Meet Melaine Myklebust

A few years ago I felt like I was trapped in my own body.  My first baby was a few months old and I just felt like a blob.  My energy levels were non-existent.  I just had to go through the motions to get through the day.  Something in my gut told me that it was more than just having a new baby who didn’t sleep well at night.
I had never considered that I was actually struggling with chemical overload and my body couldn’t handle the food I was eating and the cleaning products and laundry detergent I was using every day until I found a book that spelled out how to read labels.  I was shocked to find that the dish soap I was using to wash my baby’s bottles contained ingredients that mess up fertility and cause cancer.  The laundry detergent I was using was an endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen.  I started purchasing better options, but I still wasn’t bouncing back as quickly as I should have been.
One day I was introduced to a product to support energy levels, but I was skeptical.  I was not into fads and certainly wasn’t going to be fooled again.  But I trusted the source and the purity standards to I decided to give it a try.   My life has dramatically changed.   My brain fog is gone.  My energy levels are back.  My metabolism is working again and my hormones are finally balancing.
Instead of walking around feeling like a blob, I’m tackling new projects and can think clearly! I'd be lying if I said that my life is perfectly put back together and my children play peacefully all day long without conflict.  But I have picked up a few tips along the way that definitely create order and structure in our home and I'd love to share them with you if you find yourself feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  
I've struggled hormonally after all of my babies were born and I'd love to share little tips and tricks for keeping energy levels high when you are chasing a bunch of littles. I am doing my best to raise four kiddos ages 6 and under in a home where peace and love abide.  As a homeschooling Mama, I’ve learned how to streamline things such as meal prep, cleaning schedules, toddler activities, and creating time for personal prayer and growth.
If you are searching for real life tips about how to create a home where love and peace abide, join our community where we share valuable resources with one another.  We discuss how to read labels and we share easy recipes that can be implemented right away!  We are all in this together.  
Ready to learn more?  Contact me!

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Updates from Melaine Myklebust

8 Things That I Want a First Time Homeschooling Mom to Know

1. Family life is not classroom life.
Before I started homeschooling I had a picture in my mind about how we would be able to peacefully move through all of our school subjects in one sitting.  And then ten minutes into our first math lesson, the baby pooped.  And then the toddler glued my shoe to the floor.  A twenty minute lesson ended up taking thirty-five.  After a few weeks of less than perfect school days, I realized that I was trying to create a classroom environment in my home.  And I was becoming frustrated with the little interruptions of family life.
It took me a while to realize that my home is not a school.  My children are not all the same age and working on the same thing at the same time.  A teacher can set aside thirty minutes of time to complete a math lesson without interruption because a school is set up this way.  But in a home, teething toddlers will demand your attention too.  Older children will bicker with one another. A dishwasher will break and flood the kitchen.
Instead of feeling defeated and thinking you are not setting your children up to thrive when things go wrong, think about real-life work environments.  Working adults have to constantly navigate around distractions. Co-workers stop in to chat.   Managers email and want the latest report within twenty minutes.  It is real life to have to stop what you are doing, pick up something else, and then go back to what you are working on.  When this happens during your school lessons, your children are watching you to see how you handle unpredictability and they are gaining wonderful life skills!

2. Set a schedule that works for your family.
Homeschooling is a little out of the box so it might feel weird to break away from the typical September-May schedule.  It might even feel weird to break away from the typical 5-day school week.  But you are in charge of your homeschooling adventure so you can set up a schedule that helps your family thrive.  This might be something you adjust after you try it for a few months.
A lot of moms set up a schedule before school begins and by October feel burnt out.   You have permission to change your schedule as soon as it stops serving you.  Some families thrive by doing school first thing in the morning every morning and do not allow any sort of interruption during the week.  Some families work around weekly extracurricular activities and their school time varies each day.  Some families like to go to school year-round.
Our schedule has changed as our family dynamic has changed. I set up our school schedule after observing my children and noticing when they naturally were ready to sit down and focus.  We used to sit down at the table right after we finished breakfast, but my kids were so excited to play with their toys that their schoolwork was rushed and the quality of their work was poor.  Now I allow them to play outside for a while to burn off steam before we sit down to begin and their focus has improved!  If I would have stuck to our previous schedule we would have battled our way through this school year. 

