Thursday, October 29, 2009

What a great day!!

So this morning I woke up late, and was a little upset with myself!! However, I reassured myself that 'I'd MAKE it a good day." I had decided on Sunday (when I was planning out the week) that Thursday was going to be a DEAR day (drop everything and read). I just LOVE those kind of days, and the cool weather was the perfect setting for a cozy sit on the couch and read kind of day.

Breakfast went great, and everyone helped clean up the kitchen...which was fantastic. Talk about make mom's day!! We then slowly made our way into the 'school room.' The kids were already all in there reading and drawing so I whipped out the Book of Mormon and had all 6 kiddos present, quiet, and happy during our morning devotional. FANTASTIC!! Who said a positive attitude couldn't turn it all around...even if I did wake up late things were looking up.

THEN I pulled out our book all about the Great Wall of China. I was excited to learn more about it, and I think the kids could feel that excitement. However, things started getting loud, and it was difficult for everyone to hear my voice. I could feel myself getting frustrated when I had a thought from our Charlotte Mason seminar about Nature Journals, which was basically a notebook of good art paper where kids could sketch, paint, and write about what they were doing each day. That was it!!

I put down my China book and told the kids we were going to the store to get colored pencils and notebooks of art paper. So off we went just like that (which is totally out of character for me to do...especially during our sacred morning school hour time). Within 40 minutes we were back home equipped to have a GREAT reading time. And I have to admit it was pretty great. The kids listened and drew while I read the rest of the book. I am sure we could have kept going for hours, but everyone got hungry for lunch so we stopped to eat. Then we had art class at 1pm and a doctors appointment for Meg at 3 so we were running around for the rest of the afternoon.

The kids have been drawing in their notebooks all day, and I had to tell them to stop so they could go to bed. I am so grateful for Notebooking!!! I even plan on starting one myself, and I want to take some watercolor classes so I can make mine pretty!!! LEARNING IS SO STINKING FUN!!!!

A New Day!!

So this morning I didn't wake up until 7, and my kids woke up at 7:10...AHHH. Not the way I'd planned my morning to go. Oh well...right?! Now they are all taking a shower, because they were freezing, and I''m trying to deliberate with myself as to how to turn this late start morning into an AMAZING day. It will be, I just know it.

Last night I was reading The Read Aloud Handbook which is AMAZING!! And I kept having little bits of inspiration hit me so I'm excited to implement some of those ideas today. Oh I can't wait.

So far our week's looked like this:

Monday: Music all day long!!! Piano and Recorders.
Tuesday: Again music all day long...loved it, but couldn't believe the kiddos could focus on one thing for so long.
Wednesday: History, history, history!! We've been learning about Egypt for a few weeks now, but yesterday we dove in a little deeper to the Pyramids and some of the Pharaohs. So interesting I learned a TON!! LOVED IT!!!
Thursday: The plan for today is to do a DEAR day...drop everything and read, read, read!! I'm going to read all my little kids (including my itty bitty ones). The plan for the little ones is to read 10 books to my little one throughout the day, and spend at least an hour or two reading aloud to my two biggies. We are reading The Bronze Bow for our day/mom book. Its getting really good, and its set in ancient times which is the history time period we're focusing on right now. Treats, toys, and reading...sounds like it could be a perfect day!!

Oh I can tell its going to be a wonderful day!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm finally ready...

The last couple of months, have been totally crazy. To say it simply, its been one of the most difficult learning and growing experiences of my life. WOW!!! I've learned that being a leader is hard, that being a mom is even harder, and that trying to do it all...well its pretty darn tough!!! I have to admit, though, now that I'm a few weeks out from the really really tough stuff, I am so grateful for the learning, stretching, and growing that's its forced me to do. I feel like I'm more patient, understanding, and I'd like to think a more loving person as a result.

