Monday, October 27, 2014

So you had a bad day!

I cannot lie, homeschooling is NOT always a beautiful harmonious one big happy family thing.  There are days where at least one or all of you just want to throw in the towel and scream!  You give an inch and the kids take a mile.  Mom blows up and all the children are crying!  Dad gets out the enrollment forms for the area schools ... then you weigh your options.
Is it because we homeschool that we fight?  No.  We are family and we are comfortable enough around each other that we can be real.  Real isn't always pretty!  We are humans!  Sometimes we are selfish, sometimes we don't feel like doing ANYTHING!  Because we don't have a workplace or a school zone where we have to conform and put on our masks for a while, we just let all of our realness show to each other.  The days where more than one of us are feeling really real at the same time ......... EXPLOSION! 
I'd like to say that I'm the mom who exhibits the fruit of the spirit with excellence every day, but I'm not.  I try to live by the Spirit and I even exercised and read my Bible this morning and had a banana and Mini Wheats and coffee - 2 cups now, but my tolerance for goofing off lid blew off. 
The fruit of the spirit are ... LOVE ... that's easy especially for my family.  Unconditionally my heart strings are pulled even in discipline, I love my husband and kids and even the crazy dog who has an uncontrollable urge to dig in the trash can right now.  JOY ... This may not make sense, but I do have joy even in the midst of irritation.  PEACE ... well there's a rocky place.  I have no worries, but I'm not creating an atmosphere of peace.  PATIENCE ... Well, I got an F this morning.  Setting timers, giving space ... kids not accomplishing things ...  okay suffice to say I failed.  KINDNESS ... okay another failure.  I did work on it a little.  GOODNESS ... I don't even know what to say about that.  It is good to be consistent, not good to lose it.  FAITHFULNESS ... My expectations have not changed and that is good for the kids.  GENTLENESS ... My loud voice may not be considered gentleness.  What time is it?  How much do you have done?  5 minutes worth of work in an hour and a half?  Go get a snack and get down here ready to work!!!!  At least I gave us a break from each other and hoped that the possibility of hunger could affect concentration.  :/ Maybe!  SELF-CONTROL win and lose!  Yes, I yelled, no, I didn't smash.  I have been known to throw things or slam something onto the table or desk to physically get rid of anger and avoid hurting someone, but I managed to maintain some sense of self-control.
Why am I sharing about a bad moment and risking the wrong people reading this and declaring me unfit to ... fill in the blank, I'm sure there are many things I'm unfit for.  But I feel guilty at times when people say I'm doing a good job or being a good mom or good anything.  Honestly as I reviewed the Fruit of the Spirit just now, I was actually calming down and my sweet child was on the phone with Daddy to sort out what Mommy didn't have patience to deal with.  Bad days happen.  Getting through them happens too, one way or another.  I have a feeling that this one is getting better already.
Several years ago, I discovered that children bring out the rawest and worst part of me.  Even when my children were infants, sometimes I wondered how to make them stop crying.  I actually did leave my toddler in the living room while shutting myself in my bedroom for 10 minutes to collect my nerves.  I couldn't believe that I'd prayed for so long to have children and after having them, they were sucking the life out of me ... not really, I just thought it a time or six.  I prayed and asked God how in the world I was going to learn how to parent.  Where is the manual?  The thing that leapt at me from what seemed to be the depths of me was Galatians 5:22-23.  But the fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Against such things there is no law.  I am not sure what translation because that was a quote from my heart and it could have errors.  The fruit of the Spirit as a parenting manual?  Why yes!  I don't know if it will help me through the teen years, but seriously when I go through a situation mindful of these beautiful fruit, I know better how to respond. 
I just took a sip of coffee and looked at the wall behind my computer where sits a certificate made by my kids.  "World's best teacher"  I almost choked.  That's funny!  I might just be the world's best teacher for them, though.  In good times or bad times.  Yes, maybe Mommy learned the bigger lesson today.  Maybe I just need to have a "fruit" break every time I sense the bad day thing coming on.  As I don't get to sit and type a whole blog at once, since starting this post, things are running beautifully here at LSA.  Kids are on task and self-motivated.  Ahhhhhh!  Monday, you do not have the victory this week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Scholar's Bowl

