I am the blessed wife of my husband Mike, and proud, stay-at-home mom to my two girls, Laura and Celia. I taught school for 6 years before having my first daughter and am LOVING the phase of life I am in right now. I love the Lord and I strive each day to remind my girls how much He loves them. I feel like I was made to be a mommy. ;-)
Laura woke up very excited this morning. Why? Because today is the day she waits for every 10 days. The day she gets to make a "bundle" of 10 straws as we count the days of school. Today marks number 30, 30 days we have been on this journey called "homeschooling." I can't believe the end of October is nearing already. It seems like only a blink ago I was collecting and organizing and reorganizing and planning and wondering how in the world I would juggle teaching my five year and caring for and occupying my not-quite-two-year-old, along with all of the other responsibilities that already filled my days. But here we are. Each day looks a little like the last, but a little different, too. I am learning to "relax" more as I realize that so many of the things we do on a daily basis are opportunities for learning. Homeschooling doesn't have to look just like school, although aspects of it do, when that's how it works best for us. So far, it's taken us 30 days to dry out our entire play dough supply and use up most of our paint. After 30 days, I need to restock most of the baking items from our pantry shelves and we are already running low on construction paper. (I thought I was starting with tons!) After 30 days of school, we calculate that about 10 dozen cookies have been given away to our garbage and recycling collectors, mail lady, neighbors, friends, and bank tellers. And we can't count the number of books that have been checked out from the library. And guess what?! In just 30 days of school, Laura has learned to read nine books! Nine! She went from being a non-reader to a reader in less than 2 months of school! Very exciting. And she can tie her shoes :). Yes, we are sure to get in our readin,' writin,' and 'rithmetic in each day. That's important. But ya know what? That's not what homeschooling is to us. It's the stuff that happens in between. It's reading while cuddled up together in a blanket, all three of us. It's walking in the woods behind our house with blindfolds on so we can focus on the sounds fall makes, (when we're not giggling about the fact that we're walking through the woods with blindfolds on.) It's taking turns licking the batter-laden spoon. It's drinking cocoa and crafting in our jammies, just 'cause we feel like it that day. It's practicing our word families on a dry erase board in the car so we can visit with friends before lunch. It's crying over the caterpillar that didn't make it to cocoon stage, and regretting we didn't set her free. It's planning dinner for the neighbor who can't cook for herself. It's waiting for the special days when Laura can work with Daddy because we're all caught up and the perfect job awaits them. And it's about two sisters growing into best friends. Sure, homeschooling is challenging some days, with two little ones to care for and a house to keep up and shopping to do, and on, and on, and on... I'm T.I.R.E.D tired at the end of the day. And my floors aren't quite as clean as I would like them to be. But right now, we're homeschooling! And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Every night Laura asks me, "Mom, where should we meet in our dreams tonight?" And every night, we go through various scenarios before she finally decides the perfect outing. Some nights I am so tired and low on patience and imagination. I'd love to just tuck her in, say our prayers, give her a kiss, turn out the light, and call it a day. But her urgent request is always the same, and I can't help but indulge her. "Mom! Wait! Where should we meet in our dreams?" And I always find myself getting swept away in the moment. We've been on some pretty amazing adventures, I must say! We've been to the carnival in our party dresses and high-heeled shoes, where we've ridden the carousel and inhaled cotton candy, slurpies, and buttery popcorn. We've roller skated to the zoo, climbed aboard gigantic elephants (a mom and a baby,) and waved to all of the zoo visitors. We ate popcorn there, too, if I am not mistaken. Hmmm... Let's see... We've been beautiful ballerinas putting on a show. (In case you missed us, we were the ones in pink leotards with sparkles and glitter.) About twice a week, we don our pink bathing suits and head to the beach to swim with the dolphins, run races on the beach, and search for shells. (We always wear sunscreen.) And we've even been known to, on occasion, fly to the moon, just so we can see the stars up close. No wonder I'm always tired in the morning! Ooo... Look at the time! Laura should be drifting off any minute and we have a date I can't be late for... Tonight we're headed for donuts and coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. At least we're sticking a little closer to home tonight. And Laura's driving. Lord, may I never be "too tired" to meet Laura in our dreams. It's the best part of my day. Amen.
