Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is Ridiculous

I'm a hardy Minnesotan.
I've lived here all of my life.

I don't think I have ever before complained about winter.
(This is a hard thing to confess because complaining about winter is part and parcel of living in Minnesota.)

I love a good cold, hard, snowy, wintry,

The past few years, I've felt sort of jipped. (is that how you spell that word??)
We've had rather balmy winters; not a ton of snow, maybe not as cold, etc.

Well this year has been cold. Frigid cold.
And we've had snow. Lots of snow.

And I think winter began in November.
And here we are, a day away from April,

and we get this:A Blizzard!

the view from our front door
snow piled up at the front door
It is blustery and snowing like everything!
At least we're not dealing with a flood to top it off, like they are in Fargo/Moorhead.

We were supposed to have
Homeschool 4-H today, but Dennis looked out this morning and said,
"You're not going anywhere."

I have no objection.

It Ain't Easy Bein' Me

Cowboys have got it pretty rough around here,
what with ridin' the range...chasin' stragglers from the herd...
up with the sun...and all the rest that goes with bein' a

Sometimes, you just gotta rest...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I am so blessed.

A friend of mine recently had a problem.
She had two of these:

She GAVE the extra one to me. -->

I was floored.
I have wanted one of these for years.

I love to bake, and as the size of our family has increased, so has the size of the batch of whatever I make.

I think this will be another of my very good friends...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Enough already.

Could this be a sign that Elijah thinks I take too many pictures??

It's as if he's saying, "no more Mommy paparazzi!!"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fashion Show

Miss Ruby was given some shoppin' money.
Wal-Mart had little girls' dresses super cheap.
I couldn't resist.
I may have to go back for some more...
The above one will be her Easter dress; I found a little pink sweater to go with it since there is nearly always snow at Easter time in MN.

Linnea and I decided to have a little Fashion Show.
Ruby started out as a willing participant.

She was less impressed as the Fashion Show progressed.

I took her non-verbal cues to mean "I'm through."

If Only...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cloth Diaper Funny

This is the type of diaper cover (a "Dappi") that I put on Ruby and Elijah at night. Since they are just a vinyl-type cover and not fabric, I just wash them in the bathroom sink and hang them in the shower to dry.

Dennis did not know that I do this, as I usually have it dry and put away before he showers. The other day though, he reached in behind the curtain and turned on the shower.

Then he called for me.

It was funny to me, so I took a picture. There is just no end to the weird things around here.
Most just tickle my funny bone, and most other people have no idea why I think it's funny.

This is probably one of those times...

I Miss You, My Friend

.(It's hard to see in this picture, but my clothesline is there. The two posts you see on the left side of the picture are part of it...)
(Also, that is not our house in the middle, in case you were wondering. It's a shed...)

My clothesline is one of my dearest friends, along with my dishwasher and washing machine.
It kills me to run the dryer at any time from April through November.
I love, love, LOVE my clothesline.

I can get four to five loads on it, and I do at least that many every day.
I especially love to see those cloth dypees flapping in the breeze...

It won't be long now, friend.

It won't be long...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chore Cards

I am finally able to load this picture of my chore card system.
(I had to switch to using Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer in order to load pictures. I have no idea why one works and not the other for adding pictures...)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Cacophony of Scents

Don't you think all the scent names on shampoos, soap, etc. are just stupid? Like, what does a waterfall actually smell like?

Case in point: Isaiah stepped out of the shower yesterday morning and said, "hey--today I smell like a Refreshing Waterfall Mist, Mountain Steam, and Irish Spring."

It was heavenly...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Confessions of a Three-Year-Old

The other night--or should I say, very early morning--Christopher realized too late that he had consumed too many liquids before bed (aka: he wet the bed).
I got him changed and into the other bunk.

In the (later) morning, he said to Andrew, "I akswedentwy peed in yours bed wast night." This was news to Andrew, who had roomed-in with Linnea the night before.

I loved the way he tried to say "accidentally" and wanted him to say it again.

