On and Off the Beaten Path

Wow, what a blog break, huh?   It was somewhat unintentional.  I knew that the week out of town would involve some heavy travel days, but I had no idea that the nights would be so busy, or that I’d be too zonked to do anything except rest when I wasn’t driving.    Plan A was to write during some of the hotel down time.   Here’s to Plan B.  It’s good to be home, but we have memories well worth capturing.

The first leg of the trip took us to the home of a lady who, though I’ve not known her for very long, I consider a dear friend.   In fact, my friendship with Karen is a true testament of the power of social media.   We met as blog buddies several years back, and its rare that I’ve found someone with soooo much in common with me–even down to our jobs as college instructors online and our love of professional football.   How cool is that??!!    Our first time meeting face-to-face was in 2009, and when she offered us her home for the night in route to our final destination, I could not pass on the opportunity to see her again.    The youngest, remembering their littlest angel from our first meeting, packed up tutus and heels for dress up, and off we went.   Right before we left, though, I “dug” through my Photobucket album in the anticipation of some then and now shots.

Here are the youngest ladies two years ago:

And then on last week:

Of course, both moms have changed a bit, too, in two years.   This was our first connection two years ago:

And aging like fine wine today:

One of the realities of growing kids and dynamic families is that you can’t always catch everyone at the same time.   So between work, school, and extended vacations, these were what was left of either family:

As much as we enjoyed the Shaw family, we moved on to the second leg, and the primary reason for our trip: a visit to one of the most gorgeous college campuses I’ve ever seen, minus the 40-degree drop in temperature–  🙂 .

It’d been a long time since I’d walked a college campus!   That’s me in the bright yellow hat, taking the stairs one groan step at a time.

At times, I thought I heard the distinct moo-ing of cows as we were being herded through the campus as one group of many, but overall, I felt really pleased with the information we received, the connections we made, and the potential for our daughter to consider this campus home for four years.     But, as is often the case, the more memorable part of a vacation is the trip you didn’t plan to take.

One of the many things I love about my husband is his willingness to coordinate a trip, inclusive of finding all kinds of fun, inexpensive, out-of-the-way family stops in or near whatever town we plan to visit.   I’m always tickled when we talk about a certain trip and tell people where we went, and they’ll say something along the lines of “I never even knew that was there!”    This time, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere at Purina Farms, milking cows,  and seeing dogs do more things than I think that food we buy at the store is totally capable of (smile).

Most of the dog shows happened at a speed that was entirely too fast to capture on our cameras, but the above shot is of the border collies herding ducks.   The trainer was demonstrating why border collies aren’t the best dogs for children because of the nipping they do at cows, ducks, etc., to keep them in line.   After this show, she only had to convince me once.

 

Well, with 1-1/2 weeks away, I’ve much on the brain!  Get ready for some serious rambling!  God bless.

Thankful

Plan A was to write this post on last week before we began our fall semester, but the days have been busy, friends.   With what looked like an open window of time and opportunity, I decided to take advantage of an offer to complete a certification for work over the next four weeks.   I’ve also spent a significant amount of away-from-the-computer time completing last-minute preparations for school.   Those preparations included modifying my original syllabus for the 2nd high schooler in our home, detailing economics lesson plans for our budding junior (11th grade) and taking advantage of the recent tax-free weekend to purchase a few last resources for our growing littlest girl, now in 3rd grade.  College ended a couple of weeks back, and for seven days we rested.   Then we were at it again.   Dance began the day after school started for our youngest, at least.

Before any flurry of activity began, though, I had an opportunity to attend the Heart of the Matter online conference.   I make a point of listening in when I can each year.   Usually, our school has been in session for about 3 weeks by then, so my immediate take-aways are few, and I have to wait for the mp3s to be available for longer-term inspiration.   This year, because of the oldest’s college schedule, I had whole mornings to sit while the younger two slept.  I absorbed so much richness, and, almost as if by divine intervention, the schedule of my days at that point afforded me ample time for sweet reflection before our school days kicked off.

