Posted in Home School, Management, Play

From BLAH to BOOM! The 3 Ways to Jazz Up a Down Day

You feel it coming.

You remember the last time you sensed a blah day approaching, you ignored it, and boy was THAT a huge goof! Nothing got done. The whole day fell off the face of the earth….

Next time you’ll capture that day! Right? You’ll notice the rival advance and you’ll counter-attack! Right? Just wait! You’ll be so aware nothing will get by. You’ll push back until…umm…?


Actually, you will.

And here’s how:

First, learn to recognize the symptoms of a blah-attack.

If you don’t up periscope, you’ll find yourself already blah, beyond rescue, too late for intervention, so pay attention! Here are the warning signs:

  1. You feel bored/depressed/tired/hungry/or something nerve-wracking and indescribable; usually you deal with it by moping and wonder if you might be depressed.
  2. The kids squabble/rebel/dawdle/over-eat/or something you simply cannot figure out. It is out of character and growing out of control.
  3. Often the weather is lowering/glowering/hot/humid/or something almost unidentifiable, and often chalked up simply to “the heat” or “spring fever”.
  4. Perhaps someone was up too late last night, had too much sugar a few hours ago, visited naughty friends yesterday, or played a lot of digital games. Maybe you, maybe them who knows? But if you consider, that package with the m’s all over it, on the top shelf, is emptying fast, and come to think of it, you cannot find your tablet. Yep.

What to do! What to do!

These are ideas, only . We did these things and they helped. You are welcome to totally copy me and see how it goes.

You are also welcome to say, “She’s nuts! But I know what would work in my house!” I get that.

Because I’d probably feel the same about your post, if you came up with bizarre stuff like this. Read on…

  1. Intervene fast: When you get that crawly feeling under your skin, or that lead weight in your heart, make your plan, hydrate, grit your teeth, and go! Your home is worth it.
  2. Realize the whole blah thing is overtaking, or will overtake, the whole family, in spirit, soul, and body.
  3. Treat the body first. Children are mostly about the body. They get that. It’s like Jesus multiplying the bread and fish and then laying some heavy stuff on people afterward.
  4. Immediately after you get their attention, have a wise, soul-stirring, reviving maxim, message or motto at the ready. Something to clear the air, sharpen the brain, and stir the heart. Or all three.
  5. Follow up with Scripture, Christian music, or just go to your room and pray.

What happens next is important.

  1. Immediately you plan to do this, you will feel reluctant. As soon as you overcome your own reluctance, the kids will feel reluctant. Expect it and push past it with patience. It’s normal. Just go, and keep going.
  2. Once you get everyone on board, it still possibly can slip away from you. So stay wary.
  3. Not long into your plan, you will realize the current trouble is licked and you are well into a great crop of life-long victories, from which you can probably reap someday. Yes!

What does it look like?

Jazz up a down day from BLAH to BOOM!Here are examples of how I’ve dealt with our blah days. See if you can recognize the three parts (spirit, soul, and body)! And let me know if you get the giggles or want me to adopt you. ;)

  1. My favorite blah-beater of all time: I’d often combine body, soul, and spirit in one activity by getting the kids to grab their tambourines and wood blocks and join me in marching all around the interior of the house and singing, “He is the King of Kings! He is the Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! O-o-oh He is the King!”
  2. Sometimes the most fun solution: I’d start a rubber band war. Seriously. I am very competitive and they knew to keep rubber bands withing easy reach. We’d chase each other awhile, then I’d put a stop to it and say, “Time to pick up!” They knew the importance of a time to pick up rubber bands, because the cat would get sick all over the house if it ate any. Yeah, I know. I was desperate. Then sometimes as the giggles  continued, I’d remind them that Scripture says laughter does good, like a medicine, and ask them if they didn’t feel the difference.
  3. Desperate measures, here: Sometimes, I’d institute quiet time. I’d make them lie down for a half-hour “nap”. They had to keep eyes shut the whole time, and lie still. If a nap ensued, fine; if not, fine. But if eyes or mouths opened during the time period, it started over. Often I reminded about not enough sleep making people grouchy or the importance of proper rest or whatever. Often I played Christian music during this time.
  4. After-lengthy-tennis-lessons slump: (free from a fellow home school mom!) we usually had ice cream to help us cool and quiet down, plus plenty of water. We’d then chat about what went well, socially, during tennis, and what did not, and what to do about it.
  5. One more (and I have plenty left, so ask!): Sometimes I’d make our lunch time a picnic. (Cool story here, by the way.) Walking to the picnic site, refueling, enjoying the beauty of the Creation, playing find-it games, and yes, discussing how amazing stuff is, like grass, clouds, etc., and how glad we were God has it all under control—all these things revived us.

