Author: Homeschool Queen

The force is strong with this one.

68037_10100155434909179_1581607946_n 553929_997490309449_998139091_n My 8 year old son is a deep feeler. He is a passionate, seize-the-day kind of guy, taking in every moment. He has a huge heart full of compassion, empathy, and openness.  Kid never met a stranger.   IMG_5146

Thing is, he feels everything at full throttle.  So if he is happy, it’s 100%.  If he is angry, it is 100%.  If he is disappointed…. you get the picture. One afternoon about a month ago, I picked the kids up from a playdate and the dad commented, “Wow, Cosmo is a trip. He is either at a 10 or a 1!”  I certainly didn’t take this as a compliment, but honestly I was not surprised.   Cos is intuitive, loving, and generous. At the same time, he often carries his emotions on his sleeves.

So how do I help this beautiful one find his center, his calm?  We have been talking lately about peace, self-control and soothing and calming our hearts.  I believe that Cosmo has the ability to do this – to acknowledge his feelings and harness his energy.  He has a capacity for stillness and focus, so meditation and prayer have been a source of comfort. For example, a couple of weeks ago, the 3 children and I sat together in meditation, reciting Isaiah 26:3, “You keep in  perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.”  At other times, he and I agree that it would be a good idea to go back to his bed and do a “reset”.  I encourage him to find his breath and to use his words. IMG_5200 1912210_10100487418371659_1429371650_n

With these techniques, my hope is to give Cos a toolbox he can draw from in dealing with his big emotions. Each child is unique and I never want to squelch or shame.  My heart is to shepherd and coach them along in becoming who God has made them to be.  

Do you have an extreme child?  If so, what are some of the tools in your parent toolbox?

Homeschool Queen ironically has a distaste for princesses

I have never bought princess playthings for my daughter. Not a tiara, nor a wand. Not a Magic Mirror vanity, not a $10 princess gown. Disclaimer: other family members have bought these things for her – in which case I just smile appreciatively.

Don’t get me wrong, I never would outright BASH a princess.  I appreciate that Belle is an avid reader and that Ariel is a passionate learner.  I applaud Cinderella and Snow White for serving their families without complaining and growing bitter. Jasmine, Mulan and Pocahontas – the POC (princesses of color) are breaking all kinds of cultural legalism.  These are all good things!

The part that I struggle with is the idea that in most cases, the main character – an intelligent female – ends up looking to a man for her happily ever after. Frankly, my issue is more with our traditional misogynistic culture, than with these young women.

“Why does every princess have to have a prince?”

All three of my kids went to see Frozen, and they loved it. Many people around the web have criticized Elsa for her individuality. Their argument revolves around the assumption that her expression is sexual. This is interesting to me, because there is no love interest in the movie for Elsa.  She simply wants the freedom to express her gift without subjugation. Was she sexy? UH, yeah.  Was she using her looks and body to lure a man? NO!! Frozen blew my mind because it is a different kind of love story – TRUE LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL and at it’s core, has nothing to do with romance.

Friends, I don’t mean to sound judgmental. We have definitely experienced every disney movie ever made. I find it ironic however, that the spin for male main characters revolves around adventure and accomplishment. The spin for female main characters 9x out of 10, revolves around finding true love.  For this mama – I am looking for a different message for my daughter.

My hope for my little princess (warrior), is that her true love will be an equal, a partner. Her relationship will be one where each person respects and values the other. Mutual deference and honor. True love is sacrificial, for both persons, whether male or female.

Agree with me?

Wanna get in my face and yell at me?

What am I missing? Teach me.

What would you add?

 

Pop died last night.

Kids paternal grandfather, “Pop” breathed his last around midnight on Sunday. We had a great time with him over Christmas. His children and 12 grandchildren were all together.

IMG_268375 is still too young in my opinion.  Things just went from bad to worse: Flu, then pneumonia. A light-headed moment turned into a fall that broke his hip. Then 3 weeks in the hospital did him in. Everything started shutting down.

We were trying to figure out how to smuggle “nellie” into the hospital to work her magic as a rehab dog.  Alas, he decided to refuse treatment and move his bed to the house – so that he could spend his last few days with his wife, his dog, and all of his kids and grandkids.