I said, "Christopher, can you say 'accidentally' again?"
He said, "Nope. I tannot. I tan onwy say "I am sowwy I peed da bed."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Mystery of Washing Dishes

Even though I have an automatic dishwasher, I still wash some dishes in the sink. You know, the fragile ones, or those that are too big, for example.
Or, when the dishwasher is fully loaded and you've got a few things that didn't fit, and you want to have a clean counter top so you wash the extras by hand.
This is rather mundane stuff, to be sure--but have you ever noticed the mysterious event that takes place after you let out the dishwater?
As every good homemaker knows and does, you look around to see if there are any left to wash before you let out the drain: perhaps a glass that's hiding behind something on another counter, a fork that has fallen on the floor under the table, you know...stragglers.
I look, and look again, yep, I've got 'em all.
I let out the water.

And here is when the mysterious event takes place.
Another dish shows up. Every time.
It is down-right uncanny...

Friday, March 13, 2009


When you have kids, people assume you must not have enough books. Or they decide they have too many. I think this is especially so when they find out you home-educate.
Last year sometime, someone asked my mom if we would like a set of World Books. My mom said she'd ask me.
She asked me; I cringed, thinking--"where am I going to keep a set like that?" Not to mention, I secretly (not so secretly anymore, though, huh?) balked at the idea that this lady may be thinking I wasn't providing enough resources for my family.
Of course she wasn't, but I was a little sensitive to this at the time. I am not anymore.

My mom told me the lady was awaiting my call. So I called, thinking I would say a very kind "thanks, but no thanks." I thought with the internet, who really needs a set of encyclopedias? I was sure they were outdated, too.
Of course on the phone with this nice lady, I totally caved.
We got a set of encyclopedias that were published in 1967.

It has been a WONDERFUL addition to our library! Whadya know--there's a lot of great stuff in there!
I cannot count the times that I have seen my children pouring over these books.
"Mom, how are pencils made?"
Look it up!
"Hey, Mom--is there a difference between hogs and pigs?"
Look it up! (There is, just ask my kids about it.)
"What does the Panama Canal look like?"
Look it up!
They read them at meal times, they read them for fun, they read encyclopedias!!

I feel a lot better about them surfing through the pages of an encyclopedia than I do about them surfing the internet for information, that's for sure.

So if someone asks if you'd like a set--say yes. And keep them where the kids can always see them. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How Would You Like Your Apple?

Andrew (6) was getting an apple for Isaiah (11) to take with us in the van on Sunday morning as we are madly running about, trying to get to church on time. ("On time" means different things to different people. For us, it seems "on time" is "we-made-it-before-the-benediction".)
Andrew called to me, "How does he like it?"
I said, "What?"
Andrew: "His apple."
Me: "Uhhhh, washed?"
Andrew: "I know---but does he like the water wiped off or not?"

I didn't know that was an option...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tiny Addition to "My Response"

In my response, I forgot to say that Isaiah was one of the three "good" kids...
The braggy mother in me needed to be sure that was said.
I put it in there just now, but if you read it before, you wouldn't have known.


I recently found out how scary-stiff I can make my hair.
If you look over at the picture to the right, you'll see how I wear my hair.
Now, there has been some talk that I actually inserted a picture of a super-model. I am laying those suspicions to rest here and now--that is really and truly a picture of me.

So, in order to keep such a style, I need to put some "stuff" in my hair before I "do" it. I got distracted yesterday (which is something that so RARELY happens with seven children) as I was squirting the mousse in my hand. And since it's fairly difficult, if not impossible, to put mousse back in the can, I decided, "well, what's a little extra..."

