Moments On Mothering – Ebook

“We don’t think we’re superwoman but we often think we have to be. We’re striving for postpartum perfection when we merely need to be present. Holding and feeding and repeating over and over again.”

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“…it’s a must read, food for your soul, Leah writes like she is sharing motherhood stories over coffee and cake. Real, authentic little bites of goodness, to make you laugh, cry and encourage you that it’s not just you, you are enough and we are all in this together. It’s short and sweet but also real deep – what more could a Mama ask for in a book about mothering.”
Emma – Mum to 4

 

What 10 years of home educating taught me

I’m not naturally one to spend too much time on reflection; I’m a futuristic thinker who wants to power on, move forward and get the job done! But when it comes to the 10 years I’ve spent dedicated to facilitating my children’s education, I think a little bit of reflection wouldn’t go amiss!

I’ve honestly loved the journey – hard stuff and all; we learn and become stronger through the lessons we learn, but here are a few things that might help others along the way.

Consistency pays off

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Around 12 years ago I discovered the Charlotte Mason philosophy and her methods of educating being implemented in the homeschooling arena. This pedagogy immediately struck a cord with me, heart and soul, and thus began my deep dive into all things Mason. We begin implementing the methodology with our four children 10 years ago and we haven’t looked back since. Our approach to the philosophy is that it truly is a ‘guiding principle’; not a curriculum to be followed, a purchase to be made or a list to be ticked but a life to be lived. We’ve found our own freedom within the philosophy and have stayed the course. I believe consistency brings security to our children but how we implement it through their days is so key. Check out more about my approach to the philosophy on my community page here or my courses here.

Not a curriculum to be followed, a purchase to be made or a list to be ticked but a life to be lived.

It’s actually all about me!

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Mama certainly sets the tone for the home – if I’m not doing great, then the atmosphere of our home is impacted. There are always going to be days when we’re distracted or emergencies (physical, practical or emotional) have to be dealt with, but I’ve found self-leadership to be vital in finding our freedom and not burning out in this homeschool life.

Know yourself, pursue the best version of that and say sorry to your children often. Remember you’re the adult – verbal warfare with a 4 year old at 10am is never going to go well (smile) and know when to press pause, or even better, the ‘reset’ button.

Homeschooling is not for wimps; it helps to frame it as a ‘career’ that requires training, encouragement and goals – what are you working towards and how are you leading the way?

Homeschooling doesn’t produce perfect children!

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I don’t think I ever truly believed this but we may be subconsciously thinking educating and discipling our children at home is a formula to producing children whom we can proudly and perfectly present to the world at the age of 18 (ta da)!

There is no secret formula.

If we understand that our children are ‘born persons’; whole, complete and capable of so much more than we can imagine, then we give them a voice and listen to that voice.

Children are human, therefore they are unique (just like you and I) with individual needs, desires, and personalities – we can’t box them in or ‘carve’ them into something they’re not. We can’t be intimidated or afraid of who they are; their struggles, their expression, their challenges or their victories. We’re continuously learning to trust their creator, point them to Jesus,  love them deeply, communicate with them regularly and keep their world wide.

“To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves…and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”
― John Holt

Soon we’ll be sliding into our 11th year of homeschooling looking a little different (less students, sob) this year (check out my podcast with MacKenzie over at Cultivating The Lovely, episode 76 for a Boden update) and just like you I’ll soon be deep in planning, fresh pencil shopping and laminating ALL the things!

So, whether you’ve already got going, never stopped or like us, have a couple of weeks left of the summer break – happy new school year to you!

Life On The Park – February

“Keep your faith in beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden,
in the Spring when it is gone.”
–  Roy R. Gibson

February is kind enough to bring sweet whispers of spring; hope in the form of snow drops and aconites bobbing their heads in the late winter winds and rains.

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The park is still dark, despite glimmers of sunshine we’re still walking under cloudy skies and in cold temperatures but it hasn’t stopped the natural world moving forward like it always does so faithfully.

The slightly lighter mornings have beckoned me outside a little earlier. One morning I took a slow stroll by the river and through the woods to be greeted by a beautiful mistle thrush guarding her territory as a flock of green finches chatted loudly in the trees above. I have to admit I gasped and stood watching for sometime, they seemed beautifully unaware of of my presence – or just knew I was a friend (smile).

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This month we’ve witnessed life in pairs; two robins in the gardens, two squirrels stealing from my bird feeders, the male and female great tit flitting around the front of the house along with Mr. and Mrs Blackbird and we were strangely delighted to watch two drakes fighting for the same duck on the river; we’re not sure who won!

