Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Value of a Good Read


My son was sick today.
All day he was sprawled on the couch burning up a fever.

I did our regular homeschool routine with the other three children, but my heart was lurching for my normally VERY active boy; all he did today was lie down and act very lethargic.

My hubby arrived home early to take our eldest son to his karate lesson. For good measure (and to give me a break!) he took the youngest two for an outing as well.

That left just myself...and my son on the couch.

After listening to one of our fav online stories (found on www.whitsend.org) we decided to do one of the special activities that my son so thoroughly relishes: to read a story together.

Since we've ventured into the homeschool world I've started up a collection of books to simply 'leave' all over the home...out in plain sight for the children to peruse anytime they finish their other work.
(***I notice almost all homeschoolers have large book shelves displayed throughout the house. What exactly happens to us that we become such passionate bookworms??)

One of the readers I had recently purchased contained a collection of various short stories. My son promptly requested this special green book of ours.

While lying on the couch, he mustered up his strength and began to flip through the pages...finally he decided on a humourous tale for this nightly read. 

Previously he had been a bit fussy throughout the day, but after the story began I noticed his body start to soften as he listened in...


Do you ever notice how actually therapeutic reading can be for our children?
How even on their 'worse' days they will find great joy in curling up with Mom or Dad (or whoever!) and a good book? 

Sometimes I notice that when we're all just having 'one of those days', and especially when it's due to extreme exhaustion, I simply grab a book. I ask the children to all find a spot by Mommy, and I begin to read.

We have even attempted to make a habit of reading at our breakfast table (only for short periods). Sometimes my hubby or myself will have the honour...sometimes it's one of the children..

Some of my fondest childhood memories include being on Mom's lap while she read to me. I have HER to thank for my library 'obsessions' on the latest health, finance, marriage, child-raising, and fiction reads :)
(some visits to the library, actually ahem, MOST of them end up with me leaving with a box full of books for the entire family...this has probably increased since we started homeschooling!)

I admit that in various seasons I don't always have the time to make reading such a priority in our home, however that being said I am becoming more and more appreciative of its VAST benefits to our children's lives.




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Some Delicious & Nutritious Recipes!




This past Monday evening I hosted the GRAND OPENING of my new business venture Re-VITAL-ize U!!!!

Since I graduated my program to be certified as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (as of this past September 2012), I had begun working towards fulfilling one of my long-term goals: to run my own business. This past week I realized one of my dreams :)

Now, as an R.H.N. I am able to offer my clients various services which include one-on-one consultations & party packages. I am super excited to be able to share this passion with other people...namely to learn to eat for our health.

Today, I wanted to share a few recipes that were either served or highlighted at my Grand Opening. Hope you all enjoy :)

1) Almond Banana Blast Smoothie


3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon of flax oil
1 heaping scoop of protein powder
maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten
add water to desired consistency or more almond milk

2) Raspberry Dream Smoothie
3/4 cup of coconut water (or coconut milk)
1/2 cup of frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil
1 heaping scoop of protein powder
sweeten to taste (honey, stevia, maple syrup)
add water to desired consistency

Is anyone else's mouth watering???

3) Twice Cooked Curry Coconut Lentils
As I spoke about Monday it is important to pre-treat our legumes by sprouting them in order to:
-increase absorption of nutrients
-increase digestibility
-make them softer & much more palatable 

So I buy dried legumes (either organic or best I can get) in bulk and first rinse them off to clean them. I then put them in a bowl (glass is preferred) and cover them with water. I then add one tablespoon of one of the following: lemon juice (freshly squeezed), raw apple cider vinegar, or plain yogurt. It acts as a bacteria starter. I leave them usually overnight, or even 24 hours for a good sprout. (In a rush you can leave them from morning until dinner_

I then cook them on the stove top (add water to make sure they are covered in the pot & that there is room to expand) by simmering them on a low to medium roll. Stirring often. Once I feel they are soft & cooked I turn off the stove & let them cool down.
 Once they are cooled down I put them into the fridge overnight to further soften.
The next day I put the cooked lentils into a cooking pan (with lid) into the stove. I also added a can of coconut milk, a few heaping tablespoons of curry powder & some sea salt to taste. A bit of extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top. I then put it on low heat & re-heat in the stove stirring periodically. Once down, stir again & serve! Tasty :)

4) Peanut-Coconut Fudge
This versatile recipe is MELT IN YOUR MOUTH good!

