Monday, 29 April 2013

The Parenting Files: Gradual Release Check

We're heading into some birthday weeks here.  That there are three of us close together makes me step back and take stock of where we're at.  That and a post from the lovely Frances about letting go just a little bit.  One of my children is nearing official adulthood.  We only have a year to finish preparing her for adult independence.  At the other end of the spectrum, a child who begins his teen years.  He has mastered the baking of one or two things independently and is working on cooking meals.  In between the two is the child who embodies balance between the two: courageous independence juxtaposed with needing reassurance from her parents.

It seems the whole of motherhood is a journey of preparing our children to fly.  To leave the nest with wings strong enough to carry them through the journeys ahead of them.  Our program of gradual release is well on target.  Driving lessons, cooking lessons, how-to-keep-your-room-clean lessons.  They're all under way.

It's easy to scaffold those practical things until children can perform tasks independently, but it's so much harder to figure out how and when to remove the supports that give our kids emotional stability and discipline.  It's hard to watch them suffer the consequences of their own decisions sometimes.  We're working on moving to a negotiation and advice model of parenting, rather than direct instruction.  Unless a cup of tea is involved and then there is still lots of direct instruction!  There's also direct instruction happening around the compulsory eating of school lunches which give a growing lad necessary brain fuel.  Like I say....what to push and what to step back on.  They're tough decisions.

How's your program of gradual release going?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

First Week of Devotion

It's been an interesting week.  I've learnt a lot about finding time for a personal 'quiet time', how simple that can be to achieve and how very much you can learn out of a few verses.

I don't think I know a Christian who doesn't struggle with being diligent about their quiet time. In the past week I have sat in the middle of the hubbub that swirls around our house in the mornings and just read.  And journalled. Then I've gotten on with the morning and the day.  I think I had thought a quiet time had to be the first thing you did in the day and away from other people.  This week I've realised that God can speak through all the noise and carrying on.  It can be the third or fourth thing you do and He won't mind at all.

The tool that has helped most has been answering two questions: what did I learn? and, what will I do?  Punchy little innocent-looking questions that really make you think about what you're reading and how you are going to respond.  Write your response down - it helps solidify everything in your head rather than thoughts that whimsically float in and out of your head.  Or is it just me this happens to?

I'm about to put something together for Miss Sunshine to help her through her Texts and Traditions subject at school.  They are spending a year studying the book of Luke, which in her teenaged mind is utterly slow and boring, especially when the rest of the world is fast and exciting.  And while I have challenged her to use this as an opportunity to really take in what God is saying to her, and how taking it so slow is actually really worthwhile, she's still very much a kid and just wants to get it done. 

I think I need to put some new cool fonts to use.  'Cos that's the other thing I've discovered this week:  free, very cute fonts.  You can find them here.  You just pick the one(s) you want, right click on it, open it and then click on install.  Voila, it will appear on all your Microsoft programs just like *that*.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

When Curriculum Planning Builds Faith

My school is just embarking on the journey of using the Understanding by Design process for designing curriculum. I had thought it was just a different looking curriculum document and hadn't thought too hard about it until we were looking at it the other day as a staff.  My Head of Primary offhandedly mentioned that curriculum design by this approach requires Christian teachers to be in the Word so that we can bring that into our classrooms.  Hmmmmmm.  I didn't ever think that curriculum design could ever be the impetus to grow a deeper faith!  That one comment was the wake up call I needed to consider the changes I need to make in my personal life in order to be the Christian teacher I need to be for my students.

So, rather than reading The Age over breakfast (free on my iPad!) I am now arming myself with my Bible and the journal given to us at church a couple of months ago and I've begun using my breaky reading habit to get that ever-elusive devotional time.  And you know what?  Within two days I was able to use what I'd read to encourage someone else. 

The other impetus for change has been attending an incredibly inspiring statewide conference for Christian teachers.  We finish tomorrow and then head back into our classrooms with our students on Thursday.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A New Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Lasanga

I tried a new recipe over Easter.  Apparently I break what is a culinary cardinal rule.  You should never experiment on guests.  It seems like I've made a career of doing exactly that.  Because when I have guests I'm usually looking for something a little bit different and interesting rather than plain, old, whatever-we-normally-have.  Not that guests would know the difference I suppose.  My parents think our 'normal' is like being in a restaurant.  I beg to differ, but I imagine that's all a matter of perspective.

