Mom Monday Week 52 – The Best Mom in the World

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My son slipped into my bedroom at 6am one morning. I was sleepy, so I decided not to move. There was plenty of room for him to just get under the covers next to me. We did not have to speak. I did not have to welcome him as I usually do, by raising the cover and saying something sweet. I knew he knew he was welcome. I just could not speak or move – I was sleepy.

He slipped under the covers without a word. Just when I thought I was off the hook and we would go back to sleep, he said, “Mommy, please turn around to face me.” I obliged without saying a word. Then he said, “You are the best mom in the world.” Now that’s something to wake up to, isn’t it?

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It was not the first time he said that to me. He says it to me a lot in different settings and at different hours of the day. Continue reading »

Here he was, in the wee hours of the morning, looking for maternal presence, wanting to go back to sleep next to the heartbeat he heard for the first nine months of his life. Expressing his love, too. Happy with me in general, but, probably, happy with me also because he asked me to do something and I did it (turn around to face him).

It’s such a temptation to give in to our children’s requests so that they will love us and declare us champion parents. No parenting book out there will give you the perfect knowledge of when to give in and when to refuse your children’s requests. I’m afraid you only have your own maternal instinct to go by. If you are a believer, you know there’s the Holy Spirit, too, guiding if you are listening.

So ignore the critics and the unsolicited advice givers and do your mommy thing. Give in when you know it’s right, set boundaries other times. Only you know what is best for your child. And only you can be “the best mom in the world” to your child.


Mom Monday Week 51 – Merry Christmas!

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This year, I discovered the secret to a peaceful and relaxed December. Are you ready for it? You know, the ONE thing you need to do in order to stay sane through the holiday season, Christmas shopping, and the end of the semester. Drum roll, please… Get sick.

Yes, friends, get sick. If you get sick, the amount of work your family will allow you to do is minimal. Everybody will pitch in a bit here and there. You discover that the whole operation will move on just fine without your efforts. It’s brilliant!

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I should patent this idea: eat a lot of sweets through November and extra pie at Thanksgiving, so that your immune system gets overwhelmed and completely unable to deal with the viruses going around. And work extra hard through November, too, to the point of exhaustion. That is a sure recipe for sickness in December. And you’re off the hook with the Christmas preparations.  Continue reading »

You will have to cancel most of the events on your calendar – and discover that your children will learn just as much at home, while they have to feed and clothe themselves. You will learn how to make soup in ten minutes before running back to bed. Your husband will not tire of making you tea. It’s almost romantic.

Also, you will learn that some events simply cannot be canceled and you may have to drive your kids around town half sick (you and them). After all, a lot of people go to work with a cold and a runny nose. So should you, dear homeschooling mom.

As I am recovering from this month-long sickness, I feel wiser. Guess what? I could not send Christmas cards this year and the world still keeps on turning. Who knew?

Cards were just one of those Christmas projects that I had to smile sadly towards. “Not this year, dear!…”

I wish you a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate this holiday! And remember it’s a holiday for your, too.


Mom Monday Week 50 – The A-Bear

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Recently, I came across a great blog on gentle parenting or, as the blogger herself puts it, on how to yell less and love more: The Orange Rhino. Many of you may already be familiar with her work. I had never heard of her experiment to live yell-free for a whole year.

Her blog provides lots of tools for calming down. Her book, which I am in the process of reading, will walk you through 30 days of learning why we yell and how to replace yelling with successful parenting techniques.

As parents, we should all take the responsibility of calming our own nerves and temper down. Only we can do that for ourselves. The world around us will never be peaceful enough, quiet enough, or perfect enough to soothe our psyche.

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I applaud anybody who takes the time to share what has worked for her in that department. Showing some vulnerability in the parenting blogosphere helps, too. How many of us have read a blog and felt completely intimidated by the perfection exemplified there?  Continue reading »

Like Sheila of Orange Rhino fame, I have also learned that yelling does not help my parenting goals. I have never been a yeller per se, but I have lost my patience with my children more than I care to admit. So, over time, I started picking up parenting tools here and there, from books, websites, seminars and workshops – ideas on how to stay cool, besides prayer and personal devotions.

