It’s weekly wrap-up time! If you want to join in, we’d love to see what is going on with you, so please visit Mary. The post that has been in me for close to three weeks has finally decided to come out. Ready for some serious rambling?
From where I sat this past week,
As an individual, I…
am ever mindful of how life gives you the opportunity to revisit your thinking and really solidify where you are in some areas. I shared months ago after my brief in-home survey that our homeschool is as elementary school-unfriendly as it is high school-friendly. I spent some time over the summer planning field trips, etc., to make sure that our youngest gets to have fun and enjoy all that school can be rather than look upon it as a drudgery. Then I reconsidered an opportunity that we took great advantage of in our earlier homeschooling years, but have since all but abandoned: homeschooling groups.
I think it was the opening line of the intro of a group that I was invited to join that struck me. The words were that ‘it is imperative that we socialize…’ Hearkening to the feel of hairs on the back of my neck standing up, I meditated on that one for a while. Imperative…is it really? In reading it, I immediately thought of the general group make-up: parents who are relatively new to homeschooling with young children. But there is a not-so-subtle arrogance in thinking that way, as if I have mastered the science and art of homeschooling and know how to do it the “right way.” The Lord knows how many times I’ve bumped my head against a wall on all things homeschooling, so I took a more humble approach to thinking about this.
I think that groups can and do have a place within the homeschooling community, and the ladies I met when we began homeschooling are probably a significant reason as to why we continued to homeschool when life might have dictated otherwise. I am also a huge fan of an extended support system. In truth, it’s one of the reasons I remain at HSB rather than switch over to a more popular blogging platform—here, there is community, which is exactly what groups attempt to do. Coming from a family (on both sides) of public school educators, we needed to see success stories such that we could defend our position long before we had success stories of our own. Having said that, what I’ve come to appreciate much more in the years we’ve journeyed this road is what homeschooling has done for our family. I’ve said before that anyone who sticks with homeschooling long enough finds that it is the home that is the operative part of that compound word; schooling is simply one arm of many as what is happening in the home manifests itself.
I love the fact that our kids are each other’s best friends. Yes, they fight, and yes, they are sometimes self-absorbed, but at the end of the day, our teen can hang out with the youngest; our pre-teen can enjoy playing with his sisters—one who is three years older, one who is five years younger. As they enjoyed the premiere of “Camp Rock 2: the Final Jam” the other night, I couldn’t help but smile as the kids laughed and talked together, then got on each other’s nerves, then laughed some more over store-bought pizza and a movie. When I hear other families talk about the issues that exist among siblings, I know that God is doing something special here, and I believe that homeschooling has a lot to do with that.
More than liking (on most days) to be with each other, our kids also still like to be around us. At an age when most teens and pre-teens find their parents embarrassing, or at minimum, uncool, our kids actually enjoy having us as an active part of their lives. As just one example, the dance center hosts two Parent Watch Weeks during the year. This is the one time that parents can come into the class room and watch their children rather than take in the class from the limited view of a wall window. In the older kids’ classes, we are often the only parents who attend. The students consider it humiliating to have their moms and dads come to watch them dance. Our children get upset if for any reason one of us cannot be there!
Several years ago, a more seasoned homeschooling mom shared with me that if there was one thing she’d focus more on during her homeschooling years, it would be to keep her children’s hearts at home. I don’t think that she meant it such that your kids would literally never want to leave home; I took it to mean that my best work might be to teach our children to cherish family, and to hold dear what is within these four walls. I know that is counter-culture to what is popular, but I have come to see true wisdom in it over the years.
As a related digression, not too long ago I was wearing an old t-shirt from our church’s women’s retreat. Our youngest asked me what is a retreat, and after hearing my explanation, she concluded that retreats were bad. “Family comes first, and most important is the Lord,” she said. Sure, her logic could use some work, but I think she hit upon the essence of what we’re trying to create here, with the Lord’s help.
Could a group do any of that for us? Not at all. But it took really thinking through this aspect of what we do and why for me to understand why that intro statement, and the accompanying statements describing the group, for me to decide how we might fit, if at all, into this group. So the long and short of it is that we joined the group for the sole purpose of seeing the calendar, and if a field trip or two coincides with something we’re doing, we’ll join in. Otherwise, we will continue to move in the 5-person unit that has worked so well for us in the past years.
