Thursday, September 29, 2011

Something about today

Something I said today: I think this cake has a conspiracy against me.

Something I heard today: Oh, you can't hurt my feelings. I only have one left and I'm saving it for a special occasion.

Something I did today: Reprimanded a friend for buying cigarettes

Something I smelled today: the night air, sprinkled with stars and filled with crisp life

Something I tasted today: My daughter's birthday cake

Something I read today: the final pages of the novel Joy for Beginners

Something I remembered today: That I haven't written a post on goal setting

Something I offered today: Links on past posts to appease my readers


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's 1 am, foo', I ain't posting no post

So, that whole Goal Post I mentioned yesterday that I said I would write. It ain't happening.

There. I did it.
I broke blog etiquette and didn't write as promised.
Last I checked the world was still intact.

All things considered.

Perhaps tomorrow.
No promises ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Skinny on the Big Fat Program Plan

For those fortunate enough to live in this area, you need to complete a Program Plan.
This is a plan that outlines what you will do for the coming school year in your home.

Dear Government,
Here is my Program Plan: it unfolds.

Thank you,
5 minute mom

A great idea but, in reality, we all need to have goals. And so, it just makes sense to have a Program Plan.

Last week, (King) Louis and Joyce, facilitator's extraordinaire, put on a workshop on the HOW-TO basics of How to Write a Program Plan. I was very grateful for this because I handed mine in last March.

It was due at the end of November.

Let this mean nothing to all of you about how efficient and on top of things I am.

A mere blip on my map.



Well, anyway, for those of you building your FIRST EVER Program Plan I will attempt to divulge the secrets.
For those who want something really elaborate and amazing, you should probably go over to Cindy Rushton's website and hear an audio or two about pulling your life together. I can't offer that here.


Now, word on the street is that the first thing you need to have is a FAMILY VISION statement.
What that is translated to mean to me is a long conversation with my husband about what we want our family to look like.
This is a two hour conversation at my house.
I am on a deadline and so I schedule a talk for next week and get on with the planning....because here is a little unknown secret that I am going to give you for free.
I'm not even going to make you give me your email address in order to get it.
Are you ready?

Plans can change.
Plans are adaptable.
Plans are FLUID.

Yes, I wrote FLUID. Write it down because in about six months it will replace "iconic" as the new catch phrase that is tossed around on the net and in benign interviews with celebrities commenting on their co-workers.

You heard it hear first. Got that?

So, the point here is this:
If you can't squeeze in a chat with your main squeeze right away, go ahead and make the plan. You can always go back and adjust the plan to suit the Family Vision.
Just Make the Program Plan.
Don't use the unwritten Family Vision as an excuse not to get something in writing.
I find that it is more productive to make up the plan and share it with my husband. He then offers insight, affirms decisions and points out new goals.
We work better when he has something concrete in front of him to base the discussion on.
Make the changes once you have your Family Vision and then SUBMIT the final copy.

What I am about to unveil to you is not the actual plan that Louis and Joyce presented...this is how I interpreted it. This may work for some of you. For others, you may wrinkle your nose in disgust and head on over to Cindy Rushton's to find out who she is.


Start by praying and asking God for wisdom, then

1. Pick a child who is currently being homeschooled
2. Write down their strengths and weaknesses and abilities
3. Looking at the weaknesses, identify the character issues that need to be strengthened (diligence, initiative, excellence, etc.)
4. Take stock of what it is you need to be successful? What IS keeping you from being succcessful? How can their strengths be used to fortify the weaknesses?
5. Pick your subjects. Or, in my case, categories. I don't like seperating subjects because all of our learning has smudged edges that blend together like a charcoal drawing.
I choose categories like: Literacy, Numeracy, Nature, Community, etc.
You can chose Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Spelling, and all the other subjects, if you are so inclined.
6. Under each category write down your goal and the resource materials you are going to use.
7. Assess- write down how you will assess their learning (observation, tests, performances, etc)

TA-da. that's it. Seven steps to a new Program Plan.
In the words of Inspector Gadget, "Wowsers!"

Join me tomorrow when I will be discussing Goals and How to Recognize One.
Although, I'm sure by then, it will have a snazzy title.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hey Everyone,
In an attempt to make this blog better for you, I've put together a quick survey for you to fill out.
It's 3 questions and can be done in less than 3 minutes.
I'd appreciate your input.