I really like the Orange Rhino products and will probably invest in some because I believe in reminders. I have already experimented with my own reminder, A-Bear, and I know it works.

An adorable plush teddy bear with an A on its tummy, A-Bear goes with me everywhere I go. It’s a long (and rather personal) story how I came to own it, but my A-Bear reminds me to tread softly around my precious children; to speak quietly and in love; to say please and thank you to them; to remain polite and respectful even when they are not.

I can use it as a pet or a stress ball. I can use it as a visual reminder. On bad hair days, A-Bear accompanies me from room to room. Desperate situations require desperate solutions, but this is one cute desperate solution. What are you doing to stay calm with your children?


Mom Monday Week 48 – If Only

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This week, I took the kids to see The Nutcracker. Is there anything more beautiful around the holidays? I think not. “Our” Nutcracker is performed by The Appalachian Ballet Company. They have been doing this show for 46 years now.

If only we could go through life as gracefully as ballerinas, perpetual smiles on our faces. Sigh. Big sigh. At this time of the year, I am struck by the idea of grace, graciousness, and gracefulness. Not just achieving goals, but the manner in which we achieve them. The beauty of Tchaikovsky’s music, the colorful costumes, the ethereal gliding of ballerinas remind me it’s not just about getting to the destination. It’s also about the journey. Mainly, it is the journey that counts more than anything.

Mom Monday Devotional for Homeschooling Moms

Both my kids loved it. My son told me at the end, “It was wonderful, mommy! I loved it.” My daughter made several positive comments throughout the show. Well, that’s a relief. It was their first time seeing a ballet and this gives me permission to take them back to see another one.  Continue reading »

To be technical… I took my daughter two years ago to see The Nutcracker, but she does not remember anything. Which brings up the question, why do we take two-year-olds to ballet shows? Maybe because mommy needs to see something pretty and fluffy? Yep, it was definitely for my sake that I went to see The Nutcracker two years ago. My son was sick and my daughter was only two. I really did not have to go. I could have even gotten my money back.

But we go because moms need to see art, to inspire us to keep pursuing our own artistic endeavors. Teaching, by the way, is an art. And, even though our homeschool resembles more Greco-Roman wrestling at times, and not so much a Grand Pas De Deux, the results will be beautiful. It’s a promise from the One Who called us all to homeschool our children.


Mom Monday Week 47 – Thanksgiving Every Day

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The idea of taking one day out of the year to eat well and think about what you are thankful for really, really appeals to me. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, if not THE most favorite. I like the Thanksgiving menu and the whole idea behind the holiday. I think about the Pilgrims and what they had to go through – can you tell I am an immigrant? I know the feeling of looking back on my first year in a foreign country (Sweden and then the US) and knowing God’s protection and blessing has been upon me.

Thanksgiving Everyday

Having said all that, Thanksgiving should happen every day, in my opinion. Personally, I have chosen to write down ten gifts I already have in my life – every day. It’s a great reminder to walk away from discontentment and into the attitude of gratitude.

Continue reading »

Because, let me tell you, I need reminders. I forget how blessed I am. Freedom of speech, for instance. Here I am, blogging away, whatever I want to say, whenever I want to say it. It’s hard to believe that for the first 15 years of my life I lived in a Communist country where media censorship happened by definition.

How about health? Sunshine? Food? Shelter? An Internet connection – access to lots of information which could only be accessed at the library a few years ago? So many things to be thankful for.

Now what about sickness? Rain? Being laid off? Do you have the faith to trust that seemingly negative events in your life will turn into blessings later on? You see, everything can be seen as a positive element. It only takes faith.


