Thursday, October 28, 2010

Homeschooling...my BFF



I think it's about time to do a little writing about one of my favorite subjects: homeschooling!!! Often, otherwise known as home educating, wrecking your children, socially isolating, brainwashing and many more, it is in my opinion, one of the greatest blessing of my life...and that, a complete surprise to me.

While in college, I did a random paper on homeschooling for a Philosophy class. That was the seed planted for what would be my "career". As I fumbled around for 6 years in University, the puzzle pieces of my mystery purpose finally came together in the LAST year. As I walked across the stage to accept my Education degree, I was bubbling with excitement. Not because of the piece of paper in my hand, but because of the little life that was blossoming in my womb. My husband and I had just found out that we were having a baby that week and it kind of overshadowed my graduation. There began my infatuation with home education.

It has been about 10 years since we began "officially" home educating our oldest son and I love it more now than I did then. It was much more difficult at the beginning, with uncertainties, infants and high expectations. Those were the hardest times. As our 4 kids have grown and I have learned so much, homeschooling is like a comfortable glove on my hand, a lifestyle fitting perfectly to our family's needs. It was difficult to let go of the reins in those college years, but God was faithful and guided us perfectly into His plan for us. I don't plan to go into every aspect of the last 10 years...for which I am sure you are grateful. I'm sure you don't really want to know where I store our erasers, what my kid's copywork looks like or watch a video of us eating organic hot oatmeal for breakfast while listening to a Henty audiobook (people make these kind of videos...I've seen a few). I do want to share, however, some homeschooling things that I love...some sunbeams that I have taken the time to bask in over the years.

The first thing is...my spot. You could call it the teacher's desk, the "Bridge", the driver's seat or Command Central, I just call it "my spot". It is somewhat sacred. Somewhat necessary for my sanity and absolutely heavenly. Every mom who works from home should have her "spot", or maybe even a couple of "spots"...a place to rest, think, put her knitting, her clipboard with the week's agenda on it and her tea. Mine is a rocking chair right beside the big picture window where, you guessed it, the sun shines right on through on me, all morning long :)

Not that I actually sit there all morning long, that would not be good for any of us either. I do sit there for the duration of the dreaded Math class though, then it's up and down for the rest of the book work time. We try to get all of our book work done in the morning, because real life education happens the rest of the day. By book work I mean the necessary, brief assignments that require proper writing and problem solving. Every homeschooler should learn the discipline of good study habits and brain exercising...best done in the morning...best done in short lessons...best done, then the fun stuff can happen the rest of the day. By fun stuff I mean music, cooking, wood work, painting, more reading, visitation, projects and any valuable thing you want your kids to appreciate and practice...or that they love and you need to appreciate and let them practice :)

The last category of things that happen in a run-of-the-mill day is FREE TIME. I like how Charlotte Mason terms it "Masterly Inactivity"...sounds much more credible to me, but harder to say and write, so I'll call it FREE TIME. She calls it that because it refers to giving your kids time to do what they want and relax, but always things that have been given your approval so that Dungeons and Dragons, ouija boards and video game marathons can be excluded.

So, we have book work, fun stuff and free time involved in homeschooling (ha...it's an acronym...bff...best friends forever). Some gems from each of these categories will be given some air time on my blog. Air time? What do you call it? Blog time? Cyber time? Help me out here.

Time to go do some fun stuff and masterly inactivity...going to an apple cider farm and then coffee and cookies at a friend's house. Ahhhh...homeschooling :)






Saturday, October 16, 2010

Surrendering to the Curls



I had to publicly apologize to my Mom and sisters recently, as it dawned on me just how intolerable I was as a teenage ego maniac. Of course, we aren't quite aware of how we are behaving in those turbulent, hormone bathed years of me-ness, but eventually, our self awareness grows and the dark truth comes into the light. The hair had to be just right, the clothes had to be brand named (borrowed form sister-thanks Trace) and the clock had to wait for these vital signs to stabilize before we presented ourselves to our audience...who wasn't paying that much attention to us in the first place. Our poor bus driver waited EVERY day, with a honk of the horn as I put the last hair in it's place. He even overlooked the assigned bus stop and waited right outside our house, so I didn't have to walk those grueling few feet and brave the weather in my so carefully put together attire. My sweet, blond and beautiful sisters, with their much more relaxed personalities, tolerated my demands for the bathroom mirror and my Mom just snickered...she really knows how to handle me.

OF COURSE I'm not like that anymore!!!! Although, I think it lasted a lot longer than I thought because my husband remembers me taking much time taken to get ready for outings...in front of the mirror. Eventually, I gave up. I have accepted that God made my hair curly and trying to straighten it is futile...that Calvin's name on my jeans doesn't make me sweeter...that laugh lines are actually quite attractive...that if you have a great smile, no one notices the Mount Everest pimple on your face and that Mom was right all along...beautiful is not seen on the surface.

