterflies, without sacrificing my own comfort zone.

It hit me like a brick that I am primary a drop-off mom. I am. I want all the perks of socializing my kids, without having to take on other peoples children. For years, I questioned what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I be open and involved in co-ops? Why do I struggle being super social? I have been verbally abusing myself for years. The closer I get to the big 4-0, the more I accept who I am, and stop with the self abuse. It’s time. I’m over it.

Introverted homeschool moms- accept who you are. Figure out your needs, the needs of your children, and find a balance. It is okay to be who you are. The kiddos will survive. Happy mom, happy kids. Meet their needs within your boundaries. Don’t beat yourself. Be you, and drop the kids off so they can do them.

2016-2017 Planning Mode

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Abeka Academy (non-accredited) has been wonderful for our family. When we started with Abeka, I had no idea it was going to be one of the hardest years of my life. The Lord was most certainly leading, but now it is time to make some changes. We have needed to have a pretty rigid schedule this year. I know some people feel they can relax with Abeka, but for our family we felt constricted. We love schedules, but don’t like feeling like we are being suffocated by our curriculum.

So, we are making some very exciting changes. Picking curriculum has been the easiest part, it’s planning the rest, that has been tricky. There is no point in going through who is doing what, but our choices are from providers that we have loved over the years.

Math- Life of Fred

History- Notgrass Press, Story of the World

Language Arts- Easy Grammar, various writing projects and Progeny Press

Science- Apologia

Worldview- Apologia

The kids will learn to cook, manage a budget, manage the home, art classes, possible violin lessons or band, sports, field trips and lots of other learning opportunities that I refuse to plan.

I have this HUGE list of goals the kids and I came up with. Priorities for the year really. Some of these are easy, while others are a bit challenging.

  1. Keep God at the center of our life. Of course, we go to church, and the kids do youth group, but we want a bit more. With each kid we chose to use Notgrass Press for history and Apologia for science. Both are beautifully written, Christian curricula that keep God at the center. The bonus is how well they cover each topic, without compromising our beliefs. The lower levels are very different from the high school, but both are very well done. Notgrass includes a lot of language arts, so we will be adding Easy Grammar and Progeny press on the side.
  2. Make learning fun again. I have always loved Saxon math, but this year we are taking a trip on the wild side and checking out Life Of Fred.  Where has this gem been hiding? A good friend of mine recently introduced me to this curriculum. I am very ADD, so when she first showed me, I gave it very little thought.  Once, I was able to sit down with my computer and check out the samples, I fell in love. It is like no other math curriculum I have ever seen. The philosophy is when children teach themselves, they retain it better. I have always believed this, but was never brave enough to unschool. Also, I am a bit obsessive with planning, and I like to be in control of some things. I am excited for this curriculum and to see how it works for us. I believe with Life of Fred, math really can be fun! Of course, science and history is always fun! Part of keeping learning fun, is to relax some.
  3. 4 day schedule. The kids and I are really looking forward to a 4 day week again. This gives us a day for field trips or make up days. We want lots of field trips.  We “do school” year round, so we need fun days and frequent breaks or we would be burned out. I still need to look at days we are taking off for holidays, but claiming a 4 day week is a good start.
  4. Socialize more/ extra curricular activities. This the hard area I mentioned. The kids want more socialization. Okay, fair enough. Kids are most certainly not unsocialized as many assume homeschoolers are. They are teens and lets be real, teens can never be around enough friends.  I really want to add some learning to that socialization process. Hey, bigger bang for the chatty hours. I am really trying to decide between co-ops, or other  “clubs,” that will meet our needs yet are not a huge financial or personal time impact. I am trying really hard to weigh the pros and cons, and am doing a lot of praying. One moment, I think co-op and the next I am second guessing. I guess I will have to update this once I really decide.

I really want to give the kids everything they want for the “perfect” year, but I don’t want to be busy. Finding the balance between not enough and overwhelmed is really challenging.

 

 

 

Leisure Time

I took some time today to kick back and watch some Dr.Phil. Today’s show was in response to a study   by Dr. Robinson showing women have 30-40 hours of leisure time a week. I don’t agree with all the examples of the study. This study caused an up-rage among women in anger claiming they don’t have that much leisure time. I completely disagree and feel many women have plenty of leisure time. We live in this society where the busy you are, the more valuable you are. I need to share some bold honestly.  It is time to change our views. Being a mom is not a job, it is a blessing- something many of us really wanted, planned and chose to become. Dare I say, some of us enjoy being a mom. I decided to evaluate my life to see how true my thoughts were.

