Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dish Washin'

Christopher asked if he could do the dishes one night.

 Elijah said he wanted to help, too.

I said, "Sure."

They had a blast.
Most of the dishes got pretty clean.
I only needed one bath towel to soak up the spilled water.
They felt so proud that they had helped Mommy.
All in all, a success.

And my future daughters-in-law
are gonna
L-O-V-E me for it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beginning Homeschooling--Part 2

In case you didn't catch it, Part 1

Part 2 of my little series will deal with more of the "nuts and bolts" of home education, containing more of the logistics for homeschooling in Minnesota.  Keep in mind that some of what I say may be specific to my state; be sure to check out HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) for your state.

So you've decided to homeschool.  While you are waiting for your catalogs to arrive, the first thing I tell people to do is join MACHE, HSLDA, and your local homeschool support group.

What?  What is this lady talking about? 

Oh, sorry.  I'll slow down a bit.

If you live in MN, I highly recommend that you join MACHE, the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators. 
I tell people that this is by far the best $35 I have ever spent on anything for our homeschool.  Many states have similar organizations.  Joining the state support group will help you feel more "plugged in", "in the loop", or any number of other catchy phrases.
I consider my membership, and the information I receive as a member, a little like Continuing Education classes.  As the teacher, you need to be sure you are availing yourself to this kind of support from other homeschoolers.

My second recommendation is to join HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association).  Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.  HSLDA advocates for home education on the legal front, onCapitol Hill, in state legislatures, in the media and for the home education movement.
Even if you never need their services, your membership money can help make sure that our freedom to home school remains secure.
We didn't join when we first started homeschooling, thinking the cost too great.  They have since added a monthly debit option which has made it much more affordable for our family.  

Third, join your local support group.  I resisted this at first.  I still remember my dear friend Jen (who now lives FAR FAR AWAY *snif*) telling me about our local group.  She called it a "support group" and I remember thinking, "I don't need anyone's support.  I just took my kids out of public school in order to teach them myself.  I don't need anyone telling me how to homeschool!"
See, I had this idea that a "support" group would be where a bunch of ladies sat around and as the meeting began, would introduce themselves by saying, "Hi. My name's Melissa and I'm a homeschool mom."  And the rest of the group would respond in chorus with, "Hi Melissa."  Like some sort of Al Anon Meeting.  I pictured them telling me all the steps to "do it right".  (I have since learned that there are no such steps!)  It didn't take me too many months into the school year before I called her up and said, "When's the next meeting???????"
Our local group  has a once monthly Mom's Night--oh, how I cherish these nights AND the ladies that come!  Each evening has a pre-determined topic that we discuss.  It is a great way to meet other moms who are in the same boat as I am; we share our ideas, our struggles, our failures, our successes, our crazy stories of the day...we laugh and we even cry together.  It is a wonderful time of fellowship and a great way to strengthen our resolve to keep on keeping on.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is There a Sign for That?

If you're my friend on facebook,
you may recall that we recently "climbed a mountain".

(If you're not my friend on facebook,
why in the world not?)

As the children were getting ready that morning,
one was poky:
Elijah was not getting dressed in a timely manner.

I said to him, as I occasionally will to the other kids,
"You need to get dressed now.  You can't go to __________________ if you're
naked." (or, in your pajamas, or whatever stage of getting dressed I find them in.) 

Christopher heard me say this to him and he came up to me and asked,
"Really??  Is there a sign on the mountain that says you can't climb it if you're naked?"

Um, no.
But it's one of Mommy's rules:
Don't climb mountains if you're naked.
It's just a good policy to live by.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

They're Gonna Put Me In the Movies

I didn't know someone had made a movie of my life.
(minus the adoption element.)

Funny, but true.
Sadly, it's true.
This happens to me all the time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beginning Homeschooling

I often field questions regarding how to begin homeschooling.

Some are asking just for information's sake.

Others are asking because they really want to know--either because they ARE going to homeschool or they are really seriously considering it.

This post (and some others I have in the wings) is for the latter group.

My advice to anyone considering home education is this:

That means you, Mom.
And Dad, too, if he will.

This is a big adventure on which you are about to embark and you need to be prepared.

More than just "how to homeschool" need some "why we homeschool" books.
My personal recommendations:

These books, among others, will help you to understand the reasons why many Christian and non-Christian families have chosen to educate their children at home.

Optimally, you would have read these books from the time your children are small and you'd be ready to jump right in once they hit--I cringe to even say it--"school age."  (me jumping up on my soapbox: as IF there were such a thing!) 
I would venture to guess that the number of people who know they're going to homeschool from the time of their children's birth is relatively small.
Many more parents arrive at the decision to homeschool later on.

Like we did, for example.  You can read all about that here and here.

