27 August 2012

A New School Year

Summer is over! And with that, most of Coqui's same-aged friends are going back to school. Not us. We are staying home because we are homeschooling. And I am so blessed to be able to do this for my children. (If you are interested in my/our reasons for homeschooling, go back to my post Why I want to homeschool.)

As you all know, we had a baby (and if you missed it, please go back and read here). So with a new baby, things are just a little different in our house these days. To say it shortly: our world resolved around one little Lady, and we love it.
I am also starting Peanut with 'real' school this year, so I am going to be very busy....

I was a little nervous all summer long, about what would happen in late August/September. How can I handle a newborn and two schooling children all at once, all by myself? About two weeks ago, God gave me a vision that brought me much needed peace. He told me how to do our school this year! Wow, what a blessing! My fears were gone, and I had the confidence I needed to get started.

Needless to say, we started school in the beginning of August. We started slowly. Two worksheets the first day, three the next, ....etc. After the first week, I knew that I could handle it! So we have been at it for the past three weeks, and it feels great. I used workbook from last year to repeat and repeat what we had learned last year.
I always wanted to try out one of those curriculum that are all laid out for you! All year, every subject. I decided on one and got it last spring. A Beka was my choice. I love it to be Christian. And I think they are reasonable about what a second grader should know (or not yet!). I am very happy with my choice.

When it arrived, I put the two boxes in a corner to forget about it until the school year was over. Eventually, I pulled it back out and unpacked it. Wow, Coqui has alot of work to do! Last week, I went through the entire thing myself. And it doesn't look that bad anymore....

I ordered Second Grade. Yes, he is only six, but with being home-schooled for the past three years, and doing First Grade last year, I feel he can do it. Once I looked through it, I know we can..... with one thing in mind: if things don't work as planned, with the baby and all, if we need more time, we can take the next two years to accomplish everything. I have that liberty and I feel really good about it.

So today was a special day: the kids were off from school. But tomorrow, tomorrow is another special day, because we are starting our new curriculum. I am very excited. It will be nice not to have to prep too much in advance. And I love that I have all the books already.

Besides loving those books, I am less happy with the what-so-called specials. There is only one tiny book for history, one for science, and one for health/manners. Where is Geography? Apparently, they plan on alternating them every four weeks. No no no.... I think Coqui needs to do this every week. We did it last year. And he loves to do experiments! I can not tell him to wait a month!

We will still be doing lapbooks. One of these days, I will do a tutorial, but in the meantime, you can just google it, and enjoy what all the other people have done. It's so much fun and Coqui really enjoys them (here and here and here). I have come up with an entire list all the way until Christmas. 

Back To HOME School tomorrow.....
....and yes, that is our stack of books for tomorrow. Don't worry, there are some reading books in there.... and my teachers\'s handbook.

13 August 2012

Adventure of parenting part 2

Yesterday, I wrote in general, how I parent my children. Today, I want to share specific examples. 

And it is the perfect day to do so as I had to discipline both, but my middle child specifically, multiple times. As frustrating as it is as a parent, I know it is just as frustrating to them to figure out the world. So on a day like today where we just stay home, I like to be a little more consistent than on days where we have to run around. It tires me out - I can just imagine what it does to them.

So my dear darling daughter Peanut is..... how do I say that nicely? ..... testing, vivacious, and defiant. It's exhausting for me, especially as I got so spoiled with my obedient boy. She reminds me of my brother.... seriously. She can be naughty which can be cute - sometimes. She can be headstrong which is less desirable and so frustrating because one can not reason with her on certain things. She can be rebellious even, which is very challenging for me. And she can be disruptive and destructive, which usually means trying to get her brother into trouble with lying or teasing him. 

So in the past three years, I have tried many things with her,..... many, and none really worked, or for a short time only. Time-outs have never worked. FINALLY, I did discover what works for her. She loves to be a girly girl through and through, from pink being her favorite color to having a very strong opinion to what girl clothes are and what not. And that is where the working part comes in: with her clothes. She doesn't care about toys or 'stuff' being taken away from her. But she sure cares about her dresses. 