My day starts off waking up naturally, which is between 6 & 8.

I get up and workout on the treadmills for 60 minutes. This is for me. I enjoy working out. It clears my thoughts, and is an investment in my health.

While I workout, the kids work through their chores.

By 9 I start making breakfast, while the oldest throws a load of laundry in the machine. At some point one or more children will pop up on the counter or pull up a chair to talk to me about their personal Bible study, ask questions or just share what God is doing in their lives. It is neat when the two olders pop up together as I get to see them offer encouragement or guidance in areas of struggle. I really enjoy this time. I am not much of a morning person, but since I get to enjoy my coffee and listen it works out perfectly.

Around 10, after breakfast, teeth and everyone cleaning up the kitchen, we begin school. I crank up the radio for a quick 5 minute dance fest to get the wiggles out. After we all have our seats,  I bounce between the kids as they need assistance, but for the most part they are very independent. While they work through assignments, I read a book, write on my blog, check emails, text a friend, crochet, do art or work on Bible study. I am ready to help the kids at the drop of the hat, but I am FREE to do what I want during this time.

12:30- 1 We take a break for lunch. Almost daily we enjoy great discussion on what they are studying. Others we just be silly with lots of giggles. Some days we are a bit quieter and read.   This is free time!! Am I alone? No. I’m enjoying time with my children.  I am not scrubbing toilets or doing laundry.

After lunch, we quickly straighten up the lunch mess and head back into school. I continue the activity I was doing before lunch, unless a child needs assistance. On rare occasions, we will lay down for a quick nap/ quiet reading time for an hour if we had a late night, or feel under the weather. When we do this, we sacrifice our evening to finish school. Again, this is rare.  During school, my number one focus is to be present for the kids. I will drop what I am doing immediately to help them. I refuse to sit there and twiddle my thumbs or disappear to clean during school. That may work for some families, but not for ours.

Early evening we spend either as a family watching TV, playing board games or doing something of individual interest. We have moments of fun and moments of solitude.

Dinner is a family activity. We have music, and everyone has a job. Our house may be crazy, but it is full of laughter and quality time. Everyone eats, so everyone contributes. Cooking with the kids has become so relaxing. Nothing melts a stressful day like dancing, being goofy, cooking good food, and trying new concoctions. We all work on prep, and clean up after our shared meal.

Bedtime for the kids is 9 pm. We do a 30 minute quick clean around the house prior. I have a checklist that we work through each week during this time to keep the house looking good. Again, this is done with a light spirit, fun music and as a family. No complaints.

My husband works a lot of hours. We usually give each other a half hour undivided attention and then go separate ways. He is an extrovert while I am an introvert. Both of us cherish our time alone separate to shut our brains off as much as we enjoy our alone time together. Its a balance.

My husband probably has less leisure time that I do. His schedule is dictated by long hours, many meetings and the higher powers that be. I get to dictate my schedule. I chose when I am going to “work,” what I am doing, and for how long. Our leisure time is very different. His leisure time is very cut and dry. He is either relaxing/ having fun or he is working. I have the ability to mix business and pleasure.

I think we live in a society that glorifies busy to a point we place our value on it.  It is ingrained within the American brain. People seem to think leisure time only consists of a vacation alone full of pampering. I am no different than any other mom. I worry constantly about my kids, and have a laundry list of things to do, but I have a lot of time to do things I enjoy. I enjoy lesson planning, teaching the kids, playing games with the kids, watching TV, reading, and spending time with my family. I love reading and doing things alone as well.

I think the study is spot on, for me. Majority of my weeks, I definitely have 30-40 hours of leisure time, while other times are crazy busy and I can’t breath. I don’t want to be busy. I am able to manage my house, meals, education and still take time out for lots of fun. It took me many years to learn how to do less, enjoy more. I do know people that really are busy and it isnt’ by choice. A good friend of mine is an older single woman. She is caring for her aging mom and MIL, plus working two jobs just to survive. She is constantly on the go and exhausted. She takes time every week to volunteer with local teens because she enjoys it. She never stops moving. This friend understand that without taking time for things she enjoys, she would be miserable.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have 30-40 hours of leisure?

 

Happy Mothers Day!

