Friday, August 31, 2007

You can even find God at Wal-mart! (or at least some great Godly music)

It seems to be Casting Crowns week here at Tricia’s blog. I was perusing the blogosphere this morning and landed on BooMama’s site. She is having a Casting Crowns give away. (DON’T GO THERE NOW, GO THERE AFTER YOU FINISH READING THIS FINE AND INSPIRING PIECE OF LITERARY GENIUS!)

From there I went to CBD to hear the 30 second snippets of the songs on this new album. I did not know one of my favorite groups had a new album, because I live under a rock. Anyway, after I listened to the tantalizing snippets, I knew I had to have it. But alas, I could not go back to BooMama’s site because I had promised (in clearly a moment of utter insanity) to take the kids to Wal-Mart for various and sundries they wanted to spend their money on. Signing up for a free Casting Crowns CD would have to wait.

So we went to Wal-Mart, took back the jeans I bought for D, (why oh why do I buy him clothes? I always have to take them back) bought everyone new battery operated toothbrushes, (back in my day we had to walk up hill both ways to school in a blizzard for 3 miles, and brush our teeth by moving our arms back and forth. Today’s kids have it so easy!) and stop in the CD section for B to spend his money on some Christian CD. I’ll have to take his word that it is a Christian CD because I can’t understand a word they say.

While I was there, in the Wal-Mart CD section, I noticed something…right in front of my eyes…could it be? Yes, it was! The new casting Crowns CD. You have to know that I bought it. It was not on my list. There is a 5 in 100ish chance I could have won it from BooMama, and I didn’t really need it, but in my cart it went.

If I have to endure Wal-Mart with 4 kids (T went home for the weekend) buying toothbrushes, Sunday shoes, screamy music and deal with the return department, then I believe that I deserve a treat. Usually that treat is a 99 cent chocolate bar, but not today my friends; today it was a somewhat more expensive CD.

It will add to my soul not my thighs, you gotta love that.

Here is a tantalizing little taste for you…even without the music, the words…they are a powerful!

Casting Crowns - Somewhere In The Middle

Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle

Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Like a little bee...

It’s been a busy week around here this week, what with starting school and having a bonus kid and D working his rear off. He’s hardly been home before 8 every night this week. Not to mention I scheduled 3 doctor/dentist appointments for the first 2 weeks of school. Why in the world did I do that???

Tonight is the meet the teacher night at co op. Since I’m a teacher I have to be there, and so does B because he has to get his first homework assignment from his biology teacher.

It looks like this is going to be a good year at co op. I have 20 students including my own. I have 6 in my 3rd & 4th grade class and 14 in my K – 2nd. The K – 2 class is going to be interesting. That is a lot of little ones, but luckily I found a teen helper, so there will be an extra set of hands. The good news is that I will break even as far as payment goes. I’ll work for 2 class periods and be able to pay for all 5 of the kids’ classes, well almost. I think I’m down $10 or something. I think I can swing that.

School is going okay so far. I like the new Sonlight Language Arts. I am using the year 3 LA for grades 7, 5, 3, & 2. The 3rd grader is going to Scottish Rite so anything other than her SR homework is extra, imo. The 2nd grader is getting it fine and the 5th and 7th grader are going to be taking a writing class at co op that will add to their LA for the year. I think the class will be hard for them, but good-hard.

We’ll start our State Study next week. I am looking forward to that, I’m using Simply Stated as my guide, but have also purchased various games and requested some extra library books that are on the students individual reading levels for quite reading time. We’re doing Colorado first, because we just visited there so it’ll be fresh in their minds, and also because it’s so stinking hot here and perhaps thinking about the mountains will make me feel cooler.

Well, I’d better get back to it. G is on the computer, A & T are reading books in the back room, E is almost finished with her math-Roman Numerals, I HATED Roman Numerals, what is wrong with letting numbers mean numbers, why do they have to add letters? I think this is why I also hated algebra- and B is working on his writing assignment due on the first day of co op. Once E is done I’ll need to round up the 4 young ones and start history.

If you’ve read this far, I’m flattered, it was not much more than a glorified to-do list. Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More, I Need More!

I am having a very strange problem. I’ve never had this problem before. I can’t keep T busy. She is so quick at her work. I get her started, move on to another kid, then wham, she’s done. So I give her something else and then move onto another kid, wham, done again.

I am not a fan of busy work but I think I might have to invest in some kind of workbook or something. For the last three days when she is done and I’m working with my other kids, I’ll just give her a book and tell her to go read till I call her. Well, she’s also a fast reader so she’s almost done with the book!

I work with the 4 younger kids doing the same subjects together, only my expectations differ depending on the grade. Well, it is a bit of a problem when T is expected to do more than A (T is in 2nd and A is in 3rd). It is not a problem for T, she’s happy to just keep working, but A does not appreciate that T is doing more/higher level work than she is.

I think I’m going to print off some book report forms and have her write me some book reports, or do more copywork or something.

I know more is not always better, sometimes it’s just more…but it’s kind of a problem when she is off playing with her Littlest Pet Shop and A is still trudging through her math. Especially since T has just done twice as much math in half the time.


She is also flying through the assigned reading. I’m going to have to find more for her to read. I remember reading on the Sonlight Forums about parents who need more reading for their kids. It has always been hard for us to keep up, we definitely don’t need more…well, until now.

I think I just need to get some good science/history type books to have her read. Then I won’t feel bad when she seems to have played more during school hours than done school.
She’s just so fast.

And her handwriting…it’s so neat. UGH! No lie, her handwriting is neater than my 7th grader.

Here’s to hoping she rubs off on my kids!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I don’t care what the song says; It’s Waking up that’s hard to do.

For the last two mornings of our school year, I have gotten up at 7am, showered, dressed, eaten, and been ready for the start of school at 8am. And let me tell you friends, it is hard to do.

I realize there are people who get up much earlier than that with great regularity, but HOW DO THEY DO IT??? I am SO not a morning person, sadly I am not a night person either, I’m an afternoon person. We are a much ignored demographic. I am at my best from about 10 am to 3 pm. Those are my hours.

Unfortunately with A attending Scottish Rite Dyslexia Lab school in the afternoon, things really do work better when we get started by 8. The kids are all ready; they are all morning people like their daddy. I am the only not-quite-awake person around here at 8 am.

Let’s take this morning for example, D got up at the horrendous hour of 5 am to get ready for work. He heard on the radio that there was a Lunar eclipse happening right then. He suggested we get ALL 5 kids up and let them go see it. I do believe my head lifted off the pillow and stink eye was given. That’s all I recall. I think he could have told me that he moon had literally turned to cheese and giant rats were nibbling on it and I would not have gotten out of bed.

Now that it is noon, I am disappointed. I am a good homeschooler, I would stop what we are doing and run outside right now and show them. Why do lunar eclipses have to happen while I’m sleeping, doggonit?

Oh well, surely there is a YouTube video out there of the Lunar Eclipse, right?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Homeschool; Day One.

Tidbits from today’s school…

I showed the kids where Cuba is on a map, not because we are studying Cuba, but because Cuba was referenced in our read aloud and no homeschooling mother worth her salt passes up a chance to point things out on a map.

I also mentioned that Cuba was a communist country, not because it pertained to anything, but because I’m a homeschooler and can’t pass up an opportunity to pass on not quite pertinent information to my students.

When A heard this, her eyes got big and she said in her ever-so-dramatic way, “WHAT!!! They eat people there???

We all had a good laugh and discussed the difference between a communist and a cannibal. Very important difference. A communist might want you to share everything you have with them, but they’re not likely to eat you.

And from G.

In his journal today instead of drawing a picture at the top (which, since he is in 7th grade he is not required to do) he wrote, ‘Image Not Found’. I think it is possible he is spending too much time on the computer.

One day down; 179 to go.

Now we’re off to the movies.