Monday, September 19, 2011

FAILED. Foiled. Fueled.

I started our new season of learning with a bang!
And then the bang fizzled, sputtered and eventually died out.
Leg surgery can really knock a girl out.
Along with an unexpected stomach virus.

Any plans I had of taking off with great speed this year failed.
Instead, it was a week of audiobooks on CD.
One good thing came out of it, though. When I asked my son what color my legs were he learned a new colour: purple.
Apparently the doctors aren't kidding when they say your legs are severely bruised after varicose vein surgery.
They didn't lie about the pain either.

I sat in my chair feeling low.
And then dizzy.
You think you feel bad recovering from surgery, but the truth is, you don't know bad until you are recovering from surgery AND have a stomach virus.
And let me just describe it to you in the most verbose way I have available at 6 am: it was bad.

I'm sure that clears everything up for you.

On Tuesday, I looked at my watch. It was the 13th of September.
Last year, this time, I was flying high with how much fun we were having in our new school year. My kids and I had come home singing, "Where are you going charming Billy?" after a day filled with fun at the Wisdom Home School BBQ. We tumbled through the doors of our home only to find a message that told me my husband was in a work related accident and in the emergency room.

Has it really been a year?
I looked down the hall and watched my husband walk into his office to study. He's endured months of physio, a surgery, re-training and more physio. Now he waits for word on his next surgery.
It has been a long year.

I wanted this year to be different.
Last year was a blur. I don't even know if we learned anything other than how to get in and out of a car to drive to physio. I looked over my daily learning photos and realize that somehow in the midst of the craziness, we did learn something.

My attempts to start this year seemed foiled, somehow.
I am drained of physical energy, low on enthusiasm and thinking of the year ahead has made me take another painkiller.
This is not the way to begin a new year.

I lay on my bed and talk to God. "Tell me about interruptions," I ask.

I am reminded of the story in Luke 8:40-56. Jesus was headed over to heal a sick girl whose father's name was Jairus. But on the way, He stopped and said, "Who touched me?"
It was revealed that a woman with a issue of blood had dared to touch Jesus, and in doing so became healed. Jesus told her that her faith had made her well. While this exchange went on, Jairus' servants came and told them to not bother coming--the daughter had died.
Jesus was not to be interrupted. He told them, "Don't be afraid, just believe and she will be healed." Jesus went in to see the girl, admidst mocking and laughing from those who thought the situation was impossible. He told the girl to get up and immediately her spirit returned to her. She was alive!

Jesus set out to see Jairus' daughter, but was interrupted. The interruption brought healing to a woman who was in desperate need of restoration. The interruption suddenly seemed to have been time wasted when the servant announced Jairus' daughter had died. Jesus didn't think so. He went about continuing the work He set out to do and raised the girl from the dead.

Maybe interruptions are just a detour of a healing work God is doing in our lives.
And maybe they are actually setting the stage for something more spectacular. Perhaps they are even the prelude to an event that will grow your faith like never before--even resurrecting something that everyone thought was dead.

Suddenly, I don't feel so off track with our new school year.
I actually feel full. Ready to embrace the journey no matter the shape it takes.
I'm fueled up for the ride ahead.

Bring it on!

Starting with a Bang: The Orchard Year

Remember when I wrote about creating Power Moments for your kids? Here's how it went down at our house this year to kick off the new school year.

I like beginnings to be marked. I love the anticipation of events just about to begin. I love the feelings evoked from the moments just before a race or a game. Beginnings are important. They mark the start of change.

Even though we unschool our kids and most of our learning just feels like life unfolding naturally, I still like to mark the beginning of a new season.

This year is The Orchard Year at my house. An orchard is a piece of land set aside for the purpose of growing fruit. We have decided, as a family, to be set aside for God to allow Him to develop the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

This was a theme that needed to be introduced with panache. It needed a celebratory tone as my husband and I were introducing some goals, disciplines and new changes to our lives. It seems a spoonful of sugar would help our new "medicine" (change) go down well.

All we needed to start was a ball of string.

The string was unwound all over our yard, creating a maze that travelled through haphazard obstacles, wound its way through garden paths and weaved around the entire yard.

