Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Lincoln is 9 months old and learning to crawl! Look at the arm rolls!

For more WW check out 5 Minutes for Mom!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Today is a NEW day!

I just want to take a moment to thank all who have encouraged me this week. I know that I am not the only SAHM who homeschools multiple kids and has rough days. Your comments have been very thoughtful and kind!

So here is what God has taught me in just 3 days time (oh, He is so good to answer prayer):

I am a "work-in-progress"!
I was reminded of this by Oswald Chambers this morning. He says, "His purpose is that I depend on Him an on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working toward a particular finish [as I often think]; His end is the process..." (from 'My Utmost For His Highest', emphasis mine). Wow, does this ever help place my efforts on today's work and today's obedience rather than focusing on my being dissatisfied or unhappy with what I have NOT yet become in what I think is His purpose for me (that being perfect servitude and exemplifying of Christ). Funny also that this runs into my second point.

My focus should be on God's mission for me, not on my "shadow" mission.
Think about it - am I focusing, day-to-day, on what God really tells me is important, or on what I have deigned to be important (my "shadow" mission)? My best friend Sheetal brought this up to me yesterday (again, God's good timing) and it opened my eyes to see where some of my spiritual 'symptoms' (ingratitude, self-pity, overwhelming feelings) were coming from. I know from the Word that relationships are one of the most important things in life. Not our job, where we live, our clothes, how we educate our kids, where we deliver our babies, our what we eat! But I have let especially homeschooling, become my "shadow" mission. After all, God called us to it and it's a great thing to do for our kids, right? But if the planning, lessons, researching, etc. all begin to come before the actual kids (relationships given to me by God), then my focus is off and I begin to show 'symptoms.' I am glad to be learning this lesson now, just prior to the start of our new schoolyear. Jesus loves each of the beautiful children that He made for me and He wants me to focus on their spirits as I educate them at home.

I need to say "yes" to the Lord, today.
I was moved by how the Holy Spirit spoke through a pastor's message on yesterday (and reinforced it with Chambers this morning). He spoke about 1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Do not quench the Holy Spirit." I was convicted about how often I say 'no' to the still, small voice of the Spirit in my life. "No, I will not apologize to dh - I was right after all," "No, I will not keep my voice down - I've told them a million times not to do that!", "No, it's too hard to be humble and too time consuming to be grateful", "No, I will not consider others before myself -I deserve this!" The more I do so, the more consequences I gain and I end up with "Not my best day ever" more and more often. But, God is faithful to reward even the smallest act of obedience in my life in big ways! I have seen this over and over in my life. And so, today I will listen and say "yes."

God always provides the support and encouragement that I need. I am so thankful that He never gives up on me and is always working His good purpose in my life (even if it sometimes takes a bulldozer instead of a tiny chisel to do!). I am ready for this new day that He has given me!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This makes me feel better already...

Lincoln @ 9 months old

Not my best day ever...

I live in this house and I feel like I never leave. I send the kids outside to get sun but don't have a minute to sit out and read or watch them. My weeds are up to my knees since I don't even go out to pull them - there is too much too be done inside. I don't go to stores or buy clothes for myself. The grocery run is an hour chore that is done only once in 2 weeks. I don't scrapbook or read books to relax. I don't meet up with a friend (and only a friend) for coffee and a chat.

I just cook and wash dishes and wipe faces and bums. I clean and fold laundry and pack and organize things. I find everything that is missing. I keep a million lists and details in my head so that the family continues to run. I read school books and websites about school books. The clutter is so very constant. I don't sleep in - ever. I don't 'vacation' since I am in charge of everything but directions and booking the sleeping location. I don't play the piano anymore.

I want a break and I want to see the sunshine. I would like a back rub. It would be nice to be camping and sitting by the fire with a book. But then - I would have to keep everyone fed and cleaned and healthy and have to tend to the house when I got back anyway.

I am not a Proverbs 31 woman.

I DO like this job. But some days I just don't. Everyone has a 'woe is me' moment or two. Thankfully, I believe in Jesus Christ who has promised me many good things. Tomorrow will be a new day and I will be happy to be washing a pot while my 2yo plays with the bubbles, the other 2 help with the utensils, and my baby babbles.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

So THIS is what happened to the rest of my brain!!! I was wondering where it went!
(Seriously, this was 6 years ago when I was doped up on Percocet after a minor surgery to fix a hole in my eardrum. I felt exactly how I looked too! Like "Huh - is that a camera? Put it down before I fall asleep!")

For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What to do with this stuff?