**********BY WAY OF EXPLINATION************

I feel that it is necessary to explain why I'm getting total stink-eye from both the boys in our First Day Of School photo.

This is about he 7th shot. A, E, and T had a bad case of the giggles, and my camera was not focusing. We took about 4 photos and then went back into the house and back to work. When I downloaded the photos, I realized I did not have a good one so I interrupted their productivity for the 2nd time and sent them all back out in the heat for another round of photos.

That is also why this is not is not the greatest photo, but I think if I'd have sent them back out for a 3rd round they'd have revolted.

Just so you know, the stink-eye is because they so badly wanted to do their schoolwork, and I was interrupting. It's not at all because their teenage boys.

Really, I promise.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back to School!

Tomorrow is our first day of school. I don’t imagine I’ll get to posting about it until the late afternoon, so I thought I’d pop in now.

We’re going to do a light day, probably only math, journaling, and Sonlight (history reading).

I have told all the kids that if we work hard and diligently, we’ll do something fun when we’re done.

I’m planning on taking them all to Ratatouille at 1, then we’ll stop for slushies on the way home. Just so you know, slushies are what a family stops for when they have a dairy allergy. No ice cream cones for us, just give us an icee at 7 11 and we’re good.

This will be my first time teaching 5 kids, grades 2, 3, 5, 7 & 10. WOW! When I started teaching my first kindergartner all those years ago, I would never have believed I’d be here. But I serve a mighty big God who specializes in using regular people like me.

I better get busy now. I still have a few things to get together before tomorrow. I know I have those Sonlight books around here somewhere…

Friday, August 24, 2007

Voice of Truth - Casting Crowns


That song by Casting Crowns is one of my favorites, not because it sounds good (thought it does) but because, the words, they are powerful.

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the voice of truth says "this is for my glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me,
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

Here’s the thing, I have a bit of a problem with fear. I like the known, I like to go places I’ve been before, do things I’ve done before, and see people I already know. I don’t like to try new things.

Remember that phrase, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’? usually like what I ‘got’. I’m ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ kinda girl.

However, because God has a since of humor, I married a try-new-things kinda guy. He hates to eat in chain restaurants; he hates to eat in the same restaurant more than once. He always orders something different; he never wants to go on vacation to the same place twice.

That man has been pulling me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis for years now. I am starting to get used to it, but if given the choice I’m always going to go with what I know. New still equals scary to me.

I realize that there is nothing inherently wrong with liking the familiar, but when it stops me from being obedient to God, well, that is a problem.

When it stops me from living the life He wants me to live, then I gotta change. Where would the world be with out Peter who walked out on that water? I would have been cowering in the boat under the tarps, or really I’d still be on shore…didn’t they know a storm was coming???

And what about David? There is story after story about David just walking right into danger without a thought. When I heard about that Giant I’d have found a nice closet to hide in.

I read a book recently called Nice Girls Don’t Change The World by Lynne Hybles. It is a little book but it has some big thoughts. Here is the excerpt that jumped off the page and slapped me in the face. (God has to be a bit dramatic to get my attention.)

I’ve learned an important lesson. I learned that I didn’t really know myself very well. I thought I did, but fear always hides the truth. Fear magnifies our weakness and it hides our potential. Only God know the real me and the path I needed to be on. Only God could lead me into the future that was right for me.

I’ve learned that my first response to just about everything is fear. If I listened to the voice of fear, I’d do basically nothing. But part of what it means for me to move from being a nice girl to being a good woman is that I choose to talk down fear. When fear says, “What have you gotten yourself into now?” I say, “I think I’ve gotten myself into the will of God and I’m not going to back down.”

When fear says, “You are not smart enough, experienced enough, or strong enough to do what you’re trying to do,” I say “Well, I serve a God who specializes in using people as flawed as me, so you might as well give up.”

When fear says, “You’re going to disappoint people so badly,” I say “Well, maybe so, but I guess I’d rather take the risk of disappointing people by not being good enough than disappointing God by not being brave enough.”

That last one is a biggie for me. The thought of disappointing people makes me feel sick, so I often let it paralyze me.

I truly could have written that part of her book, (minus the eloquence). It is hard to change. God, and D have been dragging me kicking and screaming away from my fear based decisions for a long time now. I think maybe it’s time to cooperate a little more.

The idea that God may want to use little old me for something…that maybe all my weaknesses don’t actually render me ineffective for his kingdom…that maybe all my weakness are not as glaring as I perceive them to be…that God may have given me something to offer, these are new thoughts for me.

I am praying that God will indeed give me ‘the kind of faith it takes
to climb out of this boat I'm in, and onto the crashing waves’

That is a scary prayer, my friends.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Is There a Designer or Magician or Psychologist in the House?

I have been wracking my brain to try to figure out how to get another bed in my girl’s room. It’s going to be a trick; I need some of those people from HGTV to help me out. Or a magician.

The thing is…I like symmetry and balance. I don’t want to move the dresser to the wall so a trundle bed can come out from under their bunk beds, because when it is put back under the bed the room will be unbalanced. That will drive me mad. The dresser must be centered under the window or my head might explode upon entering the room.

See it is kinda funny, reading that last sentence you’d think I’m one of those anal people whose house is always clean and everything is in its place. HA! So, not true. Apparently my anal tendencies only go towards furniture placement. The giant pile of laundry on the chair in my room? That is fine with me. Just don’t move the chair under it.

So D and I have had many discussions, we’ve gotten out the tape measure, we’ve eyeballed, we’ve measured, we’ve scratched our heads and come up with nothing.

The problem isn’t that the room is too small, they have a larger than average size room, but they have a giant white armoire to hold all their toys because their closet is small. This armoire is screwed to the wall, so it’s not going anywhere.

Their bunked can only fit in one place in the room because of the window and they have a dresser under the window. The thing that is throwing us off is the table.

They have a kitchen table in their room. I know this sounds strange but it works great! It is a small, white, rectangle table with two chairs. It is perfect for all their arts and crafts and for them to do their school work on. We don’t have a lot of room anywhere else for them to do this stuff. Before we got them the kitchen table, they were constantly taking over my kitchen table to do all their girly artsy stuff. Every time I wanted to set the table I had to have the girls clear it off all their stuff. I SO don’t want to go back to that.

So…If one of you 10 daily readers of my blog happens to work for HGTV, shoot me an email, we need to talk. Or, you know, if you’re a magician…or maybe what I really need is a psychologist.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Party of seven...

All the girl cousins.

Our lives have just gotten a little more interesting. T, my niece will be staying with us for an undetermined amount of time. She is in 2nd grade so teaching her won’t be too hard; I’ll just use the stuff I used last year for A.

Her dad, D’s brother, is having back surgery. Serious back surgery, with a long recovery time and much physical therapy. They live about an hour from us so sending her back and forth is not convenient, and defeats the purpose of having her here. That purpose is so D’s brother can recover and his wife can work while he is recovering.

We can really see that the Lord has been preparing us for this for some time. We decided to take a year off from several commitments at church, say no to new things, and sell the camper (that my family of 6 can barely fit in). The Lord has also blessed us financially this year with a little extra, so we can afford to have an extra mouth to feed and brain to educate.

My year is pretty busy already so I am trying not to worry and give it to the Lord. He knows what I can handle. This is what family is all about, helping each other out.

My girls are so excited they can hardly stand it. T used to live down the street and they practically lived together when T was not in school. They can’t wait for her to get to stay with us. I’ll pick her up on Sat.

So we have another player in our little production. We are blessed.

Now, off to the homeschool store to buy more curriculum.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Camping and Laundry and Debt, OH MY!

It is a red letter day around here. After a mere 5 weeks, I have finally finished the last of our Colorado camping trip related laundry. Shocking isn’t it?

