Thanks – More than a Facebook Post

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“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Winnie-the-Pooh

In a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner and recorded in The Child’s Changing Consciousness, Steiner said, “If, during the first period of life, we create an atmosphere of gratitude around the children, then out of this gratitude toward the world, toward the entire universe, and also out of thankfulness for being able to be in this world, a profound and warm sense of devotion will arise . . . upright, honest, and true.” Waldorf teachers are trained to teach gratitude.

But the idea of living a life of thanksgiving predates a waldorf education by thousands of years. Verses are sprinkled throughout the Bible instructing God’s followers to be thankful. My personal favorite, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So how do we as parent-teachers teach our kids to be grateful?

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  1. Develop a Thankful Heart

We are not thankful because of what we have, but because of who we are. Gratitude is not dependent on circumstances.

The Bible tells us to be thankful in ALL circumstances. James 1: 2-4 tells, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith  produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We can be thankful even in the worst of circumstances because we know that there is a purpose for our suffering, and God is in control and at work in our lives.

Our kids need to see us being thankful in good times and in bad – but how do we replace the angry, hurt feelings with an attitude of thanksgiving? In Ephesians 5:4 Paul writes, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

John Piper explains, “The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.”

We are thankful just because we exist – and that very existence is dependent on God. Only Christians can have gratitude ingrained in their hearts and pour out in their speech and actions – no matter what circumstances may be.

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  1. Model Thanksgiving

Gratitude is caught and not taught.

When I verbally thank the stranger who lets me cut in the grocery line, or the waiter who pours my tea, or my child when she picks up her toys – my child sees and hears it. When I thank God verbally, both in head bowed prayer and eyes wide open exclamation – like thanking God when I get a good parking spot at Walmart, or praying and thanking Him for my food – my child sees me.

Steiner lectured, “An atmosphere of gratitude should grow naturally in children through merely witnessing the gratitude the adults feel as they receive what is freely given by others, and in how they express this gratitude.  If a child says “thank you” very naturally—not in response to the urging of others, but simply through imitating”

The greatest means of teaching my child to be grateful is to be grateful myself and allow my child to see that gratefulness.

  1. Practice Thanksgiving

Waldorf pedagogy can be implemented in the intentional teaching of thankfulness.

Recitation:

We can recite thanks throughout the day – for the new day, for play outside, and for the food we eat.

The important thing to remember as Christians who use waldorf methodology is who we give the thanks to is as important if not more important than the thanks itself.

Colossians 3:16–17 states “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

We are not called to a vague thanksgiving, but to God himself. Many waldorf verses thank the created instead of the created. For example:

I thank the earth beneath me

For there I stand and walk.

I thank the air around me

Which helps me breathe and talk.

I thank the sun so warm and bright

So far away in Heavens height

To keep me safe ’til morning light

God warns of this in Romans 1: 21 – 25 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Here’s some verses which thank God:

Thanks 4Start of the day:

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

For this new morning with its light,

Father, we thank Thee.

For rest and shelter of the night,

Father, we thank Thee (Emerson)

I thank Thee, Lord, for sleep and rest,

For all the things that I love best,

Now guide me through another day

And bless my work and bless my play.

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Playing Outside:

For flowers that bloom about our feet,

Father, we thank Thee.

For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,

Father, we thank Thee.

For the song of bird and hum of bee,

For all things fair we hear or see,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee. (Emerson)

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For Meals:

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee. (Emerson)

God is great and God is Good,

And we thank God for our food;

By God’s hand we must be fed,

Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen.

thanks 8Bedtime Prayers:

The day is past and over,
All thanks, O Lord, to Thee!
O Jesus, keep me in Thy sight
And save me through the coming night.
 

All praise to Thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light:
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Prayers from your heart:

Repetition is great for small children, but remember God wants us to just talk to him. Pray aloud – just talking to God and thanking him – and your little one will do so too. At bedtime, we pray and thank God for all the major things we did during the day. We thank God for all the people in our life that we love. And we thank God for being God and for loving us.

Stories:

Children learn through stories – so don’t forget to pepper your story selection with stories that teach gratefulness. Here’s a few tales:
King Thrushbear  
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/37381/37381-h/37381-h.htm#Page_152

Androcles and the Lion  http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0156.html

The White Snake  http://www.authorama.com/grimms-fairy-tales-36.html

Story of Ruth and Naomi (adapted from the Bible) https://www.gutenberg.org/files/45114/45114-h/45114-h.htm#Page_143

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Let’s remember: Gratitude is a lifestyle, not a 26 day countdown to Thanksgiving on Facebook.