Why not try it yourself? Spring or Fall are the perfect times for it! (Both for the blahs, and for revival!) And share with us how it goes for you! Cannot wait to see you smile!

Posted in Home School, Play, Pre-schoolers

What to Do with Toddlers: Try D.E.S.I.R.E!

baby while making his first stepsNote: You will find this article pirated on the Internet. However, it is mine.

OK, it has finally hit you:  Suddenly you understand why that other home school mom used to be so self-doubting … She had a toddler in her home.

Now, your turn has come and, whew, can it be a challenge! You prepared for receiving that new baby blessing during the school year, didn’t you?  No one told you what to do with the toddler that would result, did they?

My very first toddler to home school is now 30 years old.  She led the way for two brothers to follow in her footsteps.  Yes, I have survived having three toddlers in my school!  The youngest is now 24 and I am still mostly sane.  I hope I can share a few tricks here that will be helpful to you.

You probably can guess that the acronym D.E.S.I.R.E. stands for six choices of tactics you can take with your toddler. The word helps you to remember, while “on-the-run”, what ideas you have not tried yet.  Happily, I can say that with this plan, you can master the fine art of home schooling with a toddler.

D is for Discipline.  Discipline is another way of saying, “consistently train by habit and example.”  You must discipline your toddler.  Many people do not know about this idea, but it is crucial to your success with this child, for his whole life. If you do not discipline your toddler now, you probably never will be able to manage this child and he will suffer all his life for your wrong choice.  Actually, your whole family will suffer.

There are many ideas floating around about how to discipline, but I strongly urge using the Bible way, which is the rod.  How to use the rod would make an entire article in itself, but there are many good resources to help you obey God about this, already in print.

You can and you must discipline (train) them to maintain quiet during teaching, oral reading, testing, study, dictation, etc.  Consider “quiet” to be the home school subject the toddler must learn. (Of course, it will be easier to train the little ones to do right if you are acting that way yourself.)

E is for Entertain.  This is playing school. I always loved this part.  My toddlers did, too.  Sometimes my first graders even looked longingly at our inventions!  I loved giving my toddlers blunt scissors to cut the corners off 3×5 note cards. They learned how to cut and how to identify a triangle.  Then we pasted the triangles to another paper to make flowers, boats, and other “pretty pictures for Daddy.”  This supervised play, they thought was school; they were right.  They learned other manual dexterity tasks by working with homemade play dough, real cookie dough, extra large crayons, educational toys, chenille stems, and my favorite, the chalkboard. The reason I prefer chalk (white only) so much is that no matter if they taste it, step on it, put it through the laundry, or use it on the walls, it is no problem.

S is for Seclude. Face it, sometimes they need to stay in their own place.  That is when a playpen, screened porch, high chair or other restraining device can come in handy.  Never leave them unattended in these places; stock them with toys, too.  Do not make being restrained a punishment (if he needs the rod, do not substitute rejection!) but do make it a choice, such as, “You will stop crumbling sister’s papers, or you will play in the playpen for a while–which do you want to do?”  This is especially important during times that would be potentially dangerous for him, such as science experiments or baseball games.  If you can anticipate the need, you can emphasize the fun aspect of it:  “Here, let’s sit in the high chair so you can see brother’s ice cube melt and boil!”

