A kitchen meltdown….

(Harvesting Blog Drafts – This post was started on the first week of September 2014. Much of it could have been written this year. I suspect I am not alone.)

A few Saturday’s ago, I woke up and wanted a treat for breakfast. Normally, we have a grab’n’go breakfast at our home. If we have a prepared by mom breakfast, it is served at supper time.

We had completed our first week of school, and I wanted to do something special. So I got up and began making waffles.

As I stood there, with the first wafts of waffle-y goodness filling the kitchen, the voices started muttering.

I had done a full grocery trip the day before. I had preceded the grocery trip with a menu plan. When I got home, I put things carefully away in an organized manner. Winning.

When I went through the cupboards for waffle supplies, I found that I had missed some of our major staple items.

The only thing I dislike more than shopping (especially grocery shopping) is finding out I have messed up.

I get all panicky about budgets (and other things that I might fail at). I feel like it reflects on me as a mother and wife if the kitchen stuff isn’t wonderful, healthy, creative, and fun.

So as I’m making waffles at 7 in the morning on a Saturday, all these condemning apparitions circled around me chorusing about my failure.

And then I tuned in to what I was thinking/hearing.

And I began to point out a few things to those complaints.

I pointed out that I was making waffles at 7am on a Saturday (are there enough bonus points in the motherhood game for this?!?).

I pointed out that we had just completed our first full week of homeschool using a million new systems and a number of new resources and nobody was killed or harmed in the making of that homeschool week (again – how many bonus points?!?).

And I pointed out that the sum of my mothering and wife-ing is NOT measured in the kitchen.

This is know. This I have taken great comfort in over the years. Yet it is the first place that the lies of the Enemy get louder and louder as I walk this walk out.

It begs the question – what am I measuring myself against?

If I take my eyes off of my important things and put them onto the secondary things (which are still important, but not most important), what and who benefits?

Living from Regrets

Ever since the kids began to be involved with other groups of youth for activities, it has been easier to align our calendar with the public school calendar. Sometimes it is fun to be on vacation when public school is in session, but it usually still means that we are trucking the kids around, so it is a ‘sort of break’ at best. So for the most part, we just shut down when public schools shut down.

Two weeks ago, it was Greenville County Schools spring vacation. It was also ours. The boys went on a massive road trip. The girls unplugged and and played and rested. When it was time for that week to come to a close we decided that the one week hadn’t been enough. So we opted, as a family, to take a second week of vacation.

The girls and I had taken a lunch date many weeks before and brainstormed all that we hoped to do during our vacation. We didn’t complete nearly all that we had put on our list. It’s amazing how optimistic list-making can feel. So as we headed into our second week, I encouraged the girls and myself to revisit the list. “Let’s look at what we regret, and make choices for this next week based on that.”

Individually, we did that. We carried our regrets, and decided which would be compass points for our ‘bonus’ week. For me, that included some much needed desk time, some reading time, some internal evaluation and planning. For the girls it was some studying, some playing, some kitchen projects.

I am really growing to a place where I appreciate the feedback that disappointments and regrets can give. The message we often hear is to live looking forward, and to not allow the negative feelings to come along of the ride. But just because they aren’t happy feelings doesn’t mean they are negative. Some of the things on our lists were silly, frivolous, unnecessary. Some of our things were important, and we were going to be in a better place to do them because of the rest we had experienced in week one. Because we took the time to revisit each thing, we could make that value decision.

Previously, I would have just had a dull awareness that I hadn’t completed the list. It would have been a regret filled with dread, and the self-message ‘you stink at follow-through’. But we took ownership of the dread and met it with Grace. We were in charge of the list.

We hear about goal-setting and knowing that planes have to make a million mid-course corrections as they speed to their next port. But I think I’m living more of a row-boat paced life these days… pulling the oars, looking at where I have been, and looking over my shoulder every once in awhile to set my sights on where I am headed. I might not be getting to my next port as quickly as a plane (and my hands might really hurt from the blisters some days), but I think I might be onto something sacred as I honor the behind as I make my forward movement.

Starting the week on Thursday

Here is another written/unpublished post from 2012. Not only do I still do this, it has grown in it’s impact of our family. Just yesterday when Marc and I were talking about our days, I began by saying “Monday will be a much better day if these things happen.”