By way of justifying this horrifying display of housewife ineptitude I must tell you all that my dryer was taking a REALLY long time to dry things, like two hours. Because I am so very astute, it took me weeks to figure out why doing the laundry was taking so long. Finally, after I had to reset the dryer 3 times to dry some blankets, it dawned on me. This is not normal behavior for a relatively new dryer. So I did what every good housewife does. I called my husband.

He did what every good father does and called his teen boys and told them to clean out the dryer tubie things. So the boys got the thing they blow off leaves and grass cuttings…yeah, I think it is actually called a blower, and proceeded to unclog A LOT of lint out of the tubie thing. I think I have figured out where all the missing socks are going; they are simply disintegrating into dryer lint. I clean out SO MUCH dryer lint after every load, and still there was a clog the size of a small dog in that tubie thing. So now that I can get more than two loads a day done, I have finished all the laundry.

Another reason it took so long is that I am washing every last piece of cloth that was in the camper because we are getting ready to sell it. Who knew we had so many linens in that camper?

We are selling it because we are trying to get completely out of debt. We are soooo close. But it is time to sell the old camper for two reasons; one, to pay off some stuff, and two, because when we have it we use it and spend money. We’d much rather camp and go places than stay home and be frugal. Sad but true, we are week.

So we are going to go camper free for one year. YIKES. We have rented a cabin for a long weekend vacation in Arkansas in the fall, and a small beach house owned by some friends for a spring getaway. That’s it. No more spur of the moment weekend camping trips. Oh well. We’ll buy another one as soon as we get the last bit of debt paid off and save for the next camper. If all goes well, and we manage to stay out of the ER, we should be able to do it in a year.

Sometimes being a responsible grown up is overrated.

And now, back to the laundry. Oh, wait, it’s DONE!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Becoming Depressed

I took my Mother In Law out to lunch and to see the movie Becoming Jane today. It was a nice outing and I enjoyed getting away from my house. I have to say that 18th Century England is so much more beautiful (and quieter!) than my house. It was hard to come home to the mom-can-I’s and the sticky kitchen table after experiencing the beauty that is Pre Regency England.

One thing I have to say **** STOP RIGHT HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT ME TO RUIN THE MOVIE FOR YOU**** is that it was a little depressing. I don’t know what I was expecting, I knew Jane Austin never married and died young, and yet somehow I went into this movie expecting one of her novels, not her real life.

It almost threw a pallor over her books for me. You could see where she got the ideas for the characters for her books. It was almost in opposition to her real life. She created Darcy out of Wickham. She tied up in neat little bows, what in her real life came unraveled. She creates in her books a love between two people which can overcome propriety, and yet the love she experienced was not enough to cause her to throw off decorum and correctness.

I know I am over analyzing this, and I wonder how much of it is true and how much of it is Hollywoodized. But honestly, I wish I had not seen it. Now, every time I read Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, I’m going to think how the story is everything the author’s life was not.

Friday, August 17, 2007


A few random things on this lovely cool Friday. It is only supposed to be 88 today, and in Texas in August that is almost a miracle. Of course it is going to be 97% humidity, but you gotta take the good where you can find it.

Anyway…Here are some flowers I got for my birthday a few weeks ago. Lilies. I Love Lilies. Lilies and Tulips are my favorite flowers. Sadly, as I have previously stated, I have a black thumb so I can’t grow them, I must buy them, or wait for my birthday or an anniversary to enjoy them.

Here is the photo E’s drawing of my lilies. She loves to draw still life’s or is it still lives? I’m no artist, and apparently no linguist either.

Here is what I did yesterday. In order to keep it real around here, and to make sure no one out on the World Wide Web has the misconception that I have it all together, I’m going to show you my desk. Truly it was as bad as it has ever been. We used to have a desktop computer here so it stayed pretty clean because I had to sit there to co any computing. But then we got a laptop and I was mobile, so I didn’t need to sit at my desk, and the desk became a holding zone for, well…everything. Enough explaining, here is the before photo.

So I spent 4 hours going through all the papers and, I don’t know what else, and I found out something. If you ignore paperwork long enough it ceases to be important.

I shredded a garbage bag full of once important documents. Just in case you were worried, I pay all my bills online, so no bills went unpaid during the time my desk was snowed under.

So, here is the after….Ahhhh, I can see the top of my desk again.

Wonder how long it will take for my family to cover it again in ‘very important stuff’ for mom to deal with?

And here is one more thing...this is what happens to a teenager if you let him stay up too many nights in a row, and let him go out in the heat and play soccer, all while existing on a liquid diet because his jaw is wired shut.

I don't remember the last time he fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. I think he was two! Boy am I glad he is unwired and back to normal, well as normal as a 16 year old boy can be.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I've got the low down, no fair, standardized testing blues.

Over the last few weeks I’ve written a few homeschooling posts meant to inspire. Some tell how we do this, some why, some get to the nitty gritty of what we use, and others remind everyone they don’t have to do it all. Hummm, remember the (Biblical) phrase, ‘Pride goeth before a fall?’…well…I got the kids Iowa tests and G’s yearly Scottish Rite check up test yesterday.

How do I put this? My kids are, well…average on most things, below average on a few things and slightly above average on even fewer things.

I personally hate standardized testing and could list 10 reasons why I can discount all that it said, but, the thing is, it didn’t really tell me anything I don’t already know.

In the language arts department (even my dyslexic one) scored average to high, with the exception of spelling.

In science they were average to high.

In social studies (what does social studies even mean anyway?) they were high.

But in math, well let’s just say it was not pretty. For any of them.

Sigh, sadly this reflects me as the teacher. The areas they scored high? Areas I love and am good at. The areas they did not (spelling and math) are my areas of weakness.

I can read over and over all the posts I’ve written before that remind me why I am doing this. But when you see it all there on paper, well…it’s hard.

There is nothing like seeing you’re children’s intelligence broken down into black markings on a page. Maybe we should just not do any science, history, reading or writing, and just do spelling and math this year. I guess that would take some of the workload away from me.

The thing is, I know that my kids’ intelligence is higher than the sum of their test scores. But we work so hard. Homeschooling is so much a part of who we are as a family that you expect to see great things on the paper. When you put so much of yourself into something, when you work so hard, you expect to see reward. There should be clapping and balloons and parades! But instead there are lackluster test scores.

I know, I know. I am not doing this to impress anyone or even to create children that are smarter than you’re children. I am homeschooling because it is what GOD wants me to do. I know, I ask Him every year.

It should be okay that the Iowa test people are not impressed with my children. I just want them to get to Heaven one day and hear “Well done good and faithful servant.”

But today, I’m a bit disappointed that the Iowa people were unimpressed…

Babysitter Extrodonaire

I have to vent today, just a little bit.

Why do kids keep showing up at my house? And I can’t send them home, because there parents are not there. Or kids call my kids and say, my mom is going (fill in the blank), or doing (fill in the blank), and can you ask your mom if I can come to your house?

I don’t dump my kids on other people. I have never had my kids call someone else’s kids and invite themselves over. So why does this keep happening to me?

Why is everyone else’s time so much more valuable than mine? Do they think I have nothing to do but eat bon bon’s and watch all the kids in the neighborhood?

I know, I know, I just need to learn to say no. No. No. No. NO!!! See, I can type it. Why can’t I say it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

911 Math Call

This is the funniest thing I have seen all week!

Black/Brown is just wrong!

Who is using Black/brown mascara? Really, how many sales of black/brown mascara are intentional? Are there really that many people who are tinting their eyelashes with the perfect shade of not quite black?

I can’t tell you how many black/brown mascara tubes are cluttering up my make up drawer right now. I keep buying them! I guess I just can’t get my head around the fact that there is any other eyelash color except black. Why would anyone put any other color on their eyelashes, they want them to sort of stand out?