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Grandpa Needs a Teddy Bear

Grandpa Teddy Bear

Me: Grandpa’s heart is broken, he has to go to the hospital so the doctor’s can fix it.

Rose: Will they give him a teddy bear first? (Rose’s last surgeon brought her a teddy bear before surgery)

Me: I don’t think so, doctor’s only do that for kids, not grandpas.

Rose: Can we give him a teddy bear, I think he needs one.


We love kindergardenI set up a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily schedule. I cleaned, organized, and simplified the house. I bought Stockmar crayons and paint, “At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands” Cookbook, wool felt for handcrafts, and “The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh.” I’ve scoped out and decided on a place to go for forest days. I’ve filed out all the paperwork, packed the bags, and moved my older son into college. I am ready to start Kindergarten with Rose.  First day of school: September 1, 2015 . . .

But we won’t be using the paint or cookbook or felt. Instead, I’ll be at the hospital with my dad who is having open heart surgery. Rose will be at the babysitters – drawing a “Get Well” card for grandpa.  The news of his surgery arrived shockingly suddenly and definitely changed my expectations for the perfect “first week of school.”

Yet, maybe this event is the perfect “first week of school.” Maybe this event serves to remind me what is important in life. Maybe this event sets up the “right” priorities for Rose. Maybe this event reminds me why I homeschool.

Teaching my children to love God and serve others IS why I homeschool. Starting school by loving and serving grandpa is more important than anything else we could be doing this week. There will be thirteen or fourteen years of reading, writing, counting, drawing, and playing.  But serving others must take priority over traditional education.

In a recent survey done by the Barna Group, Christian parents were asked what their number one goal for their children was. Not surprisingly, the number one answer was that their children receive a good education. Less than half as many Christian parents considered their children’s relationship with Jesus to be as important as their education. Even less thought their children’s character was a top priority.  I don’t want to be one of these parents.  Education has its place, but I would choose illiteracy over eternity without God.

God is writing the lesson plans for Rose’s first week of school – and I know His plans are better than my own.

Prayers for grandpaWatching old movies with Grandpa: Sometimes building  relationships supersedes the “rules”    (Rule: no TV on school days)

Visiting Grandpa in the hospital: We are called to minster to others

Coloring pictures for Grandpa: We use our gifts, talents, and passions to bless others

Giving Grandpa a teddy bear: Comfort others as you have been comforted

Praying for Grandpa: Reminds us God is in control – we aren’t, and He is the true healer

Living with Grandpa: Rose has a spiritual legacy. Daily she sees her grandpa reading his Bible, loving others, and putting his faith in God during times of trouble.  He faces death knowing that   “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

So, we will take pictures of Rose’s first day of school – even if it taken in a hospital waiting room.  God’s timing is perfect and this is the lesson He wants me to start my daughters “education” with.

I think we’ll go shopping for a teddy bear tomorrow.

Teddy Bear for grandpa

Confessions of a Slob

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When I told my son I was writing a blog on organization – he laughed. It is kind of funny. I admit I have no authority – other than my own struggle. I hate to clean. I hate that I hate to clean. Over the years I have made lots of excuses to try and alleviate the guilt:

Excuse our mess – the children are making memories

Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens, and happy children

And my favorite:

Today’s House Keeping Tip: Always keep several get well cards on the mantel. That way if unexpected guests arrive they’ll think you’ve been sick and unable to clean. 

Years ago I learned a valuable lesson. My husband and I had a life changing decision to make and needed advise – so we stopped by a friend’s home. Their house was a wreck. However, they did not apologize but pushed clothes off the couch, told us to take a seat, and stopped what they were doing to listen to us. I felt welcomed, despite the fact I had to step over toys to get to the couch.  If they would have apologized for the mess, I would have felt guilty about stopping by. I vowed to never make people feel uncomfortable at my home – no matter how it looked.

Cleaning 10I now vow, to never again use the fact that I am a mom, or a homeschooler, or a grandma to excuse my own laziness. I CHOSE to do other things besides cleaning.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I am getting off the merry -go-round. I am going to change my habits, and though I may never have a perfect house, I am going to clean it up and keep it up. Here’s my plan.

