Friday, 25 August 2017

Troubling Technology

The school books were finished with for the day and my eldest son came to me with the usual question, "Can I just have maybe 10 minutes on the computer to download some songs onto my iPod please?", my answer wasn't verbal, but rather a deep angry *cringe* inside me. I did let him have his 10 minutes (yes, I time my children on technology), but I had to ask myself why I reacted that way to his request?
I realised the answer is that I have an issue with technology, a real, concerning issue with it.
Let me explain. I don't have an issue with technology in itself, but rather, the constant need to be using it. Last week I found myself in the emergency department at my local hospital (all sorted now, and I'm fine), and while I was waiting, waiting, waiting, in the emergency department, I spotted the tiniest, most adorable little blonde haired girl, waiting with her mum to be seen by the Doctor. She was at most 2 & 1/2 years of age, and she was playing a Peppa Pig game on her Mums iPad. When her turn to be seen by the Doctor came, it was like Mount Vesuvius erupted all over the ED department and that little girl wanted her game! Now, I have been a Mum to sick young children on and off for the last 15 years, so I know the whole 'just play this so you can be quiet and I get some rest' saga, so I'm not trying to pass judgement on this weary Mummy.  But, could it not have been a book instead? 
To be honest readers, it broke my heart, not just for this little girl individually, but for this generation as a whole.
Of course something with gizmo's and gadgets and lights and sounds are going to entertain a child, it entertains us as adults! But it doesn't mean it's best (that goes for us adults too!) Believe me, I have no aversion to technology, and am very aware of the many benefits and assistance it brings to many people in many forms, I just have a strong aversion to the increasing DEPENDENCE on it. I use technology most days myself, in one form or another; this blog is only possible through modern day technology, allowing me to reach the globe (even if only a small handful of people read this!). My children watch movies, they play the Wii, they sometimes look at things pertaining to their personal interest on Pinterest, I'm not a 'technology banning' Mum, I just monitor and I've even been known to set a timer. 
I had this discussion with my above mentioned Son, regarding my reaction to him asking for computer time. I told him that my reaction was not towards him personally, or because I know he's not using it for good purposes (he using it for learning languages, his highest passion), but rather the fact that I see a whole generation of innocent, un-self-controlled, youth growing up without really learning how to develop their own thinking, beliefs/opinions & ideas, without checking google first! AND THIS UPSETS ME!
"I'm bored" has always been a cry heard throughout homes over the generations, but now, instead of climbing trees, playing board games, reading books, jumping on a trampoline, bike riding, playing card games, sewing, building, racing cars, playing in dirt, playing imaginative dress-ups, playing lego, kicking a ball, getting smelly and sweaty, and using their God-given imaginations, a child as young as two and a half can be thrust an electronic device for entertainment! What will be the results on our children's brain functionality, social communication, eye-sight and relationships if they're lives are spent starring at screens?!
Image result for negative effects of technology
It is standard in most schools in the Western World for each middle - high school student, each student, to have their own personal iPad ... so they can learn the curriculum ... because without it ... they will struggle. Does the school not have a printer, pieces of paper and pens, and are these no longer effective to do school work and assignments on? Have the school and local libraries run out of books?
Have people forgotten that the majority of children learn best when they can see something being done in front of their eyes, when they can touch the object, and interact with it, and come to their own conclusion and understanding of it? To say that our children are not successfully learning without being infiltrated and enforced to live a life where their learning insists on the daily use of technology is rot! How do I know? Because my education, my parents education and their parents education, involved very little use of technology, as I'm sure yours did too, and none of us turned out being ill adjusted to society or unintelligent! We've all become well-educated, capable, responsible adults without emails, iPads, an online worksheets.
This isn't even getting into the issue of all the evil our children can access accidentally while innocently researching something that is of value! That is another post all together! Along with the other many negative physical and psychological effects that over-use of technology can have on our children!
My point is not to throw the baby out with the bath water, technology has it's advantages and has made things easier for sure! But, what I am saying is that, as mothers to our young children, who are still learning what's best for themselves (and some of them take a long time to learn that!) we, as their loving, responsible, mature parents, who actually DO know what's best for them, should be exercising our God-given authority and wisdom in our home with our children, and keeping the use of technology in control!
There are many ways our children can learn, spend their time, and have fun!
I know that my childhood was not marred because I didn't have an x-box or an iPad. I had a disk-man, and trust me, if you had one of them, you were pretty cool! We didn't grow up with technology on hand for every situation in life! But how fantastic were our childhoods just the same?! Spending days riding bikes and adventuring, with the occasional bit of technology thrown in, filled our hearts with security, made us creative thinkers and problem solvers, made us dreamers and planners, with respectful communication, good manners and eye contact. This kind of childhood did our hearts so good, mums!
Remember our children's hearts need these things too!
I asked my son, "If I spent ALL of my childhood with just a trendy disk-man (I actually wasn't cool even back then!), and occasional playing of our family owned sega-mega drive, and I turned out to be well-educated (he knew not to comment negatively on that one!), well-adjusted in myself, my contributions to and respect for society, and my ability to communicate properly, then what does that really say about the necessity and importance of technology in our lives?
 Is it as necessary, beneficial and crucial as society insists it to be?
If technology is then seen as not being essential to a well-adjusted life, then what is? As Christians, we know that answer to be relationships. Our relationships with God, our spouses, our children, our friends, our parents, our siblings and our church family. Relationships; people, are the only things that God says are eternal ... the only thing worth truly investing in. Our relationships exceed the importance of all other things in fact, not just technology. It exceeds the importance of employment, finances, home-owning, money investing, house-keeping, the lot!!
A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34
Further more! What example are we setting for our beautiful innocent children, if we ourselves spend too much time starring at screens each day?! Let's be diligent, intentional, and purposeful with our children (and ourselves), with the standards in our homes. We really do know what's best for our children, and God gives His wisdom to us as parents! Let's not sit back and let society dictate to us that our children need these technological things to be successful, let's remind ourselves what God says our children need to be successful for Him; and I'm pretty sure the Bible doesn't mention the word iPad.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2.
Image result for sketches of children climbing trees
Love your family that little bit extra this weekend!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Enchanting Rose 10th Tea Cup Exchange Reveal!