I put it all in my hair.
It turns out, you can have too much of a good thing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bragging Rights

In honor of our blizzard today

Cold weather behavior:
60 degrees above zero: Floridians turn on the heat. Minnesotans plant gardens.
50 above zero: Californians shiver uncontrollably. People are sunbathing in Duluth.
40 above zero: Import cars won't start. Minnesotans drive with the sunroof open.
32 above zero: Distilled water freezes. The water in Bemidji gets thicker.
20 above zero: New Mexicans don long johns, parkas and wool hats & mittens. Minnesotans throw on a flannel shirt.
15 above zero: New York landlords finally turn on the heat. People in Minnesota have one last cookout before it gets cold.
Zero: People in Miami all die. Minnesotans close the windows.
10 below zero: Californians fly away to Mexico. Minnesotans dig their winter coats out of storage.
25 below zero: Hollywood disintegrates. Girl Scouts in Minnesota still selling cookies door to door.
40 below zero: Washington, D.C. finally runs out of hot air. People in Minnesota let their dogs sleep indoors.
100 below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Minnesotans get upset because the minivan won't start.
460 below zero (absolute zero on the Kelvin scale): All atomic motion stops. People in Minnesota can be heard to say, "Cold enough for ya?"
500 below zero: Hell freezes over. Minnesota schools open 2 hours late.

{to those who have followed the recent posts/comments, this last one is in NO WAY intended as a jab at public schools. I promise.
This is just copied from an email I received somewhere along the way.}

This is Soooooo Good

Taco Hot Dish

2 c. Doritos, crushed
1 lb. hamburger
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. chopped lettuce
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 c. chopped tomato
1 c. sliced black olives
diced onion
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Crush chips. Brown meat. Add taco seasoning to meat. Dilute cheese soup with 1/2 can milk and add to meat. Stir well. Put chips on bottom of an 8x8 pan. Add the meat mixture, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, olives, and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Response. Warning: It's Long


I’ve been sitting back and watching all the “goings on” the last couple days. I’ve been letting things simmer when they’ve caused me to get pretty worked up. I’ve been keeping a notebook of my thoughts and now I think it’s time for me to step in.
Oh boy…where to begin? I’ll start by saying I’m a little disappointed that the basic meaning of my original post was completely lost within the “battle of the comments”.

In my original post, I simply laid out a thought—an explanation, really—of why I do what I do.
People felt “attacked.” I honestly don’t see where in my post there were attacks.
I was not asking for a debate on home education vs. public schooling.
In the comments is where the debating began.

I also want to say that I very much appreciate that all the comments stayed civil. We can discuss things we don’t agree on and still maintain our civility.

I was not “attacking” anyone’s choice to use public school. These attacks were perceived, and certainly not implied.
For example, I could perceive an insult when Tami said “I have enough faith in my parenting to know that my children will make the right choices…” I could take that as her saying that since I homeschool, I must not have enough faith in my parenting and that is why I keep them home.
But I know her heart (I think) and I don’t think she was saying that.
At one point I said to Dennis, “Boy, I really stepped on some toes.” Then, I re-thought that statement. I then said to my husband, “Wait—no, I didn’t. They took my words and plopped them on their own toes.” I really think if you go back to my original post, you’d see this difference.

I was not pointed. Some of the comments were quite pointed. For example, Bonnie’s description of the home-schooled kid that was “one of her worst students ever”. Obviously, I have NO IDEA who that person was, what his family was like, etc.

By the way, when we encounter opposition to home education, someone nearly always knows “this one family” who was just a terrible example. You know-- they didn’t shower, or their kids were naughty, or didn’t seem very smart, they lived in a messy house, what have you. What does any of that have to do with their homeschooling? It is a reflection on their family, not where they do their school work. It’s especially bad when a homeschooler goes to public school—they are invariably measured against the other kids because they were educated at home. That boy that Bonnie talks about, who wouldn’t respect deadlines, had no responsibility, and had poor social skills--this is a lack of training, not about where he went to school.

One more example like this: have you ever met a shy child that is homeschooled?
I have.
And most people will blame it on the fact that they are homeschooled—they’re sheltered and not “socialized”.
Have you ever met a shy child who goes to public school?
I have.
Why is it that now they’re “just shy”?
Guess what—that shy homeschooled kid, that shy public school kid—they’re just shy. It’s not necessarily a reflection on their education.

I choose to educate my children at home. It is the only way we can train them to our standards. I could not train them to our standards if they were away from me for over 8 hours each day. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is a Biblical mandate, not a suggestion. God has given the responsibility to educate our children to Dennis and me. It is not anyone else’s responsibility.

