Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WFMW: cleaning tools

We are almost done! I don't know who's more excited, me or the girls. :) I only have the master suite left to do. I always leave this for last, but some years I peter out before I get to my room, so I am determined to get my room deep cleaned this year! But not today. Or tomorrow either - we have places to be in the morning. We need a day off anyway. :)

But while I am on this cleaning kick, I thought I would talk about a couple of cleaning tools that I have in my house. One I highly recommend, and one I do not. First, I'll start with the "not."

A couple of years ago I bought one of those Scunci Steam cleaners at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I had a coupon, and I was desperate for some way to clean my shower. So I thought I'd give this a try. It does work, it does put out steam. However, it did nothing for the hard water stains in the shower. :( It is useful for a couple of things, so I bring it out once or twice a year to clean the dishwasher seals and hinges and the joint where the kitchen sink faucet meets the sink. It gets more gunk out of there than I ever knew was in there. It's also good for the electric can opener. Other than that, it collect dust on top of my deep freeze the rest of the year.

I did take it to Dallas with me last year to help my MIL remove a wallpaper border from her kitchen. If the border is applied with the self-adhesive paste on many borders (you know, the kind you just wet and apply), than it would work great. Unfortunately, my MIL's border had been applied (by the previous owner) with wallpaper paste, and I thought we'd need a jack hammer to get the stuff off.

Over all, just come borrow mine, don't spend the money.

Second however, is the Swiffer Duster with Extendable Handle. This is not the flat dusting sheet that can also go on the Swiffer broom, but is more like an old fashioned feather duster. Except, of course, that the heads are disposable, and the handle extends a long way. I don't use this for my routine cleaning every week - I try to stay away from disposable products for that. However, I have found nothing that can beat it for dusting things high (ceiling fan blades, window sills ABOVE my front door, picture frames up very high, the tops of door bell box, the light globes in the halls, etc.) or in awkward places (the chandeliers over my two-story entry way and stairs, the speakers hanging from the ceiling, the back of the entertainment center, behind appliances, etc.). Great, inexpensive tool for those jobs!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It's just a reflection...

This morning, I was fixing Lauryn's hair, and she was chattering away as normal (wonder where she would've gotten the chatterbox gene?). I, as usual, was only catching 50-60% of what she said as we stood in front of the mirror behind her sink. At one point she said something rather emphatically, so I responded, "Really?!?"

To which Lauryn responds, "No Mama, I not talkin' to you, I talkin' to da mirror."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Okay, whining session is officially over

It's amazing what a little rest will do. :)

So it was back to the grindstone today. This morning we hit two of the upstairs bedrooms. I went through every toy in their bedrooms as well as the toys in the playroom, culling out as much as I could. We have way too much stuff! The girls are pack rats, never wanting to throw away the tiniest craft made at scouts or awards they earned when they were 4. However, I did manage to throw away a full trash bag full of stuff, and have another full trash bag full of toys to either trade or donate. The girls got quite panicky when they realized "Mama is serious!" I think they thought I would throw everything out!

We also moved all the furniture and vacuumed behind them, dusting all pictures, candles, knick-knacks, fans, etc. We also emptied the closets and vacuumed in their too. It's amazing how much better you feel when a room is truly clean.

Now some of you may wonder why I am reporting on every little thing we do each day during this full house cleaning. Well there are a couple of reasons.

(1.) It keeps me accountable to someone. Yes I am a neat freak, with a control obsession. I like to have things clean and orderly. But I don't like to clean. Yes, you heard me right. I confess, my ultimate dream is to have a "Susan" from the Anne of Green Gables series. If I could afford to have someone come in and keep things clean for me, I would. Oh I get in moods when I want to clean, but usually, I get in the mood to clean out and organize, rather than actually clean. And since I will not, in the foreseeable future, be able to afford live-in help, I am training my daughters to be my live-in help, all in the guise of teaching them "life skills." ;)

(2.) On a regular basis, someone comments or asks me how I manage my time and keep organized in order to homeschool, keep my house clean, cook and bake, and do everything else. This once a year major clean is one way I do it. Yes it takes 2-3 weeks, as I usually only do it in the mornings and do school planning in the afternoons, but it gets everything so shiny and new that we can keep things clean otherwise with routine cleaning. It also just might inspire some of you less organized or motivated people out there. :)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Two year olds and their Daddies

When a two (and a half) year old is separated from her Daddy for two weeks straight, she tends to get a little neurotic.

