Author Archives: Sallie

Why I Don't Micromanage My Picky Eater

Why I Don’t Micromanage My Picky Eater

Why I Don't Micromanage My Picky Eater

We have two picky eaters in our home.

My daughter is a picky eater.

I’m the other one.

Because I’ve always been very particular about food, it makes it much easier to accept my daughter’s eating preferences. And she has had them from very early on.

I remember one day when my in-laws were visiting  and Caroline was less than a year old. I had lined up four little bowls of various kinds of baby foods on the table, each with its own spoon. Caroline pointed to each one that she wanted, when she wanted it, and in the order she wanted it. David’s mom remarked that she had never seen a baby do that before.

The child knows her own mind. And she has from the womb.

I will say that Caroline has always been a good eater. She eats a variety of foods (although not many vegetables once we got off baby food). Eating a good variety was good enough for me (and our pediatrician). She eats meats, fruits, grains, dairy products, etc. so I make sure she has a variety of things she does like. But she does have a rather lengthy list of things that shall not pass her lips (as do I).

Thankfully around the time Caroline turned eight, she started asking out of the blue to try different foods.  I’m not sure what changed, but something did. Sometimes she discovers something she really likes and other times she spits it out. But she’s trying and we always affirm the fact that she tried a new food.

If you aren’t a picky eater, it might be hard to understand why your child has such strong opinions about food. It would be easy to turn it into a power struggle instead of stepping back and really assessing why your child is reacting the way she is. So as a picky eater, here are things I would encourage the parents of picky eaters to consider.

“No” Means “No”

We have a very strong rule about “no” in our house. If someone says “no” or “stop” then we immediately respect that whether it is during tickling, playing chase or buying clothes. This includes food. If we offer Caroline something to eat and she says, “No, thank you” then we immediately drop it. We don’t try to cajole her or guilt her into eating something. And we definitely do not command her that she has to eat one bite of everything.

Do you want someone to harass you after you tell them “no?”

Is this hard sometimes? Yes. Sometimes I have had to bite my tongue. But given my own aversion to certain foods that I could not eat even to be polite in someone’s home, I’m not going to be a hypocrite and push her to eat something she doesn’t want.

I also want Caroline to grow up knowing that she has a right and responsibility to tell others “No” and expect them to honor that. If I want my adult child to know the power of saying “No” when someone tries to push her to do something she doesn’t want to do, it starts by giving her control over parts of her life when she is younger. In our home, this includes food.

Food Aversions are Real

I have always had a strong aversion to many foods including fresh tomatoes. They are simply vile to me. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that oral allergy syndrome is the reason. Raw tomatoes feel awful in my mouth and make me feel sick after eating them. Yet I can’t tell you how many times in my life people have pushed me to eat raw tomatoes, looked at me like I was weird when I didn’t want raw tomatoes, etc.

Sometimes little ones cannot articulate why they don’t like a food. It is possible they don’t like the way it makes them feel when they eat it, but they can’t fully express it to you. With the oral allergy syndrome there are no external physical symptoms like there are with an allergic reaction. It is all in the mouth and not visible. Don’t be too quick to brush off your child’s aversion to certain foods. There may truly be a biological reason for it.

Let Them Determine if They are Full

I have seen people boast that they have trained their children to eat whatever they put in front of them. I know there are people who insist that their children eat every bite on their plate when the child has had no say as to the food or the amount put on the plate.

We don’t do that.

Sometimes I will encourage Caroline to eat another bite or two if I think she’s just in a hurry to get back to playing instead of eating. If she asks for ice cream for dessert, but hasn’t finished her tuna, I will ask her to eat a few more spoonfuls of the tuna first. But for the most part, if she says she’s full then we accept that.

There is NO virtue in eating everything on your plate if you are already full. (As a Christian, I would call that gluttony.) If we constantly push our children to eat past the satiation point, we are teaching them to ignore the powerful and clear signals their brain is giving them. We should WANT them to learn to listen to their brain to know when they are full.

If parents are constantly overriding their child’s natural signals in an effort to control their child, then they are missing out on a crucial learning experience.

Choose Your Battles Carefully

One of my parenting mantras is that I choose my battles very carefully. I will ask myself if this is a hill I’m willing to die on. I save the hill dying for what I think is very important. Food is not a hill I’m willing to die on.

