Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Ahh the follow-up . . .

I don’t often circle back around to my own blog posts. I figure I’ve said my piece and I, along with my life, have moved on. But after reading THIS little gem today, I decided I had to revisit my previous post lamenting my lack of order amid the chaos of our homeschool days when “interruptions” come to call.  So while I can’t take credit for the unraveling of these truths, it was too valuable to my journey here not to re-post. I often find exactly what I need to read on this particular blog, so I try to visit it at least once a week to see what’s new. I’ve included a link for anyone else who’d like to check it out and add it to their reading rotation.

HOTM-online-header2011

For anyone else struggling to find order in the chaos, I suggest copying and posting this C.S. Lewis quote someplace highly visible – or at least someplace you’ll see it when the roof seems to be caving in on your plans . . .

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”

— C.S. Lewis

P.S. Happy New Year!


The Half-Way Mark

Do you see the end? Me either!

If I compare this one-year journey to a marathon,  I suppose I am officially “half-way” through.  I’ve just finalized our 2nd quarter grades. I’ve printed them (A’s =  free doughnuts, YO!), filed them (for my OCD), logged them at our online reporting site (because I’m required to) and NOW I’m ready to move on with Christmas crafts, holiday baking, and enjoying this season with my kids!

But honestly? If I had to look at our days and number them according to the yearly planner I have on my desktop, I think I would lose it! Why? Because I’m just now realizing this journey isn’t half-way through. It isn’t even half-way begun! For real! At what point does a parent look at their child and say to themselves, “I’m officially half-way finished with raising you”? Is it 9? I mean, technically, 18 is adult enough to vote, go to college, consume alcohol in a variety of states . . . I’ve heard. Or how about 10 1/2 – my newly 10 year old would probably love that! Wow, she’s half-way to 20! Yet the idea of thinking or saying that to my 8 or 10 year old is preposterous and inconceivable!

So instead,  I sit and ponder what the meaning of “half-way” for us really is. Does it make me any closer to defining the length of this journey? I don’t  think it does – at least not in the concrete terms I assumed it would by this date. “People” (you know, the ubiquitous ones who comment on everything and nothing inside your head?) all told me I’d feel a certain way by Christmastime. Instead, I find myself wondering how I could ever begin to put a date on this experience? How do I possibly determine the end of something that I feel like I was called to be to my babies all along (and just didn’t realize the seasonal and practical out-working of it until this year)?

These thoughts don’t necessarily translate to never putting our children back into a traditional, Christian school environment. It just means that homeschooling has evolved into far more than the “schooling” experience  I was prepared for . . . and for which I subsequently prepared the children! I feel like I’ve just recently gotten a hold of the super-secret homeschooler’s dictionary,  and I’m finally able to define terms I never understood before! I’m grasping the concept of “lifestyle” and not “school at home”. I’m living vicariously through my more “relaxed” and seasoned homeschooling mama friends, and taking mental notes for “next year” without even realizing I’ve just run smack past the finish-line of this imaginary race!!

So, no. I’m really not half-way to anything. Well, we might be half-way to summer break . . . then again, we might not! We might even take a walk on the wild-side and jump off the “year-round schooling” ledge while we’re at it! Why not? I grew up schooling like that, half a world away in the pacific where it’s actually the norm and not nearly as renegade an idea as it seems to be here above the equator. I’m not saying we will school year-round, but the freedom that comes from removing my finish line I think is what we all needed to do at the end of this calendar year.

It’s kind of a big step for me. At the beginning of this process I was panic-stricken about even committing to a WHOLE YEAR!!  What if I irreparably damaged my kids before then and they didn’t want to live here let alone attend school here any more?!?!  But as you can see, I’m firmly off that ledge. For now. At least until I start looking at curriculum options for next year. (Then I begin to open and close my mouth in imitation of a goldfish gasping in air.)

But, if it’s any consolation – and it was for me – my 10 year old recently asked a high-schooler at the dance studio what curriculum she was using for science, I suppose because the book the student was holding looked interesting. Unfortunately, the high-schooler couldn’t tell her. Instead she looked confused and asked my sweet E, “What’s a curriculum??”

I tried not to laugh when she told me, and casually suggested she might want to try the word “text-book” next time.