First I start with 1/2 cup of extra virgin coconut oil & melt on low/medium heat stovetop. I add about 1/4 cup of butter (unsalted preferred). Once it is melted I add 4 heaping tablespoons of pure cocoa. I then stir in approx. 1/2 cup of raw honey. Taste a bit & keep adding honey until you arrive at your desired sweetness.
For added protein I add about 1/4 cup of organic smooth peanut butter. Once it is a smooth consistency I add in unsweetened coconut (about 1/2 cup, but feel free to play with it depending on your desired thickness). 
Smooth the fudge into a pan & sprinkle chopped pecans on top. Then place in fridge until it is hardened.

***WARNING--> You will most definitely find this food does NOT last long around the home! 


More the Merrier Monday

Friday, January 25, 2013

Learning in the real world





I used to think that learning consisted solely of large piles of textbooks stacked high, one right on top of the other...and of course the more you that you read the 'smarter' you became...





A new concept that I've encountered since beginning my homeschooling journey, is that learning can take place almost anywhere, and anyplace. In fact many homeschoolers promote, and live out, the ideology that learning happens naturally for children without much outside interference...this has been a relatively new thought for me.



As we've dared to dive into this homeschooling lifestyle (NOTE: you can read more about that in an earlier post :http://thelearningcurveparent.blogspot.ca/2012/11/homeschoolingits-like-going-on-trip.html) I've found many of my pre-conceived notions melting away...



It's not that I think books and structured learning don't have their place... I believe they do...

...but I am slowly beginning to appreciate the thought processes behind encouraging your child to learn through life's wonders and experiences as well.

-
This year I have found that my most treasured teaching experiences have not come from our curriculum...but instead have consisted of unplanned discovery 'sessions' within these three realms: being out together in nature, out together in regular everyday life, and during group reading or discussion times. 


When I think back upon my own childhood schooling experiences the most memorable aspects were:
-the interactions with my teachers and school mates
-class trips that made a lesson really come alive (Pioneer village was actually one of my favs!)
-hands-on classroom activities
-assignments where we as the student had the opportunity to pick our own topic 

It wasn't that the school textbooks weren't satisfactory...they were in many ways. However, now that I have been homeschooling for just over half a school year, I am starting to see the value in the real-life learning opportunities that present themselves each and everyday!





...for the most part as a child I was never aware of, or appreciative of how fun learning can actually be! 

One of my new goals this year is to help create a greater thirst for 'real-life' education by supplementing our school curriculum with:
-unit studies
-nature hikes
-group interactions 
-reading stories together
- and by simply allowing opportunities for my children to ask questions

I am still a newbie...but a newbie with a far greater appreciation of day-to-day discovery than I ever have before :)





#HSBAT Something RED Edition




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

~Perseverance & Patience~



If I were to ask you what side of the quarter was the quarter itself, which side would you answer? The animal or the face...

Silly question.

Of course we all know that either side is equally a part of the quarter. And that both sides are just as important.

Somehow when we look at other issues in life we forget that so many of them are interconnected...

I feel like perseverance & patience may be interwoven a bit like that quarter. How so?



*Definition of perseverance-->
(Noun)

1.Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
2.Continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

*Definition of patience-->
(Noun)
The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
(courtesy of Google)

Not the same. But different. Yet, very much alike!

...especially when it comes to our children.

As parents, especially as mothers in the home, how many times do we ask ourselves to persevere with our children in various tasks???

Here are some 'duties' of child-rearing that I'm sure most parents can relate to:

*learning to walk



*toilet training



*tying that first set of shoes

 
...or maybe Mom & Dad take the easy way...!!