This post probably won’t be what your expecting, but I have some food for thought that I need to get off my chest. Our society has created these “holidays” as a marketing ploy to expand businesses and we eat them up. It’s mothers day. I mean who is going to reject a day of being told they are awesome?  Who benefits? Flower shops, jewelry stores, card manufacturers and while mothers reap the benefits it rubs me a bit the wrong way.

As mothers we chose to have children. Most of us knew the job requirements of feeding, clothing, loving, and sheltering among the hundreds of other things on our to-do list, and the competition to be the worlds best mom is intense. I certainly can’t keep up. I would love to go back in time to do some things different, or even just to slow down and enjoy them more. It took years of on the job experience to learn what was important. No one ever listens to the older generations that tell us to do these things. Of course, we think we know it all. (To which we find out later, they are usually right, and we should have listened.)

I love the pep-fest commercials that show how much a mom is there for the child. They get me every time, but isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Isn’t that part of the “job” description? I don’t get it. What I do get is marketing companies making really sappy commercials, to make us look like some sort of super hero, so they will buy us their crap. My favorite one is where they have job interviews, and give all these “unreasonable” expectations and no one wants the jobs.

I love to be appreciated and told how great I am, but then who doesn’t. I feel like I am failing more days than not, but I am thankful to have a family that tells me how much they love me and that shows how much they appreciate me many times throughout the year. This really is not to be a downer post. It’s not. I just don’t understand our society. We need special days of the year to make someone we love feel special. We should be doing that all the time. Not just because it is a special day. Love your mothers. Appreciate your mothers. Heck, love your husband, wife, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, friends, cousins, grandmas and grandpas every day of the year and make sure they know it. You don’t need a day to tell you to do so. Just do it. Love them. Appreciate them. Don’t do it in your head but do it with outward expression, every chance you get, because you may not have the chance tomorrow.

Take the time to reach out to a new mom or struggling mama, and smile at them or compliment them. Instead of debating how a child should be fed, diapered or parented we should be thankful a child IS fed and cared for. Lets take time to appreciate the fellow moms that are doing the best they can instead of trying to convince them of whats best for their child. It’s not a race. There isn’t one course with a giant banner across the finish line. The course is always changing, and at times is unbearably treacherous and seems to go in circles. Reach out your hand and help another mother in the tough times, and be there to celebrate the good times. It takes a village to raise our kids. I am so thankful for the moms in my village that offer me support, and encouragement at all the right times.(And for the ones who don’t hesitate to call me on my junk when I am being a jerk.)

Okay, I will get off the soapbox…… So, in honor to conform to society, I say cheers to you moms. You have survived another year in the trenches. The beautifully messy trench that at times feels under-appreciated, lonely, exhausting, and yet oh so fulfilling.   If it were up to me, I would reinvent mothers day. It wouldn’t be a day of gifts and appreciation, but a day of grace, that we can reach out to a stranger, to  love and support to a fellow mother struggling to find her way. Since I can’t, I will say “Happy Mothers Day,” the all you moms on the inter-webs. I pray you have a blessed day.

2016 Summer Bucket List

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The weather here is very spring-like. Some days cold, some quite warm. I am procrastinating some on lesson planning, and instead dreaming of fun things I want to do with the kids. These kids are growing up so fast, and while the rest of the world wants their kids to entertain themselves, I want to make some amazing memories. Don’t get me wrong, kids should learn to entertain themselves. I  believe memories don’t just happen, but sometimes you should go out of your way to make memories happen. So here is my giant list of summer fun. I pray that I can accomplish many of these, and not become the over-achiever of Pinterest fails.

