It's Friday morning, and I'm in the recliner with a mug of coffee and a handful of Girl Scout cookies. If there's a better time to answer a few questions, I can't imagine it. So here I go!
Beginning at the first question--
Mary C wants to know what emergency surgery Caiden had, and how I coped. Caiden had pyloric stenosis, which is when the stomach grows closed and can't allow food through. It's life-threatening, and when he was diagnosed at 5 weeks, he had surgery an hour later. It was pretty traumatizing for a first-time mom (and dad!), but we actually coped very well because finding an answer to all the projectile vomiting was a huge answer to prayer. He was out of the hospital the next day, good as new. If there's any benefit to living far from family once you have your own children, it's that you grow up quickly and gain skills to cope. You have to! I look back on Caiden's first year with much gratitude, because I think it helped prepare us for Addison's first year.
Tiffany K, Mandy R, and Kelly all asked about our homeschooling schedule. To combine, Gretchen Hanna asked why we chose to homeschool since we live near so many good school districts, and Polly asked how it's going. We chose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. I was a teacher before I had children, which influenced my choice, and we have not heard good things about the school Caiden would've gone to this year, which highly influenced Chris' choice. But by and large, it was reading "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson when Caiden was three that put the idea into my head. I read about all the blessings and benefits of keeping children at home, and after praying about it over almost three years, we felt led to do it. (Actually, it was this book that has gotten me the most excited about being a mother. I highly recommend it to all mothers, homeschooling or not.) One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that our schedule is very flexible, and we actually do lessons Sunday-Thursday, because Chris' day off is Friday.
This year has been very good, much to my surprise. I had read that the first year is usually hard or disappointing or full of uncertainties, but we've not had that experience. I researched for a long time before we started, and I chose a method that gives good direction but full flexibility. That probably helped a lot. In fact, my best piece of advice if you're considering homeschooling, is to plan, plan, plan! And then pray, pray, pray. And finally, be completely willing to throw out everything you've planned if it's not working. I used all of my Mondays throughout the summer to sit at Chili's or Barnes & Noble with a notebook and calendar to plan, and it has helped tremendously. In March I'll begin planning for next year.
Anyway, Caiden loves it and has no idea some people actually don't like school (But to be fair, Caiden loves everything about life and has no idea some people don't feel the same way. He's the most enthusiastic person I've ever met, which can drive you crazy at 7 a.m..), and it has been a blast to see him learn to read and speak some French. We all get a kick out of that! Even Grayson throws out a French phrase now and then at the dinner table, which gets him much applause.
We start mid-morning when the two littler ones are in roomtime with snacks and finish by lunch. Because it's all one-to-one, we finish very quickly. I've stuck to Charlotte Mason's methods entirely, but because there's not a "curriculum" per say for kindergarten, I've used my own resources and adapted them to her methods. Kindergarten is for us mostly about learning to read, add, etc. Next year will be our Year One (See Ambleside Online for more info if you're interested), and then we'll be following a booklist in addition to math, copywork, etc. One resource I've found particularly helpful for keeping track of our days is the online planner at Simply Charlotte Mason.
And I would be remiss not to mention one of the biggest helps of all: my friend Farrel is a few years ahead of me in homeschooling, and she also has two children right near Caiden's age, so she's my sounding board. We're using different methods, but we have similar goals and mindsets, so she has been a great help to me. We'll be going to Sally Clarkson's conference next month together, and I am so excited!
Jen asked how I choose a Bible study for daily devotions. I hope this answer doesn't disappoint, but I don't do a full-out Bible study very often. My track record at finishing is pitiful. And it's not the studies--I've tried everything!--it's me. I usually make it about 7 weeks in, then just fizzle out. When I've tried instead is to pick a short devotional book (My faves are ones by Emilie Barnes or Joni Earekson Tada) and read a passage from it while I also read my Bible, journal, and pray or think. (Speaking of journaling, Sherry asked me about it. Sherry, I think I love journaling because I love to write, and I love to keep record of our lives but hate scrapbooking. My advice is that if you don't like to journal, don't sweat it. Find something else you love for your quiet time. But if you're determined to do it, maybe journaling on the computer would work for you? I've never tried it, but it might be an option for you. I don't have a set method for journaling. Sometimes it's written to the Lord, sometimes it's just my thoughts put to paper, and sometimes it's lists and prayer requests and all sorts of odds and ends! And no, I don't worry about what somebody else would think if they read my journal. But they better run fast! I'd harbor serious notions of bodily harm to anybody who'd read my journal!!) Back to devotions: I also keep good works by Bonhoffer, Lewis, Oswald Chambers, and others in each bathroom and in my nightstand, for shorter snippets. Sometimes it's the words from a quick devotional mid-day that keep me from losing my mind. Right now I'm reading through Joni's "31 Days Toward Intimacy with God." I'll also use Elisabeth Elliot's books, which Mary B asked about. My favorite so far is "Keep a Quiet Heart." My copy is dog-eared. When I need the truth without candy-coating, Elisabeth's my go-to-girl!
And speaking of daily devotions, Tara asked how I get up early to do them and still stay up late? I guess this is a common question, and I'll answer the one about how I (appear to) get so much done tomorrow. I get up early sometimes. And sometimes I don't. On those days, I try to sneak in a quiet time during naptime or before bed, but it doesn't always happen. I was incredibly consistent in college, but once I had kids, it has been hard. And since I've been carrying the same cold/allergic outbreak for going on four weeks, it has been really hard to get up early. I give myself a lot of grace in this department. Some periods of life are better for getting up at 6 and having a quiet time! But no, I'm not a morning person/night owl. In fact, I'm neither. If I could sleep 9 hours every night, I'd do it. I get really grouchy if I'm missing sleep. Ask my kids.
Well, that's it for today. I'm trying to group similar questions together, so if it appears I've skipped your question, don't worry. See you tomorrow!