This morning when I went to get Lauryn out of bed:

(As soon as I open the door) Lauryn: Where's Daddy?

(Notice, not "hi, Mama" or "Good morning" just "where's Daddy?")

Me: "He's downstairs getting ready for church."

Lauryn: "I tought he was on da compooter."

Me: "No, he's downstairs taking a shower and getting dressed."

Lauryn (running to the window): "His lellow caw is still outside."

Me: "Yes, Lauryn, Daddy's still here. He's downstairs."

I thought I was never going to convince her that Daddy had not left again.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Did you miss me as much as I missed you?

So Kelly is home, and what does that man who has traveled to the opposite corner of the country receive upon his return? Me, informing him that the dryer he has just fixed 8 days ago stopped in the middle of drying towels and now won't start again. And first thing this morning, he is greeted by two of our daughters throwing up, one all over the carpet.

We were supposed to go to a cookout with our homeschool group this evening. However, by the time we got the mess cleaned up this morning, I had to go across town to get dryer parts, so Kelly could get the dryer running so we could do vomit-stained laundry. By the time I got done with all that I wasn't feeling that great myself. Plus I'm emotionally exhausted from the last three week of ending school, scouts awards, packing, cleaning, preparing for conference, traveling, surgeries, cooking for in-laws, traveling some more, working on my feet at the conference, and then single parenting for the last week. And I think my asthma or something is acting up. My chest has been aching some and I feel a little light headed at times.

So I didn't go. I hope you guys had a great time and had a good turn out. I missed you guys, but after the last two weeks, I think we needed an evening at home, all together.

I know this in my head, but I hate it when I get like this. Somehow, I always feel that I shouldn't let things get to me, and I should be strong enough to handle all the little things. I get this feeling like everything's spun out of control, and I MUST GET BACK ON TOP OF THINGS. Seems like everytime I get like this, my body will call a halt to things. I think it must be God's way of reminding me that I'm not in control in the first place, and that I am relying on myself too much and not on Him. And I think I may be finally learning that God designed us to need rest. I'm not usually really good about that. There's always more to be done, and I have an abhorrence of even the appearance of being lazy. Not a good combination for my personality. Maybe one day I'll learn to pace myself more during these high stress times.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Surprise

Actually, it was a double surprise as I'll explain. The surprise I had planned was to take all the girls to see an early showing (as in 9:30 am.) of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Public schools are still in session here, so I figured that this early, the theater would be less crowded. And I was right about that. It was far less than half full.

My friend Aubrey offered to keep Lauryn for us, so that was the double surprise. I am very grateful, as the movie turned out to be longer (168 minutes) than I thought. Not sure how that wiggly girl would have done. So thank you, Aubrey!

My girls really liked the movie. I haven't decided what I think of it. It was so different than I expected, that I am still mulling it over. I think I may have to see it again just to catch everything and really decide. :) But it has everything you'd expect from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie: lots of fighting, some explosions, visual effects, a little romance, and a little bit of the macabre. And I won't say anymore, except that the ending was unexpected, at least for me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

And the road goes ever on

I just love having older girls! I love my toddlers and preschoolers too, but it is really nice to have some "middles" now. Not only were they, especially Aubrey, such a big help to me last night as we hosted Bible study without Daddy, but they have been a great help to me around the house this week!