I’m not willing to turn mealtime into a battle of wits. It’s not good for anyone to eat while upset. Mealtime should be relaxing and an opportunity to enjoy being together.

Do I really want to invest my parenting capital into bullying/manipulating/guilting my child into eating something she doesn’t want?

No. Way.

There are other things that are going to matter far more to me than if my child wants to try carrots or scalloped potatoes tonight. I am saving my parenting capital for when there is something truly important at stake. In the grand scheme of things, having a picky eater is the least of my worries on this parenting journey.

You know how I know?

I’m a picky eater and I’m doing just fine.

And so will your child.

Celebrate Winston Churchill Day

Celebrate Winston Churchill Day with Free Kindle Ebooks

Celebrate Winston Churchill Day

April 9 is Winston Churchill Day and Hillsdale College is celebrating by offering the entire 8 volume official biography of Winston Churchill for FREE for three days!

Simply follow the links below to download your free copies!
Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I)

Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman, 1901-1914 (Volume II) (Churchill Biography Book 2)

Winston S. Churchill: The Challenge of War, 1914-1916 (Volume III) (Churchill Biography Book 3)

Winston S. Churchill: World in Torment, 1916-1922 (Volume IV) (Churchill Biography Book 4)

Winston S. Churchill: The Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939 (Volume V) (Churchill Biography Book 5)

Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941 (Volume VI) (Churchill Biography Book 6)

Winston S. Churchill: Road to Victory, 1941-1945 (Volume VII) (Churchill Biography Book 7)

Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair, 1945-1965 (Volume VIII) (Churchill Biography Book 8)

Occupational Therapy for Dysgraphia or Writing Problems

Occupational Therapy for Dysgraphia or Writing Problems

Occupational Therapy for Dysgraphia or Writing Problems

This past fall we made the decision to seek out occupational therapy (OT) for Caroline. She was struggling a great deal with the act of writing and we also suspected she had some midline issues. With her permission, I’m going to write about our experience with occupational therapy for dysgraphia or writing problems.

We strongly believe in letting Caroline develop at her own pace. This has been true since she was born. She was very early on some milestones and on the later end of others. We simply gave her time and knew she would do things when she was ready.

We took the same approach to writing. Eventually, though, it was clear that there were issues that weren’t going to clear up simply with more time. So shortly after she turned eight, our pediatrician referred us to an excellent office nearby at our request.

OT for Dysgraphia

Caroline was very nervous about going to OT. When I asked her why, she said she was worried people would make fun of her. Not being able to write well when other kids your age can is hard. Even though she had been with me many times at my PT appointments, she was still naturally concerned with something new and unknown.

We were blessed with a wonderful occupational therapist named Jen. It took a few visits, but Caroline warmed up to her and grew to like her and OT very much. Jen’s assessment was that there were issues going on, but they were very fixable with some work.

When I asked Caroline to describe what she did at OT, she said they did drawing, coloring, puzzles, pick up activities, and swinging. She enjoyed all of the activities, but especially being able to work one-on-one with Jen. She absolutely loved the swing!

Caroline had fourteen appointments in all. At first we went weekly, then every few weeks. We also did almost daily figure eight and alphabet work at home. This involved tracing large sideways figure eights on paper in order to create more connections between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. After doing three figure eights, she would write a letter of the alphabet and say it aloud. Then she would continue with this through the entire alphabet (three figure eights and a letter). At first it was very challenging, but over time it became natural (as it should be).

Truly Remarkable Results

We are thrilled with the results. It took a bit of work for it all to kick in, but once it did the progress was significant. My hope when we started was that by the end of the school year Caroline would be writing independently and regularly. We are just about there.

In the past, Caroline would do anything and everything to avoid writing. Now she is constantly writing on her own, asking me how to spell words, etc. The week she finished OT she decided on her own she wanted to write a letter to Jane O’Connor, the author of the Fancy Nancy/Nancy Clancy books. (Caroline says to tell you she highly recommends them and she even had a Fancy Nancy birthday party once!) I was so thrilled for her that writing was something she wanted to do now and it no longer overwhelmed her.