As the parent, you have some choices to make.  You need to arrive at your own reasons for why you homeschool.
You also need to decide how you will teach your child at home.
You will need to decide on what curriculum you will use and you arrive at that decision my studying curriculum options.

Would you like to know what I did?
I surfed the web and ordered every free catalog from homeschool curriculum companies that I could.

I have pored over more catalog pages than you could shake a stick at.  It has helped me to become familiar with what other families use as well since I've read about so many.

My personal favorites, tried and true at our house:

Most important of all, you need to cover the process in prayer and then step out in obedience to God's plan for your family.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Things That Make Me Smile

flowers in my window

top o' the morning faces

clothes on my clothesline

 fresh-out-of-bed faces

 messy faces

silly faces

 close-up sun-shiny faces

coffee..............ahhhh, coffee.

 staying up late at night faces

climbing way up high faces!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ridin' with Dad

If Dennis is making a trip to town
and he says, "Who wants to go with me?"
you'd better step out of the way--
children call out "ME! ME!"
"Mom, can I?  Please?  Can I go with him?"
Others are running for their shoes, 
some are rushing to finish their math
so they can go.

I'm usually sitting back thinking
this is very different from when I need to go to town.

If I say I need to make a trip in to town
I'm usually met with,
"Can I stay home?"

So what's the deal?
Why do they trip over one another
just to go with him?

Here's what I think:
1. They don't get to spend much time with him
and riding in the same vehicle with him is rare--therefore it is special.

2. His truck is way cooler than the van I drive, particularly if he's hauling something.
Even if he takes the van, it must be that he drives cooler than me.  I don't know.

3. He buys them each a pop--and doesn't make them share.  
(We live in MN.  It's pop here.)

4.  He turns up the radio really loud and listens to classic country.
(think Dukes of Hazzard theme here)

5. When they belch from drinking all that pop, he doesn't scold them.
He says, "Good one."

No wonder they want to ride with Dad.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Science, I think.

During science time yesterday with Andrew, Christopher, and Elijah, I asked "Do you know where saltwater comes from?"
Elijah shouted, "I know!!!!  The Salt Department!"
This was immediately followed by Christopher with "Chickens!!"

Hmmmm.  I guess we have some science experiments to do...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On the Other Hand

Homeschooling is one of the greatest decisions we ever made for our family.
On the other hand, it is one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Usually, my facebook posts (and those of many of my homeschooling friends') contain all the sun-shiny things we get to do because we homeschool.  Like, "we did all of our school outside today!" or "we took a field trip to play in the park!".
On the other hand, I know that I've never posted something like "I just yelled 'For the love of ALL that is HOLY--DO! YOUR! MATH!   NOW!' at the top of my lungs at my son."

Homeschooling allows all my children to be home with me and with each other all the time.
On the other hand, homeschooling, for our family, means that all of us are home with each other pretty much all the time.

Because we homeschool, I get to see "the lights come on" when a child finally grasps a concept we've been working on.
On the other hand, when things are still dim, I'm the one who has to figure out whether to keep on the same path with that child, or try a new avenue.

With all my children home, I have helpers with my younger kids for playtime and some school time.
On the other hand, I admit that sometimes I'm a bit envious of all the "alone time" other moms get when their kids are at school/daycare.

There are so many different aspects of homeschooling--and home education will look different in each home.  I try to remind myself of that all the time.

Sometimes I think, "if only it could quiet down a bit around here right now so Nathaniel could concentrate on his Algebra."
On the other hand, how many 9th graders get to do Algebra with "CAN SOMEBODY COME WIPE MEEEE??????!!!" resonating in the background?

Many moms look forward to snow days...stormy days with no school.
On the other hand, at our house we take "way-too-nice-to-be-inside days" and play ball on the yard, or take our work out on a blanket and read together. We use stormy, blustery days to get a lot of work done.

Some days, what I wouldn't give to have a lunch lady at our home.
On the other hand, I get to teach real-life skills to the kids by having them help with meal preparation.

I guess I'm just trying to keep it real.
There are moments (hours?) of mayhem in our homeschooling household.
It isn't always rosy.
It isn't always pretty.
It isn't always orderly.
It certainly isn't easy.

On the other hand, I know I will never regret our decision.
Even when it's hard.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And now...

Elijah's really been pushing my buttons lately.

He seems to really be checking the boundaries.

I've had to spend a lot of time correcting and addressing his behavior.

He had definitely reached my limit when he tossed something in the kitchen
that I had told him to just set down.

He had crossed the line--
I had told him what I had expected of him and 
he deliberately disobeyed.

This earned him two swats:
one for doing the naughty thing
and one for deliberate disobedience.