This year I participated in The Enchanting Rose's 10th Tea Cup Exchange! 

This was my first time joining in this exchange, and I must say, it was so beautiful to be a part of!

I was sent this beautiful tea cup package all the way from New Zealand, from the very lovely Kimberley!

Here's what I received ...

I'm so happy with my little surprise package, and love the tea cup and hand knitted dish cloth especially! Thank you Kimberley!

If you're wanting to see the reveal for others tea cup packages, click here! You can find out how to join in the next tea-cup exchange here!

I hope you all have a lovely week! 
I'm going off to make a nice, hot cup of TiOra tea! 

Monday, 27 February 2017

My Anti-bonkers Scheme!

"Do we have to do school today Mum?"

"Can I just play with lego?"

"I'm really tired today"

"This lesson is too hard!"

I'm sure we've all heard these delightful persistent comments as home school mummies at some time or another! 

Or maybe you've heard this? ...

"What do I have to do again?"

"I can't remember what you said to do"

"I was just looking at this picture ... I'm almost finished ... almost"

"What subject am I doing now?"

"Oh, no, I didn't get that quite finished ..."

 I was beginning to hear myself giving too many instructions and reminders time and time again, and I thought to myself ... this has got to stop or I'll go completely bonkers!

I planned and initiated an intense, organisational program, that I completed in one month, to establish order and structure in our home school days ...

... pppffffffttt yeah right!

You know what I use?

A 49c exercise book!

I call it our 'day book' and each child has one ...

... here's what they look like ...

They begin with the day and the date, and then I write out what is required for each child to complete each day.

The circles are their 'check-point' (a.k.a. the silent motivator!) 
My children know that when their check-points are ticked off (and their space tidied up), then they are free for the rest of the day! Obviously, I do require them to show me their completed work, so that I can make sure that they ARE ACTUALLY doing it, and doing it to a high standard! 

Here's the reasons why I love this method ...

#1.    It's so easy
#2.    It's very cheap
#3.    It's easy for the kids to follow and understand
#4.    I know that the kids are on track with their learning each week
#5.    It's great for writing little reminders and encouragements to them
#6.    There's no need to be 'precious' with them, as they cost so little!
#7.    A written record is kept in these books for their reporting
#8.   **My most favourite part** ... the kids motivate themselves!
#9.    I can add as little or as much as each child needs, or according to our days other                       activities.   