PS Merry Christmas, Everyone!!

Homeschooling ROCKS - it's true, even if I made them do this!

Just kidding . . . here you go for realz this time!

3smalltree

Blood, Candy, and Other Related Subjects

I need to take a moment to thank the BTDT (been there, done that) homeschooling moms who recommended we look into Apologia Science for our kids this year. It has been the most wonderful journey for all of us!

Still,  I remember wondering after the first few days if we’d made a horrible mistake! This book was NOTHING like our previous science books and we’d had plenty of them! The only science our kids took prior to this year was Abeka, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, we knew we needed to change things up a little this year for homeschooling, based on a request from our rising 6th grader.The science-y part of what we learned . . .

After we settled on Anatomy and the book arrived,  I was very concerned that it would be WAY more than our 2nd grade student could handle and WAY more in-depth than our 6th grader would care for (given anatomy isn’t her fave to begin with!) – BUT it has turned out to be nothing short of a perfect fit for all of us!

Each chapter covers some aspect of the human body. So far we’ve studied cells, the skeletal system, the muscular system, the digestive system, nutrition & vitamins, the respiratory system and last week, BLOOD! This format changes things up enough to keep everyone interested, but it’s thorough enough that I don’t feel like we’re just skimming the surface of these very important subjects. To say I can’t wait to order and teach the rest of this series would be an understatement. We don’t know what the Lord has for us in the years ahead, but suffice to say, if He continues to lead us to homeschool our children, Apologia Science will be a staple! Did I mention that science has never really been my favorite subject? I don’t mind it, but I tend to glaze over when things get *too* scientific and I cap out at about 2 hours of wandering around the various Science Centers we’ve visited as a family. (Which just makes it all the more miraculous that I enjoy teaching this subject to our kids!)

Anyway, when we came to the chapter on BLOOD, we were especially excited for 2 reasons –

1. The kids have always wanted to know their blood types

and

2. Since my Dad is the manager of our community Blood Bank, we knew a field trip would be in order!

Here are some pictures from our recent adventures . . .

First we had to make a model of blood, because who doesn’t love a good edible model? We included the 4 components: Plasma (corn syrup), Red Blood Cells (red jelly bellies or cinnamon red hots), White Blood Cells (we used a white tootsie roll since you’re supposed to show that it’s larger than the red cells), and Platelets (candy sprinkles!).

Mmmm, blood!

Who knew all 3 would be so excited about making blood??

Later in our study we took the kids on a tour of their local blood bank. Here they learned how the blood bank separates blood into the 4 necessary components, and how they store them for transportation to local hospitals. Everyone also had blood typing done – turns out all 3 have the same blood type! A special shout out goes to the retired science teacher turned lab technician who graciously included our kids in his work. They learned so much!

Getting a lesson in how to separate the red cells

Examining the bags to be sure no plasma or white cells got in!

Putting the newly separated plasma into the blast freezer!

The 'girl with the purple gloves' is ready to tell Ems her blood type!

It was the perfect end to a very interesting science chapter and yet again reinforces why I’m so happy we chose this curriculum (and this lifestyle) for our family this school year! Thanks to all the participants who made this lesson possible. 🙂 Not only do we know all our blood types now, but the kids have an increased awareness for the need to donate blood (when they’re old enough) and what happens to it when they do!

For anyone in Florida, Georgia or Alabama interested in donating blood or learning how to host a blood drive, click on the Life South logo below to locate your nearest Life South Community Blood Center!

Unlocking the ‘Mommy Guilt’ Code

I never knew there was a choice!

I don’t make New year’s Resolutions. As one friend of mine so eloquently put it – “Why should I set myself up for one more opportunity to fail?” I think we’ve all felt like this at one time or another. I felt like that last year. In lieu of resolutions, however, another friend of mine revealed that each year she selects a word, just a single word, to represent what she is hoping to focus on in the coming 365 days.

ONE word? As a writer, I wondered how on earth I would ever do that? (Which was the key, really, because it meant the gauntlet had officially been thrown down – by me – and I had to do it.)