Today they deep cleaned the school room. They dust all shelves, removing all books (we have alot of shelves and alot of books), vacuumed the curtain, vacuumed baseboards, and reorganized the art cabinet. That cabinet resembled out leftover container cabinet form two posts ago before, but now it looks so much better. And the girls can actually find things!

While they were doing that, I finished the kitchen. I took down all the stuff from on top of my cabinets and dusted the cabinets and that stuff. Then I took everything out of the upper cabinets and wiped out all those shelves. I even cleaned out from under the sink! I used a great trick my mother taught me to clean artificial greenery as well: put them in the floor of a shower and run the shower. I actually put them in one of the upstairs' showers that has a removable shower head and washed them all off. They are in my tub drying now and I'll put them back up tomorrow. So much faster than dusting every leaf!

I am also trudging ahead with school planning. I want to stretch out the history curriculum I'm using and cover the material in a year and a half rather than a year so we can hit the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation more heavily. So I made up a preliminary plan on which weeks to take more time on. I've also been culling through the recommended book list, marking off things I already own and those the library owns. Now I am in the process of deciding which books to buy (and from where) and which to substitute. I'll be able to do this a little more easily once I get the curriculum in my hands. Right now I'm working off the comprehensive book list on the company's site.

Less than 24 hours left to go until Kelly comes home! Lauryn actually cried this morning because Daddy wasn't home. She is really confused because his yellow car ("Daddy's yewwow caw) is parked outside her window, but he is still gone! But I have a little surprise for them in the morning. I'll let you know about it tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Warning: I'm getting on my soapbox

Since we did nothing around the house but get ready for Bible Study tonight, I wanted to rant a little about something.

Monday evening I took the girls out to a few stores looking for, among other things, swimsuits for my two oldest daughters, Kora (10) and Aubrey (8). Kora's suit from last year no longer fit, and the one that now fit Aubrey was a two piece that Kora had worn three years ago because I had given up on finding her a one piece that fit - she's very long torso-ed. Well since then, I've re-thought the whole tummy baring two piece for them, and wanted to replace Aubrey's suit as well.

Kora is also in that stage where she is just about ready to out grow the girls' sizes and move up. So I was already nervous. She tried on well over a dozen suits. They were ALL too low cut. Some of them barely covered up what they were supposed to cover! And some of them had a deep vee so low it looked like something a model on the cover of Cosmo would wear! I would have thought that maybe it was just the way Kora was built except that we had similar problem with Aubrey!

We were finally able to find a suit for Aubrey, but not one for Kora in the stores. I was so frustrated. And only one of the stores I went to had a juniors' section, but every single one of their suits was a bikini! I am very fortunate in that my girls are very modest by nature, so they weren't wanting these revealing things either. ARG! Why would manufacturers design little girls' swimsuits this way?!?

So I ended up buying her suit, for three times as much as I spent on Aubrey's, from Lands End. I never thought I would ever buy anything from there, but in the last year I've bought me a swim suit there, and Kora some dresses, and now another swim suit. Thank you Lord, that there are still some places that don't mind dressing little girls like little girls. Now if they could just send me a lifetime discount for giving them a rousing endorsement...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Genetics in the Kitchen

So I started deep cleaning the kitchen today. I love it now that the girls are old enough to be of some real help around the house. While I cleaned out the fridge/freezer, Kora, Aubrey, and Brynna took out everything out of all the drawers and lower cabinets and vacuumed them out and wiped them down. Brynna also washed the utensil holders that always seem to double as crumb collectors. Kora and Aubrey also reorganized the utensils and the leftover container cabinet. I wish I had taken a before picture because that cabinet is usually such a jumble that at least three containers fall out onto the floor every time the door is opened. After the girls got done it looked like this.
I'm so proud! They must've received some genes from me after all!