I did not question why Tami and Bonnie send their kids to government school. I did not even suggest that they should not do that. I keep getting comments about “not judging” and “not criticizing”, but everything I said in my original post was true.
Parents must send a note asking permission to take their child from the building: this is indisputable.
Schools are government buildings: indisputable.
Schools are institutions: indisputable. (Look up the word institution)

Back to the “attacks”: I’m wondering why Bonnie mentioned the one homeschooler that was her worst student ever. If we’re not attacking, why bring that up? Bonnie said I was bashing schools: where is that found?

In reading Bonnie's post, I was surprised that she was unaware of so much dissatisfaction with the public school system. There are over 16,000 homeschools (this is not the number of kids--it's the number of families that homeschool) in MN, there are more than one and half million homeschooled kids in the United States. It’s a huge movement.

Dennis and I are Reactionaries turned Visionaries.

One of the things that helped make our decision easier was a bomb threat at our school. (Keep in mind, this is the same school I attended as a child. There were 300 or so students total, Kindergarten through 12th grade, all in one building.
My graduating class had 17 kids in it. That number was never higher from Kindergarten through Senior year. The numbers were about the same when Nathaniel was attending. His Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers had all been MY kdg-3rd grader teachers. I knew EVERYBODY in that building. My dad was on the school board for 15 years.
By all accounts, this was a very safe place to be.)
So, I’m at home, the teacher calls from the church to where they had all evacuated, and says, “Melissa, there was a bomb threat at school. Nathaniel is safe. We are at Peace Church. That is all I can tell you now. I need to call more parents so I can’t have you ask me any questions. We’ll be sending him home on the bus soon.”
I hung up and felt like throwing up. I remember my heart in my throat and my stomach at my toes. It was one of the worst, most helpless feelings I have ever experienced.

The bomb threat was a fake. There were parent meetings and community meetings (we live in a rural community—the town where the school was--and still is--has about 500 people).
I will never forget the conversation I had with the superintendent. He told me that his first thought was to get all the kids out of the building. He issued the order: everybody out. His second thought was this: what if that bomb note had been left by a sex-offender who has positioned himself outside the door and is waiting to snatch up one of the children I just sent streaming out? I think Mr. N. experienced the same feeling I described above.

I spoke to teachers who told me how absolutely terrified they were to have to examine their classrooms to see if anything looked suspicious—perhaps the bomb was in their room, and they were the ones who would know best if something was out of place or foreign to their classroom.

You’d think if I’m such a reactionary, that we would have pulled our child out right away. But, no—we sent him back the next day! “They” said it was safe, and so we did what you’re supposed to do: send your kid to school. They gotta learn to read, right?

Guess what—there was another bomb threat. I can’t recall now how far apart they were spaced—it was possibly the next school year. I think the first one (it kills me that people accept that as ok—the “first” bomb threat) was in the spring, and the second in the fall?? I should also mention that the school was under construction at the time and there was no way to keep it secure. Now of course, all the doors lock at a certain time and unlock at a certain time, for safety.
So the second bomb threat…I get another call at home. “Melissa? We have the boys at Peace Church (by now, both Nathaniel and Isaiah were going to school). There was another bomb threat, and we have evacuated here. We’ll be sending them home as soon as we have all the kids accounted for. I can’t answer any questions—I’ve got to keep calling other parents.”
This time I was more angry than scared, I remember. I was helpless again—and I don’t like that feeling.
Of course this time, there was an evacuation plan. The buses were called from the bus garage and the kids were loaded up on them immediately. Dennis questioned whether the bomb could have been placed on one of them. It’s a valid question.

But what can you do? The kids have gotta learn math, right? We sent them back, but with a growing mistrust of the institution.

My husband really wanted me to homeschool. I resisted. The next school year, I got offered a job at school. Aha! The perfect solution! I would be at school with my boys! I would even be teaching them music—one of the things I love!
Now, I would be able to keep them safe. If there were another threat, why, I’d be there with them. I wouldn’t feel so helpless.