Really, it is a question, because if all the sales of black/brown mascara are a mistake, then we need to lobby the makeup companies to stop making it. I have wasted a fortune!

I can never take them back because I don’t notice right away; it takes me a while to figure out that I have to put on twice as much to get my eyelashes to stand out.

Then I realize that this mascara is not as dark as my last tube, so then it dawns on me and I read the tube. The insipid black/brown mascara strikes again.

This is a frustration for me. I did not get the long slender body of my sister or her darker shade (here perpetually tan) of skin. I did not get my mom’s thick hair, or my brother’s smooth unfreckled skin. But what I did get was the nice eyelashes.

They are long and curl up, just in the right places. A girl has to play to her strengths. Honestly I’d gladly trade them in for the body type (like my darn sister) that bounces back to it’s nice sleek self after a pregnancy, but God didn’t check with me when he was parting out my parents DNA.

So I got the lashes, and I’m gonna use them. And people, black/brown isn’t going to cut it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's a Real Simple Misunderstanding.

After all this serious homeschool stuff, I thought it was time for a funny story. I am not so sure my mother in law would appreciate me telling this story, but I’ll try to be discrete. It is just too funny to not tell.

Right before we left on our Colorado trip, my mother-in-law asked me if I could take her to a Dr. appointment. This was not any Dr. appointment, this was one of those Procedures that they make you do as you age. Out of respect for my MIL I will not tell you what the procedure entailed, but I will tell you that the preventative test might just be worse than the disease, and they give you something to “relax” you while they do the test.

When the test was over and my MIL was given a clean bill of health, I started gathering her things and helping her to the car. Keep in mind I drive a 12 passenger van and it is a bit high off the ground. Getting my drunken MIL in my car was quite a trick. And let me tell you, she was drunk. Whatever happy juice they gave her worked in spades. She had this goofy grin on her face and was giggling! Giggling! My MIL!

Anyway, this happy juice also made her a bit talkative. She was asking me all about our upcoming trip to Co, but not really letting me answer her. Then she started digging through her bags, she had something for me she said. A magazine, I needed a magazine for the long car ride, she told me. I tried to assure her that I had at least 5 books and probably had enough reading material to keep me busy all the way to Alaska should we choose to change our destination mid trip. But she would not be deterred. I had to have this magazine.
I’d really like it, it had some good stuff in it, and it was a real simple magazine, so it’d be okay.

Now at this point I started to get a little offended. I am a good reader. I read a lot, 80 to 100 books a year, and some of them classics. I even made it part way through Lorna Dune before I gave up and watched the movie. I may not be the best housewife (proven by the fact that we are still doing laundry from our trip) but read I can do well!

As I begin to work up a real lather in my offended state, my MIL whips out the magazine she finally found on one of her bags, and you guessed it. It is the Real Simple magazine.

I am not a big magazine reader. I used to subscribe to a few parenting magazines when the kids were smaller, but they just served to make me feel guilty every time I let my kids go outside without a helmet and knee pads. So I had no idea there was a magazine called Real Simple.

When I saw the magazine she pulled out of her bag I began to laugh, uproariously. Hysterically. I think my MIL thought I was the drunk one.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I can do it all…the myth.

This post is part of the Blog Carnival being hosted over at Mama Squirrel's Blog this week. Go check it out.

I don’t remember how to do algebra; I can’t carry a tune in a bucket or identify classical music by composer or period. I don’t like to paint, I have a black thumb, and I can barely sew on a button, much less make an article of clothing from fabric on a bolt. I don’t grind my own wheat, grow my own vegetables (very well) or have the slightest idea how to milk a cow, or bake bread from scratch.

In spite of all these inabilities, I teach my children at home. Let me tell you how.

I believe in learning right along with my children. If I don’t know how to do it, then we look it up. If I can’t figure it out even after looking it up, we ask for help.

You might find this approach a bit haphazard or even downright frightening, but let me ask you a question. Remember that teacher you had in high school biology, the one who had the anatomy of a frog memorized and could recite all the names of the bones in the body in alphabetical order? How much did you learn from her? How much do you remember? I can tell my kids facts all day long, but if they are not part of the learning process, if they are not engaged, if they don’t have a curiosity for the information, it’s not going to stick.

I want to plant the seed of curiosity in my children, a desire to find out more, and the ability to know where to look. This is more than teaching. This is, as the old homeschooling adage goes, the lighting of a fire.

Children need to see that not knowing something is not bad, it is not failure. It is the beginning. It is the place to start. They learn this by watching their parents learning. My kids have watched me look up gardening on they internet, ask the guy at the gardening store, and finally try it myself. They have seen a lot of failure, and after some tweaking and more research, some success.

Children need to see that it is okay to ask for help. We don’t have to be good at everything, but to not try is a shame. My son has an algebra teacher. We struggled with upper math for 2 years before we sought help. Now he has a wonderful teacher who speaks his language mathematically and everyone is happier. My two dyslexic children went to classes for 2 years to get the proper help they needed that I did not have the training to offer. There is no shame in asking for help.

This job is hard and this job is time consuming, and no one ever said we had to go it alone. We have chosen to keep charge over our kid’s education and not turn that responsibility over to the state. That does not mean that we have to single handedly teach our children everything they need to know, in fact, that is an impossibility.

One of the things I have noticed about those veteran homeschoolers, the ones that have made it all the way, is that they have figured out the concept of delegation. Life is about learning all the time. When they are young we have to hold their hands and take them step by step through the process, but as they age, we can let go of that hand sometimes. We can stand back and let them walk ahead. We can give them that light and watch them run with it.

As my oldest is getting closer and closer to graduating from our homeschool, I am seeing with increasing clarity, how much he still has to learn, as well as how far he has come. I am starting to understand the importance of instilling that love of learning in him. In many ways, the love of learning is even more important than the learning itself. I will not always be around to make sure he has done his homework, or finished the project. He needs to have that fire in him. He will need that persistent desire to grow and learn and strive always for something better.

The cliché is right; education is caught, not taught.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today is B’s birthday. 16 years ago today I had my first child.

B was never dirty because he had a full bath every time he so much as spit up. His clothes always matched and he always had on shoes. His pacifiers even matched his outfits. His hair was always combed and his ears always clean.

This is the fate of the first born. He is the pride and joy of his parents, but he is constantly on display and under scrutiny. He must be brilliant. He must walk early, speak well, and read by four.

B was the perfect first child as he did everything right on time, exactly when the baby books said he should. B had a firm grasp on the world, trying to order it around by 3. Even his matchbox cars were organized. They were lined up and categorized by size, then color. His dinosaurs were always standing at attention, largest to smallest.

B was always the first to go through every stage of development; he was the first to ride a bike, the first to go to kindergarten, the first to follow his dad onto the dirt bike track.

Somehow I blinked, and his childhood zipped by. He is now a young man. He will be the first to drive, the first to date, the first to go off to college, and probably the first to marry.

I could not have asked for a better first child, you are now and always have been a joy. I could not have asked for a better first son. My prayer is that you continue to listen to the Holy Spirit and let God guide you always.

Happy 16th birthday B!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Day 5, Sort Of.

Homeschool Week At Randi's Blog, Day 5, even though I am answering it on day 4, but don't be confused it is the question for day 5, really it is.

This is the day I have been waiting for. Please leave me a comment and I'll be popping over to everyone else's blogs to see what they use.

Because we all know that if there are more than two homeschoolers in the room, someone will ask "What do you use?" and sometimes this can happen if there is only one homeschooler in the room, but that is because she probably needs therapy.

So back to the answer...I posted all about it last week. Long detailed posts with links and reviews. I did it in 4 parts because I am looking for anything else to do with my time but the laundry.

Here goes...

Part 1 What to do with A.

Part 2 What to do with E.

Part 3 What to do with G.

Part 4 What to do with B, The Highschooler.

So, What are you using?