I will do the following before starting school in September:

Step One: Rethink the Space

Write down everything you use your home for.  Rethink your home space and figure out what purpose each room and corner has. If you don’t throw formal dinner parties, repurpose your dining room.  I have realized that in the 9 years we have lived in our home our needs have changed. When we moved into our home, we had one unmarried adult child who didn’t live at home, one teenager, and an older elementary child. I turned the dining room into a library. We have since adopted two children and three of our kids have gotten married and had babies. We now have a son who is going off to college this fall, a five year old, and seven grandbabies who come to the house regularly. Two or three of the grandkids find it fun to pull books off the shelf and fling them across the room, another loves to use the shelves as a jungle gym and climb to the ceiling. The toys were all in the front room where the adults sit and visit – which makes a decent sized room seem very small with multiple babies and toddlers at the feet of the adults on every chair. So, I repurposed the dining room turned library into a play room – which can still be seen by the adults in the front room.

Step Two: Purge

Purge. Purge. Purge. Less stuff means less to clean. Only keep things you are currently using out in the open. Store things you KNOW you will use in the future in storage boxes and label the boxes well. I purged 23 years of homeschool books, how to books, and novels I haven’t read for years.

Step Three: Find a Home

Reorganize and make sure everything has a home – from the throw pillows to a pair of scissors. If it doesn’t have a home – give it one or get rid of it. Always put it back when done with it. We’ve been fairly good about this, once things have a home – at least now things aren’t just thrown on the counter.

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Step Four: Just do it.

Organizing it in my head and planning it out is fun. Making it happen is WORK. Just do it. I am trying to get a room done a week over the summer. Purge, store, give away or throwing it away. Reward yourself once a week. When I have done a good job – I go to a movie, or get a pedicure, or buy myself a book (which I get rid of as soon as I have read it!).

Step Five: Keep it up.

Once you have done it. Don’t let it get behind again. Pick up every day – whether you feel like it or not. The laundry is the hardest part of this for me. My wonderful husband helped me do over 20 loads of laundry to get it all done at once. I now am working on doing two loads a day – from start to finish. Actually matching socks and putting them in the drawer instead of throwing them in a box and matching them when they are needed – which frustrates the daylights out of my husband who can never find a match in his drawer.

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Here’s my Plan for the new school year:

Daily with the help of my five year old:

  1. We will clean one room a day, directly after breakfast (get the stuff I don’t want to do done first, so we can play outside, and paint, and cook, and have fun the rest of the day) One room a day is not overwhelming to accomplish, and if I miss a day it is not a big deal, we do the room the next day.
  2. We will wash, dry, fold and put away two loads of laundry.
  3. We will pick up and put everything back in its home when we are finished using it.
  4. We will do dishes and wipe down the kitchen after every meal.

Cleaning 6

Things I’ve started doing which have helped me change my attitude about cleaning:

  1. Use cleaners I feel good about – I like using essential oils and natural cleaners which smell amazing and have a calming effect.
  2. Talk to my daughter about how we use the room as we clean it, and pray over it.
  3. As we fold clothes, pray for the person whose clothes we are folding.
  4. Verbally tell stories while cleaning. We’ve started doing this – this month I am telling “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears” – sometimes I even get so wrapped up in the story that the cleaning goes by faster!
  5. Ask for help when it is needed. My 17 year olds friends practically live with us on the weekend – I have no problems asking them to take out the trash or clean up the coke cans they leave in front of the Nintendo.
  6. I have an accountability partner – not a neat freak, but someone who struggles like me. We text each other when we clean. We pray for one another. I hope we can help each other out before each of us has company over. And I hope to go out with my accountability partner once a month to celebrate our victories.

And the last piece of advice I’ll bestow upon you is:

Give yourself grace.

You would give it to anyone else – so don’t be a bully to yourself. Forgive yourself when you get behind. Start over; you’ll always have more dishes tomorrow.

Freedom From Expectations

raggedy Ann booksI had something to prove. I homeschooled when  it wasn’t cool to homeschool.  My kid couldn’t fall behind; in fact he should be smarter than everyone else his age. I played the one upmanship – like every other mom – my kid could sing his ABCs and count to 20 before most other kids, read fairly early, and memorized  bible verses faster than his friends.

23 years later …

I have nothing to prove. If you haven’t heard, homeschooling works. I’ve graduated 4, and 3 have gotten into college, they are productive citizens of this great country – they even vote … unlike most of their peers.