I’ve wondered if we should have sought out help sooner, but I honestly think we did it at the right time. The way everything fell in place in terms of getting the referral, getting an appointment right away, insurance paying for almost all of it (since we had maxed out our deductible with my issues), and the desire on Caroline’s part to fix what she knew was a problem indicates to me that we did it at the right time.

I’m so thankful. Issues with writing hold a child back in almost every area. I’m so glad for Caroline’s sake that she took on this challenge and overcame it.

Teachers who become homeschoolers are the indicator species

Teachers who become homeschoolers are the indicator species

Teachers who become homeschoolers are the indicator species

I was recently involved in a discussion with educators online related to the Pearson testing spying debacle. I brought up that I thought testing had done more to accelerate the movement toward homeschooling than anything else I had witnessed in the past twenty years. Multiple teachers jumped in and said they were either already homeschooling or planned on homeschooling because there was no way they were going to subject their own children to what is currently going on in public (and, in many cases, private) schools.

One of the very experienced and savvy public school employees made this observation which I share here with her permission:

In biology, there’s a descriptor – “indicator species”.  An indicator species may be unusually sensitive to environmental changes, and biologists monitor the indicator species for signs that something is amiss in the environment.

I wonder when somebody is going to notice that teachers are an indicator species. When we leave public schools with our children, people should consider that there’s something amiss.

Since I began creating learning materials to sell on Teachers Pay Teacher and my own site, I’ve interacted with hundreds of different teachers and homeschoolers. I’ve lost track of how many teachers-turned-homeschoolers I’ve met. Many. One of the current top sellers on TPT is a homeschooling mom.

My last year of teaching was when I had the epiphany that I would not want my own child to be in my classroom even though I was a very good teacher. I think even at that point God was preparing me to be a homeschooler because He knew that the gifted daughter I would eventually have eight years later would never thrive in a traditional classroom. Now I am thoroughly convinced that the pressure of testing would be completely wrong for her and our family. Like many of those teachers in the forum, there is much I loved about teaching but I could never teach in the current climate. And if I wouldn’t want to teach in it, why would I want to subject my own child to it?

When the teachers start leaving their chosen profession to homeschool their children, people need to take notice that something truly is seriously amiss. I think my TPT friend is correct that these talented, dedicated teachers who become homeschoolers are the indicator species and they are speaking loudly and clearly about the health of the educational environment.

3 Easy Ways to Tear Down a Fellow Homeschool Mom

3 Easy Ways to Tear Down a Fellow Homeschool Mom

3 Easy Ways to Tear Down a Fellow Homeschool Mom One would think that with all the challenges we face as homeshooling moms, we would be some of the most supportive women on earth. We live daily with a choice that takes us out of the mainstream in our communities, churches, families, and friendships. We should create a tight network of support for one another simply on the basis of that alone.

Instead, it’s amazing how ugly homeschool moms can be toward one another.

I mean, seriously, people.

Why?

What do we possibly have to gain when we tear down another homeschooling mom or belittle her choices?

What does it benefit us when we make snarky comments about the challenges faced by another mom who is trying daily to do right for her child?

I observed recently that there are three popular and well-used ways to tear down a fellow homeschool mom.

Ignore What She is Actually Saying

Does anyone actually listen any longer? I mean really actively listen with the goal of understanding, not just wait for the other person to take a breath so you can jump in with your obviously superior viewpoint?

Does anyone actually read any longer? I mean utilize critical thinking skills to ascertain what the author is saying as opposed to assuming you already know what she is saying before you even start reading? It’s unbelievable the way people make assumptions without listening to or reading what is actually being said.

I’ve read comments on homeschool blog posts and homeschool Facebook discussions and I would swear I didn’t even read the same thing as some of the other commenters. I can’t figure out what they read because their comments are so obviously driven by their own agenda/anger/perceived superiority and not at all what the original author had to say.

Not only do commenters ignore the intent of the author, they are so quick to jump on other commenters.

Why?

Does it improve our homeschooling experience to take down another homeschool mom?

What does someone possibly have to gain by doing so?

Demonstrate a Total Lack of Empathy

Empathy is defined this way on Wikipedia:

Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, ie, the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.

The key here is “from within the other person’s frame of reference.” Unless someone develops this ability, they have little chance of becoming a positive influence on the lives of others.

