Talking to a Child About Babies, Abortion, Puppies and Adoption

This is a painting I created when my first child was about a year old, showing his journey from the womb to his first birthday.

This post is a montage consisting of thoughts from Sarah’s Facebook posts (some of which are as old as a decade and yet as timely today as ever), as well as this first portion, moved over from Sarah’s old blog, dated 11/1/20. Having ten biological children and 5 adopted children, this issue is very close to Sarah’s heart, and she is a courageous advocate for the sanctity of life.

Yesterday I was volunteering at the S.P.A.C.E. Fun-Schooling Zone with kids whose parents can’t care for them because they are working and schools are closed. We were building an animal shelter out of Legos.
A little girl about age 8 asked me how I adopted my kids. I told her they were in an orphanage.

She then asked… “If their mother didn’t want them why didn’t she just kill them before they were born instead of putting them in an orphanage? That’s legal you know. Did you get them for free?”

The little girl has a puppy she adores. So, I asked her a question.

“If you had to move to a new home where you couldn’t keep your puppy would you find it a new home or would you kill it?”

She answered, “I would never move to a home where I can’t have my puppy!”

“So, you would change your plans and do what it takes to keep your puppy?”

“Of course!!!!”

“Do you think babies are as special as puppies?” I asked.

She answered, “Of course babies are much more special! But what can you do if you find out you are pregnant and can’t take care of a kid?”

I answered, “I would do one of two things. Contact an adoption agency to find a new home for the baby, or do what it takes to change your life so you can take care of a baby. There are many families that can’t have children that would love to give a baby a good home.”

“OH! Did you adopt because you couldn’t get pregnant?”

“No, I adopted because I volunteered at their orphanage, just like I volunteer here. They needed a family.”

“SO THEY ACTUALLY LIKED YOU?”

Go ahead and laugh. Yes, they actually liked me.

(click here to continue reading)

The Beautiful World of Art & Logic Therapy (and Green Lemonade!)

Click for more flip-through videos.

Wondering what to buy for Mom for Mother’s Day? Wonder no more! The beautiful family of Art & Logic Therapy journals is continually growing!

Wind and Rain

Fire Light

Morning Light

Breakthrough

Lost & Found

Candlelight

Little Things (a brand new, 5×7, on-the-go, purse-sized journal!)

Brain Sharpening Therapy for All Ages! The newest journal, Candlelight, includes Psalms hidden and woven into the artwork and puzzles. Strengthen your faith and your mind!

Inspired by Dyslexia Games Therapy to renew and refocus the minds of individuals suffering from brain fog, ADHD, and anxiety. Puzzles and artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, creator of Dyslexia Games.

These journals are the fruit of a research project for women with symptoms of “Brain Fog” related to Covid-19, pregnancy, aging, declining mental health, stress, and learning challenges. Over 800 mothers are participating with interesting and hopeful results!

Read Art & Logic testimonials!

Sip some green lemonade while you enjoy your journals!

Feast your eyes on these beautiful books!

Dyslexia Games and the Fight Against Brain Fog (Part 2)

(Guest post by Ferne Hood)

The final week of the first month of the trial saw more and more positive and unexpected outcomes. Moms were feeling less overwhelmed, more organized, more in control, more creative and even remembering where they left their phone and what that person’s name was who they just met! One mom said, “It has been helping me remember things, like names. I’ve been getting increasingly worse at remembering names for the past couple years. I’ve surprised myself a few times lately!”

            At the end of the first month of the trial, Sarah conducted a little poll to see what areas of people’s lives were improving the most as a result. There were an astounding eighteen areas nominated! The area with the most votes being focus, shortly followed by organization, cleaning more and feeling less scatterbrained. Brain fog reduction was fifth on the list, which shows that these other fantastic areas of improvement were wonderfully unexpected by-products of the experiment. Moms reported an increase in concentration, patience, mood and memory. Some moms also discovered that they had some wonderful hidden artistic skills and their creativity was allowed to come to the surface once again. They found themselves bonding with their kids more and making precious time for themselves, sometimes for the first time in a long time. A month of Dyslexia Games also seemed to be helping to calm anxiety and improve mental health, as well as inspire moms to cook and clean more and finish the jobs they start.

