Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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stellamaris
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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 7:46am | IP Logged Quote stellamaris

Well, we're off! Today we will begin our in-depth discussion on the book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne.

The Introduction gives an overview of the book presenting the author's premise that our culture and daily lives are "increasingly misaligned with the pace of childhood", and detailing his observation that the chronic, consistent stresses of modern life create a post-traumatic syndrome in young children. He gives us the four pillars of "too much":
"too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast" and urges us to realign our lives with the dreams we hold for our family.

Chapter 1, "Why Simplify?", encourages us to consider the dreams we have held for our family life. For us as homeschooling families, I believe this must include as well the dreams we have held for our home school experiences. Mr. Payne writes:

Quote:
At this early point, our goal is to take the pulse of the family, to see what is happening. How does this picture differ from our vision of family? What would make it better? This is a process anyone can do. If you look at the pattern of your days together, what are the flashpoints? The points at which tempers rise, cooperation evaporates, and chaos ensues?


I know for myself that things here disintegrate rapidly when I am experiencing DISAPPOINTMENT--the course of our day is not even remotely conforming to that "vision" I have of family life, and I become more and more agitated. So, my plan for the next two weeks of this discussion is to:

1. Observe my family for a few days, making notes. What is positive, what "fits" my vision, what does not? Why do I feel unhappy or uncomfortable with specific things? What do my "happy" and "unhappy" responses reveal about my true vision?

2. Recall moments when I felt particularly that my vision of family was being met. What was it about these times that was so satisfying? What elements can I recreate more often in our daily lives?

3. Discuss our "family vision" with my husband. Try to identify more clearly our family goals, values, and also some specifics that will help us meet those goals and values.

As you can see, my focus is on building a foundation from which I can make individual decisions about what steps toward simplification we might want to take here.

How will you approach finding your "vision"? How will the Faith guide us in this quest? Why is "vision" important? How can we maintain or properly modify our vision when our family is constantly changing about us?

To give us all the proper perspective on this entire discussion of simplicity, I want to post again the lovely quote Christine references in the original Simplicity Parenting thread:

Quote:
"Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. Commend all to God, and then lie still and be at rest in His bosom. Whatever happens, abide steadfast in a determination to cling simply to God, trusting to His eternal love for you; and if you find that you have wandered forth from this shelter, recall your heart quietly and simply. Maintain a holy simplicity of mind, and do not smother yourself with a host of cares, wishes, or longings, under any pretext."
~ St. Francis de Sales


Let's have at it, ladies !

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 9:25am | IP Logged Quote hylabrook1

Observing is a great job for this week! When I've ever tried to figure out how to *steady the course*, and keep as even an atmosphere as possible for my family, I've never thought about "flashpoints". But this really resonates! Most of the times that things get out of hand or unpleasant, it is because of my deteriorating mood. Then I get impatient, snappish, tense, and all the rest of what flows from those states. It becomes, "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Right from the get-go, I'm able to trace the cause of this loss of family peace to my level of fatigue (which I think is probably the greatest constant symptom of my fibromyalgia). So, I would say the most obvious flashpoint for my family is a fatigued mom. I tend to start the day full speed ahead, hoping to accomplish all I can before I "fall apart at the seams," as I refer to it. I think, initially, the thing for me to observe most closely is to look for opportunities within the daily rhythm to pace my energy levels more evenly.

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SeaStar
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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 9:32am | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

In observing my family, I have found that one of the biggest flash points or stumbling blocks we have is simply too much stuff. This is a trigger for so much stress... the stress of clean-up time, the irritation of stumbling over things, the resentment of having to spend precious free time organizing clutter.... not to mention the total frustration of not being able to find things!

Being "over-stuffed" was never the dream I had for my family.

We are not overscheduled here, but we are way too cluttered.




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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 10:21am | IP Logged Quote Bookswithtea

I found this visioning process interesting. I have often thought that my experience of homeschooling is not how I saw it in my mind's eye when I daydreamed about it before starting...that's where I'm still musing. I'm not entirely sure what it will take to make our days look more like what our original intentions were.