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One evening we miraculously managed to get our whole family out for a walk together with our dog, Eli – we all stood in awe listening and watching the great spotted woodpecker knocking for attention on one of the trees above us, wonderfully choosing his tree in our regular tramping ground.

The catkins are peeping out and fluffing up nicely, a lovely sign of spring being just around the corner when we’re still getting snow forecasts on our weather apps!

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Great tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits and cute stripy headed coal tits are regular visitors to our feeders at the front on the house – we still (quietly) squeal with delight and grab the camera when they’re tucking into our seeds and peanuts.

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The greenery of spring bulbs are rearing their lolloping leaves amongst the snowdrops, the crocus are spreading colourfully across the grassy park hills and the pathways are brightening up beautifully.

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I’m learning to lean into the lingering winter but my heart is definitely longing for spring.

Blog audio recording:

It’s a frog’s life!

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“‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. ‘What is it like?’ …
‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth.’”
—Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The picture above was the scene that met us last week as we gathered with our friends for our weekly homeschool sports session; as my older children were lost in dodge ball I took a stroll over to the moat of the old castle ruins with my younger children and a few of their friends. The water is still and teaming with life; in a seemingly small, inner city park we’ve witnessed so much beauty through the changing seasons and this day was no different.

Before reaching the dense area of water we could hear the day time croaking and creaking from the army of frogs gathered; I can only imagine how loud and intense the evening sounds must be. The sheer amount of frogs congregated in one area was astonishing; they were moving amongst each other; climbing, nudging, tumbling, competing and yes, mounting – or as many of the children that day beautifully commented, they were ‘hugging’.

Collections of spawn were beginning to form and congeal around these incredible creatures; some drifted towards the bank but it also moved along as the frogs shifted in the water. As the children disappeared to play one by one I was left mesmerised by God’s awesome creative genius and knew I had to come back to photograph the amphibians in greater detail.

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The following day, around the same time my youngest daughter and I returned to the same spot to be met with more than double the amount of frog spawn – this army were hard at work.

We watched quietly, listened to the sounds and took photos with our eyes and camera of these sacred moments of life from the water below us.

We don’t just merely study ponds, water, movement and life; may these late winter observations bring refreshment to our souls and respect for God’s earth and creation. Let’s never think we’ve ‘seen it all before’, may we absorb our observations like a new day, a beautiful sunrise or a moment of reprise in our day to say ‘thank you’ and create a lasting memory.

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The frog by nature is both damp and cold,
Her mouth is large, her belly much will hold;
She sits somewhat ascending, loves to be
Croaking in gardens, though unpleasantly.

John Bunyan

We love these beautiful stories by Angela Sheehan, try to get your hands on a copy of ‘The Frog‘ – a wonderful living story of a frogs life!

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True & Noble

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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

C. S. Lewis

This morning I woke up to an 8-year-old using my butt as a pillow, a 5-year-old with freakishly long legs casually strewn across our king size bed like she owned it and a dog nudging my arm with his wet nose to get my attention – and somewhere through this repeated reprise of yesterday was my husband, inching his way out of the bed in an attempt to start his day

But it’s not like I ask for the uncomfortable holding on to the edge of the bed kind of nights but I don’t fight them. And this piece isn’t about my organic parenting style, I think it’s about love and leadership and the sacrificial matrix of mayhem and melody that we, that I live in – in abundance!

Head over to True and Noble to see the rest of this post…

The Connected Child

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Guelder Rose Berry

Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.

Charlotte Mason

I’m sure I’ve heard and observed murmurings of great connected conversation from my children over the 9 years we’ve been home educating, but my third born, Micah, has really brought home to me the beauty of what Charlotte Mason called the ‘science of relations’. We offer our children a feast of lives and love and literature and they make the connections and communicate them through their voice and life.

This is a beautiful thing to experience.

Earlier on this year we were taking a family walk across Hartshill Hayes Country Park in Nuneaton, the view from the top is idyllic; the rolling hills of the English countryside dotted with farmhouses and cows took our breath away. Micah stood quietly for a while soaking up the view and then confidently declared “Mummy, look – it’s like a Constable painting”. We’d been studying the English painter for over 6 weeks using the picture study portfolio from SCM, taking a couple of minutes every week to silently soak in and stare at brush strokes and themes; the children then one by one narrate what they see, how they feel and what they think about this week’s particular painting. I then hang the print somewhere around our dining room for them to glance at throughout our day, for it to linger in their minds and touch their hearts.

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And it’s these books and sounds and collections and conversations around the table; the repeated rhythm of an educated family life that make a lasting imprint on our children’s minds. We stay well away from dumbing down the capacity of thought and understanding that our children have; great art, literature and lives create ‘higher thought’ – a rolling hill dotted with a farmhouse and cows becomes a live Constable painting, how rewarding is that?

