Sheer Genius…and Its Mom

Sheer Genius…and Its Mom

Have you seen the Piano Guys video of their ren­di­tion of Angels We Have Heard on High that’s been float­ing around on Face­book recently? I saw the video link for days upon days before I finally clicked on it tonight. Incred­i­ble. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link: Piano Guys: Angels We Have Heard on High I’ll wait while you go lis­ten to/watch it.

So, I just watched this, and do you know what went through my mind?

What kind of moth­ers did these men have?

That’s what I won­dered. I imag­ine that they had to actu­ally spend time explor­ing in order to get to the place where they are so com­fort­able around the piano to play with it like that. This is not nor­mal, folks. In case you didn’t notice, most peo­ple don’t do these things with a piano. They are com­fort­able with it. They aren’t afraid of get­ting it wrong.

And their moth­ers likely let them explore more than I think I have done with my kids.

Here’s the deal: I’m a rule fol­lower. And those guys, they are break­ing a lot of rules. And it’s magical.

Here’s to allow­ing our chil­dren break some rules in the name of explo­ration. Here’s to let­ting go of the fear of the unknown and allow­ing them to expand their under­stand­ing of things. And run­ning with it. They might actu­ally sur­prise them­selves and every­one else in the process. This is sheer genius. But it isn’t in a box, neat and tidy, and fol­low­ing anyone’s rules. Cre­ativ­ity is like that.

I’m inspired to let my chil­dren play around with things in ways that seem out of the ordi­nary. Not in a destruc­tive way, but in a way that I might not have ever con­sid­ered before. I don’t want to be the lim­it­ing fac­tor in their lives. God gives some peo­ple eyes to see things dif­fer­ently than we do. Do we fight that or embrace it? Why do I strug­gle with this con­cept? Why do I rein them in when they are think­ing of unique ways of tack­ling a project or a prob­lem? I think I am try­ing to save them from mak­ing mis­takes and wast­ing time. Or from being seen as silly or unusual. But, it is in the dif­fer­ent that our imag­i­na­tions are cap­ti­vated. Bril­liant minds do things dif­fer­ently than the sta­tus quo.

And I’ll bet they have moms who give them the free­dom to explore. Let’s be those moms.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Amo Amas Amat…

Amo Amas Amat…

Well, now that we are well into Octo­ber  Novem­ber, how’s your home­school­ing going?

We’ve been plug­ging along. It’s been a great start to our year. The chil­dren are apply­ing them­selves, not drag­ging their feet too much at the thought of work­ing hard.

I’m teach­ing Latin to the girls together. I had taught my older boys Latin. It sort of dwin­dled over the last sev­eral years, but I picked it up again this year for my girls. Obvi­ously, they are on dif­fer­ent lev­els of grasp­ing it at 7, 10, and 13. But, it’s been so fun hear­ing Faith con­ju­gate her verbs. It amazes me how much young minds grasp and remember.

And it’s been won­der­ful watch­ing the older girls coach Faith and drill her on her vocab­u­lary. Lit­tle do they real­ize, but it helps them remem­ber the words at the same time.

We have been learn­ing “O Come All Ye Faith­ful” in Latin. The girls can sing it now with­out the words in front of them. And they can play it on the harp. I love see­ing them inte­grate their harp into their Latin. {I still have to have the words in front of me!}

We’ve been exper­i­ment­ing with a new sys­tem of record keep­ing. It seems to be work­ing. Keeps us all account­able daily for our work. And I mean us, because I have found that if I don’t have a sys­tem in place, that I get all off track and con­fused about who has done their gram­mar that day and who is hid­ing their sci­ence. They can be sneaky like that, you know, if they really apply them­selves to it. I’ve been try­ing for years to find some­thing that works for me, that is a quick and con­cise sys­tem. And I went back to our very early days of school­ing and pulled out that sys­tem again. Hello? I guess I can be slow some­times. It was right in front of me the whole time.

I was look­ing for some snazzy iPhone app or some­thing more mod­ern. Good old note­book with printed pages for check marks for the win!

I think the babies and the tod­dlers over the years really chal­lenged me. I never knew what the next 10 min­utes were going to hold, and it frus­trated me. Now my baby is 7. I have no more excuses. Mamas of lit­tles, hang in there. It is hard going some days. I know. Just get­ting all those bod­ies fed and clothed with brushed teeth and hair is about all we can man­age on some days. Let alone the laun­dry and vac­u­um­ing, dust­ing, mop­ping, shop­ping, school­ing, and PLAY. Yes, the chil­dren ought to see the sun dur­ing the week. It’s so easy to cram every­one into the base­ment for work, totally for­get­ting their frames and their need for nat­ural Vit­a­min D.

