Monday, November 29, 2010

Sleeping With Bread: What is Your Manna?

"And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat."

What is your manna?
Gluten-free bread aside, what fills you up and sates your hunger?

Last night, manna fell from heaven for me.  

There are two things that I always feel hungry for.  I mean, not your regular hunger, but starving-child-in-Africa type hunger.  The first is peace.  I was just thinking the other day about what I pray for alot.  What themes are pretty much a constant?  One thing that is usually first on my prayer requests is peace in my home.  Our house is NOT a peaceful home.  It is alot of other things - fun, joyous, interesting, curious, unique, energetic - but peaceful is rarely, if ever, on that list.  About the only time it is peaceful is when we've stuffed the kids in front of a movie so they are effectively sedated.  It occurred to me the other day, that probably not all mothers pray so fervently for peace.  That there other mothers probably have different problems, quieter problems.  Some days I pray for quieter problems.  If the kids aren't fighting with each other and brawling, they are giggling as they stomp and pound and run and screech their way through the house.  So peace is something I always dream about.

The other thing I hunger for is some kind of hint that I'm doing a good job with my children's hearts.  As a mother, I think that is an area I struggle with alot.  I am pretty good, I think, at feeding and molding young minds.  The kids seem to be progressing quite well academically and are pretty creative and good at critical thinking.  They seem to like books and have a healthy curiosity about the world.  I'm fairly satisfied with our efforts in that area.  I also think I'm doing well with their bodies.  We may not take baths or brush teeth as often as is probably called for, but they are healthy.  They eat pretty healthy and physical activity is part of our family culture.  We are a hiking, camping, rock climbing, football playing, rollerblading kind of a group.  Family vacations are almost always planned around some kind of physical activity.  I always get a big thumbs up from the pediatrician, so I think I'm doing pretty well with these little bodies.

Their hearts, on the other hand, always concern me.  I'm not sure if I'm doing a very good job teaching them kindness and compassion for other people.  I certainly make an effort, but I don't seem to be excelling in this area.  And their spiritual growth is not at all what I imagine it ought to be either.  My kids are the kids at mass who are hitting each other and laying on the floor whining and not paying attention AT ALL and often getting dragged out the back door because they are completely disturbing everyone around us.  The Family Formation home lessons that everyone at our church loves so much (it's like Sunday School but lucky me, they have me teach it at home to my own tribe) are a constant battlefield and often don't get done because I don't have the strength to fight that fight.  And the suggestion to read scripture daily with your children?  Ha!  They can't hear me because they are too busy tantruming and beating on each other and screaming they hate the Bible.  So fine, maybe traditional Catholic spiritual formation is not our path to follow, but then what is?  My religious upbringing was pretty sparse so I don't have a rich background to draw ideas from and riff off of.  So I often feel lost as to how to help my children learn about God and follow his path for them.  So this is another thing that I find myself praying for alot.

A peaceful home and seeing my children with spirit-filled hearts are two things that I am always hungry for, starving for.  Last night God sent me some manna and sated my hunger, at least for one night.  The day was not so stellar, a Family Formation lesson started out well but soon dissolved into tears and throwing things.  We didn't make it to mass in the morning.  It was the first Sunday in Advent and in the move I somewhere lost my Advent wreath and my nativity stable.  I've had better days.  But then I remembered that Epiphany had a 5:30 p.m. mass for those of us who are not at our best in the a.m.  So I started out hoping to take all the kids to mass, but after tears and tantrums I decided I wasn't up to it.  So I said whoever wants to can stay home.  Violet and Mitchell both jumped ship, but Henry wanted to come with still.  So Henry and I went to mass and it was lovely.  It was so peaceful and just plain wonderful.  We marveled at God's beautiful creation as we drove into the sunset and talked about plans to take a train trip together someday.  I had an idea that we should put on a family Christmas pageant and Henry thought it was a great idea.  Mass was very youth-oriented (I think the Sunday night one usually is) and so we both got alot out of it I think.  On the way home we sipped fancy coffee with whipped cream and sang Christmas carols in the dark.  

Once we got home, the table was set with a tablecloth and candles, and dinner was ready.  The presence of a tablecloth or maybe the late hour seemed to calm the children and our meal had a decidedly normal flavor to it instead of being more akin to a medieval tavern as it usually is.  Soft music played while we ate and when I suggested my pageant idea to the rest of the family, everyone was very excited.  The children dashed off to start rehearsing and working on the special effects.  They worked together joyfully and in harmony as they decided where the stage should be and recruited stuffed animals for the stable scene.  The night ended, after a few bedtime shenanigans, with my hubby and I playing a board game at the table.  It was a beautiful night, and as I went to sleep I felt very full in every way.  Thank you Lord for manna.

