Sunday, April 6, 2014

Holy Homeschool Batman! (What a crazy year)

So....I don't even remember the last time I blogged (sorry friends).  I mean, I knew that homeschool would pretty much take up a good portion of my life, but I had NO idea exactly how much that would entail.  That being said....it was still, hands down, one of the best decisions of my life.  Some people would be like "What?! How can you say that something that takes over your life is a good thing??"  It's hard to explain,but I'm gonna try.
When they were in public school, they'd be gone from 7am until almost 4pm (that includes the bus ride).  I entrusted people that I barely know with the well being and education of my children because I believed the lie that, A. it's what's best for them, and B. I am not smart enough to teach them properly because I am not a trained teacher.  In some situations, my first point can be true.  Some kids only get what they need when they go to school.  It's very sad, but it's true.  There are too many children in our country that only eat when at school.  And the really great teachers recognize it, and their hearts hurt for those children.  My second point, however, is a lie.  It is a lie that went through my mind often.  A degree does not qualify me...standardize testing does not qualify me...no person can qualify me.  I am already qualified....I was qualified as soon as my kids were born.
Before they were born, they could recognize my voice and the voices of the people closest to me.  I have video of my son right after he was born...the nurses were cleaning him up and getting measurements, all while crying his little heart out.  When he heard me, he stopped and tried to turn his head in my direction.  They spend 9 months surrounded in fluid, then are born knowing how to breath, eat, cry, get their tiny hands to their adorable little mouth to sooth themselves.  Children are born with the ability to learn.  Think of how much they learn in the very first year of life!  Holding up their heads, sitting up, pulling themselves up, crawling to standing to walking, smiling, laughing, loving.  These are all things they learn in that first year.  How do they learn them?  They watch us, their parents.  They continue to watch us.  We are the best teachers of our children around, even if we don't mean to teach them (like the bad things they see...we all have bad moments that we wish we could take back).  These are things that I never really thought about before.
Throughout this past year, I've had ups, and downs.  I've been completely organized and scheduled, and I've been completely scatterbrained and felt I was in the loony bin.  Even as I type this post, it's taken longer than expected because I've been interrupted so many times for an unfound item or something to eat or some fight because someone was touching, taking, picking on someone else.  But, even with all of the little bumps in the road, and all my "free time" taken away, I still love it.  I'm getting to know these little people that I was given charge over.  Their personalities are blossoming and I'm getting to watch it happen.  Something that I wouldn't get to witness completely if they were away from me for 9 hours out of my day.  
One of the biggest questions that homeschoolers get is "what about socialization".  Before I answer that, I'd like to ask....how does a child socialize in public school?  They can't talk on the bus because it "distracts the bus driver", they can't talk during breakfast or lunch time because "they need to focus on finishing lunch in the allotted time frame"  (which is normally about 20-30 minutes), they can't talk during class because it disrupts other students, they can't talk in the hallway because it disrupts other classes, they can't talk in the bathroom because they need to get back to class.  So the only time for "socialization" is at recess, or at home.  My children are already at home.  They socialize at the grocery store, at church, at soccer practice, at gymnastics, at co-op.  I'm pretty sure they socialize.  

When I first started to homeschool, the hardest and scariest part was getting started.  There are so many different curriculum choices out there that it's overwhelming.  Then, stepping into the unknown world of teaching my children, was scary.  But, only because I didn't know what to expect.  It was new, and new can be scary.  If it wasn't for all the support from co-op and other friends that have been homeschooling since forever, I might have given up.  But I continued to be encouraged, and I talked to other people that knew exactly what I was going through and reassured me that our situation was actually pretty normal.  I was reassured that I wasn't messing my kids up for life, that someone wasn't going to come to my house and tell me how horribly I am doing, and nobody was going to force me to send them back into the public school system because I have the freedom to decide how my children are educated.  And I was reminded on a regular basis that my first goal is to raise my children to be God loving people, and to put Him first....the rest will fall into place. It always does.  
Now, not everyone has the option to homeschool, I understand this.  Most families have 2 working parents, that's just the way it is anymore.  We used to be that family too.  I didn't quit working until my youngest was born (7 years ago).  But, if the only thing stopping you is one of the many lies that the world tells us, or because it's scary and overwhelming, please be encouraged.  Do some research for your area, seek out and talk to other homeschoolers, find a co-op.  If there aren't any near you, why not start one?  I know that there are a lot of people out there that are in the same boat.  Many times, when people find out I homeschool, the first words out of their mouth are "man, I wish I could do that".  Then, when they find out I have 3 kids that are in 1st, 3rd, and 8th grade...their eyes get wide and they ask "how do you do it?".   My only answer is, by the grace and strength of God.

I'm glad that my school year is coming to an end, we all need a break.  But after completing the year, I believe that I am now a lifer (as long as God wills it).  

Paper Mache!

Volcano!

