The Illusion of the Perfect Mom - and why we desperately need to be real...

Monday, September 29, 2014

We live in the age of Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

We live in the age of perfectly posed and edited family snapshots.

We live in the age of illusions.

As a homeschooling Mom, I've lived the closed-off life, the all-too-often-isolated life.  The no-one-can-see-my-mess life.  I've walked through years, trying to maintain the illusion that I had everything under control, when truly, I never did and never have.  Control isn't in my hands at all - it's in the hands of the One whose same hands created the whole of this earth.

I've come to realize most Moms are in a constant battle with the illusion of perfect.  Either we fight to look perfect ourselves or we fight to ignore all the Moms around us who seem impossibly perfect.     Or maybe a bit of both.  We run frantic to straighten and clean and throw things under beds - we hide our real feelings and real struggles for fear of what others will think or say.

Goodness, what if she saw my sticky dinner dishes, my massive laundry piles, dirty toilets, unfinished school work, or the way I yelled at my son this afternoon?  What would she think?

You know what I've learned about what she would think?

She'd be relieved.  Yes, if she saw the messy parts of your life she'd he relieved to know this Mom before her has the same struggles and the same reality as she does. 







 I've had long chats with other Mamas who have confessed their deep stresses about measuring up.  Or not measuring up.  We've talked long about how every other Mom seems to have it together but us.  And how when we step foot in a messy, comfortably toy-scattered house - we breathe deep and revel in the glorious imperfection.  We are not judgemental of imperfection, we are relieved.

For a good few years I hid, yes, literally hid, from other Moms because my child was beyond challenging, my house was an explosion, and I barely got meals on the table, let alone fresh flowers in mason jars.

I just didn't understand why it seemed every other Mom could do it when I couldn't.  But I had to realize, so much of what I thought I saw was an illusion.

Not a single one of us even comes close to perfect, friends.  I often wonder, why do we try so hard? Why do we stress over things like dirty houses, disagreeable eight-year-olds, fussy babies and whether we co-sleep, bottle feed, homeschool, or work outside the home?

Why do we quietly compare and compete?  Or if we aren't competing or comparing, we are fearing others are doing it to us.  Oh, I've walked that fear.  The, 'they're judging me' fear... yes, I know that one very well.

Why do we toil to build the illusion that all is rosy and we never need help or prayer or a shoulder?  Or a whole lot of chocolate covered almonds.

What we need is transparency, friends.  Real, honest, this is who I am.  Because once we are open and honest about how Motherhood really is, we can begin to build each other up in empathy and love instead of smiling wide while screaming inside.  Because the fake smiles and 'yea, everything is fine' thing doesnt help any of us.  I desperately long to hold my sisters' hands instead of shoving them away.

If there is anyone who is far from perfect, you're looking at her right here.  So, so, so flawed in every way.  The World's Most Imperfect Mom - right here.  The World's Most Blessed Mom too.

But hey, let's be real:

I'm spastic.  I dance in the kitchen.  To old Natalie McMaster and Leahy.   I chase chickens home from the neighbour's yard while he laughs from his back porch - humoured by my ridiculous life in PJ pants.  I sometimes let the kids eat candy in the morning.  I drink too much coffee.  I take cream in that coffee when I'm out, even though I speak out against the dairy industry and claim to be 'mostly Vegan'.  I'm grouchy with my husband too often.  Even though he's seriously awesome.

Oh, and I don't fold sheets - I just shove them in the cupboard and slam the door quickly.  Folding fitted sheets is one of those tasks I just don't feel is necessary in life.

I throw things in the closets if I have to tidy up in a hurry.  We rarely make beds.  I use new Lego as bribery for getting the kids to the dentist and doctors office.  Oh, and also when I have to force them to let me cut their hair.  Like this week when about a pound of locks fell off each shaggy boy while they watched the Lego Movie and flinched at every buzz.

Our back room smells like a combination of dirty Crocs, musty rain boots and the wet dog we gave away two years ago.

