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Posts tagged ‘reading’

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I thought it might be nice to share what I’ve been reading. I’m going to try to do this every month; we’ll see how it goes. If you are a homeschooler or are thinking about homeschooling, then you just might find this month’s list helpful.

I picked up Unit Studies Made Easy from the library. At almost an inch thick, this book looks overwhelming, but 1) it is really several books in one, and there is a bit of redundancy, and 2) the parts about how to do unit studies are shorter, and most of the book is filled with examples that the casual reader won’t read in detail. It would make a great resource to have, but ultimately it teaches you how to do your own unit studies, and gives you a picture of a philosophy of education that is very different from traditional school, yet much closer to what I believe God intended for children to have.

If you live in a state that requires a certain number of hours of school per year, this is a great book; it gives you creative ways to record educational activities. Helping with cooking or cleaning (aka, chores) can be labeled as Home Economics or some other fancy label. Looking up things on Google could be Research 101, or whatever. Listening to Mom read stories could be Listening Comprehension. To be sure, education is more than just textbooks and workbooks! I definitely recommend this book, and may end up getting my own copy someday. It’s got some great resources in it!

Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis is an excellent book. Not too long, either. I bought the Kindle version, and I don’t regret buying it. I might regret not getting a hard copy, but I wrote the library and suggested they get it, so we’ll see. Chris Davis was a homeschool father back when homeschooling was illegal in most states, a pioneer in the movement. He believes that children are not empty slates to be filled with information, but rather that they have been given gifts by God to glorify Him, and that it is our job to help them figure out what those gifts are and to develop them to the fullest. He takes to heart the words of John Gatto when he says something like, “Find out what public schools are doing and do something else,” and he goes into some detail on how to do “something else.” This book was so formative in many ways of my philosophy, or perhaps refining it, that I loaned it via Kindle loan to my husband, in the hopes that he will read at least some of it so we can discuss it.

The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding is the story of how they got 7 of their 10 children into college by age 12. The book is more of their story than a how-to manual, but it does have some how-we-did-it in there between story lines. I found the book a bit disorganized, more like it had been transcribed from a series of lectures, rather than written, which makes me think my husband would probably never read it (he hasn’t the patience for certain kinds of books like that). I might try sharing with him some of the ideas.

However, I am not quite sure what to make of the book. I can see how getting their kids in college was helpful for them. Pretty much all their kids were doing high school level work by age 10, especially math, and even if they took high-school level courses to start with, they were able to avoid the drama and, in some cases, boredom, of high school. College classes are not every day, so the kids weren’t in class every day, and they learned to manage their time like adults instead of having someone else (aka, school and teacher) manage it for them. Their classroom associates were mature adults instead of immature teens. The goal of developing their passions kept them motivated.

But on the other hand, they way this family works is to start the kids reading at age 4 or 5, and accelerating their math so that by age 8 or 9 they are doing pre-algebra. I’m not sure that’s possible for everyone. It has worked for them, but in their case, the first child was good at math, with her dad teaching her some calculus problems he was studying when she was 4, and she set the bar high for her siblings by passing the ACT or SAT (I forget which) at age 12 and starting college. Pretty soon everyone wanted to be in college by age 12 (one kid made it by age 10). They advanced them in math quickly and encouraged reading. My oldest, on the other hand, is still reading at the 1st grade level in 2nd grade (she doesn’t enjoy reading, although she is improving), and she is having a hard time learning math facts and even relatively basic concepts. I’m still trying to figure out how to teach her in a way that makes sense to her (because math was my strong suit and came easily for me, it’s hard for me to think like someone for whom math was not easy). Not that I want her in college at age 12, but still, I have some questions about the concept of the book. Nonetheless, it made interesting reading, and I polished it off in about 3 days.

That’s all for this month. I just requested the book The Self Propelled Advantage from the library. I read the Kindle sample, and now I can’t wait to get the book. But I bought two Kindle books already this month, and I’m not about to buy another one right now, so since the library has this one, I’m going to be patient and read the hard copy when it comes. I also want to read Little Kids Big Money, since my daughter seems motivated by money, and coins are the only math manipulatives she will use right now, other than her fingers, so i am determined that she will learn to count it well, and may as well learn more about managing it. The other book I want to read is The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer. I want to read at least one devotional/spiritual book each month (perhaps continued from the last month if it’s long). Maybe next year I will share the full list of Kindle books I plan to read in 2015, and then share each month what I actually read, which will include library books and maybe (gasp) even a few from my own library.

What have you been reading this month?

