When the School Day Gets Derailed

I hold school time as near sacred. Most people know that I may or may not answer the phone or texts before lunchtime. I do my best to get any big cooking projects started in the wee hours of the early morning (like my bread orders). I schedule doctor appointments and meetings and errands for the afternoons.

But sometimes, despite our best efforts, the school hours of the day can get derailed. Interrupted. For a couple weeks there, I felt like we weren’t moving forward much. I was sick. There were dance rehearsals/concert. There was Easter and a long weekend off. So when I woke up Monday morning, I was determined to put some intentional focus back into our school time. After all, the more structured part of this school year is just about over.

It’s been anything but. We were trucking along pretty good Monday morning when I got a call from my husband (I do usually take his calls) that his dad needed our oldest to help out with something. But it was going to have to be right away, cause the weather was about to turn. My father-in-law has been sick and helping family is a priority for us. So I put my instruction with the 1st grader on pause, we hopped in the car, drove into town and made it happen. He finished his school work when he got home and I worked with Ella while he was gone.

Tuesday morning I sat down to print out some additional math sheets for my youngest only to find that something was all screwy with my printer driver. Spent some time searching for the answer and ended up abandoning the project for later on.

None of these things are really that big of a deal. We’ve had worse (and I’m sure you’ve had them too). No one was struck with a sudden illness, no one broke themselves or something else. But they were interruptions nonetheless. And when your seven-year-old is struggling to keep her attention on ONE math problem for more than 10 seconds, little interruptions can add up.

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My answer to this–get back on track as soon as you can. It’s all too easy for one or two days of haphazard schooling to turn into a week of it. (Or worse.) You’ve got to get back to the plan and back to the routine. Turn off the ringer. Close the laptop. Push some things off your to do list so you can carve out the time you need.

Steal some learning moments later on. If you’re morning turns into a circus, make it a priority to carve out just a few minutes later in the day to squeeze a little more learning in. That was my tactic for Tuesday. After we cleaned up lunch and got my niece down for her nap, I took turns with the girls. Abby needed some direction in planning a report. Ella and I still needed to read together and get a little extra practice with addition facts. Even though I was still pulling my hair out with the computer, and had a full list of stuff to get done, that little bit of time really didn’t set me back. And it helped me feel like we weren’t falling behind.

To that end, find a FUN learning activity. Cue up a Netflix documentary on science, geography or history.  Play a game at dinner. Every now and then, we pull out this USA Bingo game during meal time (this is also a great trick if you’ve grown a little weary with the day to day dinner conversation/or bickering as the case may be).


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When you’re teaching–be ALL there. I have to confess I’ve been struggling with this lately. Can’t seem to get my brain to just slow down and focus. But in whatever uninterrupted moments I have with them (teaching or otherwise, really) I need to give them, their questions, their ah-ha moments–my full attention. Otherwise I may miss something that’s tripping them up. Or I might blow a chance at helping them dig deeper.

The point is don’t just sit there–DO SOMETHING. It may not be perfect. There will always be interruptions. ALL school kids deal with them. Sheesh–everybody deals with them. And there is some merit in learning to roll with the punches and be flexible.

Tomorrow, I resolve to make the most of our school time. Even if I get a dozen texts. Even if the dang printer stays on strike. I will be really there with them. I’ll cheer them on. I’ll keep steering this little ship towards the finish line.

How do you deal with interruptions?


Me On Whole30

*I’m not associated with the Whole30 program, nor am I a health profession. Just someone sharing my story. Please consult a doctor/use care when starting any eating program.

Last week, I started an eating program/elimination diet called Whole30®. You may have heard of it. Loads of folks took up the challenge after the New Year, in hopes of hitting the dietary “reset” button after a season of holiday treats.

So why am I doing it now? Several reasons, actually. I’ve got a serious (I mean SERIOUS) sweet tooth problem right now. You might have seen me, in one of my weaker moments, grabbing several bags of Easter candy in the Aldi check out lane. Then, you would have seen me (in several other weak moments) polishing off nearly two bags in a week’s time. (My husband, in an effort to be helpful, reminded me that he helped with the candy eating. But let’s be honest. It was mostly me.)