I sat the kids down and told them to observe the string in the midst of our huge yard. What did they see?
The yard was big. The string was relatively small compared to the yard. You couldn't really see where the string was going because it was small.
I talked about how following God and growing in God is very similar. Life can be a huge place and you could go all over, venturing into places unknown or even places forbidden. Learning to follow God and His voice for your life was like the string. It required focus, attention and a fair amount of holding on tight. I asked them to start following the string.

The string led them on a bit of a wild chase. Shortly into their walk, I asked them to stop and look around them. Hanging off a plant, I had a paper cherry with the word LOVE written on it. I asked them to pick the fruit.

We talked about how as we follow God ( the string) we will grow in His character. I told them to be on the look out for all the 9 ways we could grow in the Fruit of the Spirit. The adventure was on as they began to climb over obstacles and crawl under chairs following the string and hunting for the different fruit.

Finally, they arrived at the end. They managed to find: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. They brought all of the fruit with them to the end of the string.

At the end of the string, I had a poster board of a tree. The tree had fruit candy taped to it. I gave each of them a candy and asked them to describe it. It was the strawberry candies that have the wrappers that look like strawberries. My children said that the candy was sweet and tasted great. They also noted that it lasted a long time.

We discussed how following God and allowing Him to develop our character will produce good things in our lives and that it will last a long time. We talked about whether or not following the string was easy or difficult.
"It wasn't too hard if you paid attention to where it was going. Sometimes you could run ahead of the string and then have to go back to where the string was actually taking you."
More discussion on following God and how the path He leads us down is straight, narrow and sometimes seems to be filled with obstacles. Even the parts that had lots of obstacles were easy to get around if you followed the string.

When the candies were done, I talked about how it was a gift to others to be a fruitful person. Then I told them they better look on our kitchen table and see if there were any gifts for our new season of schooling.

They bolted into the house. I see that our "patience" tree is going to require some growing this year!

Unwrapping new art supplies, books, and science gadgets was filled with fun and mayhem.
Then we prayed as a family and dedicated this new growing season to God.

I'm excited to see where this new year leads.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't Let a Block(ed) Parent Drive the Bus

Being a Block(ed) Parent:
A book on Mediating Learning and Blocking
by 5minutemom
illustrated by: M* Will3ms
(with apologies to M* Will3ms and his fabulous book "D*n't Let the Pig3*n Drive the Bus!"
from where the illustrations have been taken from. Without permission.
I hope that's ok,
Maybe your next book can be called, "Don't let the blogger take photos of the bird".
Has kind of a best-seller ring to it, don't ya think?)

Dedicated to:
Parents everywhere who deal with a blocking attitude when instructing your child
to children everywhere who deal with parents who get blocked from your blocking attitude

This book is great!
I loved it and it changed my life.
Pretend to read this book with a British accent. It will add to the humour.
-anonymous important expert-like person

This book is about working with your children when they have a Blocking Attitude. An attitude that clearly suggests that they aren't interested in learning.
Mediated Learning techniques can help you and your child move from a Blocked Attitude to an Attitude that is willing and ready to learn.
Often times, we, the parent, throw our hands in the air and say, "Let's just forget this right now!" when we encounter a blocking attitude.
tsk! tsk! That's not a very successful place to end things is it?
But what is to be done?
First, let's identify if you are, what I like to call, 'A Block(ed) Parent'.
No, I'm not referring to being a safe house for kids who are lost. I am referring to your attitude when you come up against a challenge.
A challenge that has your child saying to you, "This is dull (stupid, moronic-- or for you classical reader families--This is extremely tedious and non-sensical)"
How you RESPOND makes all the difference.
Let us begin our journey and discover if you are a Block(ed) Parent.
CHAPTER ONE: Have you done your math question yet?
The parent asks how math is going and the child grunts, puts down his pencil and mumbles something that closely resembles a noisy muffler on a car.
Parent asks, "What's wrong?"
They say,"I hate this. Why do we have to do math anyway? I want to go outside."
CHAPTER 2: Begging is what dogs do
Parent: Come on! Let's give it a go. None of this attitude today. Please try again.
Child: crosses arms and looks indifferent
Parent: Please.

CHAPTER 3: Two Can Play This Game
Parent (crossing arms and glaring): Son, you need to finish these questions before you go outside. Now, read the question out loud and we'll go from there.
Child feigns deafness.
CHAPTER 4: Motivational Techniques in a Nagging Form
Parent: Come on! I know you can do this! It wasn't that hard last week, so pull up the boot straps and get to work. We still have geography and history to cover.
CHAPTER 5: Desperate Homeschool Mom
Parent sinks to the low blow of bribing child to do work.