*****************************************************************************Thursday

Years ago Marc and I knew this guy. We only knew John and Amy and their kids for a brief time, but something John told me impacts me every week. I must have been walking across campus on a Friday afternoon and John was walking in the opposite direction. We chatted about the weekend and somehow it came about to John’s plan for weekend success with his family. He didn’t come home on Friday until the work of this week and planning for next week were done. I had imagined getting the past work done, but not the future work.

When I realized that homeschooling on Monday mornings was a lot of wasted time waiting for me to get things organized, or that Saturday and Sunday had a lot of time committed to planning or worrying about planning, I remembered John’s approach to weekends.  Because we often have a field trip planned on Friday, or because we are so excited to be done with a week, I began to use Thursday afternoons as my planning time. (That also worked because we don’t have any lessons to get kids to on Thursdays.)

So on Thursday afternoons, I gather all of our binders and books and the calendar, and get each of the kids work planned for next week. If I have any extra stuff to get together or prepare. I (usually) have plenty of time on Friday to take care of it. So Saturday and Sunday are homeschool planning free zones.

I had gotten so used to Sunday night, Monday morning being the beginning of a new week, it took some very deliberate planning to change my internal calendar. But recently when I missed my Thursday planning, it was awful enough to remind me why I made the change in the first place..

Monday’s are totally different for us now. We do have a hard time making the transition from weekend to school week – who doesn’t? But two major things have been taken care of and make that transition MUCH smoother.

I don’t think that my schedule will work for everyone. I would never say this is how it should be done. But I would challenge you to look at your calendar and tasks and to take ownership of your calendar and make it work for you – not you work for it.

Where Did August Go?

Preparing and Learning

I have spent hours and hours learning this new program. It seems silly how excited a database can make a girl. But this one has been a pleasure to learn, and after a full week of seeing the work in action with the kids and I using it for our new homeschool year, I am so, so glad that we are making the transition to using this tool.

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I have also spent hours preparing a brand new World History Course for Caleb. After having studied World History over the course of four years in elementary and middle school that focused on nations and conflict, Caleb asked if we could change focus. After some research on how to build a college prep world history course, I have pulled together a World History course that focuses on human innovation and inventions – Caleb calls it Industrial Evolution in World History. I’m pretty proud of the resources we found and the way we have spun it together. It is probably the hardest and most rewarding homeschool task I have done since my pre-readers became readers.

Having Adventures

Adventure at our Favorite – Pemaquid Point Lighthouse
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With my parents at the campground and their garden

August

At the Great Fall’s Balloon Festival


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With Marc’s Dad

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And with our siblings and their children.

It was a good August.

And now we have begun the marathon of fourth, seventh, and tenth grade at Pitman Family Academy. We had a great first week. I am so proud of all of us and intensely honored that I get to walk with my family on this journey.

Girls Camp – ‘just’ a Name

If we happen to be friends on FB or Instagram, you saw that most of my posts were somehow about ‘Girls Camp’. Caleb has been at music camp since last Saturday, and Marc had a trip in the middle of the week. When the girls and I talked about our days without the boys and what our options were, their choice was to ‘just stay home and chill; and maybe sleep on the pullout couch’.

I was relieved that they didn’t take me up on any of the driving or overnight adventures that we discussed (as much as I don’t like our current mattress, there is still no bed like home; and I’d really like to use summer gas money for things our whole family will do together). I was thrilled that they find our home time just as special as some of the other adventures that were offered to them – that says a lot, right. And I wasn’t really sure how it was all going to play out.

So, I created Girls Camp. And here is a secret about Girls Camp. They have no idea they were at it. It’s okay if you tell them or ask them about it. They know I took pictures and posted them. They know that we girls hung out quietly and together at home. They did get to sleep on the couch (I will NEVER understand that appeal). We watched movies, played games, and swam. We all had rhythms of getting work and play done. From the outside, I don’t know if you would have noticed that anything out of the ordinary was happening in our lives.

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I created Girls Camp for myself. It became a constant reminder to slow down and to say yes. It Named our cloistered together time and made it sacred in my mind and heart and approach. It set apart the very ordinary into a very sacred time.  The girls may or may not have any idea that I created a Name for our days. But you don’t have to know the name to know that you are walking in a special place. And I am beyond a doubt certain that the past few days will rank pretty high as we recall the special days of Summer 2014.