3. It is ok to toss a curriculum mid-year.
Sometimes we don’t know which curriculum will be a good fit for our family until we try it.   I wrote a little more about that here.   If something isn’t working for your family, ditch it.  You set the tone for the day.  If you dislike what you are doing, you can’t expect your child to be excited about it.   If your kiddo isn’t thriving with the teaching style in the curriculum you are using, find a different one that better matches his needs.

4. Do not fall into the comparison trap.
Instagram has allowed us to have a peek inside the homes of our families and friends.   But when we are scrolling, our brain isn’t able to tell us that what we are seeing is just the highlight reel.  I love to use Instagram to get inspiration and learn about new books and ideas, but if it becomes a place where I start to feel inadequate about my life I know that it is time to put the phone away.  

There will always be a new curriculum hot off the press that you wish you had.  A family you know will have the latest gadget and it will make you feel like your budget is not enough.  You will see kids reading years ahead of your own kids.  Comparison is the thief of joy and will make you feel very small if you allow it to.  

You are blessed with the children you’ve been given.  You will have to teach them very differently than the lady next door.  Pretty curriculum doesn’t always mean that it’s better.  Your kids don’t need a house filled with educational toys and gadgets. They need you.


5. You are perfectly equipped to teach your child. 
You taught your child how to speak properly.  You taught him how to tie his shoes.  You were there when he learned how to hold a fork properly and when he rode a bike for the first time.  So why do you think you aren’t capable of teaching him how to multiply?  Your qualifications to teach don't come from a degree in Education. You are qualified to teach your children because you know them better than anyone else does.  You know what makes them tick.  You know about their quirks.  You know how to juggle the sibling dynamics and how to pull away right before a meltdown happens.  You know what embarrasses your children and you know how to speak to their love languages.

Textbooks are set up to guide your child through the academic content so you aren’t walking into this blindly.   They tell you what to teach and when to teach it.  But when you sit down and make a plan for your family, you will see that homeschooling is so much MORE than just academic content. Creating a family culture is something that only you can do. And you’ve been doing it since the day you became a mom so don’t doubt yourself now.


6. Set realistic expectations for your child to master.
School is the only place where we take a group of people who were born within a 12 month span and expect them to master the same things at the same time and at the same pace.  I cringe at the phrase “grade level” because it can make kids feel like they aren’t enough when they aren’t meeting expectations.  
When my son was in 1st grade, his stack of textbooks ranged from 1st grade – 5th grade material depending on the subject.  This is normal for humans!  We naturally move through some content quickly, and other subjects take us a little more time to practice and master.

Resist the temptation to push your child through a difficult subject at a pace that isn’t reasonable because the word “grade level” is driving you.  Accept where he is and love him through it.  You WILL see improvement with hard work and dedication but it might not be at the pace you originally thought it would be.


7. Give yourself grace.
As a homeschooling mom, you are wearing many hats.  You are lesson planning for multiple grades, preparing 3 meals a day, scheduling appointments, and trying to maintain some sense of order in your home.   It’s overwhelming sometimes because everything happens in the same space.  Make sure you are nurturing your heart and feeding your mind so you aren’t running on empty.  This post addresses how to figure out your priorities to make sure your cup is filled.   

8. Write down your WHY.
If there is a whisper in your ear telling you to homeschool your children, don’t run away from it.  Lean into it.   Why is this lifestyle so appealing to you?  What are you hoping to accomplish within your family?  What are the hopes and dreams that you have for your children?  Write all of this down and save it.  There will be days when you will be frustrated.   There will be days when life is hard.   It will be tempting to throw in the towel and quit.  

If you eventually discern that homeschooling is no longer for you, that is ok!  But don’t make that decision in a heated moment of frustration.  On the hard days pull out your piece of paper that has your WHY clearly defined and you will see beyond the moment. You will be reminded why you chose this life for your family.  And you will see how far you’ve come.