I sat down and discussed it at length with my better half. We both came up with words for the year. His word apparently scared me so much that I didn’t write it down. Anywhere.  (No doubt it was “CHANGE” and not in the presidential way. 😉 Because we all know how I feel about that word.) After much pondering, I went with “Deliberate” for my word in 2011.

Here is what I had to say about my selection on the day that I came up with it:

My word for 2011 is going to be “Deliberate” – as in, on purpose, intentional – particularly as it pertains to parenting and my routine here in the home. My goal is to avoid the “accidental parenting” that happens when I fall into patterns I don’t even especially like but are easy and familiar. I want to seize the opportunities presented to me by my children in these current ages and stages in an effort to minimize any regrets later that I “missed” so much of this or that. I’m sure I’ll still be able to think of plenty of things I could’ve done differently when I’m 50 and reviewing these early parenting years, but my goal is to be present and engaged and, well, deliberate.

Here is the irony of this whole process – I have not thought about my word from that day to this. In fact, if another friend hadn’t brought up HER word for the year earlier this week, I probably wouldn’t have even remembered it again before next January! (Yes, another PRIME example of why I don’t make resolutions. But anyway  . . . ) I looked up my word and was stunned to see how closely it aligned with the parenting decisions we’ve made this year – most notably our decision to homeschool – although in making these decisions, I can honestly say that I never even considered the word. So, apparently it played no part at all in my “deliberate” parenting other than being the initial articulation of something I’ve had stirring in me as a mommy for several years now.

Can I please read the clif notes instead?The thing is, as parents, we find so many opportunities to beat ourselves up. We continually feel we are making the wrong decision, even when 5 seconds before we were confident it was the absolute right one. I’m not sure why this is, but after 11 years of parenting, I learned to refer to it, without affection, as an undeniable case of “mommy guilt” that cropped up anytime I least needed it to.  All difficult parenting decisions came with a nice , warm cup of it, and any awkward conversations with my tween, her teacher or a fellow parent had the potential to further convince me that I was NOT making the grade in this Parenting 101 class.

However, in the days I have spent homeschooling this year (all 60-whatever of them, so don’t be thinking I know what I’m doing or anything) I think I’ve finally determined why I was so quick to feel like I had the words “epic fail” stamped on many of my parenting missteps.  Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling comes with it’s own, built-in fail-o-meter, and it’s a HUGE one. Fail at this, and you can potentially ruin your kid’s chance at getting into a good college, being successful or worse yet, being a productive member of society! Umm yeah, no pressure.  So why is it that I’m feeling far less guilty these days than I did last year. The year that prompted me to select DELIBERATE as my word for the parenting days ahead? I think it’s because it isn’t the act of failing that makes us feel like we’re not making the grade. It’s the times we wonder if we’ve done enough. Otherwise identifiable as the fear, regret, guilt cycle. Did we really put all our effort into that conversation, decision, project, study session, etc etc etc? Did we? (FEAR)  We decide we did not (typically when we make all our sound mommy decisions, circa. 1am), enter REGRET. Finally we are engulfed yet again by the ubiquitous and inevitable MOMMY GUILT. *Ugh!*

No. This lifestyle isn’t a perfect cure-all for the modern mommy guilt. I don’t want to portray that myth and add to the guilt! Yes. There are definitely days I’m almost comatose by 4pm just as it’s time to take everyone to swim, dance, soccer etc. HOWEVER, there are far MORE days when I am finally satisfied with the effort I’ve put in to my day with our kids.  I don’t lie awake at night anymore wondering if I’ll regret saying “no” to that last bed time story. Instead, I remember that I said YES to several other opportunities to make memories today – including reading aloud from a variety of books. I now plan our time together – I am deliberate in creating the moments we will spend in each others company. We will take trips just for fun. We will spend time reading. We will bake together (and clean the kitchen)! We will take walks to enjoy the sunshine and bundle up when we realize it’s really freezing cold instead! We will  have a range of discussions on every subject – scheduled and unscheduled – because we simply have more TIME together.

Taking time to smell the roses - or wildflowers in this case

I wish I had known, for the last 11 years, that what I really needed to do to relieve myself of heaping amounts of mommy-guilt, was just to say NO to the pressures around me, and take more TIME tending to the things I constantly felt like I could be doing better . . . instead of habitually feeling like I didn’t have enough quality time or questioning if we were spending it the way we *should*  (who decides that anyway?!).