It was while teaching at public school that God really revealed to me that our children would be educated at home. I still remember the moment I gave in. I was standing before Isaiah’s class of 24 kids. I was doing my best to get them to sing with me. They were so distracted--unable to listen to my directions because of the disruptive kids around them. His teacher, who had been my 1st grade teacher when I was his age, confided that of those 24 kids, there were three who were “good”--Isaiah was one of these three. There were about six who were just plain nasty, and the other 15 followed whatever looked the most fun at the moment. And hey, let’s face it—goofing off looks pretty fun.
I looked out at them, and said (perhaps even out loud) “we are going to homeschool.” I came home from work that day and told Dennis I was willing to do as he had wanted to do for two years now: I would educate our children at home.

This occurred in March of 2005. We decided we’d finish out the year at public school. I needed to let the superintendent know that I wouldn’t be back next year to teach music. I told him that I would also be homeschooling the kids. (We were open-enrolling in that district, so it was just a topic of conversation—not a reporting requirement.)
He said to me: “If I had young children, I would not put them in a public school today. If I were not the superintendent, my wife would be homeschooling our children right now. But, I guess it would look bad if the superintendent’s kids weren’t even coming to the school…”
Probably so.
I also spoke with a number of teachers—we were working together every day, our decision to homeschool would come up in conversation. Several of them told me, “you are making the right choice.”

Many people have only homeschooled. They encounter criticism along the lines of “you haven’t even sent your kids to school, so how can you decide they shouldn’t be there?” Many more people have never homeschooled. How can they declare that homeschooling is inadequate? Because a homeschooler they’ve met, or heard of, is shy or *gasp* late?

I have done both—I guess you could say I’ve done all three!
Many people form opinions about things which they have never experienced. They only have one thing with which to compare. I have sent my kids to public school, I have taught in public school and now I homeschool. I am 100% certain that this is where our children need to be. The ones who have been to public school will never go back and those who haven’t will never go.

I had a conversation with a father once who was really giving me some flack about homeschooling. He said when his children were small, his wife stayed home with them. Then, they decided she needed to work. So the kids went to daycare. He said, and I quote, “they had such a hard time adjusting—they didn’t know how to handle it when the other kids would tease them and be mean to them. They didn’t know what to do.” He then told me how when the mom’s employment ended, she returned home for a time. But they “still kept sending the kids to daycare so that they would have been exposed to teasing (bullying) for when they were old enough to go to school”.
I could not make this stuff up!
I said to him, “That’s like me deciding to rough my kids’ knees up with sandpaper so that when they fall and skin their knee it won’t hurt so bad! Hurting them now so they are de-sensitized to it later on? You can’t be serious!”
His reply: “Well, um. Oh, wouldja look at the time…I need to go.”

One of my points in all of this is that Dennis and I have decided that we carry the responsibility for our children all day long. I won’t abdicate that to a school.

Our pastor recently told us a story about a wealthy man who purchased a microscope back when they were first invented. These were not available to the general public because of their enormous cost, but as I said, he was a wealthy man.
He began to put things under the microscope. He was fascinated with what he saw! He saw all kinds of things he had never seen before.
Then he had another idea—he would put his food under the microscope.
When he did, he saw thousands of tiny bugs crawling all over it.
But this was his favorite food! He was devastated to find those bugs all over his favorite dish.
He was now faced with a choice—he could decide not to eat the bug-infested food, or throw out the microscope.
He chose to throw out the microscope. He didn’t really want to know what he was really eating.

I said earlier that Dennis and I are Reactionaries turned Visionaries. We began to consider homeschooling as a reaction to the bomb threats; we wanted to be able to keep them safe. In the weeks following our decision, we began to grasp the vision of how home education would change our family.
We are no longer reacting to what happened in public school. We have chosen a different path. We haven’t chosen home education just to be quirky. We have embraced a new vision—we have accepted the task. We are the ones who will decide when, what, and how our children are taught—trusting the Lord to give us direction and grant us discernment.