As I prepare for next year, I am trying to purge and clear out, gather anew & organize. So for all you veteran hs moms out there, what do I do with all their crafts and artwork??

They just produce so much of it and obviously it can't all be saved. I have very little wall space to use for school purposes already. But I can't toss it in front of them. Do I just tell them I'm putting it in a box to make room for next year's beautiful creations and hope that they will forget about it (they always do at this age)? Or what? Any other ideas?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Making space for BIG BOY TEETH!

I am sooooo delayed in posting this but I didn't want to forget to get this pic up, even if it is a month old!

Jefferson was so excited to lose his first tooth (end of May, for heavens sake)!

But me, being the super-duper prepared mom that I am (uh, not...) almost forgot to put something under his pillow. I had wanted to give him a dollar coin since they aren't common and he loves them. I meant to go out in the evening to get it. However, I shot straight up in my bed at 6am the next day, somehow subconsciously realizing that I hadn't done ANYTHING! What a bad Mommy!

I raised around the house trying like a crazy woman (oh wait - I AM a crazy woman! LOL!) to find something special to put with 4 quarters and managed to scrounge up a collectible coin from his daddy's desk. And with the stealth that only comes from 6 years of creeping around as softly as possible in order to not wake up a baby/child, I managed to get that first special toothfairy treat under his pillow without waking him OR his little brother! I am still amazed at myself for pulling that one off!! Call me by my new name - Super Stealthy Awesome Mommy (oh please - the name should really be "Dumb Luck Mama"!)!

Thankfully, these crazy happenings were all unbeknownst to the excited 6 yo who was more than pleased with his prize! And my prize is that teensy-weensy, tiny little tooth (holy cow -it's so little!) that brought so much joy when it first showed up 6 years ago in our first fat baby's toothless little grin. I have a special place for it in his baby book....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer fun with Bloggy Friends!

In the midst of our summer craziness, I was blessed to get the chance to meet up with one of my favorite bloggy pals, Living to Learn and Learning to Live. She is better known in my bloggy circle as the one and the only - the great Momma Roar!

She is fabulous with a sewing machine (just look at these cute clothes that she throws together in a snap!), loves shoes, has the diligence to give up on soda (tough though it was!), has three beautiful children, and loves the Lord! But what's also really awesome is that she lives practically next door and her kids are close in age to mine! So when she dropped me an email to try to plan a little fun something, I was glad to accept.

I will admit that I was a little nervous to meet her in person - after all there is safety in the bloggy world for those of us who tend towards the introverted side. But she put me at ease right away with her friendly smile and easy going nature! We met at a local clock & watch museum with our boys - Jefferson (6yo) and Quintin - who both seemed to have a blast too. I was so glad that they could meet as I am always looking for boys for Jefferson to connect with (he couldn't stop asking when we would see Quintin again!).

Jefferson loved the craft time (anything involving paint is aways a hit with him), checked out all the clocks & watches on the museum tour, and especially enjoyed the old, mechanical show clock (called the Engle clock after Stephen Decatur Engle - in case anyone has a keen interest in that bit of history) from 1876. "It's like a t.v.!," he says. I think he mis-understood the tour guide who was asking the kids what they would do for entertainment if they lived in 1870 and didn't HAVE a t.v! Ahhh... the way they think! I hope Quintin enjoyed it as much! But here I am wishin' that I was as smart a blogger as Momma Roar and had brought my camera to get some pics. Hopefully she will be good enough to share? ;-)

Momma Roar and I had a wonderful time chit chatting while trying to keep paint out of our boys hair (it was a kids' day at the museum). We talked about so many different things but I wish that we had had even more time together. I hope that since we live so close, we can get together more often - perhaps church or hs co-op!

It was such a pleasure to meet you in person LA!! (Sorry - I forgot to mention that I noticed and totally loved your awesome FitFlops! *chucklechuckle*). I'll be glad to get to know you and your family more as you begin 1st grade this year!

Wordless Wednesday - Dirty kid

This is as dirty a photo as I could find of one of my kids (Reagan 4 yo)! Not that my kids don't get dirty - I usually just forget to get photos before I clean them up!

Check out more dirty little tots at Boys Rule My Life and her Dirty Baby Carnival!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Deciding on a path for History

I thought that I was going to dive into Tapestry of Grace for HA this next year. I first looked into it last Jan and printed out all the samples to look into. I surfed around to find info from others who use it and more info on how it works. I gathered opinions, price lists, etc. I really like all that it entails and how multiple students can use it at one time. (Check out Trivium Academy for more good info on TOG)

And then we had Reagan evaluated and I came to understand that she, entering K this year, is going to walk a different path than Jefferson did (yeah, yeah - don't you veterans of multiple kids laugh at that observation!). I have found that it is going to take a more right-brained, time consuming approach to teach her the things that Jefferson just learned from 2 workbooks.