While they were accomplishing this, I was doing one of my most hated chores: cleaning out the fridge. I took everything out of fridge and freezer, wiped out everything, washed removable shelves and drawers, washed the coil cover, vacuumed out the coils, dusted under the fridge, and threw out alot of stuff, especially in the freezer. The only thing I didn't do was label everything. ;) (Sorry, Cathi, I couldn't help it!) I didn't get a chance to dust the tops of the cabinets or to wipe out the upper cabinet interiors, but that will have to wait for another day.

I'm also using self-cleaning feature on the oven tonight. However, I'm thinking now I should have waited until after Bible study tomorrow night at our house to do this. I always forget how bad it smells. Guess I'll be lighting candles all day, praying that the house doesn't smell bad tomorrow night!

Also talked to my friend Vivian today. They will be here in just a couple of weeks! Yea!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's still technically spring, right?

We are finally (mostly) recovered from last week's traveling and conferencing. So this week we have a few things on the schedule. First, Kelly is in upstate New York until Friday on business. Second, the girls have to get used to home rules vs. grandparent rules. :) And we start housecleaning.

A while back I gave up on "spring cleaning." I prefer to wait until our long school break - usually most of May and all of June - and start then. This also seems to help the girls from getting too bored or fussy during the break from our normal routine. If they spend the first hour or two every morning after breakfast cleaning or organizing, they seem to argue much less during the course of the day. It's also a magical cure for boredom, it seems. If one of the girls wonders down and tells me, "I'm bored," or "Everything's boring," I just look at my cleaning list, and have many suggestions for activities to occupy their time. ;) That child rarely complains of boredom after that!

So today after we arrived home from dropping Kelly off at the airport, we started on the living room. This is when we dust behind the entertainment center, move all the furniture and vacuum, vacuum baseboards and curtains, dust the fan and blinds, and vacuum out under sofa cushions.

Tomorrow: the kitchen. YIKES!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Updates on just about everything

My mother-in-law's surgery went very well. She is now home recovering and so far everything has gone textbook perfectly. In fact the breast surgeon originally wanted her to stay a 3rd night, but she had done so well, they let her go home after 2 nights. For which she is very thankful. She rests at home much better than at the hospital.

Before Kelly and I went up to the Dallas area to be with his parents, we met my parents so that they could take our girls home with them for a week. We miss them greatly, but they are having a wonderful time! Kora and Aubrey have learned to ride bicycles, they have done some gardening, had a lemonade party, and took a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns. We are more than ready to have them home though - it is so empty and quiet around here without them!

Tomorrow and Saturday I will be manning a booth at the FEAST Homeschool Conference and Bookfair as a parent representative for Edu-Track, a software program for lesson planning, record keeping, transcript making, and assignment sheets, and much more. So if you are coming to the conference, come by and say hi! So while I work at this on Saturday, Kelly will be meeting my parents halfway to get our girls back.

Speaking of my husband, I am so excited - he fixed our dryer today! It has really been a time for things breaking down around here, and a couple weeks ago our dryer started squeaking. The bearings were worn completely out. But he took the thing apart, cleaned it out really well, put the new parts in, and had it all put back together by the time I got home from setting my booth up! Major husband points for you, Kelly!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day Thoughts

Most of you know that my MIL has been undergoing cancer treatment for several months, and on Monday, the day after Mother's Day, she will be having major breast surgery. In honor of both events, I would like to post a few things that I love about my mother-in-law.