I’d like my blog to be a place where there can be a free exchange of ideas.
But it is my blog. My blog should be a safe place for me; somewhere where I can speak my thoughts and share my funny stories.
I have not and will not ask everyone to agree with me—and I would hope that any commenter would not try to change my convictions.
You see, that is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to speak the truth. I can’t recall a time when my mind was changed for me. I know of countless times when I changed my own mind. This was usually the result of reading someone else’s writings, like from a book, magazine article, blog post, etc. Other reasons that I have changed my mind are from hearing a sermon, a speaker/pastor on the radio, watching a documentary, or finally listening to the wisdom of my husband.

My intent with any of my “home-educating” posts is just to put some thoughts out there. Not to “attack”. Those of you that know me know that “attacking” is not my style.

You may take from my thoughts what you will. Perhaps there will be a time down the road when something I have said will ring true with you.
I know that has happened numerous times with me. A situation arises and I recall something I have read, heard, or seen.

Now, I have some questions/statements.
For Tami: to what social advantages are you referring?
Bonnie: there are MANY special needs children who are home educated. My very good friend homeschools her three children—two of them have special needs. Check out NATHHAN. Often, it is when they are brought home that they finally receive the tailor-made education they couldn’t get in a classroom of many.
From Bonnie’s comment: "I want my kids be able to examine several sides to a topic. I want them to understand that nothing is black and white." I also want my kids to examine several sides to a topic--but I want to be there to guide them as they do. I disagree about the "nothing is black and white." More on that later...
People say that homeschoolers are narrow minded for choosing not to use the public school. The public school says that their way is the only method that should be allowed. The NEA (National Education Association) openly opposes homeschooling, as do the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Association of Elementary School Principles, stating that all children belong in public school.

Many things are black and white. Don’t stick a fork in your nose. Don’t bite your siblings. Do love your spouse. Do exercise your right to vote. I know these are obvious, but I disagree with you about nothing being black and white. There are a million more.

To the anonymous Anonymous: you feel confident every day? So did we.

Diane: well said. “It isn't because we think we are better than anyone else or that we think teachers are bad. It is that we, as parents, want to be the teacher. We want to raise our children in a way that is compatible with our beliefs. We want to be there to help them understand the world, to know how to respond to sadness, to unkindness, and goodness, too. Yes, we think homeschooling is the best choice. If we didn't, we wouldn't do it."

Thanks for reading. If something offends you, you are welcome to stop reading my blog. If you disagree with something I have said, by all means, disagree. But let's leave off all the words like "judging", "attacking", and "criticizing". These are typically meant to make it sound as if the other person committed a grave moral sin. We can disagree without making it someone else's fault.
I have my opinion, and others have theirs. Isn't it great?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My husband's response

Ok, as Melissa’s husband and the head of our household, I have been sitting on the sideline today watching and reading the commentary between parties. To shed a little more light on who Matt is, he was my roommate in college. I have a lot of respect for Matt as a Christian leader in his household and as a true friend of mine. Knowing that he has a true relationship with our Savior gives me a lot of respect for his opinion.

As far as homeschooling goes, I would like to give a little perspective from our journey that we have traveled to get to the place we are today.

When our oldest was nearing school age I started to become convicted to homeschool. My wife and I talked about it, but being in a small community and having her dad on school board for years made it very awkward to come to the decision to do so. Melissa started teaching music in the school where our two oldest were attending and immediately found it helpful to be at school along with two of our kids. However, as the year went on it became absolutely clear to Melissa that the intent of school was no longer being accomplished. We believe that a vast majority of school administrators and teachers have the child’s best interest at heart.

But seeing kindergartners coming to school talking about sex, talking about pornography, talking about R rated movies greatly disturbed us. You see, as Christians we talk about being salt and light, but there is no reason we should expect our six year old to combat Satan in an arena where the teachers are not allowed to say that there is right and wrong.

The next year our family began to teach from our house.

Sometimes we hear that we are sheltering our kids. I ask, as parents, is that not our responsibility? Do we allow our kids to run into a busy intersection without trying to stop them? We know that no matter where our kids are there are influences also. We need to be the number one influence in their lives under the authority of Jesus Christ. The government school makes it very clear that we as parents are not the number one influence. The government school system has given up on families. There is no way for us to be number one when our kids are in school for eight hours, on the bus for another half hour, winding down at home after school for another half hour, doing homework for another hour, (why do kids have homework when they were just in school for eight hours?). I do not see the common sense in this approach.