*Learning to read

  Ask any parent & I'm sure you could hear a number of 'interesting' stories where it took some perseverance with your child.   What about patience?       ...I find as a parent, especially a homeschooling one, it can be easy tosee any given task eventaully completed with a child...that's called perseverance. A bit of determination.   However to do that same task with limitless patience the entire journey is a LOT more difficult altogether!     Perhaps you start by setting a simple goal: that we are going to learn 'x' with 'y' child.   Let's say for demonstration purposes you're going to potty train your youngest child.   You buy the books...talk to well-meaning friends...maybe even google it?...and ultimately you can see that Junior is ready for this. I mean he's showing ALL the signs...   So you're off! You get the potty out and begin.   ...day 3 and somehow it hasn't worked out with Junior quite the way it did with your eldest...maybe not even like the doctors in the book said it would.     Somehow your 'sugary sweet' voice gains a hoarse edge in the process...or maybe you're just not smiling quite as much when you pull out that potty chart!   You get the drift.   It could be a myriad of things. Of tasks. Of goals. Of duties we need to complete with our children.   The perseverance is there. You are ready to see this thing through to the end!    ...but could it be a good reminder (really this blog could just be for me today...) that patience is really the necessary 'flip side of the coin'?   Perhaps patience is an equally important complement to the virtue of perseverance...a trait that I/you must continue to grow in to be effective parents.   Without it the task may simply become a distant memory that your child would sooner forget :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Keeping Our Focus




Another homeschool morning & to be honest I am feeling a bit overwhelmed...

...a funeral to get ready for in a few hours.

...a small group tonight and tomorrow night.

...a business event next week to continue prepping for.

...a house of kids to teach.


One thing I've noticed about homeschooling IS that if you don't make it a priority in your life & schedule it...well, then many other pursuits & interests will try to 'threaten' its importance. At least that's been my experience this school year.

NOTE: If anyone out there has found a way to make your kids enjoy schooling EVERY single day please message me! I'd love to chat :)

This is a short blog today, but a good reminder for us all: if we've chosen to homeschool our children this year, then THAT is part of our calling.

The other stuff may have to wait. The other stuff may have to be downgraded a priority or two at times.

And if a true emergency arises (I would say the funeral today would fit in that category) that we can be flexible, knowing that we are being diligent the other days of the week.

A good reminder for myself today...


Friday, January 18, 2013

Losing a Loved One

It started off as an ordinary day homeschooling with the children...

Other than the fact I had had a rough sleep last night, and subsequently awoke with a painful kink in my neck, all was well.

Then I got a phone call...

"I don't know how to tell you this, but so & so has passed away."

Shock.

Numbness & sadness engulfed my heart all in one moment. A dear Aunt of mine, that I had only seen a few weeks ago, had passed away in her sleep.

The call ended. The shock continued as the facts began to settle in.

Of course this wasn't the first time I had lost a loved one, and I know it won't be the last, but each time the news arrives it always fills my heart with pain.

Pain for the loved ones left behind. Pain for the things left unsaid.

My daughter quickly asked me what was wrong; I told her that one of my relatives had died last night. She started to cry as well. We both wept together.

Then a gentle whisper entered my heart. Remember the words you just read before the call.

I had just 'happened' in my quiet time this morning to read a passage of scripture from Psalm 46. I re-opened my bible and read it again, this time my eyes overflowed with tears.

Psalm 46 (NIV)
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.





I find great comfort in these words. Peace begins to return to my heart in small waves. I begin to pray for the loved ones left behind with shattered hearts & dreams. My children & I discuss the afterlife that the bible so richly describes.
 
I text a few close friends asking for prayer for the extended family. Texts begin to come back offering prayer & support. I am so grateful for their love.
 
An ache is there & I know it will continue as we walk with my extended family through the grieving process...the funeral...the embraces...the shared memories of many celebrations long past...but I know in my heart the Great Comforter is there to walk with me...& with those who will reach out to Him & ask for it...
 
He is never more than a whisper away.
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Metamorphosis of the Caterpillar






They don't seem to have a very exciting life, do they?

He almost seems to 'drag his feet' along the branches...along the grass...along the trees...and basically wherever he goes to forage for food. Nothing too remarkable about his appearance either...some caterpillars even look downright funny-looking if you ask me!


Some of them can even be easily overlooked!


What's interesting about them is this: the caterpillar spends the majority of his time building up his strength for what's to come...eating & eating & more eating. He seems to live a mere existence of the same routine every single day.