We are now entering our 8th year of homeschooling, and though anxiety will, on occasion, rear its unattractive head, on most days, I’m truly thankful.

I’m thankful for my earliest homeschool education in the importance of setting the environment for learning to occur.   I sometimes look over my pre-homeschooling wish lists and plans to make our home friendlier for all day.   Little of that has actually happened.   Our learning centers are still not full of all the many educational games and toys that I intended to buy.   I never purchased the piano I wanted (and placing one in the space I’d planned for it would now severely limit the kids from moving freely in their self-created dance space).   Thank God I couldn’t afford all that pricey curriculum that I took the time to extract from the catalogs; I don’t know that the kids would have been more knowledgeable, but we would have been a lot more broke.

I’m thankful for the couple who introduced us to the Charlotte Mason approach years before we actually began to homeschool.   We don’t get out of doors nearly as much as Miss Mason prescribes, and there are semesters/ years when my lack of expertise in poetry and music history is glaringly obvious.   But, the kids have learned to stop and take notice of a bird at the feeder, and to be curious enough to find the field guide and discover a name for this visitor.   They have learned to stop and look at clouds and take note, not just of their imaginary figures, but also to notice what type of cloud has captured their attention and what its existence might mean to our weather.   They can enjoy Tchaikovsky and identify Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

I’m thankful for a routine that works for us.   I know that some schools thrive in spontaneity, but in our home, little changes in terms of class days and times.   I want us to spend as little mental energy as possible on “what are we going to do today?” and instead delve the work that is before us.   Yet, as much as I am thankful for a routine, I’m also thankful that there is enough new-ness, enough rest in the schedule, and just enough change in plans to keep everyone energized, including me.   I loved sitting down with each of them on the 1st day and talking about what was new, what was the same, and what our expectations were of each of them at this step in their educational process.   Our son read through his “syllabus,” asking questions as if he was signing away his birthright.   The oldest was a step ahead, asking the day before school started, “Is there an assignment that I need to start reading now for later this week?”   It may not sound like much, but my long-term readers will perhaps remember that this is the same child who convinced me that she’d be less distracted, and therefore more productive, if I let her work upstairs in her room; math, consequently, started taking 5 hrs. to complete, science took 4, etc.   So much for less distracted.   It’s difficult, looking at her now, to believe those types of days and months actually were a part of our school day, but God did a mighty work—in her and in me.

I wrote this because, for many homeschoolers, this month is the beginning of that next school year.  And for many brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box homeschoolers, this might be your first week.  Hopefully things went well, but maybe the time happened very differently than you would have planned it.   Maybe you’re questioning your decision, whether that decision was to begin homeschooling, or to homeschool this year.   Though we’ve had fabulous starts (and finishes) in the last few years , I shudder as I vividly remember years when I toyed with the thought of public school for the sake of peace.    There is always something to be thankful for, and the Lord is always at work in our lives, if we trust Him.   If you didn’t have the week you planned, make your “I’m thankful” list.  If you don’t blog, grab a friend and tell him or her about it.   You’d be amazed at how uplifting a different perspective can be.   I’m looking forward to Monday already.

The Do-Nothing Summer

This post could have just as easily have been entitled “Second Week of Summer,” but my heart is not to document how we spend each week of what I anticipate to be a 10-week break from our school routine.   But this was a week of “ah-has,” as we called them in my corporate days–the point at which I had to heed to the teachable moment.

It happened quickly, as teachable moments often do, and I was left to marinate what the moment meant to me for days afterward.    After picking up the oldest from her volunteer work, I had to run inside a grocery store.   I had all three children with me when we ran into a friend from church.   She immediately recognized the oldest’s volunteer jacket, and they had a brief dialogue about how much the oldest was enjoying her opportunity.    Then our friend asked our son, “And what are you doing this summer?”    With all the honesty and candor of a child, he replied, “Nothing.”    She played it off well, saying that “nothing can be good sometimes, too,” and I smiled in agreement, but inside I was crushed.   (Gasp!!)   My child saying that he was doing nothing this summer?!!

