Timing is (and isn’t) everything.


A photo posted by Cara Thompson (@thehomelearner) on


December felt like a complete wash for me in the area of personal development, planning, organization, writing, and anything else related to goal setting and accomplishing. The month was a blur of nausea, fatigue, and PBS Kids.

I announced on my personal Facebook page that we are expecting (click here for the video of my kids talking about the baby), and right away put curiosity to rest that this baby is indeed a surprise. Unplanned, but very much wanted. Sometimes I realize a little too late that timing is everything.

I wasn’t planning on being pregnant this year (or ever again because of health issues), but here I am in the middle of figuring out what our new normal will be. I’m trying to set new goals and take more steps in the learning journey, but it’s been hard and the timing of life has been tough.

So, while I should’ve written an end of year post, I should have a tidy list of goals for 2016, I should have a plan for the blog in the New Year ready to share with all of you – I don’t. But I’m choosing not to get hung up on the timing.

Because sometimes, timing isn’t everything.

When I get caught up in the calendar to dictate whether I am living in step, I tend to fall into one of two ditches – over eager task doer that pays no attention to my limitations or the people in my life, or crushed pity party thrower who never seems to be able to keep up the normal pace with everyone else (read: loads of false guilt).

Instead, I’m choosing to focus on grace instead of timing.

Timing is important when Crystal Paine announces that her new course will be half off for one day only.

Grace is gentle when I forgot to purchase said course and wake up to find out that I, in fact, will not be getting in on the course this time around.

Timing assumes that all New Year’s Resolutions will be made by January 1st.

Grace trumps timing when I can’t seem to get my thoughts in order by December 31st. (Grace whispers don’t give up.)

Timing is a good motivator but a bad boss, especially when we need to be to church on time.

Grace celebrates baby steps and progress.

Timing keeps a record of short-comings and late arrivals.

Grace says it’s good to keep trying even after failure and mistakes.

Timing says that I have to buy the next great thing for setting goals or I’ll be left in the dust by all the other successful moms.

Grace remembers that godly stewardship is better than compulsion; saying no and choosing to move slowly is better than speed and productivity for the sake of growing in wisdom.

Even though it’s hard for me to admit that I’ve missed out, failed some goals, and am not as ready for January 2016 as I usually like to be, I’m learning again to embrace the hard stuff because it brings me face-to-face with reality that I’m broken. And on the days when my weaknesses are more abundant than my strengths, when the pregnancy trials threaten to eclipse everything else – I won’t center my thoughts on the timing of life, I will center my thoughts on grace. Grace is greater than all my weaknesses. Grace that saves me from myself and the thoughts that tell me I’ll never be good enough. Grace sees me in light of eternity and not in light of my current afflictions.

Here are the grace-centered things on my plate right now:

Getting back into our lessons and homeschool routine.


Taking care of our new puppy (I know, the timing wasn’t the best for getting a pup).

Painfully slowly still settling in to our home. We moved my desk, and I love it!

Working through 31 Days to Clean and Make Over Your Mornings (on sale through January 8th). 

Setting up a new chart system for the kids’ responsibilities.

Two Reading Challenges – both from Read Aloud Revival. (Check out the Membership site! Prices increase soon. Timing strikes again.)

Drinking lots of decaf coffee in my new pour over mug. (My husband knows me so well.)

I’m looking forward to connecting with more of you in the New Year. I hope you are ready to thrive in 2016, and I hope this space will be an encouragement to you in your journey.

Happy New Year! (It’s good to be back.)

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Day 26: Our Block Schedule #Back2School in #31Days

Kid-ucation Graham and Joe

I’ve been studying our days for a long time.

How my kids spend their time when allowed to play however they please, taking note of their highs and lows – excitement and boredom. Ups and downs or I like to call them – anchors and hot air balloons.

I’ve experimented with timing and different levels of involvement, and through this I’ve learned that a strong routine is built upon the natural order of a person’s interests.

For example, my daughter almost invariably will begin her day already playing in her mind. She has a plan for what she wants to do first as soon as she comes downstairs. All she needs is a snuggle and breakfast and she’ll be set for hours. She not only wants this freedom, but she needs it in order to thrive, create, and discover. When I have tried to establish a morning routine for her, she not only resents me but it’s almost like she deactivates – all thinking, feeling, and working functions are turned off and she is very difficult to manage.