Planting some seeds for a garden

Baby goat
Look at that happy face


JR took this picture...he's really gotten into nature photography

Library time

Park time

Alec went on a field trip with my dad to learn a little about his ancestors

School work in bed

Soccer practice

Bedtime reading

Learning how to cook for the family

Field trip to the water treatment plant

Baking pies

Wildlife book

Archery

Time for math

Behind the scene look at a movie theater

Freezing bubbles (we had a cold winter)

Beautiful artwork

He loves to take picture

Water treatment plant

Learning to sew (I have quite a few pillows made from old tshirts now, lol)

We successfully grew a lima bean plant

A trip to Pittsburgh to see The Nutcracker ballet 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Speak Life

For some reason, my reflection time always seems to happen while I'm doing chores.  Maybe since it's the only time I have a second to myself (you know, since my kids won't go anywhere near a chore).  It got me thinking about a status update I posted about a week ago...simply put, it was about how homeschooling has become a career and how friends should respond when I have a bad day (with understanding, not questioning my choices...FYI).  But, my reflection brought me back to when I first made that choice...and how fellow homeschool parents responded.  I doubt they realize they did it, but some of the responses weren't very encouraging.   Here is how the conversation would sometimes go...

Me- "Yes, this is my first year of homsechooling"
Other Homeschooler- "Oh, what grade is your child in?"
Me- "Children actually...I have 3.  They are 1st, 3rd, and 8th grade."
Other Homeschooler- "Oh wow...and this is your 1st year?  You're brave O_O"
Me- "Yea I know right? Thanks for that SUPER encouragement!"

That last part may have been in my head...but you get the idea.  I know they didn't mean to make me feel like I was totally nuts...but that's kinda what they did.  To me it was like "Oh hey...you're kinda stupid for not starting when they were all little...good luck with this completely impossible task".  Not all of them did this...some were actually very helpful.    But I don't think some really thought before speaking.  Which brings me to the reason I decided to type this all out on the great big internets.  Thinking before speaking....speaking life, encouragement, hope, happiness.   I know I am guilty of speaking before thinking....I've had a friend call me out on it.  I was very grateful that she did because I would have never known that I hurt her.  

I could have taken those words and thought "You know...maybe I'm getting in over my head and should just quit before I start".  But, that's not who I am...when people tell me I can't do something, it usually makes me try harder to prove them wrong.  Not smart enough to take advanced classes....watch me ace them.  Can't eat an entire hotdog in one bite....someone get the camera (no comments from any old high school friends reading this).  You're crazy for trying to homeschool when your children are so old....HAHA, challenge accepted!  But that's me....someone that isn't me could have very easily taken those words and quit before they started.  I don't want to call people out (please don't think I'm doing that).  I want people to realize what they are saying before they say it.  If someone happens to feel called to do something, I'm sure they're already totally afraid of failing and maybe questioning if they were actually called in the first place.  Let's encourage...no matter what it's for.  The only correct response to my choice that I can think of is "Welcome to the homeschool club...it's hard sometimes but totally rewarding and fun.  And we are here to help you"....if you can't think of something better to say, just smile and nod (like my husband sometimes does when I blab on and on and come up with crazy ideas).

So, encourage someone today...it might make a world of difference to them.  (And btw, I finished that hotdog in one bit...BOOYAH!)


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Seasons

I count myself extremely blessed.  When I made the decision to homeschool last year, I had SO many friends to help me.  They also helped me to get involved with our local homeschool group...which has been such a weekly refresher for me.  When classes started again, the book (that I bought because reading is the BEST), Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson, was recommended. The book is written to encourage homeschool moms, but honestly, it still hits home if you don't homeschool.  Since I began reading it, I've thought about all the seasons my heart and life have been through.  There have been so many that I could probably write multiple posts on them.  For the sake of time (and my fingers), I'm just going to reflect on a couple that I've been thinking of today.  

Earlier, I was relaxing while the kids ran outside to play with the dogs and I thought, "I wonder if I could convince any of them to climb into my lap and nap like they used to".  Partly because I love naps, but also because I miss that so incredibly much.  There was a time, that each of them could fit perfectly on my chest.  And we would lay on the couch and doze off.  I don't know if the sound of my heartbeat relaxed them or something else, but they each laid the exact same way.  No matter how fussy they had been that day, laying against my chest was soothing.  They don't do that anymore.  Sure, they still like to cuddle while watching tv, or when they are tired or aren't feeling well, but they don't lay across me the way they used to.  They're just too big.  My oldest is almost as tall as me, my middle son is half way there, and my baby isn't far behind.  Not only does size hinder this, but they rarely stop.  There's always something better to do than lay with mom.  

I also miss, and don't laugh at me, getting up in the middle of the night and nursing.  Sure I was always tired, but there was just something about being the only person in the world that had what my baby needed.  And the bonding time in the middle of the night, while the rest of the world slept, was amazing.  I miss nursing in general.  I don't miss smelling like milk and worrying that I've soaked through my shirt, but I miss cuddling my precious gift from God while they filled their little tummies.  They don't need me so much anymore.  Sure, it gives me a little more freedom when I'm not the only food source, but it's all happening too fast.

