I made my child pay me for his lunch

My first kid is a CEO-in-training. He’s head-strong, has a strong sense of justice, and wants to do what’s right. This is just how God made him.

He’s gotten pickier and pickier over time with his food, so I’ve tried a few things to help him eat. This is hard with a kid like him. Manipulation and coercion don’t work – not that I really want to do that, but he knows every tactic and calls it like it is. “You just want to make me eat these vegetables.” “Yes, you got me. I want you to be healthy.”

For a week, I planned to have awesome desserts available. If he didn’t eat dinner he didn’t get dessert. It wasn’t made to be a big deal, it’s just a consequence. This doesn’t change eating habits, you know. It just makes the adults take on more calories. Haha!

I tried telling him he was in charge of his body and I trust him to want to put the right balance of things into it. This half works since he takes some pride in doing the right things.

Today I offered my children lunch, and he looked at the burgers I was making and asked me if it tastes like Burger King. I said better. He said “I don’t want it with those things in it.” Those things he is referring to are parsley. I told him how highly coveted my burgers are on this Earth and how they are considered a gourmet delicacy. He said “okay maybe I’ll just try one.” Then I said, “well, I don’t know if I can really share this with you. Because you don’t appreciate my food enough. Maybe I’ll let you buy one.” His curiosity was piqued. He said “how much?” I said “I’ll give you a family discount. One dollar. But if you weren’t family, it would be $15.” He said “okay”. And then he went on and on about how delicious it was.

I guess I have to make this kid buy his dinners from now on. Maybe we should have a work-eat-economy around this house.

I mean, my burgers are bomb.

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Yay for chores!

I am starting to switch discipline methods with my oldest son, my firstborn, who seems to have outgrown spankings. We are taking away “robot building” privileges for periods of time, but even more exciting, is this: for poor attitudes and arguing, I am assigning chores, during which he can pray about having better attitudes and accepting what we say. Oh yea, if food is flicked onto the floor, the kids get the honor of sweeping and mopping. We will kick these poor habits one way or another.

There. That is all.

I am so happy my house is getting clean. Clear consequences and clear expectations equal better obedience.

The perfect homeschool week

I’m imagining the perfect homeschool week for my family next year.

We would start every day with a healthy breakfast and clean up the dishes right away. We would brush our teeth, and make our beds. Then the kitchen would close.

We would worship God, read the Bible, and do a character study. Then we would go on a walk and picnic somewhere outside.

We would come home by 2pm for rest time. My baby would take a nap. Family story time would begin, with memory work, and art lessons. Clean up to the CC Timeline Song. Prep dinner together, and kids set the table. A little more schoolwork done.

At dinner, tell Dad about our character lesson, play “stump Daddy” with memory work, recite scripture, listen to Dad’s lesson and devotion.

Clean up dinner and table to timeline song.

Reading time before bedtime. Memory work. Reading lesson for our middle child would happen again.

Grocery shopping would happen on Wednesday afternoons. Kids will get lessons in counting money and reading food labels. Meal prep and house cleaning would happen on Thursdays with help from children. Friday we would have afternoon showers and bath, with a last minute spruce up, and the table will get set nicely for a Christian version of Shabbat dinner using easy disposable ware, Saturday’s meal would be prepped and put into the crock pot, and Friday’s roast would go into the oven in a disposable tin. We would entertain friends on Friday night and see how we can minister to others.

Saturday we would have a prepared breakfast such as fruit, and quiche or bekoras. We would skip making our beds. We would go play outside somehow, and we would enjoy a large afternoon meal which I had already prepared the day before.

Sunday, we would start the week refreshed and ready to start again. I would use Sunday afternoon for homeschool prep, meal planning, and bulk item grocery shopping.

Homeschool days in a time of silence

God has asked me to back out and cut off most of my activity with the outside world, and I have submitted my will to prefer whatever God has for me.

My homeschool is quieter. I have had a reputation of “doing” a lot with my kids. God blessed me with some “rhema” about them. He gave a lamb’s wool fleece to my oldest, and a hammer to my middle one (in a vision on Feb 10). Then he told me my middle one will be a drummer at the end of that month (in rhema).

I wanted to share one thing He taught me this month in visions.

One, I saw plates spinning in the air. I was spinning them all. When I let go, some fell but didn’t break. This meant when I give all my things to Jesus, He really DOES take care of it!

Two, I was a bird flying in the air with my children who were also birds. Then I saw us in each of our own nests. One nest was empty. Then a snake came for my children and its head was cut off. A male lion with full mane leapt towards my children and it was sliced in half. This meant that to care for my children I need to keep flying too. The Holy Spirit reminded me there is dead air. But He didn’t give us any dead air space. Our air is filled by His Spirit, so we can really fly. The empty nest means we will have more children. And the enemies launching at us who are split in half is the judgment He issues on them. We will not be harmed though we are attacked.

These two visions have one voice: Trust Jesus will ALL my concerns. I CAN rest in HIM. He is a fiercer mama bear than I will ever be! Amen!

