Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Caught in a Time Warp

I didn't realize how secluded I am, until I recently paid my sister a visit.  Although she lives miles away from anyone, out in the middle of nowhere, I feel as if I'm the one in seclusion.

This past Saturday, March 15th, was a beautiful day for travel.  Trying to save time, we loaded up our minivan, plotted the quickest course and headed towards the Tennessee Mountains.  From our location we traveled almost two hours South, and then another two and half hours North just to get there.  The overall trip taking four hours and forty five minutes, most of it being on interstate.

I've been to visit my sister in the past, nearly ten years ago.  The drive out was long as we traveled farther and farther away from civilization.  Through the mountainous region of middle Tennessee there was nothing but rolling hills and countryside surrounding us.  As I stared intently from the passenger side window, I was in awe of the breathtaking scenery.

Her driveway was more like a road, it wound and turned going into a grove of Hawthorn trees, pines, hardwoods, and opening into a broad field.  As we cleared the trees, we could see her huge cabin in the distance, sitting high, atop a hill.  Pulling up to her home was like arriving at some well hidden resort, or cottage.  Her entrance was her back porch... spanning the width of their home;warm and inviting. From the porch, all I could see was miles of rolling hills surrounded by dense groves of trees, and forage.  It was beautiful.  Down the way, was a little cabin, secluded and all alone.  It belonged to them as well, unused, but well kept.

The reason behind our trip was to celebrate the upcoming birth of my great-niece with a baby shower.  My family sat in the openness of my sister's home, forming a semicircle around the guest of honor, watching on
as she opened gifts.  My beautiful niece opened gift by gift, revealing each one with a huge smile.  As she opened the beautiful painting my sister, her mother, painted for her nursery, her face couldn't not cover the joy she felt inside.  A beautiful painting of an owl, which her husband hung lovingly above the crib, also given to her by her mother.

My sister had a spread of food to die for.  She even had California Spring Rolled Sushi. Something I have never tried.  It didn't look good, but curiosity got the better of me, tasted one anyways.  People really eat this stuff?  That was my first thought.  Not only had I never eaten sushi, I didn't know how to eat it and enjoy it.  Wasn't until my cousin and his beautiful wife showed up to show me how to do it correctly.  Dipping it into a sauce concocted by my cousin's wife, and popping the whole thing in my mouth at one time, as instructed really did make a difference.  YES... right!

I began listening as each of them described the ins and outs of the technology they possessed.  It all sounded French to me. So instead of buying books, flipping through pages of actual paper you can read them from this thingy called a 'kindle'.  As we sat there talking, they were continually pulling these flat things out of their pockets, typing stuff on them, taking pictures and video taping too.  I pulled out my own gadget, wondering if it did those things they had mentioned, looking at it for a moment, judging by the size theirs had many more features than mine... or was better equipped.

Face time?  Face space?  Got a taste of that as well, as my cousin called to check in on her boys, and get them started with their day.  Wow... one on one conversations, and you could actually see they were cozy, still tucked in their beds.  So many gadgets, and doodads, I don't even know where to start.  They were talking about this and that, continuously losing me in conversation.  Several times I had to ask, "What's this?", and "What does that mean?".  ha ha!

The best part of the trip, other than visiting with family, was watching my children play with their cousins outdoors.  They lost themselves in the rolling hills and woods of my sister's farm, only returning for drink or food, and the occasional potty break.  To top it all off, I was able to listen to my nephew play a beautiful piece on his violin; Flannigan's Ball.

My sister has excellent cooking skills, she created a cheese cake masterpiece which I devoured.  The pulled pork by far surpassed any I could do.  Even though I didn't like it at first, the sushi was to die for.  Her and her husband were gracious hosts, building a bonfire for us to enjoy, putting out bedding and providing delicious food and meals.  Great conversation, although on occasion I felt lost.  Had the time of my life
enjoying the experience as if it would be another ten years before my return.

Caught in a time warp, exactly how I felt.  While visiting with family, out in the middle of nowhere, time moved on without me... and I just didn't care.

My sister, nieces and cousin in the kitchen!

My niece proudly displaying the painting her mother did.

Kids playing in the field.  The dots next to the tree at the bottom of the hill are the boys with their bikes.

Bonfire in the back yard.

Cousins sitting on the back porch caught in action!