Yes, we took family trips before. Yes, we ate dinner together as a family most nights. Yes, we sat on the ends of our kids’ beds at night while they discussed their day or their friends or their homework. Yes, we cheered them on at their soccer games and swim meets. Somehow it still didn’t feel like enough to me.

And that’s how I can quantify this decision to be more deliberate. Because now I feel it’s enough. I feel like they finally SEE the effort and care that I want them to know we put into this endeavor. Into THEM, not just their education. I’m not saying at 11, 9, and 8 I expect them to really “get” it, or even articulate their appreciation for it, but I know that they see it. And that’s finally ENOUGH for me as a parent.

I didn’t realize that my desire to be more deliberate was really synonymous with homeschooling – but that’s exactly how it has played out for me.

I guess it means I need to be more aware of whatever word I select for 2012?!

You have not because you ask not . . .

Because the sky is no longer the limit - for small boys OR astronauts!I have decided that small boys are like little sponges. They will soak up whatever information you give to them – good, bad, or indifferent! In addition, I’ve realized that they will also give you ONLY what you ask for. They will not attempt to exceed the bounds of whatever task you assign. They do not typically seek ways to over-achieve, but they will work hard to deliver exactly what you have asked for . . . hmmmm.

Applying this theory in our homeschool has been interesting. For example, if I expect my small boy to write neatly (knowing he is mechanically capable of doing so), then he will. If I let it slide when he writes with less care, he will continue to do so until I remind him that sloppy letters are not an option, at which point he sheepishly corrects the sloppy letters and reverts to his beautiful (and apparently time-consuming) printing method instead.

2 weeks ago, before Fall Break, I asked each student to select someone they wanted to learn more about. I got the idea from another homeschooling blog I read – the report is called “Person I Admire” and it gives me the chance to fine tune their writing skills (including addressing things like writing an outline, bibliographies, note cards, and rough drafts etc where needed) and provides the opportunity to do an oral presentation (costumes + our kids = a win!).  Spencer decided he wanted to do his report about the first man to walk on the moon. I selected some readers in his level from our local library, and he has spent 2 weeks absorbing all sorts of knowledge about Neil Armstrong.

I modeled the requirements for our written work on a similar assignment students are typically given at our previous school, with one notable exception – 2nd graders are not assigned this report. They are not expected to write anything of this length until closer to 3rd grade. But why not? I wasn’t sure how to go about this with a 2nd grader, but I decided we’d never know if I didn’t try . . .  so I just typed up my expectations, printed them out and handed them to him. He looked at the guidelines, asked a few questions, and simply accepted that this was normal. Aren’t all 2nd graders writing a one page paper on a person they admire and then completing an oral report in costume? No? Well, never mind, he is! Why? Because I asked him to.  😉

I'm not planning to have him write the report in Cuneiform - but apparently he could!

Today we sat down and discussed his outline. I explained that it was like a plan and I wanted him to have one so that he knew where his report was going and how he would get there. This apparently made sense to him. We talked about rough and final drafts.  I told him I didn’t expect it to be perfect because we would be making corrections together before his final draft. He knows to look up any words he is unsure of how to spell in our Scholastic Children’s Dictionary. I had to help him find the word “exciting” – and then tell him the word he actually needed for his sentence was “excited” (LOL) – but other than that, this small boy just turned out a complete paragraph about the early life of Neil Armstrong.

Oh. My. Word. Can I just take a moment here?? Who knew 8 year olds could do this??

Tomorrow I’ll have him write about his early career and the next day we’ll tackle achievements and accomplishments. The final day will be a paragraph on how this person has inspired him. ( I admit, I can’t wait to see what that paragraph looks like!)

So, now that the cat is out of the bag, it leaves me wondering . . . what else should I throw out there for my small boy to tackle?! I feel like this is a bit of a guessing game – “guess the student’s potential” – and it leaves me scratching my head a little. What else is he fully capable of and yet no one knows simply because no one has ever asked him to try? I was planning on beginning our times tables after Christmas . . . now I’m not so sure, maybe we’ll pull out the Schoolhouse Rock DVDs around Thanksgiving and get a head start. 😉

Of course, I do plan to check the report for accuracy . . .