I also loved his imagery of mom and dad watching a child play at their feet with a toy....and....wait, what's all that stuff all over the place! That was never part of the vision. Inspired by that point, I did a major overhaul of my 2 and 4 yr old's toys. I went through the duplo, took out the best pieces and made sure they fit easily into the one small box I have designated for the boys room. Then I designated a second duplo box for storage. If it didn't fit easily into these two boxes, it went to Goodwill. I did this with all of the toys and took a big load to Goodwill. The weird thing is I had already gone through their toys a month before. They had a series of 8 cubbies with one toy in each. I *thought* that was simple. But for their age, they would end up dumping all the bins out and then playing with nothing, and not playing in that room because it was messy. So everything I kept after dejunk #2 went high up on a shelf (in the little boys room) or into the front closet (in the living room). I put out one toy a day on the floor in each room, and if they want something else, the other one gets cleaned up first so there is a place to play. The 4 yr old can do this himself as long as there are no other toys to distract him from the job. My 4 yr old responded with huge smiles to a room and floor that is not chaotic. And I watched my 2 yr old this morning really play with a simple toy (one that usually gets ignored). I think they have more fun when they aren't overstimulated by the sheer number of toys. I did the same thing with our girl's room.

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 10:53am | IP Logged Quote DominaCaeli

Flashpoints for our family are definitely meal times, bed times, and the like, when tasks need to be completed in a timely manner. Timely and toddler are two words that don't quite go together, it seems! Things are quite peaceful here when the children are freely occupied in play time with each other and/or with me, when there are no expectations as to how quickly the kids need to move. They are also fine about cleaning up, doing chores, and whatnot. But my impatience flares when it's time to eat or get ready for bed--"herding cats" is the phrase that comes to mind. Turning into a drill sergeant is definitely not a vision I have of myself as a mother!

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 11:28am | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

I was much struck in the opening pages when he noted how alike the children in the war camps were to the children in suburban England... all showing symptoms of extreme stress.

That made me think of life in a war zone.. the noise, the banging, explosions... and how I can so easily duplicate that in my house just by turning on the TV! The news, commercials- they all seem to have explosions, gun fire, etc. And video games- the noise and flashing lights....
not so far from a war camp after all.

We're not really TV watchers at home, but I notice this a lot when we visit friends: the tv/video game noise. But I am an adult and can say: Please turn it off" (which I never hesitate to do ). What about children? They are not in control of these things- they may even think it is normal.

It struck me how much "negative" noise there is- compared to music or even just silence.
Even the tone of my voice can (frequently is ) a negative noise.

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 11:59am | IP Logged Quote Sarah M

SeaStar wrote:
It struck me how much "negative" noise there is- compared to music or even just silence.
Even the tone of my voice can (frequently is ) a negative noise.


Mmmmm. Yes. Here, too. I'm really working on talking less and being silent more. I'm finding that humming seems to be a happy medium when I feel the overwhelming urge to talk, but know that I should be quiet.

My poor kids are subject to my talk-talk-talk all day long about everything under the sun. I think it was on The Parenting Passageway blog that I first saw nonstop chatter referred to as "verbal clutter." Yikes. I've done a decent job of decluttering our house and decluttering our schedule, but YOWZA-- the verbal clutter I bring into this home is embarrassing.
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stellamaris
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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 12:20pm | IP Logged Quote stellamaris

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The weird thing is I had already gone through their toys a month before. They had a series of 8 cubbies with one toy in each. I *thought* that was simple. But for their age, they would end up dumping all the bins out and then playing with nothing, and not playing in that room because it was messy.


This is happening with us, too. I can't figure out where all these toys are coming from...I am constantly throwing and tossing...but there are always more! I am paying extra attention this week to the stuff I bring INTO the house. Maybe I am my own worst enemy?

Quote:
My poor kids are subject to my talk-talk-talk all day long about everything under the sun.


This morning, when I was only wanting silence (in those dark ages before coffee...B.C.    ), my younger boys were talking, talking, talking without pause. I had a sudden insight...I was the one who had started this with my constant need to comment on, capitalize on, and educate in the moment. I never realized my (what I am perceiving now as) pushy style of constant education would rebound so painfully upon my own head! So the whole idea of verbal clutter is really hitting home with me...Silence is golden. I am thinking education may be more about listening than about speaking, more about drawing thoughts out of the student and less about stuffing facts in (not that there isn't a place for a little fact-stuffing).