I've been judgmental and lofty and arrogant.  I've thought I knew all there was to know about most things.  I've had opinions so strong they broke relationships.  I've put ideals above love.  And I've come crashing down and been taught the hard lessons of acceptance and grace.  I've had to look long and hard in the mirror and realize who Christ was calling me to be and how very far was the gap between me and God and how beautiful was the bridge Jesus made with His outstretched arms.

I've been shaken and spun and I've done crazy 360s by God's mercy alone.  I've tried to do the illusion of 'perfect' and woken up to realize I was hurting myself and everyone around me.  Because what really truly mattered was who I was in Christ and what I reflected in love.  And love, is open.  Love, is authentic. Love?  Love is honest-to-goodness 'take me as I am and I will love you as you are' friendship.

Love is opening the door any time, any day, and shrugging your shoulders to the mounds of whatever scattered on the floor.  Love is allowing others to see you just as you are.  And if that means a mess, that means a mess.  Because when we shove toys to the side to make room for a friend's tea cup, there is something so beautiful and authentic that happens and we need more of that kind of fellowship.

I am a girl in need of heaps of grace, and slowly, I've found it.  Come to think of it - when we have been poured upon so powerfully - it becomes a fountain overflowing.  The more grace you've needed, maybe the more grace you have to give.  At least, I pray it to be so.





I am hopelessly in love with Jesus, and I am hopeless without Him.   My crazy weaknesses are just the places I need to give up and give over and watch Him transform.  And my weaknesses?  They make me human.  And yours make you human too.  And we're all these flawed people who need each other and can be a great big bundle of joy and mess together.  Our messes can draw us closer to one another in the most powerful way.

Our authenticity is magnetic because it's common ground.


It's familiar.

It's real.  And we need more of real.  Because real is authenticity and authenticity is love.  We sang it loud and proud all Summer in home church, kids' voices overpowering the parents:

Love is patient, love is kind;
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not proud, it is not rude -

It is not self-seeking...

It is not easily angered, keeps no records of wrong…
Love does not delight in evil,

but rejoices in the truth…

Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Let's reject the illusion of perfection and humble ourselves to reach out to one another with open hands and open hearts.  To be truth for one another.  Loving truth.  To not seek our own interests but the interests of the Mamas around us.

Authentic love is welcoming you into my reality, my mess, my imperfection.  It's saying, here I am and here you are, let's be honest with each other and connect in love.  Let's toss the impossible ideals we place on ourselves and others and embrace each other with a grace-based love that knows no boundaries and sees no messes.

A love that is far deeper than anything that can be seen or measured in the physical world - a love that reflects the purity of the heart of Jesus.  Because wasn't that just who He was?  He entered the messes with an unimaginable grace and love and dwelled right there in the middle of the chaos of the lives of those who loved and needed Him.








There is no such thing a 'just a mom', the lies we believe, and The Mission of Motherhood.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Being a Mom isn't easy.

Being a Mom is hard some days.

Being a Mom when my three children were all babies was nearly impossible.

Being a Mom is also the best, most wonderful blessing that has ever happened to me.

For nine years now, I've been walking this crazy journey of 'Motherhood'.  Doesn't the word 'Motherhood' make it sound all noble and old-fashioned?  And maybe to many people the idea of 'Motherhood' is old fashioned, ancient even.

My life was dramatically altered when, in just over three years, I had three children.  I realized quickly that babies required not just a bit of me but every last ounce of me.  Oh, and they would all be needing all of me at every moment of every single day and night and all at the same time.  And that peeing privately was now not an option and showering was a luxury.  I stayed home while my husband worked too-long hours and those babies rocked my world like nothing else.  I remember it, though hazy as the first years were for myself and my husband. And my life looked nothing like I'd planned and everything came at me faster than a toddler grabbing for a steaming coffee cup.

Oh yes, it's a blur, those crazy, really, really hard days.   Changing diapers and desperately rocking screaming babies, and wearing two babies at the same time while also trying to carry a preschooler on my hip.  Chasing toddlers down the road and having old ladies tell me what I'm doing 'isn't safe', yep.  Running after a defiant child as he throws tantrums and blazes loops around the local drop-in playgroup?  Been there.  Having a preschooler lay flat out, unwilling to move from the library while the two other babies wail - one in too-hot sling, and one in a heavy-as-rocks car seat?  Yes.  That too.  Oh, the glares I've endured, friends.  You name it, I've probably experienced it when it comes to babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and oh yes, that spirited child.