            Because of Dyslexia Games, many moms are now feeling more in control of their lives, while also finding new ways to spend time with their kids, reconnecting over puzzles and pictures. Sarah has since created a range of Mom Brain Games specific for this purpose, to help mothers everywhere reclaim their lives, harness their thoughts, own their day-to-day and even clean a garage or two.

            “I felt exhausted, depressed, frustrated and nothing seemed to get accomplished. By the time I was halfway through the first book in this series I had retrained my brain to completely focus and complete one small task at a time. Now, I am able to get things accomplished. My anxiety and depression is no longer an issue. I am not overwhelmed–I can look at things and break it down into small chunks that are doable… This would not have happened without doing these brain fog series. I don’t know how it works but I am proof it does work !!!” – Krista.

            So many moms who have done this trial have had such fantastic results and are now a part of an ever-growing community. They have found a way to find themselves again, with a little daily focus, some time and dedication, some pretty pens, and maybe a green lemonade or two along the way.  

(Read Part 1 by clicking here)

Sarah Janisse Brown - Morning Light
Sarah Janisse Brown, Creator of Dyslexia Games/Art & Logic Therapy

Dyslexia Games and the Fight Against Brain Fog (Part 1)

(Guest post by Ferne Hood)

When Sarah Janisse Brown’s daughter Anna was struggling with dyslexia and finding it hard to read, Sarah began creating patterns and pictures in sequences and doing these “games” with Anna again and again! The result was incredible as Anna soon began to read comics and recipes, and then moved on to novels and the Bible. Anna didn’t realize she was actually learning to read when she was doing these puzzles with her mom, she just thought she was having fun. But her success led to Sarah creating a series of workbooks containing her Brain puzzles called Dyslexia Games, to help countless other kids and their parents who were having the same struggles.

            As some moms began going through the games with their children, and inadvertently doing them themselves, they soon realized that the games were having a significant impact on them too. It seemed as though the Dyslexia Games were helping these moms in their struggle with brain fog! So Sarah decided to conduct a little experiment. She launched a Facebook group and asked moms struggling with brain fog to commit to intentionally using Dyslexia Games to see if they could improve their brain function. Around 800 moms committed to the trial, keeping notes of their progress along the way. And the results have been astounding. Not only have these moms discovered a passion (or aversion!) to designing t-shirts and drinking green lemonade, and maybe a newly formed addiction to stationary, but they are happier, more focused, more present and feeling less scatterbrained as a result of committing to doing just a few pages a day.

            In the first week alone, participants were already starting to notice a difference. Melanie said, “I definitely noticed a clearer mind and was able to get more done each day. Doing two pages each day has opened a desire up in me to be more creative and to take up doing art with my daughter!” And Janice said, “I look forward to it every day! My brain feels good and likes working on the puzzles. Afterwards I feel more focused and refreshed.”

            Even after just a handful of days, the positive affect of Dyslexia Games was noticeable. Many moms mentioned how it was even helping to ease their anxiety. Elina commented, “I have had way less anxiety since I started the brain games. I’ve been more motivated and have come up with many new solutions for problems I’ve had for a while.” And Michelle said, “I got the best sleep last night that I have had in a pretty long time. I have also found that I’m less anxious if I do these. I am prone to panic attacks and have found that if I feel anxious and I focus on doing these I don’t do my regular nervous habits and the feeling doesn’t escalate at all. It is a fabulous coping tool for me!”

            An easing in anxiety, increase in creativity and focus, and more bonding with their children – it seemed like week 1 was impacting for so many moms. (click here to continue reading)

Fun-Schooling/Thinking Tree Books Master List & Flip-Thru Videos!

