Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Survived a 10 Day Sugar Detox: Part 1

I feel so amazing! There is no other word to describe the natural high that comes from accomplishing something that has seemed so insurmountable for way too many years of my life.

It all started with a desire to break free.  This is usually a happy-go-lucky, Jesus girl blog, but I feel led by the Father to go beyond the unspoken rules of blog etiquette and just be candid. Maybe this will help someone else. Maybe it will just help me. But, it must be shared.  For as long as I could remember, I have wrestled with an addiction to sugar. 

For many, that word "addiction" probably seems a little too strong, but it is what it is.  No matter the emotion, I always turned to candy.  In times of stress, I rushed to the store to buy candy.  Happy moments needed to be celebrated with candy.  Hot tamales were my reward for accomplishing goals and a necessary companion for Trina Tuesday, my weekly night out. 

If I stepped out of the house for any reason, my first thought was, "It won't hurt to also pick up a box of hot tamales or tootsie rolls.  I can also stop by Starbucks for a mocha frapp, or maybe the gas station for an orange soda."

 I started hiding empty boxes in my purse.  Sometimes, I would gulp it all down in my parked car in front of the store so I could throw it away and rid myself of the evidence.  I was ashamed to face my family, even though they already knew.

The funny thing is, as strong as my craving was for these sugary items, I haven't even been able to taste them for at least a year now.  I guess my taste buds were oversaturated from the constant overindulgence in sugar. 

There is no other word for it, I was addicted to sugar. 

This has cost me a great deal.   I'll come back later and share more about the costs. See you then.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Remedies for Homeschool Burn-out: Remember the Big Why's

Whether homeschooling or teaching in a classroom, sometime around the mid-year point the dreaded burn-out kicks in.  It's the overwhelming need to leave the room or scream.  Sometimes it's the desire to hang it all and call the nearest public or private school.  The children are stressed and so am I.  I am so over this education thing and so are the children.  I start counting down the days until my next break.  I even start trying to convince myself that it is okay for summer to come now in January!

We all experience burn-out, but what can we do about it?  Since I'm there right now as we speak, I thought I would share some of the strategies I use to help me get through the season of endless burn-out.  Today, I will share Step One:  Remember the Big Why's.

Step One:  Remember the Big Why's
Before making any changes,I usually prefer to take time to sit and remember why I'm homeschooling.  I think it's important to start here, because homeschooling is fun, but it is hard work.  I will be honest and say that on most days, I get to the end and think," Why me?  What was I thinking?"

Stopping to think about why I'm doing what I'm doing helps me refocus on those days when I just want to hide in my closet to restore my sanity.  I will include a list of our reasons for homeschooling our children, but please do not adopt my reasons unless they really do resonate with your homechooling experience.  This is about assessing the needs of your unique family.

Wicks Family's Reasons for Homeschooling

1.  God specifically told my husband and I to homeschool our children.  
Whenever I waiver in my own personal commitment, I always remember receiving that clear directive from Him.  I trust God with my life, so I know I can trust Him with the education of my children and my sanity.

2.  I can disciple my children throughout the day as we live and work together.
As we work, play, and learn together, my children see me strive to live for Christ before them.  I intentionally point their hearts to Christ and try to help them develop an appreciation for God's handiwork as we learn about science, history, math, and language arts.  When I see a character flaw, I'm able to put a stop to it right then and there and show them the truth of that error in God's word and our need for a savior.  When I mess up, as I often do, I apologize and ask for forgiveness.

 Please don't misunderstand.  I don't do these things because I'm such a great mom.  No, not at all.  I do them because I am an imperfect mom, serving a compassionate and perfect God, and my greatest desire is that my children see the need to do the same.

3.  We provide a customized learning experience for each of our children.
It's simple, really.  I know my children.  I know their strengths and weaknesses.  I love them to pieces.   As a former classroom teacher, I know my children would've been just fine in public or private school.  However, hands down, nothing beats a tutorial model for reaching the needs of the individual child.

I am also able to tap into their interests and give them huge blocks of time during the best time of their day to explore those interests.  This has been such an awesome blessing, especially for my oldest, whose auditory processing issues and recessive/expressive language delay cause others to often misinterpret his intentions and abilities.  God knew what He was doing when He told me to homeschool that child. 

4.  We are raising boys who will one day be men who lead families and contribute to the betterment of society. 
As the curriculum decision makers, we provide them with heroes worth emulating as we read the Bible, classic and contemporary literature of quality, and discuss and analyze history and current events.  In all of this, we talk about biblical manhood and how all of these ideas relate to God's purpose for their lives.  We compare the character traits of history's and literature's good and bad guys to the standard of God's word.

Also, because we homeschool, we are able to be more selective than most in regards to the teenagers and men of standard who are able to give them real-life role models to look up to.  Hopefully, because of the examples we try to give them now, they will make wise decisions about who they allow in their inner circle as they mature. 

Of course, more reasons have been added to the list over the years, but these remain our core reasons for homeschooling.

What are some of your reasons for homeschooling?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wicks Family's Year of Adventure Mission 1: Pirate Scavenger Hunt

As I mentioned before,I gave my children a year of adventure for Christmas 2011.   Each month, we will complete a mission together as a family.  For the month of January, we were a band of pirates on a mission to complete a scavenger hunt.  With my man tribe, it was not at all difficult to transform ourselves into pirates.  Creating this assignment was very easy to do.

