Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Charlotte Mason Home School

We just started our own Charlotte Mason preschool home school program. That was sort of a complicated thing to say, but it's so far from complicated to do!
I knew very early on that I wanted to home school. [I have a variety of reasons that I'll save for another post.]  I spent a lot of time researching different methods and issues related to home schooling our son.
Noah is always craving more input, more knowledge, more learning.... as a life long learner myself, I couldn't wait to get started!
First I decided to try using work books for a more traditional model. It didn't work for us. He's not a sit at the table kind of guy and most of the work books I could find didn't work well with a two year old attention span.
Then, I fell in love with Maria Montessori. I saw so many Montessori success stories and I thought it would be perfect for such a self-motivated kid like Noah. We tried that one for a while before I had to admit it wasn't working out the way I hoped it would. He hated the "work" and I didn't feel like he was learning anything really valuable.
Finally, I found Charlotte Mason and she has been fabulous! I really wanted to love Maria Montessori. I thought I was in love, but it was just "puppy love."
Charlotte's methods are so perfect for my active little boy! They also work well for me because they are more classical and involve more structure and planning than Montessori.

We did our first official day of Charlotte Mason preschool on Monday and it went very well!
Here's what we did:

1. Say thank you to Jesus and have our breakfast.
2. Go play outside in the back yard where we explored piles of leaves, muddy puddles, and fallen tree branches. [We recently had a heavy rain]
3. Came inside to take a bath because we were super dirty. While in the bath we painted with bath paints and talked about the colors and shapes we were making.
4. After lunch, we talked about art by studying a painting from Giotto.
5. We fell asleep listening to Vivaldi in the recliner.
6. After nap time, we played with dinosaurs (his favorite!) and counted dinosaur manipulatives for math practice.
7. Before bed we read another chapter of Matthew.
8. We practiced Charlotte's early habits of attention and obedience all day long as well as our manners.

If you're interested in Charlotte Mason and want more information or curriculum, check out the experts at Simply Charlotte Mason. I love them!

-Crazy Earth Mama

Now I Understand

It was hard for me to really understand God's love before I became a mom. There's just no way to explain the love a parent has for a child.It's a love for which there are no words. The Bible calls God's love "agape" love, which loosely translates from Greek to mean unconditional love.  It means SO much more than that though!

From the moment I saw my son, my understanding of love just exploded! There's no way to capture the way my heart swelled with a love so heavy and pure that my heart nearly burst with the weight of it all.  Then I understood, for the first time, the love God has for us and why we call him Abba, Father.

[Abba is a term used in The Bible that means father, but it's really "Daddy." It's more intimate than father.]

Perhaps part of the reason children are, according to scripture, our greatest blessing, is because they reveal to us the true love of God, our Abba.  They show us the love he has for us in a way we can't even begin to understand without them.

A prayer for today:
Lord, I am so grateful for the blessing of motherhood and the blessing of my son.  Most of all Father, I am thankful for your love!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's wrong for me to be fearful.

I am the mother of one brave little boy! He is so fascinated by this beautiful world God has made and everything in it. He wants to explore this world and grab life by the horns. He isn’t afraid of anything. Sometimes, when he tries something new, a brief look of fear passes over his face. Then, he smiles and dives right in!
I am not a brave person. Even as a child I was always very cautious. I rode down hills on my bicycle poised and ready to press the brakes the very instant I became afraid. My brother, Nick, wore out many bicycles because he was brave and daring. He always tried new stunts. I wore out the brakes on many bicycles due to my constant fear of going to fast, falling, getting hurt. 
Noah, my son, didn’t get his spirit of bravery from me. He got it from Jesus. I prayed it upon him even before he was born. I prayed that he would be brave and follow Jesus. I prayed that he would be brave so that God could use him. I still pray that all the time.  Soon after Noah was born God told me that he will be a missionary. I really believe that God has this path laid out for him. I’m not sure what that will look like yet. It’s up to God. It’s just my job to pray and teach Noah to pray and seek God’s purpose for him in life.
Along the way, sometimes I get really afraid. I am sometimes afraid for him to spread his wings. Sometimes I am afraid for him and for myself too. This spirit of fear often gets justified. I say “I’m his Mom. It’s my job to worry.” The truth is, it’s not. It is my job to try to protect him and keep him safe from the dangers of this fallen world. God has charged me with that. It is not my job to worry about the things I cannot control and it is not my job to stifle the bravery and spirit of independence the Lord has given him. It is my job to foster those things.
I need to be there to pick him up when he falls. To hug him and comfort him as a way of teaching him to look to God for his comfort and solace when he falls in life. I need to set up a relatively safe environment for him to learn and grow as Christ would have him to do. It is my job to monitor the influences in his life and to ensure that he is learning the right things. I’m supposed to let him go to follow God’s path and that is tough for me. God’s path is sometimes scary and,as the scripture says, full of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12 reads “All that will live godly in Jesus Christ shall suffer persecution.”) 
I’m trying and often failing, but I am still striving, to live without the fear the devil is continually trying to persuade me to consume. After all, God says “I have not given you the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).  Comment below to give me encouragement as I try not to be a fearful mother, wife, and servant of Jesus.  Share your experiences with bravery and fear. As always, prayer requests are welcome too.


