Saturday, January 31, 2015

Words to Grow On

I really like this one. Many times we think that our future is going to be different. But if we're not doing things presently to make that future, it won't happen. Great reminder. Thank you Alice Walker.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thankful Thursday

I have thankful for fresh fruit, veggies and sprouts!! We have been enjoying smoothies today and they are just delicious. I'm also thankful that we have a machine that can use the whole fruit/vegetable/plant so that we're getting everything.  I am thankful that my children are enjoying them as much as I am (and not merely bolting them down).

I am thankful for family who are celebrating birthdays today--three, one of who is my little brother! Happy Birthday "Kiss!" (yes, a little inside joke there.)

Over the weekend I was able to spend time with some very special people--ones I have not had a chance to be with in a while. I am again thankful for that time and for the connections I have with them. I didn't realize how much I had missed them.

I am thankful for being able to spread a little joy in mailing a few cards to a few of the elders in our lives. Not everyone is on social media or email (imagine!), and I took some time today to hand write a few notes to let them know they are thought of. Yes, little things matter.

What are you thankful for today? It's great to have 'big' things but as we live and learn we see that 'little' things matter and can add up quickly.

Be well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Parenting On Purpose :: Challenge Follow-up

Last week I challenged you to saying some positive things about your children to another and allowing them to overhear you. I'm so curious to hear how things went for you. What sort of things did you talk about? How much of the conversation did you let them overhear? What things did you notice afterwards? How many days did you participate in this challenge?

Well, since last week, I have made it a point to speak to several friends over the phone. I did what I normally do by stepping out of earshot, behind a closed door, etc. only this time I spoke a little more quietly. It did take a few minutes before any of them noticed that I was on the phone, but once they did I said one of their names and went into sharing how they'd been doing over the passed few days. How proud I was about this and that; how I noticed that they were improving, getting along, helping out around the house without being asked, etc.

After each of the calls, they asked who I was talking to. They also asked if I was talking about them because they heard me say their names. I didn't answer their questions, as I normally don't, however, I could see their eyes were brighter and the overall tone around the house has become lighter.

Over the weekend I typed an email and left it up (I have little eyes that like to read over my shoulder now). I 'caught' my big girl reading it. When I said, "What are you doing?" She just smiled and walked away. Later that day she came around for hugs and cuddles--something she doesn't do with me very often (big girl and all). It was nice.

Another evening, I spoke to their father right after putting them to bed. I told him all about the great things they got into (learning activities, helping around the house, cooperating). The next morning everyone was in a great mood and we sailed through most all of the things we needed to with little to no issues.

I'm thankful I was right about just what a positive impact it could have on our lives. Now, I need to make this a regular practice. It's important that we remember that our children need to hear positive things about themselves. Not only from time to time but regularly. These things can be said directly to them, of course, but isn't it nice to overhear good things too?

I hope you'll take a moment now to share how things went in your home. I look forward to seeing how you incorporated it and the positive feelings your children relished in. It won't take but a moment (smile).

I'll continue this practice and looking for other ways to let me children know just how proud I am of each of them.

Be well.

P.S. Should this be your first time on the blog reading for Parenting On Purpose, hop right over the the initial challenge and join in. Each Tuesday I share a quote and ask a question. A simple yet powerful way to assist and remind ourselves just how important it is that we parent with purpose and intention. I hope you'll join me weekly.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Intentions :: A Practice

Hello there.

As I give myself time to reflect on the week gone by and look at this new week coming, I am encouraged that this little intention setting practice has taken hold for me. Last Sunday I shared a little bit from a friend about his take on intentions.  I've been thinking about it more and want to further hone just what this practice is for me, and perhaps, for any of you who are considering it or doing it already.

Setting intentions--the act and practice of it--is nothing new. Even writing them down and posting them where they can been seen by you is something we're all familiar with. Going a step farther to share them with another for accountability and feedback is also common place. This practice that I've been cultivating here on the blog is about this--but not only this.  It's also about learning to keep my word to myself.  I am important. The people in my life are important. The things I want to involve myself in along with the things I want to create and learn--all hold spaces on the list of my priorities. By being intentional each week and honoring the things that rate for me, my time and my family, I'm purposely teaching myself that I matter and that keeping the promises I make to myself is paramont.

I'm sure we all can attest to a time when we've put OUR wants/needs/desires on the back burner for someone else. There are definitely times when this is necessary and expected, especially as mothers of young children. But this need not become a default mode. It's too overwhelming and the consequences of not caring for and attending to ourselves are too great.