Mom Monday Week 46 – Thanksgiving Holiday

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That’s it, folks! No more school for the next seven days. I am declaring a Thanksgiving Holiday this week. I need to catch up on housework, writing deadlines and editing my new book, 101 Tips for Kindergarten at Home. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get it out, but it’s a great lesson. Our plans get interrupted by life. And we all know that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans…

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I spoke with another homeschooling mom who shared the same dilemma: how do you get it all done? If you focus on housework, school work will lag behind. If you keep all the school assignments up to date, your house starts looking like a tornado just went through and the laundry piles turn into small hills.

Continue reading »

Which reminds me of a humorous incident online a few years ago, when I was contemplating homeschooling. I joined a few Yahoo support groups for different types of homeschoolers and asked the question, “Is it really efficient? Can you really get school work done in the morning? If so, why do I hear that a lot of homeschooling moms give up because of dust bunnies?”

I got some clever answers which were avoiding the real issue, i.e. that homeschoolers are super-busy and school is rarely finished in the morning. I suppose nobody had the courage to say, “Hang on to your hat! You will be super-busy!”

The wittiest answer I received was, “You will not get done in the morning because you and your kids will have so much fun, you will not want to stop.” I appreciate framing the issue that way. How much fun am I having vs. Let’s get school out of the way so we can have fun. I really do. I learned a lot from that exchange.

And, may I just say, from talking to friends who put their children in public or private school, they are busy too. So busy, they have to tell their children to choose only one extra-curricular activity. If you are contemplating homeschooling or getting discouraged by it, remember that the grass is NOT greener on the other side. Life is crazy busy no matter how you school your children.

If you are looking for French Thanksgiving vocabulary, – and who isn’t? – I wrote about it here. If you want a Thanksgiving unit study lesson plan for elementary kids, click here.

With that, let me say Happy Thanksgiving to you! I hope you have lots of fun with family and friends, eat yummy food and count your blessings, for they are many.


Mom Monday Week 44 – All Sugared Up

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It seems that I wage a daily battle against sugar. This season, more so than other months. Between Halloween, my son’s birthday, and my husband’s birthday, we have been floating through a sea of candy, chocolate and cake. Coming up in three short weeks, Thanksgiving itself, with several pies for dessert.

Look, I am health-minded enough to say, “No candy.” But my husband thinks our kids should be allowed to have a bit of candy now and then, as long as they behave. Thank God for my husband, who balances me out. So we dance this dance daily, negotiating how many pieces of candy corn we should allow or if we should allow any at all.

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It is our responsibility as parents to raise children who understand nutrition and what is good for their bodies. Sugar is not good for your body. Period. Taste buds do not have to be trained to like sugar. It is concentrated enough to overwhelm and give an addiction after a few tries. American sweets seem to have a lot more sugar than European ones, too.

A friend of mine has not given her daughter, who is two, any sugar yet. As a result, this child is calm, peaceful, and reasons from cause to effect. Yes, even at two. I watched it happen and it helped me stay even more resolute against sugary foods.  Continue reading »

Here’s how we set up some limits. We took the kids trick-or-treating in downtown Gatlinburg, and now they have two buckets full of candy – I told them we will make it last through Easter. By the way, this article in Today’s Christian Woman expresses very well why we allow trick-or-treating in our family.

I made a couple of LEGO brick cakes for my son’s birthday party. The first one just did not seem enough for all the guests. Now, what to do with all the leftover cake? I would share it with others, but I have tried in the past and been refused. I will probably end up throwing it away.

Better in the trash than in our bodies, wreaking havoc and weakening our immune system. Did you see that diabetes is at an all time high in New York City? We are all sugared up. It needs to stop. As we raise the next generation, let’s teach them to stay away from empty calories as much as possible. And the best way to teach them is by example.


Mom Monday Week 42 – When It Rains

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You have heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours.” You have experienced it in all its symbolic glory, no doubt. When the kids misbehave, they all misbehave at once, while you are talking on your cell, getting a meal ready and watching helplessly as the house phone rings – no doubt, hubby trying to let you know something important.