I guess I just want to encour­age you today. I want you to know that you won’t always have dirty dia­pers, runny noses, naps, and nurs­ing babies demand­ing your atten­tion. Say­ing good­bye to those days has been hard for me. I hoped for years that the Lord would give us another. But, after a cou­ple of mis­car­riages and the cal­en­dar flip­ping so rapidly, I have come to accept that we most likely won’t be hav­ing any more babies in our home. So, even­tu­ally they come to an end, and you have more time to focus on spelling.

So, we embrace today. We embrace the grow­ing, learn­ing, con­ju­gat­ing Latin verbs that can now pick up again. And embrace it with JOY.

Wher­ever you are in this jour­ney of your life, embrace where the Lord has you today. Today is your gift. We have no promises of tomorrow.

It gets eas­ier, in some sense of the word. The phys­i­cal sense, I sup­pose. And it gets harder, in that the chil­dren start ask­ing really hard ques­tions and push­ing lim­its and bound­aries (other than how far away from Mommy can I walk and still be safe). They start think­ing log­i­cally, they start ques­tion­ing the why of the rules. They start won­der­ing about doc­trine. They have opin­ions (other than the famous two year old “NO!”) and well thought out ideas. They ask ques­tions that we don’t know the answers to.

Pride has to be set aside if we want to face this stage well. Humil­ity is on the menu daily. Cry­ing out to God for a whole new type of strength is our only hope. I go to bed at night some­times won­der­ing how I did. Did I ade­quately address the heart of my daugh­ters who are strug­gling with con­tent­ment? Did I react with frus­tra­tion at the bick­er­ing? Did I show my chil­dren hope in my inter­ac­tions with them, or was I too busy with the sched­ule that I squashed oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth, and instead chose to bark out orders to pick up toys and set the table? It’s a con­stant bat­tle between get­ting things done in time for the next dead­line and truly liv­ing out the day, accept­ing the inter­rup­tions of life as God’s prov­i­den­tial gifts to us.

Being a mother, a truly Godly mother, is so hard. We can’t just live for us. We must live for God. We must draw our strength from Him alone. May the Lord give us wis­dom as we plot out our days and make room for the inter­rup­tions that always come. One day we’ll get back to the task we thought was so impor­tant before life took over. And hon­estly, I miss those sweet baby days, the foun­da­tional days, which make con­ju­gat­ing Latin pos­si­ble in the later days of our children.

Routines and Flying {by the seat of my pants}

Routines and Flying {by the seat of my pants}

We started back to school last week. It felt good to get back into a rou­tine of sorts. The chil­dren seem happy to be back, and eager to learn their new sub­jects. Mostly any­way. Latin has been fun.

We’ve been using the same cur­ricu­lum since my old­est was in sec­ond grade. Our sixth child is start­ing sec­ond grade this year. And as far as we can tell, she’s our last. So, it’s the last time I will be going through this par­tic­u­lar rou­tine. It’s odd. And I find myself get­ting some­what sen­ti­men­tal about the whole thing. We put the phon­ics cur­ricu­lum away for good. The girls asked if they can use it with their chil­dren one day, so I’m keep­ing it. That just made me smile. They liked it quite well.

Faith is learn­ing his­tory for­mally for the first time. She loves it. I’ve been down this road a few times. From Cre­ation through present day (we go chrono­log­i­cally through his­tory). So, I am savor­ing the teach­ing, watch­ing her see what new hori­zons are out there.


Faith working on her math.

Faith work­ing on her math.

I’ve been sort of on autopi­lot for the last cou­ple of years. You know, same song dif­fer­ent verse. Just do the next thing and keep going.

I recently asked on The Vir­tu­ous Wife Face­book page if peo­ple sched­ule their week or fly by the seat of their pants. I’m curi­ous about how peo­ple attack life (or ease into it, as the case may be…). Some­one flipped it around on me and asked what I do.

Ha! I don’t feel quite so “vir­tu­ous” by my real­ity. I like the idea of a sched­ule, but in all hon­esty, I tend to fly.