My heart has been convicted.  God has been showing me some things. I, of course, have been stubborn. I am stubborn. It has taken me a long time to admit and commit to fix these aspects of my life. However, when the Holy Spirit shows you something you listen! I need accountability. God holds me accountable, but The Bible cautions us to seek accountability from our Christian peers as well. This is one reason for attending and being active in a church body.
Here are the convictions the spirit has laid on my heart.  I’ll be going into detail about each of these in my future blog posts. I’ll share my journey: my successes and failures.
1.  God needs to be in control. Not me. Not anyone else. I can’t beg him to step in and take the reins when the horse I call my life gets out of hand. I have to hand him the reins willingly and let him guide my life through good and bad, in everything and I should not try to take the reins. Not ever.  I also can’t let anyone else be in control. It’s not the job of my pastor to steer my life. It’s not the job of my husband or my girlfriends or parents or anyone else. It’s not my job. I have to give it to God. (Jeremiah 29:11)
2. God says that he has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  I am not supposed to be afraid. God is leading my life and he has a good and perfect plan. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is the gardener and I am being pruned. It might be painful sometimes, but he knows exactly what he is doing and he’s great at it! God does not mess up. I have to stop being afraid of the directions he leads me in and the trials he uses to groom me into the Christian woman he wants me to be.
3.  My body was created by God and I’m supposed to take care of it.  That means being modest and making healthy choices (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).
Throughout this journey I hope that God will reveal more things to me. If I am to become more Christ like with each day (Ephesians 5: 1-2), I need him to keep showing me my failures and reshaping me into the model of Christ that he would have me to be.
Join me. Hold me accountable. Pray with me and for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Meat & Potato Casserole

My grandmother believe that the kitchen was a chemistry lab.  In her lab, she invented this dish and we love it!  Meat and potato casserole has become a family favorite. It's perfect for so many things! Busy week nights, picky toddlers, budget stretcher, unexpected guests, taking to a friend who is going through a hard time.... it's perfect for all those things.
It's potatoes, ground beef, and cheddar.  That's all. Here's the recipe:

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into bite size chunks. Boil potatoes until soft.
  2. Sprinkle ground beef with salt and pepper. Brown ground beef.
  3. Pour cooked potatoes into casserole dish. Pour cooked ground beef over top.
  4. Cover the top with lots of shredded cheddar cheese (I like sharp but my mom uses mild).
  5. Bake in oven on 350 degrees. Mostly you are just melting the cheese.
  6. Serve hot. Ketchup optional.
My husband and many other casserole newbies have balked at the idea of putting ketchup on this dish, but it's what we do in my family and it's delicious! So, if you're feeling adventurous, put some ketchup on top and you'll thank me.

As many have pointed out over the years, and I'm sure you're thinking it to, there are lots of things you could add to this recipe. Peppers? Onions? Vegetables? Go for it! Remember, the kitchen is a chemistry lab! 

Happy Cooking Y'all!

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Wash Routine

Cloth diapers drying in the sun

A lot of people have questions about washing cloth diapers. It's everyone's biggest fear and the cloth diaper industry doesn't exactly help simplify the process. Here I'm going to share some of the things we have learned and the methods we have used.

