The Lost Art of Learning

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Some days I stress over what he's learning, wondering if it's enough. Can he say enough words clearly? Are his fine motor skills up to par? Can he follow two-step instructions? Will he be ready for his Kindergarten entrance exam in four years??? It sounds ridiculous, I know. But as mothers, those are the thoughts that keep me awake at night. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in the "learning", that I forget that this is learning too...

You know, being outside and exploring.
Climbing up the ladder, sliding down the slide.
Stopping himself before he hits the ground.
Getting up again and again.
Laughing.
It's learning! 
He's developing. 

And while reading, writing and arithmetics are all crucial parts of him developing, so is this. So is every moment that he spends exploring and adventuring.

Hey moms, don't let those thoughts of comparison tell you that your child isn't smart enough, developed enough, or learning enough. Of course we should teach them to read, write, and do the things that they must. But also, open the back door and go play outside with them! Let's allow them to learn, to explore, to adventure, to laugh, and to be little. Let's embrace the lost art of learning.

And you know what? The more I embrace this... them being outside, exploring and adventuring... the more I learn, too.

"There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forrest." - Charlotte Mason

Say No to Say Yes

Do you ever get so busy that you forget to let your kids be kids? You know what I mean. Your planner has no open space and there just aren't enough items checked off on your list. You have no food to cook for dinner (not even frozen chicken nuggets - you used those already), twenty six loads of laundry to do, photos to edit, and really grumpy kids that keep asking for the same thing over and over again. You definitely don't have time to facilitate activities - go use your imagination.

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Sadly, I have these days quite often. Confession: I've come to the conclusion that I'm addicted to busy. It sounds crazy, I know. But it's real, friends. Don't get me wrong - I am blessed to get to do some amazing things: women's ministry, our ad agency, photography, our car club, blogging, etc. And I love them all so much. But you know what? I too often let them fill my days (like, all of them), leaving very little time for my kids to just be kids.

Kids need to roam, explore, adventure. They need to dig, get dirty, fall down, and be allowed to take. their. time. Don't you ever feel like they're just forced to tag along and adhere to your busy life... and quickly?  We've all done it. None of us are perfect. And here's the thing: sometimes there are things that truly need to get done. Errands, grocery shopping, paying bills, building your business, whatever it may be. And that's ok! But what isn't ok is being addicted to busy, which in turn prioritizes lots of other things over our kids. Hi, I'm Tamara, and I'm totally guilty of this. I have a really hard time saying no to busy and yes to these four little crazies that call me Mama. Who here knows that when we say YES to one thing, we say NO to something else? So when I say YES to busy (as in, things that I don't actually have to do, but choose to do), I say NO to time with my kids.  

There's something magical about seeing your babies roam, isn't there? Something beautiful about seeing them play with rocks and sticks and flowers, exploring God's creation. It's moments like these that stop me in my tracks, slap me in the face, and remind me WHO my priorities are, and also who God has called me to be. 

I want my boys to know that I put them before being busy. I want them to understand that I say NO to other things so that I can say YES to them. I want them to feel what quality time together is, and I want them to see me being intentional about making it a priority. I want their childhoods to be spent exploring, adventuring, and discovering - not stuck in a car or watching a screen. We'll drive, yes. And we'll watch plenty of movies, too. But I don't want them to look back and see those things as their childhood. I want them to remember our family time, whether it's playing a board game or being on a crazy adventure. The quality time.

I thank the Lord for His grace and the constant reminders He gives me to take a step back and re-evaluate my priorities. I'm far from perfect, and I'm sure I'll find myself here again. But may this be a reminder to us all to stop, breathe, and let. them. be. little. 

What will you say NO to today, so that you can say YES to them?

Until next time,
Tam

The Step

This step, the same step that I sat on when I was one year old... and two, and three.

This step takes me back to watching the trains go by, looking at the stars, singing songs while Grampi played his guitar, eating sandwiches and running barefoot. This step opens the floodgates of memories... playing house, running through the sprinklers, the butterfly call, building birdhouses, and so much more. It reminds me of how amazing my grandparents are, and how blessed I've been to do life with them. It's more than just a step to me. I see the sparkles of my childhood in that step, and it takes me back to times I will forever treasure and hold in my heart. And now, to see my boy sitting on my step, it fills my heart in an unexplainable way. 

Friends, stop to capture the places where real life happens, the places that will someday take you and your family back to the good ol' days. After all, these are the good ol' days in the making!

Until next time,
Tam

Capturing Moments

Sometimes, in the moment, we don't realize how much we'll treasure the memories being made. The chaos that comes with being a mom (or dad) seems never-ending at times, and we often find ourselves so consumed with making opportunities for memories to happen, that we forget to stop and enjoy them. 

If you're a parent, you know what I mean. Family vacations, trips to the fair, or pretty much any adventures that we manage to plan seem to come and go faster than we'd like. All of the planning, packing, actually getting there (despite the chaos), and just plain exhaustion sometimes make it difficult to be completely present and enjoy the moments we've somehow created. 

But then, this happens.

You know what I mean, those moments that, despite your exhaustion, you stare at your babies laughing and just kinda lose it? You feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, joy, excitement, and rejuvenation all at once, and are reminded why you do what you do.

The photographer in me says this: Capture THOSE moments. The ones that happen when you least expect them to, but that change everything. The ones that your photographer probably isn't there for. The ones that make you *feel* something. Capture the moments that define your *why*. Use your camera, use your phone, use whatever you can - but capture them. Because those are the moments that we'll look back on and cherish the most.

P.S. 
This photo was taken (and edited) on my iPhone. It's low quality, kinda blurry, and it's one of my favorite pictures ever. 

Until next time,
Tam