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When bad news hits, it hits on all fronts: your work, your kids’ health, their school performance, your husband’s parents etc etc etc. Fortunately, the rain which pours can also bring about happy events, all at once. Happy in our limited scope and worldview, mind you, for we have established several weeks back that all is relative and that all things work together for good, according to Romans 8:28 and many other Bible verses.  Continue reading »

So whether it is good or bad from your perspective, let the rain pour. Let it pour because you know that plants need water to grow. And we all have seeds planted in us which need nourishing: seeds of patience, kindness, selflessness, and self-forgetfulness. Seeds of Christlikeness – God in us, the hope of glory.

Dare to remember that beyond the clouds, the angry clouds, as my son calls them, in his six-year-old imagination, the sun still shines. Recently, a relative of mine, who took her first flight ever in an airplane, shared with me how magnificent it was to soar above the clouds. She could not believe her eyes. She left behind a rainy, overcast city and boarded a plane which lifted her into the sunshine.

Today, take a flight beyond the clouds of rain and look to the Rain Giver. He will see you through this another rain, as He has many times in the past. And pray for eyes that see beyond the clouds, no airplane needed.


Mom Monday Week 41 – Raccoon Devotionals

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One day a week, I take the kids to Knoxville – two hours from where we live, both ways. We spend four hours there. After my son’s soccer practice and violin lesson, it’s off to the Adventurer Club (scouting with a Christian component).

devotional for homeschooling moms

By the time we return, I am exhausted. The kids are exhausted. They get silly and loud in the car. “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin,” says Paul in Hebrews 12:4. I keep calm, by God’s grace.

Continue reading »

Last week, as I turned onto our street, I whispered one more tired prayer for patience. I tried to remember the raccoon devotional the pastor had shared with the kids. Then I saw it: a baby raccoon stopped in the middle of the road. It turned toward my car and stared at me. I brought the car to a full stop. I asked the kids to come to the front to see the baby raccoon. It walked a few steps, limping. The kids went, “Awwww…”

The raccoon stopped again, still in the road. It turned toward my car and looked into the headlights again, as if to make sure we saw him. Then, he scuttled into the ditch, with a limp.

The kids were touched. They stopped the noise as they talked about the baby raccoon with each other. Then, it dawned on me: this was another raccoon devotional. God put that raccoon there – a hurt baby – to remind me how vulnerable my children are and how careful I need to be as I guide them. How I need to come to a full stop and look at them – really look at them – and see they act a certain way for a reason.

I felt encouraged in my role as a homeschooling mom. I can only hope this story encourages you, too.


Mom Monday Week 40 – Eight-Car Wreck

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In my neck of the woods, we have a dangerous road called Chapman Highway. It is the best alternative to avoid heavy tourist traffic on Highway 66, which is coming into the county from I-40. However, because of its twists, turns, and blind spots, Chapman Highway is best not traveled.

The other day, we traveled to Knoxville for my son’s group violin lesson. Once a month, all his teacher’s students get together for group practice, musical games and theory. It’s fun and educational at the same time. Parents and younger siblings sit in quietly, like flies on chairs, not walls.

Mom Monday Devotional

For some reason, I decided to take Chapman Highway instead of the regular route through the interstate. Good thing I was running a bit late. We missed an eight-car wreck by about 15 minutes. We crossed paths with an ambulance and three tow trucks, each carrying a smashed up car – the last three removed from the scene.  Continue reading »

The one car that looked like an accordion had a Florida tag. Maybe a tourist? Maybe a Floridian who just moved here, still in the process of changing his tags? Later, we found out at least one person was flown to a nearby hospital by helicopter – his injuries were that severe.

The worst part was driving through the actual spot. We could clearly see where a person had been ejected from the car. Though the highways had been swept up, dried up blood showed the shape of a person in fetal position. I cannot imagine he survived. There were large blood stains all over the four-lane highway.

Such an awakening in case I became numb to how precious life is. Every time I take the kids somewhere, we have a prayer in the car before leaving the driveway. It can become a routine. Terrible wrecks remind me every day is a privilege. “Teach us to number our days…” Psalm 90:12