What is your manna?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Perfect Child

Here she is!

Now, anyone who knows her will know that she's far from perfect, but I just had the "good mama moment" of the year here so bear with me.

Last night we had Violet's first preschool conferences.  I've done preschool conferences before many times.  Twice a year for Henry and Mitchell, two years of preschool each so that's... uh... do I add or multiply?  Mmmm... I think i've done eight.  Yeah, eight.  Plus kindergarten, first, and second grade conferences, so i'm definitely in the double digits in my conference experience.  So far the conferences have followed a definite theme.  That theme being, "He's very bright and we love him and he has lots of friends BUT we have some serious behavior issues to work on."  Over and over again the same things from each teacher for each boy.

Violet has a lot of similar traits as the boys, but is also much more compliant and cheerful by comparison.  So I was hoping her conference might go a bit better, but I was also prepared for a list of things we need to "work on".

You could have knocked me over with a feather as I walked out of that conference.  I was stunned.  They did nothing but rave about Violet and tell me how impressed they were and how well-rounded she was.  They used words like friendly, social, independent, self-directed, and well-behaved.  She uses all the materials, she makes friends, she sings the songs, she counts, she gets a teacher when she needs help or has a disagreement with another child.  She is handling all the academic work just fine (which isn't much - counting and identifying colors and such - but still).  They couldn't think of a single thing she needed to work-on.  On the part of the conference form where you write down goals for the rest of the year they could only put "Keep up the good work!"

It just made me a little bummed that she was going to the public preschool instead of the Montessori school that the boys attended.  They both had the same teacher (poor woman!) so she got five years straight of dealing with my boys.  I was really hoping that she might have gotten to see that I'm not an awful parent.  I really CAN raise obedient and pleasant children.

Though in their defense, while obedient and pleasant is a refreshing change for our household, it is somewhat overrated.  There is definitely something to be said for wild and ornery little boys who have an incredible zest for life and a curiosity that can't be beat.  They are so much fun.  I feel very lucky to get to raise some of each kind of child.

Monday, November 22, 2010

We're Heeeere!

I've been missing in action for quite a while now, but the move is DONE!  Well, in the sense that we are living fairly comfortably in the new house anyways.  Our old house is still full of miscellaneous stuff that we still need to move either into the trash, the Goodwill pile, or boxes to bring over, but the heavy lifting is done.  Besides the physical move, we've also been having quite the homeschool journey as well.  More and more of my ideas about what to teach and how to teach just keep flying out the window.

Mitchell just keeps rebelling against any attempts on my part to TEACH him.  Though now that I think about it, he's been that way for the last eight years.  Even as a toddler and preschooler, if you tried to show him something, like say how to hold a baseball bat properly, he would always say either "I already KNOW how to do that" or "I don't want to".  He always wants to do things his way.  Partially out of orneryness I guess, but also because he has so darn many ideas about the world and how it works and how it SHOULD work that he doesn't have time for anyone else's ideas.  And I suppose he's been "spoiled" by his last five years of Montessori schooling (in a good way).

I was having a really hard time finding anything that would let him have the level of independence he was used to.  There were some computer based curriculums, but those were pretty spendy and I don't think he would have allowed himself to be chained to a computer either.  But God watches over us and a book that I put on my PaperbackSwap Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap. wishlist a long time ago arrived in the mail.  It was Elizabeth G. Hainstock's book "Teaching Montessori in the Home: The School Years".  It has been a lifesaver!  Not only does it tell me how to introduce the different activities, it also gives me tips on how to make or buy the Montessori materials I need cheap or free.

So far for Mitchell i've just gotten together the materials for the multiplication board and the multiplication summary sheets, but my plan is to try to make at least one new material a week for Mitchell and also for the rest of the kids. Watching Mitch work on math happily and excitedly (and independently!) inspired me to start introducing Montessori works to my other children as well.

We've already been doing a pretty good job with our Montessori baby I think.  She uses the potty, has toys of all different materials, eats the kitchen utensils, and doesn't wear restrictive clothing so she can move and groove on the floor with the best of them.  Last week I started introducing some cursive to Henry and he's just eating it up.  My goal is to slowly but surely increase my collection of Montessori preschool and elementary materials so by the time Ivy is ready for them, i'm ready for her too.

That's the bummer about being the oldest I think - you are always the guinea pig.  But you also get to be the teacher too.  Mitchell has taught me sooo much about what it means to teach, what it means to be a mom.  He took all the ideas I had about kids when I was a high school babysitter, how I was going to parent someday, and just ripped them to shreds.  Sad kind of, but i'm older and MUCH wiser now thanks in no small part to him.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...