 Of course, he is not actually doing nothing.    We’re completing a minimal amount of school.   He and his dad are set for a record to see every superhero movie out this summer, and he’ll attend a dance workshop later in the summer.   However, given that I normally have camps planned and at least one trip in the works, hearing him tell someone that he’s doing nothing was awkward.   It’s like when someone asked your homeschooled kid, who might have a 7th grade science book, a 6th grade math text, a 5th grade English workbook, and read on a 10th grade level, what grade he/ she is in.    When the kid replies, “I don’t know,” it’s just not a good look.

While this short scene marinated in my mind, it occurred to me that I’d been so psychologically preoccupied with getting the oldest’s plans and activities in order until I let everything else go.   Moreover, her daily activities are taking over our summer such that I have a hard time sitting to think  and accomplish other tasks.   To begin with, during our more formalized school time, I normally wake up when my husband awakens, but I don’t get up until around 7:30.   This gives me–in theory–at least an hour by myself before I awaken the kids to meditate on the Lord, have my own worship time, get a headstart on breakfast, or catch up on some last-minute project from the night before.   Summer was supposed to be more-laid back and relaxed.  Instead, I now have to get up every morning by 7 a.m. at the latest so that the oldest can get to school on time.    Even on Fridays when she has no class, she’s taken on extra volunteer opportunities, and so I’m still up early to have her in place.   And almost all the flexibility that homeschooling allows into our schedule is gone as we adjust ourselves to having to meet others’ time and deadlines.   

 

So our younger two are left to their own devices this summer–at least, so far, and I’m having to learn re-learn a few things, too.   1st lesson: it’s okay at times to have nothing to do, aka Miss Mason’s “masterly inactivity.”    I love seeing the kids turn off the television on their own.   Our son, a huge fan of author Rick Riordan (of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” fame), has taken on the task of an avid reader–to read what his favorite authors read, and thereby to gain more insight into their perspective.   So, there are long periods of the day when we don’t see him, but I pass by to be sure that he’s still breathing.    I often find him on his futon with his head in a book.

 

The youngest could come up with a brand new project, complete with its brand new mess, about once per hour, if I let her.   But, with her time, she created a family restaurant out of all the chairs and tv trays in the house (and she accidentally deleted my picture of it), where we decided to eat and have dinner once per month.   She’s learned basic sewing stitches well enough to make purses for her and her dolls.     Today, she made a tent of quilts and chairs where she and the dogs could nap, in case she actually takes a nap, which would be enough reason to take a picture.

 

 

 

I can be taught, too.   I can learn that I don’t have full control of my schedule as I accustomed to having, and that’s okay.   I can sew.  I can read.   I can plan.    I can work.    I can even take a mid-day nap.   Wow, this do-nothing summer might just work out after all.

 

Losing Control

We have two weeks of school left.

Usually by this time, I would already have summer reading lists compiled and printed off for the children.   In my defense, I have at least talked to my son about what I want to do.  

I plan to simply keep school going with our youngest daughter.  When I reflect upon her school year, there is too much low-hanging fruit for me to feel comfortable about a clear, seamless transition into third grade.   As one example, I still think she needs to “seal in” the concept of borrowing when subtraction.   Once she completes the first problem, she fine.   Yet, almost every day, I have to remnd her that, if the larger number is below the smaller number, you cannot simply reverse the numbers, i.e., 7 – 9 is not the same as 9 – 7.   I have to remind her all too often that since you are borrowing 10, it is as easy as placing a 1 in front of the number that you are adding to (as I write it, I realize that I sound equally confused!)  With the text having introduced borrowing from the tens’ columns and the hundreds’ column, she also sometimes forgets which column to borrow from.   Finally, there are also days when she’s very distracted and starts adding some numbers and subtracting others.   GEEEESH!   So the summer will give us an opportunity to slow down and gain confidence in this area.