It’s not you, it’s the other idiots!

Here is a slightly blonder visual aid of my weekWhen I was learning to drive, my cool, calm and collected drive instructor (a.k.a Dad) told me the most valuable piece of driving information. He informed me in no uncertain terms that he was in fact not worried about whether or not I would be a good driver, because (and I quote): “It’s the other idiots on the road you need to worry about!” And so began my illustrious first driving lesson that ended with me running over a snake sunning itself in the road, almost hitting a mailbox in my attempt to avoid the snake, and finally returning home with a solemn vow to enlist the aid of public transit to get anywhere I needed in life as I would almost certainly never again be behind the wheel of a car.

Of course I moved past that disastrous first attempt and went on to become a very conscientious driver, but the message of that day has stayed with me. Sometimes the things that cause the most trouble in your life (or day) are the other drivers – and unfortunately, there’s not much to be done about them.

Today was one of those days.

Wow. I missed this gem in my training all those years ago.

Without getting into specifics, I will say that the drama in our homeschooling adventures these past 2 days has had almost nothing to do with the students in my house (almost). Instead we have fallen victim to the distractions that present themselves in the form of frustrating phone calls that MUST be made during bankers (aka schooling) hours, frustrating letters that generate these phone calls, having to retell your tale more than once and receive multiple call backs with conflicting instructions on how to resolve the issues, and an overwhelming lack of SERVICE of any kind!

I spoke to more than one of these peeps today.

Now while I don’t allow my children to use the descriptive word in my title, I can honestly say that my vocabulary choices today are a reflection of the fact that I’ve had it. Plain and simple. I’ve had it with the lack of customer service in almost every area of my life. I’m just plain OVER it. Oh, and if I could go back in time and tell myself what I’ve learned over these past few weeks of homeschooling it would have nothing to do with school and everything to do with Home Management 101. You see, B.H. (Before Homeschooling) I was a fairly organized Home CEO. I menu planned, grocery shopped with coupons, kept a detailed budget spreadsheet, handled all Dr. appointments, service calls, mail and bills, made sure all the floors were cleaned, the tables and other surfaces regularly sanitized and the washing was done on time.

Enter homeschooling.

Now while I’ve managed to keep up with pretty much everything on this list, I’ll confess there is ONE set of recurring issues that I just can’t seem to manage. Because it can’t be done!  And the reason it is literally impossible to manage, is because while I can anticipate needs and bills, thus budgeting my time and money accordingly, I cannot possibly anticipate the inane conversations between myself and the creditors, lenders, repair personnel, bankers, or customer service representatives I have to deal with nationwide. No. That is an impossible feat. However, if I could bottle and sell the secret to managing this enormous time-waster in my day, I’d be a wealthy homeschooling mom, because surely Every. Single. Homeschool Family on this PLANET has to be feeling my pain here?!

These things that used to be an annoying blip on the radar of my day, are now cataclysmic cyclones that blow through our time together,  derailing schedules, lesson plans, and reading assignments, leaving a trail of  frustration in their wake! They represent the tyranny of the urgent and I can’t get rid of them even if I wanted to. Why? Because do you have any idea at all how much research it takes to fire your bank? Turns out it’s HOURS and HOURS!

So tomorrow, I’ve vowed I’m not picking up the phone. If I can help it.  Because the alternative is frankly too demoralizing to consider!!

My day on the phone x 180 = No graduation. No pressure!

Who likes Fractions?

Half Man, Half Lion . . . All Myth (and apparently part-time superhero!)

So we’ve officially made it 1/6 of the way through our experimental year of homeschooling. The early start we got in August means we’ve now completed 31 days (of the required 180).

I decided to take a poll at the dinner table tonight because I thought it would be interesting to see how (if at all) everyone’s perspectives and opinions will change throughout the year.

The conversation went like this . . .

M: So, we’re 1/6 of the way through our school year! Can you believe it?

Kids: YAY!

M: How does everyone feel about homeschooling now?

Kids: Umm. Great? (I think perhaps they thought this was a trick question?)

M: OK. So who thinks they might want to go back to (insert name of previous school) next ye. . .