 

Died in his sleep with his daughter and sons surrounding.

My little ones and I are leavin-on-a-jet-plane tomorrow morning for the funeral in Lubbock. We appreciate your prayers as we remember this kind, affectionate man. Generous, tender-hearted. A story teller.

We love you Pop! Miss you already. Thanks for loving us well.

YOGA: Kundalini Kids!

Yoga with Kids3 times a week, the children and I rise and meet one another in the living room or outside for morning yoga and meditation.  Last Thursday, we invited other children to join us. It was so much fun!  9 children ranging from 2 to 12. The energy in the room was precious and pure.

Here is a glimpse of what we do to get our chest, spine and brain activated in the mornings before school!

We are Alexanders, we are learners.

My focus lately has been on family axioms, values and virtues that we overtly speak over our children describing the kind of people we are (ahem, suppose to be.) Call it a motto, maxim, adage, rallying cry….

On my post We are Alexanders, I describe what I mean by this, and list out many of the axioms we say day-in and day-out.

Today I am focusing on “we are learners”. This one is a tremendous parenting value for me. I am a learner, I was raised by learners, and I am married to a learner, so naturally I hope to impart this quality into the hearts of my children.

By learner do I mean over-edumacated academic elite? Heavens no. In fact, I agree with Albert Einstein who said, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

This world has so much to teach us.

Culture, nature, myth, math, history, technology, poetry, politics, physics, linguistics, economics…shall I go on? How could we ever imagine that we are done learning as soon as we finish our educational requirements? One thing I admire about my dad, is that at age 66, the man aspires to learn something new everyday. Never assuming he has all the answers, he ask good questions. He reads, he studies, he works hard to keep up with the inexhaustible pace of technology.

There is always something to learn from this bountiful planet. Project-based homeschooling works well for us, because it is designed to help kids pursue the things they are passionate about learning. But weather you homeschool or not: Does your child have a favorite food?  Trace the origin and historical preparation of that food. Discover how that food is prepared today, here in America. (disclaimer – your child may not like what she/he discovers). Did your child get a letter from grandma?  Outline the process of how we send and receive mail. Take the kids to the US Postal office and ask for a tour! Did your kids witness the dogs procreating?!?! Talk to them about the reproductive system of animals and allow them to follow the process out all the way through birth, infancy and independence.  There is so much to learn each day. We need only to open our eyes and pay attention! Life is our Guru. Earth is our hands-on instructor. History is our counselor. Get out there and let your curiosity lead you!

People have so much to teach us.

Do you think you have it all figured out? You don’t.  Your experience or degree make you an expert? Nope. Feel like you really have a handle on things? Guess again. Don’t assume that you know the perception of a Republican or the viewpoint of a Democrat until you share a meal with one.  Don’t expect to tell a teenager what they should do before you embrace them and listen to their heart. Don’t judge a buddhist until you are willing to sit quietly and let them share the experience of their faith journey.

Ok, I am no expert – but here are a few suggestions for us about how to lovingly approach people:

  1. Ask good questions.  Before my husband goes into a group meeting or a one-on-one coffee, I always remind him to ask good questions.  He grins and replies, “I know, I know, don’t talk too much….”  He is joking, but always comes home and reports the success of simply listening and asking good questions.  Not only do we learn so much more about the other person, but we come away nourished because listening is receiving – and our souls love that.
  2. Don’t give advice unless someone specifically asks you for it.  Over and over I hear people discharging dogma like an M2 machine gun (yea, I totally googled that). I want to stand up and shout, “NO ONE ASKED YOU FOR YOUR OPINION!” Although it is difficult to sit and listen and keep your mouth shut and ears open, please, for the love of all things vulnerable and tender – – please wait until you are asked before doling out your answers to life’s questions.
  3. Approach every conversation as an opportunity to learn. Every person you meet has a unique story. Try to engage them in that story. Strive to understand their perspective.  Think of your friends (and even random people you meet on the street) as mentors.  My friend Heather mentors me in self-dicipline. My friend Anna mentors me in a healthy lifestyle in regard to food and movement. My friend Laura mentors me in intentionality with children….and so on.  Every person in our lives has something to offer, something to teach us. So let’s tap into that wisdom.