We’ll also continue handwriting.   This week, she accomplished the difficult cursive “S,” and so she can now write her full name in cursive.  I intentionally delayed teaching cursive to give her more of a chance to gain confidence with a pencil and to work on the right direction for the “ball” of the letter “b” or “d,” or which way to turn a “j”–challenging lessons that all little ones must tackle.

What’s stopping me from bringing my “A” game?  Three things.

1) the heat. Spring is my absolute favorite time of year.  It’s when I crave the outdoors, the cool morning breeze that begs you to be out and about in the garden.  However, this year, we had no spring.  We went from winter to summer, and at a time when many in this country are experiencing flooding, we have not seen rain in weeks.   All our flowers and grass popped up, and just as quickly, it dried out and died.   Now I find myself in a bit of a funk after not seeing a hibiscus bloom after a fresh rain, or seeing my mimosa blossoms shrivel almost immediately after blooming.

2) the busy schedule.  In four weekends, I have had to prepare, as a parent prepares (given that I’m not the one actually performing), for a science competition, two dance competitions, and a prom.    Most Sunday nights I have crawled into bed, and most Monday mornings I wake up behind.   Hence, nothing that is outside of the norm do I accomplish without Herculean effort.    Searching book lists, reviews, descriptions, etc., has simply been more than I can do right now, especially with my laptop dying a slow death ( and consequently, the kids standing over me in line while I attempt to check off a few to-dos  on the family desktop).

3) the life-changing decision to allow our oldest to enter college early–at least as a part-time student.   The state of Texas has a wonderful partnership between community colleges and high schools, including high school homeschools.   With the dual credit initiative, a high schooler can complete college courses at a greatly reduced rate (like less than $200), receiving college credit and high school credit.    Most Texas 4-year colleges and universities readily accept these credits, saving parents bundles in higher education costs.   Many homeschooling parents actually enroll their children at junior college as Associates degree candidates, and then send them off to 4-year universities as degreed students for their final two years.   We went to all the meetings and thought well in advance about what a wonderful benefit this would be to both the oldest, and to us.   It all sounded great–that is, until now, when it is all about 3 weeks from happening.   Now I’m feeling as I felt when we packed her up at 3 years old and sent her off to private school, only worse.   Back then, I was convinced that we were giving her an early start on the best education money could buy; now I know that we’ve got the best education love can afford right here at home.   I’m struggling with her possibly learning history from another perspective rather than it being His story.   I’m struggling with the people with whom she might come in contact.   I’m struggling with all the plans I had that will probably not happen with her before she goes farther away to school in a couple of years.   How did this moment get here so fast?  

Having said all of that, I am also rejoicing.   In spite of my angst, I know this is a great opportunity for her, and I’m proud of her for stepping up to this challenge.   I’m proud of me and the realization that I had a little something to do with getting her here (not to take away from my husband or the Lord).   Most of all, I’m thankful that the Lord loves this mother hen (as my husband describes me) enough to allow me to gradually, lovingly, lose control.   Not that I’m misled into thinking that I had control anyway, but now, as these four walls become increasingly inadequate to  protect her from what she’ll encounter, I’m glad she is His.

P.S.   We finally got a bit of rain today.   Guess I’d better get busy.

1st Semester Progress Report (pt. 2)

Picking up where I left off, I think the gap filler between where I am with the youngest and where I want to be is a planner.   Lisa(?) Hobar of Mystery of History once described the inverse relationship between time spent with your child and the amount of planning needed.   If you imagine an X with ending arrows pointing in opposite directions, planning would be on one axis, and one-on-one time with your child is on the other.    In other words, the more time you spend with your child, the less you need to plan.   I am almost constantly with our youngest, so I keep my “schedule” in my head.   I’m sure you’re there already, but yes, it makes it real easy to fall off track.    I always justify it by thinking, well, she’s not headed to college on tomorrow, which is true, but it doesn’t help my frustration when we get off track.   So, during the holidays, I’m going to work to get myself more on a real schedule, with everything in my head written down.   I have to admit that it’s funny to be so relaxed with her education; when my older two were her age, I would plan out the entire school year (before I learned better–smile).