I'm beginning to see my friend's point about intentions not really mattering if you never get around to doing any of them--if there is always reason or excuse why you were unable to fulfill them. Lists are nice to create but that's not the point either. I'm encouraged to continue in this practice with the focus being on keeping my promises to myself. My hope is that one of you is able to find encouragement in your practice by changing your focus a bit too.

Last week I was able to get to most everything on my list. I did not make the time to complete the hats I had wanted to. I did work on one though.

These are the promises I'm making to myself this week:

  • Read--I have received so many good book recommendations that I need to stop accepting them for a while (smile). I'm thankful that my library holds many of the titles I'm looking to read.
  • Write--Last week I started on scheduling in dedicated time to give to writing. I have a meeting scheduled this week with my writing partner--another layer of accountability--and hope to flesh it out a bit more.
  • Rest--I am a night owl. There is no getting around that. But finding a resting rhythm that works is key. I've been napping in the evening and that has really been helpful. I will continue this.
  • Quiet, meditative, contemplative time--Over our 'Winter Break' I was able to regularly be in this space alone daily. While I cannot always get 'away' or be on vacation, I can find time each day for this. I need it.
  • Begin new unit studies with the children--we will be doing several studies that all begin this week. I will share in a seperate post on the specifics on this.
  • Garden Planning--for those of you who garden, you know that this is the time to get started. I have already been collecting my containers, have some seeds from last year's crops to use. The children and I will be doing some prep work this week. I'll be looking through my Pinterest Boards for the saved resources and might come up with a new thing or two for this year's gardening experience.
  • Complete two hats--I've already begun one, so finishing up that one and then starting and finishing another. 

What promises to yourself are you making today that you'll fulfill by week's end? Take a moment to write them down. I invite you to share one or two below. I'd love to encourage you as you encourage me.

We'll meet here again next Sunday to check in.

Be well.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Highlights of Our Winter Break

We've made it a point to change up our routine a bit during our Winter Break. It began about December 16th, just before Winter Solstice, and we're wrapping things up this week.

So much fun just being together. We did a lot of learning and working together--mainly the children learning how better cooperate. (Yeah !)  Decided to share collages of photos--since they're worth a thousand words, right ?  (smile)

Baking to share with neighbors, librarians & postal workers

Mini retreat in the mountains
Working together to complete a puzzle
Working together to decorate
Little Miss baking cookies
Christmas day with friends
Playing Uno with Friends
Another game night with family
The boy getting his baking lesson
Touring the Center for Civil & Human Rights

Making her first cheesecake

Made 3 hats--1 more than my intended goal.

Unexpected, but much needed,
visit with my mentor-elder-sister-friend

Personal reading, writing and planning time.
In a prepared environment. :)

Time creating with my #2

Selfies with The Boy--#1 isn't feeling it.

Starting new traditions--'All About Me' Form
Getting inspiration from a new book

Heading back home!

As you can see, we got into a lot of fun stuff. I didn't keep the camera out the whole time though. There was lots of reading, playing and creating with Legos, drawing, enjoying good food and spending time in nature--albeit cold. We enjoyed our time away, seeing some family and just being together.

There are lots of new things we'll be getting into for the second half of our homeschool year. But this break was well needed and used.

Did you take a break? What things did you do (or not do) to make the most of the time? Breaking is necessary and helps everyone involved. If you haven't yet taken a break, I sure hope you have one planned in the next few weeks. This is the time many of us find ourselves dealing with 'burnout.' Be proactive and avoid it, if you can.

Be well.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Link Up

Today I am thankful for help and assistance. I am also thankful for being able to accept it.

For some people asking for help comes easy. It's just what you do. You have a need, you seek out help. Simple. Well, I have been learning how to ask for help over the years and have gotten better at accepting assistance. Because, really, that's my issue: the acceptance part.

The other evening after leaving a simple gathering with a dear friend my car's tired blew out. Not necessarily a big deal--I know how to change a tire. But it was at night and I was on a lonely back road. I'd decided to take that way as opposed to a well lite main artery home because I enjoy the quietness of it. I immediately started praying. I knew I had to get to a safe place before stopping. But boy did it seem like f  o  r  e  v  e  r.  I knew where a gas station was but when you have a flat everything is just that much farther. I was thankful to look up and see a gas station located in a spot I didn't remember and quickly, or as quickly as I could, drove to it.

