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Houdini & Quarantining

We’ve seemed to have had one crisis after another lately. Tristan climbing out of his crib (no matter what deterrents or traps or gadgets we set-up) and now, the coronavirus pandemic. Our little Houdini seems to keep escaping and keeping us up in the wee hours for 3 weeks now. The social distancing mandated to prevent the spread of the virus has made us quiet stir crazy. Combining sleep deprivation with not being able to see anyone except each other has caused quite a few meltdowns (mostly from mom). However, I think we’re on the up and out with our “new normal” and Blake and I have started implementing some new hopeful strategies for Tristan and have found ways to keep the isolation fun!

In the meantime, here are some of the neat things we’ve been up to the last month or so. Starting with at home…

Post-quarantine pool purchase

Lots of outdoor play including identifying the wild flowers in our very backyard. Those include the Oriental Hawksbeard, Spanish Needles, and Violet Woodsorrels (pictured). We learned most of them are edible and their medicinal uses. Adon was fascinated by this and it has sparked his desire to learn about every flower, plant and seed we come across.

One day, Tristan fell and scraped his knee. As he cried and I held him, Adon ran inside to set up a “boo boo feast” so that his little brother would feel better. It worked. 😊

We also need enjoyed many trips outside the home (before the virus sequestered us).

Hikes, hikes, and more hikes. We love going on trails with friends and each other. There is always something new to see! This was a combination of hikes with some Wild + Free homeschool friends, some new/old friends that moved back to Lakeland, and family hikes.

We also snuck in a beach trip to the gulf coast to visit some sweet friends. It was a beautiful day with great company, and such a nice change of scenery! I should also mention it was Micah’s FIRST beach trip. 💖

Here’s some other family outings and updates.

Speed Boat show at Lake Hollingsworth brought people from all over the world to our backyard! The boats were exciting but the boys enjoyed the personal tour they received of an Ambulance by a kind Fireman even more.

We’re also excited about Blake’s transition to The Lakeland Athletic Club and the new opportunities it’s already bringing about! So proud of his courage in this jump and how hard he works to allow me to raise our boys at home.

Even in a pandemic, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.

I can teach myself to read.

Today Adon specifically asked if we could start reading lessons. According to Charlotte Mason’s theory on developmental readiness, children should not begin any formal school lessons until the age of exactly six or older. Until then, children should be growing in awe and wonder of all living things outdoors and trained in good habits. The order is simple yet paramount for future homeschooling success.

I decided to follow my 5 year old’s lead and start the 1st (of 100) reading lessons. Excited to start, we laid out our cozy outdoor quilt under a shady evergreen tree. The younger two were napping and we had warm blueberry oatmeal for comfort food (mom’s attempt at trying to make good associations with this new endeavor).

We began our first lesson with enthusiasm, repeating sounds of letters out loud, but after a few minutes in, Adon decided it was too simple and blurted out, “I don’t need to learn how to read from this dumb book, I can teach myself to read.” I wasn’t completely shocked by this response knowing my precocious little boy, but I did however think it would have waited at least until lesson 4 or 5, maybe 7!

I had a short conversation about how the writers of this book could possibly have more wisdom and experience in teaching others how to read than my 5 year old, and then talked about the difference of being good verses great. I shared how I can read “good”, but how I wished someone had sat with me at five as an eager learner and taught me how to be an excellent reader. Reading is so much more than learning sounds, it’s learning how to read a lot of material at once and retain most of what you read. It’s comprehension. It’s learning concepts. It’s anticipating what happens next and learning contextualization. And if you learn how to read poorly at a young age, it will interfere with the rest of your learning-life.

This reading program by Distar – published by Science Research Associates, Inc. – has been collecting data for decades on the best possible way to teach children to read. They say,

“We have worked with children at preschool to college levels who could not read and whose parents probably believed in the finality of the labels with which the school had adorned these students: dyslexic, perceptually handicapped, learning-disabled. These labels are nonsense. Almost without exception, the “disabled” students that we have worked with had two obvious problems. The first was that they had not been taught properly. Their confusion suggested that the malfunctions existed in the teacher’s techniques, not in the children’s minds. The second problem was that these students seemed to believe the labels. They hated reading (or trying to read). But the cure for these problems did not involve neurosurgery or wonder drugs. It involved nothing more than starting over and teaching carefully.”