Anyway, I wanted a roasted vegetable lasagne recipe and I found a really good one here.  Our only problem with the recipe was the use of tomato pesto.  I ended up making my own pesto last night so that I could use pine nuts instead of cashews, as Miss Sunshine has a nut allergy but is fine with the pine nuts.  I got that recipe from here.

I have some vegies leftover for someone's lunch and whole night's worth of lasagna in my freezer for another day.  I think after a trip to Costco to refill my freezer I'll be ready to get into another school term.  Almost.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

A Little More Autum Cleaning

My dust-free and empty stack of baskets

A little more cleaning and a little more satisfaction.  Yesterday Miss Sunshine had a collaborative study session with a friend.  Us Mums had a collaborative cleaning effort.  Just one little section of our family room along a half-wall that seems to collect stuff.  And dust.  Apparently I'm very good at ruthlessly culling 'stuff' that realistically hasn't been looked at in quite some time.  I find it cathartic to get rid of languishing 'stuff' that no long is of use or value.  I like Fly Lady's perspective:  if you don't love it, get rid of it.  I didn't love those old magazines, never-repaired clothing items and sewing projects that will never be completed.  They're all gone.

All this has me wondering.  Why is that we talk about 'spring cleaning'?  Do we really have to wait until spring to get things in order or organise ourselves, our stuff and our homes?  I think not.  If we all waited for spring we'd all be allergic to our homes, I think.  Goodness knows I used more than my fair share of tissues while getting into that dusty corner yesterday.  Who knew there could be so much to blow?!

In amongst assignments and Uni returning after a one-week Easter break I'm thinking that I need some kind of organised way to keep things constantly cleaned.  I just can't deal with the avalanche of emails from Fly Lady right now, and I'm not so bad with the daily routines of caring for our needs.  She was a perfect fit when I was a SAHM with little people at home and I had time to invest.  Organized Junkie has lots of inspiration for keeping things tidied and in their homes and has a new app.  For $2 it might be worth investigating.  Or maybe I just need to write down 31 days worth of tasks that need to be accomplished, somewhat in order, and just keep recycling those?  Hmmmm.  Maybe that would work?  It would certainly be cheaper than an having a cleaner, although that is an incredibly tantalising idea for this time-poor working, studying wife and mum!

How do other busy mums keep the house cleaned and organised when you don't have time to do it?  Tell me your secrets!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Household Satisfaction: A Clean Expanse

It may seems strange to you, to see a picture of my bedroom carpet up close and personal.  Why would a person do such a thing as taking a photo of carpet?  Let me tell you why.  There is nothing but green.  Beautiful, sage green with not little specks or bits or stuff cluttering that perfect view.  It needed to be recorded for future reference.  To know it happened, even if just once.

We all live much faster-paced lives than I ever remember when I was a child.  Back then it seemed that mothers were more likely to be at home for at least some part of the week and there was a high priority placed on homes being cared for.  It's not quite like that these days.  Not in my house anyway.  Life travels quite quickly and housework is relegated to a rather low priority.  In the scheme of getting to school/work on time and completing study tasks and assignments we're lucky we eat regularly.  The kids seem to think that's a fairly high priority though.

Over the school holidays (which it is for this week and next) I try and do at least one thing that tells people me we do love our home.  Yesterday it was my bedroom that got the sprucing up.  Papers were sorted, clutter was put away and a little bit of rearranging occurred.  Baseboards were cleaned and window sills dusted.  And after it all the carpet was vacuumed more thoroughly than I think the carpet can ever remember.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all that bad.  But there were little piles of stuff here and there that were gathering momentum.  Now I walk in there and just want to revel in the beauty of clutter-free space.

Because my bedroom now looks so satisfyingly clean I'm thinking I might need to re-investigate Fly Lady.  The question is: can I cope with the overwhelming number of emails she will send me if I signed up?

What have you been cleaning this week?