I am not saying that I let my daughter completely do whatever she pleases just because she will fight me otherwise. I guide her most definitely in the mornings, but in ways that she doesn’t discern as guidance. Making sure she has a rich learning environment in which to play isn’t created on accident, and I’ve learned that my best involvement with her environment is an unseen one.

My son, however, doesn’t want to eat right away and he wants to be told what to do first. He wants to know what things he needs to do in order to earn screen time. Most often screen time is reserved for the afternoons when the toddler is napping and the energy level for the day has lulled. His personality thrives when I establish a morning routine for him, this is how he best functions knowing that I am helping and enabling him to reach his other goals for the day. Otherwise, when left to himself in the mornings, he flounders and frustrates – himself and others.

So for today, when I show you what our block schedule is and what it means for us – I am by no means expecting you to copy and paste it into your day planner with fingers crossed and a prayer that maybe this will help keep everyone in your home happy.

Likely, it won’t work for any other family than just mine. And I’m okay with that.

What I do want you to glean from this post is connections between my children’s behaviors and the behaviors of the children in your life. We are all unique and yet strangely similar too.

Here is our current Block Schedule:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.11.48 AM

You can see that our 3 main blocks have natural anchors for that time of day.

Breakfast, morning chores, snack time, lunch, dinner, and bedtime routine. Just announcing that it’s time for morning chores requires a full-stop from what they were involved in and a change in action.

Full-stops are so important, necessary, and crucial that I use them sparingly – and always couple them with eating or leaving (things the kids love naturally).

The reason a full-stop is so valuable is that it supports authority. When I announce that it is time for a full-stop, it isn’t a matter of “wanting to” for the kids.

I’ve learned that limited use of, but full confidence in my authority has safe guarded our home from the threat of wasting our days. And more than that, it has allowed me the freedom to more fully enjoy my kids and engage in their fun because I’m not secretly afraid that they will bully me into giving into their every desire. Oh how I’ve learned the hard way that giving them too much freedom to choose hurts all of us.

You’ll notice that I don’t use times in my blocks. It’s important to not tie times to these anchors for us. I’ve attempted to schedule based on a time on the clock and that’s only led to frustration for all of us. Just because it says 12:00 PM on the clock doesn’t mean my kids want to come in from outside to eat. Usually, we like to eat before noon anyway.

Timing is important, and learning to use a time budget has been life changing for me. But trying to time everything perfectly has made me too obsessive or too passive.

So when it’s time for an anchor, the kids know that they will be receiving instruction as to what they can do next.

Individual lessons: math, writing, activity books, reading, and lapbooking will be included here.

Group lessons: using our Five in a Row and Early American History, we will focus on 2 main subjects per day – I have written out a sample week, a bare bones plan for our days:

  • Monday: Science & Bible – Start Lapbook
  • Tueday: Math & Language Arts
  • Wednesday: (HC)2 – no group lessons
  • Thursday: Early American History & Art
  • Friday: Social Studies & Cooking Lesson – Finish Lapbook

All lesson specifics will be written in the Kids’ Bullet Journals – all chores, anything time sensitive, or places we need to go per day are included here. We’ve already started using them this week to get comfortable with the new habit, and so far the kids are working well with this layer. (Remember, I only add one new thing into our routine at a time.)

Bedtime routine: We started doing the LifeAsMom.com’s Bedtime High Five years ago. Those of you who visited our home way back when JoeAnna was 3-4 years old will remember the construction paper hand taped to the back of our bathroom door.

This routine, and the simple phrase “let’s do our high five” has had a lasting impact on our bedtime efficiency. Teaching our kids from an early age to do the same things every night before bed has created strong habits that build security into their lives.

Why Block Schedule?

I’ve learned from trying to do too many good things in a single day that this pushes us too far. The best things get rushed or skipped while the new things suck all our time and energy.

Taking the time to fill a block only with the essentials leave us with room to breathe, room to make mistakes and start over, and room to simply enjoy the hot air balloon moments in everyday.

This is the beauty of a home education. A tutorial education, one that is fit to the individual.

I hope today’s challenge in the #Back2School in #31Days series inspires you to study your days too. To see and discern what times are best for the people in your life, and to see growth and fruit from your intentionality.

This is Day 26 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

You can still get access to the course:

Crystal Paine’s #MakeOverYourMornings course has been one of the most inspiring sources of help-to-change for me, and I hope it will be for you too. Join me and a group of friends as we go through this course now! Comment or contact me if you want in on the group encouragement.

Read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

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