Since I am learning how to do this every hour and every day, I am seeing what real rest looks and feels like. I am so excited for this transformation. Granted, I still overwhelm myself, but I am learning what God said He would teach me: precision and acuity.

Thank Jesus for Him!!

A Year in Review

Here goes my reflection time. Last year was another season of huge changes. We moved across the country last year, and between my last birthday and this birthday, we invited our first girl into our home, and our third child. If I had to name three words that describe last year, it would be humbling, opening, and exploring.

My husband would say, this was a continuation of a work God was doing to humble us. I agree. It was opening, because I feel like God opened the doors to show me more and more about warfare. And it was exploring, because my family literally took up exploring this new part of United States with great enthusiasm.

God has been showing me areas of sin. While I won’t name them publicly, if you’re one of my prayer partners, then I have been transparent in sharing them, because I covet and need your prayer covering. He is merciful. I am grateful. God has been showing me where I am naive. One of these areas is to learn how truly hard it is to travel across country with three small children. It is just physically difficult to have small children, and to uproot them for a vacation is hard work. It’s worth it, but it’s expensive and it’s hard work. I am also naive to the juggling act of educating more than one child at a time. I’d say I have it easy, because my second one is young, and his education is not too demanding yet. Actually, my first one is young, and his education is also not too demanding yet. I just imagine what it’s going to be like in 3 to 5 years from now, when I can see myself with another baby or two, plus the others, who really require more rigor. It will be an awesome journey.

I’ve also decided that motherhood is somewhat of a blind faith journey. You trust what your mother said. You find mentors. You read the Bible. You reflect on your own childhood and life lessons. You pray. But literally, only God knows how it is all going to turn out. When you are a mother, you know your children are your life’s most prolific work. Your children will spin out whatever you teach them. But they are not a perfect product. There’s so much out of your control. My mom is in a Bible study right now, where everyone there seems to be preaching that your children will walk with the Lord if you do everything right. Can I get a “no” button? As mothers, we cannot control our children as adults, as teenagers, and even as young children. The way God designed us, is to have free will. Discipline is from the inside out. We are handicapped as humans, because we can really only work from the outside in, meaning we can only read our children based on their behavior. Then we fumble and strive first to know, and then to address the heart issue. Only with God’s mercy and help will we ever get this right. And even then, our children only turn out walking with the Lord by God’s own mercy. I digress.

God has shown up big in so many areas of my life this past year. I have been keeping a bullet journal. In it, I have a miracles page. He’s filling the page. This year, we had our first “Family Day” in April. It was truly beautiful to recount God’s blessings with my family that way. Amazing.

Although there is always room for improvement, I feel like I’m keeping things in balance in our homeschool. Like I said, there are many things I’d like to add that I consistently think of doing. But when we get down to the brass tacks of a first grade education, we’re hanging in there. I think this is largely because my Micah memorizes well, and he likes learning. Micah does a rock star job memorizing his Bible scriptures for Awana. To me, this is more important memory work than CC, but he memorizes that like a champ too. I just started reading lessons with Kade… as in M says mmmmm and S says sssssss. I also focus on songs with Kade, and we pick out different letters while we are reading books together. We also work on our speech skills when I notice he says a word incorrectly, like any word that starts in S… he usually needs repeating practice. And Hope, well, she’s in baby school, just learning how to eat food and use some sign language. I’m trying to teach her “milk”, and “more”. All this to say, what I’m really focusing my children on at these ages is to know and love the Lord, be kind and considerate with others and each other, have a cheerful and helpful attitude, and be responsible with their things. I’m really working on the tone of my home being cheerful and giving.

I need to make improvements in many areas in my 36th year however.

  • Keep better track of what we’re actually doing in homeschool. I need to improve my system of tracking things.
  • Do a better job of slowing down before I say yes to things, including saying yes to myself. I am an idea machine. My latest thing is I want to write and speak and produce a “wisdom series” for children. I had better ask God about all these ideas!
  • I could do a better job of keeping the clutter down in our home, and do more cleaning. This is a constant battle. I’m really trying to get my kids to do chores.
  • I need to work on hygiene and organization with my kids – this means I need to really have them work with me. When they have a stain in their shirts, they will need to spray them down and scrub them. When they are done with food, they need to clear their plates, and then wash their mouths and hands.
  • I need to do a better job of juggling the various hats I wear so I don’t drop balls. And God is taking different balls out of the loop anyhow.
  • My mind races. I need to do a better job of slowing my mind down. Lists help. But lists can also be the enemy.
  • I’m still chronically behind birthdays, and although I was doing a good job of being on time places, I’m starting to slip.
  • Spend more time organizing on the weekends.
  • Cook more for the family.

The best books I’ve either read, or revisited, for personal enrichment in my 35th year have been:

  • Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare Manual by John Eckhardt

  • Different by Sally Clarkson
  • Boundaries with Kids by Cloud and Townsend
  • The Core by Leigh Bortins
  • The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Raising Your High-Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcina
  • The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz
  • Strongman’s His Name… What’s His Game by Jerry and Carol Robeson
  • Childbirth Without Fear by Grant Dickey-Read
  • The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
  • The Life-Giving Home by Sally Clarkson (and the Life Giving Home Experience) <– I’ll probably use this one every month of every year if I’m smart
  • Expand, Grow, Thrive by Pete Canalichio

I’ve enjoyed being a Support Representative with Classical Conversations this year as well, as well as working with Pete Canalichio.