Cloth diapering an exclusively breastfed (EBF) baby is about the easiest thing ever! We started with cloth right out of the gate. 

First questions I get asked:
What about meconium? 
It's not a problem. I know it looks like tar, but it isn't and it will wash right out without staining.
You cloth diapered in the hospital? How?
It was pretty easy for the most part.  I brought along a wet bag and diapers. We told the nurses and then we just did it. I put the dirty diapers in the wet bag and they got washed when we got home. 

When Noah was EBF, we just put the dirty diapers straight into the washing machine. EBF poop is totally water soluble. 

I wash on hot with the setting on large even though I only wash about 20 diapers at a time. I also use an extra rinse at the end. Some will recommend that you not wash more than 12 diapers at a time, but I think that just makes for extra laundry and I've never had any problems doing more. Just remember set the load to large for the extra water and you should be fine.

Question Disposable Diapering Mamas ask me:
You put the poop in your washer?
Yes, I do. I'm pretty sure you do that too when your little one has a blowout and it's all over their clothes and yours [This doesn't usually happen to cloth mamas.] 
Y'all, poop happens. Get used to it.

What about the dryer?

We put our diapers in the dryer. I do recommend using a medium heat setting. High heat settings can have disastrous effects on your PUL. That said, my absolute favorite way to dry diapers is with sunshine. Also called "sunning," this method will take almost any stain out of your diapers. It's fabulous!

This is where the cloth diaper industry has a little fun and they will totally disagree with what I'm about to tell you. You don't need special cloth diaper detergent for your diapers.
You can't just use anything, but you don't need to buy an expensive brand made just for diapers. For one thing, we have tried a few and I was less than thrilled. Stains galore! Not enough suds... had to wash them two or three times before I felt they were clean.... just don't give yourself the headache.

We have used:
Arm & Hammer Free and Sensitive
All Free & Clear
Tide (the fragrance free version)
Rockin' Green

We like All and Arm & Hammer best.  Tide is said to be absolutely fabulous by many moms I know, but we had repelling issues with tide after about a dozen washes and stripping diapers is for the birds! We used Rockin' Green on vacation (specifically designed for CDs) and it was awful! I washed the diapers three times and I could barely get any suds even when using more detergent that the recommended amount. My diapers still had stains when they normally wouldn't have. I ended up going to the store and getting Purex (it was all we could find) and it did a better job, but I don't use it on a regular basis, so I'm not really comfortable recommending it.

Usually, stripping is *gasp* not necessary. We have only done it once. One time, after a particularly awful yeast rash [brought on by a double round of antibiotics] we stripped our diapers. 
We didn't strip them as a direct result of the yeast. We did it because in the middle of our delirium [taking care of a sick child can make you pretty delirious], we had thrown caution to the wind and covered our baby with the dreaded Desitin [hate that stuff!] and then put him in his diaper.  Desitin, as I'm sure you know, is a major no-no in the cloth world whether you're a natural mama or not.
We stripped our diapers with dawn and a toothbrush in the bathtub. I recommend avoiding this course of action if at all possible.

How do you get by without stripping?
Bleach. I know there are some mamas who will not advocate the use of bleach on their precious cloth diapers. I know them, but I'm not one of them. Think about it. That's human feces. Once they are eating solid food and even occasionally mud pies in the back yard, bleach is your friend.  I put 1/4 cup of gentle bleach in a full load of diapers. As always, I do an extra rinse. I smell the diapers as I put them in the dryer (or the basket if I'm sunning) to be sure that I cannot smell bleach.
If you smell bleach, rinse again. Using only 1/4 cup, I've never smelled bleach after that extra rinse.

I hope this answered some of your questions about caring for cloth diapers and maybe it made you brave enough to try cloth. I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have in the comments below.

