Shower Power

You all know this but I’m going to remind you anyhow.

You know when you’re frustrated? Everyday.

People are fighting, they are not appreciating each other, they are inconsiderate, forgetful, and disobedient? Everyday.

Your fuse is short, kids are whining, hunger pangs are near, and dinner is not quite done. Everyday.

Laundry is piling high, stains are everywhere, you’re dehydrated, everyone keeps stealing your food. Everyday.

You’re anemic, you’re failing at self-care, and you’re over-tired.

You’re starting to feel defeated, overcome and undone. Everyday.


On these particularly hard days, my solution for six and a half years has and will continue to be one thing. Pop everyone in for a bath or a shower.

Being clean is miraculous. It somehow resets everyone. My floor may still be a dump, my dishes piled high, and my housework only worsens.

In fact, I take care of two types of contained pets. Hamsters and an aquarium. My house reminds me of a hamster cage. Input equals output. The more we live here, the more mess there is here too.

However, I enjoy my clean children more. Their moods diffuse. My oldest is ready for a little more school. The toddler resets himself before dinner. This is the hardest time of the day. My baby’s hair curls back up and I put a dress on her. And I am smiling because even if everything else is the same, I feel better.

Everyone gets a massage. Well, everyone sans me, but it is good for the little ones, but giving that massage is The Great Reconnection we need.

I’m home with them all day. I’m chef, mother, example, teacher, student, guide, cleaning lady, pastor, counselor, AND I set the tone for their existence right now. They give me back what I give them.


Dear Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day! I love this day. But not all of us do. Those of us who have lost children either from the womb or after birth, or some even after many years of life, or just a few years of life lament this day. Others of us have grief because we have lost our mothers. My heart extends to yours. And still others feel unappreciated, unrecognized, or passed over. Some of us are not going to experience a celebration. Others will experience a celebration on the outside but not on the inside. I wanted to write this post because I see you.

I was laying here thinking that in almost 14 years of marriage, and over 6 years of being a mother x 3, that I love this day.

I love this day because I have children. I love this day because I have a husband who loves me. And I love this day because I have a mother. I have it all. The Lord took my grandma, and I only knew one grandma, but He gave me another one through my husband and we love her dearly. She is wonderful. And we also have his mother. She is also beautiful, inside and out.

My normal celebration was bringing my mom breakfast in bed. Then as I got older, I added a tradition of taking her on a picnic. I always bought her a corsage – always tried to find a pink iris with a pink ribbon. And if we were with other women in our family I got one for them too. Now I live in another city. I am sad I can’t celebrate her in person. We did the best we could from afar.

As for my own celebration, I’ve evolved. Over these relatively short years of marriage (I hope we can pass 60 years together… we would be centurions!) I’ve learned how to be less selfish. Yes, I meant to say it that way… less selfish. Sure, it’s a day to celebrate motherhood. What does that mean?

For me, it has become giving my children an opportunity to prepare a gift for someone else: me and their grandmas. It is a moment to teach them how to affirm someone else and make them feel special. So this is what I told my husband was important to me: help the children learn this lesson. I have two boys who are old enough to glean from this opportunity. And it’s our chance to show them honest gratitude.

A key to enjoying this day is to know yourself. It’s very advised to help your husbands be successful. Tell them how to help you feel special. Some of you don’t want to have to tell your husbands what to do for you… but you should get over that! Sometimes they need some direction, and they appreciate it! But warning, if your husband doesn’t like input, then don’t tell him!

Here’s how I do this: “What do you have planned for Mother’s Day?”

He says: “What would you like to do?”

I say: “(insert some suggestions)”

Listen, I know not all husbands will ask. Some will say, “I haven’t thought about it;” “I haven’t planned anything;” or “it’s a surprise”.

Then after the event, or during, give specific compliments. Did you know men do better with very specific compliments? Such as,

  • “I love how you thought about (insert this)”
  • “That took a lot of planning and juggling on your part;”
  • “That food was delicious!”
  • “You lost sleep to prepare this for me!”

What do you do if your man does nothing for you?

Then treat yourself. Take yourself somewhere, buy yourself a book, go have a coffee or tea, give yourself permission not to work for a day and declare a No Work Day for yourself to your family, spend all day playing with your kids, declare a YoYo food day (you’re on your own), make a plan to go out with a friend — you get the picture. But I think my favorite idea is you could serve another mother (whose husband isn’t gifted in this area) by treating her and her family over for brunch or lunch or dinner. And you can still pay compliments to your spouse. Here are some compliments you can think about saying that have nothing to do with a man’s special preparations for you for Mother’s Day – they are just truths I hope are true for you:

  • “You work hard to provide for us an excellent life – thank you;” (this is true even if he is a stay at home dad; this is true if he is currently laid off; this is true if he is not providing much right now… be specific about any small thing he does for your family)
  • “I wouldn’t be as successful in my mothering without your support” (this is true even if his contributions are minor in your eyes)
  • “It seems like you made our child look extra nice today!” (Unless he didn’t get them dressed… but maybe he has corrected some behavior or a heart issue, or taught them something)
  • “You look so handsome for me!” (Even if he looks the same every day!)
  • “Everyday when you do your thing, you enable me to do mine.” (Still true in every case)
  • “Our kids benefit so much because you spend time with them.” (Even if the time is little).