  1. I love the way she accepted me and loved me from the moment Kelly brought me home to meet his parents - we'd been a couple for all of about a week at the time.
  2. I love the fact that she taught me so much about cooking, and didn't mind the bazillion calls I made for several years after we were married with cooking questions.
  3. I love they way she likes to spend tons of time with my daughters, playing, reading, cooking, singing, or whatever they want to do.
  4. I love her laugh.
  5. I love the way she always forgets what's going on when we play 42. :)
  6. I love the way she pours pancakes in the shapes of the girls' initials.
  7. I love the fact that she has so many interests: sewing, quilting, computer-created cards that look "stamped," photography, cooking, decorating, jelly making, guns, playing piano, playing guitar, singing, and of course, the grand kids. She's a very interesting person to talk to.
  8. I love her severe Texas twang.
  9. I love the red hair she passed on to some of her granddaughters.
  10. I love the fact that she is handy around the house - and passed that on to her eldest son!
  11. I am amazed at her ability to take a 3 hour nap and still be ready to go to bed at 9:30 pm. And this was BEFORE cancer and chemo!
  12. I love the fact that she has been such a shining example how go through something as serious as aggressive breast cancer, with grace, honesty, perseverance, and with no self-pity.
  13. I love the fact that the proverbial mother-in-law jokes have no applicability whatsoever in my family. I have never felt threatened or invaded by an overbearing mother-in-law.
  14. I love the fact that when I married her son, she adopted me as her daughter.

Happy Mother's Day, Vickie. I love you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Too busy....

I am way too busy this week to do an extensive post about Sunday, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest version. :)

This past weekend most of the men (of all heights) from our church went to Canyon Lake and camped out. Sunday morning the rest of us trekked out there, and we had a worship service al fresco. Then we grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. The kids had a marvelous time. Kelly was slightly sunburned, but he had a good time as well.

Go to my friend's sites for the pictures I don't have time to post:
the Warrens



The Warren's site even has a cute picture of our oldest four bending over the lake - can't believe one of them didn't fall in. As it was we had one burned finger and one regurgitation episode. You know, about like normal life with 5 kids. :)

Monday, May 7, 2007

I've been tagged

Cathi over At Granny's House has tagged me with a Random 7 meme. So here are 7 random things about little ol' me.

  • I am absolutely, positively, completely and utterly TERRIFIED of snakes. I had an incident as a child and now I cannot even watch the slithery things on tv. As a matter of fact, writing about them is making my back crawl right now!
  • When I was 18 I spent 3 weeks in Kiev, Ukraine on a mission trip. I also spent a few days in Moscow on the way in and out. This was in '92, right after the USSR disintegrated but the infrastructure had not been replaced. At the time the only way to fly to a city like Kiev was to fly into a main city like Moscow and the fly Aeroflat, the Soviet (now Russian) airlines within the former Soviet block. Aeroflat was, ahem, highly unreliable and unsafe, so we took a train from Moscow to Kiev and back three weeks later. We had old-timey berth rooms, with four bunks that swung down from the walls. Actually, the swaying of the train made for quite a soothing night's sleep.
  • The town I grew up in had 2 high schools: the one good in football (you might have heard of us) and the other was the "AP" high school. They got all the AP classes to help students take AP and CLEP tests to get college credit. They really lorded this academic superiority over us. But our senior year, guess who had the last laugh? Not only did our school have more 5's on the AP tests (that's the highest score you could get) than they did, but there was only one National Merit Finalist in the whole town. Yep, it boggled my mind. A reporter even came out to my house to interview me, and he brought a photographer to take a picture of me. It ran as the lead story in the education section with a 3x5 color picture.
  • Even though I am also scared of heights, I have always wanted to go parasailing. (I know, that's alot of fears. But I am also almost as claustrophobic as I am scared of snakes, so I really don't like small elevators in high rise buildings! And you can bet I will never, EVER watch Snakes on a Plane!)
  • I just don't "get" scrap booking. While I think the finished are products are very cute, I can not imagine spending the hours it would take to accomplish them. In fact, I can't even manage to keep up with putting pictures in a plain Jane photo album with the slots! Those of you who think I have every inch of my life organized, filed, and indexed, DON'T LOOK in the armoire in my bedroom, or all the pictures that need to be put in an album might fall over on top of you! Thank goodness for digital cameras that allow you to copy the images onto cd!
  • I think it is absolutely amazing how many problems that Dr. Pepper and chocolate (dark, of course) will solve.
  • When I am sick I love to watch the appendices of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In fact if Kelly comes home from work and I am laying on the couch watching one, he doesn't ask, "are you sick?" He just asks, "What am I making for supper?"
And since "granny" managed to tag nearly my entire blog list, I'll just add June and Lora.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The (school) year in review