So, as the dust has started to settle, and I've gotten back into more of a normal routine, I've kept feeling like its time to really push myself. I'm surprised at the growth I've had personally over these past few weeks, and although its been very painful at times, its exciting. I've found myself asking...what now? How can I continue to grow and progress at the pace I've recently experienced. I think I've known the answer all along, but I've been scared to commit to the notion that I need a mentor. Someone who will push me educationally, emotionally, mentally, etc. Why? Because I want to be a better mom, a better wife, a better person, a better educator, a better disciple of Christ, and I think getting the help of someone who sees more than I can see and knows more than I know can help me with this goal.

What will this mean? Possibly getting up earlier, studying more, thinking more, reading more, writing more, cooking more, learning more, laughing more, exercising more, enjoying life more, nurturing more, being more intentional, serving more, listening more...? I'm not exactly sure what it will mean for me, but I'm ready for it. I want to learn more so I can love more; so I can feel more; so I can nurture more; so I can serve more; so I can live a more intentional life knowing I have a purpose that I am trying to fulfill. Is it going to be hard? Probably, but I'm ready!!

I believe with all my heart that its never to late to become the person you were meant to be. I don't know exactly what that person will look like, but I'm bound and determined to find out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE Part THREE!!

So I am finally ready to finish this post about our new "Inspire Plan." I don't know why its taken me so long to wrap this up.

Okay I have to admit I'm kind of a control, pragmatic freak who likes to see results. Embracing this principle of INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE has been a tricky one for me to get. I mean really couldn't it be inspire while requiring?! I could probably wrap my brain around that one, but in my heart I know from personal experience that forcing someone to do something, even if they end up doing it just damages the relationship, doesn't make a lasting impact, and causes the enforcer and the enforcee a lot of stress and grief. So for the past three years I've been trying to figure out how to be inspiring enough to motivate my children to want to learn. Here's what I've learned so far...

[First Inspiring begins with ME!]
If I am setting the right kind of example and living the life I want them to live then things start heading in the right direction. If I am reading books, cleaning up happily, interested in learning, etc... then they will follow the same path and totally start doing what I'm doing. Its kind of like a little game of 'Do As I'm Doing.' This is totally easy to type up, but doing it has been a HUGE challenge for me. I enjoy watching TV and love computer time both of which totally distract from me from setting an INSPIRING example. I also could clean all day and never read, because I am obsessed with having a clean house. So I've had to take some extreme measures to help me over come my bad habits.

We removed the TV from our living area, are getting rid of the TV in our bedroom, and will only have one TV in the loft that will be used for FAMILY activities such as family movies or gaming. My computer time each day has been limited to either when the kids are asleep or during our recess time (its recess right now). And as for cleaning...well I've gotten the kids way more involved which has helped. I've also implemented morning cleaning time (before school starts for us at 8:30), a pre-lunch pick up, and a pre-dinner pick up. I really try to not clean (other than do the dishes after the meals) during the day which has helped me be 100% present for the kids during the day!! This has made a HUGE difference with my relationship with them, and what we're able to read and study during the day. LOVE IT!!

[Structure Time NOT Content PLUS my Inspiration System=Progress]
After three years of struggling with either pushing to hard to do academics or not pushing at all I think I'm starting to get on the right path of how to inspire my kids to WANT to do their school stuff. Its a work in progress, and fairly simple, but its amazing how well its already working.

I already knew what I'd like my kids to do each day, and I had all the materials/books/supplies purchased and on their shelves. Scott and I worked on creating a little check sheet with the different chores they were responsible for doing each day, and the different subjects I wanted to them to try and do each day. We also had a place for bonus items, perfect days, and extra chores on the bottom. Each item on our list was given a certain point value.





I then got a clip board for each child, put some cute ribbon around the top of it, and drilled a hook into my 'family hall way' (which is another concept I'm still developing). This is where the clip boards belong at the end of the day or when the kids aren't working on their chores or school stuff.



At the end of each week we total up the kids points and put them on a white board which is also in the 'family hallway.' The kids like seeing how many points they've earned, and talking about what reward they'll be able to purchase with their points.



