Monday, May 30, 2011

That Time of Year

It's that time of year.  The weather is getting warmer, we have been working in the same books, doing the same thing (routine, it's useful, right?), and the homeschool convention is right around the corner.  It's a restless time of year for me.   My mind begins to wander to what we will do next year.  I try not to take it for granted that we will be doing the same thing each year.  The boys change and grow, as do I.  I try to make sure that we do what will work for all of us.  The first thing I do is seek the Lord.  He has never failed me yet in guiding me to what works well for us.  I also check out what others are doing, how it works for them, and how they work it out in their family.  Maybe it will work for us, too.   The thing is, there is soooo much stuff out there.  And much of it is good stuff.  I have been homeschooling for how long? and I still get overwhelmed sometimes.  I just don't want to miss anything.  I don't want there to be gaps in the boys' learning.  But you know what?  The best piece of advice regarding gaps in instruction I received is from Jessica Hulcy.  She is the co-creator of KONOS curriculum-more good stuff.  She was at our homeschool convention one year, probably the second one we went to.  She told everyone, "Write this down."  She waited for everyone to get a pen or pencil.  When we were all ready she said, "There will be gaps.  You can't avoid it.  But you know what?  The public school will have gaps, too."  That was such a relief.  And I cling to it.  When I get that "Oh my gosh what if I'm missing something" feeling.  I remember that.  And I am able to function again.  And then I get on with the business of figuring out what we are going to do and try to stick to it without becoming overwhelmed with curriculum and online classes and co-ops and online freebies and...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

What a wonderful day.  I know that this day is a boon for Hallmark, but it is a joy that my family takes it seriously.  My husband and sons made my day.  Not because of the gifts, though there were some of those, even a handmade one.  Not because of the sentimental cards, though there were a couple of those (leave it to J. to keep the mood light).  No, today was made because of the leadership of my husband to take the Hallmark holiday and use it to guide my sons in honoring me.  It isn't that my sons are lunks and need to be told to be nice to me.  They aren't.  It is just that my husband takes the time to use this day to remind my boys to honor their mother as the Lord commands.  And they see him loving his wife as the Lord commands.  It is a wonderful example he sets and one that my sons are blessed to have.  Thank you, Sweetie!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Homeschool Isn't Just For Kids Anymore

So, I'm learning to sew.  I feel so Laura Ingalls.  My mom is a great sewer.  She and my grandmother made my sister's wedding dress.  If I had a picture I'd show you, but I don't.  You will just have to take my word for it that it was intricate and beautiful work.  My mom can make almost anything.  She can make patterns out of newspaper, and outfits out of nothing.  Thing is, she isn't, or wasn't, always the best instructor of her children.  Sorry mom.  I kicked her out of the car when I was learning to drive a stick.  I survived.  Went on to teach my future husband how to drive a stick.  (Say, maybe I've been homeschooling longer than I think)  Anyways, she is a good sewer but I haven't really taken advantage of her skills until recently.

I have been interested in sewing for a long time.  Even went out and bought material and patterns, with mom's help.  Never did anything about it until a few weeks ago.  Mom had brought me a sewing machine, showed me how to use it and said "Go."  Well, it sat around for a while, until one day I decided "I'm going to make a skirt."  How hard could it be?

I opened up the pattern, looked at the directions, realized I had gained a few pounds and no longer had the right size.  That was the first call.  I only called her 5 more times over the next 2 hours.  One week later and several calls later (diminishing in number as the days went on) I completed the skirt.  Well, mostly.  I couldn't hem it because in my "adjusting" the pattern I went a little crooked at the bottom.  Definitely needed an expert to fix that.  It looks pretty good.  I don't have a picture (yet) so you'll have to trust me again, but my husband did let me wear it to church on Easter.  Figure it couldn't have been that bad, right?

All this to say, homeschooling isn't just for kids.  Learning isn't just for kids.  We all keep learning new things.  I have learned that I am not that great of a sewer, but I enjoy it and plan on getting better at it.  (I have made two more skirts and am currently working on a dress.  Sleeves!!!!)  I hope my kids see me continuing to learn and realize that "school" is never done, and I hope I will always be able to help them learn as my mom is helping me now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Of Worms and Fellowship

Well.  We made it.  Our first dissection is over.  J. and three fellow travelers of Biology 1 had the joy of dissecting worms yesterday.  I participated as little as possible. You know, so they could have the full educational experience of participating and not just watching.  Had nothing to do with me being totally creeped out.  I find that as I grow older I grow more squeamish.  Oh well.  They all did a great job, and the little ones who were around found the process fascinating and not at all creepy.  J. asked why they had to dissect things and I answered that they would better understand the creativity and ingeniousness (that a word?) of the Lord.  He wasn't quite convined.  The whole dissection thing was made easier to deal with because of the fellowship J. and his three friends had before and after.  A good time had by all.  And no, I didn't take pictures.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Of Visits and Friends