I is for Include.  Every toddler can learn to mimic and enjoy many of your activities.  This goes for Bible memorization, singing, PE, reading, phonics drill, outdoor housework, educational videos, and foreign language.  Although my first home school toddler could not recite the entire book of James as her brothers were memorizing it, she could insert the next word, whenever we stopped.  She received this by osmosis.  One of my toddlers learned to read via the signed alphabet.  His siblings were learning it and he knew what the signs meant.  If we signed c-a-t to him, he could think momentarily and say “cat”–he actually sounded out signed letters into spoken words.  At age three.  While he was a verbal child, he also showed the benefits of being included.  You can include a toddler, too, by writing his name on your chore chart so he can receive stars like everyone else.

R is for Relish.  Leave well enough alone, let sleeping babes lie, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!  Soak in those moments when this toddler is content just to exist. If he has helped himself to math manipulatives and lined them up all over the floor like a train track, unless it is forbidden behavior, do not scold, or even speak, or even breathe.  He is OK.  Let it be. If he is contentedly looking at the science book you needed to use right now, change gears and let him look.  If he has fallen asleep in Daddy’s chair, tiptoe around him; do not disturb him so you can use the chair for an oral reading lesson.  Also be sure not to miss the delightful memories of this little one’s life; keep your camera just as ready for him as ever, home school or not.

E is for Endure. There it is, the teeth-gritting-with-a-smile part. This darling is a part of your family, after all. He will not be tiny forever, either.  If you can find a place for him on your lap, sharing your chair, helping you sweep, or even carrying real school papers to siblings, he will be learning how to function as an older, usable person.  The busier you can entice him to stay, the longer you can endure helping him learn how to help, the better for him.  Even if he really is in the way, even if you could do it faster yourself, even if the paper gets droolies on it…you are making progress toward civilizing the little one and you should do so, and with a smile.

There you have it: the way I survived three toddlers in a row.  It was not easy, but I can say we usually completed all our work and we usually stayed peaceable.  Why not try DESIRE!


baby while making his first steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted in 'Tis the Season, Connect, Inspiring, Play

Where Is Your Favorite Vacation?

Alpine Vistas
Alpine Vistas

I live about an hour from the loveliest little spot for a vacation. Seriously, it has EVERYTHING!

Let me count the ways:

  • Antiquing. Lots of antique stores for your viewing/shopping pleasure. One huge mall and many small near-museums with absolutely everything. Seriously, I almost hate to share this part of it. I want it all for myself…
  • Horse racing. If you’re into that. I’m not.
  • Art. Galleries galore, including such well-knowns as Kinkade and Chihuly, and several with geological finds that have been made into art, such as geodes. It’s been judged the fourth art-friendliest city in the nation.
  • Riverboat ride with dinner and live music.
  • Al fresco dining in a below ground restaurant–always cool by dinnertime.
  • Real museums, including a Tussaud wax museum.
  • Amazing architecture. Totally astonishing architecture, at every turn.
  • Breath-taking vistas
  • Impeccable groundskeeping
  • History, history, history–built with government moneys, yes, by your great-grandfather’s hands to keep your great-grandmother alive, before we paid people to do nothing.
  • Food. Oh my. And prices that make you want to live there. One whole restaurant devoted to the breakfast of your dreams. On fun place decorated all over with pennies glued to the walls. Another, gourmet and pristine, a sanctuary for its guests and for its workers, who are legal immigrants, escaped from Romania, who wait on you perfectly and cheerily, with charming accents.
  • Hotels. We’re talking, here, of totally expensive, but enchantingly historic, insanely beautiful, antique hotels…
  • And–tada–fountains. Fountains full of water so hot, you can use it to make your tea; so pure, it’s piped to the public straight from the ground, to drink. Famously healing hot waters…

And now you know where it is: Hot Springs, Arkansas.

So impressive, the first time I went there, I was five, and even then, I knew I had to go there someday when I could see the whole thing.

Been there so many times, and haven’t seen it all, yet. Talking about it (to my history-loving heart) is never overdone.

Our Grandfathers' Handwork
Our Grandfathers’ Handwork

For more photos, view here.

For more about Hot Springs, view here, and here.

So…Where is YOUR favorite staycation?