I also try and plan a week, sometimes only a few days, ahead ... but that's more for my benefit than the kids (consider it my 'anti-bonkers scheme'!)

There are weeks when I don't use these books for one reason or another, and let me tell you, it's so incredibly noticeable ... not in a good way. There's more distractions, less being achieved, and less productivity in general.  

These small little investments 
have had very big rewards!

When I first brought the exercise books, I wrote some reminders and encouragements to each child in the front of their own book ...


... and that's it! Our easy peasy way to be productive and stay on track!

(**Disclaimer ... these books are not magic wands and by no means solve issues such as stated in the following examples: sibling rivalry, world hunger, who's unpacking the dishwasher, or who spilt the maple syrup on the kitchen floor**)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Our Inspiring English Unit!

"Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, 
you can live your dreams".

For this term in English, my two eldest children (year 10 and year 7) are studying the novel 'Gifted Hands' by Ben Carson, M.D.

So that I could effectively help my kids with answering some of the questions if needed, I decided to read the novel for myself. I devoured it in two days, it was such an inspiring read!
His life story and the dedication of his mother, who was determined to have her sons believe the best in themselves, is powerful.

Ben Carson becomes a world-class pediatric neurosurgeon at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Growing up in poverty-stricken Detroit with his mother and elder brother, Curtis, Ben could have never dreamed of the future that lay ahead for him. When 9-year-old Ben's father abandons his family, his heart is broken with the hurt lasting a life-time... (read the rest here)

“By reading so much, my vocabulary automatically improved along with my comprehension.” 

I learnt a lot through this book, as a Christian, as an individual, but most of all, as a mother. I'm encouraged by the strong will and the sacrifices of Sonya Carson, and I could only pray that my influence on my childrens hearts, minds and lives will be anything close to hers on her boys! 

"My favorite subject was recess. Fortunately for me, I had a mother who believed I was smart."

If you've not read this book, I really encourage you to. 
It makes a great English unit for our children to learn the requirements of the English language, but even more than that, it implants a contagious zeal into their hearts to be the best they can be in whichever area they choose; to put God first, to treat others with respect, to use the gifts and talents God gave them for the benefit of others, and to keep on keeping on when things seem to be impossible.

“No knowledge is ever wasted.” 

I've found some links for you, in case you're wanting to use this book as a resource for your childrens learning, or just to read for yourself! For study guides, click here, here and here. You can purchase the book for yourself here, here, or here! Also, here is a link to FREE Ben Carson note booking pages and handwriting... love free stuff!

“God has an overall plan for people’s lives and the details get worked out along the way, even though we usually have no idea what’s going on.” 

I hope you and your children enjoy this biography as much as we have! 

What an inspiration Ben Carson is to so many! 
Praise God for his wonderful, life-saving, gifted hands!

(Linking up with this blog here!)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Our Little Chef!

Our oldest daughter (13) absolutely loves to cook! 
So much so that she's collecting cooking books, creating her own recipes, and forever asking to be in the kitchen!

As her parents, we obviously are wanting to support her in her interest (that doesn't show any signs of changing!) and give her opportunity for growth and the chance to learn from her sometimes not so edible creations! 

We're so thankful that homeschooling allows these extra opportunities.

But ...

We seemed to be always clashing with when we were both wanting to be in the kitchen!

So my husband and I came up with this plan ...

... We would give our eager little Chef one night per week that is hers for her cooking night. (She can cook as many or as few dishes as she likes; entree, main, dessert, drink, etc.)
Thursday night works best for us all, so Thursday night it is! 
When we shared this with our daughter, she was thrilled to pieces!

There are, of course, some 'non-negotiable' rules that she has to follow ...

#1.  Plan your menu BEFORE mum goes shopping (usually Monday or Tuesday)
#2.  Write out your own list of ingredients needed when shopping 
(I use grocery money that I would normally use for that meal)
#3.  Please keep it budget friendly and healthy
(I can still 'rule-out' any meals too expensive, unhealthy, or difficult etc.)