We are Alexanders, we are learners. It’s an important message to my children to ALWAYS look for learning moments – every outing, every activity, every project, every movie they watch, every book they read. With every person they encounter, with one another, with home schoolers, with public schoolers, with babies, with elders, and with Mr. Henry – the mail carrier.

I must go now, because my friend is teaching me how to make organic apple muffins.

IMG_8541 IMG_5370 IMG_7873 IMG_8538 IMG_7692 IMG_7538 IMG_7596 IMG_7629

There is no excuse for abuse

My focus lately has been on family axioms – values and virtues that we overtly speak over our children describing the kind of people we are (ahem, suppose to be.) Call it a motto, maxim, adage, rallying cry….

My sister-in-law introduced me to The Total Transformation program. James and Janet Lehman have a direct, behavioral approach, which has significantly influenced my parenting.

Listening to the audio program, one of the truths that first hit home with me was, “There is no excuse for abuse.”

For example:

“He provoked me.”

“But she called me a name.”

“We were just rough-housing.”

“She’s such an idiot.”

“He started it.”

There are many reasons (read, excuses) children can come up to justify abusive behavior.  And dare I say it, there are many reasons parents can give for allowing abusive behavior.

“They were just rough-housing.”

“I’m just too exhausted to deal with it.”

“She kept provoking him.”

“They are going to have to learn how to deal with bullying at some point.”

“Survival of the fittest.”

He has to learn how to be a man.”

Do you think I am sounding judgmental right now? I’m sorry mom, am I the only one here with the ability to notice when horsing-around morfs into full-contact-sparring morfs into a straight-up-street-fight!?? We spend their whole toddlerhood imploring, “Let’s use our words….” Why can’t that continue into age 8, 10, 12? We still need to fine-tune the skill of word-using well into our teens, twenties and beyond!

Whether it is physical or verbal, there is NO excuse for abuse.

Did you hear about the 9 year old boy who nearly killed himself because he was bullied for liking My Little Pony? Or the girl who was abused for liking StarWars? Or the boy who wouldn’t go back to school because he liked Justin Bieber?

Ok, but back to siblings and friends.

Even the slightest lackadaisical attitude toward our childrens’ aggressive interactions, can send the message that abuse is ok. We give them an inch, they take a mile. We have to be on top of it – – at all times. Otherwise, we allow inappropriate words and actions, which can cause emotional damage.

These little ones are intelligent, they get it. It’s ok to call our children to a higher standard. They actually want that! No matter what they see and hear at school or at church. No matter what they hear at soccer or swim.  Our children will follow our example and will live out the values we set for them. But that’s the catch: WE HAVE TO SET THOSE VALUES!

How do I live this out?

When my kids raise their voice: I stop the conversation and ask for a restart. I coach them through an appropriate way to express their feelings.

When my kids start to get physical: I press pause and examine the situation. In our experience, I have a BIG kid 12 year old who understands that he can use his physical body to intimidate his siblings.  I stop the situation and coach the 12 year old toward articulating his feelings with his words rather than with his body. I acknowledge his size, resourcefulness and passion, but the child gets disciplined for using his big presence for intimidation.  I ask him to imagine a time when his size can be used for good – for rescuing someone perhaps? Or for shielding a person from harm?

And then there are my little two: scrappy, nimble, ninjas. These kids jump and kick and scratch and flip – POW, WALLUP, THWAPP! If I can catch them in action (which is rare because they are so fast), I bring the martial arts to a screeching hault. I remind them that while it is amazing to see their ninja skillz, they must respect each other and remember that sparring can be fun – until someone gets hurt. This is not a SPIKE-TV kickboxing match. No one is getting paid to crush their opponent. Remain present in the situation. Encourage and help one another, don’t just go-in-for-the-kill.  🙂

As parents, we know our kids. We recognize patterns. We know when a situation becomes RED ALERT. We understand the difference between a heated discussion and a full-blown-fight.

Am I suggesting – don’t fight?  NO. Rather, I am suggesting that we stay engaged and involved in the interactions our children are having with their siblings, playmates and friends. We filter words, tone, attitude, and physical presence – to raise children to a higher standard of relating.