Raggedy Ann thrown

As I start fresh, with a new child, I commit

  1. Not to worship my child, but worship God, her creator
  2. Not to play the one upmanship game, but encourage other moms to be true to themselves and their children
  3. Not to use my child to define myself
  4. To listen patiently and kindly to other people’ s advise, then ignore what doesn’t work for us
  5. Not to compare my child to other children, but record her individual progress
  6. To enjoy my child where she is now, rather than wishing or pushing her forward
  7. To realize I have 13 years to teach her before college, and she doesn’t need it all now
  8. To listen more than lecture
  9. To give time to “do it myself” vs doing it for her because we’re in a hurry to get somewhere or do something
  10. To observe and respond, rather than fabricate lessons
  11. To include her in my adult activities (like cleaning) instead of arranging my life around activities I design for her
  12. raggedy Ann fairiesTo sing together
  13. To look for fairies under leaves together
  14. To play together
  15. To memorize Bible verses together
  16. To paint together
  17. To lay and watch the clouds together
  18. To tell fairy tales together
  19. To use all of our senses to experience the world, not just read about how it works
  20. To stop and smell the roses we planted together
  21. To dance under the stars together
  22. To sit and be quiet together

After looking at me like I am a relic from the past when I state I don’t believe in early academics, the shock wears off,  and I’m often asked  “Why?”  I like to answer the question with a question, “Why do you believe in early academics?” Although it is the socially acceptable thing to believe in, most can’t give a good reason. I can defend my position scientifically and logically, but more importantly I can defend my position from experience and heartfelt emotion. My daughter has years of academics ahead … I want to enjoy her childlike wonder as long as I can.

raggedy ann outside

Read more about it:

One of the first articles I read – that started changing my mind – on early academics:

Teach our Children to Write, Read, and Spell by Susan R. Johnson, MD

http://www.youandyourchildshealth.org/youandyourchildshealth/articles/teaching%20our%20children.html

Other awesome reports:

Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children by Lilian Gonshaw Katz, PhD

https://deyproject.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/dey-lively-minds-4-8-15.pdf

Crisis in the Kindergarten Why Children Need to Play in School

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504839.pdf

Miracles on Rainy Days

Miracles come in small packages and rainy days.

Miracle One

Rose slept through the night!
No night-terrors. No sleep-walking. No night-meres. No insomnia.

Miracle Two

Rose played nicely.
No fighting. No biting. No pulling hair. No stealing toys (only a couple of illegal trades)

Miracle Three

Rose was happy.
No pouting. No crying. No melt-downs. No screaming (well maybe, just once)

Miracle Four

 

Rose slept.
No complaining at nap. No grumbling at bed.
Thank you, Lord
for Miracles on Rainy Days

Kymee or Baby Gaga?

5 Things you would never do with your first born

5.Dye her hair pink
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ~ and Mandy loves hair dye. She’s been asking to do this forever, and I’m mother of the year in her eyes for having enough of a sense of humor to say “yes.”
It does accentuate her eyes – don’t you think?

I’m obsessively opposed to the typical.
~ Lady Gaga
4. Let her eat junk food
So, one day I feed Kymee some foam from my frappuccino and say, “I know I shouldn’t do this.” Grandma quietly admits she’s fed Kymee whipped cream. Stephan speaks up, “Well I’ve feed her chocolate.” Emylee, “I snuck her the inside of a twinkie.” Andres and Grandpa, “Icecream.”
Everyone admitted they thought they were the only one doing it, and they wanted to bribe her so they’d be her favorite!
Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.
~Don Kardong

3. Divafy her


This is so much fun. When Emylee was little, we were so blessed to receive hand-me-downs because we were dirt poor. I dressed her in what God provided. But I have to admit, that God has blessed me this time around by allowing me to choose clothes I like for Kymee!
Divas are not made, they are born.

~ Fiona Apple
2. Spoil her rotten
I told Emylee I was worried. I’m about to have two grandsons, and they’ll only be a little over a year younger than Kymee. I have to be a “mom” to Kymee, but I’ll want to spoil my grandbabies. Emylee started laughing histerically, finally she said, “Don’t kid yourself, Mom, you spoil Kymee rotten!”
I figure, I’ve had 2 14 year old girls – I know the truth – she won’t always want me to hold her tight and snuggle into my neck. I’m going to enjoy it while I can!


Never fear spoiling children by making them too happy. Happiness is the atmosphere in which all good affections grow. .
~Thomas Bray

1. Trust your instincts

With my firstborn, I read all the books, listened to older wiser moms, and tried to do everything “right.” I called the pediatrician if my baby didn’t match the chart for their month in “What to Expect the First Year.” Someplace between my first and my fifth, I realized: GOD GAVE THIS CHILD TO ME. HE TRUSTS ME. I SHOULD TRUST ME. There is no one like Kymee. God placed her in my home because He believed I would be the best one to raise her for Him, and to give her pink hair.

I still read the books (when do kindles run out of memory?) I still look for good, godly advise. But I spend more time praying and studying God’s Word to answer my parenting questions. God is the ultimate example – it took me five kids to “get” it. Maybe my friends with only 2 kids aren’t as hard-headed as me.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Is. 40:11