Time to Get Serious!

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Toward the end of each school year, I write a long list of assignments they must complete to be finished for the year.  They have the option to complete all of these in a week or so (if they work pretty hard), or take the recommended three weeks to complete it.  They also, could take longer if they desire, moving their school year into the hot, perfect for swimming months of June and July.  I give them this choice for them to work on their level of self-motivation. During the rest of the year, we go through most of the work together, so I know where they are and what they are reading and learning.  But at this special time, they have the option to finish early and savor the first sweet hints of summer.  This is not about speeding through and not digesting what they’ve read.  They have to be able to narrate the story to me.  Many times, I read the books too, because they are very entertaining and I always learn something.

What do you do to finish the year strong? Post a comment!

I see myself

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In her, I see myself-
older, more frail somehow
a different shape than me,
but me nonetheless.

She’s lived a different life
than I have,
but in some ways the same.

I don’t recognize this person;
she’s not tilting her head back
with laughter
or trying to play tricks
on my husband
just to hear him scream out
like a girl.

Praying those days come back soon,
when I can enjoy them from a whole
new perspective.

Just Watering Dirt

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Last spring, I planted 4 square foot gardens in my backyard. The area had plenty of sun, the soil was perfectly ready for anything I could throw at it. Since it was my first time with a vegetable garden, I decided to order seeds instead of buying plants. Though this was probably a mistake, God taught me so much during this process that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. I also began composting to provide quality fertilizer for my garden down the road.

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At first, my garden was nothing but dirt. Little seeds were making their way to the soil’s surface, but I couldn’t see that. I just watered dirt. I watered dirt faithfully, knowing that anyone who casually walked up wouldn’t have understood, but I knew in my heart that exciting things were going on under the surface. This reminded me of being in a counseling situation or witnessing to someone. We see no change, we just keep on watering the dirt, until one day – Bam! There’s a tiny sprig of hope coming up out of the dirt. All that watering has done something! If you’ve been praying faithfully for years and see no change, please know that things are happening! You just can’t see them yet! God is faithful, and your prayers are not going to waste!

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Composting is weird. Garbage goes into a box, and something that gives life comes out. What?? Not sure of the science here, but all of it reminds me of the great exchange that Jesus made for us. We give Him all of our garbage and He makes something out of it. In fact, our garbage only leads to death; He is causing life to issue from death! No one else can do that! In fact, if I let my brain go a step further, He made us from dirt (death), and only He adds life to all the dirt from which we are made. If He didn’t do that, we are all just death walking around. Nothing that is put into that container comes out the same way it went in. It is dramatically and radically changed!

I wish I could say that I grew some amazing vegetables and I’m snacking on my homegrown radishes right now, but I can’t. Something very horrible took place about 2 months after I started watering dirt. My plants got to a certain height and just – stopped. As I was, with extremely limited knowledge, trying to access the situation, I noticed that the ground in my planters was very hard. Very hard. I grabbed my trusty hand rake and went to town. A week later, nothing. I became pretty sure that the ground was too hard for the roots to grow adequately, so the plants themselves were stunted. Boo. I heard a memory verse in my head, “Break up your fallow ground…”. Looking up the rest, I found “Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord till He come and rain righteousness upon you.“ Hosea 10:12.

Fallow means “dormant, inactive”. The Lord desires for us to have hearts that are ready to receive His word. Ground that is too hard is like a heart that is hardened to Him – there’s no way for water to get down to the seed, and the seedling can’t fight to grow in soil that is too hard to stretch out in. We have to take an active role and prepare our hearts to receive the seed that the Lord is planting, so that it will grow in due time and make more seeds to plant elsewhere.

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So, here I am, a year later. Spring is upon us. I’m ready. I’ve been cold for far too long this year. My gardens are barren. I’ve uprooted all of the dead plants – all of the stuff that was meant to feed us only for a season. I had more success in my garden than I initially thought I would. Most importantly, I am wiser about what plants I can grow and what it takes keep them alive. The Lord has shown Himself faithful and true. This year…I’m thinking flowers.