I have the greatest wife I could have imagined having; there is no one who is harder on herself to make sure our children have the best education possible, but education is so much more than school work. Our kids know how to take care of a family. Isn’t that what it’s about, knowing how to raise a family? One thing I noticed from the discussion today is that sometimes we give opinions on things even though we actually have not experienced both worlds. We sent our kids to public school for four years – my wife taught as a pubic school for a year, a number of teachers and the superintendent told us that we were making the right choice to home educate. Our observations are not without merit.

As home educators we get comments all the time that we are going to ruin our kids, so why does everyone comment on how good our kids are? As home educators we face a lot of negativity; it was interesting to read one of the person’s blog today to learn that she felt attacked for doing what she loves to do. We know what that is like.

I know this was long, but I felt I needed to share my thoughts.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Home Educating

"So--how many kids are you homeschooling?"
I get this question a lot.

Usually, I answer with how many of my kids do "book work"--which would be four. Nathaniel is a 7th grader, Isaiah a 5th grader, Linnea is in 3rd and Andrew does Kindergarten.
I'll be honest here and reveal that I don't even like giving them a grade to be in, because I think those labels are so the kids in government buildings can know which room they are supposed to be in. That may sound harsh, but seriously--that's what those groupings are for. You can't convince me for one minute that all "3rd graders" read at the same level or do math at the same level, etc. The "grades" are just a way to group kids. I don't need those distinctions in my homeschool, because my kids are not grouped in that way.

I also resist the word "school". I'd rather say that we home-educate. "School" is a building; a government-run place where children are sent day after day--and their parents must ask permission to see them. Isn't that strange? {If you'd like an eye-opening read, find a copy of John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down--The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling.}]

For that matter, I'd really rather say that our family participates in Home-Based Christian Discipleship of our children. But let's face it, homeschooling is a lot easier to say.

But, back the question at hand...
I need to train myself to answer it differently:
I home-educate all of them.

When I say "put your arm in your sleeve" I am home-educating my two year old.
When I say "look at that jello block--is that a circle or a square?" I am home-educating my three year old.
When I say "ok, Ruby, it's time for your bath" I am home-educating my six month old.

Commenting on that bright red truck, or the brown horse or the big cow--it's all part of their education.

When I tell my kids that they may not hit one another, or say unkind things, or I explain why and how we must treat one another with love and respect, I am home-educating my children.

All of these things--and a million others--are helping my children to order their world, to better understand their surroundings, to learn what it is to be a part of a family, to grow in the knowledge of the Lord.

So the next time someone asks me how many kids are in school, I'll answer "none of them".
But if someone asks me how many I homeschool--I'll say, "All of them."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This Blog Post Has Been Intentionally Left Blank...well, not really

Tell me I'm not the only one who has filled out an application for something and come to a "blank" page that says

This page has been intentionally left blank.

The perfectionist in me (ok, the perfectionist that is me) just about recoils at such a statement.

For since they put that statement there--
it is no longer blank.

Does anyone else see the contradiction?
Do I have too much time on my hands?
Do I need to find a different hobby other than pointing out things like these?
It's worth considering...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Remind Me

Remind me again why I push and push for being potty trained.
Is it because I really like changing sheets, washing sheets, folding sheets, and making beds?
Could it be that I forgot that since two little boys sleep in the same bed and snuggle up together, that they would both need new pjs in the middle of the night if he pottied?
Or is it because I now need to remember where the bathroom is in every store?
Perhaps it is because peeling off underwear with "number 2" in it is such a pleasant task?

I thin--if I remember correctly--it was because
  • He's old enough to do this.
  • Three kids in diapers was getting old.
  • He was and is so excited about wearing "unnerwears"
  • He really really really wanted Lightning McQueen unnerwears
  • He does so well so much of the time.
Sometimes, though, changing diapers wasn't so bad...
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