Another freedom for women everywhere is in this...that wading in the shallows of vanity is a prison. Brave the waves and wade out a little deeper. Throw off the Vogue brainwashing and think truthfully and real. Enjoy beautiful clothes, fun hairstyles and love your shoes, but once they are on, forget about them! Change your focus to those around you and on what you can learn and do.

Disclaimer: Now that those wise words are out there, it must be said that four children, pets, house cleaning, church ministries, minor health issues and...age...kind of speed the enlightenment along.

I've been having this conversation with my daughter...we call her the Fashion Flaky. She is indeed very pretty and has a love of clothes...sparkly, multicolored, trendy clothes that need changing about every 40 minutes or so. She also has an extremely messy room and too many hand-me-downs. After she has dressed herself and done her hair in a reasonable amount of time, I say to her, "Ok, now that that's done, come away from the mirror and forget about what you look like." Fortunately, she has much more confidence than I did and doesn't really worry about it...did I mention that she is only seven? Ya...mostly playing, but now is the time to start the training so that the teen years are not such a Diva war.

It amazes me how many older women appear to still be caught in the beauty/confidence lie. You would think that they would get it by now, but apparently not. Hair color, weight perfection and anti aging creams are still at the end of the yellow brick road. Remember the teeter todder...balance the weight of value we put on beautiful things or we'll get a painful bump on the rear from the harsh, dirty reality of life.

The breathtaking colors of the fall leaves is a reminder to us of what true beauty is. The leaves are giving up all of their life giving chemicals to the tree..so it can live through the winter. The sacrifice causes them to lose their lush green and turn other colors. The beauty of the leaves' death is a natural wonder that causes people to travel from afar, in busloads, to behold.

Matthew 6:28-30 "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?"

Just as a side note, I wasn't all THAT bad a teenager. Aside from the hair thing, I don't think I was obsessive about much else...except Rob Lowe...and eating on time...and...never mind.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dream Sorting



I've had a touch of writers' block. Searching for something to write about, because I really want to...need to almost...but too many things bobbing around in my head to focus on one thing. That makes it difficult. Some ideas are deep and philosophical, some are strong and pointed and not many are funny and lighthearted...I like those the best, but they are harder to carve out of my psyche. Chasing my thoughts around all day is a full time job. When there is laundry to be done, meals to prepare, fights to break up and school to be done, my thoughts need to be quickly lassoed and put into a corral for the right time. Schooling with the kids is best because it occupies my limited mind space and pushed other thoughts away...far away.

Guess what really cool thing is happening in one month?? It will be my 40th birthday!! November 1st...I leave the hip 30's and join the graying 40's. I have been watching my peers make the dreaded transition all year long. Some don't care, but for most is seems to be somewhat tragic. I think it is a very dangerous time in a person's life. It's that "midlife" time of evaluation, reflection and decisions. We realize that we are sort of half way through our life and wonder how we've done, what we've done and what we still want to do. It can be depressing...if we look at it through the wrong glasses. It can make or break a person's life and that of those directly around them.

I haven't done a lot of things.
All of my dreams have not been fulfilled.
I'm still dreaming and dreaming in high definition.
But...I'm not depressed.
I'm not regretful.
I'm not looking for a change.
I'm not in crisis.
I'm still 20.

If anyone could get depressed and set off in midlife crisis, it would be me. I'm the type. It's not that my life is so perfect...that's funny. My life is simple, unexciting, unimpressive and can be very stressful. But it's also simple, stable, real and victorious. I'm living my dream of having an amazing husband and family, having a mountain view every morning and waking up to a job I love. I still haven't gone to Africa to help starving children, heard Il Divo live at the Coliseum nor bought an old cottage home in rural England...but I'm not dead yet. I'm letting go of my dreams of being a track and field athlete, raising kids on a spacious horse ranch and being a Dancing With the Stars (Jon Bon Jovi) partner. My point is that you learn contentment, you work at understanding what is important and you determine to do and respond to life in a humble, trusting way.

My life is not my own. I was bought at a price and what happens in me is not up to me completely. I am not desiring to have "My best life now" as is the modern mindset. My best life will come later, after the work is done here. My Father has a job for me to do and He makes it enjoyable because He is in it constantly. Being in His will and with Him IS joy. It's all in how you look at life, not what happens in life...and that part is a choice...an everyday, every hour choice. Coffee and music helps a lot too :)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

Pushing aside the "get r' done" part of me that always tries to make things happen is difficult, but key. It's great to a point, but then, when all is said and done, I am persuaded to give my will up to someone much wiser and deserving the I. He knows what I really want, better that I do. He has given me 40 years on this planet and He will guide and direct however many are left...they belong to Him. I will kick and scream at times, but I will more often grab His gentle, faithful hand enjoy the walk. Letting go of the American dream and holding to the Lord. Yeah...that's the secret. Whatever my lot, good or bad, I am learning to say "It is well with my soul". Probably the hardest hymn to sing in all honesty.

I've enjoyed the rain and wind this morning, and now the sun and blue sky are showing...I'm going to enjoy them too...and keep dreaming.