So, Mamas?  I come stamped with heaps of grace, right here.  Right across my guilty forehead: BEEN THERE, I UNDERSTAND, NO JUDGEMENT HERE.





When I gaze upon my three gifts, I am overwhelmed with emotions.  I can't even begin to list the ways I feel like I failed myself and my children in those first years as their Mama. I have a lot of regrets I've had to fight to lay and leave at the precious feet of Jesus.

More than I care to count.

But, you know what?  Right smack in the middle of all my perceived failure, something happened.  I was brought to my breaking point and Christ met me in the most powerful ways.  Yes, just like He does - when I was waist deep in the muck and the miserable mire of my own self-pity, He stepped in with me and gently led me out.

Like a shepherd leads his confused, lost lamb, he led me.

He crouched with me there on the kitchen floor as I wept with three babes in arms.  And I shook and shattered to pieces for the lack of purpose and hope I felt.


Even when I had lost sight of the Lord, He never lost sight of me.  And when I recall some of those hardest days, somehow, I see the shadow of Christ Saviour right there with me.  Even when I hadn't called out to Him in years - there He was, guiding me right back to His loving arms.

He called me out of the darkness of believing Motherhood was hopeless, was meaningless, was just an interruption in my journey of life.  He shouldered my stress and anxiety.  He picked the heavy weight of lies off my tired shoulders and whispered truth in my thumping ears.

Oh, the lies I believed, friends.

You are worthless.
You are a bad Mom.
Your son hates you.
You are incapable of being a good Mom.
You are a failure.
Your situation is hopeless.
Being a Mom just isn't important, why stay home?
Why bother?  No one cares about you or sees you.  You're JUST A MOM.

Have you heard any of those?  Believed any of those?

Alone, day after long day, I believed these lies as my beautiful children gazed up at me.  I loved them so deeply, more deeply than I believed I ever could.  I smiled, I hugged, I kissed.  On the outside, sure, I was a good Mama.  A great Mama, even.  I believe most people who know me wouldn't understand how I could feel like such a failure.  But the Enemy's lies run deep friends, and he loves to tell us we are losers.  He loves to take our slip-ups and magnify them and He loves to discourage and bind our hands and hearts.

He loves to tell Moms that what we do every day has no value.  And culture agrees.  And sometimes, even the people in our lives echo the same hurtful message.  Soon, we start to believe that being a Mom isn't really that important.  We start to long to get back to 'life' rather than putting ourselves wholeheartedly into raising these kids of ours.

And when we aren't clinging to Jesus and beckoning His strength - we are so vulnerable to believing the junk that will hold us captive.  It's this discouragement and darkness that kept me from being the Mom God longed for me to be when my sweet children were babies and toddlers.

It wasn't until I was broken and bent that I finally humbled myself, or rather, God humbled me, and I began to cry out to Him to save me.  To help me.

I realized the impossible task before me and the weight of it all there, and I knew at that very moment, I needed a Saviour.  Imagine that.

It was a slow realization - but I started to see how I had been bound for years, believing lies about my life that were whispered in the dark places.  In those crazy lonely places when you have three babies before any of your friends are even married or even thinking about getting married.


When you tie-the-knot to the tune of 'screw up'.  When you know you're not ready for a baby and you feel eyes glaring.


But the more I opened God's word and wrote love notes to my Saviour, the more I listened, the light began to shine.  And that's just how it works.  He is light and there is no darkness in Him at all.  He will reveal what was held in the darkness and what binds us to darkness.

I began to realize that these lies about Motherhood were stealing my joy.  They were robbing me of understanding the depth of purpose found in my daily tasks of raising children.  And they were robbing my children of having a loving Mother who reflected Christ's love to them.

I began to identify when and how the Enemy was lying to me and how He wanted to steal, kill, and destroy me, my husband, my marriage, my family, and our children.  I started to enter in to the battle we are called to in scripture.  And it is a battle.  Look around us.  We would have to be blind to not acknowledge there is a powerful battle for the destruction of families going on.  If we believe the Word of God, we have to believe that everything is spiritual and we 'do not fight a human fight, but a deeply spiritual one.