Have you wished for a comprehensive list of all the books available for Fun-Schooling? Amanda Osenga and Alene Candy have applied their amazing organizational talents to compiling that info all in one spot for you! Click right here to access the spreadsheet! It’s a beautiful thing! Don’t know what to pick? Click here for some great help!

Also, for lots of flip-thru videos that let you see inside many of our beautiful journals, go on over to Linda Beltran’s YouTube channel, Homeschooling6! You’ll be glad you did! Here is a sample of the new, gorgeous 3-journal Art & Logic Therapy Mom-Schooling series. Come join other homeschooling moms in this Facebook group, who are in a quest for relaxation and mental clarity!

Sarah’s Mom Tips: What to Do with Mom Guilt

A mom asked the question, “How do you deal with the fear of missing out and mom guilt? The feeling that it’s just never enough, and you’re never enough and can never be good enough or do good enough?”

Let me tell you why you are so afraid of getting it wrong. You were probably educated under a system that searched for your mistakes, and you were constantly being judged by what you did wrong. You would complete your work, and your teacher would take it and grade it. And how are papers usually graded? By finding all the mistakes and pointing them all out to the child. That’s very likely what we grew up with. So now we have become adults, and we’ve become parents and homeschool moms who are still afraid of making mistakes. A lot of us have a fear of ruining our kids.

Please don’t raise kids who are afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are fine. It’s through making mistakes and trying things that we learn how to overcome, and we learn to be okay with not being perfect. We learn about grace, and we learn about mercy. We learn about trying again. You are not the sum of your mistakes and your imperfections.

Let me give you an example about how to change your perspective. If you’re a mom who grades her child’s papers, here’s what you need to do. Let’s say your child did a creative writing project. And they fill an entire page with a story. The traditional educator in you is going to look at their creative writing and you are going to put a line under every mistake. Then you’ll tell the child that they spelled 20 words wrong, and made 10 grammar mistakes.

Here’s what the Fun-Schooling mom will do.

You will look at the creative writing page, and you will circle every single thing they did right.

Then you are going to say, “Wow, you just wrote a 400-word paper, and you got 350 words correct!”

That is so much more encouraging than saying, “You got 50 things wrong.”  

Focus on what they did right, especially if it is a creative project. If your child is being creative, focus on the story, on the heart, and on character. Stop focusing on their mistakes. We are ruining kids by obsessing over mistakes and judging them by everything they are doing wrong instead of what they are doing right. Of course, kids are going to make mistakes. Of course, they’re going to be horrible spellers. Of course, they’re not going to know anything about grammar no matter how hard you try to teach them, except what they learn playing Mad Libs. Of course, they’re not going to get phonics. Of course, they are not going to memorize their multiplication tables. Most every mom I know has a kid who struggles to memorize their multiplication facts and is bad at spelling. You know why these kids can’t do it? Because they are 8 or 9.

Learning happens at its worst when it’s all about just memorizing information. Kids will learn when they are motivated by their passions, hobbies, joys, collaborating, exploring, bonding. You might have a kid with symptoms of ADD who can’t focus on anything and can’t follow instructions. You tell kids like that to do something and they do something opposite. Or they get started doing some type of school thing and twenty seconds later they get distracted and go from one thing to another. You think this child doesn’t have the ability to follow directions or focus until you give them the Lego set of their dreams. Then this same kid sits down for two hours straight and goes through that instruction book, reads every little bit of instruction, finds every little Lego piece and builds the thing. That child has you tricked. If they can build that $50 Lego set with 2,000 pieces, they do not have a problem with attention span. The problem is with how boring their education is. Fun-Schooling–and the themes we offer–are a wonderful answer to that problem!

Are You Raising Clever Kids?

The whole point of Fun-Schooling is learning how to raise clever children. So, let’s talk about the meaning of the word “clever”. When we hear people talk about education, and what parents are supposed to do to raise kids that are going to be successful and get good educations, we don’t usually hear the word “clever”.