NOTE: This article does not deal with sexual abuse.

This article does not deal with spanking/corporal punishment.

It is assumed that parents reading this article are at a balanced level regarding discipline with children.

It’s your choice

Recently, I sent a card to a friend who was getting married.  Inside the card, I jotted down the word “Choice”.  I couldn’t help reflecting on my own marriage as I continued:

  • Commitment is a choice.
  • Compassion is a choice.
  • Kindness is a choice.
  • Generosity is a choice.
  • Honoring one another is a choice.
  • Self-control is a choice.
  • Service is a choice.
  • Friendship is a choice.
  • Forgiveness is a choice.
  • Patience is a choice.
  • Partnership is a choice.
  • Quality time is a choice.

A good marriage doesn’t just happen. We cultivate it. The choices we make every single day determine the direction our marriage will take in the long haul. What choices are you making in your relationship?

Me and my man. Quality time by the fire.
Me and my man. Quality time by the fire.

You can do it!

I never thought I could homeschool because frankly, I was a terrible SCHOOL mom! “Bring 50 cents on Tuesday. Send close-toed shoes on Friday. Sign this. Donate to that. Be at this meeting and that party….”  I could hardly keep up!  Oh and I rarely had my kids to school on time. My son once said, “Mommy, you have to quit making me late to KINDER-GARTEN.”

So you can imagine that taking the plunge to homeschool was a stretch. I am a fun and creative mom – but not an organized one.  I am a people person too, so I was worried about feeling trapped at home with 24/7 kid duty.

Anyway, I am starting my 3rd year of homeschooling and I am loving it. I know my kids better now than I ever did when they were in school. We have been participating in Classical Conversations, which has been a stabilizer for us. We may continue with CC through high school, but we are moving toward more of a Project Based Homeschooling method now. I have my footing a little bit stronger, and this method seems to fit with my personality and the lifestyle of our family.

The reason I started this ironically named blog homeschoolqueen.com is for people like me, who have the desire to take the step into homeschool, but are not sure they have the “skills” or “patience” or “education” to do it.  Just want to say YOU CAN DO IT! If I can, literally anyone can!

We get in a rush, we get in a wreck.

I have been focusing lately on family axioms – values and virtues that we overtly speak over our children describing the kind of people we are (ahem, suppose to be.) Call it a motto, maxim, adage, rallying cry….

Today, I am expounding on one my my favs, the simple yet sensible “We get in a rush, we get in a wreck”.  A phrase aptly spoken to myself yesterday as I was dashing out the door and speeding down the street to get to a wedding on time. Breathe Nikki. We get in a rush, we get in a wreck. And by the way, your kids need a mom, so buckle up and bring your A game.

This axiom first came out of my mouth a while back, when 6 kids were in my playroom, fussing over who would get what lego piece. I declared, “Whoa, slow down kids! We get in a rush, we get in a wreck!” Seconds later, one of the children unintentionally flung my iPhone off the table, shattering the glass into 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces.

I love this axiom because of it’s clarity and veracity. Not mind-blowing, life-changing, earth-shattering.  But a valuable reminder to slow down and breathe. To remain sharp and alert, and be present in the moment.

A related note about HASTE. I have been pondering haste lately because many of my friends are leading frenzied lives, rushing from this appointment to that, practices, meets, recitals, rehearsals, games, tutoring, church, playdates, and terra-robo-astro-geo-paleo-lego-theo-neo-nova club.  Some of these mamas are frazzled and perpetually exhausted – missing appointments, double-booking, and complaining about being SO BUSY.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had many a season of overcommitment and boundary vertigo. But these past three years in Tuscaloosa, I have pulled back – banned chaos – shunned overcommitment – practiced NO – and sloooowwwwed down.

My message is this. On a micro level, take a look at each moment, each activity, as you move through your day. Notice the patterns that cause you or your children to spin into carelessness because of haste. On a macro level, examine your calendar, your lifestyle, and your commitments. Become aware of areas that need attention and balance.

Grounded in the midst of chaos.

Grounded in the midst of chaos.