This year is dif­fer­ent though. I’ve returned to my old days of school­ing: I have a plan mapped out. Days on the cal­en­dar. Check­lists. The whole shebang.

And con­trary to what I assumed it would be, I find it to be quite lib­er­at­ing. I feel more in con­trol and like we can actu­ally do this thing well. No more guess­work. No more check­ing at the end of the year to make sure we schooled enough days {and run­ning into July to fill those missed days}. I know what we have to do. THEY know what they have to do. And they are as excited as I am. They love the idea of check­ing off their lists (I made lists for them also.). I feel like I actu­ally have more time in my day to do the other things that are impor­tant to get done. Like laun­dry. And cook­ing. And a host of other things that are impor­tant to the run­ning of my home.

So, what was my impe­tus to get orga­nized? Hon­estly, it is my desire to honor my hus­band. He is the clas­sic Type A guy. Super duper orga­nized, pre­pared, straight­for­ward guy. And he mar­ried a stacker, an “I’ll get to it later” girl. And, as patient as he is, I know it dri­ves him crazy. I know it. And I’ve ignored it most of our mar­ried life. Oh, I have dreams and desires to be more orga­nized. But, when the rub­ber meets the road, I’m busy fly­ing from task to task, hop­ing I didn’t for­get any­thing majorly impor­tant. Like din­ner. {They really do like to eat EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. What’s with that?} And I know that, while I get a lot accom­plished in a given day, I don’t get as much done as per­haps I could if I had a plan.

So I have a plan.

I orga­nized my laun­dry room and school room this sum­mer. It makes the task of putting things where they belong so much eas­ier, cut­ting out wasted time in search­ing for that one thing I can’t find because I don’t quite know where I put it. I can breathe again.

So, do you have a plan? Are you super orga­nized? I know some women who are incred­i­bly so. Do you fly from task to task, hop­ing noth­ing major is being for­got­ten? Good thing chil­dren and pets squawk when they are hun­gry, huh?

But, what would your hus­band like you to do? Does he have a desire for your home to be run in a way that is con­trary to how it is actu­ally run? Do you make his pri­or­i­ties your pri­or­i­ties? That’s the hard one. That dying to self and serv­ing oth­ers thing. I resisted for so long because I was afraid of los­ing con­trol over my sched­ule. What sched­ule? Well, the idea that I can meet an emer­gency that arose, or a friend who needed help or time. But the thing is, I was wrong. I actu­ally now have that free­dom because I know where I am. My chil­dren can stick to the plan even if I’m not sit­ting right beside them. They have it mapped out for them.

Don’t be like me. The stub­born part any­way. If your hus­band is ask­ing you to change some­thing in the way you run your home, try it. You might be sur­prised, like me, that his insight is actu­ally very wise and will be help­ful to you.

I’m thank­ful that my hus­band is very patient, gen­tle, kind, not demand­ing . He has never forced his way with this. He has encour­aged, sug­gested, requested, yet giv­ing me the lee­way to make the final deci­sion about my day. He is so under­stand­ing towards my heart in it all. But I wish I had made more effort years ago. He really is a smart guy. I don’t know what I was so afraid of.

Now, let’s see how long I will main­tain this new rou­tine and sched­ule. I pray it will be for good!


The End of Summer

The End of Summer


I can­not believe that sum­mer is near­ing its end. How did that hap­pen? I sup­pose the travel and the manic sched­ule might have some­thing to do with it.

I had so much I wanted to get done this sum­mer before I am swamped again with school and the daily grind.

But, here we are, sit­ting at the end of August, with the list of projects still mostly untouched. Does that ever hap­pen to you? Lofty plans left undone?

I guess I have a list of excuses as long as my to-do list: a three-week vaca­tion to Cal­i­for­nia {which was AMAZING}, fam­ily camp, com­pany in and out all sum­mer in between our trips, catch­ing up on my busi­ness orders, soak­ing up the sun with the kids before we are stuck indoors again due to snow and cold…

How­ever, this past week­end, my amaz­ing daugh­ter in law came to spend a few days with me while our hus­bands were rough­ing it in the untamed Alaska on Mon­tague Island. We tack­led my laun­dry room. I think it took us about 10 hours together and 1287 trash bags to get through it. It was our own per­sonal Haz­ardous Jour­ney.