Listen, some of you have a hard life. I am trying to show you a way of gratitude. When you treat men like men, they act like men. When you treat men like boys, they act like boys.

Know yourself though. Your joy comes from the Lord. If you don’t have joy, study where it comes from! The Bible shows the way!

I will close with a Happy Blessed Mother’s Day with for you!! Xoxo

Notes and Take-aways from Andrew Pudewa’s Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Build Forts All Day

I thoroughly enjoy whenever Andrew Pudewa speaks. Here are notes from this recent webinar: “Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Build Forts All Day”. This talk was about the neurological differences between male and female. He answers the questions like how we sense and feel differently, and how that changes our teaching. He also discusses motivation and two wonderful secret teaching weapons we all should have. Thank you Andrew!

FIRST PART: Neuro differences between male and female. How we sense and feel differently, and how that changes our teaching.

Hearing & Attention: Most boys need louder sounds to attenuate than girls. This is a measurable studied phenomenon that starts differentiating in newborns. Girls can hear 3x softer than boys on the decimal scale in newborns. At 1-3 years old, girls can hear up to 10x softer than boys on the decimal scale. Barometric pressure, appetite, sleep, temperature, and other issues impact hearing. If you can’t hear what’s going on, you would have a hard time paying attention! If you talk loud enough to engage the boys, the girls might think you’re screaming, yikes! SO, try talking more directly, closer, and with a louder voice to boys.

Vision & Attention: Most males detect speed and direction with greater accuracy, while women detect color and texture with greater accuracy or vibrancy. Convergence of vision, speed, direction, color and texture is how we see and process visual input. This also impacts what we see more easily. Boys prefer to look at things they can see better (movement). Boys tend to draw things in motion… verbs. Girls prefer to look at things they love like horses, flowers, and scenery.

It also impacts the way we perceive the world and write about it. Descriptors, or key words, for males tend to be verbs and adverbs. Descriptors, or key words, for females tend to be nouns and adjectives. You can talk to a boy with an attitude change when you talk to a boy using descriptors that is more in line with their personalities (i.e. “Do you want me to help you add more details to that story?” VS “Do you want me to help you add more action to that story?”.

Stress and Attention. Males have a quicker response to stress with fight or flight, which is regulated by body movement in the sympathetic nervous system. Women have a slower response to stress, and their bodies lower the heart rate and blood flow because the parasympathetic system engages first. We could be giving mixed messages to boys. Boys under stress (stressful work) should stand up and move! Stand at the counter and do your work. Girls under stress may do better curled up in a beanbag when they’re tackling difficult work.

Temperature and Attention. Girls learn best where it’s a little warmer, while boys learn best when it’s a little cooler.

SECOND PART: Motivation. 4 Forms of Relevancy, 3 Laws of Motivation and 2 Secret Weapons

Learning needs to be (1) applicable, (2) meaningful, (3) interesting and (4) relevant in some way, it’s easier to learn. If something is relevant, it’s easier to learn. If it’s irrelevant it’s really hard to learn.

There are 4 Forms of Relevancy according to Pudewa:

  1. Intrinsic: it’s part of who you are… like how boys like weapons and tools. If your children are REALLY interested in something, capitalize on it. Give them opportunities in every way to learn about that topic, because the learning will be very profound to them.
  2. Inspired: it’s environmental… for example, if your family hikes, so you hike all the time, then you will know lots about hiking. Or if your dad loves music, and you want to impress him, so you learn music so you can relate to him. Work hard to inspire your children with those things we love and are inspired by, and outsource the things that you don’t love.
  3. Contrived (games): for example, things you don’t naturally love but you need to learn them anyhow. Create a game to make the learning topic interesting, and have one that’s possible to win, and one in which you experience wins and losses if you have any kind of economic game. Ex: Get Mom’s dollar: A game where the kids fix their own spelling errors. They earn a certain amount based on how many errors they find and fix. Boys seem to be especially wired to these kinds of economic games, and competitive games.
  4. Enforced: you must learn this or you must suffer a penalty. But you won’t get the real learning in this scenario. Students learn fast when they choose to learn.

The three laws of motivation:

  1. Children LIKE to do what they CAN do. And they are always getting better at things, so there is joy in their lives! Allocate 60-80% of their education time learning here, and help them get better.
  2. Children LIKE to do what they THINK they can do. Once they try and are successful a few times, then they like it! Allocate 20-40% of their education time learning here, and help them be successful.
  3. Children HATE to do what they THINK they CANNOT do. Children prefer punishment over failure if they believe they can’t be successful in it. How sad! Kids can fail more than adults can, and are willing to try again. Allocate almost 0% of their education time learning here wherever possible. Instead, back off and go to a simpler level of complexity where they did have success, and when it’s easy, then move up.

Two Secret Weapons.

One, the emotional bank account matters. ‘Deposit love into the child, so you can live off the interest’ – Suzuki. Build a child up so much, so that when you need to offer a correction, the child can sustain it. No one likes constant correction. Balance the correction. Offer 10 positives before adding 1 negative.