I was hoping that the tire would only be out of air and so I parked by the air/vacuum spaces. Upon getting out and looking at it, it was completely torn up!!! So, after calling my husband to let him know what happened and where I was, I got the spare out and jack and proceeded to set things up to get it changed. An elderly man, on a cane, came over to me and offered me help. He said, "You need help with that sweetie?" And I told him, "I got it." He didn't let my answer deter him. He said he'd help me. He laid my spare on its side, laid his cane down, sat down on the spare and proceeded to take my blown tire off. Within a minute two other younger men came over to assist him. My jack wasn't working so well and one of them hollered over to a car where yet another young man got out and gave us his jack. I stood there, watching them handle things for me. They all laughed and talked to each other about the best way to do it or what one would do instead of what the another was doing. Within 10 minutes, the torn tire was removed and the spare tire put on. A total of seven men had assisted me with it in some way shape or form.

I thanked each of them several times. One of the elders said he was on his way home and something told him to come to the gas station to pick something up. He said he couldn't remember what that was but this must have been it. We both smiled. The older man, who first offered his help, said this is just what MLK said, "We gotta stick together." The younger man, who's known as 'Rooster' in that neighborhood, thanked me for allowing him to help me and said he'd see me around.

I left feeling very grateful and thankful, of course. Seeing just how all of the 'wrong' things came together in just the right way.

This simple act of accepting help was powerful. Yes, it benefited me. But not only that, I allowed another the opportunity to help and I accepted that help instead of saying no and doing it myself.

This morning as I awoke and took my quiet time, I thought about how last evening would have typically played out and how one act of needing to be back home earlier than usual had actually saved me much stress and kept me from being in an unwanted situation. I remembered what the fourth man, who had helped me, had said to the fifth man who commented on how bad the tire was torn up. He said, "She had to get to this station. She had to get to a safe place."

Here's what so interesting about his comment. Many people who live in the area would not have considered this spot to be a safe place, at least not at night. It's in a predominately black neighborhood, although the dominate culture is seeking desperately to gentrify the area, and the few of them I saw had scared looks on their faces as they quickly pumped their gas and left. But I felt safe there surrounded by my brothers and uncles.

I tell my children often that we need not be afraid of people who look like us for they are the ones who will help us. They are the ones who will look out for us and care for us. And it's true. I'm thankful it's true!

What gives you reason to be thankful today? I'm sure there is someone or something. If you'd like to join me on this weekly practice click here, add the above image to your page and post something on Thursdays. I'd love to have you.

Be well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parenting On Purpose: A Quote, A Question & A Challenge

A Quote:

A Question:

So often when we get with our spouses or partners or friends or, well, another parent in our communities and networks, we are quick to share the negative perspective of our lives with our children. No matter how old our children are, if they're in ear-shot, they have heard our words. Our words matter. The venting that we need to do when we're frustrated and worn out not withstanding.

How might you affect your child in a positive way by letting her/him over hear you saying good things about her/him? (This is different from bragging or showing him/her off to others. This is genuine, affirmation-type praise and acknowledgement of behaviors, skills, and overall personality.)

A Challenge:

I would like to challenge each of you to intentionally saying ONLY positive things about your child to others for the next two days. Yes, these should be things that are true--things that are recent. Talk normally as you would and allow your child to over hear little bits of the conversation. Pay attention to how our child responds afterwards. Take note of how you feel--after saying these things. After these first two days, give yourself another two days. If you think you're up to it, continue for the rest of the week. I'll check back in with you to see how things went. 

I am taking on this challenge and will share with you how things went in my home with my children. My guess is that things will improve--I hope I'm right!

Be well.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Sharing Monday

As many of you are aware, today is the day we honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We thought it would be nice to share two similar books that you might like to read or reread with your children today:

The first book is: I Have A Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In this book you will find the full speech that Dr. King gave during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

The list of artists for this book are as follows: Ashley Bryan, Carole Byard, Wil Clay, Floyd Cooper, Pat Cummings, Leo & Diane Dillon, Tom Feelings, George Ford, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Brian Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney, James E. Ransome, Terea Shaffer, and Kathleen Atkins Wilson. Each of these arts has received the Coretta Scott King Award.

The speech begins, "I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation..."

And ends with the now famous, "Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

The second book is also entitled: I Have a Dream, includes a CD of Dr. King's original speech and is illustrated by the renowned artist Kadir Nelson.

In this version, however, you will only find the more popular part of Dr. King's Speech--the 'I Have a Dream' part.

"I have a dream that my four little children...."

No matter which book you choose, the message is still clear and true today. I, too, have hopes and dreams for the world in which my children will grow up to be a part of--not just in the future but today.

In reading the first book to my children I was reminded that Dr. King spoke out about a lot in the one speech. Because we focus on the end of it--his hopes and dreams for the future, many of us forget about what it takes: speaking the truth, facing our deficiencies and putting in hard work.