As for other reasons, my system is a mess after my recent fight with laryngitis/bronchitis and the antibiotic and prednisone that followed. Milk was bugging me (antibiotics are a major culprit in lactose intolerance). Nearly every time I ate I had stomach pain and bloating. And all the yogurt and probiotics weren’t touching it.

And there are a few other pesky problems I’ve been dealing with over the last few months. Skin stuff and hormone stuff (sorry fellas) and energy slumps.

Whole30® is one of those elimination programs (like GAPS or SCD) that’s designed to *hopefully* help with some of that. You remove inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days to allow your body to do some healing, break the sugar or bread addiction and (when you reintroduce things) pinpoint foods that may be triggering your symptoms.

It’s not nearly as restrictive as GAPS or SCD, nor is it for as long. As far as my limited knowledge takes me, those programs are better suited to folks who have some MAJOR issues that require a much longer period of healing. (Like Crohns, ulcerative colitis, celiac or other serious autoimmune issues.)

What I’ll be eating

I’m still working through the material (you can find a quick guide pdf here), but the basic gist of this diet is Paleo based. (I’m not a subscriber to the philosophy behind Paleo…but that’s for another post.) The creators of Whole30® don’t push the caveman thing anyway–but focus on studies and client results.

(I do find all the science really interesting and plan on finishing the rest of their book, It Starts With Food.)

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What that all means is that I’ll be eating plenty of unprocessed, real protein (hot dogs and most cold cuts are out), loads of veggies, some fruits and lots of real, nourishing fat.

What’s off limits? Grains, white potatoes (sweet potatoes and winter squashes are okay), starches, legumes, dairy (OUCH–I do love my cheese), and sweetener of any kind, natural or otherwise. These are actually the foods that most often make my tummy grumble, so I can’t argue with the list.

(Oh, and I do realize the great irony of me giving up bread for 30 days after I announced to my local Facebook friends that I’ll be selling loaves of sourdough. But at least I still get to bake!)

I’ve done enough research and experimenting (on myself) to know that these types of clean, easy to digest diets really do go a long way to reducing inflammation and restoring balance to the body. You’re doing more than putting a ban on certain foods. By taking them out of the equation, you’re also removing any processed, fake foods from your diet. Veggie (and therefore nutrient) intake goes up by default.

In the short term, I expect some impressive headaches (and perhaps some crankiness) as my body cries out for its daily sugar fix. Sad, when you think of it.

I seriously debated sharing my plan with anyone…cause then I’m accountable. Keep me on track, will ya? And over the next month I’ll give you updates here and there on how it’s going and what I’m eating, if you’re into that.

And now I’m curious?

Ever done an elimination diet? Was it helpful for you?

 

 


Learning to Be Still

As early as I can remember, I’ve sung. Didn’t really matter what it was. And then, as a young believer, I sang and sang in our church. I bought music and sang at home. I went to college to study voice and sang some more.

There have been seasons that I didn’t sing much for others, but I still sang. And for the last 7 years, I’ve been singing week after week as a co-leader for our worship team.

It’s just kinda part of who I am.

Do you have anything like that in your life? Something that has become part of your identity? Maybe you’ve always been an athlete. Maybe you’ve always taken care of people and by profession you’re a nurse or doctor. Or you’ve always been able to fix just about anything. You’ve always been the way you are. You figured that was just how God made you. It would always be that way.

Well, at the risk of begin more dramatic than usual, I tell you this story.

Last week I lost my voice. I mean GONE. Had to write on a white board. (Thank goodness my kids can read.) I know people get laryngitis all the time. But not me. Never like this. And the timing of it was just nuts. I was scheduled to sing a huge song for a worship/dance concert that my daughters were participating in. Tuesday I sang at the rehearsal. Thursday I couldn’t talk.

And Easter was coming.

All sorts of people were praying for me. Since I’d never been out of a voice for long before, I figured a couple of days would pass, I’d drink a ton of tea with honey and I’d be on the mend in time for all my commitments.

But a few days passed (I even went to the doc for some serious meds) and it became evident that God’s answer was “no.” I had to give up the solo (to another VERY capable worship leader in the area). I called on one of my team’s vocalists to lead our church’s Palm Sunday service.

I was on the bench.

It’s funny how God always uses the bench to teach us something. Or several somethings. Like my voice is not mine. It’s His. That sometimes I just need to stop and be still and listen. That I can still worship in my own personal silence.