There are friends for a season and friends for all seasons.  We just had a visit from the latter.  Julia and I met at a La Leche League meeting when J. was 8 months and her daughter K. was 4 months.  We sat next to each other on the floor and our children drooled all over each other and each other's toys.  They would literally pull a toy out of the other's hand/mouth and put it in their own.  Quite cute.  Julia and I assured each other repeatedly that our children weren't sick.  A beautiful friendship started that evening.  Our children loved playing with each other and Julia and I, well the Lord blessed me mightily by bringing Julia into my life.
 In  2004 (that long ago?!) Julia and her family moved back to New York, where they were from originally.  We have been out to see them every couple of years and keep in touch via phone and email.  I am happy to say that there is never that awkward reacquainting time.  She and I pick up where we left off and so do the kids. They were back recently for a funeral for a very close friend, and we were happy to be able to see them for a brief time.
Ours and our friends from New York
We have been blessed with good friends since we began homeschooling.  Some have been for a season and some have become friends for all seasons.  It was a concern when we began since J. was leaving Christian school and a class of friends he had known since kindergarten.  I am happy to report, as is he, that the friends he has made since homeschooling have been true friends.  There is no pressure by the friends to conform to some arbitrary, worldly expectation.  Instead each is appreciated for their different gifts and talents and they are encouraging of one another.  I know this sounds Pollyannaish, but that is what we have found in our lives.  And we are blessed and I am grateful.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Again least it hasn't been several years.  We are still homeschooling along.  This is J.'s first year of high school.  It is, he told me, his best and favorite year.  Should I be offended?  Because he is essentially teaching himself.  We meet occasionally and talk over what he is learning.  I grade his work (OK not always that day) so I know where he's at.  That is one major benefit of homeschooling:  I get to watch my boys begin to take ownership of their learning.  I see them want to learn something so they do.  I see them begin to understand that this is what they are called to do now, so they are prepared to do what He calls them to do later.  At least that is what I keep telling them.  And they are beginning to understand.  And it is a true joy to watch.

J. himself, taking a break                                                            

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It is hard not to be distracted.  There are so many opportunities to go places and do things as a homeschooler.  It amazes me that people can still ask about socialization when so many homeschoolers are out and about taking advantage of the places to go and things to do.  We are no exception.  We have a wonderful community of fellow homeschoolers who offer friendship and field trip company.  I have to learn to keep a balance, though.  Pray for me.

There are two things we do that I don't have any qualms about.  One is a homeschool gym class.  Once a week my boys are able to take a class with a very good teacher who does fitness, skills and fun with the kids.  They get structured physical fitness time and an opportunity to fellowship with other kids.  My favorite thing about the class is seeing the biggest, 15 year old paired with the smallest 5 year old.  The care the big guy takes with the little one melts my heart.  They are required to run at the beginning of class.  It is a delight to see the big guy come jogging up to the little one, who is walking by now, bend down, put his hands on the little guy's shoulders, say something encouraging and see the little one smile and take off after the big guy.  Lest you think I'm bragging, it is not my big guy I'm talking about.  But the great thing is all the kids have an opportunity to interact with kids of different ages, levels and abilities.  What an opportunity to become prepared for the "real world" when you don't just deal with people of your own age.

The other thing I don't have a qualm about is Discovery Days.  Once a month, we meet with other homeschoolers for coop.  Currently, we study a different topic each month.  The kids in age groups (K-1, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8, high school) and the parents take turns teaching.  The boys like being with their friends, and so do I.  It's nice learning about topics other than what we are studying at the moment.  Adds a little spice to our learning adventure.  Since I only have two, it gives J. and D. experience with learning with others in the mix.  Oh, it's just fun.  We all look forward to it.
We are blessed with many friends and many opportunities, but as a friend has said, "You can't homeschool if you aren't home."  My struggle right now is to keep that balance.  Pray for me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mixing up Something

This is a scene that has played out in my children's lives so many times.  Cooking with Grammy.  Sometimes both, sometimes one, as you see here.  

Wisdom and skill passed on, along with a big dose of love and pride, not in self, but in accomplishment. 

D. decided he wanted to make a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  Grammy said they would, but life being what it is, there was no time to do it until Grammy came to our house this weekend with a can of pumpkin and the determination to fulfill her grandson's desire to make something.  This must have been a large desire because he never forgot about it, and he never got tired of the process. From start to finish he gathered ingredients, measured, mixed, poured and baked, Grammy with him the whole time, encouraging and teaching. When all was said and done:

And it tasted really good, too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our School Name

After perusing the prodigious posts from before, you know, years ago, I noticed I never explained the source of our chosen school name. Well, now I will.

When we started schooling my husband had taught a Sunday School class. To build anticipation and interest, he began leaving notes about it all over church; in the pews, hymnals, on the tables in the fellowship hall. On those notes he placed the date the class would start and an ichthus fish. Looks like this, roughly <><. You've probably seen them on the backs of cars. It was a symbol of the early church. Since the class was a study of Acts (very well done class, I might add) it seemed appropriate. Well, the symbol clicked with our family. When the boys were deciding a name for our school, Dad suggested Ichthus Christian Academy. It was an immediate hit. We decided on "uniforms" with the ichthus symbol on them, ICA as the nickname for our school sounded just right. J. and D. were very enthusiastic. So that is how our school, and this blog, got it's name.