I’ve learnt to listen to the chatting whilst walking, gathered around the table or driving along in the car; my 13-year-old stopping the chat to point everyone to look at the glorious early evening moon, or whilst sharing about Wordsworth’s life and poetry my 5-year-old remembers that “Beatrix Potter also lived in the Lake District”, my eldest son relating our reading of history to our old testament bible reading or one of my favourites; how the 1805 nursery rhyme ‘baby bunting’ referred to in Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s ‘Each peach pear plum’ reminded my youngest son of the story of Moses as a baby caught in the reeds.

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Harvest Moon

Thought really does breed thought, and just as we trust the process of nutrition in our children’s bodies, whether we sneak a handful of spinach into a blended pasta sauce or hide courgette (zucchini) in their breakfast muffins (or maybe they take it gladly), we must trust the process of feeding our children the wonderful feast of literature and lives that Miss Mason suggests; it will produce in them not only incredible ideas and great thought but also “developing capacity, character, countenance, initiative and a sense of responsibility” (C M Mason, vol 6)

I collect these connections like treasure; I’ve learnt to trust the process of observation and narration and see the beauty whilst on this journey of experience in these educating days. These off-hand comments from my children come like wild flowers picked by a grubby toddler; thrust into my hand and heart as the most natural thing in the world, but for me – I smile and place another gem in the trove knowing their minds and lives are richer and fuller.

“…how full is the life he has before him?”

Charlotte Mason

 

They’re Watching You!

 

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Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you – Robert Fulgham

 

The following post is an excerpt from ‘Moments on mothering

Who we are and what we say, what we do and how we play out our lives is really important to our children. Every day we influence and greatly impact the little lives in our homes and hearts – but often without even realising the longevity of our loving leadership.

A big part of my life is spent facilitating my children’s learning. We’ve been home educating for almost 9 years and my greatest thrill is seeing my children thrive in their learning, especially when we’re ‘off the clock’. I’m a huge lover of nature study; I frequently point out beauty with authentic awe and wonder on any journey; from picking up milk from the corner shop to a family hike in the Warwickshire countryside.  One of my greatest learning influences is an 18th century educator called Charlotte Mason, she put great emphasis (as many have done since her) on children spending lots of time outside; observing God’s incredible creation and making their own connection with what they see.

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I can often teach and share life with my children but with very little immediate feedback, and then just like that your 18 month old wanders out into the garden and by using baby sign language tells you there’s a ‘bird’ whilst she watches the sparrows tap for worms on the lawn. And just last night I was out in the car with Nyah; she stopped me mid conversation and said “mum, look at the moon; it’s majestic”. It’s not merely that we suggest to our children what’s important to observe and commentate on, but we do it ourselves; we live it, we breathe it, we experience it and they see all.

And what if we saw all of life this way, what if we saw mothering as a plethora of perception, a nullah of noticing and a flowing river of recognition; how we live our life is how they will live theirs. Their lives may take on a different shape, but an oval is just a circle slightly squashed right? We can’t get away from the fact that our children will end up a lot like us.

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The hard thing is seeing the reality of our frailties and imperfection when we were hoping for momentary deflection. But hiding isn’t an option and neither is sitting on that pedestal. Our children need truth telling and wholehearted dwelling. They need to see conflict and wrong actions forgiven. They need blatant veracity and loving tenacity knowing that real is the raw deal but it’s within our capacity to feel and to heal.

I tell my children that I’m hopelessly flawed, very much human and I ask for forgiveness, regularly. The scandal of grace is in my face, every day and I drink it in. There’s no shame in taking the blame for what they do and say, but we have to be quick to forgive ourselves and remember tomorrow is another day.

Robert Fulghum said “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”; and as much as I endeavour to daily win my children’s hearts through what I say and what I do, they certainly don’t miss a thing.

Your life and choices are important to your children’s day dreams and life schemes, so you’d better watch your back mama, they’re watching you!

 

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Moments On Mothering – Reflective inspiration from one mother to another by Leah Boden

Pretty New Around Here!

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When the image is new, the world is new
― Gaston Bachelard

Hello and welcome if you’ve popped over from my old WordPress account; here we are, self-hosted and a bit more grown up (ha!).

I know it pretty much looks the same at the moment but give me time and I’ll be moving the furniture around and doing a few renovations here and there!

Look out soon for the sign up to a great monthly newsletter landing right into your inbox and a free give-away to all my subscribers!

Have a great weekend…I’m off to check out my big new house and all its new rooms, wahoo!!