If you cannot remove yourself from your own frame of reference and try to completely place yourself in someone else’s (especially if you strongly disagree with them), you are never going to be a very good friend, neighbor, sibling or parent.

I’m amazed at the callous comments homeschooling moms will make to one another on social media. They demonstrate a total and complete lack of empathy. It is obvious because instead of engaging the topic at hand in a thoughtful way that demonstrates some ability to consider different angles, they simply repeat more stridently their particular view and strongly imply the other mother is an idiot for not thinking the same way.

Homeschooling moms are a diverse bunch. There is no stereotypical homeschool mom. We cover every end of every spectrum – political, religious, financial, educational philosophy, etc. But we all have this in common – we want a positive education for our child.

Why is it so hard then to be empathetic toward another mom who might make a choice different from our own, but for her own very good reasons?

Use Inflammatory Language

Nothing says love and concern about the well-being of another homeschool mom like inflammatory language. Examples?

  • “I would never consider….”
  • “Why would anyone ever…”
  • “I can’t believe someone would think…”
  • “What kind of mom would…”
  • “I don’t get moms who…”
  • “Any mom who would…”

Each of the examples above includes both inflammatory language as well as a distinct lack of empathy.

Being a homeschool mom is challenging enough. Do we really need to attack other homeschool moms with inflammatory language?

Does it make us feel like a better person to know we’ve put someone we’ve never met in her place or reduced her to tears or feelings of humiliation?

Should we be proud of taking down another mom who is struggling to just get through the day with her child?

We’re really so much better than that. We’ve already taken on one of the biggest challenges of our lives in deciding to homeschool.

Treating other homeschool moms with kindness should be a piece of cake compared to that.

Sallie's Stack Pin

Trixie Belden, Kindergarten Bullying, Coupons, and Free Sentence Scramble in Sallie’s Stack

Sallie's Stack Pin

Kindergarten Bullying, 6-Year-Olds in 1979, and on Bossing Children Around

The 1979 6-Year-Old: Less Reading, More Range

The right response when your child doesn’t want to be ‘bossed around’

Kindergarten. Bullying in the Age of Clip Charts and No Child Left Behind

Trixie Belden Book #1 – The Secret of the Mansion

Caroline is absolutely loving the Trixie Belden series. David is reading them to her at bedtime. They are on number three and she really likes that she can’t figure out the mystery ahead of time and that the stories keep going from book to book.

The Secret of the Mansion (Trixie Belden #1)

 

Coupons

Did you know I have an easy-to-use coupon center on my website? I do! If you are looking for coupons or discounts, make sure you check it out. There is an amazing collection of opportunities there every day!

Here are products we like!

$2.00 OFF on any Two (2) Nature Made® Products

SAVE $2.00 on any L’Oréal Paris Preference Hair Color

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$1.50 OFF ONE Pampers® Cruisers Diapers (excludes trial/travel size)

SAVE $1.00 on TWO (2) 2-liters, ONE (1) 6-pack .5-liter or ONE (1) 12-pack of any flavor* Canada Dry® (Reg., TEN or Diet)

25¢ OFF ONE Bounty® Napkins (excludes trial/travel size)

SAVE 55¢ on ONE (1) 2-liter bottle of Canada Dry® Blackberry Ginger Ale

Save $0.50 off ONE (1) Nestlé® Butterfinger® Mini Bars (11oz)

Save $1.00 off TWO (2) Nestlé® Butterfinger® or Nestlé® Crunch® NestEggs™ (8oz or larger)

$2.00 OFF ONE Olay® Regenerist Product (excludes trial/travel size)

30% Off* Paints & Stains 15% Off* Painting Supplies

SAVE $1.00 off any 3 Gerber® Graduates® Puffs, Lil’ Crunchies®, or Yogurt Melts™ items

25¢ OFF ONE Bounty® Paper Towel (excludes trial/travel size)

SAVE $2.00 on ONE package of GOODNITES® Product (Underwear, Bed Mats, or GOODNITES* TRU-FIT* Starter Pack or Refills) Jumbo Pack or larger

SAVE $3.00 when you purchase any one (1) CHUTES AND LADDERS, CANDY LAND, HI HO CHERRY-O or GUESS WHO? game

SAVE $3.00 when you purchase any one (1) CONNECT 4, BATTLESHIP, SORRY!, TROUBLE or OPERATION game from Hasbro

$1.00 OFF ONE Tide® Detergent 40 oz or larger (excludes Tide® Simply, Tide® PODS, 10 oz and trial/travel size)

 

Free Spring Sentence Scramble Activity

Have you done this fun Spring Sentence Scramble with your kids yet? Be sure to download this free activity from my learning shop!