Two posts in two days. We're grooving now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New post

"New Post" it said. Click to create a new post. That seems a terrible understatement of some sort. I haven't blogged in years. Not days or weeks or months, but years!! I reread the last blog. It was pretty good, you know, as amateur first time blog entries go. It was a good event to blog about. I suppose that was my hurdle to blogging. Feeling like I had to come up with fabulous, eventful stuff. Much of our days are not fabulous. Normal, uneventful, some days even humdrum. Yet, four years have gone by that I have been able to spend with my boys. Every day. By choice. It has been a great four years, filled with school, friends, family, trips, traumas and nothing much. I just started reading a book by John Piper (a freebie through The Old Schoolhouse:) called Don't Waste Your Life. While I don't think I have wasted my life with my boys and schooling, I know I have wasted opportunities. God willing I won't anymore. J. is 13, almost 14 already. I don't have much time left with him. I was just praying today, 'Why do we have such short time with our children, and why does it seem to go by so fast?' I can't waste any more opportunities with J. I don't have many more. And D. Goodness, 10 already and almost as tall as me. Not hard I know, but still. As fast as this time has gone, wasted opportunities with D. aren't an option either. So, Lord, Hear my prayer. Let me not waste my opportunities You give me.

And by the way, the name of the blog is precarious. J. is starting high school next school year and he is contemplating a name change for high school. Of course, the principal has final say. We'll keep you posted. Promise.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Field Trip!

Get me, I'm blogging again!

Yes, we took a field trip. We went to see the thrice Tony nominated "A Year with Frog and Toad" based on the book "Frog and Toad All Year." It was my oldest son's favorite book when he was little. He and my mom would read it every night when she was visiting. She could almost recite it from memory.

I found out there was a production of the play near us and knew my mom would love it. Not such an enthusiastic response from my children. J, being the advanced age of 9, felt the story too young for him, and D dislikes all things new. J asked, "Do I have to go?" to which I replied, "Yes. And you will like it and will show no unenthusiasm around your Grammy!!" When D asked the same question my wise elder son told him the rules.

Cut to the finish, all had a great time even the reluctant ones. It was a wonderful production! They were very faithful to the book, which Grammy appreciated. The big hit of the show was Snail, the "running" gag through the story. Also it was nice to see a story of friendship and devotion. And to make the day even more of a blessing, we got to have lunch with dad.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

OK I'm going to do this

OK I'm doing it. I'm Blogging. I feel so techno. I'm not technologically gifted. If I get on the computer to get my mail and check the headlines I feel like Steve Jobs (we're Mac users around here). I'm also not a writer. I don't do it well. I'm sure you recognized that very soon after beginning to read this. So why am I doing this? Well, we just began homeschooling in September and I figure this is a good way to record our adventures. Of course, that would require me to blog more often than once every 4 or 5 months. I'll do my best.

We are a family of four: Dad, Mom and two delightful, if challenging sons. J is 9 years old going on 50, and D is 6 years old going on, well it depends on the day. We, meaning me, enjoy homeschooling very much. The boys are getting used to it. J was in Christian school from preschool through third grade, so it is a big adjustment for him. He misses his friends and the recesses. He is a born learner so he will learn no matter where he is. During his Christmas vacation in third grade he told me he didn't like vacations because he missed his education. A proud mom moment.

D went to one year of 3 day 4 yr. old preschool. He seems to think that all school should be like that and complains greatly about all the work he has to do (all 3 or 4 subjects done in about 2 hours total). It's a hard life. J tries to tell D he's got it easy but nothing will convince him. I am the driving task master.

I was (and still am) very excited about homeschooling. I believe the Lord led us to homeschooling and is and will bless us through it. Nonetheless, it's definitely a big adjustment. After two weeks of D constantly telling me, and anyone else who would listen or ask, he didn't like homeschooling I finally was able to convince him that it really was easier homeschooling than going to school every day. A sigh of relief. The next day J says, "Mom, I don't want to offend you, but after this year of homeschooling could I go back to school?" I left the room and was a sobbing what-have-done-I-can't-do-this mess. I called my husband and he was able to talk me down. He suggested lots of field trips and easing up a little. Bless him. That's my first homeschooling story. I have another that I'll save for another day.

This was fun and cathartic. I do hope I'll do this again soon.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back to School

Ichthus Christian Academy opened its doors today with much excitement and expectations of success. The boys found it hard to sit still for long after a summer in which little time was spent focused on academic pursuits. But a start was made, goals were discussed, and school supplies were organized and stowed.

John's report: First we made our 3-ring binder covers. Then we organized the room. Then we made a list of things we wanted to learn this year, followed by some reading time. We got our calendar set up, Mom read a story aloud, and I went to a piano lesson.

David's report: Mom acted like my preschool teacher did last year. It was a very fun thing. We have a school pet: Blue our cat. I drew a picture of a schoolhouse. I did calendar time. I looked at my new math book and did a maze that was too easy. And then I rested.