And as Mamas, we need to suit up.  And that's what I started to do.

It hasn't been a quick journey or an easy one, but I stand to speak of it only by the grace of Jesus.  He is my rock and He is my reason.  He builds me up and binds the lies.  He is my shield, my sword, my helmet, my armour.  His grace is that ocean and I'm drowning in it daily.  Still praying the 'help me' prayers and still clinging to His purpose for me as a Mom and now standing firm in the truth.  The truth that Moms matter.  The truth that Motherhood is a Ministry and a Mission.  That Motherhood matters to God.  Big time.

Motherhood isn't some interruption to our true calling.  It isn't a detour or a bump in the road, taking us from where we really ought to be.  Motherhood isn't a distraction from our life's mission, it is one of our life's greatest missions!

It is my prayer that you will see clearly how important the calling of Motherhood is on your life.  It is my desperate plea to our Father in Heaven that He will reveal to you His love for you.  That the lies you believe or have believed will be brought into the light.  I pray you will see clearly the Lord's purpose for you as 'Mom'.  The importance of your mission as Mother.  I pray you can see these truths sooner than I did and embrace the beauty of purpose found in the simple, but eternal work of bringing up and discipling your children.

This is why I felt led to launch this book study of the The Mission of Motherhood.  Sally Clarkson shines a beacon of hope in the world of purpose driven mothering and I trust her discipleship deeply.  So many of her books and writings have touched my heart and challenged me to become a better, more Holy Spirit-led, joy-filled Mama.

So, let's do this together, Moms.  Let's never believe that we are 'just a mom'.  Let us bow before our Lord and give our hearts and hands to His work before us.  Let us daily lay our lives before God with complete joy because we know what He calls us to is always a high calling, always the best route, always the eternal, righteous path.  And even through we fail and flail, He holds us and guides on onward in grace.


Looking so forward to reading this book and sharing together with all of you. 


Your task:  Read Chapter 1 of The Mission of Motherhood along with the scripture readings.  Try to implement and complete the suggestions at the end of the chapter.  We will follow up and discuss in two weeks time. 


If you do not own the book and can't get your hands on a copy, you can easily still follow along through these posts.  Here are the scripture references from The Mission of Motherhood to reflect upon over the next two weeks:

Proverbs 31:30-31
Psalm 127
1 Thessalonians 2:7
Titus 2:4-5

We are also reading Romans chapters 1 and 2.

Suggestion (from the book):
Schedule a personal planning time to evaluate your journey as a Mother.  Spend time praying and journaling about your call as a mom and your goals for yourself, your marriage, your children and your family.   Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you!








May Christ's love fill our hearts with an overwhelming warmth and when we look upon our children, I pray we will see the true value of our calling and embrace it wholeheartedly to the glory of God.

(hug)

You are not alone, we're in this together.  If you would like prayer and/or support please leave a message or email me at cldorman (at) sympatico (dot) ca.  I will do my utmost to pray and respond. We will also be launching a bit of an online prayer group, Lord willing!!!








When We're Paralyzed and in Need

Monday, September 22, 2014

We all sit around our small living room, coffee and tea in hands.  Bibles are open and scattered over laps and tables, and spread wide over children's tiny knees.  We're open to Mark 2.  We're reading through the gospel of Mark with our home church and sharing together this journey of discipleship.  The atmosphere is cozy as we snuggle knee to knee in a circle of old chairs and the crazy flowered couch.

We read from God's Word:

"A few days later, when Jesus came back to Capernaum, the news spread that He was home.  Many people gathered together so that there was no room in the house, not even outside the door.  And Jesus was teaching them God's message.  Four people came, carrying a paralyzed man.  Since they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd, they dug a hold in the roof right above where he was speaking.  When they got through, they lowered the mat with the paralyzed man on it.  

When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralyzed man, "Young man, your sins are forgiven."  Now, some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this man say things like that?  He is speaking as if He were God!  Only God can forgive sins."  Jesus knew immediately what these teachers of the law were thinking.  So, he said to them, "Why are you thinking this?  Which is easier: to tell this paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to tell him, 'Stand up.  Take your mat and walk'?  But I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins."  

So Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, stand up, take your mat, and go home."  Immediately the paralyzed man stood up, took his mat, and walked out while everyone was watching him.  The people were amazed and praised God.  They said, "We have never seen anything like this!"


And all too often I pass through this kind of reading with a blasphemous aloofness.  Sure,  Christ Jesus came, He healed, He forgave sins.  He healed our relationship with Almighty God for all of time.  He was Father God, Yahweh, in flesh.   It's as if I can speed through this richness, this Truth that alters my very being and breath.   I am revealed this Truth and why does it not bring me to tears and to my knees over and over again just to read of it?

It is the power of the living God.  This Message.

We focus in on one particular part:

When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralyzed man, 'Young man, your sins are forgiven.'


My husband calls all the children over to the back room and has Josiah with blond and and a wide smile lay flat on his back on a towel.

"Ok, Josiah, you are paralyzed.  You can't move."

All the children and adults circle around, looking on.

"Now, I need someone to try to move Him.  Simon - try.  Try to move Josiah on the towel."

Simon, a little smaller than eleven-year-old Josiah, pulls with all his might to move the towel, but it doesn't budge.

"It's hard, isn't it?  Now we need more children to circle around Josiah, we all need to lift him.  He needs himself lifted up and moved.  Remember, he's paralyzed."

The children gather around the tattered towel and place sticky hands all around.  They lift and Josiah rises, all crooked and wobbly and laughing.  But he is lifted, nonetheless.  The children, all together lift Josiah and move him to the living room, carefully (sort of) placing him back down on the floor.

See, this is the illustration of the men who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus.  That man couldn't move himself.  But he needed moving, alright.  That man needed healing and Christ's touch so badly and he was one who BELIEVED that touch would change everything.  And the friends who carried him?  They believed too.  So, in faith, the men carried Him to the feet of The Healer, Jesus.  He couldn't get there himself, so, he was carried.  Lifted up, and brought before the Lord of Lords.

A few moments later, we place the same towel, folded, on the coffee table.  We write the names of precious people in our lives and their needs on small pieces of recycled paper.  The children join in, scratching the names of their friends, aunts, grandparents.  We all place the papers in the middle of the towel and gaze at them.  A quiet overwhelm fills the room.





I will never forget the moment we all stood in a circle and physically lifted the towel, hands all around.  From the creases of the older and wiser, to the tiny pudgy hands of the smallest of us.  We lifted it and at the same time lifted our voices and souls to Creator God, Healer God.

My husband whispered it to me days before this happened but I wasn't really listening.  So often, I'm the busy fool too quick to tune out.  "But, isn't that what we do…?  In prayer, I mean?  Carry people to Jesus?"  "Mmhm… I guess so."

It isn't until I feel the Holy Spirit consume and the power of prayer take over that night in the circle isn't it the same also for us?  Have you ever been paralyzed?  I mean, maybe not physically, but mentally?  Emotionally?  Spiritually?  Relationally?  Have you been paralyzed by the fear that you're not a good enough… person?  Mother?  Father?  Sister?  Aunt?  Grandmother?  Teacher?  Professional?  Have you ever been in great need of a touch from the Healer?  Has your body been physically sick?  Has your spirit been crushed?  Have you been lost for answers?

Do you know people who are stifled by sin, fear, shame, guilt, and what seem like impossible circumstances?  Do you have friends in need?





Carry them to Christ.  All our needs, all their needs.  Everything - we carry them to Christ.

That's what we're called to do.  And thought most of us are not physically paralyzed, so many of us feel paralyzed in other ways.  We know those who are spiritually paralyzed.  Those who desperately need believers to carry them to the cross in faith.  Christ is no longer here physically on earth, but we carry people to Him through prayer.

In prayer, we carry that mat and shoulder the weight of it and pull and lift and struggle them all the way to the throne of grace.


At least, that's what we're called to do.  And what we can do.  And what we ought to do.