What Have I Learned, You Ask?

It is time for question #4 over at Randy's Back To Homeschool Week

Thursday, August 9---If I had only known...
What have you learned on your homeschooling journey? What would you/did you change?

I love this question. There are so many things that I have learned on this journey and I wish I had known all those years ago.

1. They don’t need to know it all in Kindergarten. K should be a year to gently introduce them to learning. This year is for letters and numbers and finger painting and noticing nature and reading some of the really great picture books that are out there. If you try to pack everything they need to know into the K year, your going to kill their love of learning before it even has a chance to blossom.

2. Learning rarely takes place on paper in the early years. I think all workbooks should be banned from the desks of anyone under third grade! (I have no strong opinions on this topic :o) So much more can be learned from copying sentences from great picture books and reading great picture books and talking about great picture books. So much of learning is relational in those early years. It kills me that I put my first in front of so many workbooks when really what he needed was to touch, taste, see and talk to me about everything.

3. The whole world is my classroom. On vacation this year we learned so many things about the flora and fauna of CO, just by buying a few field guides and looking things up on our walks. They also learned so much about map skills because sometimes one of the kids would sit in the front seat and navigate for Daddy. There are things to be learned everywhere, even on vacation.

4. When you see a budding interest or talent pay attention and fuel it. We have noticed recently that G has taken some great photos that are creative. He now has a used (but once very expensive) camera with all the bells and whistles for him try his hat at photography. He may never do anything other than have photography as a hobby, but who knows, It might become his profession. Even thought I am not an artist two of my kids are, so I try to keep supplied in water colors and special pencils and sketch pads and special paper. I want them to have the time and materials to discover who God wants them to be.

5. This one is big for me…It is okay to ask for help. This job we do is hard and time consuming and draining. We are not bad parents because our kids are struggling. I waited so long to seek help for G’s dyslexia because I felt like such a failure. He was the first child I taught to read (B was in a private K where he learned to read) and I was failing, big time! We worked from the time he was 4 until he was 10 before I finally sought help. Once he was diagnosed with dyslexia we could get him the help he needed. I did not wait so long with A. Also, B and I don’t speak the same language mathematically. I can remember one day spending hours with him trying to explain a concept in his Pre Algebra book. He just did not understand. I told him to sit down with his Dad tonight and see if D could explain it to him. I listened to D explain it and what D said made NO sense to me, but B went OH! Now I get it. That is when I knew I needed to seek help. We got him an algebra teacher. She is more than just a tutor, she handles ALL his algebra, she sets the schedule, she administers the tests, and she chose the curriculum. All I do is check the answers on his homework and pay the bill. I LOVE it.

6. I try to remember that I am not going to be able to teach them everything there is to know. And really, that is not my job. My job is to teach them the basis of course, but really, it is to teach them how to learn. I can’t possibly teach them everything, but I can give them a love for learning and an aptitude for figuring it out. I can’t teach them every fact, but I can teach then how to find the answer.

7. I think my most important job is teaching them to follow Christ. Teaching them to develop a relationship with Christ apart from me. I am not always going to be there and they need to have Christ the center of their lives.

8. Social skills and relationships are just as important as the academics. If my kids are brilliant but can’t get along with others they will not do well in the work force. It will be hard for God to use them if they don’t have empathy for others. I guess what I mean is that my kids won’t live on an island. They will have to relate to people who don’t think like they do, who might even be apposed to the way they think, they must know how to deal with this. Homeschooling is great, but if they get out there and don’t know how to shine in a dark world, I have not done my job. It is easy to protect them and not let them see how dark the world is and I think this is appropriate to a point, but as my boys are becoming young men, I see the importance of teaching them how to stand strong, while being a beacon of light that draws others out of this dark world.

9. Use what works and throw out what doesn’t. This seems a simple concept, but it took me years to learn this. I am the authority on my kids, not the curriculum company. If it ceases to be useful, don’t torture your kids! Find something else. And that old adage is so true…just because it works with one student does not mean it will work with another. Find what works for each kid. (Of course it must work for the teacher too or you will give up on it. All you have to do is look at all the hands on activity boxes that are sitting on my shelf unopened, to see what I mean. I know the kids would love it, but because hand’s on drives me nuts, we don’t ever seem to get to it.)

10. Okay, this is the most cliché, but…enjoy the process as much as you can. I am looking ahead to next year and realizing that my oldest will be taking almost all of his classes at the Community College under the Duel Credit program. My years of being his teacher are coming to a swift end. I wish I’d enjoyed it more and worried less.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What about socialization, you ask?

Time for question #3 from Back To Homeschool Week at Randi's Blog.

Wednesday, August 8---Getting out there...
Extra-curricular activities, community involvement, volunteering, sports teams, music lessons, making sure your kids have opportunities to be social, co-ops, etc., etc., etc...

This is an area I excel. I am VERY good at getting the kids out of the house. I wish I were not so good. I just want to stay home!

As I have mentioned, A goes to the Scottish Rite Dyslexia Lab School 4 days a week for an hour and 45 min. This program goes for 2 years and one summer session. (We already did the summer session) It is downtown which is about 30 min away.

I also have a tutor for my oldest son. We struggled through Pre Algebra and I just could not see how we were going to make it in Algebra 1. He could have taken it at the co op, but I just felt that he was not quite ready as we had done such a poor job at Pre Algebra.

I talked to the Pre Algebra teacher at the co op asking her for advice, and she offered to tutor him in Algebra 1 & 2. God bless that woman! So they are going at his pace and will are about to finish up Algebra 1 and start Algebra 2 so he’ll be ready to start Geometry at the local community college the following fall.

We also have a Co Op. I LOVE co op. That is one of the biggest blessings to me as a homeschool mom.

I do not like to teach science. I do not like to teach hands on messy things like art. And doing science experiments on my kitchen table gives me the cold shivers. This is why I love our co op.

I am not an artist but two of my children are very artistic. They get to learn about art from other people who love art. This is really worth something to me. Also, I really feel like some things are better taught in a group if it is at all possible. I know B learns so much more from his Apologia science classes when he can take them with others, and discuss the experiments and what he has read with his peers and a teacher.

I also think writing is better taught in a group. They need a reason to write, a venue to show off all their hard work. I do think all these things can be taught at home, but I am so glad I have the co op.

I teach two children’s literature classes at our co op because that is my passion. I just love picture books and chapter books. My kids are too old for most picture books now, but I still get to share them with little ones via the co op.

We are also heavily involved in AWANA at our church. The boys are Leaders in Training and work hard with those kids. The girls are in the program and love it. For years D and I were the 5th and 6th grade boy’s director and secretary. We are taking this year off from that, but the kids will still be in AWANA.

The boys also are very involved in their Youth Group at church. I am so pleased with this group. They have some great kids and stellar leaders. It is not the youth group of my days!

One thing we do not do is sports. We decided early on that with 4 kids we just could not handle that kind of schedule. Because we live in a neighborhood with many missionaries, near the missionary base, we have lots of opportunity for sports. The boys play soccer every morning with other kids their age up to adult.

They also get neighborhood games of soccer, basketball, or whatever going. It is kinda like living in the 50’s around here as the kids actually go outside and play games with each other. No need to create opportunities for them to get exercise. They get plenty.

I also have a Monday Night bible study that is wonderful. It is full of many homeschoolers, but also some public schoolers and private schoolers. Not all are from my church, some are from other denominations. I love this bible study. They are wonderful ladies that help point me to God and it also allows me an outlet to speak to people over 16! :o)

So there you have it. We do the outside the house thing WELL. I look longingly back at the days when the kids were smaller and we actually HOMEschooled. :o)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How Do I Homeschool, You Ask?

Time for question #2 from Back To Homeschool Week at Randi's Blog.