Our son continues to perform well, but I pray continuously over heart issues.   Being wildly successful can be as problematic as being a constant failure.   So, we’ve had to work on not procrastinating just because you know that you can finish quickly, not gloating when you finish early, and not complaining or shying away when work becomes challenging.   Truth be told, those are lessons many adults have yet to learn.

He is at the season where we can begin to focus in more on his interests, and, at least for right now, one of his interests seems to be in the area of history and law.   I had the bright idea of enrolling him on a junior debate team at a local homeschool partnership.   Then I recalled another parent’s recollection about debate and the research that is required to do it well—the work for debate took up enough time and energy until she allowed it to replace her daughter’s history and English studies.   Then I thought about the weekly travel for class.   Is this a necessary part of our journey, or a disruption to an otherwise effective curriculum plan?

The oldest, for a variety of reasons, is almost always the last one finished with school.   At this point, I think she accepts it as ‘just the way it is.’   When her brother finishes before her, she stops to double-check that he really is through.   In the motherly tone that only an oldest daughter can deliver, she completes a mental checklist:

“Okay.   You’re done with Pre-Algebra?” Check.

 

“You finished your science?” Check.

 

“You finished your grammar?” Check.

 

“You read to Mom?   Did she read to you?” Check.

Her year is going well, and I believe the days off—whether with field trips or the recent addition of our “reading days”—are paying huge benefits in terms of giving her a space to relax and regroup in the midst of a difficult school year.    She has always had to work harder in math, and I didn’t realize until I watched her persevere how much math is a part of chemistry.    Chemistry was my favorite subject in high school—it’s why I majored in chemical engineering.   Our daughter had a slow start with chemistry, but thankfully she has picked up.  I know that we will not finish the text in one school year, so my thoughts right now are to take 1-1/2 years to complete it, then fill the last semester with one of her favorite sciences, meteorology.  

I have to think much more strategically rather than tactically with her, and I’m also making a point of documenting my work as our son is not far behind her.    She will begin a new season in her education on next school year—college.    Many Texas homeschoolers take advantage of the dual degree programs available through our community college system, and I aim to be no exception.   With college costs rising higher than the rate of inflation, getting an inexpensive head start will benefit us all.   Yet, the questions of what to take, how to position her to succeed and not fail, is she really ready, am I really ready, and so on, weigh heavily on my mind.   It all requires so much prayer, and then quite of bit of shoe leather and patience—patience with administrators, patience with processes, and patience with yourself.   Getting back to the sciences, physics is out there waiting as well, but I’m not sure if we want to do that here, or let her take the physics for non-math majors as a college options.   Decisions, decisions.   I’m so glad the holidays, with the associated break, are approaching; there’ll be more time to fast, to pray, and to get organized.

The Eye Opener: Our Partnership (?) with the Public School

 October is winding down, and we’ve finally gotten our first taste of fall here.    There’ve been a number of firsts in the last few months, and perhaps as memorable as any has been our first interaction with the public school system.     

The oldest is now beginning the season of college preparatory exams before entering that phase of life where she’ll have to decide what she wants to be and then pick a place to begin closing that gap between that decision and who she is today.    I can remember well that season in my own life.   I also now realize as a parent how ridiculous it is that at such a young age and lack of experience that she must choose a life’s work.    But I digress.

After taking two exams amongst her peers in a more traditional environment, the three of us–my husband, my daughter, and I–agreed that this was, as my husband so aptly put it, “eye-opening.”   My daughter was much more blunt after this last visit: “I never want to go there again,” she declared.

When she visited the high school the first time, it was to take a practice PSAT.   I use the word practice because, for us, it was indeed a trial run.   We sent scores to no one except ourselves.     Even so, the PSAT, by design, woos a different element, so to speak.    Those students know why they’re there, and, for the most part, they want to be there.    The oldest came home elated about seeing a few friends, interacting with the counselors, and testing in the almost brand-new facilities.   As much as I was excited and relieved that she had a positive experience there, a part of me was nervous: is she going to ask me about attending public school next year?    Of course, having to rise before the sun killed any inclination in that direction, I’m sure.