Adon had decided he didn’t want to be a great reader, that being a good reader was enough. I closed the book and would be lying if I said I wasn’t discouraged. I didn’t allow that emotion of frustration or discouragement hinder me for long, however, because I knew that far more important in learning how to read was keeping his heart. I lovingly told my son that “no matter how good or bad he learns to read, I’ll always be proud of him. If you don’t want to learn how to read great right now, go play! Run, jump, listen to the Boxcar Children stories. We’ll pick up this book again another day when you’re ready.”

There’s a couple of lessons I learned here today.

  • No formal lessons until age 6, really.
  • My sweet Adon will be a trying homeschool student at times because of his forward-thinking – humility will be an ongoing lesson and prayer.
  • My ultimate goal isn’t the shaping of his mind (learning to read great) as much as his shaping in character and especially the certainty that he’s loved. This reminder will get me through many, long, arduous homeschooling days and lessons. Remembering always that although I want to teach them with excellence “as if I am teaching for the Lord”, my mothers-prayer will always first be that my son’s names are written in the ‘Lambs book of Life.’ (and if you read about some of the great Christian thinkers of old, you will know their mother’s diligent prayers had a tremendous impact on their legacy).

A failed lesson is usually a greater life-lesson than the original endeavor itself. He’ll be okay. I’ll be okay.

Grabbed Bibles to read on stage during the volunteer “huddle prayer” before church. Little bro always following Adon’s lead.

nature hiking & creating

I’ve attempted to write this post for about a month now, so finally – here it is!

We’ve officially joined Wild + Free homeschooling group in Lakeland and went on our first nature hike with that crew! We had a blast. It was fun exploring the same park Blake and I used to hike when we dated ions ago.

Drawing, painting, sketching, inventing, creating… you can be these things are happening practically every day in the Scheidt home.

Adon’s idea of what the Alden children look like from the Boxcar Children books (he’s almost listened to 100 unabridged audio stories!)
We had a lot of fun painting items found in nature (Tristan’s – pictured here – is of poop. He very emphatically said he wanted to paint “poop”.) We also painted Valentine’s cards for our cousins and for daddy.
Adon wrote in his journal after Tristan threw his brand new football into the sewer. He was really upset but said he felt much better after drawing the experience and his feelings. ❤

a tea kettle filled with love

This week has been one of those off-weeks. Micah has regressed to waking up between 3- 4am for feeds and losing those couple of hours of sleep has severely heightened my brain fog. This has meant lots of apologizing for mom being impatient as well as more television watching than I’d like. As a recovering perfectionist, I’m learning that a messier home and occasional television can actually lead to mom extending more love and patience, which ultimately means a successful day. Which is my [our] main calling after all, right? I will say, however, it is a weird job -working at home. I’m the only employee… and also my own boss… and I can quickly turn against myself during performance reviews!

{Side note about the T.V., we’ve really enjoyed several episodes of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ this week. The stories of a family that work together to make ends meet, choose gratitude over complaining, and at value integrity over wealth has made for great conversations. Also, nostalgia… 🙂 }

We decided one day this week to do a back yard scavenger hunt, looking for items in nature. Anytime mom creates a game or scavenger hunt, Adon loves to then create one for mom to do. 🙂 (Did I mention when he grows up he wants to be a “job-maker”? This doesn’t mean creating jobs for the job-less, this means he makes his own job and is his own boss…) One of the items on the nature hunt was to find an animal or insects habitat. The above picture is the boys discovering together an ants home.

Occasionally Tristan wanders inside for some alone play. And sometimes momma sneaks to make sure the unsettling quiet isn’t due to mischief.

Of course, there’s always drawing! (we aren’t big fans of coloring books since they don’t work the muscle of imagination) Adon has been leading Tristan and I in an art activity after our breakfast devotion each morning and Tristan has surprising enjoyed participating. Usually it is drawings of spiritual battles and God conquering the enemy with His Sword of Love (or in one case, a “tea kettle” filled with love).