Tuesday, August 7---How do you homeschool?
Scheduling, classical education, unschooling, getting the kids to help with chores, how to be "mom" and "teacher" at the same time, special needs, teaching an advanced child, how to teach the tough subjects, teaching high school, teaching with babies and preschoolers in the house, budgeting for homeschool supplies, notebooking, etc., etc., etc...

I hardly know how to answer this question as it changes year to year. I have some homeschooling styles that I try to incorporate like the Charlotte Mason philosophy. I love to use nature Study, copy work, narration, short lessons, and most of all GREAT literature.

I am big on whole literature. I love the idea of kids being inspired by what they read, and learning on their own. However these ideals only work well with one of my children. E would learn everything there was to learn (except math) with just a library card and pen and paper. She’s just that kind of student. B is a bit hyper focused on soccer. Everything else, I must make him learn. Fortunately he is a good reader and he enjoys it so I can assign him a lot of reading.

G & A are dyslexic so educating them is a bit of a trick. It is just harder. I love a literature based education, but getting the literature in them is tricky when there is such a gap between what they can read and what they can understand. I read to them a lot, but I only have so much time. Books on tape are our friends in this house!

I feel the tyranny of the urgent when it comes to homeschool. I would love to just sit and read great literature to my kids and discuss great spiritual truths from the Bible all day long. But sadly there is math, and science…

Back to the question…How do I homeschool.

This school year will be a bit different. A will be going to the Dyslexia Remediation Program at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children this year. It is a two year program. I will be driving her one day a week and then twice a week every third week. (It is a carpool of 3 and there are 4 days) I have done it before with G in 04 - 05 and 05-06.

I have to take B to his Algebra tutor twice a week and I will be teaching at the Homeschool Co Op once a week. I have never been this busy. I have wracked my brain to try to figure out how to not be so busy this year but I can’t do it. I committed to the Co Op before I knew I’d be taking A downtown to Scottish Rite.

It is important to me for my kids to have some time with other kids and with other teachers within reason. They all will be taking a writing class among other classes. In order to pay for these classes I must teach.

B’s tutor is a non negotiable because I am incapable of teaching algebra.

I know God will work it out but I am a bit nervous about how I am going to get it all done. B will be driving in Nov so that will take getting him to tutoring out of the equation for me.

I’ve been doing this long enough that I know I will fall short of my ideal, but I am trying to lean on God and teach my kids in the way that is best for them, not me.

If it were up to me we’d have a very Charlotte Mason\Sally Clarkson style homeschool, but God choose to give me two dyslexic kids who needed some specific help, which takes me out of the house more than I want to be.

I also have fibromyalgia and sometimes I just have to stop. I hate it when that happens and then the kids really have to do more on their own. The flair up’s have been less frequent lately, but I still have to monitor my activity level closely to not overdo it. I am a bit nervous about next years schedule.

As for the nitty gritty…

We don’t have a daily schedule, but each child has their own daily assignment sheet. The things we do together (History\literature, and our state study) we’ll do at around the same time daily, usually around 10:30 am. The kids usually get up and get started with their independent stuff at 8:30. I try to have them do LA and Math then at the table. I am usually eating my breakfast and drinking my coffee and hovering around the table to help whoever needs it. Then around 10:30 we move into the living room for our together stuff. In the afternoons when I am gone the kids will have to be working on their state study stuff or independent history reading. On Friday’s we do our regular stuff and our co op homework. This is the one day I won’t have to leave the house at least until B is driving.

I don’t like to be this busy but I’ve been told that right before your first gets his drivers license, you feel like you’re about to go mad with driving! This is totally true. All the stuff I drive too is good and necessary, but I’m ready for that boy to get himself where he needs to go!

Another thing I try to keep in mind at all times is that our homeschool is bigger than just the academics. It is about life. My kids get side jobs here and there, they get opportunities to ride along with an electrician (their uncle) or a plumber (friend of the family) or work at an auto shop (another friend of the family) and I try to make it possible for them to take those opportunities, even if we have to put off the academics for another day.

The academics are just one thing in a large list of things D and I feel our kids need to know in order to be ready for the world. Life is bigger than algebra and history. If my kids are brilliant academically but have black souls what good will their brilliance do them? Conversely, if they are in love with and following the Lord but cannot read and write, they will be of limited use for God.

I want to keep it in perspective, Algebra and Language Arts are not more important than relationship building and learning to love the Lord and get along with siblings. I am trying to make it all a bit more seamless. In order to be a tool the Lord can use, I want them to be well rounded academically, spiritually, socially, and relationally. I think the way to get there is by keeping their education in all things, in perspective.

That is the ideal, reality is…well, reality.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Why do you do what you do, you ask?

As part of Back To Homeschool Week over at Randi's Blog, I'll be answering one question a day, all week, about homeschooling. Go on over to her blog and check out all the other's who'll be doing it too.

I am going to enjoy reading all the responses!

Monday, August 6---What led to your decision to homeschool?
Why do you do what you do? What brought you to homeschooling? What factors played a part in your decision?

I’m going to try to make this short and sweet (yeah right!). I started homeschooling because we couldn’t afford private school for more than one kid at a time and the public school system where I live stinks (I know I graduated from it). So really that is it. I’d love to say that I had some noble and grand reason to begin on this crazy journey, but the reason really boils down to finances.

Sometimes I thank God that we were not wealthy back then (although, wealth would be okay now God, because I’m so much more mature and sensible, hint…hint…hint.) because I would have stuck all my kids in a Christian Private school and missed out on this incredible journey called homeschool.

I think I am STILL homeschooling because I have seen the benefits of it. I have seen that it can really be a superior method of education, simply because it can be tailored to each specific child. I don’t care how prestigious a private school is, not many can claim that. And when you have two dyslexic kids who need a lot of “tailoring” it is worth every hassle.

I am convinced my dyslexic kids would not be who they are today if they had been in a school setting. They would have been crushed. But at home we could get them the help they needed and go at the pace they needed to go. They have not decided they are dumb, quite the contrary, they have discovered just how talented they are in many areas because they have had the time and freedom to develop their areas of interest and talent, while working to better their week areas.

I am not arrogant enough to say that without a doubt we will always homeschool, all the way through, but I do pray that God gives me the strength to get through each new school year. I am so close to graduating my first, I can hardly believe it. This job is just too darn hard and consuming to stop now. I want to finish well. I love the benefits I am seeing to homeschooling highschooloers. I never thought we’d make it all the way through high school. It was incredibly hard for ME to finish high school (I thought Algebra and Biology were going to kill me!) but I have seen God provide in miraculous ways, like an Algebra tutor (God Bless that woman) and homeschool Co op’s.

So there you have it. It is not grand or noble, but It’s the truth.

Hopefully the reasons I continue to homeschool will be more inspiring than the reason we started in the first place.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

To enhance or not to enhance, that seems to be the question.

I have begun to notice what I consider to be an alarming trend.

I was at a meeting about G’s dyslexia on Friday. (The place where he had his dyslexia classes tests every year for their records and I get to keep a copy) The tester was a nice looking lady somewhere in her 30’s I’d guess, but I was having a hard time paying attention to the very important things she was telling me about,

HEPA requirements…


Test results will be back in…

I could not focus on her words because her unusually large breasts were distracting me! They were a very unlikely size for a woman as slender as she was. She had small shoulders, her hands and wrists were small too. Could it be just a super-bra? Not likely. Maybe she was nursing? Probably not as her stomach showed no sighs of recently being stretched three times it's size. She simply was not the type of person that would get her breasts done, in my mind. She was dressed conservatively, she was not wearing a lot of make up, and she did not seem to be putting out the come-hither vibe at all, except for the unusually large breasts.

Then I started thinking…I’ve noticed a lot of women lately that looked like that; large breasts, perfectly clear and taut skin that curved in all the right places. I thought maybe God had started making more women with the American Ideal of the perfect body since I was created. But really, they were everywhere. Normal women you’d see at the coffee shop or at church, and yet, somehow they seamed…enhanced.