Anyway, that's a little off-topic, but I think observing these trends/problem areas in our homes is exactly what we need to do to begin our pilgrimage.

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 12:36pm | IP Logged Quote Bookswithtea

DominaCaeli wrote:
But my impatience flares when it's time to eat or get ready for bed--"herding cats" is the phrase that comes to mind. Turning into a drill sergeant is definitely not a vision I have of myself as a mother!


I soooooooooooooo know what you mean! I am beginning to think that I am just as affected by the stress as my children are, and then I turn into a drill sargeant in order to control what feels so utterly out of my control. In the book he talks about kids who have elaborate plans for how to get around a refugee camp because they think its the only safe route.

This kind of reminds me of myself when I am trying put together routines that I think will control the craziness. We don't have a lot of activities and I don't think we do too much school. But life with 8 people has a rhythm that is inherently busy, so adding to it with something as simple as orthodontist appts. or regular grocery shopping can take the whole thing over the top. I am trying to figure out what can change to make it work. I really believe that the Lord's burden is light and his yoke is easy, and it has to include orthodontist appts and buying food, right? So I'm trying to figure out what else I'm trying to do that is making it soooooooooooo hard. Right now I'm examining grocery shopping. I'm considering whether its truly a time savings to shop locally if I have to go to 3 stores, when I could drive 10 minutes further and not have to go to as many stores. And I'm also looking at the pressure I put on myself to cook everything from scratch.

stellamaris wrote:
So the whole idea of verbal clutter is really hitting home with me...Silence is golden. I am thinking education may be more about listening than about speaking, more about drawing thoughts out of the student and less about stuffing facts in (not that there isn't a place for a little fact-stuffing).


I love this. I think a re-evaluation of how I envision homeschooling needs to be in the works for Fall 2010.



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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 1:17pm | IP Logged Quote DominaCaeli

stellamaris wrote:
So the whole idea of verbal clutter is really hitting home with me...Silence is golden.


I think simplifying the verbal clutter is definitely part of creating peace in our homes. The verbal clutter in my home comes from my two very, very chatty toddlers, who seem to talk all. day. long. I actually chose "quiet" as my word this year, and part of that was my need to create a habit of quiet in my toddlers. I don't function well in the midst of verbal chaos; we don't have a television or even play music very often. I'd like to develop a time of genuine quiet in my home at least once a day--right now, the kids still go down for a "nap time," but they spend the whole of it laughing, joking, and talking with each other. (Even when they're separated into different rooms--which they don't like at all--they try to talk through the wall to each other or just simply talk/sing to themselves.) It's very sweet that they get along so well, but I do think it would be beneficial for all of us if we had a little quiet in our day.

I can see how I have contributed to the verbal clutter in our home even though I am not overly chatty with them over the course of the day. First, they can tell that I am not really listening to them much of the time and so they tend to repeat things over and over. Second, desperate for adult talk by the time my husband comes home, I often plunge into deep discussions with him over dinner and the kids are left talking over us to share their day with Daddy.

In the first chapter, he mentions slowing down long enough to have time to hear "the two- or three-year old asking for the same story to be read again and again" and "the eight-year-old who wants to tell you the plot of a movie in such remarkable detail that the retelling will surely take longer than the movie itself." Slowing down like this is hard for me, but I think it will reap benefits as we get the verbal clutter under control.

Oh, and I do feel bad calling my little ones' talking "verbal clutter"! I do enjoy their voices and their sweet insights. I'm referring more to the repetition, whining, or other chatter that actually gets in the way of our having meaningful and affectionate talk and fun play--I hope that makes sense.

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Gloria JMJ
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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 1:37pm | IP Logged Quote Gloria JMJ

I'm just along for the ride, not having a book in hand,but being inspired none the less. Thank you all for sharing the great ideas!

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 1:55pm | IP Logged Quote Mimip

Bookswithtea wrote:

I soooooooooooooo know what you mean! I am beginning to think that I am just as affected by the stress as my children are, and then I turn into a drill sargeant in order to control what feels so utterly out of my control. In the book he talks about kids who have elaborate plans for how to get around a refugee camp because they think its the only safe route.



This is exactly what hit me about the first chapter!