"There aren't enough hours in the day." "Where does the time go?" How often have you found yourself asking these questions, and others like them? If you're anything like me, than your answer is probably, "Way too often!" Have you, like me, wondered, "How can I reclaim my time? How can I make it count for something bigger, better, more significant? Is there a way I can SLOW down and BREATHE and just BE?" There are many things that fill our days that we may not have a great deal of control over. But I set out on an adventure about 9 months ago to reclaim as many of the wasted, tired, frivolous moments in my days that I could. Ya know what I found? There are literally HOURS there for the taking. You heard me! Hours! And many of them may be found in a place you shudder to acknowledge... In the time we spend in front of the TELEVISION. It is a well-known fact that Americans, as a whole, spend far too much time in front of the television. I know, I know, you've heard it before. But TV is your "downtime," your time to "take a break!" It's the time you take for yourself to "relax" and "unwind from the day." I know! I can SO relate! The aforementioned adventure that began 9 months ago? Well, suffice it to say that the first 2 months of it were spent ignoring the little voice crying out what I already knew deep down inside; The time I spent in front of the television could be much better spent doing other things. Those of you with kids would probably agree with me that being a parent makes you take a good, hard look at yourself; who you are, what you are modeling, what you hope to become. And you look at those little ones and realize all too vividly that these days we take for granted will be gone in a blink. And so the question begs to be answered. "Am I making these days count?" I want to squeeze as much joy, warmth, togetherness, fun, and sharing out of them as I can. And so it was that my TV Hiatus began. And let me just tell you, it showed me so much more that I ever anticipated! I really don't think that I ever watched that much television to being with, but what I didn't realize was how much the TV was just "On." I never stopped to think about how I, in a way, relied on the "noise." And most importantly, I didn't realize how much I struggled with the sound of silence. And so, through the days and weeks and months that followed, I weaned myself from a companion that I didn't even know I relied on. At first it was hard. I replaced the noise of the TV with radio noise. Uplifting music and commentary from our local Family Life Network streamed through my computer or from our living room stereo almost constantly. I learned, the girls and I danced and sang, we worshiped together. And when Mike came home he joined us! It's been a lot of fun! Little by little, I've weaned us from the radio noise, and now, I turn it on only periodically. And ya know what? The silence has been liberating. The days seem a bit slower now, calmer, more peaceful. We spend most evenings around the kitchen table or on the living room floor, creating, playing, reading, talking, tickling, laughing, discussing. The girls don't even ask about turning on the TV anymore, and it rarely occurs to me. Every now and then, we'll all gather around it to watch something we all enjoy, but it is intentional rather than habitual now. Our TV vacation has turned into something so much more than a vacation from noise. Having a quiet home has changed our way of life. It has helped to slow down our pace of life. It has allowed time for more reading! It has helped to make us more disciplined. And it has brought us closer together as family.
Is it spring yet? I've lived in WNY long enough to know better than to ask that question in February. But it has been a long winter! A long winter of sickness, cold, and inconvenient, ridiculous layers of outdoor clothing. We are in our second week of seclusion, it seems, due to an illness that appears to be Lysol-resistant. It just won't die. It won't! It has slowly made it's rounds and crept up on each unsuspecting member of the family. And it is bad. I could go into details. Lot's of ugly, grotesque detail, actually, but I'll be kind and refrain from my tirade.
Ya know what though? It is becoming increasingly apparent that life really is largely what you make of it. Illness has forced Mike into some much-needed and well-deserved time at home. (We girls are LOVING it.) Illness has provided ample opportunities for movie-watching, something we don't do nearly enough, and lot's o' cuddle time. Illness has allowed time for reading, personal growth, and interesting conversations. And illness has shown me yet another reason why I am so very proud to call my family my own... Despite our small house, (very small,) LOT'S of "together time," only one toilet, (eh-hem... a real issue during this particular illness,) Mom and Dad being down-for-the-count (literally) for a couple days, and two little girls with barking coughs and runny noses, we are still enjoying our time together. We worked together. We helped each other. We let things go that maybe otherwise we wouldn't have. And we stuck together. Mike even called it the "vacation" that I have been wishing for... I wouldn't go THAT far. But I'm glad we made the best of it.