Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Homeskooling Lessons We Has Learned

So... we've been doing this homeschooling thing for a good 9 months now.
In the world of the internet, that makes me, ya' know... an expert.
Obviously, I jest.
Here are some tips though, just in case you are thinking of jumping on board with the denim-jumper brigade.

#1. Pajamas are Clothes.
I remember when I started this blog, and called it "Pajamas are Clothes." My Micah, he said, "Ummm... are you sure that is what you want to call it? Once you do it, it's kind of... done. For good."
"Phhht." I replied. I regret that phhht at times. For homeschooling, I initially decided I would insist on us being dressed and ready for school to start promptly at nine. That ended one cold morning when Lincoln and I were both wrapped up in blankets, on the couch, in our pajamas, reading books we simply couldn't put down. That kind of thing is just not as fun in a pair of skinny jeans my friends. Stay in your PJs sometimes... just because you can.

#2. Have a start time, but keep it loosely.
There are times we start before nine, and times, when we start much later than nine. I think it's silly to stop Lincoln from something constructive like cleaning his room, designing a new coffee maker (no joke, he did.) reading, etc to start school. Let them have a few extra minutes... sometimes.

#3. Let them make their own lunch.
Now, I know I am homeschooling a middle schooler, so this might not work for some. I have loved watching my son evolve from making only PB&J to now creating salads, reheating leftovers, cutting up apples, etc. If you ever want your kids to appreciate the effort you put into preparing meals, let them be in charge of their own. I am running a homeschool, not a Denny's or a Burger King. (*bonus: Lincoln now makes Micah's lunch too if he's home. IT'S LIKE A FREAKIN' VACATION UP IN HERE!)

#4. Take a Nap.
I get a lot of ribbing for loving naps so much. A LOT of ribbing. Micah likes to tell people I keep myself on a Babywise schedule. I just really, really, love naps. It makes me a nicer person. I feel no guilt in having Lincoln read quietly upstairs, or having him keep working at the table, while I sneak in a 30 minute recharge. So, whatever age you are homeschooling, carve out some quiet time each day.


#5. Say No.
I learned that people tend to think you are available all day, every day, if you homeschool. Um... no.
If I run out with you today, and Suzy Q tomorrow, it makes getting school work done hard. Learn to tell people no, and don't feel guilty at all. If they hound you or make fun of you, you must, I say MUST play the I-am-solely-responsible-for-educating-my-child-card. It's not as jazzy as a newborn for an excuse, but, it works.

#6. Say Yes.
I know, I am a sea of contradiction. Sorry. Not really.
I do think you have to guard your school time, but mamas... no need to stand with a loaded weapon and shoot down everyone who dares to lure you away from the Kitchen Table Academy. We have taken unplanned days off to volunteer, to play in the snow, run errands, visit with a friend. It's not all the time, but it is OK to delay book learning sometimes. (*note if you are taking time off to "teach" British culture by watching Downton Abbey, you have lost it. Just pour your tea and admit you need to see who Bates is killing this week, and be done with it.)

#7. Employ Google.
So, when your child comes to you with a question and you have no idea... I mean, no blooming idea, what it means... Go to Google. No shame. Google knows more than you. LET GOOGLE HELP. I would also say this though, make sure you are teaching your kid their way around a real dictionary and thesaurus. Heaven forbid they ever have to write anything without the internet. Lincoln got quite a kick out me explaining what an encyclopedia is to him. I'm not going to lie, it made me a little sad.

#8. Don't Stress.
I think my biggest fear at the beginning of this year was worrying that I would not teach Lincoln enough. And then I remembered writing this post back in the fall. I think when you remove distractions like girls, and peer pressure, and do actually keep up with a basic curriculum goal, your kid will be fine. Just check state goals, and where your child is at if you are worried.

#9. Admit Defeat
I am not a fan of math. In fact, I kind of hate it. I could tell early on that this year's math was way too easy for Lincoln, so we muddled through, compromised by skipping easy sections, and next year, I will not be his math teacher. We will either use an online system, or the school of Dad. I hate math that much and he loves it that much. I have no problem admitting this failure and finding a better solution.

#10. Embrace Lessons Not Found In Your Books
I was, and am still a little surprised about how many "in-depth" talks this year afforded Lincoln and I. These talks were rarely in the midst of formal lesson time though. (but were sometimes a result of something we were studying.) It was often while we were driving, and we chatted about so many great things. So many hard things. So many funny things. We covered a lot of "off topic" stuff, yet, it was important stuff. I think some of those times, were the greatest lessons of our year. 
 

