Plain of View

    By Shilo Bartlett

IMG_0065Our children as a whole are incredible creations. They have minds that were meant to be shaped and molded from a very young age into what they will eventually become as adults. I personally haven’t been a mom for an incredibly long amount of time (11 years to be exact), but I have observed enough to know that it is much better in the long run to encourage that shaping and molding than to push against it.

I say that because we are in a phase right now with our children where we are greatly appreciating our decision to homeschool them with the Garden School as our supplement. Our kids are shaping and molding every day, and we are watching this happen rather than observing it happen from a distance. The children imitate behaviors they see every day, and we are glad that we can have them watch us and then help change what needs to be changed. We understand that days are not to be thrown away; that every moment needs to be grasped, and that the little things in life matter very, very much.

I have had moments lately with my children where they have challenged me greatly in the area of discipline. They have chores every day that must be taken care of, and then their school needs to be attended to. And we have come to an agreement that they have to be somewhat self-motivated, as I am only one person, not five, and cannot be constantly following their little hands everywhere to pick up after them. But along the way, we have found a very nice key to life… something I have known, and yet hadn’t fully grasped until recently. Let me share a short story to illustrate:

We as a family were at the Sukkot festival at the school a few weeks back, going from booth to booth and enjoying the crafts. At one particular booth, I sat down with my girls on the grass to help them. A little one-year-old girl from another family came alongside us and started watching what we were doing. Pretty soon, we had her saying the words and touching the craft too. We moved to the next booth, and the same thing happened. She was right there beside us on the grass, watching attentively and trying to touch and say what we were doing. Now, the interesting thing is, the minute that we stood up (i.e., were above her plain of view), she would wander away and find something else that she could touch and feel. But the minute we were back down on the grass, she was right there.

Why is this important? Well, my kids and I get along much better when I am living in what I like to call “their plain of view.” Just like the little girl on the grass, she does not see what you see, or hear what you hear. She has her own little world going on at her level every day! Same thing applies to my kids. When I am on their “level,” I see things I would have never seen, hear things I would never have heard if I was just living in “my world.” My children are teaching me every day about all the new amazing discoveries they make, just by being them!

Now the neat part about this is that when applied to our school at home, this principle becomes (and has become), an integral part of how I interact with them. When school needs to be done, I take into account what they have been doing, what they are doing currently, and then how best to apply that to their learning habits. As a practical tool, it has meant the world to us.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little excursion into our world!

How do you apply your child’s learning into your school plan every day? Let me know in the comments–I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Procrastination

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    By Shilo Bartlett

The list hanging on my desk today has about 15 things on it that need to get done. It stares back at me like a menacing cat in the corner, saying, “I dare you to try and take me on.” Its black ink has a dark feel. This is not a good list day.

Have you had a day like that? Where the things to conquer outweigh the normal goings on of your household by 2-to-1? That is a not so great day, right?

I have a solution!

There is more than one way to overcome this obstacle.

The first is to tackle the “cat” head on – just try and pound it into submission, one item at a time. This will result in what I will call “list exhaustion,” and will leave you feeling like you have fought with a tiger and lost. Scratches, bruises, mental fatigue, and diet problems always follow this route.

The second way to deal with the list is to take a ’round about route – i.e., circle the “cat,” don’t let it know you are coming, then pounce like a mad beast and ride the crazy ride. Hold on for dear life as you try and make the swirling stop. Can’t you just see it? You, riding a wild cat? Yeah, that’s one crazy way to take on “The List.” You slowly put aside your daily things, knowing you must attempt the leap at any moment, and then you just one by one knock them off while blowing what’s left of the normalcy of your day into the wind like the whirling dervish you are! This ends with another bad side effect just like the method above: headaches, children who will wonder if their parent has gone mad, and general disorder in your household.

There is, however, one more method of dealing with The List: Procrastination.