Take a Deep Breath Woman!

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We are SO behind after being in Florida for a week!  But here’s the deal, we are closing in on the end of May (school’s out for summer, can’t you just hear Alice Cooper?).  It’s coming whether we want it to or not.  And believe me, we DO!  So, at times like these, I have to remove my list-checking hat and take a deep breath.  I find it easier at the end of the year to be less firm on projects, because I remember as a substitute teacher in the school system, the kids are kinda done!  We don’t do testing in homeschool, like they do, but there is something in the air during springtime that says, “I JUST wanna be outside; I’ve fulfilled my requirements for the year!”  So, if you find yourself getting nowhere fast trying to shove the last bits of something down, take a deep breath and relax.  Take a mental health day, or a field trip.  Yeah, you’ll be even further behind, (he he) but when you return to the desk, it’ll be with renewed interest and vigor. We’ll soon be swimming, I promise….

Glue

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It’s the deep, overwhelming, take-your-breath-away kind of experiences that make it.  It’s a sort of branding of the soul.  There’s a tattoo there, in the shape of my friend.  Not sure how she got there, since I’ve sometimes done my best to strongarm people away.  But she did.  And I love her for it.  She shows me the strong love of the Lord when she says that I’m full of poop.  She says she loves me in many different ways and even in a language only the two of us understand.  No one else besides her and my husband have this kind of permission into my life.  It’s not the kind of friendship that blows around by every breeze, it’s the ‘I can totally picture her old self sitting next to me while we are being fed by nice workers in our nursing home’.  That, my friend, is glue..

I Want

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I want

Your ways, not my own
Your plans, for they are better.
Your methods, for you understand the battle better than I.
Your joy, for it is not manufactured.
Your contentment, it involves nothing but you and I together in it.
Your view of me, mine is a dusty mirror at best.
I want you and all you have to offer. My plans have gotten me nowhere. I follow yours and I live a crazy, exciting, topsy turvy, upside down from this existence kind of life.

And it’s good.

It’s good.

5 Ways to Finish the Homeschool Year Strong

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Camping with friends during Spring Break. Photo credit – Deanna Blue. Thanks Deanna!

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The final push from the end of Spring Break to the first days of summer can feel a little like the movie “Groundhog Day”.  There’s nothing to break up the monotony; it’s just all about pushing through and completing another day.  Here are 5 ways that you, a homeschooling momma can bust out of that monotony and into the summer with energy to spare!

 

1) Plan a fun field trip

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In Florida last week – everyone else in Texas was doing state testing. Not trying to rub it in. Yes I am.

If your kids were ever in public school, you may remember that this is the time of year that they would plan a field trip to cut a path through all the boring test prep.  For homeschool, this also works! Take a trip to the zoo, or an uncrowded amusement park, make a picnic lunch and take a frisbee and the dog. This is the time to take advantage of the fact that everyone is still in school!

 

 

2) Have a mental health day

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My children are the first and third mannequins in this pic…

When my kids were in public school, each year, I’d pick a day and surprise them by picking them up from school.  My lucky daughter of the day would get to decide where we ate lunch and (out of a few carefully chosen options) what we did for the day.  We called it mental health day.  Everyone needs a day like this every so often.  It could even be a veg day, where you catch up on stuff you’ve both been wanting to see on tv, or have a carpet picnic (can you tell I like picnics?).

 

3) Teacher for the day

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Sydney, as Science Teacher

A couple of times, to bust up the boring nature of this time of year, I’ve instituted “teacher for the day”.  The kid I choose gets to be the teacher and I am one of the students, along with their sibling.  They LOVE doing this, and I think they actually learn more when teaching the material.

 

 

4) Do school in a weird place

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Another day in a hotel – school to occur as soon as free breakfast hours are over!

 

We’ve done school in coffee shops, hotels, cars, on the trampoline, outside in the sun, in the pool, in one of their beds, and in my bed.  When they come to sit down for school in the morning, surprise them by moving them to another location.  Perspective changes.  It’s good.
 