CHAPTER 6: Perhaps Increasing the Volume Will Help
Parent, losing their own self-regulation, starts to take out their frustration about the situation on the child (in a loud, yelling-ish tone): What's the big deal? Why can't you just do this so we can get on to geography!!!

CHAPTER 7: The Future Looks Bleak

Parent sees no hope for the situation and starts to imagine the worst possible future, doubting her own sanity and questioning if she can possibly homeschool for another day.
Thoughts of her child ending up unemployed and living at home when they are 35 flit across their mind.

CHAPTER 8: Meltdown
The parent loses it.

CHAPTER 9: Guilt sets in

Child is forgotten by parent. Parent starts to madly clean her house in order to deal with her high level of frustration over her child's lack of interest in math.
Parent is convinced that she is crazy for homeschooling and starts to question her sanity on a deeper level

I was once a parent like that.
I had meltdowns over math questions that went no where.
And if you have acted like that crazy ol' bird in the book, start over.
Here's how you get your chid to UNblock.



Ask questions.
In particular, ask Process Questions.
As you ask questions, watch to see which criteria is coming up.
Is your child afraid of a challenge? Do they need to self-regulate and focus?
Is it competence? Can you provide an optimistic alternative?
Can the problem being broken down into smaller pieces?
Is it lacking meaning for your child? Can you bridge to a past experience that relates to this one?

As you listen to your child, you will start to see where they are blocked in their learning.

Here's a tip.
Go back to their last success in this particular subject. Show them what they have done and how they can build on their last success with this challenge. Be willing to offer an optimistic alternative.
Most importantly, leave them in a place of success.

But whatever you do,
Don't Lose Your Cool and Become a Block(ed) Parent!


Keep This Mummy Under Wraps

I am a Mummy.
My legs are wrapped in tensor bandages from toe to hip.
Both of them.
Such is the result of varicose vein surgery.
So...for now.,,,
I'm under wraps.
I will re-appear on this blog as soon as the pain medication wears off.
Which can be loosely translated as some time next week.

Til then...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Interview with a five year old

I saw this interview over at Ordinary Life Magic and wanted to try it with my gang.
Here is the interview with my five year old.

1. What is something I always say to you?Hmmm. I don't know. That question is really hard to answer.Take some time to think about it."I need tape! I need tape! That's what you always say, "I need tape!" (Raises her hands in the air dramatically)
2. What makes me happy?
uhhhh...when I make you feel good.

How do you make me feel good?
Well, sometimes I make you food snacks and bring them to you.
Yes, that does make me feel good.

3. What makes me sad?When you cry, that makes you sad.
What makes me cry?
Well, you cry out in pain when you stub your toe. Or when someone dies or gets kidnapped, that makes you sad. And that's all I know.

4. How do I make you laugh?Tickle me. Like when we play Pickle. *** (see bottom for instructions)

5. What was I like as a child?
I don't really remember.I've told you some stories, what was I like in those stories?
Now that's a good question Let me think for a moment. (she pauses). One story that you told me was that you would run down your driveway and go down the sidewalk and jump into the creek at the end of the driveway. That was really funny.
There are no sidewalks in the country. I grew up in the country, remember?
What? There's no sidewalks in the country? You are kidding my eyeballs out!
Nope, not kidding. No sidewalks.
You will have to show me that sometime.

6. How old am I?32. Are you?Yes.
I knew it!

7. How tall am I?
30 feet.
Not quite.Let me measure you then.
(using her fingers she measures me to b e 18 pinches)

8. What is my favorite thing to do?
Be silly
9. What do I do when you’re not around?
You be sad.Am I sad because you aren't with me.
That's right!

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?Mommy, there is something I am trying to reach. Now,I can't speak right now because I am busy, busy, busy. I just need to try and get this thing.
Did I interrupt you?
Yes, you did.
I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were busy.
Could you ask me later once I'm done?
You bet.
Later...If I become famous, what will it be for?
11. What am I really good at?
You are good at snuggling me.
How do you know I'm good at it?"
Because you are soft and warm.
"Is there anything else I'm really good at?"
Making spaceships, and you are very good at sleeping.

