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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

'Courageous' and 'Called'



I ran into a mom I know from town the other day as we were both digging through piles of clothes at a local rummage sale. This mom, like me, has boys, and lots of them.  So we have always had a nice connection as friends. As we were talking she said to me, “So, are you loving homeschooling?”  I thought for a moment and decided I wanted to answer honestly just in case she was even considering it herself.
“It’s hard.  It’s emotional. It’s draining.  But I do love it, most of the time,” I said.  She nodded in understanding and replied, “I just think it is courageous living.” My eyes widened and as I decided I liked the sound of that, “courageous living.” I replied with a laugh. 

“Yeah, it does take courage,” I said. 

No doubt, waking up every morning to teach my children takes courage. 
Some mornings I am looking forward to what we have planned, some mornings I wish they were on a bus on their way to the local brick-box.  Some mornings I have had the time to prepare the lessons that most fit each of their individual learning styles and some days I flip open a workbook and say, “do this.”  Some days I can handle frustration and irritation caused by long division and spelling and some days I reward/remove privileges, all while holding a four month old and saying in a sing-songy voice, “somebody’s got a pooooopy.”



So, where does the courage come in?

Daily Devotion
My minister said something once that has stuck with me for a long time. “Doing something daily is radical.” It’s true. Doing something every day is radical- whether that’s working out, reading the Bible, taking a walk, drinking eight glasses of water, you get the picture.  
The same goes with homeschooling every day, in and out, even during the worst homeschooling months in New England - February and March - when we are snowbound.  The discipline it takes to recommit yourself to something on a daily basis and not just talk about it, but do it – I’ll be honest, it’s hard.  
Of course when it comes to your children, there is a fair amount of self-induced pressure involved as well.  Homeschoolers typically struggle with knowing that they are doing “enough,” that they are challenging their students as well as helping them to be well-rounded.  That’s a tall cup of coffee if you ask me (or several).

So daily is courageous.  It’s especially courageous when you are working through some difficulties in your personal life (illness, depression etc) or your child is having a hard time learning (due to disability or just personality or learning style).

Back to the rummage sale.

My sweet friend then said something else to me, something like, “I just love it that you are called to do this.”  

I think the word ‘called” that people sometimes use in regards to homeschooling comes from the scripture in Ephesians 4.   The context is having to do with the church in the first century growing spiritually.  Paul says, “11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  (Also see 1 Peter 2:21, Romans 8:30)
  
In other words, Paul was saying that in order for the church to function properly, each person would have a different role, all so that we can reach unity in the faith.

Going a little deep and spiritual
Somehow along the way, people started saying that one has to be called to homeschool (and other things too – called to a job, called to move).  And that you are either "called" or "not called."

According to this scripture, I see the word “teacher,” but upon further investigation, the Greek of this word “teacher” (διδάσκαλος) seems to refer more to a teacher of religion.  Now, like many Christian homeschoolers, we do take up the word of God daily and learn right and wrong as revealed by the bible itself. But this scripture, in my opinion, does not necessarily apply to homeschoolers, persay.

I do of course think that there are plenty of scriptures that make it a wise choice if you desire to see your children grow up in faith (see Proverbs 22:6, Deut. 4:9).  But I think it's possible whether your kids are at home or not.  Each has it's own challenges.

That is not to say that I don’t feel accompanied by God on this journey (three years so far). 

So, how did I end up here if I didn’t feel like I was called? 

Well, to be honest, it’s just like any other big decision I have made in my life.  I felt the desire within me to do it, I prayed about it and waited for God to reveal his plan, to show me whether it was just an emotionally based desire or a Holy spirit-based desire.
In fact, we had been thinking about homeschooling since my older son was about 2 years old, and it wasn’t until he was 8 that I finally made the decision to pull him out of public school and start schooling him myself.  This was after many conversations with my husband and two long years of praying through my fears about it and also waiting for my husband to feel 100% about it.

So, do I call myself called? No...I don't feel like that word fits me.  I hope I am obeying God’s will for my life. That I am approaching educating my children with prayer and asking God to intervene at every turn.

When I got up this morning I saw that it was a beautiful, sunny Spring morning.  The day ahead will include chores, learning and a trip to the post office and yes probably some video games.  I will be with my boys (all three of them) all day long and will probably break up a few (or a lot) of disagreements.  I will most likely correct them on the “nice” way to say something a few times, and I will change more than one poopy diaper in the process.  So, YES, I do like to think of this as courageous living.  Why? Because I will do it all over again tomorrow…and the next day….and the next.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Taking a month off, planning for the future

Happy times!