Observations of the past year:

  • Brynna has learned to read, in spades. We now have to tear books out of her hands to do her chores.
  • Kora is able to handle two foreign languages at once, something we did this year on a trial basis. We are doing both at what amounts to half speed. She didn't finish either book, but has reached or exceeded the goal I set for how far she would get.
  • I can see improvement in both Kora's and Aubrey's writing, something that Kora especially has struggled with at times.
  • I started making Kora and Aubrey both write out the spelling rule at the beginning of each spelling lesson, and have discovered that this really helps make it "click." Especially for those who are not natural spellers.
  • I like Tapestry of Grace! It has really simplified things for me, and I think it will continue to do so as I add more kids into our "academy."
  • Kora and Aubrey have made great strides in becoming much more independent this year, much more than I would have thought possible. This is very good for me as I have Brynna and Hailey coming up hard on their heels, who will need much more attention from me in these early years.
  • In the classical education model, dialectic age children take formal logic courses. Although Kora was too young for this, she spent time each week doing a sort of "warm-up" to logic activity - mindbenders. These were a big hit. In fact, I had to put a time limit on her or she would have blown through an entire book of them in a day.
  • We didn't get our garden planted yet - between all the illnesses we've had plus a May taken up with family responsibilities, this project will have to be pushed into June (or July).
Looking ahead to next year

  • It is time to get Kora a "real" piano teacher - so I am in the process of finding a piano teacher for her. I have been teaching her the past 2 years, but I have taken her as far as I feel I can.
  • I need to do more hands-on projects for history. This is one aspect of TOG that I didn't do this year, but especially with a 1st grader next year, I need to do more of these types of things. I am pretty good about doing these with science, but for some reason I struggle to do them for history, Maybe it's just because I would just rather read another book about it than do a messy project? But my plan is to schedule time for this each week so I am forced to do it. Tapestry sells lap books to go with their stuff, and I am thinking about buying one to see if we like that.
  • Although I love Tapestry of Grace, I think their year 2 plan covers too much territory. TOG covers all of world history in four years, but I think year four spends too much time on the 20th century. Many families take 2 years to go through year plan 2 because it covers so much, but in order to keep within the 4 year time frame, my plan is to take a year and a half to go through Year plan 2 (roughly 400 AD through 1800). Then a year in Year plan 3 and do Year plan 4 in one semester. That's the plan anyway. In three years, I'll let you know how it turns out. ;) This also gives me time to tweak the plan further before Kora hits high school. That is a great plus about this curriculum - very flexible.
  • I didn't do as much read alouds as I had intended to this past year. We did do some, but this is not something I did on as regular a basis as I'd have liked. So next year I need to find a way to do so more consistently.
  • I hereby take a solemn vow to never, NEVER again go through an entire semester without any breaks. We did so this year for family reasons, only taking a single day off here and there, but not a whole week, because we needed to. But NEVER AGAIN! We will go longer into the summer or start earlier if need be.
  • I want to concentrate more on cooking and sewing skills this year, especially for Kora.
Anyone else willing to 'fess up?

Friday, May 4, 2007

I just have to brag a little...

on my 10 year old daughter Kora. A few days ago, she completed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And no, I don't mean the movies. She read Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, and The Return of the King in just under three weeks.

When she first approached me, asking if she could check them out from the library, I was skeptical. I told her that I thought they would be too hard for her, that they were quite a bit more difficult than The Hobbit. But if she wanted to try she could. But if she struggled or didn't like it, we'd put it aside for a year or two. Well, after reading Fellowship, she informed me, "Mama, this isn't nearly as hard as you made it out to be. I was expecting it to be much harder."

Next year: War and Peace.