(interrupted by yelling)

Kids: NOOOOOOO!!!!

Well then. I guess our 1/6 of the way through the school year update is that 3/3 of our student body has 0/3 desire to go back to regular school next year. I wonder how they will feel about that closer to Christmas? Or Spring Break? Or Summer? I guess time will tell!

I admit their adamant and unanimous reactions made me very curious about their reasons! So, I did ask why they felt this way.  I received a cacophony of reasons, basically boiling down to the same issue . . .  that (previous school) was too hard.  Hahahaha! (Do what???!!)

Now, I’m especially baffled by this because we are doing almost the exact curriculum as their school counterparts this year (yes, I admit it, I was too gun-shy to veer too far off the beaten path with our curriculum choices).  I pointed this fact out, along with the newsflash that they are actually doing MORE work right now because we have extra time for me to add in subjects they wouldn’t be taking at school right now – like creative writing, art, piano, current events, Lego (yes, that’s right), drama, and coming soon, typing and French – but no matter! They are convinced that this is easier, so for now I’m going to let it slide! It certainly plays to my advantage!! 😉

Or maybe they just feel that way because we did this before school this morning?

Early Morning PE anyone?

Or because they are currently curled up on the couch in their PJs watching “Chicken Run” and eating fudgesicles, instead of racing around getting homework finished or going to bed early for “school” tomorrow?

Either way, it works for right now. Which means so far, 1/6 of the year has been a success.

The Grass isn’t Greener

Same grass and plenty of it!

I heard a quote recently that made me smile:

“The grass on the other side of the fence might be greener but it still has to be mowed!”

I love this! It sums up a lot of my sentiments on homeschooling and life in general, lately. In order to examine it, I think it’s important to note that we didn’t “jump ship” because the grass on our side of the fence WASN’T green. It was. It was very green and we liked it! We miss our friends from our former school a lot. I mean A WHOLE LOT. The only issue with the grass on the other side of our fence, was that our family never had any time to enjoy it.

So if anyone were to ask me, “is the grass is greener for you now?” Well, it would be a complicated answer, because in many ways we feel that it is. We have more opportunities to enjoy spending time as a family. However,  I would never want the illusion to be that homeschooling is the ‘cure for all that ails the modern family (over) schedule . . .’ because it isn’t! The grass on this side of the fence does indeed require mowing. Lots and LOTS of mowing. But the truth is, I feel like a greater number of families shy away from homeschooling because they are far more in tune with the amount of mowing required (or their perception of the mowing schedule) than they are with how green the grass is.

In some ways it’s like deciding to avoid having babies because you don’t want to change all those diapers (I know, there I go with the baby analogies again! I’ve had 3, what can I say?) –  few people would really do that!! Why? Because they see the bigger picture. They are excited about the little LIFE they could bring into the world! Diapers pale into insignificance beside that, right? But it’s still the reason I’ll spend more time blogging about the grass and less time blogging about the mowing. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s as much of a surprise to me as it is to anyone else!

I may not have shied away from having babies, but I came perilously close to ignoring all my instincts and going with the grass I already knew. Sticking with the safe, green grass on my current side of the fence.  I’m happy we didn’t. I’m happy to be mowing the grass on this side of the fence for now. But it doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally look over the fence at my peeps over the there and wonder how they’re enjoying their grass.  I miss them. But we’re happy.

C'mon over! Enjoy the grass and drink my kool-aid while you're at it!

**OH, and my caveat for today is this: I realize this isn’t a “one size fits most” situation because no matter how much you like green grass or are willing to mow it, homeschooling is not a choice that everyone is able to make for reasons ranging from employment constraints to paralyzing fear of failure and everything in between. I’m just holding out the truth as we’re seeing it for the first time from this side . . .

What Every Parent Wants to Hear

As parents we often question the decisions we make. Homeschooling has been a pretty epic example of this in action. From the hours we spent debating, praying, and wondering about whether we could, would, should take this journey, to the even more hours we spent researching, planning, discussing, and paying for the year ahead of us, I have questioned every. single. step. of the way if this was right!

BUT

Today my middle red-head was engrossed in her art project and humming along to a praise CD we had playing in the background . . . suddenly, as if the thought had surprised her, she lifted her head up, looked around and sighed, “I’m just totally content right now.”