The paralyzed man was lifted, by faith, to Jesus.  And because of the faith of those who lifted Him, He was healed.

Why wouldn't we then, lift the people we know and love to God in prayer?  In faith, praying for their needs, interceding on their behalf, and believing we are heard?

Because He promises it is so.





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Gospel for Asia...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pssst… I have some exciting news!  

Recently, I have been welcomed to the Gospel for Asia blogging team.   I am humbled and honoured to work with GFA to share truth about the issues facing our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Hemisphere.

I was introduced to GFA through my sister.  I couldn't believe I had never looked more closely at this organization.  Once we did more research, read more books, and prayed, my husband and I just knew we had to get on board with what God was doing through GFA.  This is a solid, trust-worthy, Christ-centered organization, friends.

I mean, 100% of the funds given to missionaries and sponsored children goes right to the ground.  Oh yes, it does!


From the site:

Gospel for Asia's mission is to share the Good News of Jesus with those who have never heard his name. We train and send national missionaries to reach out into areas where the Good News of Jesus Christ has not yet been heard.

For over 30 years Gospel for Asia continues to bring aid and hope to some of the most downtrodden people in the Eastern Hemisphere.

(from GFA.ca)


And the Holy Spirit is working in mighty and wonderful ways through local, indigenous missionaries.

I am brought to my knees to read about the reflect on the lives of local missionaries. These men and women forsake all and risk their lives to spread the love of Jesus to the unreached people of their villages, communities, and regions.  Many undergo heavy persecution and many have died sharing truth about Jesus.  However, there is a great movement of hope happening and God is using this ministry to share the gospel with countless precious people in areas where they have never heard the name of Jesus before.

It is so overwhelming to think of how much pain and suffering many of the children and women (especially) face every day in this part of the world.  And I refuse to shrug my shoulders and say I can't do anything to help.  The truth is, we can do something and we are called to do something.  We are called to spread the gospel and share Christ's love with the nations.  I've learned, in most cases, the most effective way to do that in countries like India is to support local missionaries who are already working or waiting for the support to work among their very own people.






I pray you will be touched by the stories of the Lord's transformational love as I share stories, news, and updates of what is happening on the ground in the countries where GFA is actively working.  I also pray you will seek the Lord on how you (and your family) might join this wonderful movement of the great commission among the unreached people of God's globe.

Peace.

Check out this video:





I highly recommend ordering and reading KP Yohannan's free books.  They are beautifully written, challenging, eye-opening, and full of truth:

Get your free copy of Revolution in World Missions


Get your free copy of No Longer a Slumdog



More to come…  

Homeschooling 2014-2015

Friday, August 29, 2014



 

I can't believe we are starting our fifth year of homeschooling this year.   

It has been a wild, crazy, fun, blessed time and I'm excited for what is still to come.  I share our yearly plans, programs, and curriculum on this blog for a couple reasons.  The first is for my own records, believe it or not!  Documenting everything here helps me stay focused and keeps a good photographic record of what we plan to study throughout the year.  The second is to encourage and inspire (hopefully!) other home educators.  I pray that as I humbly share my thoughts and plans, your heart might be stirred by even some small tidbit found here!  I also know how tough it can be to find quality resources and curriculums, so I pray this might bless other families with some ideas!

We don't really follow 'grades' in our home, but for information sake, our children are, Simon (age 9), Audrey (age 7), and Alex (turns 6 September 5th).

So, in light of those thoughts, let's get started. 



This year, we're doing something quite different in our homeschool.  We are following much more closely a Charlotte Mason schedule with short lessons on a variety of interesting topics.  This gives that wonderful 'smorgasbord' of information and inspiration that Mason spoke of so often.  

Each child has their own large binder with dividers for individual subjects: Social Studies, History (this will also be in a separate binder for Mystery of History), Geography, Art and Art History, Music Studies, Poetry, and French.  The children also have their Math books as well as separate Language Arts binders, which I talk about later in this post.

This is different from our typical unit study based set-up that we have followed in previous years.

The binders for the kids' core subjects.



For my planning, I use a large binder of my own with several dividers and sections.   These include: Year at a Glance, Weekly Plans and Schedule, Canada Studies, Reading and Book Lists, Lesson Plans and Ideas, Co-op and Field Trip Plans, Charlotte Mason, and Five in a Row.