As we have entered into Junior High or Middle School homeschooling, I am discovering new opportunities.  Our local Christian school has invited my son to participate in sports and other exta-curricular activities.  The one we are currently doing is Scholar's Bowl.  I've never explored it before and it is interesting.  The first meet is next Monday and my boy has only gotten to be in on one practice.  He came home only getting one answer correct.  This was a little surprising to me, because my kids are good students.
This morning, I opened up a webpage of Middle School scholar's bowl type questions and began to read them aloud to see how many things they could answer.  I have seen the show, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?, and I am sometimes smarter than a 5th grader, but I'm not a scholar's bowl champ!  We are not sports fans and couldn't answer any of the sport questions.  We rarely watch television and therefore don't get much NEWS.  I prefer to read the NEWS and that makes my kids' knowledge of current events minimal.  We've talked about weather and ebola and some other things, but what this politician says about that one, thankfully, is NOT filling our home.  I do confess Redbox, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video are our friends.
We could answer correctly about jet streams, solar panels, the crusades and the capital of Quebec.  My kids didn't know who Andy Warhol is and the clue was his prints of Marilyn Monroe.  They don't know her either.  So am I a failure as a homeschool teacher?  I believe, NO!  Here is why.  IF I were raising my kids to be what's his name that won Jeopardy so many times in a row, then I am failing.  I'm not!  I'm teaching my children to have good character even though some days no one could tell.  I am teaching them how to read and write and do math and know the history of the world and where in the world to find Carman San Diego. (not exactly)  I'm not indoctrinating them in theology, but letting them read the Bible for themselves and discuss it with me.  They have to try foreign food ... even if I don't cook it right.  They have to participate in house work and just suffered through the punishment of no movies or shows until their rooms were clean INCLUDING under their beds.  Oh the horror! 
The truth is that I have very few adult friends who could win at trivial pursuit if they didn't have a team.  Random facts won't determine our eternity and so while it is fun to learn trivia, it really is trivial in the grand scheme of things.  We will continue with scholar's bowl as long as they allow us to participate because I don't think its wrong.  I just don't want to base my success or failure or that of my children on how many of the questions they got right.  Did they learn something?  I hope so!  That will be a reward.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Normal?? HAHAHA!!! Is there such a thing?


[nawr-muh l]                  
1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. serving to establish a standard.
This is part of the entry from and I really don't know that we have a common type or standard to go by here at our school.  I don't think we can be defined by others either ... even those who use the exact curriculum mix that we do.  I'm not even sure that anyone else is doing exactly what we're doing.  That's the beauty of homeschool and the difficulty all wrapped in one.  There is no one to consult regarding your specific situation and there is no one like you.
I keep thinking that it would be great to have a normal school day, but the proper term would likely be ideal.  This week we are scheduled to have an ideal school day Wednesday and Thursday.  I'm sick today and my son is getting sick with head colds.  Braces appointment this afternoon.  Playing Hymns at the nursing home tomorrow and scholar's bowl practice tomorrow in the middle of the school day.  I'm okay with interruptions, but I like things to be orderly and predictable.
Breathe in ...
Breathe out ...
It really is going to be okay.  Expect the unexpected.  The kids will learn what they need to learn!  I think I'm doing better now too.  As I began to homeschool, weeks like this would put me in the grumpiest mood before we even start.  Now, well, I have bigger fish to fry.  Things outside of this little home school, but I don't need to delve into them here. 
Homeschooling is not our sole identity.  We have other obligations and for me several of them are due by the end of this week, so I need to direct my attention to them and not freak out because we are not normal and we don't have normal days.  We occasionally have an ideal day here and there, but I guess today may just be a normal day - scattered and unplanned - while Wednesday has a slim chance of being ideal, but abnormal.
I would not change my normal for someone else's normal.  This is the best life for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hump Day

So a lot of people call Wednesday hump day.  Well it is in the middle of the week like the hump of a camel is in the middle of it's back.  Climbing the hill and after you get to the top, you can roll down the next one.  Our school week actually is only 3 days long this week because I'm busting out of here tomorrow to go to a women's conference with my church.  I'm so looking forward to time with the girls!!!  Yesterday truly did feel like a hump and we are definitely rolling down the hill today!  Almost all subjects are done by now and it's just about lunch time. 
Not only are we moving along, BUT, my darling daughter actually got 100% correct on her multiplication by a double digit worksheet!  She has been whining for a week that these problems are too hard.  I told her if she gets 100% on line 1 she can skip line 2 and she did it!!!  This was the first time she's done 3 digit by 2 digit too.
Next Monday is braces day, so we'll only do 1/2 day of school in the morning and braces for the girl in the afternoon.  Then we can have an almost normal rest of the week. 
Sukkot starts tonight and yet another year goes by without a Sukkah to begin the feast.  Maybe Tuesday?  This is one of my kids' favorite Bible holidays and we really want to figure it out and actually try and celebrate it.  I need to just buy a tent frame so we can use it annually.