This new trend has me a bit worried. Am I going to be the only 70ish year old woman with wrinkles, and parts pudging out in places they shouldn’t, and parts pointing down where they should be pointing out? Will I be the only one in the knitting club with grey hair?

We haven’t gone so far in our society as to not appreciate a face like this, that exudes wisdom and grace. But here’s the thing, getting to that is a process. It involves years of sort-of grey hair, and a few laugh lines (that by the way, are not funny) and crows feet.

Each of these children that I bore have left an indelible mark (or ten) on this body. Nursing them each for around year has also left an equally indelible mark on my once perky breasts. And while I don’t buy off on the old adage that says I have earned each one of the grey hairs that my teens are giving me, I am not willing to spend all my time and my husbands money trying to avoid them.

So people, I beseech, entreat, implore and beg you; stand strong! It is going to be very hard for the few of us who have decided to age naturally, to avoid Dr Nip-Tuck when everyone around us is doing it.

By all means, spend the extra money on the specialty creams and hair products that promise a long wrinkle free life and lustrous locks of gold (or whatever your pre-grey hair color is). But I beg you, embrace your age. Live it. Claim it. Be it.

Because people, I can’t be the only one who actually looks 50 when I’m 50.

What in the World are we Going To Do This Year? Part 4 – The Highschooler

B is going to be in 10th grade this year. I am not sure how that happened. One minute he was a little guy just learning his letters, not he’s a big guy learning things I don’t even remember learning.

The way we homeschool him has evolved quite a bit. In fact, I am almost hesitant to say I homeschool him because so much of his schooling is done outside the house. I am really only responsible for his History at this point.

He is old enough to start at the JR. College near us taking Duel Credit classes, meaning if he can test into the class, he can earn college and high school credit.
We decided to wait until next semester to sign him up, maybe even next year. He really needs to concentrate on finishing up his Algebra 1 & 2 and his writing class this year before we feel like he is ready to take college level classes.

Anyway, here is what he is taking this year.

At Co op

Language Arts – He is taking an intensive, college prep writing class this year. It focuses on Essays, Sat writing, paper writing etc. There is not much creative writing in this class. Creative writing is a separate class he will probably take next year. There is some grammar and editing associated with this class as well.

Biology – He will be taking the Apologia Biology class at the co op. I love the teacher; she is a nurse and really knows her stuff.

Speech – This is a great class, it is not speech and debate, but public speaking. She will teach in the areas of how to conduct a job interview, how to give your testimony, how to speak in church or Sunday school. She’s going to make it applicable to what these kids need to learn, (sometimes homeschoolers get a bad name in the public speaking department)

Algebra 1 & 2 – This is not at the co op, but by a tutor. This tutor teaches the Pre algebra at the co op. She is my hero, because she is teaching my son algebra! He is a bit behind because they are going at his pace. I am happy and sad about this. I know I want him to GET IT not just get through the book, but I hate that my kids are behind. The plan is that they will get the last part of algebra 1 done quickly and move on to algebra 2. They are starting next week and will probably work through the summer next year so he’ll be done by 11th grade and can start geometry.

At Home –

History – He will be doing Sonlight’s Core 100 (American History In Depth) He does all the reading himself. He reads the Readers, Read Alouds and History Readers; He is a good reader and can handle this amount. I also count this as a literature credit.

Spanish – He is doing the same Rosetta Stone as the other kids, however he has to do it daily, and pass all the levels. HE did Spanish 1 last year, he will be doing Spanish 2 this year.

PE – He plays soccer daily with some of the other missionaries in the base. He gets up in the morning at 6 am to play. I have no worries that this kid does not get enough exercise!

That is really it. It does not seem like a lot but he will be quite busy. I hate that he is not taking art this year. He has been taking art for years and is really good but he just does not have the time this year.

This will get him 7 credits.

This is really my last year teaching him. After this year he will be taking most of his academic classes at the local Community College.

Friday, August 3, 2007

What in the World are We Going to do This Year? Part 3

Just in case some of you were starting to feel inferior, or you beginning to think, ‘wow this homeschooling family has it all together, and their kids are brilliant’ this post is for you.

G is going into 7th grade in the fall and I am a little freaked out about that. The years I have to squeeze all the information into him that he needs to know are dwindling, but the information is not.

G is dyslexic and has been through the Scottish Rite Remediation program that A is currently going to. And while it helped him immensely, he is still not the best reader, he does not like to read, and spelling…well, let’s just not go there. His handwriting is also awful, and he is a year behind in math. So academically thing are not going so well for G. However, if you need to build a deck, rewire a lamp, unhook a trailer, or do just about anything mechanical, he’s your guy. He is also great with people, and is a great helper. He is also a good teacher as he is patient and will spend the time to show you how to do it. (this is the only reason I know how to work the DVR) And he has a great attitude, he has a lot he could complain about, but he is not a complainer.

I don’t know what God has planned for G. I wish I did so I could better prepare him. No matter what he does he’s going to have to be able to read and write better than he does now.

So we plug along and do our best, but I worry that our best may not be good enough. Just the thought of that boy taking algebra gives me the cold shivers.

So enough qualifications, here is what my 7th grade boy is doing this year.

Language Arts – I will be using the new and improved Sonlight LA 3 with E & G. He will also be taking a writing class at Co op. He will continue to do his journal writing daily, using the Love to Learn journal I mentioned in A’s post. I am quite scared of this writing class, it is going to be A LOT of work for both of us, but it needs to be done.

Spelling – I have tried every spelling program on the market with little luck with G. His dyslexia remediation teacher basically said, keep working on it but don’t make a big issue of it, and give him a spell checker.

Math – Bob Jones 6th Grade and Calculadder

History – Sonlight Core 3 along with A & E. He will read the readers, he will not like it but they are only 3rd grade readers and I’m going to make him READ them. I will probably make him listen to some books on tape that B will be reading with his American history study, just so he can get some higher level thinking.

Geography – Simply stated. I posted a while ago about this. I am very excited about this study. I think it will be a lot of fun. You can go check out that post if you like. (links are in A’s post)

Electives –

Typing – He has been doing a typing program for a couple of years now. He has got to get better at his typing if he ever hopes to use a spell checker correctly!

Spanish – We have access to the full program of Rosetta Stone through the library. I don’t make him do it too much as we’re still working on the English language.

Classes at the Homeschooling Co op –

PE – G lives for the PE class. He loves it.

Writing - This is the first year he will be taking the writing class. Yikes, this will be so much work for me.

Science – G will be helping out in the younger kids science taught by my SIL. She is going to give me some advanced notice of what she will be teaching so I can have G do a little research on the topics before class

PE Helper – G will also be helping out the PE teacher with the K – 3rd boys class. He is really good at helping. He really shines there.

So there you have it. Not much in the way of academics, but we’re plugging along. If you start to think I’m a bad homeschooler go look at E’s schedule! She’s my academic one. If I didn’t have her, I might have given up on this homeschool thing years ago! A girl needs a little bit of success now and then!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Book Review

I’m going to take a break in the middle of my What in the World Are We Going to do This Year? series and do a little book review.

I just finished Moon Over Tokyo. I loved it. I have really loved all of Siri Mitchell books. She is a fabulous writer. I love how her books are not sappy, or I guess there not formula “Christian” books. Her characters are Christians, but they are real people too, with flaws. I guess I like her books because her characters don’t have it all figured out. And as an author she makes you think about why you think the way you do. Sometimes we Christians have hang ups and she has made me think about a few of mine. Are they really what Christ would want me to think, or just something I have grown up believing in the Christian circles? There is sometimes a difference.

A friend gave me Kissing Adrian last year and I loved it so much I went on a Siri Mitchell kick and read all her books. I think The Cubicle Next Door is my favorite so far, but I have really enjoyed all her stuff.