Seri­ously, where did all that junk come from? To be fair, my laun­dry room isn’t a single-purpose room. It is the col­lec­tive closet of all the chil­dren. It con­tains the bulk of my linens. I also have all of my craft­ing items stored in there. From 1987 to today. We laughed so hard at all my old sewing pat­terns. Remem­ber the 80s and 90s with the huge col­lars? Yup. I had pat­terns for those. And the Prairie dresses. Not sure why I had those. I don’t remem­ber wear­ing any of that stuff. Maybe I have blot­ted it out of my mem­ory. Let’s not dig up the old photo albums, okay? While I took many things to Good­will today, I threw out the pat­terns. I thought I would be kind to soci­ety and not let those stay in cir­cu­la­tion. We ought to learn from our past, right? And not des­tine oth­ers to make the same mis­takes we {may have} made.

And now my laun­dry room sits in its beau­ti­ful mag­nif­i­cent glory. I used a label maker. Do you have one? They should come with a warn­ing: Cau­tion! The use of this machine is highly addic­tive. Keep small chil­dren away or they may end up labeled along with the pat­terns and fab­ric and zip­pers! {Yes, I have a label for my zip­pers. I am *that* orga­nized now.}

So, beloved Sarah went home on Tues­day with her hus­band safely returned from the wilds. And the bug had bit­ten me. Hard.

I tack­led the school room. I can be down­right vio­lent when it comes to throw­ing stuff out. You would never know in my nor­mal daily life. But, another 672 trash bags later,  a label machine smok­ing in the back­ground, and I have a pris­tine school room.

laundry room and school room organized

The lit­tle girls were giddy. After the fact. They were very ner­vous to come any­where near me dur­ing the process. Not sure if they thought I’d throw them out with the other heaps of things or if I’d put them to work on some project that looked like it might take up all their free time. Hmmm. They did help. Just with caution.

But, as the room came together again, they were so excited. I kept hear­ing cheers and excla­ma­tions to the effect of “I can’t wait to start school!!” and “Hey! This is where our Latin goes! Mom has a label right there!” Yes, I’m doing Latin with all three girls this year. Should be fun.  Right? I look for­ward to watch­ing Faith tackle it. She already thinks she can speak French. {She can’t. She says nor­mal things in a French accent. Makes us laugh. The usual.}

So we are going to start school next week at some point. We have com­pany com­ing on Mon­day for a few days. Our Eng­lish Irish friends are send­ing rein­force­ments. We have the great joy of hav­ing their old­est son and his lovely wife com­ing to visit. And then I believe we will start school. I don’t think I have any­thing else on the cal­en­dar to give us a good excuse to delay any longer.

So, so long, Sum­mer. You were fab­u­lous this year. We will soak up the fad­ing rays of sun while we can until you join us again in all your glory next year. Thanks for the memories!

Top Photo credit: A.Moltini / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Ain’t It Grand?

Ain’t It Grand?

On the sec­ond day of our annual field trip, we ven­tured to the Grand Canyon. Admit­tedly, I was a lit­tle ner­vous. Last time I was at the Grand Canyon, I had three lit­tle boys, aged 4, 6, and 8. Plus a sweet lit­tle six month old daugh­ter who was strapped to my body. Boys and canyons that are opened wide for falling just aren’t a great mix.

I was pleased to see that some mother was able to influ­ence the pow­ers that be in the deci­sion mak­ing and money spend­ing realm of the National Park Ser­vice because this time, they had rail­ings and fenc­ing every­where I looked. A boy would have to work hard to hurl him­self down that canyon to cer­tain death.

And I know it was a mother because a father doesn’t tend to notice such things. In my experience.

Have I ever men­tioned my insane fear of heights?

Seri­ously. I have often con­tem­plated just dri­ving off of a high bridge that I am dri­ving over, just to get it over with. I KNOW I am going to end up falling off any­way. So far, I’ve made it across all bridges unscathed.

Mike rec­om­mends just stay­ing put when I have the option. We were vis­it­ing in San Diego once. He had meet­ings. I had the day to explore with the kids. Huge bridge to get to the beach. Me freak­ing out as we drove over. It was a wild ride. He sug­gested an alter­na­tive plan for the next day…

Any­way. Back to the Grand Canyon.


It was spec­tac­u­lar. The rail­ings were helpful.

But I think that going with lit­tle girls and an older son made it much more peace­ful for me.



We made it safely out of the park. Not even a close call this time. We con­tin­ued our drive to King­man.
And we even got a sur­prise for din­ner:

I feel like a hero.
It’s been a good day.

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