Food for body and soul…

I don’t know about your family meal time, but mine usually involves an endless stream of food complaints…

Is that a bean?

Do I have to eat it?

Why can’t we eat chicken nuggets every night?

Or a never ending supply of bathroom humor, armpit symphonies or knock-knock jokes the kids make up themselves.  It invariably turns the meal unappetizing, exhausting or just in sudden silence when we finally veto every form of sound except for  hubby and myself.  Surely there’s got to be another way to redeem meal times?  But with young kids, their ability to converse intelligently is so limited. Their rabbit trails dominate every time.

To try something, I’ve been reading out loud at the table while my kids and I eat.  We’re currently reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  And in just a few meals, I’ve already been greatly encouraged by it.  Here’s some of the great benefits just 2 meals have given me:

-Complaints about the meal are brief due to the fact that they can’t talk to me while listening to the story.  So even though it may not be a favorite food, in the end, it gets eaten with much less complaining than if I was sitting there quiet.

-I’m reading to them.  Forget the fact that readers produce readers; I’m showing to my younger boys who struggle with reading that a story can be engaging, funny, even scary.

-They are embarking on an adventure and their body is occupied with eating.  My squirmy son Isaac usually needs to have body diversion in order to listen better.  He’s a kinesthetic learner.  The problem is usually finding something diversionary enough to listen but not enough to make him play instead.  Eating is perfect.

-The art of conversation is being taught.  After a chapter or two, I think of a few summary questions to ask them about what we’ve read.  Intelligent answers are given and a meaningful conversation is had.

-The gospel is presented.  This would, of course, depend on the book you read.  The beauty of this book is the easily identifiable similarities between Satan, Jesus, sinfulness and the need for a Holy Rescue.  This is vital for my daughter to see that even the  “good” character Peter is sinful and need of rescue as much as the deceptive and bullying Edmund does.  By asking questions of the heart about the characters it helps my kids understand that ‘out of the heart’ comes sinfulness (Mt 15:19) in such a way that doesn’t put my kids on defense or feel as though I’m disciplining them.

-It’s time with them.  While I am with them all day, every day as a homeschooling mom, it doesn’t mean it’s a lot of quality time.  One of the easy traps I fall into is thinking the quantity of time with them counts.  But it’s the times of quality or how we engage our kids that makes the memory.  My prayer is to continue this.  To build it to a tradition.  Not as an aimless it’s what we did growing up one but a targeted one.   For as they grow and mature, harder literature, deeper questions, greater revelation about faith and lengthier conversations can be had that will continue to challenge all of our thoughts, beliefs, and hearts.  It’s truly food for body and soul.

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securedownloadReading has fallen off my rotation for most of this summer.  Even my beloved fiction books have just not made it into my hands.  I suppose it’s a sign of the busyness at hand. Lately my prime reading time which is after the kids are in bed has been consumed with school preps and any reading necessary for it.  Learning nouns, adverbs, adjectives and other forms of grammar neglected in my own education is remarkably….boring.  Still, I’m in the process of reclaiming my education and showing to my children that learning it right the first time with a brain like a sponge sure beats trying to learn it now when my brain is like a piece of swiss cheese!

But, with much of my additional school preps settling down, I was looking for some really good fiction to sink my teeth into.  I am a judger of book covers, so I typically just pick my fiction from meandering through the library.  Or, occasionally, on recommendation from a friend.  You can imagine the 50/50 results I can get by going this route.  So, by looking through the Classical Conversations catalog, I noticed that the high schoolers are required to read many fiction classics and award winners.  Of course, many I have never read as a child or as an adult.  So, starting with some of those, and then browsing the wall of Newberry winners at my local Barnes and Nobles, I got a good photo index of about 15 books that seem, well, substantial fiction. Then I went to my local library, because I’m not buying them, at least not yet.   My first goal is to read and enjoy them for myself but with three kids I’m already thinking of which ones might be some assigned reading for my eldest or which ones might capture the imaginations of my younger boys if I read them out loud.  But the challenge is to look at it all with an educators mind to help my kids see the antagonist, the protagonist (are they who you thought they’d be)?  Being able to draw out the vices or virtues that make them.  To discuss these, to have conversations about choices made and the consequences faced in them.  Because much of our make-believe is really an echo of the fact that we are in the image of our God, who has created us and history and continues to orchestrate the details of His great Story of redemption.  And we all have a part to play.

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Time keeps on ticking…

424519_3532927927762_377194890_nMy youngest turned five this weekend.  Suddenly, there’s no more baby hands or baby chub around the kid legs constantly in motion.  Words are clear and coherent.  Hours are spent in building Lego trains, drawing trains, learning to play the Wii with big brother and sister.  The only stubborn traces of babyhood are in his love of his blanket and the two fingers that find their way to his mouth when he’s tired.

I never dreamed of motherhood until after I was married.  Kids were never in my picture.  Certainly never 3 of them.  Yet God has a way of changing plans, rearranging goals and creating new dreams.  And I am so very glad He did.  I cannot imagine my life without these blessings He has given me.292279_10200997546006726_730827504_n

Bouquet of newly sharpened pencils

My favorite time of year is here.  I love back to school stuff.  I always have.  While other girls were excited for their back to school wardrobe, I was itching for the new pens, pencils and notebooks.  Book covers…freshly made out of paper bags.  I personally find it horrific that they make vinyl ones now but even in scholastic products progress must be made.

Between graduating college and homeschooling children I had no reasons to buy them.  I would walk through Target or Wal-Mart during the back to school sales and try to think of reasons I needed boxes of crayons and colored pencils.  But really I didn’t.  So I’d leave with a little sigh and dream of a career or job or task where I could shop those sales again, never imagining I’d do it yearly now with my kids as we stock our school room each year.  Never thinking I would be in charge of doing the supply shopping for 30 odd children, all needing pencils, scissors, and folders.  This week has been a joyous experience of walking through those isles and dreaming of what all these kids will need and getting them!  They sit in their tutor boxes, all nice and shiny and new.

Forget a bouquet of flowers.  Joe Fox in You’ve got Mail has the keys to my heart…

Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.