Therefore, I don't want to have to divide my time any more than I have to in adjusting to teaching 2 (VERY different) kids. Reagans phonics will require much crafty work and focused attention. Jefferson will be adding Spanish, a structured Bible program and possibly piano lessons (next Jan) in 2nd grade. Lincoln will be crawling (oi - what that will entail!! LOL) and Adam will be old enough (3) to want to be in the throws of it all.

So, knowing what I know about myself and how I get easily overwhelmed with trying to do it all, I have decided NOT to go with TOG this year. I think that it will just have too many choices for me and require a little too much to add to the other changes coming this year. Since Language Arts is still my main focus, I don't want history to throw us off or burn me out. Also, from what I know of TOG, we can choose to use it later when we are ready or when we have even more students to use it. I am a little dissapointed since I really like what I have seen in this curriculum. But again, I think I will just look forward to it for possible use later.

For this year then, we continue with SOTW 2 - The Middle Ages. I'm used to it, Jefferson enjoys it and we can use it at any speed that we want to. Thankfully, I can get it here in time to begin it on time this year too! Looking forward to it -we love history around here!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Trying something new!

So as many of you know, I get silly for anything that has to do with organizing. This does not mean that I am organized, only that I strive for it. This past schoolyear we moved from 1 phonics and 1 math book in kindergarten (Jefferson 2006-2007) to 4 subjects, one of which (Language Arts) which has multiple facets! I found myself struggling to manage the daily lessons, paperwork and projects ..... for JUST.ONE.STUDENT.

I soon set up binders for the subjects so that we could tuck the paperwork away (can't just throw away his work as he does it - he likes to keep even his band aides!) and see his progress over the year. I set up hanging folders for each day of the week so that he could start taking part in which items needed to be completed in which day. I brought up a new bookshelf from the basement and got another one for the school room to organize our books by subject and by student.

I developed spreadsheets to meet my "Teacher's Manual" needs for the year (2007-2008). These included:

Weekly Checklist/Record of Completed Work
1st Grade Reading Log
1st Grade Memorization Goals
Chore Chart
HA Overall Goals 1st-4th Grade

These took tons of time but helped me to feel confident in our plan as we flexed due to illnesses and new baby and kept me focused as I waded through the vastness of a homeschool curriculum fair the size of a football field. I worked with them and adjusted them as we went as our school needs changed.

I soon realized that I just won't have the time to make and adjust so many spreadsheets/ documents as I add new students and more courses to our academy roll! My dh, computer geeky that he is, convinced me that I could find software that already does all the heavy lifting which would help me to organize these necessary items each year.

Sooooo..... we bought Homeschool Tracker Plus to use for our record keeping and school scheduling needs this year. Have any of you heard of this or do you use this? I'd be interested in your input before I invest too much time in the product. It seems to be easy enough to figure out and I'm hoping that it will make tracking and planning easier (once I get past the learning curve of it, that is). So far my problem with it seems to be that it has so many great options and powerful features that it is bringing out all of my indecisiveness and slowing me down. Again -I hope that this is just a learning curve. I have to remind myself that if I were using my spreadsheets I wouldn't be done yet and they wouldn't be nearly as flexible (or nearly as cooool, anyway!).

My job as a teacher is to learn and grow and find what works the best to achieve our goals for our students. Investing time on my part is fine but I just don't want to be wasting time either. I'd appreciate any input on this type of homeschool organization - what types of things works for you? And I'll let you know how it goes down the road!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How is it possible?

How is it possible that I could be busier during our summer break than when we were in the throws of school? Every minute seems to be filled with so much that I'm finding myself ignoring my computer and all my favorite blogs as well. I want to spend good play time with them each day as well as getting my planning for August done. Play time is easy - planning time is not. I can't even seem to sit down at the computer without Adam at my feet and someone else screaming due to some 5 yo catastrophe or 6 yo mess. I've got 4 books that I'm desperate to read (teaching resources) and 1 I just want to enjoy. Add 1 week of vacation (if you could call it that), swimming lessons, doctor appointments and I can see my summer slip, slip, slipping away.......

So to anyone that actually visits this blog (ha!)- my apologies for being scarce on the bloggy scene this month! Sometimes priorities much actually be held and blogs be held off....

Back soon - I hope with solid plans for 2nd grade and K.