View from my sister's upstairs bedroom.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Home School Review! Time4Learning

I've been homeschooling my children for five years, all three of them.  I also school/tutor another child not my own.  We keep a pretty hectic pace at my home, and we try to stay at the forefront of education.  I try to stay on top of the best educational materials, and get the most for my money.  Regardless of what I do, what works for one child, doesn't necessarily work for the others.  In my five years of homeschooling, regardless of the programs, tools or curricula I use, I've found every child has their own learning style, and just because a particular curricula works for my family, doesn't necessarily mean it will work for another.

My oldest child, a female, is self directed.  I've never had a problem getting her to start or complete a task. The boys, and my youngest child are far less motivated.  I have tried every curriculum in the book to keep them engaged, literally; Abeka, Christian Liberty Press, AOP, Bob Jones to name a few.  Although I love these other curricula formats, they did not meet the immediate needs of my family. Nor did they meet the budgetary requirements of my family

During a one on one discussion with a homeschooling mother, she suggested I give Time4Learning a try.  We shared many of the same homeschooling challenges, and as she discovered through Time4Learning, many of these challenges were put to rest, and many of the educational needs of her family were met.  I did my research;
  • I found Time4Learning to be affordable, flexible and suitable to the needs of my entire family.
  • After reading reviews, and listening to other parents, I decided to give Time4Learning a try.
From the first day, my children were completely enthralled in their lessons.  Getting them started was no longer an issue.  Reminding my children they had surpassed the required 4.5 hour school day, and prompting them to stop was a welcomed change.  On the first day, my son worked well into the night on his lessons, and would have continued if I hadn't pulled in the reigns.

As my youngest, six year old daughter said, "Look mama, I'm learning and having fun at the same time."  Her words pretty much sum up how all the children feel about Time4Learning.  It's an engaging, fun, interactive learning system, for all children.

I just completed a book called "Oh, Mother Clutter" which describes a need for reducing clutter in one's life. With Time4Learning, I don't have as much clutter, because most of the work can be done online while grades, lesson plans and schedules are maintained in the system.  This immediate form of organization has proven to reduce table clutter, book clutter, as well as mind clutter.  I am much more at ease and relaxed using Time4Learning.

As a Christian, I try to protect my children from being exposed to world views, and secular teachings; especially those pertaining to evolution.  Having them in public school or learning through an online public charter school wasn't an option.  Teaching them from home, regardless of what system I use, has allowed me to put filters in place.

Last but not least, learning from home allows much flexibility.  We never have an off day due to bad weather!  Time4Learning allows for flexibility so we can participate, and do our lessons regardless of the time, location, or weather.

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been given the opportunity to review their program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own.  Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, forafterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Thank you for reading this post!  Have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gifts... of Time

I'm sitting here listening to the children play in the other room.  I go back in time, when I was a little girl, giggling, laughing, pretending to be someone else.  How much have things changed over the years.  Not just in our world, but within myself.  Twenty years ago, I couldn't imagine myself with my own children, much less a person who takes an interest in spending time in other peoples children, as well.

When I was a child, my main concern was keeping busy, playing with cousins... or getting outdoors.  During the long winter months, when the weather was cold, and temptation to stay indoors was keen, I'd find myself drawing, painting or making things.  I was an easily bored child.  Sometimes I would sit down in front of my old snap style typewriter and pretend to be writing a book.  The stories were good enough, I suppose.  Apparently it interested me enough to type page after page of context.  I'd sit inside my house, dreaming of summer months... anticipating warmer weather so I could again go to the home I loved.  I longed to visit with my grandmother and grandfather, romp the hundred acres of land our family shared... play and live.

It seemed during those long winter months, sitting inside... or playing in our fenced in back yard... I'd get a little depressed and long for sunshine.  My heart wasn't there inside that house, although I truly loved the people inside.  My heart was in my original home, the one that was nestled beneath the hardwoods, set way back off the road.