If you are interested in learning more about homeschooling, I’m starting a small community online and I’d love to have you join us!  Send me a message and I’ll get you added to our group!

Lectio Divina

I was sitting in my apartment when my phone rang.  I looked down and my heart started to flutter when I saw Ryan's name flash across the screen.  We were in the very early stages of dating and it was common for us to go several days without speaking to one another.  His phone call completely took me by surprise.

When I answered, he didn't waste any time.  Right after I picked up the phone he blurted, "I need to pray, and I've never done it before.  I need you to teach me how."  

I responded, "Uh... ok.  Can you meet me at my apartment in 45 minutes?" 

He said that he'd be on his way.  

I had so many questions.  

Why did he call ME?  We barely knew each other.

How was I going to teach a grown man how to pray?

Did I even know how to explain prayer?  It's so personal!

When Ryan showed up, I handed him a Bible and shared this quote from St. Ambrose with him.  "We speak to God when we pray; We listen to Him when we read the Scriptures."

I briefly explained the steps of Lectio Divina which is a practice that is near and dear to my heart and we took a walk to the Adoration chapel in my neighborhood.  

I watched him as he cracked the Bible open, fervently took notes, flipped to another page, and took more notes.  I prayed that the Holy Spirit would reveal himself to Ryan in a special way. When we stepped out of the chapel, Ryan stopped me and said, "What WAS that?"  

I was confused and asked, "What do you mean?"

He touched his chest and said, "My heart is racing and feels like it is going to beat out of my chest."

I chuckled and said, "It looks like the Holy Spirit showed up."

That first encounter with the Holy Spirit changed Ryan's life.  He had no idea that there was a God behind the scenes patiently waiting for him to come.  Lectio Divina became a regular part of our time spent together and now that we are married it is a practice we've passed on to our children.  

What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina is Latin for "Divine Reading."  It's simply a way to read Scripture slowly in an open-ended way.  Instead of sitting down and reading the Bible as a textbook with the intent of gleaning information, Lectio Divina is a way of selecting a small passage where a word or phrase draws our attention to the Holy Spirit and how He is communicating with us. 

When we follow the steps of Lectio Divina we are not using a study guide or Biblical commentary to lead us.  We linger over a word or phrase instead of covering a large amount of content in a short amount of time and this helps us to fine tune our ears to the Holy Spirit. It's a deeply personal and fruitful practice. 

1. Prayer to the Holy Spirit
We begin our prayer time with a short prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for the grace to be receptive to the Word of God.

2.  Read
We like to read each passage twice.  Once to gain an understanding of what the text is trying to say and a second time to search for personal meaning.  We read the passages slowly, savoring each word and paying attention to words or phrases that jump out at us. 

3.  Observe
We sit with the passage and let it sink in.  We ask ourselves why the Holy Spirit wrote this for us through the pen of the author.  How do these words or phrases apply to our lives right now?  Do they have significance for specific relationships or habits?  How is the Holy Spirit inspiring or encouraging us through this passage?

4.  Pray
We respond to God about our observations.  We tell Him what comforts us and what challenges us about the words meant for us.  We verbalize what we think God is trying to say to us through the Scripture and we ask Him to confirm or deny those thoughts.  We ask for His strength to help us with our convictions and we praise Him for His love and steadfastness. We decide if there is an action step to take that day after our prayer time is over.

5.  Rest in God's Presence
We stop talking.  We use this time of contemplation to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us.  We are often overwhelmed by the patience, mercy, and compassion we feel. There is often a temptation to rush this step because we want to jump right into action after figuring out what we are called to do.  But resting in God's love during this time of contemplation is what gives us the strength to face our battles.  We sit and allow ourselves to be loved and then we thank God for speaking to us in such an intimate way.

Although Lectio Divina sounds like a formal process, it's what the heart naturally does when we encounter Christ on the pages of our Bibles. 

We like to select our passages from the Daily Mass Readings because they are always relevant, but it is also powerful to select a Psalm, a random Gospel passage, or the readings in this book.

Which Scripture passage has been speaking to your heart lately?
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