The stress is getting to me! I turn into not only a drill sargeant but a very mean drill sargeant and its my own fault!
I have found that the stresses of these flashpoints can ruin all the work of the day. My oldest daughter is very sensitive to these flashpoints and it becomes a meltdown point. I need to simplify these points in my days so that we can all work together and I don't have to go to confession after.

For us, the hurried times are the worst. When we have to leave the house for an activity, IE: Ballet, choir or even church. I can totally relate to Celeste and the herding cats idea! BUT>>> If I was better prepared and could FIND everything it would be better thus a vicious circle has begun.

I'll give you an example:

1. Need to leave to Ballet So I start an hour ahead of time, at 3 pm and start telling the girls to get dressed. While that is going on I start cleaning up the boys
2. One of the girls things is not in their bags so now the frenzy for looking for the afore mentioned missing item.
3. The girls can't find item, now I have to look for it.Usually in the midst of getting the boys dressed. And said boys usually end up taking off their shoes while I go and get the missing item and find it!
HAIRNow I have to do the girls hair once the item is found, the hair stuff is in my bathroom so that is never lost, Thank God!
Snacks Get snacks for all the kids, put shoes on and get into car.

Usually by this point I have lost it several times and at least one child is in tears    Now if I could find things and would have less clutter, I would be taken out of this equation and the girls would not be stressed out and be able to be at peace as they head into Ballet!

I'm really enjoying this book, but I think I might have to slow down and read it in chunks to better absorb and it. Off to observe and take notes about my family!

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 2:16pm | IP Logged Quote Gloria JMJ

Bookswithtea wrote:


In the book he talks about kids who have elaborate plans for how to get around a refugee camp because they think its the only safe route.


This sounds like my boys' trying to get out of chores !

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 3:20pm | IP Logged Quote teachingmyown

I found his discussion of recalling what our vision was and trying to find a way back to that almost depressing. I am the type of person who has always flown by the seat of my pants. So, while I had an overall idea of what life was supposed to look like, I wouldn't say that I, or dh and I, mapped out a vision for our life. When I started out, I hadn't even heard of homeschooling and just fell into it out of necessity.

Because of my lack of planning, life just took over. In some ways, I gave up years ago. My oldest has always been difficult. The other babies came like clock-work and I got further behind. I am such an introvert that the verbal noise kills me, especially when I am struggling with trying to get a plan and stay on task, and someone is always talking to me, or screaming about something. I am a lousy housekeeper, and I am not a teacher. When I put it all together, it seems crazy that I am a homeschooling mother of eight!

There are things that I can point to specifically that I never thought would happen in my home. I am a pretty laid back person, at least out in the "real" world. So, my tone with my children sometimes shocks me. Whether it is a snappy tone, or my sarcasm, it is not how I pictured myself relating to anyone especially my own children. Also, what I give in to, especially when I am stressed or trying to get something done. Too many videos, or too much time on the X-Box or computer are examples. With my oldest, I "compromised" to often to keep peace on things like music and movies. My other kids don't have the interest in things I would want to forbid, so it is no longer an issue. But I do allow them to waste time and not help me around the house because I don't want the hassle.

My goal now is to form a vision. An observation time would be helpful. I need to analyze what I need to be a nicer, more consistent mother.



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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 3:37pm | IP Logged Quote Marcia

I have been gifted with a toddler with a cold this week (yes thank you God) so I've had to *clear* the schedule outside the home. This has meant we've been less structured and less pressured. But it's been so good to see and observe the children in their ability to help more around here. I see that now the 5 year old has awoke from a nap with flushed cheeks...he never naps. So we've got another one down...or up. This will allow me more time to be home and perhaps find a way to SIMPLIFY our days in the future.

I too see that I can have endless chatter....I want to create less noise. My husband finds that meals are so noisy for him. Everyone making some kind of noise gets difficult to say anything. I think I might bring this all up with him tonight.

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 3:52pm | IP Logged Quote KackyK

A couple of things I thought of when reading the chapter and your responses:

Verbal clutter only seems to bother me. Others don't notice and don't seem to care. My dh IS verbal clutter. There is no around it. He loves to be loud and yell like a 5 yr old, thinks it's funny, so do the dc He loves to just screech like a monkey out of the blue while watching a movie. It has been VERY hard to learn to ignore this about him. The younger kids don't even seem to notice actually. It's him, who he is, and really I wouldn't have it any other way (keeps you on your feet!) as the idea of him more silent, would be sad. But it was something I learned to live with, which I do better now.