As a wife and homemaker, I…
am enjoying this season of being able to focus on home and setting of an environment. Charlotte Mason speaks of education as being an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. This has been my year to focus in on the atmosphere, it seems. We’ve always made excellent use of the produce market in town, but starting a new garden has really heightened my awareness of ministry through just basic care of those around you. It doesn’t help that our not-so-little son is growing peach fuzz over his top lip, or that the oldest has a chronic cough that seems to be aggravated by milk. I keep remembering all the new data surrounding homogenized milk, early development, and mucous production—oh, my! I still have a lot to learn and to do in this area, but life is affording me the opportunity to step back and look at how I manage the household in its totality, and then make the necessary adjustments to make it even more of a home.
This isn’t solely about cooking; it is also about teaching our oldest the value of modesty as her sewing proficiencies take off and she wants to purchase her own patterns. It is about talking to our children about our values, and about ministering to them regarding what the Lord expects of them.
One of the challenges I have is that there are at least three distinctly different diets in our home, and without careful planning, meal preparation can soak up a huge part of my day. So I’m trying to look at having a common food that we all can enjoy, and then build around it. In most cases, this is a starchy food because no one complains. Labor Day’s staple was homemade oven fries. This picture is from allrecipes.com, since my cell phone shot didn’t do justice to my hard work.
Our vegetarian son added vegetables to the fries and enjoyed them thoroughly; for the oldest, chicken nuggets complimented the fries. The youngest, my hubby and I had burgers with the fries, and vegetables (different veggies than our son). More importantly, Mom didn’t have to stay in the kitchen and make three distinct meals. I felt so good about that until I tried it again tonight. When everyone returned from the first night of dance, I started with bread—for sandwiches, that is. The two older kids enjoyed pita pockets stuffed with pepperoni and cheese (vegetarian pepperoni for our son—HA HA!) The youngest, the hubby and I enjoyed burgers left over from yesterday, and the most work I had to do was to chop fruit. I could get used to this. I’ve already thought through tomorrow’s staple—either corn or pasta.
As a mom and homeschooling parent, I…
am loving the year we’re having thus far. As I’ve mentioned before, the oldest has her routine in semi-order (smile), so I am focusing on our son and the youngest. I’ve made a point of having one field trip per month with her in mind. We’re revisiting all of those standard homeschooling trips that every Texan takes, but our last stop through was when the youngest was in a carrier. It’s hilarious to me that everyone in the house is excited about these “kiddy” trips, regardless of age; I guess the idea of getting out is appealing to all three kids, no matter where we go. In the meantime, the youngest is getting more in touch with her imagination, and thankfully, her curriculum comes in with a fun project or two on occasion. Here’s the result of a phonics lesson on how to follow directions.
Our son and I are having the discussions that I dreamed of when I put together their curriculum. He began reading Treasure Island today, and launched into a conversation regarding the unique rhyme scheme of the poem. He then discovered that the movie Treasure Planet is a takeoff of this classic, and he was curious regarding the comparison of the two. Later, as our daughter read the Aeneid, he stuck close by to help us with the Roman equivalent of the various Greek gods (Juno is Hera, Neptune is Poseidon, etc.). Wow. I’m already thinking about how to modify the high school curriculum to adjust for books that he’s already heard because of his interests.
As I mentioned, the oldest and I are reading the Aeneid after enjoying “Julius Caesar” together. The Aeneid’s language is much more simplistic than Homer’s works, and I am always thrilled when we are able to come at a period of history in more than one way. So this evening, the oldest read from Antony and Cleopatra, and the youngest did her best to educate her sister on Egyptian mummification processes, which she notebooked and completed a science project on a month or so ago. Earlier during the day, our son covered a brief history on Augustine, a North African bishop, and the oldest used this moment to talk about the city of Carthage, a city that was critical to the telling of both Augustine and Aeneus’ tale. It’s one of those neat places in learning where everything you cover just seems to meld into everything else, and it’s the handiwork of the master curriculum planner—our God almighty.
As a business owner, I…
have unintentionally extended the summer sale by not doing maintenance on the site—YIKES! Seriously, though, I was blessed to be a blessing, and it feels good to offer this sale price to a few customers who may have just found me.
I started on the high school curriculum and am at a bit of a quandary as to how to marry the ideas in my head into something that looks doable and meaningful on paper. It will come. In the meantime, I continue to work on a couple or three other writing projects that are not business-related, but I like to believe that when I am faithful to the work of the Lord and the inspiration of my husband, the Lord will honor me for it.
My Word count is now at 5 pages, with 2000+ words. Geesh!!!!! This is probably 2-3 posts worth of rambling, but it’s out, and I can move forward. May the Lord bless your week as well.