Almost every evening this week we’ve had a dinner picnic at the park. Like I said, it’s been a week of less energy so getting out as a family and not having to clean up dinner has been such a filler! The Florida skyline each evening on our way home has been a sight to behold…

kindness to animals, community, & imaginary play

Our Scheidt Family Way this week is “We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness and respect”. The best thing about rehearsing these values each morning is that when an opportunity arises to remember what’s good (usually when we’re being bad), these sayings come to mind. So when Tristan throws a toy car at Adon’s head in the bath and Adon retaliates by throwing one back, we can talk about our Scheidt Family Ways. The ‘Ways’ hold value in and of themselves that we see validated as we examine the meanings each morning through scripture. This is SO much more effective than mommy just constantly repeating the obligatory phrase, “Be nice!”. Plus, I swore I’d never be a nag.

I decided to expand the “kindness, gentleness, and respect” piece to our furry family member, Knox, after reading Charlotte Mason speak of children naturally being kind to animals, unless they were taught otherwise. Yikes… I realized Momma hasn’t been so nice to Knox for years! At some point I started having less compassion for his poop, puke, hair, and neediness after having children. This conviction led me to treating him with more respect this week and actually petting him some (haha). I was quite surprised to see how it only took about one day of doing this for my children to mimic my behavior! And then of course, the next poem in our Children’s Book of Virtues was titled, “Kindness to Animals”. Please forgive me, Knoxie.

Yesterday our friend Rae came over to play with the boys for a bit (while mom did some reading) and then fellowship with mom! She is loved by all.

Today the boys enjoyed playing outside all morning, which of course means the costume ottoman gets opened. Adon’s been engulfed in his new comic book Bible he was gifted from his Mina for Christmas, so he’s been drawing and acting out lots of stories from the Bible. Today he decided to be old man Abraham and sacrifice his son Isaac to prove his devotion. Luckily, he too found a ram caught in the bushes to sacrifice instead. 🙂

Ninja Bunny

Playing “I spy” using shapes instead of colors. (Also, Knox stealing Tristan’s rice cake)

Since we didn’t get to go on the homeschooling community hike with our friends today, we decided to head over to our favorite donut place in between Micah’s naps!

And ended the day with mom sneaking in a little latte date with a dear friend, Beth.

heartfelt friendship and decaf peppermint latte… great way to end the day.

bike strolls & nature strips

As I mentioned, we’re learning how to enjoy staying home more so that we can love Micah well by letting him sleep. He’s transitioned from 3 naps a day to 2, which is well and good, but also means he doesn’t sleep as easily on the go. Little strolls around the neighborhood are perfect ways for us to get out of the house in between naps and still feel like we’re partaking in some sort of adventure.

Today we decided to practice riding our bikes Mimi & Pop Pop gifted for Christmas! Of course there was much push-back from my 5-year-old that doesn’t enjoy new endeavors he hasn’t yet perfected, but we started the journey off with a Charlotte Mason mantra: “I am, I can, I ought, I will”… and inevitably ended with, “I did!”. It was even more encouraging to see how we could use our newly memorized virtuous poem, “Try, Try, Again“.

Aren’t they the cutest!?

We took a little walk down the road to a small creek that has a sign saying “DANGER: Snakes”, so naturally we call it Snake Creek. Of course we’ve wandered here dozens of times and have yet to see a snake, but one day we hope to… from a distance. 🙂 The neighborhood stroll is mostly passing houses on a long, shady road, so today we took our time to see what we could find “breathing” on the nature strip next to the road.

Of course dozens of Spanish Needles (bidens alba) lay, also known as Butterfly Needles, which I must include because we saw a lovely yellow butterfly fluttering about. We enjoyed the one single purple flower standing out among the rest.

Scheidt family walks are rarely concluded these days without the toddler sitting in the middle of the road, boycotting movement. Usually laughing. And usually finding a small pebble to put into his mouth, while laughing.

And every now and again, proof of mom & Micah.

21 days of prayer

Every new year our church does 21-days of fasting and prayer. This year, here’s what we’ll be giving up in the Scheidt abode:

  • Dad – evening television
  • Mom – complaining
  • Adon – saying the word “stupid” (no, he’s not allowed to say this word anyway)

We’re on day-3 and mom has {consciously} complained twice, and Adon has said stupid once (except for when he tattles on his younger brother for saying the word, which he says doesn’t count).

It’s fun to watch even little children grow in self-control and when they fail, seeing how they can do “no good apart from the Holy Spirit who helps them” and to ask Him for help. Same for mom and dad.

Countdown, made by Adon.