So that is what I do - I take away dresses and girly shirts. She even lost her princess bedding because of her nightly screaming sessions! It works and she cares as she constantly asks for them back..... and I have given them back on really good days. 

So today, she lost four dresses during the morning, and three more during quiet time. She peed on the floor and I stuck her into 'boy' clothes this morning.
I told her that we don't pee on floors, as she is completely potty trained, so she knows the difference. This one was on purpose... so there is her consequence.
By the time I was able to finish this post, my pretty girl had lost six more dresses. I don't know what was wrong today, but this screaming business needs to stop! I am not putting up with it anymore. 'consistency, consistency..... I am stronger than her!'

Coqui? Well, he works totally different as a rather obedient child. I just have to threaten him with loosing something, and many times, that is enough. With him, electronics work best. He loves TV, my phone, the computer, his DS and even still his Leapster. So loosing one of these is quite 'tragic' for him. And when he does lose them, it is usually not for a long time. 

He is far from perfect though. There are many things that we have to work on. One of them is that he is a sore loser. He can not lose in a good way, at all - and honestly, for a six year old, it's quite embarrassing (at least for me as his mother). (Unfortunately, I know where it is coming from - I am a sore loser as well.) But we are working on it, and he has gotten better, with lots of love and positive reinforcement. One way is to let him play on his DS and because it is fairly new to him, he still looses alot, so it teaches him to try it over and over to win more and more games. He also understands that he needs to practice his soccer twice a week in order to play one game on the weekend. So he gets the message, he just has a hard time sometimes to put it into action. Those actions get him time-outs (yes, that still works for him!), and loosing the electronic for a certain time.

But like every human being, my kids are a work in progress. We all thrive to be better people, and to be more Godlike. Nobody is perfect. And it takes alot of patience. And love. And prayer.

12 August 2012

Why I am a stricter mom.....

This post is not about me having the one-and-only formula to be the perfect mom or to have the perfect kids. It is just about me being me and to be true to myself. It is about what works for US, for now..... that does not say that I know it all, nor does it say it will always work this way. Circumstances can change, and when the time comes, we will adjust to that.

I am a strict mom.

Yep, it is out now! I've outed myself, and chased half of my readers away..... But I kind of like it. Even though I have to admit that it is not easy to find a good balance between the love-you-all-the-time-no-matter-what attitude, and between the tough love that children sometimes need from their parents. After all, as parents, we love our children, and because of this love, we feel the need to discipline them.

So yes, I can be tough. On my kids. Sometimes, the Hubby says, I can be too tough. That is hard to hear. Because I DO love my kids so much. They are the most important thing in my life. I feel motherhood is a calling for me. I have fun being a mom.  I love to spend time with my kids.

So why am I strict?
Good question!
Well, I have this big fear of adolescents that are completely out of control! I mean lying, stealing, drugs, unemployment, .... to name just a few. And I really do not want my kids to be part of this!
No, I can not look into the future, and I can not predict, that after all my hard work, they won't turn 'bad' anyways. I can't. All I can do now, is to teach them right, teach them about good choices, about God, and PRAY! Pray that they will copy us, as parents, to make good, or preferably better choices! Pray that if they do fall off the right path, they will come back to the right one. Pray that I will keep my promise to them of always being there for them. Pray that we all become wiser through the process.

So it makes more sense to me to lay down strict rules NOW and loosen them up once they understand what obedience means. Obedience to their parents AND to God. I believe that the only thing God requires us to do is to OBEY. He gave us a free will, but He wants us to obey Him. Because He knows what is best for us. And obeying Him shows our love for Him.
I think this is the same with children. We want them to obey us, because as adults, we know what is best for them. We are able to protect them from harm. We are able to make good choices for them, as an example. And hopefully, one day, they will copy us, because they see that it works. Through our kids obedience, they show us that they are listening and learning, and that they are loving us. That obedience results into the family's harmony. And who doesn't want to live in harmony with their family members?!