I was at the sink when it happened
and a drawer was open near me.
I shut the drawer in frustration and
turned to handle the behavior of my son.

Well, right when I shut the drawer,
the mouse trap under the sink went off.

I froze.

I stepped away from the sink,
pulling Elijah with me.
(as if a mouse--in a trap, no less--is going to
suddenly plow through the child locked door,
teeth gnashing and fury unleashed.
Hey--it could happen.  I was just playin' it safe.)

Brave adult that I am,
I told one of the kids to open the door
and look in to see if a mouse had just bit the dust.

Andrew looked in,
no mouse in the trap.
Apparently, when I shut the drawer,
it had caused just enough movement in the cupboard to set off the trap.

Wait--wasn't I in the middle of something?

Oh yes--correcting Elijah.
I was still holding his hand
and so we continued on our way out of the room
to take care of the issue he was having.

As I turned to go,
I heard Nathaniel say,
"and now, back to your regularly scheduled programming..."

That guy makes me laugh out loud every day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

g, I'm Sad About That.

If you can't come clean on the internet,
where can you?
That's what I say.

I have several Garth Brooks cd's from when I was a teenager.
Dennis has several from when he was older than a teenager.

Put that all together,
our boys now have several cd's of vintage Garth Brooks.

You may recall that his signature initial was a big 'g' like this:

As Christopher and I were working on his school work,
we came to the word "orange";
he was supposed to color the shape.

He exclaimed, "Mom!!  Does that say it's Garth Brooks' color??!!"

g, I'm sad about that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Feel So...unimportant

Kids talk about weird stuff.

Some would call it morbid, but kids are so matter-of-fact, they talk about just about anything and it doesn't seem to phase them.

For example, at supper the younger kids were talking about I-can't-even-remember-what.
I do remember it was about as exciting as, say, the weather.
"Tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 72."
"Oh, really."
"Hey--what it be like if Mom died?"

What was that? Who said that?

"Let's see...if Mom died, well, we'd have to learn to cook." said Christopher.  "But, Isaiah's a good cook, so--y'know." (said with a shrug)

I guess he figured it'd all work out.

I sat there rather stunned...waiting...hoping someone would say something about how sad they'd be, how utterly lost, how no one would have any clean socks, no one would know where anything was.
Please say something...please say something...anything.
Well, I take that back.  Not just anything.

It was then that Andrew chimed in with, "We wouldn't have to go to church anymore!  Wait--nahhh, Dad'd make us."
"Yeahhhh." sigh

*sigh*, too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Heart Mrs. Meyer

I try to find joy in small things.
Small things besides my children.

I recently bought Mrs. Meyer's dish soap.
Can I just say now
how much I LOVE it?

I can?  Really?
'M-kay--here goes:

Mrs. Meyer's basil dish soap.

My hands break out from Dawn
and so I typically use something else;
as in, whatever's on sale.

I'm sure I am not the only one who has
some things that either can't go in the dishwasher
or that you prefer to wash by hand
so I always keep "regular" dish washing soap on hand.

Now that my dishwasher has been on the fritz
for a few weeks, 
let's just say I've been doing 
{several loads of}dishes by hand.

So when I was in Wal-Mart this week and dish soap was on my list,
I reached for the whatever's on sale brand.
However, I've had my eye on Mrs.Meyer's for awhile now...
always passing over it because it's more expensive.

Well, in a moment of 
I passed over the whatever's on sale
and reached for Mrs. Meyer's.

And I'm oh-so-glad I did.

If I'm going to be standing in front of the sink
for as long as I do each day,
well, by golly,
it's going to be with Mrs. Meyer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Keeping Toddlers Busy

Toddlers are busy.

Let's just establish that right now.

It seems toddlers are never so busy as when you are trying to accomplish something yourself.

Like, say, when you're homeschooling.

In the middle of explaining Algebra to your 8th grader, you hear "Mom!  Ruby got into my purse!"

During a particularly fascinating dissertation on vowel sounds, you hear that the water is running in the bathroom sink.

Twirling the globe in an attempt to point out the setting of the latest book you are reading with the children, a little person makes her way past, working hard to bring the step-stool with her.  She's clearly up to something.  Up to something she can't reach, quite obviously.

What's a mom to do??!!

Be proactive instead of reactive.

I need to remind myself of this daily.  Ok, hourly.

I firmly believe that children need to learn to entertain themselves and to NOT need to be entertained by others.
Moms need to lay the ground-work, though, in order for it to happen.

I'm also a firm believer in totes.  Totes, tubs, bins, whatever you wanna call 'em.  Big totes, little totes, baskets, boxes, etcetera.
If similar items are in a bin that the child can carry, they are more likely to only empty out the one bin, rather than dump everything from the toy box onto the floor.