#4.  Start with a clean kitchen, end with a clean kitchen 
#5.  Read and re-read all methods carefully BEFORE cooking
#6.  Try (as best as possible) to have the meal on the table before 6pm
#7.  Keep going, and never give up
#8.  Have fun!

We've found that this is such an easy way to support her love of cooking! 
It really works well (and I really enjoy the night off too!) 

As an extra addition to her cooking 'education', she keeps her own recipe journal as well (her own idea!) It contains recipes that she's tried and are now favourites, and recipes that she's developed herself over time. I can just see her cooking for her own family from this lovely book full of delicious meals, cakes, biscuits, desserts and everything in between! 

When time permits, I allow her to bake at other times as well, so she's not restricted to only Thursday nights.

And, as you can see ... my younger children have no problem with dressing up for the occasion and being our happy little waiters! They are sooooo cute! 
(Look at that tie and those braces, and those gloves and pearls! They melt my heart!)

The last meal that our daughter cooked, she asked if she could create her own menu too (we said yes), so that was designed and printed from Word, and placed on the table at each setting. We've also said that she can have fun with the decorating of the table, and again, the younger kids enjoy helping with this as well! 

Tonight her meal (as in pictures above) was an Asian Mince, with mashed potato (we 'judge' her meals, like she's asked us to, and all said that veggies would have been nice in it too, but it was sooo yummy!) and then mini apple pies (that she made from scratch!) with custard for dessert, delicious!

This is fast becoming a fun family night together and we're so very proud of our little Chef!

I think this quote says things quite perfectly ...

Have a truly blessed week!

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Key To A Great Home School Room!

 Creating a space to home school is not always the easiest task to accomplish. A lot depends on the home you live in and whether or not it has sufficient space to use in the first place. Then there's the budget to factor in, the time it takes to organise stuff, and it can sometimes become quite overwhelming.

We've not long moved into our first ever own home, and so the excitement of 'fluffing our nest' was still fresh. However, the room we chose initially for our home school room, was a long and narrow rectangle. By the time we had enough table/desk space down each side, there was the itty bittiest little walk way that we squeezed ourselves down to move from one end of the room to the other. Needless to say, with five people in that room daily, it soon drove me nuts!

After much discussion (and a hint of persuasion) with our eldest son, we settled on swapping bedrooms around; with him having the narrow room (which works brilliantly for one person!) and the school room being his old, slightly larger square shaped room. A whole day later, three or four large garbage bags full, and unwanted items bagged for Vinnies, our son had his new pad, and we all had our new school room ...

 I think what I love the most is that we have space now to keep 'like things' together. Books are all in the bookshelves, chairs are all at their proper desks, stationary is all together for easy access, and the children each have their own pigeon holes to keep their own work together and in one place (for the most part!)

 That desk in the middle of the room, I have since commandeered for my own desk to use for my bullet journaling, sketching, school planning and anything else I need it to be for! It sure beats sprawling everything out all over the lounge room floor in everyones way!

 What I also love, is that we've been able to make this space so personal to our families likes. We've got maps on the walls, projects that the kids have completed, information posters, and my most favourite ... our artworks that we've all created!

Let me assure you though, that it's not always this clean! 

We don't just stick to this room for our studies though, sometimes we use the lounge room, the small kitchen table or the dining table, sometimes even outside. But now there's no more squeezing ourselves between tables and chairs, and there's plenty of room for everyone to be comfortable! 

The key to making your space work, however big or small, is to be content. Nothing has to be fancy or expensive. I didn't spend a cent on this room, I just used what we already had, made do and made it fun and personal!

And we all love it!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Join Me in 2017!

A new year is upon us and that almost always means new goals, new direction and new experiences in life. Well, the same goes for here, on this little space in the bloggosphere. I'm heading in a new direction with you all this year, and would love for you to still join me on this journey!

I'll be focusing on homeschooling; practically, emotionally, physically and mentally.
We home school our four children (entering our third year full-time) and I've already learnt so much that I can share with you. Some of it you probably already know, especially if you're a home school pro! Most of it though, I earnestly hope will be helpful, honest, encouraging, inspiring and sometimes even a bit fun and crazy! 

I hope to post regularly and I'm so excited to meet even more amazing women who also connect with others through their words on a screen. 

So, here's to another year, new direction and new friends!

May our amazing God bless you richly!

Love Elisha

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