Here are a few segments from the earlier part of this speech that are often left out of our memories:

"...but one hundred year later, the Negro still is not free; one hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination; one hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity...."
"...and so we have come here today to dramatize the shameful condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check... It is obvious today that America has defaulted on the promissory note inso far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt...and so we've come to cash this check...that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."
"...We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. this is not time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promised of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of this movement. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality."
"Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blog off steam and will now be content, will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual..."
"...and as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality...."  
Although much time as passed we can look around our nation and still see these same things happening regularly.

As we read, learn and reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life today, I hope that you're able to find ways to work along side your neighbors to make a better place for all of our children to live in. There is still much to be done. Figuring out just what to do and how to do it can be a challenge yet we must not turn a blind eye to it because we're uncomfortable or aren't sure how to proceed. It's high time that we put in the hard work and make changes--beginning with ourselves and our children then extending our our communities.

Are you already involved in movement work? What are the practices that you're engaged in? What activities, conversations and lessons are you involving your children in? I am so interested in hearing your stories and experiences. I invite you to share them below or email me later.

What books are you reading today; this week? We'd love to hear your recommendations. Take a moment to share them below or link up and join us this year in Book Sharing Monday.

Be well.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Weekly Intentions

I am thankful for the sunshine again today. I didn't realize until Friday just how much I missed it. Thankful for the rain--yes, but needing my intake of vitamin D, especially during this time of year.

How did you make it through your intentions from last week? Were you able to move them from the page into action?

I was able to do a lot of the planning that I was hoping to do. The kids and I were able to talk and figure out some of what we'd like to do over the course of the year, in general, and make a short list of specific goals for the short-term. We also talked about some of the traveling we're hoping to do in Spring and Summer. We're all excited.

We completed some of the unfinished tasks that were left unfinished in the wake of our 'retreating' and 'mini-vacation' before and after the holidays. There are a few more things I'm hoping to get through this week--regular housekeeping type stuff.  We'll be winding down from our Winter Break and getting back to a more 'normal' routine by the end of this week.

Here are a few of my intentions for myself and my family:

  • Reading--I've been able to do so much of it lately that I'm really enjoying this time for myself. Each of the children has been doing some too. We have a weekly date with the library, regardless of where we are (yes, we even visit libraries out of town). 
  • Cleaning & Organizing--I've started a house keeping challenge and have been following along with the specific tasks as well as getting to a few other things that I personally want to get through now. My kitchen is almost complete. I've also been doing some general purging of unused items around the house and general de-cluttering. Just enough to see a difference; not too much to feel overwhelmed--a pretty good balance.
  • Planning--specifically for our group learning time. I've found a few things that need to be copied and ordered so that as we continue our learning all those things will be in place and we can move from one thing to the next without a lot of distractions. We have a few new unit studies that we'll be finishing up/beginning and I like to be organized around all of this. (I'll share more on these in another post.)
  • Getting my calendar together--there are people who I'd like to connect with over the next several weeks. I need to reach out to them and put some plans together so that I can get together with them sooner than later.
  • Continue my break with social media, FB specifically--I never added this to my list but since mid December I've taken some time off and have found that I am so much better for it. I have been limiting my time 'plugged-in' over our Winter Break, mainly so that I could give myself fully to my personal time and my family. I've been limiting my time to email, blogging, and just being online. We read a lot about how technology affects our lives, etc. and I'm seeing that being more intentional about this is actually benefiting me in such positive ways. There is definitely a better way to engage with it and use it as a tool--instead of a replacement of or distraction/escape from life itself.  There are people that I can only connect with via FB so I'm not ready to be rid of it just yet. Suffice to say, this intentional break has helped me refocus a lot on what I truly want and need. I have liked this and will continue with the break for this next week definitely.
  • Make two hats this week. I was thrilled to get three hats done (one more than my goal) while on retreat. As I've shared in another post (I think), I'm looking to shore up five streams of income and this is one of them. I'm thankful for a friend who shared this whole idea with me several years ago and have been giving thought about just what those things will be. I will share more as the year unfolds but there are a few exciting things already brewing!

What are the things on your intention list this week? What are you hoping to make happen? I'd love to hear from you and encourage you in them. You're invited to comment below.

I read a quote over this passed week from a friend. He said something to the effect that it's great to have intentions but if you never get around to doing them, they really don't matter. (He said it much better than that....I just can't find his exact words at this moment.) I have been thinking about that since reading it.  I want to encourage those of you who have been faithfully reading these posts and doing something similar for yourself that this is more than just making lists and sharing hopes and dreams. This is about making them happen. Sure we don't always get done what we'd like, things come up and get in the way or distract us from them. That's life. However, practicing setting intentions and then putting energy into them to make them come to life is the point of all of this. Allowing others to know what exactly they are adds the layer of accountability and this why we share. Not to show-off or compete or compare ourselves with another but to let someone else into our space and allow them the opportunity to encourage and support us.