5) Add a movie, YouTube or Schoolhouse Rock to your day

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Check out Amazon, Netflix, Brainpop and others for something relative to your history lesson for the day.  Kids retain more when they see the Civil War acted out on the computer or tv. Sometimes a random 80’s song pops into my head.  I will play it on YouTube just to illustrate my point.  The kids think I’m weird. It’s all part of my plan….

So, just when you think that there’s no way you can possibly make it to the end of May, try out one of these little gems.  The change will not only add fun to your Spring, but give all of you the strength to carry on through to the infamous “Week 36”.

 

When to Change Up What You’re Doing and Just Move On

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Koda LOVES rolling in the ice and snow. I don’t know why.

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The snowdrift is so high, it almost touches our windows. This is TEXAS, people!

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Sledding in the front yard – oh yeah!

2-2014 – Warning – This gets a teeny bit political…

We are SO cold right now.  The President and his Dem friends say that there’s a warming trend going on that is melting ice caps or something.  Penguins are dying!  Well.  The penguins need to come to Dallas/Ft. Worth or Atlanta or Chicago.  The Great Lakes are even freezing!

While Washington fears the heatwave, we are sitting in our house FREEZING!   We did turn down the heater a bit.  The 650 dollar electric bill last month was kinda scary.  So, blankets, hoodies and Uggs are the uniform during the homeschooling day.

I just changed Sophie’s math curriculum and it got me thinking.  Some newer to homeschooling may feel they need to stick with a particular part of their curriculum or else.  Or else what!!???  They happily check off boxes, and their kiddos are accomplishing the tasks, but is it hitting their happiness zone?  Is it delighting them to learn this information?  Kids remember concepts better when there is something attached to it.  It is often that I will run a quick YouTube video to illustrate something that I think will help them remember a new concept.  I’ve shown Schoolhouse Rock to help them learn their multiplication facts, played an actual rain dance song to discuss weather (and we danced too!), and showed parts of movies during history.  My brain thinks that EVERYTHING is connected somehow, so it’s not difficult for me to think of a random 80’s song to illustrate my point about the Russian Czars! Weird, but true…

Of course, no kid LOVES every topic you can throw at them, but, for instance, if they hate math, is there a way to teach it so they are not SO miserable when they sit down to do it?  This is when you have to plug into your kids learning styles and interests and do a little research.  After a couple years (yes, I said years) of teaching my kids, I was much more aware of their interests and learning styles.  I know how to motivate each one and when I’ve hit the point at which they simply can not hear me any longer.  Taking that, along with resources like other mommas, Cathy Duffy’s 101 best, Amazon reviews, home-school co-op friends, and the like, I can mold a program to fit each child.

My rule of thumb is that if I am homeschooling them, I can take the time to figure this stuff out and tailor a program that suits each of them.  No matter what, DON’T get discouraged and think that you are a failure if you try a bunch of different things and they haven’t worked.  Ask the Lord, He knows your kid better than you do, and he is faithful to show you the way.  Incidentally, He also knows what info your kiddo needs in his/her toolbox for the future.  He is faithful!

Oh my Goodness….I’m SO Organized!

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NOT that this has NEVER happened before….but with schooling, it’s rare.  I’m pretty organized usually, but this is, well, incredible.  It is early July and I am staring at all of my books for NEXT YEAR!  What???  You may ask….  How??  Well, I can give you a super spiritual answer and say that the Lord was very clear and unusually early with His answer to “what do we do next year?”.  Or, I could just show you a pic of my books (all organized by the date we will read them), and say “Wowweeee!!”

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So, enough of that.  I know what you really want are some pics of people eating watermelon at our house on July 4th.  It’s what we all demand…

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Caycee.  Note the style at which she comes at the watermelon.  Nice approach.

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Sophie.  It’s weird how my iron work on the wall look like her antennae.

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My mom.  Cuz that’s just cute.

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Sydney.  My child for sure.  Check out the crossed-eyes and flared nostrils.  She’s ready.

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Trevor.  Our friend from small group.  He thinks this whole thing is funny.  It’s not.  It’s VERY serious! This is watermelon-eating, people!!