This is the essential meaning of “clever”:

“Intelligent, able to learn things quickly, intelligent thinking, funny in a way that shows intelligence, skillful, mentally quick, resourceful, marked by wit and ingenuity”. 

Webster’s Dictionary

How do we do raise clever kids? By encouraging curiosity, exploration, and wonder–and throwing out all that curriculum that puts your kid in a box where he or she does not belong.

Raising clever kids, especially clever kids with character and curiosity, doesn’t happen in the same way that you raise kids who make good grades. It’s different. I’m not talking about raising kids that are good at taking tests.  I’m talking about raising kids that know how to be creative in life, how to find solutions, and how to love learning.

Let’s talk about what Fun-Schooling is. If you already read my previous backstory on Fun-Schooling, then you know a little about my story and how I started homeschooling when I was 14 by pulling myself out of public school (and all its drama) with the help of my mom and dad. We went a totally different way with our homeschooling. Nobody was telling anybody how to homeschool back 21 years ago. We went to the library and got a whole bunch of books about everything I was curious about.

Do you know that true learning is fueled by curiosity? I want you to think for a minute about all the materials and things you are using with your kids. Do they inspire curiosity? Do they answer the questions that your child has about life? Kids naturally want to figure out how to grow up and do things. Some people a long time ago got an idea that there’s a whole bunch of content that you have to put in a child’s brain and make them memorize so that they can be successful. You aren’t raising kids to be clever that way. You are raising kids who try really hard to memorize things, and then forget it.  I want to raise kids who have skills. I want to raise kids who never lose the wonder and curiosity they had when they were five.

Think about your kids when they were five. They were like, “Why is the sky blue? Why does a cat have fur?” Kids don’t have to lose that curiosity and wonder. Traditional schooling methods take that away, and destroy it. Typical schooling methods tell the child what to learn and to stop asking questions. Memorize the facts If a child is good at memorizing things, then he or she is considered to be a good student by the system.

So many kids cannot memorize…and most of the they are being made to memorize doesn’t matter. Kids will ask, “When am I going to use these things in real life, Mom? Why do I have to learn this? It means nothing to me.”

Guess what? They’re right. Most of it they are never going to use, and a lot of it isn’t really even a building block for their future learning. It’s just a way to move on to the next grade.

Let’s fuel curiosity and raise a generation of clever kids.

Fun-Schooling Jitters? Jump in the Deep End!

When you first started Fun-Schooling with Thinking Tree Books you were probably feeling kind of overwhelmed with all the options to choose from, not sure how to build a curriculum for your child. You just look at all these beautiful books and wonder what’s inside and wonder…

Will my child be able to embrace this style of learning?

Is it enough?

Is it okay for children to have fun and study what they love instead of staying on the “tried and true” educational path set years ago my the experts of yesteryear?

Is it really okay that they are not learning all the sames things the grandparents studied in the 1950’s?

Can Fun-Schooling really provide a well rounded education when the whole point is for the child to dig deep into their specific passions and interests?

So many questions, fears, worries all mixed with the joy and wonder of discovering a way of learning that makes total sense!

So you dip in your toes, and maybe your child just gets it and is already diving into the deep end.

Or maybe you get it because you read Brave Learner and Unschooling Rules and The Unhurried Homeschooler and it all is the perfect fit for the homeschooling plan of your dreams… But your child has been so scarred by  “kill and drill” learning methods that they resist EVERYTHING.

Or maybe you were so relaxed in the past, and gave your soul over to radical Unschooling, and now your child scoffs at your efforts to get more organized with Fun-Schooling… because they would rather play Fortnight, and doesn’t that matter anymore? They fuss and cry at ALL structure.

So we plan, we dream, we fight, we cry, and we let go, and then we hold on tight because that’s motherhood.