Drill sergeant is me!   I think I bark all the time! Dh doesn't like my verbal clutter! But he has been watching and sees me ask the dc several times nicely, they don't responds, and then I bark. So he sees where I'm coming from. Dh has begun to try to jump and remind the dc when I ask nicely...do this guys now, or you know what comes next because mom isn't being heard...that support has been helping lately.

And for me, I'm a controller. I want to control my children...boy if they would only do this...if they would only do as I said...control control control. When the author talks about my vision, it was all about control. I saw a very controlled perfect house, perfect dc, etc. HA that didn't happen. I even think my 4 miscarriages have been part of God's lesson to me about learning I have NO control over basically anything...not even down to my own body.

So when it comes to simplifying...it is about gaining some more control, whether it be of our physical environment, or our mental states. Control in the sense, that I'm setting a stage where I will NOT feel the need to freak out! DH has stressed to me that not everything must be done, not all lessons, practices must be attended. Take a chill...make it simple. When you add the stress of "I MUST DO IT THIS WAY" that in and of itself is not simple.

I feel babbly...I'll stop for now!

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 5:43pm | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

Ok-....

What about the statement that the "average child in America has 150 toys"?

Flabbergasting . I can't believe it. Then I find myself thinking... well, would that count include each individual matchbox car ds has? Because I'm sure the total is pushing 150 just with those cars.

Did I buy 150 match box cars? No... though I bought a lot. My mother bought a big freighter truck one year that had about 40 cars inside it . The dentist, the doctor and every "kid fair" we have ever been to all give away match box cars. They are everywhere. I can't seem to keep them from coming into my house. And my ds *loves* them. A big treat for him is to take a dollar from his piggy bank and buy a car at Target.

So how can that tide be stemmed? (Believe, we have cut *way* back on trips to Target).

I find that a fair share of the clutter in our life does not come from us, but from outside sources. I am one of six kids, and my dh one of five. A relative is always bringing us something or sending us something. That is so generous of them, and the kids, of course, love it, but it does feel SO overwhelming, especially at Christmas. And to complain feels very ungrateful.

I feel like, no matter how often I go through toys and give them away, they spring back like weeds. It's a treadmill kind of feeling... and I only have two kids! My hat is off to you ladies who are fighting this battle with large families. How do you ever stay on top?

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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 6:26pm | IP Logged Quote stellamaris

Quote:
How do you ever stay on top?


Well, I don't think I do very well . One thing I have worked on hard and I think I am learning is to say NO! when people want to pass on their junk to me. Unless it's something we really need, I'm trying to say no, thanks, a lot more often.

Also, as we go through the weeks of self- and family-observation, I hope we will not be too hard on ourselves! The idea is to identify where we can make positive changes, not to beat ourselves up because our homes are not perfect! (or even close...) I'm going to try to remember this, myself!

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Caroline
Wife to dh 30+ yrs,ds's 83,85,89,dd's 91,95,ds's 01,01,02,grammy to 4
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donnalynn
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Posted: Jan 06 2010 at 7:12pm | IP Logged Quote donnalynn

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Gloria JMJ
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Posted: Jan 07 2010 at 2:31am | IP Logged Quote Gloria JMJ

Molly,
I also never really had a vision of my homeschooling life BC (before children ). The only thing I did say is that I didn't want to do it like my mom did my younger siblings . Only problem is....I think I am anyway .
To me trying to find a vision for my family seems so un-simple. I mean it is really hard for me to do. I can copy and tweek, but to come up with it on my own just seems impossible. Nobody has my circumstances, so the copy and tweek never works. And I rack my un-goal oriented brain to think of how things should go and set things up just to get blindsided by the next disaster/emergency/teen-that-needs-my-time/etc. and before I know it it's dinnertime .
I really should find a way to get this book. I think that starting a good morning routine will be imperative, if I can get myself up early. Not off to a good start though with this midnight post .
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest . Off to get some sleep and hopfully wake up at a decent hour.

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