For more information about caring for your cloth check out the fabulous advice from the experts at Padded Tush Stats.
-Crazy Earth Mama

Friday, December 12, 2014

Too Much TV

New TV on a showroom floor in Tallahassee, Florida

Yes, I read everything about the dangers of television. I know it's not good for young children to watch TV. If you've never used technology to entertain your kid [and said child is at least one year old], I'll give you a cookie. Really, you deserve it. 
I caved.
Letting him watch some TV in the mornings while I tried to get ready for work seemed like a small thing. It was even kind of cute when he got excited about the singing Shushybyes cartoon on the Baby First channel. 
However, lately I've been noticing a trend. He's watching a little TV in the mornings while I rush around. He's watching a movie between play time at the grandparents' houses during the day. He's finishing off the night with Peppa Pig [his current favorite]. When I started adding up the hours I became alarmed. 
We learned early on that asking the grandparents to cut it out wasn't going to work very well.  Having grandparents to watch our son while we work has a ton of benefits, but one of the drawbacks is that it's pretty tough for them to draw a line between caregiver and grandparent.  
So, I knew that if I wanted to cut back on the TV time, it was going to have to happen on our end.  We are four days in and I think we are doing pretty well. 
Tuesday, he watched 30 minutes of Monsters Inc. and a few short Peppa Pig episodes for a total of 90 minutes. Under two hours so I was happy.
Wednesday, he watched two movies at the grandparents. He was a little peeved that I wouldn't let him watch Peppa Pig that night, but I had to compensate somewhere.
Thursday, he watched two more movies at the grandparents and had a meltdown when I turned down TV time that night. It was hard, but I didn't cave. 
Friday, he watched 30 minutes of The Croods with my sister and is currently enjoying some Peppa Pig with Daddy before bed. 
We definitely can't quit cold turkey, but as long as it's 2 hours or less and he stops waking up asking to watch a movie I'll be happy. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I think kids should wake up ready to play, not sit in front of a television. 
We let the TV time get out of hand. Here's hoping we can fix it.

Time Out or In?

Part of parenting a toddler is figuring out how you will handle the tantrums. 
I read everything, so I have read plenty of articles and books about how to deal with this particular rite of passage.  At first, I was convinced I could just snuggle up with my little man and hug and kiss all the "mean reds" away.  
That didn't work for the same reason wearing him in the sling everywhere didn't work.  His fierce independence demands that Mommy not coddle him too much.  Don't get me wrong, he runs to me in a heartbeat if he gets a boo boo or starts to get sleepy. But when he's mad... that's a whole new ball game.
Noah got his stubborn independence from me and I'm really proud of those character traits. However, it has it's drawbacks when he's trying to dump granola all over the floor or head butt his cousin.  
I knew I didn't want to do a traditional time out with him. The idea of my spirited little guy on a naughty step by himself or facing the corner of a wall alone didn't seem like it would work. How would I get him to stay there? He'd just be abandoned to handle all those strong emotions by himself? Not to mention that my own childhood memories of time out mostly involve me daydreaming while waiting for my mom to cool down. [I'm pretty sure that's not the message she was trying to send by sticking my nose in a corner.] 
Then I read about time-ins.  Time-ins involve holding your little one until the big feelings subside and silently reassuring them.  I knew that wouldn't exactly work either. When Noah is angry he is a fireball! He alternates between throwing himself on the floor and screaming with as much gusto as he can muster. 
In the end we settled on our own version of a time-in, which is really somewhere between the two methods. Sometimes I sit nearby and make sure he's safe while letting him get out all the big feelings. I offer hugs, but don't force them. Usually he will come to me in the end, but it's important that he does it of his own will. 
Other times [like when he's tackling his cousins] I have him sit beside me quietly without any toys. I only make him sit for a minute or two, then I explain why we needed to "take a break." This seems to be working. Since starting this, there are times when he will come to me and say "Mommy, I take a break." 

He is learning a lot from these methods:

1. The behavior wasn't okay.
2. Mommy [or Daddy] will always be there to give a hug or help.
3. It's okay to show our feelings, as long as we don't hurt anyone.
4. Everyone needs to take a break sometimes.

So if you're having trouble with the tantrums and the time-outs aren't working, don't be afraid to try your own version. After all, God made you the parent of your child and no one else for a very good reason.

Want more? Check out:
Dr. Laura Markham at AHA Parenting!
Mayim Bialik's Beyond the Sling
Mary Sheedy Kurcinka