We are pregnant and expecting a baby in December! 

March, April and May were tough months for me though, as I had a lot of fatigue and morning sickness.  These are things I really never experienced with my other two pregnancies.  So, they came as a bit of a surprise. I am not sure if it is because I am so much older now (41) or if it's just this baby's way. With my husband's hard work and support, I made it through and the beginning of the second trimester has been a lot better.



The boys, therefore, got a lot of free time during those two months.  We were unable to have very much school (although I insisted on math and reading).  They, of course, watched a lot of tv and sort of lost some of their better habits....LOL...so, in late May, when I began feeling better, we came back to school.  It was a little tough, but we ended in late May with the promise to do school "lite" in July.

So, we are in our June break and it has been great for everyone.  We went mining, camping, and had lots of family time.






It is also giving me time to plan for the Fall school year and start to think about the coming baby. 

Funny thing is, I have nothing!  I gave away my crib, bassinet, bouncy seat, changing table and most of my clothes....!!

A generous friend has given me all her maternity clothes (thank goodness) and I am sure we will make out just fine on all the other stuff.  Especially if it's a girl. 

Wouldn't that be fun, if it's a girl? 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Playing Catch Up With Changing Children

My children are changing all the time. That's actually what I loves about parenting and homeschooling.  One day little is all about senses and the older is all about building, the next day, the little is all about drawing and the older needs to be reminded to be kind.   

And by schooling them too, I am very in tune with where they are at emotionally and mentally. 



Every single day is a new adventure.

Adventure...or challengeCan I get an 'Amen!'?

Usually I am a few days behind on these sorts of things. This is how it usually works:

Child is emotional and whiny. Mother raises eyebrow at child. 
Child continues to be emotional and whiny.  Mother ignores it.  
Child continues with his chosen behavior.  Mother becomes irritated.  
Child reaches a fever pitch, mother disciplines.  
Two days later...Mother realizes something is going on.

So recently I realized that my 7 year old is going through a maturity shift.  The chores and expectations that I once thought were too mature for him, suddenly seem to be just what the doctor ordered.  

"No, YOU can choose your clothes and make your bed in the morning. No, YOU can clean up after yourself. No, son. YOU are able to get and make yourself chocolate milk."

But, guess what?  Kids aren't always eager to take on new responsibilities.  He liked it the way it was with me doing it all. (He's like that.)

Time for some growing up little buddy.

I say to my husband on night, "I am working on responsibility with little.  Can we have a talk with him tonight?"

So, that night we sat down and sort of laid our our new expectations.  We lovingly shared with him Ephesians 6:1 and  explained that we expected him to move forward with a happy heart.

(Now, don't get me started on the happy heart thing.  When I was a kid, that was never asked of me and I think if I had learned it much earlier on in my life, I would have been a better person for it. That 'happy heart' stuff is hard work!)

And this, my friends, is how growth starts around here.  Once mommy and daddy catch up to the plan, we set it out as the new standard and move forward. 

That sit-down conversation is so important because it gives the child a starting point. And, you are not saying it in the middle of a discipline-moment, so they don't tune you out. 

With prayer, this will move him forward in his maturation.

What will tomorrow bring?  



Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Priorties of Life - How I am Setting Them

I cannot believe how very long it has been since I updated this blog. But, I am grateful for all my followers!

Happy NewYear!

It's 2014 and of course that means reflecting on the past and making plans for the future. My minister recently said that there are two types of people in the world - the ones that say, "Yes, new year means new goals and plans - let's celebrate!" and the other ones that say: "So what? It's just another day like any other."

Well, I laugh at myself because I find that I actually fall into the second category this year.  Don't worry, I don't feel cynical about it or anything and my 2013 was actually pretty lovely. I guess I feel like life is to busy to look backward too much, to spend too much time reflecting on difficulties of the past, when life is right there waiting to be lived!

With homeschooling, being a home maker, working part time, helping my husband lead out church's music ministry and just being here on earth, I am too busy to look behind me!



But, yes, even  pragmatist me started thinking about what I would like to see happen, and although I am too chicken to write it down on a piece of paper (you know, that's making it SERIOUS), I have a few ideas.

- Increase my time and quality with God.  Regular Bible study and prayer.
- Continue to enjoy my time as a homeschooler - keeping the mood light in school, having LOTS of fun
- Encourage and lift up my husband
- Practice gratitude
- East less chocolate
-Have an amazing garden
-Camp more

and lastly...I would love to get pregnant this year. It's in God's hands.