Spring Sentence Scramble

 

The Day I Called the Public Elementary School - When Homeschooling is Hard

The Day I Called the Public Elementary School – When Homeschooling is Hard

The Day I Called the Public Elementary School - When Homeschooling is Hard

If you receive my newsletter, you already know that the past couple of weeks were tough. I mentioned in the last newsletter that I was calling the previous week my Homeschool Mom Professional Development Week to put a positive spin on it. (If you aren’t getting my weekly newsletter, you’re missing out! You can subscribe in the header or at the end of this post.)

Calling the Public School

Two weeks ago I called the public elementary school and left a message for the principal to determine whether or not it would be a good fit for Caroline.

I knew deep down inside even when I called that it would not be possible, but I had to make the call. I had to talk to someone, explain our situation with a differently-wired learner, and hear for myself that it would never work.

The principal was very kind. He was very supportive. He listened to me, asked intelligent questions, and made a few suggestions. He contacted the gifted and talented coordinators to see about having Caroline tested. They would not because she’s not enrolled. And, of course, we would never consider enrolling her without knowing she would receive the support she would need to thrive. He called me back after we both received the “no” answer email from the gifted and talented coordinator. He said he didn’t want that to be our last contact and that he didn’t necessarily agree with the procedures established in the district. Honestly, the principal could not have been any kinder or more helpful. (But that is what I would have expected from the school district we live in.)

The entire experience reinforced to me that there is no way a traditional classroom setting will work for us.

But I already knew that.

Facing the Facts – Again

I’m a certified, experienced teacher. I’ve been in the classroom and that was before things went totally nuts with excessive testing and grade expectations that are totally out of alignment with well-established facts about child development.

It was my own experience as a teacher that made it clear to me that a traditional classroom setting would not work for my child in kindergarten. Or first grade. Or second grade.

But I’ve wavered a bit in third grade because because I’m tired.

Homeschooling is hard for everyone, but it’s a double dose when you have a differently-wired child.

I’ve wavered because homeschooling a differently-wired child means constantly re-evaluating what you are doing.

Wondering if you are failing your child.

Feeling like you aren’t doing enough for your child.

Wondering how you are going to meet her needs for another nine years.

Going it alone because it all falls on you – testing, outside professional help such as an occupational therapist, etc.

Feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere as a family.

Making accommodations for your child and family that most people don’t understand the need for.

Wondering if I can really give her what she needs within the constraints I have to work with whether they are my own health, finances, etc.

Feeling Trapped

I shared in a private bloggers forum that I felt trapped. And I think that was the hardest part. I felt like I had no choices. It’s one thing to choose to homeschool because you feel it is the best option for your family and child, knowing you can make a change in the future if you need to do so. It’s another thing when you realize that it is the ONLY option for your child. That has become increasingly clear to me over the past year or two.

Thankfully some really great moms with children similar to Caroline responded with encouraging words, making it clear that we are all struggling with the same kinds of challenges. They shared their own relief with homeschooling because it was so much better for them and their child compared to when their child was in a traditional classroom. It was so much easier than trying to work within a system that is not designed for out-of-the-box children. We’ve always homeschooled so I’ve never experienced the “relief” of finding something better.

Finding Freedom

Something about making the call to the school and talking it out with other moms ended up freeing me. It reminded me again that God gave us this child. We prayed specifically for a little girl for nine years. And God gave her the parents she needed. She has a daddy who is fun and playful, something really important for an imaginative only child. He gave her a mother who is a relentless researcher who will find the answers for her child.

I shudder to think what her life would be like if she had parents who were unable or unwilling to invest the time in her that she needs.