  1. Glow in the dark night bowling.
  2. Have a picnic at a sculpture garden.
  3. Shaving cream balloon fight.
  4. Make squirt gun paintings.
  5. Painted slip-n-slide.
  6. Play “capture the flag” at night with glow sticks as flags.
  7. Egg paint paintings
  8. Go for a bike ride.
  9. Have a lemonade stand.
  10. Have sponge-ball water fights.
  11. Hold a sprinkler contest to see who can make the best sprinkler out of recycled items.
  12. Jump in mud puddles.
  13. Have a BBQ.
  14. Plant a container garden.
  15. Decorate planters and plant flowers.
  16. Have a scavenger hunt.
  17. Make s’mores by a campfire.
  18. Go for a hike.
  19. Explore somewhere new.
  20. Fill our history passports.
  21. Fill the nature passports.
  22. Go to a baseball game.
  23. Visit a mom and pop ice cream shop.
  24. Walk a 5k.
  25. Go to a movie or play in a park….. at night.
  26. Chalk paint the entire driveway.
  27. Give an act of kindness to neighbor of choice.
  28. Zoo with friends.
  29. Park with friends.
  30. Go for a trail ride on a horse.
  31. Go to an age appropriate drive in movie.
  32. Watch fireworks.
  33. Visit a splash park.
  34. Visit a community pool or water park.
  35. Pick berries at a berry patch.
  36. Visit the farmers market. (a lot)
  37. Go miniature golfing.
  38. Play laser tag.
  39.  Go on a mini- vacation or have a stay-cation at a nice hotel.
  40. Volunteer at the local food shelf.
  41. Catch lightning bugs.
  42. Try our hand at cake decorating.
  43. Revamp kids rooms.
  44. Go to a carnival.
  45. Go fishing.
  46. Decorate the sidewalk with chalk to look like monopoly board.
  47. Play glow in the dark ring toss.
  48. Make bird feeders.
  49. Have a shopping day making clothing purchases that represent their personalities and have a photo-shoot the next day in their new outfit.
  50. NOT back to school BBQ

There you have it! This is the dream memory making summer of fun. We probably won’t manage all of these or will have to come up with a new idea here and there depending on weather. No matter what, this is our bucket list of fun. I hope this list gives you some fun ideas that you and your family can enjoy.

 

** I am sure you noticed camping isn’t on this list. We really are not outdoor type people. My husband and I have camped early in our marriage, and what could go wrong did. So… It will take some time to work up the courage for camping.:)

I Run..

If you have been following my blog for any time, you know that I was not a huge fan of my Fitbit, nor did I exercise much. Then that evil little thing came into my life and things happened. I used to tell people that if you see me running, you should follow because something is chasing me.

Today, my life is different. I run. I started running to get steps to compete in Fitbit challenges, and then something big happened. I felt good! Okay, it hurts and I am sore more than I am not, but it feels good. I run because for once in my life, I am dealing with all the junk of this last year. I get on my treadmill and sometimes that involves running as fast as I can with big ugly tears streaming down my face because the pain in my heart is overwhelming. Sometimes I start running and find myself at a leisure pace praying, and pondering over something I read in my Bible study. Sometimes, I just get on and run to forget the world for that lovely 60-90 minutes.

I will probably never be a serious runner. I would love to do some 5k’s and maybe someday a 10k, but it will be for the love of running to support a cause close to my heart, not serious training. I hesitate to call myself a runner, because this is so new, but I run so therefore, I am a runner. I finally found something that I love and because of it, it is making me a better mom, wife, and friend. My “junk” comes out when I put my shoes on. I leave it on the tread. It is a time between me and God.

Running is changing my life in so many ways. I feel stronger and healthier, physically, mentally and emotionally. After running, I don’t want to eat the junky food. I want fresh, crisp real food. I crave protein. I crave water and drink more than should be humanely possible. I run, and every day it never fails, I am excited for morning to come so I may run again.

Do Something

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In a recent post, I discussed how we can make an impact on others, in particular those in need. So, I have created a list of ways that you can make a difference by helping others to make your own impact, one person at a time. Some of these things may or may not be up your alley, but I hope you will find some ideas you may like.