Two, the power of a smile is STRONG!! Be unconditionally excited and appreciative of your child’s efforts! Treat your own kids like you treat other peoples’ kids if you have to, in order to find more patience! Be grateful, acknowledge, see their effort!

His other tidbit – Wow!: Primary grades are when learning decisions are made (K-2), so it’s better to segregate by gender. A learning decision answers the questions like this: “Can I please my teacher or not?”; “Am I good or bad at something?”

For more, see books by Leonard Sax for more (though Pudewa doesn’t agree with everything Sax says):

  • Why Gender Matters
  • Boys Adrift, 
  • Girls on the Edge
  • The Collapse of Parenting

P.S. Pudewa warns not to leave these books laying around the house if your children read anything left around 🙂

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.

Winding down first grade and ramping up my preschooler

I’m already focused on next year’s schooling. This is a result of all the homeschool publishers running sales, and awaiting the new Foundations Guide from Classical Conversations (CC). We are closing out our second full year of CC, and our fifth year of homeschooling, since I ambitiously and unnecessarily started my own homeschool cooperative with some close friends when my firstborn was just 18 months old in Atlanta. It was a glorified play date, but it showed me the beauty of coops – close mom friends, like-minded people, the power of “scale” and positive peer pressure.

I had been in my own coop till my oldest was 4, but in two cities – Atlanta, then Rochester. Then I did two coops run by other people – loved it, and learned a lot! That last year in Rochester, I also did CC at home with just the music CDs for Cycle 1. Seeing the fruit of the teaching methodology, and knowing the benefit of community, I joined my first CC community when we moved to CA the next year for Cycle 2. And here we are ending Cycle 3. For these two years I’ve also belonged to another homeschool coop.

As I consider next year, I realize I’m juggling the needs of a 6.5 year old, 3.5 year old, and a rising toddler. For the first time, we get to repeat a Cycle (Cycle 1), and really add another learner to our one room schoolhouse (my rising 4 year old). As we ease our way into learning that has a little more rigor for my oldest, introducing “the same old” for my second (with a different learning style), and meeting the normal baby needs for my youngest, I have really met the word called “multi-tasking” in ways I hadn’t known it before. On most days my water intake is poor and I haven’t fully taken care of my own needs. I leave room for the fact that I’m coming out of the fog of having a newborn (who is now almost 14 months old), and every three months she leapfrogs her abilities and schedules shift.

All that to say, I’m closing out this year by maintaining my commitments, but I know I’m only doing just ONE coop next year – CC. I’m following God’s calling to downsize my life of activities and upsize my life in quality. I’m removing breadth in exchange for depth and balance. I’ve added a Shabbat dinner and it’s following sabbath rest – it has taken a lot of energy to do this, but it’s been worth it.

Over the summer, I will get down to the business of letter recognition and phonics for my preschooler, and big time lessons in obedience. Spelling, language lessons, handwriting, and creative storytelling for my rising second grader will capture his attention. We will work on drilling math memory too, for the basic arithmetic functions, and work diligently through the rest of first grade Singapore math while we learn abacus alongside together. We will maintain our priorities for learning the Bible, godly character, and scripture memory. And we will add back swimming. If I’m on top of it, we will finish first language lessons book 1, and song school Latin book 1 as well.

I will start building in an exercise and movement regimen for all of us. Right now, my children and husband get it but I’m missing out dearly. I will cut down on the sugar intake, and start cleansing our palates in quite a strict manner.

We will take advantage of the beautiful outdoors and hike and camp, and explore with friends. We will go whale watching, and elephant seal observing, and sea otter snooping. We will watch sunsets and see monarchs migrating. We will traipse through brush-land, and wade through marshlands. We will watch waves crashing and sit beside rivers. We will see plays and symphonies, ballets and orchestras. We will go on dates and have family days. We will be God’s creation and enjoy His creation and marvel at the work of His hands. The heavens declare the glory of God, The skies proclaim the work of His hands. We will exalt Him with our own works and words and adoration.

Piano is the only thing that doesn’t halt or change rhythms from the traditional school year to summer.

When school starts again, I will start my oldest in Veritas Press’ Ancient History and Old Testament & Genesis to Joshua Bible online programs, and we will do CC, spelling and math with more rigor. We will play more games. My middle child will learn how to read and I will learn how to have more balance, joy, and diligence.

In the meantime, we will worship the Lord God Almighty, and we will pray. We will ask God to order our days and plan our steps, because He already has done it. We will walk in obedience.

The sorrow of social media

God asked me to abstain from social media a while ago. Not just social media, but also YouTube and Netflix. I obliged.

I looked at Facebook some today and yesterday as my Daniel fast was over. And I realized that peering into other people’s lives makes me feel sad and lonely.

The purpose of social media is to share your life and stay connected to friends. But it offers a shallow connection, and a fake friendship.

Real friends reach out to see how you are doing. Real friends ask you over for tea. Real friends are interested in your life too.

I’d always known a poor friend is one who only talks about themselves when you call them on the phone. This is social media.