That last rehearsal, when I wasn’t even allowed to try to whisper, they danced to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Be Still.” I was reminded in that song, in a powerful way, that I didn’t need to sing that week. I needed to surrender. Submit. Be willing to sit on the sidelines and be ministered to by others.

I needed to just stand in awe. Consider who He is. What He has done. To remember He is faithful. To rest.

You may say, what’s the big deal? You were just sick for a little while. Everyone takes a sick day. And you’re right. But in this case, I think God was beginning something in me. Cause that theme of submission and internal rest has been relentlessly pursuing me every day since then.

No matter how tightly I want to cling to something, no matter how much I hinge my identity or worth or security on it, it’s not really mine in the first place. That’s a little scary. But it’s also freeing. Because then I’m free to put all my security, identity and trust in the right place. In my God.

 

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

 


Maybe, you can relate to where I’m coming from. Maybe you need to admit that the thing you think defines you, really doesn’t. It’s time to remember that it is God who made us. Everything we are good at, everything we do is from Him. Everything we are is found in Him.

It’s time to surrender. To be still.


Parenting Slow When You’re In A Hurry

As I write this, I’m smack dab in the middle of one of our busiest weeks of the season. It’s Doxa week! (My girls dance with a praise and worship dance company and their spring worship concert is this weekend.) We have rehearsals EVERY night this week. Dance, Easter choir, worship band, and children’s choir. Then we have THREE family birthdays right in a row, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

There’s all the regular stuff too. School, piano lessons, work, and a lovely (empty) garden just waiting for seeds. You might think since I’ve written about living slow and choosing activities wisely, that perhaps I’m not taking my own advice.

Touché.

Let’s be honest. Sometimes, busy seasons can’t be helped. I’m all about avoiding that kind of life 365 days a year. But when those jam packed days come upon us, we’ve got to be intentional…and roll with it.

Over my 13 years of parenting, I have finally learned one thing (well, hopefully I’ve learned more than one thing)–kids don’t do well with hurry. And I’m going to make the generalization over all kids, here. Never met one who loved to be rushed around.

Meanwhile, I’m spinning like a whirling dervish (whatever those are) trying to keep the house running, school moving along, manage activities and rehearsals and make sure we’re not forgetting some crucial accessory for their costumes for the concert.

I can default to hurry in the blink of an eye.

But watch out. When I go down that road, my kids get frazzled. They can’t remember what I told them to do. They get bossy with each other. They bicker. Attitudes surface. The little one resorts to tears.

This time, I wanted to avoid all that. I wanted to parent slow. Not sure if I did it perfectly (I may or may not have whined a bit–especially when I got sick halfway through the week)  but here’s some strategies I tried to use.

Get Less Done

Image Credit

Image Credit

Get LESS done? When everything is SO busy? Yes, my friends. Now is the time to knock something off the to do list. Lower your expectations. If you homeschool, avoid any extra projects. Especially ones that need lots of your assistance. Keep to the basics.

Be willing to live with a certain amount of disarray in your house. We did what we could to keep the kitchen and bathrooms tidy. I will admit that though the laundry got washed, we did a lot of dressing out of piles of clean, unfolded clothes. And I think all the bedrooms were a disaster. But they got cleaned up when the dust settled and life went on.

I’m not talking about prolonged disorder and mess. Just for a short time. Just until the concert is over or the tournament is finished or whatever you have on your calendar.

Eat Simple

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This goes hand in hand with getting less done. I had two goals this week. Keep the grocery budget under control and keep the food quick and easy. So I sat down before the week started and planned the meals. I had a couple of quart jars of homemade pasta sauce in the freezer, so we had spaghetti one night. We ate a lot of simple sandwiches on sourdough. Hard boiled eggs with veggies for lunch. Crockpot meals or stir fries are good options too.

Avoid the drive thru. Break out the left overs. Save the complicated dinners for another day.

Write things down for everyone

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When I’m moving at top speed and giving my kids their list of things to do that day, something is bound to fall through the cracks. Or several somethings. So at the beginning of the week, I took a half sheet of paper for each kid and listed some chores they needed to help with that week.

Lists are especially helpful for my teen who (bless his heart) only hears either the first or last half of what I say. He appreciates having it in writing. Less chance of misunderstanding and an unhappy mom.