Oh, wait. Then I would have to read it too...

Thursday, May 3, 2007

How it all started, part 3

Once I began to understand this vision Kelly and I had for our children, I had to step back and ask, what is the best way to go about this? Thus I began to have a change of heart. Instead of looking at homeschooling as "more work for Mama," I began to look at it as God's provision for us to help us achieve this. I was excited about watching our daughters grow and mature. I began to focus on the privilege that we were given in being stewards of these girls by the Lord, for just a few short years. It became imperative to me to use the time wisely.

I also became excited about the thought of being the one to introduce them to Roman architecture, knights and castles, the Civil War, to planets and star systems, art, music, and even the internal workings of animals. I had a built-in opportunity to share my love of learning and books. As I was around more homeschooling families, I noticed that almost without exception they were extremely close knit, because they shared so much together. They enjoyed being together, and other people enjoyed being with them as well. I wanted these things for our family.

I realized that I had come full about, that I no longer wanted to send them away, even to a Christian school. (Personally, I believe Christian school fulfill an important need. I didn't want there to be any ambiguity on that point.) But not only did we feel that we were the best ones to educate them, private school would have been a financial strain for us, perhaps forcing me to work outside the home. This was not a sacrifice we were willing to make. I now saw Christian day schools as a second-best option for our children.

It was a long process, and wasn't as cut and dried as I've made it sound in this reflection upon it, but by the time Kora was 4, I was wholeheartedly on board. I was so excited to start, I could hardly wait for her to be old enough to officially begin. It was quite the change from where I had been just a couple of years earlier, scared to death and fully convinced I couldn't do it. And I have to admit that there had been a great deal of selfishness on my part. I thought it would be easier to ship them off to school every day, and I couldn't wait to "get my life back" once I didn't have kids in the house all day. I say this to show that only God could have shaken me out of this mindset and set me on this path, as it was not my will. Thank God for His infinite wisdom and patience with his children!

Now I won't pretend that there weren't other considerations that went into our choice to homeschool. Kelly and I were often bored silly in school growing up, so there was also the attraction that we could tailor their education to our kids, keeping them challenged; but also having the freedom to slow down when they hit a trouble spot in math or enjoy a particular part of history. But while academic achievement is important, it is secondary to the real reason we have traveled this road. In fact, I would now say it is a side benefit, rather than a reason for it.

And I also don't believe homeschooling is cure-all for all the wrongs of society, the church, or families. Nor do I believe that homeschooling will ensure that our children will be Christians or stand firm in their faith as adults - homeschooling is not salvific. Obviously, salvation through Jesus Christ is the answer God has provided to the world. And even believers are not perfect this side of eternity. However the Bible has given some simple instructions to parents as to the best way to share the gospel with their children, to model the Christian life to them, and instruct them in it. And our family believes the best way we can follow these instructions is to homeschool.

As I look forward to the next school year, I realize that we only have 7 more years with Kora before she graduates from the "Smith Academy," even if she remains under our roof beyond that. It's a sobering thought, and an exciting one. In one way I can't wait to see the woman she grows into, and the other part of me will miss these years terribly. It's also sobering because there's so much I want to teach all our children, to convey and pass on to them. What an awesome privilege and responsibility it is!

May the Lord help us all, be with us and bless us as we bring up the next generation of believers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

How it all started, part 2

Kelly and I spent several months discussing this off and on, until we moved to San Antonio. We received orders to move down here... and ended up in a church with several homeschooling families, including two women about my age who had been homeschooled themselves. I think inwardly I groaned. Here I was running away from what my husband wanted us to do, and I land in a place like this?

So I picked their brains, asking so many questions, I am sure they were sick of me. :) I read books, I prayed, I went to their houses and looked at what their kids were doing. I learned two important things during this time. The secondary thing I learned was that the "how" of it is not as difficult as I first thought. There are so many options out there for homeschooling, that the real issue is narrowing down the choices of curriculum and books.