I hope that you are finding your rhythm in all of this--that you're developing a habit of speaking/writing your intentions and moving to bring them to fruition. I know that this takes time and practice. Give yourself to it and I know you'll see positive results for yourself and your family.

I'll be here next week to check in with you. I'm hoping you'll join me again.

Be well.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Unit Studies :: Birds

Over the last 8 weeks in 2014 we have been engaged in learning about birds--specifically birds native to Georgia. We finished up this unit studies before the holidays but I didn't take a moment to post what we did. Before getting into the new units for this year, I thought I'd share what we did in the event you and your children might be interested in doing this for your nature study.

I grew up around an uncle and aunt who enjoyed nature. My aunt knows everything there is to know about birds--their markings, their calls, their favorite foods, the time of year to view them, etc., etc. She didn't do so much in direct instruction with me--I learned by simply being with her while she watched, fed, read and talked aloud about them. Through our study, my love for bird-watching was reawakened.

I did some research online and in the library and found a nice list of resources that we used as we did daily observations of the birds in our backyard. I was surprised by just how many visitors we have on a daily basis. The have also enjoyed watching them and learning to identify them by sight and sound.

Here are some of the birds that have be in our backyard:
  • Mourning Doves
  • Chickadees
  • Blue Jays
  • House Sparrows
  • Wrens
  • Cardinals
  • Brown Thrashers
  • Cow Birds
  • A pair of Barred Owls
  • Crows
  • Robins

We did some of our learning with the homeschooling community to which we belong. During that time we shared in reading several of the books together and discussing the habits of birds overall, their habitats, predators, migration patterns, their mating and nesting rituals, how they build nests and how their beaks and feet assist them in the type of food they eat and places they live. It's been fun for many of the other children as well as my own.

My eldest did her study on Jays--the Blue Jay, Green Jay and Stellar's Jay to be specific.
My middle daughter focused on Mourning Doves and The Boy learned more about the Broad-winged Hawk.  One of the interesting things we all did learn is that each of my children choose a bird that is part of a specific food chain. Hawks eat Blue Jays; Blue Jays eat Mourning Doves. Who knew?

Here are some pictures of our time working together and of our lap-books:

Front cover shows a Blue Jay

First section focuses on the Steller's Jay

The next section looks at the Green Jay

The inner-most part focuses on
the main bird--Blue Jay

Each of the mini-books holds
key information

Another flip book inside the lapbook

Back cover again shows Blue Jay

The Mourning Dove Lapbook

First section has photos of the birds:
male, female, juvenile

The inside section holds several mini-books

Each mini book contains
pertinent information

Another mini book

Yet another mini-book

The back holds a general look at parts of birds

Front cover for Broad-winged Hawk Lapbook

First sections hold pictures of male,
female & juvenile

Inside section holds the mini books

Look inside one of the mini-books

Back cover
As you can see, each one of their lapbooks contains several of the same parts but each is put together differently. Each of the children got to figure out their own layout and order. I liked seeing their creativity in the all while we all learned more about birds.

Here are some of the resources that I used with my children and with the group:

  • Little Green by Keith Baker
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • The Nightingale by Jerry Pickney
  • Birdsong by Audrey Wood
  • Dylan: the eagle-hearted chicken by David Harrison
  • The Birdwatchers by Simon James
  • Welcome, Brown Bird by Mary Lyn Ray and Peter Sylvada
  • Vulture View by April Sayre and Steve Jenkins
  • Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey
  • About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way? by Roma Gans
  • A New Duck: The Life Cycle of a Bird by Pamela Hickman & Heather Collins
  • These Birds Can't Fly by Allan Fowler
  • From Egg to Robin by Jan Kottke
  • Bird Babies by Catherine Veitch
  • Birds of Prey by Jill Bailey
  • The Bald Eagle by Patricia Ryon Quiri
  • Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner
  • Backyard Birds by Jonathan Latimer, Karen Stray Nolting and Roger Tory Peterson
  • City Birds by Heather MacLeod
  • Big Birds by Lucille Recht Penner
  • Wild Wings: Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen
  • Watch Me Make a Bird Feeder by Jack Otten
Online Resources:

We've learned an awful lot during this time and will continue to watch for them throughout the rest of the year.

Have you done a study of birds? What things did you and your children learn together? What resources did you use? Do share in the comments below. If you haven't yet done a Bird Unit, perhaps this will inspire you to do so. There is so much to learn right in your backyard. (smile)

Be well.


Related Posts with Thumbnails