Wake up, eat, eat some more, forage around, eat, rest, repeat.

It's no wonder caterpillars are rarely plastered on art work, hung up on walls, featured in movie scenes or made into a conservatory, unlike their popular adult 'relatives' the butterfly. (I mean would YOU pay $20 to go into a caterpillar sanctuary??)


I wonder how many of us feel like the lowly caterpillar sometimes. Like we're not really doing much of anything, yet doing too much of everything. Like every single day is on repeat, and it seems like not much is changing.

We're trying real hard. We want to move forward in life. We want to progress. Yet in our earnestness we are not being recognized, appreciated or sometimes even noticed by the larger society. Some of us may even feel like we're plain 'ugly' to behold, and that may even cause further withdrawal.

Yet there is something that is awakening on the inside of us...maybe we're beginning to realize that perhaps, just maybe, we were meant for more than this...




...that there is intrinsic value & worth in every one of us.

...that we each have a distinct beauty that displays our Creator's splendour.

...that there is something interesting & unique to behold in every one of us.

What is it exactly that brings this beautiful & majestic butterfly out of the 'lowly' & plain caterpillar?

It is something called 'metamorphosis'.



Noun; Metamorphosis


1.(in an insect or amphibian) The process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.

2.A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.
(courtesy of google)

The caterpillar MUST go through a metamorphosis to achieve his transformation. We can too.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"

To be "in Christ" & to belong to Him means to give our hearts, our lives & our whole being to Him. To trust in Christ's finished work on the cross. To ask God to give us a new chance by asking for His forgiveness for any wrong things we have ever done. To receive the love that He has waiting for us. To understand that He has a good plan for us.

It's really that simple.

For me: my journey started many years ago in a youth conference (a neighbour had invited me & paid my way) where I prayed a simple prayer; where I simply asked Jesus to come into my heart.

My life changed. It has never been the same.

What areas of your life are you struggling & striving in trying to be different? Are you willing to ask God to come alongside you & give you a chance to help?

Do you believe the lie that what you do has no significance or importance to anyone? Are you feeling a lot like the lowly caterpillar, just doing the same 'ole thing everyday?

It's a new year now. It can be a new day for every one of us.

Transformation. From the inside out.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Little Interruptions


After about 3 weeks of a break from homeschool, I dove in last week to our school work. With four energetic children who had been out of the routine for awhile, it was no small task!



Last week we broke out of our 'sleeping in' and 'easy-going' mornings to one where chores & school work began to take more of an importance in our day again. With a few half-days followed by a full-day schedule, I feel like we've made it back into our routine.

One thing I noticed about homeschooling though, and parenting in general, is that as the 'facilitator' of your school you have to learn to be FLEXIBLE! That's right, flexible. Something that has never been one of my strong traits.

Every morning as I complete the tasks at hand to prepare for our day, I have to gather up a lot of patience. Little ones don't move as fast as we do...

It is inevitable that as I begin to wash the dishes, or sweep our floors, or fold the laundry, or prepare our school books...I will get questions. Lots & lots of questions. Sometimes comments. Little feet will begin to shadow mine. Curious minds will begin to desire answers. Pondering eyes will search in earnest for my attention...& I have to confess not always achieving their goal.

It gets even more pronounced as the homeschool day picks up...

"Mom, how do I work these math problems?"

"Mom, I don't want to do school work...I already 'learn-did' everything" (asked just this morn!)

"Mom, come take a look at this story...you wouldn't believe..."

"Mom, can I play Lego instead of my english?"

And so I sort out the answers as much as possible. But to be honest it can be exhausting and mind-boggling some days.

These interruptions, as any parent knows, are not limited to a homeschool parent's day. They continue well into the evening :)

I have to remind my children that they need to wait their turn. I remind myself that they are not the center of the universe!

On the flip side though, I have to remember NOT to snap back, get angry, become impatient or just plain rude with my children. It is always good to answer without the emotions I may feel rising up in me at that moment...

Curious minds that are growing & expanding bring with them 'little' interruptions. I will do much better if I can prepare myself for them with the right attitude & heart :)

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