The reward center is where the kids can see how many points they will need to purchase the various items. I just printed out little cards with pictures on them (for the little kids to enjoy) and a brief description of the activity or treat they can get and the value of the item. Its SUPER simple and didn't cost me a thing, since I had this metal thingy I purchased from IKEA a few years back. I love it when something I've been storing actually comes in handy!!


[Allowing freedom]
The kids still don't always do school work 100% during our 'school time.' However, they are doing it TONS more than they did before. The hours they are spending reading and learning of their own free will and choice is getting closer to the hours they are choosing to play with each other (NOT ELECTRONICS) I mean old fashion play. Like building forts, playing pretend, riding bikes, swinging, you know just hanging out and playing with each other!!

They don't always get through all the subjects each day, but that's really not the point. I think the point for me is to get them started on something, and then if they get distracted on Rocks (like we've been this week) and want to study all about geology for three hours then we go for that!! This way, though, if they don't feel interested in any one thing they have a system they can choose to follow that will expose them to lots of different topics, subjects, and ideas. A system that will help them learn, earn fun treats, hang out with mom and read, and lots of other things that makes me feel like our structured time is inspiring and full of lots of learning!!

Having a plan for what I think we should be learning, and a structure to inspire and motivate them to engage with me in the process, has made inspiring my kids to learn a reality instead of just a dream!!

Charlotte Mason Seminar

If you are homeschooling or just want to be a better mom or dad you might be interested in the Charlotte Mason seminar this Saturday. Check out the event's blog at www.CMinAZ.blogspot.com Its going to be AMAZING!! Charlotte Mason talked a lot about living the educational life and incorporating learning into your every day life!! LOVE IT!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE...PART TWO!

[preparing]
This summer I realized that I wanted to focus my personal studies on anything and everything I thought would help me be Inspiration Mom (do you like my super hero title)! So I read lots of books, looked at tons of materials, researched varied philosophies (I am a total TJed'er, but I believe there are so many true principles in other homeschooling methods, that can enhance my understanding, skills, and tools needed to provide a TJed style education for myself and my kids), prayed a ton, pondered a lot, took lots of notes, googled resources, and eventually started to put together The Martineau Master Inspire plan for 2009-2010. Man it was draining, exciting, and stinking hard!!

[the Master Inspire Plan]
Like I said, eventually I started to feel prepared to put together my plan. As the plan sits now its still lacking a TON, but after two years of trying to create the perfect plan and not getting anything together really, (because I wanted it to be perfect), I figured what the heck an imperfect, incomplete plan is better than no plan at all. And so, it began.

[HELP?!]
I've loved the principle of Inspire NOT Require from the first time I heard it 4 or 5 years ago, but what does that really mean? I know that it is a true principle, but had no idea how to make it work in my family. I wanted rules I could follow to ensure I was inspiring, oh yes and where was the inspiring curriculum that would promise to inspire my kids to want to learn of their own free will. I mean I wanted results, and I'd prefer if those results equaled 3-5 voluntarily hours of studying a day from each of my children. I knew in my heart, that such a thing did not, and could not exist, but that didn't take away my hidden wish that it did. I knew I hadn't up to that point really been inspiring my kids very well to make their beds, so how was I going to get my kids to choose to read instead of watch TV.

When I started homeschooling my kids, using TJed principles, I was given some great advice, which helped me relax, take time to digest the information I was learning, and create a plan to implement it. I think this period of relaxation, digestion, contemplation, and formulating was crucial in allowing me to create my current Master Inspire Plan and Inspire System. Some of the great advice I was given that first year I was homeschooling is advice I still live by. The advice came from many sources and people, and ended up being the way I transitioned from being a 'happy public school/I'm done pushing myself educationally' mom into a 'super excited HIP TJed homechooling mama that wanted to have learning a part of my everyday life, and someone who believed that I really could change the world.' Wow it was stinking exciting, but boy oh boy, was I overwhelmed, and unsure of exactly what I should be doing. I felt insecure in my ability to figure this awesome thing called Leadership Education out, because there was no 'right' way to do TJed.. I am extremely thankful for the few guidelines I made for myself in response to the advice I got. Here's what I came up with: 1.) read aloud like crazy to the kids, 2) start reading like crazy myself and share my excitement for what I was learning with my kids, 3) turn the TV and electronic gaming devices off, 4) make time to think, ponder, and digest what I was learning and experiences, 5) put God first, 6) make family devotional a number one priority, 7) heal/strengthen/grow family relationships, 8) write down thoughts/ideas/plans/etc..., 9) take time to create a personalized plan for your family.