Raising children means to shape them, to prepare them for real life. A life without us as their guides. And that life is not always easy, and can come with alot of trials. Raising means guiding them through the good times and the tough times. It means teaching them to make choices every day. And when they make bad choices, we are there to catch them and put them back on the right track.

Being strict does NOT mean to talk down to the kids! It means laying down the law; it means having a strong guidance and showing them cause and effect in a system of punishment for misbehavior, and praise for good choices. 
As adults, we have to follow the laws of government, so kids need to be taught HOW to follow those rules. First there are our rules as parents, later they include also the rules of the school, then college, and then work. Teaching them HOW to follow rules is very essential, because there is no way around them. We all have to pay taxes, if we want or not. Sometimes we have no choice. They need to learn that their actions are causing reactions in the world, even when that 'world' is just their family for now. But they will get bigger, and their world will become larger, which means that actions will effect more and more people around them.

So I am talking about necessary discipline that is always presented with LOVE. My kids know that they are loved no matter what! We tell them that we love them always. That we love them when they are good, and that we love them when they are making bad choices. We are their security net when they fall. We love them.
And we tell them that what we don't LIKE are their actions! And to teach them that difference is important. I want my children to know how to behave around other people, how to treat them, and that their actions can cause happiness or suffering for other people. I want them to be considerate of others. I want them to be polite. So thank-you's and please's are not just optional, they are a must! Without the 'magic word', Mami is not budging. Saying 'I am sorry' is only acceptred when it is meant as a sorry. I also think to say NO to my kids will teach them that they don't always get what they want in life. This is a very important lesson to learn! Life is just not always fair.

Now there is no perfect formula for raising your kids! We all have to make choices that work for OUR family only. What works for us, might not work for another family.
But what I find so important is that we as parents can support each other without pointing fingers of righteousness. We are not failing when things don't work out. We are just being tested - and believe me, I have had my share of testing. And I KNOW that we are not at the end of the road. My oh-so-defiant middle child is only three..... so I see a long road of trial and error in front of me. But I believe in ME, and I believe in HER. And I believe that we can make this..... to a loving relationship.

Now what does that mean for MY life right now? Sacrifice! Big time. I have to sacrifice my own time to spend it with THEM! I believe the younger they are, the more time we should spend with them. Why? To nip any bad small behavior in the butt before it becomes a big problem. So as a mom, I do not get to go out with my friends all the time - I go on play dates for my children. I don't get to watch TV all day long, because I think that it would be bad for them. So if the TV is on during the day, it's a kid-friendly program. It also means that I get to spend most of my free time with my amazing children. I get to see their first step, how they learn to dress themselves, to write and to read, how they become their own little personalities. And I think it's a privilege.
Our days are spent with playing games, sometimes games I don't necessarily want to play, but I do it anyways because I might be able to teach them something - like how to be a good loser, or how to count, or how to let the ladies go first (to be a gentlemen). But they need to know that I am there for them - especially as a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom. It means I hide in the shower playing hide-and-seek. It means gluing pieces of paper all over a pretend robot. It means to build a volcano out of clay and try to explode it. It means to dress that doll with real cloth diapers and real baby clothes for my pretty girl. It means putting a theater show together with puppets. Or putting lap books together - those are a big hit these days.

It also means NOT to do things I like, at least not as much as I would like to. I can't read all day. I can't saw all day. I can't get a bucket of ice cream and veg in front of the TV. I can't talk on the phone all day with my friends - even though I would really like to that.

I am their example. And I want to be a good one.

So this is my little philosophy for today. Parenting is not easy, but for me, it's a calling and I want to try to do my best to fulfill that calling. It's  a privilege and a blessing to be their Mami.