I hope in my 36th year I’ll see revival, family growth, and more self-discipline.

The struggle is real

This is a day that we got back to school work after having two sick days off. My toddler had a doctor’s appointment that involved numbing cream and a freezing cold cotton swab to continue to attack a wart on his ring finger that got bigger. We just couldn’t take him when his little sister was born – we were just trying to eat well and stay hydrated.

This was after we lugged all our heavy bags to the playground next door, because I planned on homeschooling my kids there. Except when I called my doctor about the numbing cream, come to find out it needs an hour to sit on the boy’s finger, which means we had to leave the playground and go to the pharmacy. At the pharmacy, we learn about how the Lord helped Jephthah and how Jephthah had to kill his daughter to fulfill his oath to the Lord.

Then at the pharmacy, the prescription hadn’t come over, and my toddler needed the toilet, so we had to leave with all our bags again to see the doctor’s office and use their toilet. By the time we got there, my toddler decided he didn’t need the toilet anymore.  Then I had to go back next door to fill the prescription. Then come back to the doctor’s office so my toddler to be seen by the doctor. This is the story of how 1 stop became 5 small stops, much to my chagrin. 

At the doctor’s office my children learned about Samson, his riddle, and his betraying wife; his revenge on the Philistine’s using foxes tied together, and how he became a judge. Then we learned about temperate forests, and how deciduous forests are different from coniferous forests. The toddler then gets called back for his appointment.

In the waiting room, I get my kindergartener started on his handwriting. He wrote 4 or 5 letters before the doctor arrived.

You would have thought the doctor was cutting my toddler’s finger off, all before anything even touched my toddler’s finger. And this is the most gentle doctor I’ve ever taken my children to, and believe me, we’ve had some good doctors! I had to hand my baby off to a front desk lady, because my toddler was such a mess. This was not easy!

The doctor gave my children peeps for good listening, even after my toddler was screaming bloody murder. Ewe. But they were both delighted.

We go to get in the car. Lo and behold, I had to withhold the peep from the toddler because he didn’t listen to me in the parking lot. This ensures more screaming.

Once home, my toddler refused to follow directions. That means, he wouldn’t carry his book-bag and walk into the house. I had to discipline him on the sidewalk four times before he decided he better listen to me.

After that, my children wouldn’t eat their lunch. Lunch was a delicious homemade chicken soup. Come on now.

I make chicken chili in the crock pot… which I’m thinking they are going to complain about later tonight, but I’m no short order cook.

The toddler goes for quiet time. He comes out 5 times in 40 minutes. During this, I nurse the baby, and finish school work with the kindergartener. Why are we doing school until 2pm in the afternoon?! Oh, that’s right, because it’s our first day back after two days off, and we lost our sense of discipline and concentration.

I lay down with grumpy toddler and the baby, and give grumpy toddler a bottle. He rejuvenates himself an is happy again. My kindergartener has quiet time now. He asked me no less than 5 times when his quiet time was over. I told him twice to stop asking me, and then the third time, I extended his quiet time. But I let him out early if he said some Bible verses with me about anger and self-control. I realized, though he’s learning to write cursive, he has a hard time reading it.

Today I started writing verses about disobedience and obedience. These verses will benefit the whole family.

I send the children outside to play. They play for 15 minutes or so. I let them see a show for a half hour.

The neighbor brings over a delicious Tres Leche treat. I change and nurse the baby. I discover my other neighbor has a birthday today. We will make her a card.

My kids are going to go back outside to play after they finish their treat.

I am wiped out.

This is homeschooling some days. This is reality. The struggle is real.

Tomorrow will be better.

Tiny hands

Tiny hands, dependent eyes, unsure feet. I love mothering these little ones. I love their messes, their cries, their hugs, their clumsy ways, their laughs, their pats, and their squeals. I wish I could put it in a bottle and open it 30 years from now when I am having a hard time remembering. But then, maybe they’ll fill my arms with grand babies that can help remind me.

Children are utterly dependent on us. Perhaps this is why mothers are anxious that they are doing their jobs the best way, in a way that could gain God’s nod of approval. You cannot rely on the day-to-day to measure how well you are doing in this kind of job. There’s no performance review, no checklist to follow. There’s only quarter after quarter, or year after year, or maybe even decade after decade that will help you see what kinds of seeds you sowed. But these results are muddled by the fact that children will one day choose to go their own way. 

All this, to point to the fact that we are utterly reliant on God, who is merciful to cover our faults and smooth over our gaps, and deliver our children from the ruthless results of our own sin.

Lord, help my children love you more than life itself, more than me, more than their father, and more than their children. Help us all abide in You, and find life in You. And keep us from harm, that we would not harm others, but instead, that we could be useful in introducing others to Your perfect love. Amen.