My oldest son will be driving soon...that BLOWS MY MIND!  With driving comes more independence and more time with friends and less time with me.  That thought breaks my heart.  Soon after that he'll be graduated and off to college and even less time with me.  Then I get to start that season all over with the younger two.  In the blink of an eye, I will have an empty house.  One that I regularly complain about being dirty....but I have a feeling that when they are gone, I'm gonna miss that too.  

So mommies....the ones that are tired from feeding every 3 hours, the ones that constantly chase around an energetic toddler, the ones that are having a hard time adjusting to their baby's starting school....cherish those seasons.  You're going to miss them one day.  The stuff I miss seemed so trivial at the time, but now I realize how precious those times were.  

Gotta go now, my (almost) 9yr old wants to cuddle.  


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Crazy Blur Called Summertime

So....I haven't blogged much recently.  Not that I haven't wanted to.  I just have been so incredibly busy.  I am starting to realize that the older my kids get, the more "stuff" they want to do.  It's only the beginning of July and we have been to Kennywood....



......gone to a few graduation parties....

My cutie pie baby cousin at our older cousins grad party.



.......a wedding (where my super adorable kids made up almost half the wedding party).....




.....and got rid of a bunch of my "junk" at a church wide yard sale.......



Not to mention both my boys leaving me for a week at a time to go to church camp.....

Rebekah didn't want her brother to leave


I wasn't ready to let go either.


JR just left yesterday.  Most people know that he is my handful.  I thought I would be relieved to have a little break from him, but last night I found myself crying into my pillow because he wasn't there.  I think I spend so much time keeping him out of trouble, or helping him through sensory meltdowns, or defending him to people that only see an ornery troublemaker that I feel lost when I'm not doing that.  I didn't think I'd feel this way.  Alec has gone to camp for the last few years and, while I miss him when he's gone, I know that he'll be fine.  Alec has been through things most kids only hear about.  He's a strong kid, his name means "brave protector" and he lives up to the name.  At one, he toddled up to me, while I was mid argument with his father, and lifted his arms for me to pick him up.  He then pushed his father away from me because he could sense the danger I was in.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve, but protects the people he loves the most and is so strong, and because of that I don't worry as much.  But my JR needs protecting, from himself and from others.  He has a tough exterior, but a very soft heart that is easily broken.  He likes to cuddle at bedtime, so my bed felt very cold and empty last night.  Which is probably how I ended up in tears.  


I have also been busy trying to get everything together so I am ready to homeschool by the time summer ends.  

some awesome desks and computers I was given for my school room.

I finally got my transcripts and letter of intent together and sent to the BOE.  Now, I just need to order my curriculum and I'll be good to go.  Tomorrow I'm meeting with a couple of great ladies who have been homeschooling their children.  Charli from WV Urban Hippies had been pretty much my lifeline.  As soon as I realized I wanted to homeschool, she was the first person I talked to.  She still remains the person I go to when I have a question or need some advice on something.  She'll probably get tired of me eventually, lol.  Tracey from Building My House is a newly formed friendship thanks to Charli and also thanks to standing next to her for six hours at the church wide yard sale.  She has older kids and can help me a lot with trying to homeschool Alec (who's going to be an 8th grader...yikes).  When Alec first started school, the idea of homeschooling played in the back of my mind.  But, I let outside sources convince me I was just being a worry wart mother and that I wouldn't be able to because I had a new baby at the time and I'd be too busy.  I also didn't have anyone around me that homeschooled.  It was a foreign concept to me so I didn't do it.  Skip ahead seven years and here I am.  God laid on my heart a long time ago (like, since 5th grade), that I wanted to teach.  I wanted to be the one to help children grow in their knowledge.  I also felt like I was born to have children.  I know that seems like almost every woman in the world, but I've always been a nurturer.  I gravitated to babies and younger children.  I liked taking care of them and playing with them.  It always made me happy.  I always wanted to be a SAHM.  Most people don't understand that, but I was always miserable when I had to work....I only did it because of a need.  Need for money, insurance....not because it was what I wanted.  But, being a SAHM also contradicted my desire to teach.  Looking back, I can see the events God placed in my life to get me to where I am.  Things that, at the time, seemed completely unfair or I didn't understand why they were happening.  People were placed in my life at just the right time.  

So yea, that's what's been going on.  We still have some stuff planned.  Trips to some local stuff that the kids enjoy...the zoo, Idlewild, Carnegie Science center.  We usually go to the drive-in at least once in the summer.  We didn't have a vacation planned this summer because our Disney trip back in January wore us out.  But I've been trying my best to make the summer fun regardless.  And sometimes it's nice to not be busy or have a game plan.  

Here's some pics of some random things we've done.....

Rebekah bought a new pet

took a trip to our family's farm

Rebekah lost her first tooth

took a trip to the lake

me and my best friend

went to a pool party

Rebekah and her best friend Mary

Love these girls

Had tons of fun at this years VBS

Random trip to the mall

My husband got a dirt bike

We had a fence installed 

took a trip to a local swimming hole where my boys were brave enough to jump off that rock

Had a nice 4th of July BBQ at home

JR got a dirt bike

That's all for now...hopefully I won't take so long to blog next time, lol.