Um. WOW.

Can I rewind that and just play it over and over in my head for all those days when I wonder if I’m parenting her in the way she needs, making the right choices for her, showing her enough love, security, boundaries etc etc etc?

I think God speaks through children in many situations. Today he used my daughter to tell me “Good job, Mommy. You’re checking the right boxes for me right now.”

Thanks, God. I’ll take it!

(Oh, and then I took a few pictures to remind myself of the moment whenever the next time is that I REALLY need to be reminded of it!!) 😉

Filling her 'love-o-meter' apparently involves glue and paper (no surprise!)

OMG, it’s a Butterfly Paci!

How will my life ever be complete without one??

When I was about 11 (hundred) months pregnant with our first baby, we were sitting in a church service behind a young couple holding their sweet, 3-month old baby girl. The baby was sleeping soundly on her mother’s shoulder . . . that’s when I saw it. The Butterfly Paci. I turned to my husband and lost my mind. LOST IT. BURST into tears.  We walked out the back of the church where he attempted to console me but I could tell he had NO idea why I was so devastated. I finally managed to choke out that I was hysterical because the baby in front of us had a Butterfly paci. He looked even more stricken.  He really WANTED to get this, but it wasn’t happening. You see, in my head, how could I ever be a decent parent if I didn’t even know such a paci existed, let alone where to purchase one, and forget it! It was too late! We didn’t have one yet and I was due ANY DAY!!! *More tears*

If I’d understood then how much drama our wonderful girls would bring into our lives naturally, I might have tried harder to contain myself and reserve some energy. But as it stood (oh and blah blah blah, hormones etc etc), I was inconsolable. Somehow, in-spite of this epic lack, we managed to successfully raise  3 children past infancy with OUT a butterfly paci. Shocker.

Homeschooling doesn't come with handy signs like this!

I only recently remembered this ridiculous turn of events when I was reading another homeschooling mom’s blog. I do this far more than I should. I think it’s an attempt to connect with other moms in the “same boat” as me. The problem is, they aren’t in MY boat. No. They’re in their own boat – a far more seasoned, advance model, with ALL the answers (or so I tell myself). However, one of the most helpful blogs I’ve read recently (scroll down to Sat. August 11) stressed the concept of NOT trying to compare your homeschooling journey to anyone else’s (or their boat).  She referenced a popular idiom from the Appalachian Trail that says to: Hike Your Own Hike “It  . . . means simply, follow your own path, in your own way, at your own pace.” I wish all blogs came with this in big CAUTION-STYLE lettering at the top of each post because I apparently need to be reminded of this. Daily.

You see, had I been reminded of this (or even known about it!) during the infamous Butterfly Paci-spotting incident, I might have been able to apply some perspective. Instead, 11 years later, I’m now attempting to apply this perspective to our homeschooling journey. Specifically with regards to curriculum. It’s no secret that I found the curriculum-selection process overwhelming, daunting, etc etc etc (insert dramatic word of choice) . . . but the reason I found it so, was because I was totally convinced that it was out there. The Butterfly Paci of curriculum! The one I WOULDN’T KNOW EXISTED until it was too late for me to choose it! And because I didn’t know about it, our kids would somehow be stunted in their educational development, or I’d be a horrible teacher or or or?

I should be clear – I’m fairly confident both of these options are still possible! However, I’m choosing to believe they are not tied to my curriculum selection and thus this phobia can only increase my prayer-life. Why? Because no matter what I select, it can be changed! I can do this because *I* am now calling the shots. I’m the mother, the teacher, the curriculum advisory committee – all me. Yes, I have help (thank GOD, I have help!), but I can do something about it if I feel it’s somehow not meeting our needs, or if I feel there is something that would serve us better. The key is to not be too quick to jump ship.  a.) Because that would be expensive and b.) Because my kids might never graduate to the next grade level if I never actually finish teaching them something!

So as I comb through the internet I’m going to refrain from googling every new curriculum choice I come across in the plethora of homeschooling blogs out there. I’m going to try to remember one of the BEST pieces of advice I’ve heard along this road so far. I’m going to attempt to just HIKE MY OWN HIKE.