Sunday, August 13, 2017

back into rhythm...

I am so ready to start our new homeschool year. Well, except I'm not physically ready to start because I'm still doing the planning part. I had the bulk of this coming year's books ordered by the end of last May. I was patting myself on the back. I had great intentions of starting our Latin study the first part of July and getting multiple days under our belt and on the clock before our official term started in September.

Then I had a kid sick with Lyme's for weeks as well as an intestinal virus for another week. Then the other kid got that virus as well as another one. We spent many days in the car running from here to there (and how is it that I cannot exactly remember where I was even driving to on those days????) And I'm not complaining about this, although I am feeling a bit depleted and out-of-sorts. It was a full, busy, fun summer. We got to spend a lot of time with friends. The kids had opportunities to volunteer. It was amazing being out and not cooped in the house. It was a pretty amazing summer, despite the few bumps. 

But Latin? Didn't happen. All the read-alouds we were going to do? Didn't happen. (Although I read a TON of books myself.) Field trips? Nah. (Unless doctor offices, hospital ER's, and grocery stores count.) 

So August 1st rolls around, and I'm feeling the heat. The "I haven't even clocked any school days yet!" voice was screaming in my frustrated little head. 

Okay, okay. So the kids did volunteer. Ian put in thirty-seven hours so far. And they did have their music lessons, not to mention the hours they put into practicing and playing at home. And, of course, there were many other learning opportunities that occurred that I didn't document. In other words, I reminded myself to chill out.

This morning during the drive to church, I announced to Brad and the kids that this week was going to be my dedicated homeschool planning week. It's gotta be. We're starting next Monday. Time to get serious about this thing.

After church, the boys went to ultimate frisbee and Lily went to play with her cousin, so I sat down at the kitchen counter with my planner, my papers, and the laptop and got started. I'm definitely not a rigid planner. I am definitely not one of those homeschooling moms that plans out the year or even a month at a time. I find that kind of planning too restricting and stressful, and then I completely feel overwhelmed when I get off of schedule a day or two. I cannot handle that type of scheduling.

Instead, I like to sit down and get a general overview of the year. I like to figure out how many days we will need to finish each curriculum. I like to pick out our read-aloud books (some based on what we are studying in history, music, and art and others just for fun) as well as books for the kids to read on their own. 

I like to get a very casual planner put together with pages to keep track of attendance, document the reading log and field trips, write down goals and aspirations. Just a laid back guide book that works well for me. 

So after spending an incredible two months full of laid-back, come-as-we-want, take-it-easy days, I'm ready to bring some order back into my days. And to speak the truth, so are the kids. 

We'll still be taking advantage of the warm days of summer, and the garden, and outdoor time. We have a Maine trip coming up next month, and I have a few painting projects here at home that need to be done. But, wow, am I looking forward to waking up in the morning knowing that our day will have more of a regular rhythm. I always appreciate the long summer break, but I also really appreciate the start of a new school year and the routine it brings.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


August 10, 2017.

Wow. The days of this summer are like the blur out a car window. And to be frankly honest, I typically struggle mentally with the arrival of fall. I've shared about my struggles with depression and anxiety on my blog here in the past. And, for the most part, it's been under control for the past few years. But the arrival of fall equals shorter, darker days and the impending doom (to my mind anyway) of the bleak, cold, gray winter. 

Ok, that in itself was a downer, wasn't it? 

I felt the dark dread starting to settle in back in mid-July. A bit earlier than usual, but I think it's probably due to the cooler-than-usual, rainier-than-usual summer we've had this year. And when I felt it coming, I began to freak out a bit. Anyone that has had depression in the past can probably completely relate to what I'm talking about. How even a shadow of threat from the darkness can just about throw you off the rails. 

So I sulked in it for a few days, and then I was like, "Amber, you can control this. You don't have to go back there." 

Now, let me be clear that clinical depression is NOT something that you can control mentally. Trust me. I tried that for months the first time it settled on me nine years ago. It is a complete lie if someone tells you that you just need to buck up, change your mental thought patterns and deal if you are truly in the midst of an episode of clinical depression. It is NOT the same as being down, or sad, or blue. It is completely different and requires medical attention.

However, I have also dealt with this long enough to know that there is a spiritual component to this struggle of mine as well. And I also know (because the Word tells me so) that the devil seeks to kill and destroy, and he surely wants to steal my joy and take away the abundant life that is rightly mine as God's child. So sometimes it is just a matter of putting on that spiritual armor and doing some hard battle. And that battlefield truly is in the mind. 

Which leads me to the conclusion I came to a few weeks back. I had a choice to either wallow in the sense of impending doom (translated: winter and darkness) or to dig in my heels and fight for my peace of mind. 

I'm choosing the latter. And sometimes I have to make that choice every single day, sometimes even during the moments of each day. 

This means that I'm really trying hard to practice gratitude for all of the blessings that God has bestowed on me. I'm being really intentional about seeing the gifts in the moments of the day. I'm tuning my heart to the song of truth. I'm really trying hard to look at the coming seasons (that I truly do struggle with) as essential moments in the cycle of life that God has established. And because He made them, they are good. 

This also means that I am praying so, so hard for God to open my eyes to the beauty and goodness around me. I'm asking Him to renew my heart. We're in this together. 

Guys, He wants me to enjoy this life He gave me. How am I to glorify Him if I'm sullen and sulking the days away? 

When I sat down this morning to type this blog post, I was planning on just writing about the busy days that have filled our days lately, but He obviously knew that I needed to pen these words because they just flowed. So I hope that they perhaps bless someone out there. 

Here's to abundant, joy-filled living!