Sharing the Struggles

Sometimes I really struggle with what to write here. It’s a challenge to know how much to say publicly about our homeschooling life. I asked Caroline the other day if I could write about her OT experience because I thought it would help other children and their parents. She said it was fine as long as she was able to read it first. Even at eight and a half she’s already aware of what goes on here and how it reflects on her. I’ve always protected her privacy online from the time she was born (probably to a fault). Continuing to do so makes it challenging to write authentically at times.

I also struggle with how honest to be because we make a lot of choices that I know some people will be quick to judge and condemn us for. Frankly, I’m not interested in opening myself and my family up to criticism from internet trolls and people who just generally enjoy dictating the correct way to do homeschooling (and life in general) to others. And yet I know how important it is to talk about these issues because we’re not the only ones dealing with them. Even though those of us with differently-wired children are a minority in the homeschooling world, the challenges we face are real. We need to support each other.

Turning a Corner

So we’ve definitely turned a corner in our homeschooling. We re-adjusted our homeschooling (again!). David, Caroline and I have talked through some of the issues we’ve been facing and I think it has made a difference. Even though I still have no idea how we are going to get through the next nine years, I think I know how we are going to get through the next four months and that is good enough for now. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow and so I’ll choose to enjoy today and trust that tomorrow will work itself out. He’s brought us this far and He certainly won’t stop carrying us now.

Grapevine Calendar Giveaway

Grapevine Studies Calendar Giveaway!

Grapevine Calendar Giveaway

Did you see the new 2015 Grapevine Studies Biblical Calendar? David and I had the opportunity to work on this neat project and I have three copies to give away!

If you use Grapevine Studies, you and your children will enjoy this calendar that highlights the various feasts, events, etc. throughout the calendar year. If you aren’t familiar with Grapevine Studies, check out their free sample lessons. Caroline and I have enjoyed the Grapevine Studies we’ve done. They are perfect for children who love to draw!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 Don't Miss History Books

American History Picture Books – Bright Ideas Press

4 Don't Miss History Books

Are you looking for some quality picture books to add to your American History studies? I shared four of my favorites over on the Bright Ideas Press blog. Stop by to see which American History picture books will be a great part of your study of the Great Depression, immigration and more!

4 Don’t Miss Picture Books for American History

Enjoy!

Hibernation Homeschooling

Hibernation Homeschooling

Hibernation Homeschooling

Many of you have probably heard the term carschooling which is about homeschooling on the go. But I bet you’ve never heard of the opposite - Hibernation Homeschooling. That’s because I made it up to describe what Caroline and I have done this winter.

Rather than going through a detailed telling of all the events over the fall that led up to this, I’ll summarize it by saying that we were worn out from running around, sick of being sick, and basically hit the wall. When Caroline got Influenza A in early December, that was the proverbial last straw. She had had something every month since July. In addition, I was worn out from dealing with my health stuff.

When I tallied our medical expenses at the end of the year for our taxes, I counted up that between the three of us we had had 176 medical and health related appointments in 2014.

Yes, 176 appointments. For three people.

I told David that Caroline and I were going into hibernation. I was totally serious. Because we homeschool and work from home, there was nothing to stop us from making this decision.

And so we did.

Hibernation Homeschooling

For the rest of December, all of January and all of February Caroline and I have stayed home. Especially during late December and January when all of the crud was rampant, Caroline and I stayed home. David did the grocery shopping and errands. We live in a small town so almost everything we need (library, post office, banks, Meijer, etc.) is literally a mile from our home. David simply took over the running around. When necessary, we supplemented with ordering from Amazon where we could get anything we needed.

There were weeks when Caroline and I got out on Saturday or Sunday to take a drive and then didn’t leave the house again until the next weekend. Some weeks we left the house to go to a necessary medical appointment. Caroline went to the library a couple of times in February, but that was it. We have a babysitter who comes once or twice a week and we did continue that. Other than that we were pretty much on our own.

Yes, we were that committed to our hibernation.

We haven’t ended our hibernation yet. I imagine we’ll continue it for most of the rest of March since we live in a cold and snowy place. It’s been so cold that we would rather just stay home anyway and avoid stressing our bodies if we don’t have to do so.

I know some of you are thinking that we must be crazy. How could we stay home all the time? What about church? What about activities? What about playdates?