Yes, that is the method. This type of coping mechanism is one that has been proven throughout the ages as the most effective form of dealing with problems in your life that cannot be dealt with. This method requires nothing more from you than no effort at all. Yes! You look at that list waiting for you… staring at you… cowering like the cat in the corner… and what do you do? You don’t do any of it! You walk away and leave that cat to its own sad devices, and move on to living blissfully unaware of any problems, cares, or concerns of things left to be done. You move on with your life in great happiness that you have no worries, no chores, and no responsibilities. This method is the greatest yet to be applied by mankind.

Seriously though?

Procrastination is definitely not the method we should use in our lives with our responsibilities. I just like to amuse you with the ideas of what you could do with “The List” that all of us have in our lives. Sometimes it’s a daily list, other times it may be a list that you have had for years. Things that you would like to do with your life, things you know you should do for your children. “The List” can mean many things.

In my own experience, I have found that this List is like a mountain-a kind of challenge for myself. I have discovered, too, that there is a way to conquer every mountain or mole hill in a very successful way. You know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, Mt. Everest is definitely not climbed in one day, to say the least. Climbing Mt. Everest is a practiced art they perfect to achieve the goal of conquering that mountain. They train, and train some more, and acclimate, and gain muscle, and build confidence on smaller mountains before they tackle the big one.

There is a key in that method which I believe will help in achieving the various goals and lists each of us have in our lives. Small victories-small chips away at small things-always lead to bigger successes. That list? It can be finished! How? Small, even, realistic steps. Once you have conquered that small hill, and stand on top of it? The bigger mountain looks smaller, right? Yes – it looks achievable. Then you take on the larger things.

If there is a “List” or “Mountain” in your life, maybe we can try going at it like the mountain climbers taking on Everest, and not like the cat wrangler above.

Happy Mountain Climbing!

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    Shilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

The Garden

    By Shilo Bartlett

cover-gardening[1]We have just finished planting our first “official” garden this year. It includes the usual tomatoes, basil, watermelon, onions, parsley and peas. It has a small fence around the climbing tomatoes so they can have a nice sturdy fence to climb up. It has a ground cover to keep the weeds out. It also has a drip hose with an automatic timer so that the seedlings don’t dry out in the sun. It has all this, and we are ever so proud of it. Small as it may be, it contains months of planning, thought, and hard work.

This small garden contains everything essential to the learning process, in my opinion. I grew up watching (and sometimes helping 🙂 ) my mother plant an enviable garden every year. It was one of our favorite things to do as kids to run out and just eat as much as you could – sweet peas being the favorite. We would just pick and eat! I remember thinking, “What an amazing part of nature that we can just put a small seed in the ground, and voila! You have food!”

The lessons I learned from my mother while watching her dutifully plant, water, weed, and care for that garden has shaped the way I look at many things:

1) The dedication to a goal – that is essential in the gardening process.

2) The strict accountability to no one but the plants; to take care of something that will not respond or talk back, but will show you results if you are patient enough.

3) The ability to see the future. To not look at what is in front of you now, but look forward to what will come.

4) To plan for your family’s needs outside of what the world and society have provided.

5) To want to give your children the best food you can possibly provide.

These are all lessons that I strive to achieve in my own life today. I am devoted to the ideals that my mother and her garden gave me.

This is why my small little plot that my children have helped put together in these past few weeks is such an amazing part of our little lives. I am looking forward to the late summer and fall harvest when I’ll watch my children run out to eat those fresh tomatoes and peas, just like my mother before me.

Happy summer everyone!

Do you garden? If so, what is your favorite part of gardening?

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    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Further Up and Further In

    By Shilo Bartlett

I looked up the phrase “carpe diem” the other day. I was curious since I’d been pondering other phrases such as “live for today,” and “you only live once.” I was thinking about the fact that tomorrow isn’t a given for some of us. Not in the morbid sense of dwelling on loss, but on the prospect of the good that is in store for us once we leave here. That it only gets better!

So the Latin meaning of the phrase “carpe diem” is as follows: Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – “Seize the day, putting as little trust as possible in the next (day)[/future].” There have been many interpretations of this, one being what I quoted before as the “carpe diem” seize-the-day mentality. It seems to be the concept that “you only live once,” so live now! Because tomorrow might not come!