12. What am I not very good at?
Not very good at sword fighting.
Anything else?
Walking with a cane.

13. What do I do for a job?
Go to the store in town. That's easy to answer.What's my job at staying home?
um, laying down?

14.What is my favorite food?
Maranatha peanut butter and honey sandwiches
Like the ones you make for me?

15. What makes you proud of me? Because you pretend to eat me.When I pretend to tickle you?
Maybe I can phrase the question differently. What do you like about me being your mom?
You tickle me.
Anything else?

16. If I were a Robot on the movie ROBOTS , who would I be?
Aunt Fanny. But you wouldn't have the big bum that she has!
17. What do you and I do together?
Have special dates, snuggle, tea parties with my dolls, pray
18. How are you and I the same?We're not the same.Are we alike in any way?
I don't know what that means, so I can't answer that.

19. How are you and I different?Different voices, different eyesight--you need glasses, I don't. We dress differently. We have different coloured hair. We don't read the same books everyday. We don't use the same toothpaste. We look different. We have different looking ears from each other.
Now that you know how we are different. How are we the same?
We like some of the same songs. Well, you have necklaces and I want them. (haha!)
I know something that is the same...the toy kangaroos belong to both of us.
Sometimes we make the same faces. Sometimes the same smiles.

20. How do you know that I love you?
Because you do!
By telling me, hugging me, kissing me, playing with me, snuggling me, by keeping most of your promises, and hmmmm....
Any other ways that I show you I love you?
Because you say, "I love you" and you give me a kissing hand*** when we can't be

Kissing Hand
Taken from the book, the Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.

How to Play Pickle

Sit your child down and tell them that you are going to tickle her/him.
When they want you to stop they need to say "Pickle."

Start tickling them.
Your child will say "Pickle."
Then you say, "Tickle? Did you just say tickle? Ok. I'll tickle you!"
That usually makes them say Pickle louder, so that means you tickle harder.
And so on and so forth until vast amounts of merriment have taken place and your child is begging you to stop.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Counting Laundry Bottles for Jesus

" Lead me to those who need You today, Jesus. Bring across my path anyone who is the least of these and let me love them with Your love."
This is the prayer I pray every time I walk to work.
It's led me to have some interesting encounters.
Today was no different.

At ten o'clock in the morning a little girl wandered into the store I work at. She was without supervision. We started talking. I learned that she was seven, that she was walking around down town by herself and that she was supposed to be in school but didn't want to go.

I called someone over and explained what was going on. They said they would take care of things. A grandmother was called, words were exchanged and someone planned to come and get her.

I invited her to stock the shelves with me. We played math games.
"If I put one laundry detergent bottle on the shelf and we started with six, how many do you have left?"
She looks up at the ceiling...thinking. "Hmmmm. Five?"
We play like this for twenty minutes or so. We high-five her brilliant deductions, we celebrate her sounding out letters on the name brand labels and we smile when we empty all the boxes.

And then it was time for her to go. I walked her to the door and told her that she was the best shelf-stocker I had worked with in a long time. She smiled and waved goodbye.

As I walked back to the boxes, I heard God whisper, "Thank you."
I stopped. "For what, God?"
"For loving Me today."
I wanted to shake that thought away. I didn't change this girl's situation. I didn't even tell her about Christ. We simply counted laundry bottles together.
"I was hungry and you fed Me. That little girl wanted attention today, she wanted to be told she was smart and was helpful. So I sent her into the store today because I knew you would show her My kindness. What you did for the least of these, you did for Me."

I wanted to cry.
It would be okay. I am in the aisle where we stock Kleenex.

I think about this for the remaining two hours of my shift. I think about how God's kindness leads us to repentance. How we can be kind to others and it can lead them to knowing God's love.
And sometimes, showing His kindness to others leads us to repentance. It is ourselves who find the need to repent.
Repenting for times lost when it only takes a moment to love and we passed it by.
Repentance for thinking that doing the great, big flashy deeds only count as serving God.
Repentance for judging all of the outside of a situation, but forgetting that at the core is a little girl who needs some kindness.

I want to be known as someone who showed others God's kindness.
And in the process, let it find me on bended knee, claiming Christ as my saving grace and only strength.

I included the version with lyrics on screen. The chorus rings true for today, non?