1.  First, I found some pirate themed paper for the list of tasks.  I found really colorful free pirate stationery on the Busy Bee Kids Printables website.  I had to print it out first and then print the list of tasks on the same sheet of paper on top of the watermark.  I'm sure there was probably an easier way, but it worked out just fine.

2.  Next, I created my list of tasks.  I was inspired by the Living the Life of a Pirate Family Scavenger Hunt example on About.com's Homeschooling page.  I used most of the ideas, but tweaked it a bit to make it our own.  

3.  Finally, I sealed it in January's envelope and placed it in the Family Adventure bag.

On Christmas day, the boys really did an amazing award-winning job of pretending to be excited about my gift.  I expected this reaction, so even though I'd stayed up until three in the morning creating this gift of motherly love, I was able to take their response in stride.  A bag of envelopes can't compete with the grandparent's Christmas gifts!

Of course, the real excitement began when they actually opened the envelope in January and saw the pirate on the stationery. Our scavenger hunt was everything I'd hoped it would be.  It was filled with problem solving, laughter, and fun.  At different times, the two oldest each stepped up to take leadership of the tasks. That was really interesting to see.  We even "blew things up" by blowing bubbles with bubblegum.  It was our first bubble gum blowing lesson, and it was a mess.  I have three words to describe it, "lots of saliva!" 

I've been wanting to become more intentional about creating memories with my children.  I think this Year of Adventure is a great start.  I hope this post inspires you to think creatively about ways to build memories with your family.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What I Want to Learn in 2012

In my mind, I am Martha Stewart, B. Smith, Rachel Ray, Beyonce, and Donna Karan all rolled up into one.  Let's throw some Proverbs 31 woman in that mix for good measure!   Well, a girl can dream.  Right? In reality, I am a mom juggling a husband, three kids, homeschooling, a church start-up, and a whole host of other things while still trying to wear a smile.  In the middle of all of that deliciously wonderful craziness, I sometimes remember that I still have so much that I want to learn about and experience just for my own personal growth and development.  I have to remember to remember "Me."

With that in mind, I've decided to become more intentional about creating those opportunities.  I sat down the other day with my iPhone and created a list of things I want to learn and do in 2012.  Some of these are quite simple, but when you are spinning plates, you really don't have the luxury of taking your eyes off of the plates long enough to look at something else.  As a result, I still have a great deal to learn!  Please know that you have my permission to laugh.

What I want to Learn in 2012

  •  How to bake a cake from scratch that is both edible and down right delicious
  • Basic and advanced cake decorating techniques.  I can do some basic fondant work, but I know I can do better.
  • How to artistically apply eye shadow, especially some of the purples and blues!  The last time I had a makeover was in 2005.  I still have the makeup from that session.  It's time to move on!
  • How to style and maintain my locs on my own.
  • How to dress myself for my body type and personality.
  • How to decorate my house.  My marriage is Mr. Uptown meets Southern Miss.  We really have to figure out how to bring this thing together stylistically in our home.
  • How to really cook plants-based, whole foods meals.  I have some recipes in my arsenal, but I want to learn how to prepare a great variety of meals.
  • How to sew for decorating purposes. 
  • If I can convince my husband, I really want to fulfill my marriage-long dream (11 years) of learning how to salsa with my man! You guys pray about that one for me.  Okay?  
  • Organic gardening.  I am realizing that the best way to get the best foods for my family at the cheapest price is to grow them for myself.
  • How to balance homeschooling an 8 year old, with an academically advanced three year old and busy one year old in tow.  I am beyond exhausted by the end of the daily homeschool routine.  
  • How to enhance my blog beyond this basic format.  I see it in my head and it's time to put it on the screen!
I have lots to learn and I can't wait to get started.  What are you planning to learn?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who I Hope to Become in 2012

Like many people, I usually start my New Year's resolutions on my birthday, which is in June. I will continue to stick to that tradition. However, for some reason, I am on fire about 2012! For many years, I spent a great deal of time thinking about who I did not want to be. Low, and behold, because that is what I focused on, I became everything I said I did not want to be. So, I've been thinking a great deal about who I want to be in my 30's and I think I have a good idea now. In no particular order, here is that list.

Live Healthy
1. 8 hours of sleep most days
2. 30 minutes of exercise most days
3. Plant-based, whole foods diet, with the option to eat meat when the mood strikes
4. Nurture life-giving, mutually beneficial relationships with others.

Build Wealth
1. Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU)

Bring the Joy
1. Incorporate the family traditions I've been saying I want to start
2. Romance my husband and be his greatest encourager

Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus
1. Look for and complete at least one opportunity per week to minister to the needs of others in my church and community

Finish What I Start
1. Run an entire 5K
2. Stay on track with FPU
3. Stick to a homeschooling curriculum instead of hopping all over the place!

Sold out for Jesus
1. Wholly committed to listening for God's whispers and following them

Show up in My Life
1. I am accepting the fact that I am not a multi-tasker and that is really okay.
2. Fully attend to the task at hand.
3. Give complete and silent attention to the person who desires to have my attention at that moment. I am so notorious for taking over a conversation, but also tuning out after about five seconds of listening to the other person.

So, who are you going to become in 2012?