We decided that the most important thing we could do was take care of our health and there was no way we could do it if we were constantly exposing ourselves to everything out there. We basically let everything go.

By the Shores of Silver Lake

It’s funny that people think staying home for weeks on end is radical because it happened often in the past. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes in By the Shores of Silver Lake about the winter the Ingalls family lived in the surveyor’s house and they saw almost no one for months. The girls did all their learning at home.

Snowed In

We have the children’s picture book Snowed In that is about a Wyoming family in 1915 and the preparations they made before they were snowed in for the winter. They purchased pencils and paper at the general store. They stopped at the library and filled up two huge boxes with books to read during the winter. They homeschooled when the children couldn’t get to school.

Staying home and waiting out the winter is not that radical of a concept except in our culture that is obsessed with being on the go all the time.

Hibernation Homeschooling Results

So what are the results of our hibernation so far?

We have all been healthy. Caroline and I have not been sick at all this winter. We sincerely thank God for this.

We have gotten lots of rest and sleep. Because we have been home, we have been able to keep regular bedtime hours and sleep in to ensure we get a full night’s sleep.

We have greatly reduced our stress. By not running around, coming and going all the time, our stress levels have dropped. Transitioning in and out of the home is wearing, especially for introverts and children.

We’ve enjoyed lots of fires in the fireplace and family time together. The vast majority of the evenings we’ve had a fire in the fireplace for supper and enjoyed being together in the winter coziness.

We’ve accomplished much. Because we weren’t running around, we had much more time to be home and work on the things that interest us. Entire days at home are long days in the best sense of the word.

We’ve been learning. We’re relaxed homeschoolers so our learning just continued on. Obviously hibernation homeschooling is much easier today with laptops, Kindle Fires, etc. Even though we were home all the time, we had access to so much online that we never really felt cut off from the outside world the way others might have in the past.

I Wish We Could Do That!

While I’m sure some people reading this still think it sounds crazy, some people love the idea. Probably a few of you wish you could do the same thing.

If hibernation homeschooling interests you, think about it for next winter. If you are worn out from sick children and running around in the cold and snow to the point of exhaustion, it is something to consider. Taking care of your health is important. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Many families would probably be much better off and happier if they chose to make a similar decision.

I know I am glad we did.

Philippians 3 for Self Righteous Homeschoolers

Philippians 3 for Self-Righteous Homeschoolers

Philippians 3 for Self Righteous Homeschoolers

Lest we lose sight of why we homeschool and the attitude with which we should do it…

All Confidence in the Flesh

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in your homeschooling efforts! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a challenge for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the educational standards. 3 For it is we who are education perfection, we who educate our children by the sweat of our brow, who boast in highly selective college admissions, and who put all confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have more reasons for such confidence than you do.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in their homeschooling efforts, I have more: 5 homeschooling my children from the first day, of the people of classical education, of the tribe of Charlotte Mason, an unschooler of unschoolers; in regard to the law, a common core adherent; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the textbook users; as for righteousness based on the homeschooling law, faultless.

7 But whatever were gains to my children’s character I now consider loss for the sake of obtaining a full ride scholarship to a prestigious university. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing we do it better than anyone else, and for whose sake I have lost all sense of personal value. I consider them garbage, that I may gain the best performing children on the SAT 9 and be found in their reflected limelight, not having an educational accomplishment of my own that comes from the joyful pursuit of wisdom, but that which is through striving to achieve—the achievement that comes from burning out on the neglecting of my sleep and health. 10 I want to know homeschool adulation—yes, to know the power of people envying me and congratulating me on my children’s success, becoming like them in their accomplishments, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to some personal sense of self-worth.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that golden ring for which drivenness took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is eternally important and straining toward what is valued now, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the ultimate prize in this life which has called me – money and position.

Following My Example

15 All of you, then, who are homeschoolers should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too I will make clear to you after you read my ebook and website series. 16 Only may you live up to what I have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have me as a model of homeschooling perfection, keep your eyes on those who live as I do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again with every Facebook update I post, many live as enemies of educational achievement. 19 Their destiny is community college, their god is their peaceful family, and their glory is in their child’s decision to follow Christ. Their mind is set on heavenly things. 20 But our focus is a prestigious education. And we eagerly await an acceptance letter from our dream school, the alma mater of my idol, 21 who, by the power that enables it to determine everything about my child’s future, will transform our lowly homeschooling family so that we will be like those who have achieved the pinnacle of education achievement.

