Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Insanity of Motherhood.

When did ~THIS~ become my normal?
It's quiet time, and I am looking for:  a REMOTE.
Not to watch tv.  I don't really ever watch tv. {gasp?}
I am looking under basement couch cushions...finding lost toys...
I am hunting shelves that are piled with dust.
I look behind a giant speaker from my husband's-bachelor-days
and find random clothing tossed by a son, toys hidden there, too.
An empty, tipped bottle of rubbing alcohol?
I am on my knees, thinking it HAS to be here, somewhere....
And it washes over me like a wave:  WHEN did THIS become my normal?
I want to find this black remote, which holds the key to my health~
the one non-negotiable that is MINE:  my workout dvd, Insanity.
The DVD will not work without that remote.
So the intro of the DVD plays over and over...calling me....
and I realize that time is ticking, and I'm already behind schedule.
And this was THE WEEK that I was going to start fresh and
not miss a SINGLE workout.
And I begin to feel the tears well up.
I swore, before kids--and even with my first kid--
that my house would always be organized.
That our toys would be well-cared-for, and neatly-arranged.
That I would get down on the floor and play with toys, with my kids.
That we would, yes, play with all those organized toys, all pieces present.
A game comes in, pristine, with all its hopefulness of pure family fun
and giggles and all the promised-happy-memories.
And then it spends just a few months here,
and its identity is lost,
its soul is wandering,
it is a shell of its former glory.
Used as a jumping board, or shoved in a tight space,
or emptied out to play pirate ships.
My ideals were high.
Now look at me, on my belly searching the deep darkness, the-under-spaces.
How did every toy in this place end up looking like a battered rummage item?
I search for the remote, and lift up puzzle boxes with missing pieces and
BENT edges.  Game boxes half closed, half empty.  {sigh}
I rummage through glorious green bins that I bought to "organize" toys,
that now hold random pieces of games here and there...
Nothing in one place--all scattered. 
My mind is spinning in chaos.
I find myself muttering that ol' saying that mother's through time say:
"Now THIS, THIS is why we can't have NICE things!"
I lift a couch pillow and find a piece to a game that I don't
even think the kids PLAY.
And how did it make it's way here??
I  bet that's an interesting tale...
I think about my morning,
of the milk that spilled down the unreachable-crack...
the one between the fridge and the cabinetry.
How in the early part of a fresh day,
anything can be spun into joy:  
how I had counted it an Opportunity.
An excuse to finally: clean behind that old-piece-of-ancient...
whirring, buzzing, stained refrigerator.
With it's broken deli drawer.
Reminding myself it's all about perspective.
Reminding myself that Laura Ingalls grew up without one of these.
I thought about how the dog hates me.
How I take her aging bladder out for "business" twice an hour,
and she still found a way to leave me presents THREE times today.
One which a child handed me, one a child stepped in.
Disinfectant wipes, skin washings, and more laundry.
Yet I still rescue her from a tragic death of eating plastic and spare my own
fingertips as I pull a plastic-wrapped piece of forgotten-child-size string cheese
from between her snarled teeth.
Trying to remember that one day she will pass,
and I will be sad to see her go.
Because she follows me everywhere,
and keeps me warm on chilly winter nights.
My footsteps are followed in beat by the click-clack
of tiny dachsie claws.
It's the sounds of:  home.
School lessons with a runny-nosed, miserable toddler
who tipped over a tote full of school supplies.  Cracking it.
Countertops piled with randomness waiting for my "free time"
to organize and put things away.
I just keep piling, waiting.
Thinking every day:  tonight I'll take some time to put
all of this away.  Instead, piles GROW.
Into pile-trees.  It's a bountiful harvest of clutter now.
The crunch underfoot in a kitchen needing sweeping.
The jersey that needs washing and the stars
that yet need be ironed on it.
Laundry baskets full of clean laundry--
somehow it cleans, but the folding part and away part is
akin to impossible.
I feel like when I do get it folded and put away it
lasts there for about 12 hours and then
I turn right around to repeat.
Yes, there are days that I want to just sweep it all into a big heap,
Right into the backyard.
And then sit it afire.
And read a book.
Quietly, warming my tootsies.
I wonder if the kids feel the same?
I resist the temptation to sit there in the basement, and cry.
I felt the tears welling,
and I reminded myself that this:  IS ALL blessing.
For me it takes deliberate REMINDING.
It's a blessing to have mess, to begin with,
And I did what every overwhelmed mother does:
I took five.
This is my five.
I set aside all the mess and the walls caving in,
to write.
Not to turn on the tv, or cry, or yell.
Although I wanted to yell about the remote, and the cry part we-know.
I tucked the children down in the mess, to play.
They seem to enjoy themselves amongst the chaos that makes me cringe.
And I'm sitting here writing.
Clearing mind clutter.
And in front of me, the verse...
bound by a clip:
Psalm 34:
Of David.  When he pretended to be INSANE before Abimelech,
who drove him away, and he left.
"I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicated hear and rejoice."
I think it would be therapeutic to pretend to be outright insane.
Sometimes motherhood can take my mind to insane places.
It can take me away from my Insanity workout.
But it does one thing well:  it reminds me that I am weak.
And that I cannot get through this insane job-description
without a really BIG head-choreographer.
Who knows my insane.
Who gifted me my insane.
And that in my afflicted states,
I can still rejoice.
Because when you sweep it all into the backyard--
peel away all the clutter and overwhelm:
All of this is a gift.
Every sacred overwhelmed day,
is a gift.
Ahhh.  Back to peace.
Now, to get the a little school,
and dance amongst our mess.
Dear God, please be our peace today.
Keep my mind fixed on blessings.
Praise always on my lips.
I stray so easily.
(Better yet, Lord...I'll bring the book, you bring the marshmallows...)