Our Weekly Schedule is a double page layout that I created, because, well... I'm the type of person who likes laminating and making spread sheets and writing in little printed boxes with a really sharp new pencil.  *wink*

In all honesty though, I've never found a purchased 'schedule' or teacher's planner that worked for me.  After using Sonlight last year, I created our own layout that works with Charlotte Mason-style learning.  The left sheet gives an individual schedule for each child.  It includes their Language Arts, Copywork, Phonics, Reading, Spelling, Dictation and Math and is split up daily.  These are all considered "individual work" in the Charlotte Mason method.

The right sheet has our Family/Group Work.  Across the top are the days of the week and in each box is a different subject of "class".  The subjects change depending on what day it is, making it easy to fill in as I plan.  I can look at the schedule and know that every day we have all our individual courses, our Bible and devotionals and Literature.  Then on Monday we will have Science, Social Studies, and Poetry, on Tuesday we will have Geography, Art and Picture Study, and French, etc.


Individual plans for one week.


A snap of the Group Work page for one week.



Language Arts



This year, I am really excited to have found some wonderful Language Arts programs for Audrey and Alex.  They are both using the Language Lessons series from Queen Homeschool.  These are beautiful, Charlotte Mason-inspired language books.  They include language development (phonics, grammar), poetry memorization, narration, comprehension, dictation, as well as picture study and journaling.  Love these books!



Simon is using First Language Lessons for the Well-trained Mind Level 3.  This series follows a more classical approach to language.  Classical isn't far off Charlotte Mason, and I see a lot of similarities between the two styles of curriculum.  I chose Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind for Simon because he is a more logical learner and doesn't really enjoy picture study and imaginative writing right now.  This series has been great for him.


Alex is learning to read using the simple but proven Alpha-Phonics along with his language lessons, reading with Mom and working through the I Can Read It books from Sonlight's Language Arts program.




Spelling


I really love the All About Spelling program.  We are working through Volume 1 and 2 this year.  The books, the lessons, the manipulatives,  they're all great.  Not only is it a spelling program, it also really helps children improve their reading and writing skills.  It's also pretty fun and engaging.



The program comes with the Teacher's Manual, the magnetic letters, blends, and vowel teams, as well as the work cards.



The All About Spelling magnetic letters are fantastic.  We bought a simple magnetic white board to use for lessons, which is recommended by the program.


Language Arts Binders

The children have Language Arts binders with these dividers.  It works well at keeping them organized.


Additional Language Arts curriculum we've used and continue to use.  We really enjoy the First Language Lessons series and will continue to use them as a resource.  This year, I plan to work through Simply Grammar with Audrey as well.

  Math

For Math this year, we are sticking with Teaching Textbooks for both Simon and Audrey.  I started this curriculum three years ago and I really love it for our kids.  Alex is still working through is K Math from Horizons.  I used Horizons for the younger grades with Simon as well.  We have also used some of the Charlotte Mason style Math from Queen Homeschool.


Science


Our Science curriculum this year is Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day and Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. We are continuing with Zoology 1 from last year, as we started in the Spring.  This is the whole reason we hatched chicks.  And a duckling.  And I spent 4 months of my life losing sleep while tending to tiny birds of various shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.  Oh, homeschooling...

This program truly makes the children think and they have learned so much.  I almost didn't give it a chance - it is, after all a text book. (Insert scary music...)  And for me 'text book' is like a bad word.  The nice things about *this* text, however, is that it is written in a wonderful, conversation, living-book tone.  We've really enjoyed the learning and the projects, experiments, and the notebooks have been invaluable as learning tools!

Completely creation-based, young-earth, biblically sound Science curriculum.  Love it.





Social Studies


We are using Donna Ward's Canada, My Country along with a myriad of other Canada-related resources this year.  Our goal is to study Canadian geography, basic Canadian History, and Canada themed activities and lots of great Canada-inspired living books.