  • Add Amazon smile to your Amazon account
  • Purchase fair trade products when you can. I have linked a site that I LOVE.
  • Sponsor a child – I have attached a link for this one. I LOVE this group of people. They do an experience thing that everyone should check out. They have them in many cities. It is eye opening!
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  • Sign up to walk or run marathons. So many great causes to run for.
  • Volunteer to help with marathons
  • Volunteer at a food shelf
  • Donate food to a food shelf
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • become a foster parent
  • Find ways to support foster families. (Bring a meal, donate supplies, give moral support, pray for them)
  • Support orphan justice programs like safe families. This is a ministry to help with family preservation.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  • Give a parent of a special needs child a night off by loving on their child so they can reconnect with their spouse or refill their tanks.
  • Become a big brother or a big sister
  • Get involved with urban teens and youth
  • Adopt a grandparent through a local nursing home
  • Visit with an elderly neighbor.
  • Serve at your church
  • Become a volunteer sports coach
  • Bring a meal to a new mom
  • Volunteer with meals on wheels
  • Bring a meal to someone who is struggling financially or with health.
  • Raise awareness for a cause close to your heart
  • Make a hospital visit and pray or visit with those who need it.
  • Clean up trash
  • make hygiene kits and hand out to the homeless
  • Make sack lunches and give to homeless that cross your path
  • Donate your time listening to a struggling child read.
  • Spend an extra dollar or two when you check out at the store
  • Support St. Jude.
  • Buy teddy bears to donate to the police and fire departments.
  • Make and donate tie blankets to homeless trying to survive winter
  • Support a single parent by watching their children while giving them a night off, or bringing them a meal once in a while. Let them know that while they are doing hard things alone, that someone sees and cares. Our society, seems to forget how hard it is to raise kids by yourself.
  • Mow the yard for a neighbor
  • Watch out for widows that are in your neighborhood. A young widow at church was telling me about how much it meant when a neighbor changed out her outdoor light bulbs.  Her husband always did that, and she couldn’t reach nor climb ladders.
  • Donate your old homeschool curriculum to a homeschooling family in need.
  • Build backpacks with school supplies (and maybe a snack or two). Give it to the school to give to a child in need.
  • Donate clothes to the local church if they have a closet
  • Be a friend, give moral support. Offer to pray for those struggling.
  • Buy snacks to donate to the school. I know this sounds strange. Many kids get a snack break at school, and the kids who can’t afford food continuously watch other kids eat. Our state has a huge issue with kids going hungry. The only meal many of the kids in the city get are at school through the free lunch program. Little bellies are going hungry in the inner-city. Free school lunch doesn’t make up for breakfast, snacks, dinner or meals on the weekend. When kids are going hungry you ditch all politics and feed them. Sorry- this is my passion.
  • Get informed and find your passion. Raise awareness, donate time or money.
  • Go on a mission trip.
  • Learn about the “end it movement” Slavery still exists today.
  • Volunteer at a woman’s shelter
  • Help set up apartments for those who are in transition housing.
  • Donate blood
  • Raise donations for disasters
  • Help with disaster relief/ storm clean up
  • Make cancer packs. There are two kinds that are greatly appreciated. One for after chemo treatment, and love bags for while they are getting a treatment. If you look on Pinterest,  you can find some awesome ideas to pack in your care bags.
  • Similar to cancer packs, you can also do it for dialysis.

I dare you, to challenge and educate yourself on the issue of poverty. It is everywhere. Poverty is a main source of social issues. I have personal experience in working with kids well below the poverty level. Drugs, alcohol, abuse, trafficking and gangs are often rampant in extreme poverty areas, because that is how they survive.  I am not talking politics and people who are looking for handouts. If that is an issue for you, look at the babies.

Learn about the orphans. Our foster care system is SO broken. Social workers are exhausted with too many cases, they can’t keep up and are getting burned out. This leads to a new social worker taking on the case and needing to catch up. Unfortunately, this is how a child can get trapped in the system. This doesn’t happen in every state, but many. There are not enough foster homes. The foster care system is in survival mode, and family preservation while it is the goal, is being missed. Too few people, too many kids, and not enough support for social workers, foster parents, the kids, and parents trying to get their kids back. It is time for the community to wrap themselves around struggling families. Show them you care. Walk with them. Pray for them. Poverty is a huge social issue. Majority of the “rest” is a symptom of poverty.

It is time for us to do something. No more hand-outs, but ways to give hand- ups. You just have to decide what that hand up looks like. Is it donating, serving or praying? Poverty is my heart. I have held babies who cried because they knew a hunger so little of us have ever known. I have watched those try to get warm on a bitter cold night, yet have no where warm to go. Homelessness isn’t an inconvenience or an eye sore to your city. They are human beings with a story, that have nothing to give you, and while they are being scowled at for being that inconvenience they have NO WHERE to go.  I overheard someone in the city complaining how the horse drawn carriage and proposal was “ruined”  because of the gross homeless. Mind you it was -15 degrees without windchill and a foot of snow on the ground. I wonder where he thought the homeless men should go?  I’ve never wanted to throat punch someone so bad. I hope she said no. She was going to marry an idiot….

I hope this list has given you ideas. As you can see, I have a passion for homeless, hungry and poverty stricken people. I hope that the LORD uses me in more ways to expand my passions and awareness this year, and that I may be blessed in serving others. If you have ideas that I don’t have listed please comment below. I would love to add them to the list.