Okay, this post is not for me. My son is almost two.  I am writing this for the author of a blog that I follow who just had a baby a few days before Christmas, and now she is starting to feel overwhelmed as hubby goes back to work, mom goes home, etc. She asked on Twitter if any of her followers had blog posts on the topic of surviving with a toddler and a newborn, and since then all kinds of ideas have been flooding through my mind. Of course, since my second is almost 2, I figure I am an expert on the topic (hahaha), so here is my advice, for what it’s worth:

Prioritize

I know that sounds hard to do right now. But take 5 minutes when the baby is asleep and toddler is happily coloring or playing with dollies or something that will keep her attention for that long, and decide what is really important. Spotless floors? Dream on! Making sure mother and all minors are fed? Absolutely. Making sure they get nutritionally balanced, gourmet meals? Forget it! If they get Cherrios & milk for breakfast, PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and takeout for dinner for a month, you can consider yourself a good mother! Hubby can fend for himself for at least the first month! Of course, the newest arrival will be getting nourishment from Mommy or a bottle, so make sure you keep taking those prenatals!

Seriously, though, decide what is absolutely essential to making sure the house doesn’t cave in. Things like meals, laundry (as much as you’d like to skip this–though intensive stain removal can go on the back burner now), dishes (get paper plates & bowls to make this part easier), and sleep (not necessarily in that order). Then stick to it, and only add in things as you have energy (notice I didn’t say time–energy!)

Simplify

I alluded to this in the previous section, but you really should simplify things as much as possible. When clothes get scarce, throw a load in and wash it. Don’t sweat the baby poop stains around the legs of the onsies. They will come out well enough when you have time to put them on the line later. Stock up on frozen dinners, rice-a-roni, sandwich makings, cold cereals, quick hot cereals (this time of year hot food is nice, and oatmeal only takes a few minutes to make), fresh veggies for munching (avoid broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage if you’re nursing–though if your toddler likes them, have some handy for her!), pasta and pasta sauce, and take-out menus of all your favorite places–especially the ones that deliver. The less you have to think about right now, the more time you will be able to spend recuperating and enjoying your precious children.

Nap When You Can

I know they always say, “Sleep when the baby’s sleeping.” With one, that was easy. With two, it seems almost impossible! It took a while, but eventually I was able to get my two to sleep for at least half an hour at the same time. To be honest, I usually tried to get things done then, but I wish I had taken more time to rest–even if I couldn’t sleep. Hindsight is 20/20, and lack of sleep contributed to some very difficult times for me later (especially since my son had severe eczema, and that was emotionally draining for me, and even more so because I was sleep deprived).

There is a lot of conflicting advice about co-sleeping, but I did it with both of mine for the first few months, and that really helped me get more sleep. It can also be helpful at naptime. By 2-3 weeks baby should be able to handle nursing lying down, and it allows you to relax more than sitting would. If you just can’t fall asleep for worrying that you would roll over on the baby, get a co-sleeper thingy. There are different styles available; one kind slides under the mattress and hangs over the side of the bed; the other kind lays on the bed, but has soft sides that come up to keep baby safe. It’s worth looking into. At 3 or 4 months you should be able to transition baby into sleeping by himself (especially if he does that during the day already).

Cut Down or Eliminate Caffeine

I know it seems like caffeine is your friend, but it’s not. If you are nursing, you are passing it to your baby (which means he’s going to be more hyper), and you’re taking away from tomorrow’s energy reserves to get through today.

When I was a child, I had this kid’s book about health that had a picture of a couple of tired horses trying to pull a heavy carriage up a steep hill. They were giving it their all, and yet the driver was whipping them to make them go faster. And it told me that is what caffeine does to us. Maybe that’s why I never touched the stuff. And let me tell you, it’s not because I never felt like I needed it. There were days I wished I had some around! But overall, it’s much better for everyone to avoid it.

Ask for Help

They say children are meant to be raised in a village. If you were Amish, the neighbors would be over mopping your floors, weeding your garden (if it were summer), doing your laundry, and bringing you home-cooked meals–without you having to ask anyone for anything. But we don’t live like that anymore. Nowadays you have to ask for help. And that is hard on our pride sometimes. But the sooner you do it, the better off you will be.

The first place I would look if you don’t have family nearby is your church. A good church is like a second family. Call the head deaconess or the pastor and ask for help. You will probably need to be specific: “I would like someone to come once a week for the next month and a half to mop my floors and do some important cleaning like toilets and vacuuming major walkways; also, a few home-cooked meals would be lovely!” If anyone in your church has kids your toddler’s age, see if they would be willing to come pick her up once or twice a week in the morning for a playdate to let you take a nap while the baby sleeps and not have to worry that the toddler is getting into something.

Watch Your Coping Mechanisms

For me, adding a second child was not as hard as watching that child slowly develop a severe case of eczema. It was draining for me. By the time he was 7 or 8 months, he was a very miserable baby and I was about to have an emotional breakdown. I found myself trying to cope by watching movies and playing games on Facebook. Looking back, I wish I had looked for other ways to cope, because all I did was hide from my problems while they got bigger and more overwhelming.

Now don’t get me wrong. A good movie now and then is not the issue. It’s 3 movies a day while I ignored everything around me. I wish I had taken more of that time to get down on my knees and plead for strength to get through the rest of the day, claiming promises like Isaiah 40:29-31. I wish I had taken the time to read good devotional books and other good literature instead of letting Hollywood fill my mind with useless trash.

So there you have a few ideas. I hope it helps you and anyone else who finds this post.