So, it's been a good year, and a hard year. We've had ups and downs, battles and victories. I have loved it, and loathed it. Today though, after Lincoln and I spent the morning planting vegetables, pulling weeds, and splitting hosta, we ate lunch together and read books on the patio. I looked over at him, and said, "Aren't you glad you are homeschooled so we can do this?" He gave his hearty approval. 






Friday, June 06, 2014

The Bucket List Revolt...

I can sense it is coming.
Somewhere, there are mom bloggers who are going to start writing snarky posts about how they DON'T do a summer bucket list.
"So take that!" they will say.
"I am rebelling against the summer bucket list!" they will boast.
"People do these just to make the rest of us feel like failures!" they will accuse.

And I gotta say...
Just shut your cake hole.
If you are so happy about not doing something, why do you need to make it into yet ANOTHER mom competition?
ANOTHER item of comparison.
Don't we have enough of those already?

Let's look at a few contenders in our Mom vs Mom boxing arena:
*I'm a mom and I do Paleo vs I'm a mom and I eat gluten like it's my job!
*I'm a mom who works out and has buns of steel vs. I'm a mom who has better things to do than run.
*I'm a mom who creates pinterest worthy birthday parties vs. I'm the mom who booked chuck e cheese.
*I'm the mom who makes all my own food from scratch vs. I'm a mom who stops at McDonalds for dinner so often they know my voice in the drive-thru.

Do you see where I am going here?
We women are ACES at making the most ridiculous things into a competition.
A comparison.
An "I'm better than you because..."

And that's the heart of it.
We want to be better than others and we want it acknowledged.
That's a heart issue, friends.
A dangerous one.

Let me save you the trouble where I am concerned.
You are prettier than me.
You are more creative than me.
Your house is cleaner than mine.
You cook better than me.
You have better birthday parties than me.
You take better photos than me.
You work out more than me.
Your garden looks better than mine.
You are a better parent than me.
You are a better wife than me.

AND I AM TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT.

Why?
It is not because I settle for the new epidemically popular "let's all just be mediocre."
It is because each day, I try and do MY best, for MY people, in MY home... and they think I am the bees knees. I want your people to think the same of you. If that means I take your idea or you take mine and our own people love it... WE ALL WIN! I don't need anyone else's husband or kids to think I am the best anything. I want them to think that about their own mom. Helping each other out is part of our job... you know, as HUMANS.

So, this summer... do a bucket list or don't.
But don't make the ones who do one feel bad.
And don't make the ones who don't do one feel bad.
Just go have fun with your people and make some memories.

**I do want to note there is one thing, just one, that I know in my heart I am the VERY BEST at... 
TAKING NAPS.
Try and beat me, I dare you :)

My People.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Demands

If you had told me a few years ago, that I would enjoy spending Mother's Day weekend camping, I would've laughed in your face. I usually had the same request each year... "I want the gift of not existing." I would say. Yep. I wanted a day to just do whatever I wanted, with no one needing me, and no one asking me to do anything, wipe anything, make anything, or plan anything. I demanded this each year and was sorely irked if I didn't get it. Not exactly Hallmark type stuff here folks.

                                 

 As the boys grew though, and we began to really explore what raising three little boys is like, I realized, this was not really what I wanted anymore. I get plenty of alone time, and am treated grandly, pretty much every day. Why would I want to disappear from the very people that make me a mom anyway? Why did I need to be snotty and demanding? I have been learning some hard lessons about where my time goes and to whom I am investing it in.

So, this year... we went camping.
On a beautiful lake.
We loved every minute of it, including the sudden downpour while setting up the tent.
We laughed.
We talked.
We fished.
And my personal mantra... we made memories.

                                     

Sunday morning as I sat and watched my three little adventurers wade over to an amazing nearby island to fish and swim, I looked at Micah and said, "Can you believe they are ours?"
And then, knowing I could stay put with my book and coffee,
that I could demand all the alone time I wanted, 
I got up and went.
I went to where they were, and fished with them for a bit.
I watched them, fussed a little at wrong attitudes, and enjoyed being their mom.
I know someday I will have endless quiet hours to read.
I won't have endless beautiful mornings at a lake to fish with three amazing little boys.
They are the wild boys.
My wild boys.
And oh, how I grow to be more and more thankful each day that I get to be their mama.