Bible, Prayer, Scripture Memory and Devotionals


We love spending time in God's word every day.  Many of our subjects are biblically based, but we also try to enjoy devotions, reading scripture, and scripture memorization.  We are using The NIV Adventure Bible along with the NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions for daily readings.  I also purchased a wonderful children's bible (to add to our many!).  The Complete Illustrated Children's Bible by Harvest House Publishers is wonderful.  Very detailed with double page color illustration on every page.  Audrey is using the I Can Read Beginners Bible for her reading as well. 




This year I am introducing the children to Apologetics as well.  We will work together with our home church through Lee Strobel's Case for a Creator for Kids as well as research and look into many of the topics more in depth at home.  We are also working through Cracking the Covenant Code for Kids.  The Big Bible Guide will act as a supplement to our Science Curriculum, offering further creation-based information and research about God's world.




Hero Studies - we try hard to always be reading about worthy heroes.  This is also an element of a Charlotte Mason education.  I believe in giving our children real stories of real people of faith whom God has used in wonderful ways!  We have been reading through Dave and Neta Jackson's Hero Tales.  I highly recommend this series!  They have been a huge blessing to our family.  We plan to read through all of Volume 2 and 3 this year.   Volume 1 was finished over the Summer.


Prayer- This year we hope to read from Window on the World, as well as work through "We Ask for India".  'Even Donkeys Speak' is a book about how God is moving in Asia from Gospel for Asia, this can be used as an inspiring tool for prayer as well.


Our prayer basket has been a wonderful part of many family meals.  We write the names of people, places, needs on small pieces of paper and place them in the basket.  The children draw the papers from the basket, giving us a focus for our meal-time prayer.


We got the idea for our Scripture Memory Verse Box from Simply Charlotte Mason.  It took some time to put together, but it is a wonderful tool and a great way to keep learning and memorizing new scripture.  Details on how to create one are here.




History


This is our first year using Mystery of History, which is a well-known biblically based History curriculum.  It is a very in depth study of the early church through the middle ages.  I'm pretty sure this program will take us longer than the year and I might spread it across two years, depending on how much we add to it and pull from it.  The book is HUGE and so full of stories, ideas, and history that I was quite overwhelmed when I first opened it!


One thing we learned from Sonlight and from the Charlotte Mason philosophy is to invest in a Book of Time, or a historical timeline.  We place stickers of the people we study and the historical events we discuss in the appropriate place on the time line as we work.  This really helps the children understand a more chronological history of the world.





Geography


This year we are working through Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography, which is available free online through Ambleside Online.



Art, Art History and Music Studies


This is our first year working through Artistic Pursuits.  We are starting, naturally, with book 1.  I'm excited to do an actual art program, and this one is highly recommended by homeschoolers.


As part of our Art studies, we also do Picture Study (through our Language Arts as well) along with studying famous paintings, artists, and art history.  These three books by Usborne will be used as resources for these topics


I was blessed to find this very rare copy of "Beautiful Music" from the Tree of Life publishing company.  This book covers topics like 'why music?', understanding music, the orchestra, and various famous composers.  It is from a biblical perspective, which is very lovely.  Many Psalms and Hymns are used as topics of study and discussion.  We will also study various composers and read through Lives of Musicians.



Literary Unit Studies - Five in a Row Volume 4


This year, I hope to cover one Five in a Row book from Volume 4 every month or so.  This is in combination with all our other work but will take the place of (for a week or two) many of the other studies.  If we are studying a Five in a Row book, for instance, we will not do our Canada studies, Mystery of History, Artistic Pursuits that week.  Instead, the FIAR study will cover different topics related to Art, History, and Geography.


We absolutely love Five in a Row, and although a completely unit study based schedule was becoming challenging for us, I couldn't resist continuing with the FIAR curriculum.  It is just so rich in living books and wonderful learning.  To read my review of FIAR, click here.
 
 

As requested, here is a snap of our 'schedule' of sorts.  Usually most of this can be accomplished in the morning hours, given we stay focused.  I move through the lessons depending on the day, what the children are busy with, and what fits in with other commitments.  Hope this helps, slightly?





So, there it is... our year at a glance...  Lord willing, it should be a wonderful, exciting, BUSY year!

Be blessed, friends!




 

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