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Logic of English ~ WITH LITTLES.

The Logic of English with young children.
This post delves deep into some of the sweetest moments of our learning day:
Using the tools within The Logic of English with my sweet Littles!

The GO-TO book for getting started with ABC's and littles:

(Image belongs to LOE)
Need help finding where to purchase this book?  Click here.
I love this book.
And we've had many, many alphabet books make their way through here.
This one?  The best.
I bought it for my littlest little, age one, for Christmas.
I bought it early in the season....but loved looking at the illustrations SO MUCH
that I left it out on my bedroom side table and
refused to wrap it until the very-last-minute.
It is THAT beautiful.

It differs from other ABC books in that it teaches
the sounds of A-Z letters.
If you are wondering about the "logic" behind this philosophy of teaching
letters, parents may find it very helpful to read
Uncovering the Logic of English, also by Denise Eide.

Come sneak a peek into one of our letter adventures...
using a preschool curriculum written by Winterpromise
alongside LOE.

Alphabet Books!
{part one}
The book on the right is Doodling Dragons, by Eide.
The book on the left?
That is little guy's "alphabet book."
It is a blank story book that I purchased from a local school supply shop.

Each week we "study" a different letter.
The week here, we are investigating the letter "I,i"

Day one, we open Doodling Dragons.
We enjoy illustrations that help us remember all the
different sounds "Ii" can make:  four sounds.
We work a little on alphabet book each day.

Day one:  we color and cut out a little printout of the letter.
Great to practice cutting and pasting.

A different day, little guy will get to think of words that start
with the letter-of-the-week, or even words that have the letter-of-the-week
INSIDE them.
And he'll illustrate them in his book.
Since he knows what printed letters look like,
he will often write words all by himself in uppercase letters.
I do not correct spelling--this is not the purpose of our time.
I encourage!!
If he thinks of a word, we celebrate! 

I let him think and draw as long as he wishes.
Or until the page is full up!
You can see here, that he is thinking of ALL the sounds "I,i" makes.
Not just the traditional short sound of I in "igloo."  But also, he thought of "item."
And to my glee, he spelled it correctly without any assistance.
He said he learned it from playing Wii.  {sigh}

Since "I,i" is a vowel, it is everywhere!!  And by teaching ALL of its sounds,
and enjoying the beautiful pictures within Doodling Dragons,
my son has visual pictures in his mind of all-the-wonderful-things-"I,i"-can-do!

Stay tuned for "Alphabet book" {part two}:  handwriting practice!

I love the preschool curriculum written by Winterpromise,
titled "I'm Ready to Learn."
We use this as a reference for fun games and resources,
such as "alphabet books."
It is so rich with ideas!
However, we do NOT use IRTL's reading methods/program.
Wherever IRTL has reading suggestions,
I substitue in the philosophies of LOE.
LOE is currently working on a kindergarten-specific curriculum,
called "Foundations."
We already purchased and loved IRTL long ago,
so we are using what we have on hand
and meshing the two!