Monday, October 6, 2014


School stinks on appointment days!!!  I would call off school when I have to get a dental filling except that I'm going to a women's conference Thursday through Saturday and so we won't have school then.  I don't know how people who run all the time can do homeschool.  We got home at 10:30 and one child still doesn't have work done from last FRIDAY!  It is almost 3 PM!  OK in defense of my children, I'm having a bad day and that really reflects on how they act.  I had to run to the church library and post office too this morning.  It seems they work better when I am nearby. 
Here's to tomorrow!!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

No longer a servant

John 15:15 (NIV)  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Our servant day is complete and our slave day is complete.  The kids fulfilled their contracts on Wednesday and earned themselves Sonic milk shakes.  Kind of a mistake for me because that was a lot of sugar before bed.  Live and learn! 
Yesterday, the kids were slaves.  I was a kind master and only had them pick things up that I dropped a few times.  They were repulsed at the thought of touching my feet.  I would be too if they weren't attached to me, so I didn't make them give me a foot massage.  Previously, I typed out random chores on slips of paper and put them in a pencil bag.  It was from a ransom box idea I found on Pinterest, but I felt it would work for this too.  At the beginning of the day, they each had to draw 2 chores from the bag and each time they mouthed off or didn't obey quickly, they had to draw another chore.  This was fun for me and really for them too.  One child ended up with 6 chores and the other child 4.
Their chores were:
  1. clean the bathroom mirror while singing (I wish I'd recorded that one)
  2. clean an air vent with a toothbrush (I have a special one for cleaning only)
  3. vacuum the stairs
  4. wipe down a wall on the stairway
  5. pull weeds for 10 minutes
  6. clean out the ashes from the fireplace and clean up after yourself
  7. fold 10 pairs of socks
  8. wipe the table with a spray cleaner
  9. clean out the cabinet under the kitchen sink
  10. hand wash 3 dishes
They got no rewards for doing these chores, but they completed their tasks without complaining ... except the spray cleaner said to keep out of reach of children, so my daughter was freaking out about that one.  Once I told her not to eat the spray and she would be fine, she did her chore.

This morning at breakfast, I shared John 15:15 with the kids and we talked about slavery and how we are blessed to be free.  We also touched base on human trafficking without details about what was happening to the kids after they were taken from their families.  Even though we had our little experiment, my kids still have no idea what it would be like to be slaves and I cannot truly treat them as slaves ... not even for a day!  Hopefully some of our discussions and projects will stick with my kids so that when they're old, they appreciate freedom!

Thursday, October 2, 2014


So now that my children are growing up and I have a 6th grader, I am now realizing that I may be falling a bit behind in techy skills!  So as my son opens his own blog, I've realized that mine could use a little facelift!  I made a few changes and the background is no longer bookshelves, but something more representative of what we want to be as a school!  I do love books, though, and even laid back atmospheres are enhanced by good books!  I like the new look and hope readers do as well!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Slave vs Servant

This week we are learning the difference between indentured servitude and slavery.  Story of the World has many suggestions for extra activities following the chapters and we've chosen to do a day of servitude and a day of slavery.  The kids thought it was funny until we made contracts.  I added that they would clean the living room and dining room as well as the sink toilet of their bathroom.  They felt empowered by the right to refuse terms of a contract until I told them that I refuse to give a reward for something that already occurs on a daily basis in this home.  So only doing chores and school and behaving at church tonight was just not enough.  They became reluctant to participate until the reward was announced.  A medium milkshake at Sonic after church tipped the scale in my favor and we have signed contracts!


Tomorrow, the kids get to be my slaves and I'm working on a few things that may make them squirm!  They will have no choice!  I may have a foot massage and my nails painted by my little slaves.  I might even have them make me lunch.  As punishment for disobedience, they may have to watch me eat before eating any of their own snacks!  Hahaha!  The devious plans of a homeschool mom!

I'm liking this idea so much, I may have to start doing it weekly!