Loosen the Reigns

I may or may not have allowed my teenager to spend LOADS of time Skiping with his friends after he got his school work done. My oldest daughter may have watched one too many cartoons on Netflix.

Not proud moments in parenting. But they needed to unwind from all the activity. They were being good. They weren’t arguing or having attitude problems. And the truth is, I just needed left alone to get some stuff done.

As long as they are getting school and chores done and the general disposition is good, I’m going to give them a little more discretion with their “free” time when my days are jammed full.

Just…Slow…Down

All of the stuff above serves to take a little pressure off of me. Then I can breathe. I can think. And what I really need to do is just slow down. Talk a little slower. Look them in the eye. Listen to their stories (when I’m really trying to figure out what time we need to get out the door that day).

I need to banish the hurry whenever I can.

And when I do this, they’re learning. Learning how to manage the demands of adulthood without being a drama queen. Learning how to kick stress to the curb. How to cultivate peace in the home. How to enjoy the moment.

It’s more than just surviving a hectic week. I want to model these things whenever I can so that they, too, will be able to rise above the glorification of busy in our world and live a deeper life.

I still have far to go in this. But I’ll bring them along with me.

What are your parenting strategies when life is crazy?

 

 


Old School Baking

I love cookbooks. Especially all the new editions with stunning photography and creative flavors. I’ve been pining away for this one, featuring beautiful scratch made REAL food recipes from one of my favorite bloggers. And if you run into me at Barnes and Nobles, you’ll probably find me drooling over the shelves of lovely hard back baking books.

Just a couple years ago, though, I decided to thin out my collection. I found that I wasn’t using most of them all that often. I regularly turn to my favorite bookmarked recipe pages online. In the end I limited the pile to my beloved Nourishing TraditionsFamily Feasts for $75 a Week, and the quintessential, old school, American cookbooks….

Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens.

My mom still has her original Betty Crocker. It’s a well worn, stained three ring book with pages and pages of well loved and marked recipes. It’s the birthplace of our very favorite pie crust.  

So for my daughter’s/mom’s birthday cake I went old school.

lemon cake

A lemon cake with lemon curd filling and lemon buttercream frosting. Regular old flour, butter, milk and yes…sugar. No fancy, exotic flours or dairy substitutes. (My allergic daughter has a stash of allergy friendly cupcakes in the freezer for just such an occasion.)

It was actually very freeing not having to substitute a ton of ingredients or figure out flour ratios. Add a Donna Reed apron and some pearls and I’d be giving a serious tribute to all the home bakers of my grandma’s generation.

We served it along with some strawberry ice cream, some fresh, maple syrup sweetened whipped cream, and an extra bowl of lemon curd. Mmm. Tart, fruity goodness that just screams spring!

I’ll return to some of our favorite gf muffins and unrefined sweeteners for this week’s Easter buffet for the choir. But I’ll always have a sweet spot for my old faithful cookbooks.

Got any old school recipes to share?

 

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The Full Extent of His Love

This week I read these words…

Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.  (John 13:1)

…the full extent of His love. Can you imagine? I don’t think in our limited human understanding that we can really appreciate what that means.

The uttermost fullness of love of an infinitely loving Savior. More love than we’ve ever seen. More than we can comprehend.

The Apostle John wrote these words to introduce all the events that followed. Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. The Last Supper. The Garden of Gethsemane. And the final hours leading to His crucifixion.

All for them. For you and me.

And on this Good Friday, all I can do is be grateful. A deep, soul filling gratitude that He would love me that much.

May I never lose the wonder…

 


Posts for Holy Week

One of the greatest times of year is upon us. A week to prepare, remember and soak up all that our Savior has done for us.

My family is taking it easy this week because a few of us are sick…again. But we’ll be reading the stories, opening our resurrection eggs, practicing choir songs (between coughing and popping meds) and eagerly anticipating our Good Friday and Easter services.

So since I’m trying to get my health back and take care of the others at the same time, I thought I’d give you a couple of links to last year’s thoughts as we celebrated the Easter season. Hopefully, I’ll kick this bug and have some otherwise coherent thoughts later on this week.

Celebrating Holy Week With Your Kids

From Good Friday to Easter

May you have a very blessed Passion Week!