And all you know is that trying to be a teacher is no fun, because your child actually can not sit still, and you know in your heart your child was not created to sit still. Children need to be free within safe boundaries, to learn when curiosity sparks, to discover who they are, what love is, and to learn to think deeply, live passionately, to grow through the growing pains and to learn to navigate this Earth, with wisdom.

And so you balance freedom with responsibility.

You measure out the boundaries of purpose and pleasure.

You walk the path ever-changing, never knowing where this road will lead… because it’s full of wonder, and questions, and struggle, and newness, and growth. And just when you think you mastered the game, the rules change, the seasons change, the relationships change, and life happens…

And it’s oh so messy.

And you wonder how you could ever prepare a child for the unknown future of a changing world.

You study the child. You seek to understand their individual gifts, weaknesses, passions and learning styles. You adapt your strategy to their personality and everything keeps changing. And then they are gone.

Go ahead and cry, because this is every mother’s journey, and even more so when you take on the great responsibility of giving your child an education that was dreamed up, just for them. (to continue reading, click on Page 2 below)

Get Out of Survival Mode

My husband says we are almost “empty nesters” because five of our adult children have moved out… and we only have TEN left at home!

I was asked a couple of times to share my ideas on how to get out of survival mode and thrive. I quickly wrote down five steps. I hope this helps someone.

First things first:

Number 1: Throw out everyone else’s opinion about what you should be doing with your family, home, body, homeschool, kitchen, job, budget and life style. If they don’t live in your house, their opinion should not drive you, shame you, or be your source of motivation. Sometimes we operate from a place of guilt because we are trying to satisfy someone who can’t be satisfied. This person is usually a family member who is an empty nester, or maybe was a teacher in the past, who knows what’s “best” for your family. Or you could be motivated by an image from Instagram that is totally unrealistic. Who are you following? Who are you trying to please? Are you driven by fear of failure or by a desire to fulfill your purpose and bring joy into your world?

Number 2: What is your purpose? What’s the end goal in raising your children? What’s your vision for your marriage? What are your personal and realistic health goals? Write down your answers and check your life to see if your daily life is in alignment with your goals. Does your husband share these primary goals? Get on the same page. If you are in agreement move on to step 3.

Number 3: Let go of anything you are doing for the wrong reason. Let go of anything that isn’t working. Let go of the unhealthy things that you may have lost control of… like things that waste time, wear you out, and compromise your health.

Number 4: After taking time to clean out your life of anything that keeps you from meeting your goals and living your purpose, you will be ready to add in some good stuff. But you CANNOT ADD until you subtract. So now that you dumped the time wasters and gave up a couple unhealthy habits, and stopped listening to the control freaks who love you… you are ready for your purpose. Start by planning just two hours a week to focus on your purpose: that meaningful something that matters so much to you.

Number 5: Get total control of your daily accomplishments. Start choosing to focus daily on what is important, instead of being in survival mode, where we scramble to do what is absolutely necessary. Once you get control of your daily life you can start making room for bigger dreams, bigger projects, a bigger mission. But remember there is nothing more important than nurturing a family. Nurture your family with a vision for the future and let one of your greatest goals for each member of the family be to help each one discover and pursue their life’s purpose. This includes your purpose along with your husband’s. You are more than parents, you are a team to raise a family and make a difference in this world, in your community or whatever.

When you are in survival mode, it’s impossible to think much about the rest of the world because your own world is barely hanging in there. So why are we in survival mode? Because we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our children. Because we are being shamed by Instagram and “people who care”? Because we are wasting too much time? Because we have no energy as a result of eating junk food, and we don’t sleep? Because we take on homeschooling methods that sap the life out of us and make our kids miserable? Because we are too tired to bless our husbands? Because we have preschoolers and babies?

I’m just writing what popped into my head. I hope it helped someone.

One last thing–turn off the noise. Turn on peaceful music and light a candle. It only takes a moment but can totally change the mood in your home to help everyone settle down and refocus.