So there you have it. Go get a Siri Mitchell book; you’ll be glad you did!

What in the World Are We Going To Do This Year? Part 2

*****I did not add links this time because most of the link's are in Part 1. If you want to know more about any of the things I use, leave me a comment and I'll point you in the right direction*****

Today I’ll tell you what I am doing with E my very studious 5th grader. She is so easy to teach. It is a good thing God did not give me only her or I’d be an arrogant homeschooler. I think I could just give her a library card and she’d learn everything she needs to know (except math).

She asked me to get her bird, flower, and insect books specific to Colorado for our trip. She spent much of the vacation telling us what every flower and butterfly was named.

Her aunt gave her a hummingbird feeder and a book on hummingbirds for her birthday and she brought it to CO and had a great time identifying the Hummingbirds that came to the feeder. I’m telling you this child is so easy to teach.

So here is what she will be doing next year.

Language Arts – I will be using the new and improved Sonlight LA 3 with E & G. She will also be taking a writing class at Co op. She will continue to do her journal writing daily, using the Love to Learn journal I mentioned in A’s post.

Spelling – I don’t worry too much about spelling with E. She is a natural speller (See! I’d be totally arrogant if she were my only child.) She wants to do Spelling Power so she can get better. We do it as I have time.

Math – Bob Jones 5th Grade and Calculadder

History – Sonlight Core 3 along with A & G. She will read the readers aloud to A. The readers will be a bit easy for her but I will be adding more reading to her schedule with the Geography study.

Geography – Simply stated. I posted a while ago about this. I am very excited about this study. I think it will be a lot of fun. You can go check out that post if you like. E will be doing a lot of independent reading on the various states.

Electives –

Typing – She has just started a typing program on the computer. Spell Write Type.

Spanish – We have access to the full program of Rosetta Stone through the library. It will get too tough for her pretty quickly, but for now she is having fun with it.

Classes at the Homeschooling Co op –

American Girl – This is a hands-on classed based on the books. They do two dolls a year.There is also a play at the end of each semester.

Writing - This is the first year she will be taking the writing class.

Science – She will be taking a hands-on science class at co op.

Art – E is quite a talented little artist. She has been taking art classes with the same teacher at co op for 3 years. Next year will be her 4th year to take art. It is one of her favorite classes

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sometimes community stinks.

*****Read at your own risk, I’m feeling whiney*****

This summer has not been an easy one. I don’t like to be a whiner and I try not to complain. One of the things you have to learn quickly when you have a chronic issue like Fibromyalgia is that you can’t let it define you. I refuse to let it be the filter by which I sift all my decisions. However, it won’t let me forget I have it.

This summer, a friend in my Sunday school class had a hysterectomy, and I brought her a meal, My SIL has had an 8 week bout with Phenomena and I have tried to help out where I could (with her 8 year old twin boys and with meals) but I did not really feel like I could do too much, and then I feel guilt. Sigh.

I also had my other SIL’s 8 & 10 year old girls here for 4 days while their parents were away at a wedding.

Another friend just had a baby. I have worked on baby showers and brought meals, etc. These are things I want to do, things that I need to do.

My best friend has been sick for 2 weeks (while we were out of town, I did not find out till I got back) and found out today she has West Nile Virus! I want to help her and her family, that is what friends do!

Also today I got a call from the Helps Ministry at church asking me if I could serve this month. I tried to explain that I have been serving my friends and family, I just haven’t been doing it under a “program” and that I have a condition where I don’t know how I’m going to be from day to day, blah, blah, blah. I hate saying it as much as I’m sure people hate hearing it.

I also got a call today from the Children’s Pastor at our church asking of D was going to be at the meeting tonight for the AWANA directors. Last year D was the director for the 5th and 6th grade boys and I was the secretary. It was our 2nd year in this position and I’m not even sure how many years we’ve served total in the AWANA program.

We decided to take a hiatus this year. I know we told people including the Children’s Pastor but I guess they did not remember. I had to call D at work and tell him he needs to call the Children’s Pastor again.

Okay, I know this is starting to sound like a big whine, so I’ll get to the point.

I am tired of being needed.

There are days that I am in a lot of pain and it is all I can do to take care of my family. I am not receiving help from the church or friends and I am okay with that. But I do get frustrated when I am barely keeping my head above water and I keep getting calls about others needs.

I think I also am suffering from Vacation Hangover. I want to go back to a place that is cool and beautiful and no one knows me or my family. If no one knows us no one can need us.

Trust me, I know that last statement is not biblical or right, but that is how I am feeling at the moment. Community is sucking the life out of me.

*****Whine concluded, tomorrow’s post will be upbeat and homeschool related, thank you for your patience*****

In The World Are We Going To Do This Year? Part 1

Over at The Well Drained Mind, we are having a little Homeschooling fun. Go check it out!

The idea is that everyone is going to write a post on their own blog on a certain daily topic Randi has come up with regarding Homeschooling. This will start next Monday the 6th and go for a week.

To get the juices flowing, I thought I’d start this week by posting what I am planning on using for each of my kids this next school year.

Today we’ll start with my 3rd grader.

A is the baby of the family. She is 8 years old and in 3rd grade. A is dyslexic and will be going to a dyslexia remediation program at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. This program is 4 days a week, 2 hours a day, for 2 school years.

I have done this program before with G and it is intensive. With this in mind I have made my decisions about her school year. So here goes…

Language Arts – All of her LA will be done at Scottish Rite (SR). She will read aloud to me at home and do her homework from SR daily. She will continue to do her journal writing daily. (I love the Love to Learn Daily Journal)

Math – Bob Jones 3rd Grade and Calculadder

HistorySonlight Core 3 along with G & E. I’m not sure how much of the reading she will do, I may have her sister read the readers aloud to her as she is not quite on the level of 3rd grade readers and while E is a very good reader, she needs the reading aloud practice.

GeographySimply stated. I posted a while ago about this. I am very excited about this study. I think it will be a lot of fun. You can go check out that post if you like.

Science – Various unit studies. We watch a lot of documentaries, and she loves to get various science related picture books at the Library.

Electives –

Typing – She has just started a typing program on the computer. Spell Write Type is the name.

Spanish – We have access to the full program of Rosetta Stone through the library. It will get too tough for her pretty quickly, but for now she is having fun with it.

Classes at the Homeschooling Co op –

American Girl – This is a hands-on classed based on the books. They do two dolls a year. There is also a play at the end of each semester.

Book Club – I teach this class. It is based on the Five in a Row model which I love (I used FIAR at home when my kids were younger and loved it!). Obviously we don’t do it for five days, but we have a lot of fun with the picture books.

A good Time Was Had By All!

Thank you for the birthday wishes. It was a nice day.

My kids outdid them selves this year. I did not get any orange fingernail polish!

B & G got me a bed tray. I used to have this pretty white, wicker one but A decided to use it as a chair and broke it. I have missed my little tray so I was glad to get another.

E got me some Starbucks because she knows how much I like coffee.

A got me a magnet. It is from a working gold mine we stopped at in CO. She knows I like to get a small magnet from every place we visit on a camping trip. I put them all on the vent a hood in the camper.

D got me a bike. It has been years since I’ve had a bike, and I decided I wanted one. It is a Schwinn. I really like it. It has that old fashioned look to it.

I rode it yesterday and learned two things. One, I have not used those bike riding muscles in a LONG time, and two, I won’t be spending much time outside on that bike for at least another six weeks.

It is just too darn hot to be outside here. It must be 150 degrees with 134% humidity, and y’all know I don’t exaggerate!

So, while I love my new bike, I’ll put it away until us Texans are a bit further away from the sun.

By the way, stay tuned. I have some homeschooling posts coming up. I have to stay close to my roots after all.