The second exam, the PLAN, was given to the entire 10th grade population, from the college-bound, to the Armed Services-bound, to the Lord-only-knows-where-I’m-bound.   There’s a brief article here regarding the increased accessibility of college preparatory exams in the state of Texas, and the potential benefit of such access, but I can’t help but be suspicious of the real intent.    But that’s a post for another time; in the meantime, we stepped into the opportunity that availed itself to us.

My daughter talked about what I interpreted as a level of disrespect and a lack of self-respect–kids who challenged the teacher’s every instruction and level of authority, kids who sat with arms folded and texting while the exam was happening.   She spoke of teachers who had little control.   Though her report wasn’t all bad news, I think being amongst the entire student body changed that utopian view that she had after taking the first test.

For our parts, what immediately stood out was the level of security.  Funny thing, the school sits in the middle of what was once a rice field–what are you expecting to happen?   In all seriousness, I’m sure this is done with the kids’ best interest in mind, but in this era of identity theft, we both questioned why we had to surrender our driver’s licenses at the front door, even if asked nicely.     Nothing of our parental experience felt warm; only the smiles that left us, carting our daughter away, gave us the least bit of comfort about this whole process.    I couldn’t help but wonder, how does a parent overcome the almost punitive  treatment to try and help make a difference?

Of course, I still had a bad taste in my mouth from challenging the school as to why our daughter couldn’t say that she was enrolled in a high school.     She is a high school student, I argued.     She’s just not in a public school.    Then I was spoken to in a fairly condescending tone about how homeschooling parents are understandably assertive about certain things, but I needn’t worry…Maybe it’s just my baby-of-the-family issues surfacing, but afterward, I felt like a child who’d been told to calm down and go sit in a corner.

Sounds like a condemnation of the public school system, right?  It’s not, or at least, that’s not my intent.   I’m writing more because of my observation, mixed in, perhaps, with some sadness and frustration, of the realities of a college-bound homeschooler: our plan has to somehow transform and then conform into something that is recognizable by traditional schools.    For the last seven years, I’ve taken great pride and joy in our ability to tailor our home to what we need to educate our children with no outside influences.    Now, even if it’s only for a day here or there, we must interact with what is normal for most; we all have to adapt, and face the “real world” for more eye-opening experiences.

All things being equal, we’ll have one more “eye-opening” opportunity on next school year when our daughter takes the PSAT again–this time, to market herself (does that sound horrible?) to potential colleges and would-be financial partners.     For the other college prep exams, she can attend a designated testing center where she’ll be sheltered once again from the masses.    At this point, there are no television-inspired fantasies about what her life–or our lives, for that matter–would be like with her in  public school; we all saw first-hand how much our lives, our training, and our resolve would have to change in order to be a part of this environment every day.    What I hope at this point is that we all realize even more the gift we have in each other, and in what we’re able to do here each day.    There truly is no place like home.

The busiest summer–(until next year)

Unless the Lord says differently, this has been/ will be our summer:

Weeks 1 and 2: preparation for this year’s dance recital

Week 3:  oldest in class for PSAT review

Week 4 (this week): oldest away at camp

Week 5:  oldest in class for PSAT review, part II

 Week 6: son at National Dance competition

Week 7: VBS

Week 8:         (can you believe it?—nothing to do!!)

Week 9:  begin school(?)

There are at least two aspects of this schedule that have become my latest musings.   The first is pondering how, every summer, I make a declaration that we are just going to rest, and every summer, we are busier than the summer before.   I wonder if I stated, “This summer, we’re going to be busier than ever!” would we actually have nothing to do?    I might try that next spring.   Right now, however, what this schedule means is that we will potentially have only one “do nothing” week, which also happens to contain my husband’s birthday, before school would start.   I intentionally wanted to start earlier this year because my goal is to finish school early enough to get outside in late April/ early May before it gets too hot.   The older two weren’t totally in agreement with this, but then again, they’re not the ones that do the lion’s share of weeding, mulching, and watering during the blazing heat.   Now I’m not sure if my plan will work.    Rest is important to academics, too, and we’ve not had much of it as far as I can tell.    