We have several tubs, each with a specific type of toy in it.  They stack easily on the floor or a shelf and are easily carried/pushed/dragged by our little folks.

Now-- for me to say "Go play" rarely results in "play."
However, "Hey--how about taking out the car rug and the boxes of cars?  That'd be fun!" is usually pretty effective.

But when I'm doing algebra/grammar/geography, and my toddlers need some direction, I seem to draw a blank more often than not and I default to "go play."

So I finally made a list, for my sake as much as anyone else's.

Our list includes:
farm animals
cars and the car rug
Lincoln logs
Rescue Heroes
Little People
sidewalk chalk
cereal laces (cheerios, fruit loops, etc. for lacing on a shoe lace.  edible craft!)
Groovy Girls
coloring books
Polly Pockets
hunting guys
tinker toys
magna doodles

Some of these are "go in another room" type activities, while others are more for "sit up to the table and join us" type fun.  Some involve a slight mess, like play-do and cereal.  You'd have to weigh that out to see if you had time and energy to clean it up that day.  Some days, a little mess is fine.  Other days call for a more so-help-me-if-I-have-to-wipe/sweep/vacuum-up-one-more-thing type of project.

Remember, we are homeschooling.
We are home.
Our kids are home.
Therefore, all the kids will be around--pretty much all the time.

I can't tell my younger ones to go away so that I can be with the big kids any more than I should tell my big kids to go away so I can take care of the littles.

My point is that I need to be proactive when they need a little direction instead of reactive when they've found  stuff to get into when I shooed them away.

I keep my list in the kitchen on the side of the fridge so that I can assign one of the bigger kids to go get them little ones started on something if I can't leave what I'm busy doing with another kiddo.

We call this "toddler time" and the big kids have as much fun as the little ones!  It gives big kids a chance to play with some things they've outgrown.  The little ones think spending time with the big ones a super fun treat.  Building block towers, setting up pretend farms, construction sites, using silly voices with dolls--it doesn't take much at all to get them busy doing something you'd like for them to be doing!

How do you keep your little folks busy?

(you must know--I have been known to let a child rip pages out of a notebook for the simple reason that it kept her quiet, happy, and not bothering anyone.  It cost me 10 cents monetarily, but much was gained for the mommy's state-of-mind. I have also let them float boats in the sink, even though I had to wipe up the bathroom floor with more than one bath towel.  So even though this post may imply that our home is all sunshine and lolli-pops, I assure you, it is not.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Elijah's Leaf Buh-lection

"Mommy?  Do we have a book for my buh-lection?"

"Hmm??  What was that, Elijah?"

"A book.  For my buh-lection.  My leaf buh-lection."

I looked down at the two leaves he held in his hands.

"Ohhhh.  A leaf collection.  I see..."

My first thought was something along this vein:
oh man...that will take a long time...
finding an album...labeling the leaves...collecting a bunch of leaves...
well...I'd better let him.
It's not like he's asking to go inside and watch a movie.
He wants to do something creative and school-ish.
I love things that are creative and school-ish.
What kind of homeschooling mother would I be if I didn't 
let my little boy make a leaf collection--
especially when he asks to do one!
Besides--he's saying "collection" so CUTE!
I wonder how I will spell "buh-lection" on my blog??
I'd better give him an answer now.
Let's see...uhhh...

"Why, yes I DO have a book for your leaf collection Elijah.  Let's go get it."

Linnea was four steps ahead of me.
She loves doing that kind of thing.
She took a notebook from the shelf.

"Will this one work, 'Lijah?'

They both hurried to the table; Elijah grabbed his pencil box.

"Ok....'Elijah's Leaf Book' will go at the top," Linnea said.

Elijah used his glue stick to smear glue on the back of a maple leaf
and an oak leaf and smoosh them on the paper.

Linnea wrote "maple" under the maple leaf and 
"oak" under--you guessed it--the oak leaf.

And then they were done.

Well, that wasn't so hard now, was it?

And I was all set to say "no."
Just 'cause I didn't feel like it.
And 'cause I thought it'd end up to be a big project.
For heaven's sake, he's only THREE.  
What was I thinking--three-year-olds don't do big projects.
They do whatever they can in four and a half minutes, tops.
And then they move on to the next thing.

 I need to say "yes" more
and "no" less.
It's not like it was an obedience issue--
it's about letting the children explore the things that bring them joy;
the things that will help them blaze their trail in life.

I'm so glad that Elijah made his little buh-lection.
It's on the fridge--reminding me to say "yes."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Do

On tap for today:
clean out the garage.

I love cleaning,
so this would evoke a similar reaction
as it would for someone who likes to, say, shop,
who is spending the

Fall cleaning
is about to 

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