Whatever you are, believe this:

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

No matter what we plan...God already has one.  


So, are you a "celebrater" or a "cynic" ?  What are you plans for the new year?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Looking Back On Our First Year Homeschooling

I am very honest with anyone who asks me how homeschooling has been for us.  I say "It has it's ups and downs."  I say: "It can be emotionally draining."  I say: "We have learned a lot."

When I say we have learned a lot, I am not always referred to educationally based materials either. Personally, this year I have learned so much more about both of my son's characters, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and, yes, their weaknesses.  As a mom, I have been challenged to be more patient, to apologize when I blow it, to keep and open mind and practice flexibility and to put their needs above my own. 

It has been a daily positive challenge to make education interesting and exciting, but to also get the information out and absorbed into their little heads.

I am proud of Jeffrey!  He is reading, writing and doing addition and subtraction!  This was ALL I cared about this year and I am so happy he has made so much progress.

Andrew, like me, likes a ton of variety.  He enjoys science, math and writes endlessly.  He also adores drawing and feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of the session.

Here are some photos of this year's adventures!

New England Air Museum


Stamping out sight words


Andrew's trophy for his Cub Scout Pine Car Race


Science...with a microscope


Arts n Crafts


Andrew's Lego Case


Playing in the dirt....a lot


Higgins Armory Museum


On our way to the Symphony


More sigh word fun


Marshmallows with friends...


Forest Park Zoo wind tunnel!



God bless!  - Jenny

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Garden as of May

Ifyou know me well, you know I LOVE to garden.  I tell my friends from April to September, if you can't reach me, I am out in the garden!



I find it extremely therapeutic and being out of the 9-5 work world for so long, with gardening I feel that I am always learning. I can readily identify plants on the side of the road now, I consider that a huge accomplishment!


I got started early this year....REALLY early, hence the really happy lettuce.



In the garden this year:
spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choy, carrots, pumpkins, corn, squash, cucumbers, rhubarb, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, chamomile, cilantro and a random milk thistle. We also have 3 apple trees,2 peach trees, 1 plum tree, raspberries and strawberries, blueberries and some annoying unproductive grapes.


 Rhubarb

 Plums
Raspberries



 Peppers

This is the new corn/squash bed.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Feeling Sick? Go On a Field Trip! (What To Do When You're Sick And You Need to Homeschool)

For the second time this winter, I was sick and in desperate need of educating my children.

In the homeschooling world, there is no such thing as "substitutes teachers."  I was going on day ten of a bad case of pneumonia and my children had been running amuck for way too long.  

I had laid in bed for two days listening to my children watch "Jimmy Neutron" and "Scooby Doo," thinking of all the lessons I had been building on, the plans I had and the co-op we had to skip.  Needless to say, it was killing me!

So once I was on the antibiotics and starting to feel better, I decided to take a field trip.  I know. Most moms would say that was crazy talk. But for me, taking my kids out of the house,  placing all of us in a new environment and allowing someone else to teach them was just the plan!

We had been told about this very cool armory museum about an hour away, and I knew it was right up their alley. So, we piled into the car (with plenty of tissues for me and snacks for the boys) and made the trek.  

The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Mass is truly a jewel in the rough.  Right off the highway, behind a small mall, the Museum towers over all the industrial buildings. The founder of the museum, John Woodman Higgins, turned his personal armor collection into a destination for people to learn about medieval history. In 1929, he built the five story building to house his collection. 

It is an amazing building full of wood and iron work and art deco style.


  As we chose to go on a Homeschooling Wednesday, the Museum was busy with kids enjoying the displays, creating their own shields and playing with a huge chess set. Needless to say, the boys absolutely loved it.

So what do you do when you're sick?

Here are some ideas


1. Educational videos.  Pull up some videos on topics your children have been learning about.  You can also go to websites like www.watchknowlearn.org and www.neo12.com. These are both websites your children can move around in with no fear of them stumbling on things that are inappropriate like you might on www.youtube.com.
2. Do an art project.  Get a really big piece of paper and all your markers and crayons, and ask them to draw on a topic that your have been studying.
3. Pull some toys out from the attic that your kids haven't played with in a while.  I especially like to pull out old building toys.
4. Board games! Scrabble, Monopoly, Sorry, Make 7, even Bingo.  
5. Call a friend.  One of the days I was sick, my homeschooling friend grabbed my six year old and taught him along with her daughter.  He got to learn all the Presidents of the United States that day.

- Jenny