Click here to read our true calling in the real Philippians 3.

Hygge Cabin Fever and a Cardboard Playhouse

Hygge, Cabin Fever and a Cardboard Playhouse

Hygge Cabin Fever and a Cardboard Playhouse

When you live in a place with long winters, you need to develop ways of not just coping with winter but thriving in it. Winter in Michigan begins sometime in November and ends sometime (hopefully) in March. That’s many weeks of cold, snow and dark. On top of that, West Michigan can be rather cloudy due to the effects of Lake Michigan. Winter is a significant part of life here.

I had never heard of the Danish concept of hygge until a few years ago, but as soon as I read about it I knew we were already doing it as a family. Maybe it’s my Scandinavian DNA (Swedish, not Danish), but I instinctively have developed ways to deal with the long winters. In fact, winter is my second favorite season (after autumn).

What is hygge?

Hygge is challenging to translate into English, but it includes ideas such as coziness, togetherness and well-being. One article explains that hygge isn’t just about physical surroundings, but it is above all a state of mind. It is more than hot cocoa and a soft blanket. It is a way of thinking about and approaching winter, relationships, etc.

Although we never use the term around here, hygge is a big part of our life. For us, it includes everything from having a fire in the fireplace almost every evening during supper to creating a cozy atmosphere in our home by the way we arrange the furniture and decorate. Our home is our nest where we gather together and spend quality time. We see our home as a quiet place to withdraw from the craziness of the world and rest together.

Creating a Hygge Mindset

Whenever I hear people complain about the cloudiness or the crummy weather, I reply with something like, “It’s not crummy weather! It’s cozy weather!” Just thinking about the gray outside in a different way changes your mindset. Cloudiness outside means the fire burns a bit more brightly, the lamps glow a bit more, and home is more of a peaceful refuge from the darkness. It’s a mindset to be cultivated.

This mindset has become such a part of me that the past few weeks I’ve actually mourned a bit that the evenings are staying lighter longer and longer. Why? Because when we light the fire at suppertime, it doesn’t glow quite as warmly and brightly. It’s glow is reduced a bit by the sunlight coming in. I find myself already missing the extra coziness of deep winter evenings. I know that instead of spending cozy evenings at home, spring and summer will bring about more outside activities and yard work.

Developing an attitude of hygge has helped us avoid the worst of cabin fever. Because we homeschool and work from home, it would be very easy for us to get extreme cabin fever. For the most part, we don’t because of our adjusted attitude.

There are other things we’ve learned to do beyond hygge that have helped us learn to thrive in the winter. David and I take chewable Vitamin D3 every day. We have a natural spectrum floor lamp that we sit near for a bit each day it if it cloudy. We also make sure we get enough sleep each night.

Cozy Cardboard Playhouse

But perhaps one of the best investments we’ve made is this cardboard playhouse for Caroline.

playhouse 4

This has been a tremendous purchase. (Note: The price of this house varies widely. We paid much less than the current price on Amazon.) We pull it out every few weeks and assemble it for her. (It only takes a couple of minutes.) We set up a small television and DVD player. Caroline has a cute small lantern similar to this for cozy lighting. She covers the floor with soft blankets and brings in her favorite stuffed animals, Calvin and Hobbes anthologies, and whatever else she decides she needs. She has a little pink footstool she uses for a table and we let her eat her lunch or supper in there while she watches a video.

Inside the playhouse 1It probably sounds crazy, but this has been such a good purchase. She has her own little cozy place to go.

Inside the playhouse 2

Caroline thinks it’s fun she gets to eat in there. She continues to decorate the walls inside as well which makes it even more homelike for her. After it is out for a few days, we fold it up and put it back in the basement. When we pull it out again a few weeks later, it’s fun all over again. It’s sturdy cardboard and she’s careful with it so we’ve not had any problems with it falling apart. I anticipate we’ll get several years use out of this purchase and she’ll have lots of fun memories.

How do you find ways to thrive in the winter? Do you have any special tips or tricks?

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