Winterpromise "I'm Ready to Learn" preschool curriculum....  click here
The Logic of English "Foundations" beta testing K curriculum....  click here.
(*Note ~ I believe that the beta testing is closed, but the program
is coming out sometime in the click the link to find out more or
to contact Pedia Learning/LOE.)

***I am not affiliated in ANY way with The Logic of English or Winterpromise.
I did NOT receieve any free curriculum or incentives
to write this review. I do NOT know the author(s). I purchased
all of our Logic of English and Winterpromise material with my own money.
I do not get kickbacks or profit from readers clicking links.
I write to help other families, that is all.  Enjoy!***



Friday, February 1, 2013

Snow ~ and STILLNESS.


I am patiently waiting for my littlest guy to fall peacefully asleep...
as the afternoon is calling, with all of its blessed demands.
I am taking the little weiner dog out to do bathroom duties,
my little circle dog,
opening the flimsy screen door to the glory of the backyard.
Painted in white, glorious washing.
And I am struck with the mundane beauty of the everyday.
There really is nothing left untouched, is there?
Untouched by majesty?
It's abounding everywhere.
And it's in the grasping of this,
that time can stand-right-still.
In learning to acknowledge and appreciate, to give thanks...
life somehow stills and slows.
There is something about fresh snowfall that stills me.
As if God is calling:  PEACE.
I stopped all day yesterday to embrace the moments
of these little people running at my feet.
Often, I rush.
I rush through school, rush to exercise, rush to make dinner.
Rush to bathe the babies.
Rush to do their laundry, get it folded...
my unfocused eyes looking forward and missing all-the-now.
The snow sings it loud:  there is no rush in nature.
There is order, and there are seasons.
But rushing is futile.
The snow calls:  STILLNESS.
Life frozen, and washed white.
I wrapped in the thought like a quilt.
"Be STILL and know that I am God."
In the rushing of life,
it is hard to know that God is God.
It is maybe easier to fall into the trap that we are god?
That somehow by rushing fast and accomplishing much,
we foolishly think we have it all under control.
We take hold of something that really belonged to God all along.
The outcomes.
The everything.
All ~ God's.
And when we rush we merely are forgetting.
We are not changing anything.
We are merely forgetting,
forgetting that the minutes slip right between the fingers,
and that it is simply not worth the-plow-ahead.
It's not worth rushing.
Time is not traded in.
Time is lost.
And time slows.
The soul wakes.
I watched the full cheeks of my one year old, rosy pink.
Those cheeks puffed out and eyes squinting saying, "ME!"
When I asked who-would-like-more-milk?
I scooped him up and tickled him silly, and just held the moments
like golden treasures that will one day be-no-more.
I rubbed the back of my 7 year old as he did his reading,
I listened intently to his entire narration of the cartoon that he watched:
a mystery of the stolen jewels...
Told scene by scene with passion spilling from sky-blue eyes.
I consciously listened to him instead of listening-while-doing.
To tell him:  I will always be here, to listen.
I am setting the stage for our future relationship.
I wrapped him in his robe after his shower,
realizing that very soon there will be a wall between us
as mother and son ~ the wall of a boy becoming a man.
When a mother no longer enters post-shower,
to wrap her baby in a bathrobe.
I tucked in a 4 year old who makes-my-soul-laugh-silly.
Looked at his smile and the way he jumps and kicks around this place...
donkey kicks, we call him.
I tucked in all-his-silly with a smile as he smiled back,
wrapped beneath Thomas the Train blankets and surrounded
by plush animals.
I marveled all day in the belly-rolls of laughter that erupt from him.
Praising God that these, these are my gifts.
I plunged hands deep into soapy water, to barely clean a house that
is full-up with living.
A house that is no longer possible to scour clean:
a little clean, and a little living comes...and does away with the clean.
I bounded down the steps to the deep lair,
where I rinse diapers.
And marveled at how many dirty ones can be made in a day by one child.
I stepped around toys forgotten.
Wondered how the kitchen counter attracts clutter like a magnet?
And counted it all: JOY.
Stillness does something to the nature of the soul.
A stilled soul beats in rhythm with
a marvelous God....