But the most important thing I learned was the reason why so many people, especially in that Christian community, have started keeping their children at home for their education. The longer Kelly and I talked about it and studied what the Bible said about parenting, the more came to firmly believe that God has entrusted parents with a sacred responsibility to raise their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." It is listed as either the father's or parent's job to teach their children the ways of the Lord. The books of Joshua and Judges is full of examples of what happened when fathers neglected this instruction. This goes beyond taking them to church every Sunday, but encompasses so much more.

We believe that this includes talking about the Scriptures and about what Jesus has done for us "while we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise up." That this should be as "frontlets before our eyes." (Paraphrase of Deuteronomy 5:7-8). This means not just reading the Bible, but demonstrating how the gospel changes us, shapes our thinking, how it guides our thoughts and actions. This also means we should glory in His creation, wonder at His complexity and logic in the way he fashioned the universe, and how He shaped and guided history. It also means preparing our children to be released into the world as adults who can not only get and keep a job, but who have been equipped for the life God has called them to; to be able to stand firm against all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Once I came to this understanding of our jobs as parents (a little later than my husband who had obviously arrived here well before me), I realized that my earlier reason for not wanting to send the kids to government school was incomplete. Rather than just not wanting to expose them to all the bad stuff, I looked at it from a different angle. If the above is our goal as parents, is sending them to government school going to help us toward this? Will it keep the Scriptures as frontlets before their eyes? Will the government schools teach them about the wonder of creation? Will they teach that the laws of physics and chemistry are the works of an infinitely intelligent creator? Will they teach history in light of His plan of salvation for men from before the foundation of the world? When our children graduated from high school, would they be prepared to enter the world with a heart wholeheartedly given to the Lord? Would the government schools strengthen their faith?

These are sobering questions for any Christian parent to consider, and our answers cemented our course away from government schools. More about our journey in part 3!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How it all started, part 1

As I have been looking over the past school year and gearing up for the next one, I am amazed anew at the journey that we have been on for the past 6 years. Yes, we have just completed our sixth year of homeschooling! This has been an amazing blessing for us, but it is one that I didn't see that way at first.

When Kora was 1.5 years old to about 2 years old, Kelly and I started talking about options for her formal education. We were living in Oklahoma City at the time, on Tinker Air Force Base. Kelly was a lieutenant in the AF and we weren't sure where our future homes would be. What we did know was neither one of us thought we should send her or any other children we might have to public, or government, school.

At first this was a reactionary decision. Actually decision is probably the wrong word, because it was never an option for us. But we knew what the schools were like when we went through them, how we were taught so many things that went against what the Bible, our parents, and our churches taught us. We knew what the social atmosphere was like, and had seen the double life so many "Christian" kids - including ourselves at times, we admit - often led as we were torn in two from the completely different values and expectations we lived with: one at home and at church, and one at school and with friends.

The stereotypical homeschooling family is one in which the mother wants to homeschool, and the father has to be convinced. However, this is the exact opposite of how it came about in our house. From our earliest conversations, Kelly said he wanted us (read ME, I thought) to homeschool the kids. I balked. I was voting for a private Christian school. I was pleading for Christian school. I tried every way I could think of to figure out a way to pay for it and talk Kelly into it. After all, we only knew one family who homeschooled. I was completely unfamiliar with it, and just knew it would just mean more work for me. And after all, didn't everyone send their kids off during the day?

Besides, I was a very unlikely candidate to be a homeschooler. I excelled at the academics in school. To this day I still miss college. :) I thrived on the competition for grades, scholarships, and awards. Wasn't that what school was all about?

Well, I'll have to continue with how God brought us to this point in a later post.

Parenting Rule #248

For however many days a mom is sick, it takes twice as many days as that to catch up. So if I am sick and laying on the sofa for 2 days like last week, it takes 4 days to fully catch up.

I don't know how you moms who have had to be on bed rest have done it.