Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Our Family Newsletter

When my children were ages five to eight, we started a family newsletter. It was snail mailed to their grandparents, two aunts, and two great-aunts. Our boys drew cartoons, provided book reports, reported family current events, and gave updates on their guinea pigs. One column had prayer requests. The boys chose all topics.

My kindergartner dictated his articles. Occasionally, the older two dictated while my husband typed their contributions. For the first year, we “published” every two weeks. Eventually, we dwindled to once a month.

Our newsletter lasted only three to four years, but along the way, it became a precious history of our family. Copies reside in our safe.

At the time, I didn’t realize the educational impact of the newsletter. Later, I realized that dictation gave the boys confidence to write. Recording our children’s “talk” and showing them the results, took some fear out of writing. Writing begins—although it doesn’t end—by putting “talk” on paper.

After a friend and her husband reviewed long ago copies of their family newsletter, she said, “They were the best and most encouraging items we had read in years.”  

Any family activities worth recording for posterity?

Family, Friendship, Homeschooling, Parenting

Admonish. Encourage. Help.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

When I recently re-read this verse, I remembered a sermon Dr. Bill Clark from the Lay Counselor Institute had preached over a decade ago. Admonish. Encourage. Help. He gave an example where he had to employ all three with a client, but usually only one was needed.

I was struck how my “go to” response of helping was not always the best choice. Occasionally, my response was random.

I had admonished the fainthearted when I should have encouraged. I had helped the idle when I should have admonished. I had encouraged the weak when I should have helped.

The only “go to” response in this scripture is “Be patient with them all,” rarely my first choice.

Do you naturally admonish, encourage, or help?

Parenting, Stories I Share

The Stories I Share: The Kittens

The view from my bedroom window was a vintage, decrepit sedan. (See Here) I ignored the eyesore. My middle son didn’t.

One spring, he became fixated on the car. He would watch for the longest minutes, run off to play, and then, quickly return. I don’t remember if I discovered his secret, or he revealed it. Newborn kittens lived under the car, and my toddler loved watching them and their attentive mother.

Unfortunately, that same spring our city was deluged with rain—the kind where relatives call and check on you. We were fine. I was convinced the kittens weren’t, even though I couldn’t see through the rain.  The neighborhood yards that weren’t flooded were drenched. Water whooshed under our pier and beam house.

Once the storm passed, my one-year-old resumed his watch. No kittens.

“The kittens aren’t coming back,” I gently told him.

He wouldn’t leave his post even though there were no kittens—day after day—until one day the kittens appeared. Somehow the mother cat had enough storm warning to carry her brood to higher ground. She obviously liked the car as much as my son and—once safe—had carried them back.

Persevering in hope?

Memories, Parenting, Sharing Stories

Stories Impart Value

Memories impart value. (See Here.) Recently, I pondered how stories are secondhand memories, and therefore, also impart value.

When my uncle showed me his train set, he told how he had constructed certain components—including failed attempts. Certain cars and scenes represented events in his life. The hobby also provided a distraction when he was depressed. His stories drove me to find appreciative new owners after he passed.

My uncle’s passion

Many of my uncle’s possessions, which I inherited, had neither memories nor stories. Who used the antique butter churn? What was the origin of the cast iron coffee table?  My brother recognized the cast iron cobbler’s stands and shoe forms as residing on my grandparents’ hearth before their death, but who used them?

With limited time and space, memories—both firsthand and secondhand—drove decisions. Based on my brother’s recognition, the cobbler stands made the trip to my home. Later research showed that my great-great-grandfather was a shoemaker.

Along the way, I learned I must tell others my stories about heirlooms. And ask for stories so I can make better decisions in the future. *

Are you curious about an heirloom?

*I’m perusing The Stories We Leave Behind by Laura Gilbert.

Homeschooling, Parenting

A Teachable Moments Perspective*

I ended my last blog with the question How do you decide whether to ignore or seize a teachable moment? (See here.)

Kathleen, one of my favorite moms, responded with her answer. Seize when your children are interested.

I never had a problem with my mom’s teachable moments, but I’ve never cared for my dad’s. I think the difference in their cases is that my mom taught when WE were interested; my dad taught when HE was interested. 

Kathleen, a second-generation homeschooler, with her boys.

This perceptive mom pinpointed the overload of teachable moments in my household—and other households with curious parents. Not only did I want my children to learn from any educational opportunities, but also, I wanted to learn. Loaded with new knowledge and understanding due to homeschooling, how could I not pass along new connections as soon as I discovered them?

What could be better than delving deeper into past or current lessons? My sons’ answers: Legos, Playmobils, baseball, and Redwall books—eventually replaced by music, running, and computers.

Kathleen ended with this advice: Keep teachable moments short, responding to cool things as a parent and not as a teacher.

*Used with permission.