However, I have a different thought on this.

I have read The Chronicles of Narnia many times, both on my own and with my children. The last book in the series is a type or shadow of the End Times, when the earth will fall apart and we will be with the Lord. As you read this book, there is a phrase that Aslan uses several times when talking about where the children are headed: “Further up and further in!”

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They have left the old behind and are heading into the “new” Narnia- i.e. heaven- and can run faster than eagles. He encourages them to just keep going “further up and further in.” When they do this, they discover that the land doesn’t just stop, it literally keeps going as they discover it and unfolds as they go. They can’t see what is beyond, but they trust that they will find the new as they go further in.

This was very intriguing to me. It applies to so many areas of our life. It doesn’t just seem that we should live “for today,” but maybe trust that while we do live today, tomorrow will be taken care of. We can’t see what is over the hill, or around the corner, or over the mountain, but that doesn’t mean we should stop, does it? It just means we run faster at it! That unknown is not a bad thing; it is discovery, life well lived.

It is the challenge of life – when you run up against that unknown of tomorrow, or the next big problem, what do you do? He says “further up and further in”! That in itself is living, isn’t it? You are right here and now, living “the moment,” but yet looking ahead without fear. consciously choosing to move in the direction you are heading without wavering.

With our children it is easy to be afraid, to question ourselves as well as the paths and decisions we have chosen for them. The huge choice of what their education will be like is one that every parent faces. But instead of fearing that tomorrow is uncertain and you should hide from the challenges they are up against, maybe we can gain confidence from the fact that we can choose the path, then go “further up and further in”! Knowing that today we live by what we know, preparing for what we can’t see, and not being concerned that it will bring the unknown with it. Being confident that whatever tomorrow is or will be, we are here today, and we can enjoy that! To enjoy what He has given us right now, and looking forward to tomorrow. Not living as if it won’t come – living knowing it will!

And that to me is very, very “carpe diem.”

What areas of your life could use some “carpe diem”?

    ___________________________

    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Stages

    By Shilo Bartlett

Stages.

Our children go through so many of these within a period of days, months, weeks, and years. Sometimes it can even feel like hours that they go through one stage before they are on to the next! These stages are punctuated by phrases or terms like the “terrible two’s,” or “fabulous fives.”

BakingMy family is currently in “The Growing Stage”-the one where they eat everything in sight. This particular stage means a lot of grocery store trips, which I am not overly fond of.

Just a few days ago I caught myself complaining about it all: the continual grocery store runs, the endless meal-making, and the demand to always keep the cabinets fully stocked. I was upset that I couldn’t keep up with the constant eating. And then it dawned on me…I remember when my kids were two, and three, and four, and I found myself wishing for some of those stages back. I thought about how I should have appreciated that part of their life while it was still here.

The realization gave me a moment to consciously remind myself that this is a time in my children’s life I should embrace. A chance to try to find the fun within the stage, and give them a reason to learn….just like all the other times in our lives that we have the opportunity to teach our children.

You see, the love of learning is not limited by books, or pens, or a classroom. All our lives we are learning new things, whether it’s new ways of seeing things, new approaches to obstacles, or new concepts and skills. The beauty comes not from viewing a stage my children go through as a thing I must “get through,” but as the gift of a teachable moment. (And many times this way of looking at things is more for me than it is for the kids!)

With this in mind, in addition to the usual I also recently enlisted my children’s assistance in the kitchen. I now have “helpers” in the grocery aisles. They help me decide on healthy snacks for school, menus for the week, and on what we need to buy for the house. They then help prepare the food at home with things like setting the table, washing the dishes, and taking out the trash.

I cannot say that this always goes smoothly or that it doesn’t have its challenges. Real and worthwhile education always has its bumps. However, I can say that the precious bonding time that has come from this stage has value far beyond today’s hungry stomach.

Let’s Chat: How do you implement teaching into the stages of your children’s lives?
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    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.