Homeschooling Moms CAN and MUST Make Time for Self-Care

I’m a “HAPPY” mom of 15 kids. Five are dyslexic and some are hyper-active. Five of my kids are adopted internationally.

I’m busy. I homeschool. I keep this house running. I’m also a work-at-home mom. I’m currently homeschooling ten.

Since I am constantly giving, leading, and orchestrating around here, I need to be renewed and refreshed!

I make time for what matters! Self care matters! This is why I have a lot of time dedicated to Mom-School, because I can’t pour from an empty cup!

I hear so many of you drowning and struggling with feeling empty and overwhelmed.

It’s often because you don’t take care of your own needs for quiet time with God and personal learning and hobbies. You are running on empty.

Mom-School is one of the most important elements of successful Homeschooling!

It’s the example of BEING a passionate “learner” that SHOWS my kids what it means pursue “self motivated education” in a positive way.

You can say you don’t have time. Truth is, you have priorities. You don’t MAKE time because Mom-Guilt keeps you focused on giving giving giving… without taking care of your own needs. And then complaining that you are unsatisfied with yourself and with your husband… for not doing enough to help you and support you. And you think your kids are failing because you don’t do enough for them. But really, you don’t do enough for you. You are neglecting your own simple needs for nourishment of body, mind and spirit.

Why?

Because homeschooling moms with large families think life is nothing but sacrifice and suffering in silence and the kids look at your frazzled life and style and don’t want it. How do I know this?

Because I lived it. Why? Because none of my peers showed me another way. All my mom-friends were burnt out too, trying to be noble. This is especially true of Christian homeschooling moms.

And I watched a slow burning of all joy and passion darken their lives.

So often homeschooling support groups on Facebook are on fire with the cry of burnt-out moms who are trying so hard to give it all and do it all… for love.

One day, when I was a mom of eight kids under ten years old I realized I AM NOT too busy to enjoy my life and marriage, I just didn’t know how to manage my 16 waking hours well. Isn’t it enough to spend 2 hours cooking and cleaning, and four hours focused on homeschooling? And of course I was wearing a couple of babies!!! But where did the time go? Sixteen hours is a lot!!!! And that still leaves 8 for sleep!!!

What was I doing with my 16 hours??? Being wasteful.

What if I had 14 hours to pour it all out for my kids… and just TWO to spend on myself???? Can I give myself two hours of my day? Yes. Can I give my husband ONE? Yes, that leaves 13 for homemaking! What if I give a half hour of my day to God? That’s more than I was when I didn’t realize I had 16 hours to manage!

So now… 30 minutes for God. One whole hour (at least) for my husband. TWO hours for me! A half hour here and there!!! This is NOT being unrealistic. It’s being intentional!

Yeah… and 5 hours for social media!!!! Just kidding!

I also work a few days a week, and when my kids were little I had to get help to have time in the home-office, because we didn’t have a TV.

Even though I have a house full of high maintenance kids I still spend a lot of time enjoying my passions, studying my interests. My kids are very curious by my example of learning! Seeing me doing Mom-School inspires them in their learning.

I do my own thing, and sometimes they jump in. Always they observe.

I do my hobbies right in the middle of everything, surrounded by my children. They get involved, watch or do their own stuff. My little kids play a lot, and all my kids play with each other. Since they are all a year or two apart they are really good at entertaining each other.

How did I ever get a break when my kids were young?

It was hardest when I had 3 under 3!!!! My husband would give me four hours each Friday for myself. There were times I would also trade childcare with my sister or another mom. During one season in life when I had six little ones, my dear friend, in her 50’s, who missed babies and had no grands, would come play with my kids. Sometimes teens would help me. When my 4th was born, a college girl came over to help a few afternoons each week.

I didn’t always have extra help, so I focused on hobbies and interests I could do in the middle of it all.

If a mom of 15, who also runs a publishing company can make time for self care and Mom-School, anyone can! And yes, even with toddlers and babies. There is a way!

Share your tips for self care in the comments!