As time passed, and I moved out of the subdivision home in the metro-Atlanta area, I found myself moving to a much smaller town.  I became a bit of a wild child, looking for the adventure I had missed during those winter months.  That time of growth somewhere between my youth and early adulthood was full of self-destructive entertainment, and drunken adventure.  I'd find myself hiding in every nook and cranny, sipping up some toxic concoction or drink... watching all the patrons come and go.  I found shooting pool, after a long, hard ride on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle... with 20 other fellow bikers... to be the ultimate relaxation.  Sipping on a cold beer, hanging my bottom off the edge of a bar stool... with one foot on the floor was my favorite pass time.   Sometimes I'd dress like the other biker chicks... my shorts a bit too high above the knee, my chaps barely covering what my shorts had not.  I would don a leather halter top... wear the thick healed biker boots... and felt like a million bucks in my silver studded leather accessories.  Wow... in our youth... what we will do to draw attention to ourselves.  Knowing that was the only reason anyone would ever consider dressing in such garb... and I did it proudly.

Times, I guess haven't changed much by way of how young girls think.  Just throw sex, and your body out there, and you get immediate attention... with that comes some gratification.  Yet, there's something that comes with having children, with me anyways.  I sit here and think, "What do I want my children to think of me?".  To be honest, Christianity had nothing to do with my change.  That came much, much later.  Growth and maturity makes you realize things... the inappropriateness of attire, attitude and self proclamation.  I think if you still do the self-destructive, self-proclaiming things you did in your youth, you haven't matured much.

I had my first child when I was 31 years old. A girl.  It was then, I realized I would never want her to see me in my former self... a scantly clad young woman hanging on to the edge of the bar, as well as every nasty, vulgar word breathed my way.  That wasn't the example or parent I wanted my daughter to see, and know.

I immediately made some changes in my attire... and soon began to change my attitude.  Fun was no longer going and hanging out at a bar, dancing at all hours of the night... or returning home as the sun rose above the treetops.  Fun had a whole new meaning for me.  Fun.... soon became me, making my young child smile, or laugh... watching her experience life and learn things for the very first time.  Life wasn't about me anymore, it was about something more precious... more beautiful than I had EVER imagined... it was, for the first time in MY LIFE, all about someone else; a cute little girl, bouncey red curls, round rosey cheeks and dark hazel eyes.

It was later, after the birth of my second child, a son, that I started to build on my relationship with God.  I had always believed a Christian was merely believing in Jesus Christ... and  saving yourself was merely asking for forgiveness when you sinned.  I honestly believed you could continue to live a sinful life willingly... and still be pleasing to God... a Christian.  After some struggles, financial... and health issues with my son... I became very discouraged and cried out to God.  It didn't come immediately... but after the day I cried out to Him, each little blessing was received as it was given.  I gave God the glory, and wonderful things begin to happen in my life.  No, I didn't become a millionaire... but I did become a true Christian in every since of the word.  I gave my life to Him, and followed His direction for my own life.

These days, when I say I'm a Christian... I think to myself, am I living life holy and pleasing to the Lord.  If I wasn't, I personally could not call myself a Christian.  I believe in Jesus... but not only do I believe, I worship, follow His command and live my life the way I feel would be pleasing to Him.  In my dress, in my day to day life... in my communications, and in my everyday walk... I strive to be pleasing to God.  If I sin, I immediately repent and ask for forgiveness.  Because my human emotions sometimes get the better of me, I do still have struggles.

I still struggle with human urges, and human conditioning.  I still struggle with wanting to fit in, and wanting to be noticed... I like attention too.  Who doesn't?  But time has been a gift to me, and it has taught me over the years that being kind, concerning, and pleasing to others gets you just as well liked, just as much attention and notice as physical, sexual display and content does.  Growth and maturity... time... has taught me that I am MORE than that.  I'm a woman of God, loved by her children, her family and those in her community.  I LIFT others up... I encourage... I aspire to show others how great and wonderful connecting with the Heavenly Father can be.  The best way to lead is by setting the proper example.  I can't lead others to the Father if I'm giving in to those human urges. Time... has showed me what a wonderful gift being a positive example can be, not only to my children, other's children... but to the other people I connect with.

I respectfully ask each of you to reflect on the blessings you have received over the years.  If you are a Christian, I ask... "Are you setting an example that is holy and pleasing to God?,  "Are you walking the walk, or just talking the talk?".  Time... and maturity... are a gift.  As you mature in your faith, you will realize each little blessing, time and time again, and becoming a child of God becomes easier and easier!

God bless,
Praying I shall continually be pleasing to God!  For those earthly challenges I face, those daily demons, I pray I conquer.