The other realization I’ve had, as we left the oldest waaaaaayyy out west yesterday, is that this is the first time we’ve been apart from any of the children for an extended period of time.    On the bittersweet ride back home yesterday, past endless windmills and mesquite trees, I thought about a family favorite of ours, Disney’s “College Road Trip” (Martin Lawrence, Raven Symone.)   

At the end of the movie, as Raven’s character waves goodbye from behind the opened door of her dormitory, her parents fight back tears, and memories of childhood past flash through their minds as they return a final wave—for a while.   Were we experiencing a glimpse of what we’ll go through in a couple more years?    I think so.     And though she politely ushered us out of the door so that she could begin her week as a semi-grown up, she missed us, too.    During our 10-hour drive back, she texted twice, then called twice, saying the latter time, “Would you like me to talk you until you get home?”   (We were 5 hours away from our driveway at the time).     I couldn’t help but laugh at how irritated she gets when little brother and sister make an unannounced visit into her room, and yet, what does she do with her first opportunity to be alone?   She calls home, and talks with little sister.   Priceless.

When I’m not playing taxi cab/ head cheerleader for all these efforts, I have had a little time to think about next school year, and to even make a decision or two (smile).    The oldest had asked about learning home management skills—how to cook, complete the laundry cycle, etc.     I began to try and formalize this into a Home Economics course on last year, but it never materialized.    It probably won’t happen this year, either, at least not in a formal sense.   We will pull in some Dave Ramsey and/or Larry Burkett materials on personal finances, but I think that, for the most part, we’ll learn to manage a home by managing our home.   The biggest dilemma I’m having in this area is how to teach cooking to someone who doesn’t eat.      So much of good cooking is about intuition and instinct regarding taste, flavor, and pleasurable textures on the tongue.  Based on my own childhood experiences, I’ve had to fight the demons that cause food to be so much more than food—it was comfort, it was companionship, and it was love.  For our oldest, food is what food should be—sustenance to allow her to get on with the priorities of her day.    For that and a couple of other reasons, her diet is fairly restrictive; how do I turn her into a cook?    What I’ve thought about doing so far is to work with the things she likes and make sure she can prepare those;  artistry will come with time.

Otherwise, I’ve been gathering books and book ideas, and pulling projects into the kids’ studies for next school year.   It’s shaping into another fun learning time (at least, I think so.)    I’m also in thought/ prayer about joining a homeschool group again—not for the sake of the group, but for the sake of our youngest daughter, who needs to get out, and to do something different than what she currently does.    Of course, this could happen in a myriad of ways, and that’s the part that I’m prayerful about;  a homeschool group is not a homeschool group is not a homeschool group, and I am definitely not decided that we need some of the more negative aspects of a group in the effort to have more play days and field trips.   Somewhere in the midst of all this busy-ness I will have to carve out some thinking/ praying/ meditating time.   So much needs to be more carefully thought through than I have time to do right now, but I plow along.

I suppose frustration would be an easy space to crawl into right now, but I make the conscious effort to be thankful.    So, in the midst of all of this, I’m thankful that…

1)      We had resources to do all the items listed above

2)      Where resources looked limited, God provided abundantly (I’m still speaking that)

3)      Dad has been able to travel with us, and has worked from home on several days this summer

4)      We spent a safe and fun Father’s Day on the road, and returned safely on yesterday (also speaking that trip #2 will be the same or better)

5)      Today I will sleep as much as I want to (Hallelujah!)

6)      I saw the one corner of Texas that I’d not seen before

7)      I was asked to take on some additional work that won’t require too much time

8)      Our okra is growing like crazy

9)      With dance season over (for the most part), we can attend mid-week service

10)   Next dance season, class times were adjusted such that we can continue to attend mid-week services

11)   Whatever happens over this summer, busy or not, we serve a great God.

That’s a very small, non-exhaustive list.   Hope you feel the same way when you jot yours down.