I obviously am only now figuring out how to do number nine, but all the other items are getting easier. WOO-HOO to that!!

So that kind of brings me back to what's been happening more recently. I believe that creating what I'm finally starting to create for my family is a result of what I've been learning and going through for the past three years. Its a process, and I love that!! What's really exciting, is that I can already see how in a few months from now, my Inspire System will evolve, better fit the needs of our family, and continue to shape our family culture. I love that naturally process of growth and progression are part of the plan because life is all about growth and progression. Isn't that FABULOUS!!

So now for the specifics in what exactly my Inspire System and Master Inspire plan look like...I guess that will have to wait because it's 11pm and I'm SO TIRED!! Pictures, details, and explanations to follow...stay posted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inspire NOT Require Part One

[Finally getting it]
I've been a mom for almost 10 years now, and a HIP homeschooling mama for three years now. So, I'm a bit embarrassed to say that it hasn't been until this year that I finally feel like I've got my mom groove on. I'm not saying things are perfect, but for some reason I think I'm finally starting to understand and be capable of harnessing the power of INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE. Inspire NOT Require ts one of the foundational keys of I've started to live by for the past few years. Even though I believe it to be a universal truth, its been a hard one to live. It just seems that forcing yourself, or your child to do something whether its an educational thing or a work/chore thing is the easier way to go.

Once you start looking to scripture, and how God does things, its easy enough to realize that this isn't how God parents us. So why would we parent differently than God. Inspire yourself or your child is hard work, but not impossible. Its requires a system, rewards, consequences, lots of LOVE, tons of work, consistency, enthusiasm, a tremendous amount of trust, and passion.

[The Inspiration System]
This year, Scott and I created a simple system to help Inspire our children. The system has two main missions. First of all, it was to help them understand the importance of their daily required chores. I really need to have a clean home (or at least as clean of a home as is possible with so many little kids), and in order for our home to be a house of order it requires every one's help. After struggling last year to keep up, I realized this year I had to get my little ones to start helping out more. So that was mission number one. Mission number two was to motivate my children to want to study and learn. I understand that forcing my children to learn won't work, or would be far less effective than if my children chose to learn on their own accord. I wanted the latter to happen, so after a summer of reading, thinking, and praying I created a system that has worked in helping my children begin the life long journey of self-education.
[to be continued...]
I don't have time to describe my Inspire System right now. So I'll wait, and go into more detail and post some pictures of my system soon...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Share the LOVE....

Over the last few weeks, my kids have really been getting a kick out of a program on my iMac called Photo Booth. The computer has a built in camera, and allows the kids to distort their faces and make silly little movies. Seriously, its provided hours of hilarious fun for the whole family. Tonight we were having FHE at my mom's, and my family was in charge. Our Schnepf family theme for the year is 'Don't wait to be GREAT...' Each month we choose a different area to focus on. Like I said, it was my family's job to be in charge, and we were struggling to know what we should focus on this month, until yesterday. In between conference sessions we were letting the kids play around, and make some videos. Then much to my dismay, a fight broke out during the creation of a video. We decided for the month of October our theme would be 'Don't wait to be GREAT at being more patient and loving, and less easily provoked to anger.' We had a great conversation about it with the family, and Scott shared some thought from President Monson's Priesthood session talk regarding anger. What a great evening.

My sister Stacy requested that the 'anger' video we described at FHE be posted on my blog. She really wanted to see it so she could laugh at my family. I was happy to oblige as my family has some laughable thing happen most every day. What can you expect with six kiddos 9 and under. I am LOVING life even when the kids record themselves fighting...I hope you all enjoy.


video