                                     

                                     

                                   

"Sometimes it ends up different,
And it is better that way."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Please, call me Honey...

I may get hate mail from every feminist out there, but I gotta say it...
Someone called me "Honey" yesterday and it made my day.
I know, men are NOT supposed to call women that anymore.
And they shouldn't in that  butt-pinching, get me some coffee, kind of way. I get that.
So why was it ok yesterday?

My car died.
On a busy main street in a town where you will see just as many little old ladies driving in their Sunday best as you will rednecks with their confederate flag emblazoned pick up trucks.
It died suddenly, and when I say died, I mean, everything stopped.
No steering.
No moving.
No nothing.
I was just glad the flashers still worked.

I ended up in the entrance driveway to a KFC.
Yes, a KFC.
At 1130am.
Which is apparently when all the elderly of this small town go to eat their fried bits of fake chicken.
These aged folks are apparently very, VERY  passionate about their fried chicken, as I was met with honks,balled up fists, and glares that would melt the polar ice caps.
Because I was sorta' blocking the entrance to KFC.
And the other entrance is, no joke... 6 feet away.
Folks, if you can carry your oxygen tank in to eat KFC, you can drive an additional six feet to get into the parking lot.

Not one of these "saints" asked if we needed help.
I was freaking out a little because my husband was three hours away.
Thankfully my brother in law, Marc, was coming to my rescue, and a young man finally helped me move my car to a parking spot. 

When I had to call the tow truck company, I was more calm, but when I told the man where my car had landed, and that people were not exactly happy about it he said this,
"It's ok honey. We will be there within an hour. We will get your car to the garage, they will fix it. Do you need anything else sweetie? I promise, it will get taken care of for you."

I just felt myself relax.
This nice man, who has been towing vehicles longer than I have been alive, could sense my distress, and talked to me in this way, to be nice. Not to insult me. I know the difference, and believe you me, I can go "yankee" on someone in a skinny minute if need be.

But yesterday, I needed someone to be nice to me.
To be human.
To hear that I was stressed and needed some help.
To call me honey, like he probably would his own daughter.

Sometimes, it is not an insult folks.
Sometimes, it is just being nice... 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Death by Fineness


Last weekend I had the privilege of attending an amazing women's conference at a large church.
One of our BFFs is the pastor.
His wife has become one of my BFFs over the years, despite not being around each other day to day.
We love to chat, this friend and I.
About food.
About marriage.
About church.
About our kids.
About life.

We began to talk about the plague of "fake authenticity" that seems to be gaining momentum amongst some Christians.
What does that mean, "fake authenticity"?
We have a growing number of struggles and sins that are ok to share out loud within our church walls, small groups, life groups, accountability groups, whatever you may call them.

It's ok to say you want to speak nicer to your kids.
It's ok to say you need to read your Bible more.
It's ok to say you sometimes get angry with your spouse about something.
It's ok to say you struggle with self-image.

But... don't go further.
Don't tread into ground that we may not have an easy answer for.
Don't make us uncomfortable.
Stay away from awkward.
We want comfortable authenticity.

What if...
Your struggle is lust?
You are full of jealousy, horribly eaten up with jealousy of a friend or co-worker.
You have homosexual feelings, despite being married?
You are hurt by something so deeply, you just cannot seem to get past it?
You feel hatred, hard core hatred, toward another person and its making you miserable?
You no longer believe what you are reading in your Bible... at all.
You want to hurt yourself because you hate the way you look?

Are we allowed to talk about these issues?
Nope.
Because when someone shares one of these,
there is a deeper need to walk with someone through the hard stuff.
The messy stuff is... messy.
The walking through takes longer.
There is no prayer at the end of life group that will end a woman's struggle with admitting she no longer loves or wants to sleep with her spouse.

Instead, we say, "I'm fine!"
How are you? "I'M FINE!"
We say it until we may even believe it ourselves.
I'M FINE 
YOU'RE FINE
WE ARE ALL FINE
Let's have snacks and go home.

My dear friend put it so very eloquently:
"I think we are going to die of fineness..." 
headstone


Don't settle for the lie about being fine.
Don't settle for comfortable authenticity.
Find people, like my friend, who want to walk through the hard stuff with you.

And to Veronica...
Thank you for being there for me in such a real way this year.
And for the AMAZING quote above.
Love you, friend.