Wordless Wednesday - What Flavor?

z ice cream-2

z ice cream-1

For more wordlessness, check out the WW hub and Gabriel's blog.


Wordless Wednesday - Delicate Weed

delicate weed

For more wordlessness, go to the WW hub or Gabriel's blog.


No Visible Fruit

ohenryAs a mom, there are often times when it seems that I see no fruit of my labors (in parenting or homeschooling). I have one son in particular, who always has a reason why my ideas and suggestions won't work - for him anyway. Now I understand that as a teenager, he needs to start figuring things out for himself. But he will ASK for my input. And silly me, I give it to him. Only to find myself engaged in a near debate. I usually become frustrated and say that I don't know why I even talk to him sometimes. No - I'm not being mean and nasty with him, nor do I plan to cease all conversation. Ironically, he really does want to hear what I have to say and the reasons for what I say. Sometimes I think it's so he can dispute with me. But lately, this is really getting to me.

Last night, I picked him up from a friend's house and it started again. Actually, he wasn't even asking for advice or input. It was merely a conversation . . . or so it appeared. Alas, it was yet another camouflaged opportunity to be contrary. And I started to get sucked right into it. But instead of letting him know that I was exasperated, I just stopped talking. Period. End of discussion. I don't think he had any idea how I felt. We just rode along in silence for awhile. Eventually, I asked him a nice, neutral question, "Did you have fun?" Yes, he did. And then things moved along to less dangerous topics.

But I couldn't let go of it. I just kept ruminating over the fact that he has a contrary opinion to EVERYthing, or at the very least, a REASON (excuse, imho) for things. And everything I've tried to teach him seem to be lost somewhere in that head of his, archived away, never to see the light of day. I was grateful for sunglasses, because I was nearly in tears and I doubt I could explain to him why if he had asked.

But then I began to sense the Lord asking me if I would be faithful to His calling, regardless of the results. I believe it's Jeremiah (I'm not that well-versed on OT prophets) who proclaimed God's word to the people for many, many years and never saw a single convert. So am I willing to continue to train, disciple, and love my son, whether or not I see any evidence of that which I pour into him? And will I do it with grace and mercy, just as the Lord as extended to me?

Of course, I had to say, "Yes, Lord." I have to trust Him with my son and the outcome of his life. It's never really been within my control anyway. It may have appeared that way at one time, when he was a very small child. But that was merely an illusion. God's in charge of my son. My responsibility is obey His call on my life. Right now, that is primarily homeschooling our boys, training them in the ways of the Lord, being a helpmate to my husband and tending to our home. Not necessarily in that order and not exclusively.

"For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps.'" John 4:37

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Galatians 6:9

I may or may not see fruit in my son's life. But that should never change my choices.

Travel the World Review

The Old Schoolhouse has a wonderful addition to their annual Schoolhouse Planner – monthly modules. Each module is available as a downloadable e-book ($7.95 each) and is a great way to supplement your homeschooling efforts (you don’t have to have the Planner to use these).

I had the opportunity to review the June 2010 Module, Travel the World, which offers a fun and interactive journey into geography. The beginning section is geared toward younger kids, and then there’s a high school portion for the older students.

I thought that the younger kids section was quite interesting and enjoyable. This module has an amazing number of links and resources that really help your children as they learn about geography. They'll have access to games, informational pages, and quizzes. If they’re old enough to read on their own, they can do this independently. If not, you can sit down at the computer with them, read it aloud, and work through the games and resources together. I showed my husband some of the links and he and I even had fun playing the country matching games and refreshing our memories.

The geography concepts are explained in a very clear and straight-forward manner, along with handy ditties and ways of remembering facts. Sometimes we may find those a little silly, but let’s face it – they really do work. Is there anyone who can’t complete this?

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two . . .

There are also puzzles, colorings sheets, lapbook ideas and links, manuscript and cursive copywork, and recipes. Because it's an e-book, you can print out the specific pages you want and as many copies you need. With such a variety of activities, you’re sure to keep your kids engaged, whatever their learning style.

I think that for the younger kids, especially those who haven’t had any geography, this is a terrific program. The section for high schoolers is quite a bit smaller than for the younger kids, but by that age, they really should have the basics down. There are still some ideas and resources that can be implemented in conjunction with their current high school studies, which is a nice way to supplement what you’re already doing. With the many links available throughout the module, you’ll have access to plenty of activities to help your children learn about geography.

Remember, there are different modules every month, and you can purchase them all the way back to 2008, so if geography isn’t on your list of needs right now, take a look at what else the Schoolhouse Store has to offer. At just $7.95, you’ll find a wealth of information, and best of all, since it’s an e-book, you’ll have access to it right away with no trips to the store or waiting for the mail!

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of the June 2010 Module to review. The opinions stated here are my own.

**Edited to add: You can go here to read more reviews.


Wordless Wednesday - UnHappy 4th

mrs pinwheel

Check out the WW hub or Gabriel's blog for more wordlessness.

More Homeschool Encouragement

Just a quick link that ties in nicely with my earlier posts this week - a post by Carol Barnier. I know I need these reminders and encouraging thoughts.


Homeschool - the Good Side

After yesterday's post where I bemoan my terrible homeschooling skills and the struggles that we have by comparing us to the seemingly Perfect Homeschool Family, I decided that I should be fair and present the other side of things.

Because if it's really all gloom and doom, I should probably just sack it, right?

grandma - boys 2
My boys with my mom

I have two teenage boys - ages 16 1/2 and 15. Most of the time when someone hears that, there's a certain perception that comes to mind. You probably know what kind of stereotype I'm talking about. However, in many ways, I'm grateful to not have sterotypical teenage boys.

While I'm sure some of it is just their own personalities, I believe that a lot of it is because we homeschool. We're together all the time and they still actually like to be with me. And their dad. These aren't boys who are wanting to take off all the time and never be home. They still have friends and participate in outside activities. But they also have a good time hanging out with us playing Settlers of Catan, watching a movie, or going to Sonic for ice cream.

They're not sullen and moody. They smile. They're friendly. They can talk to other people, be it adults, children, or any age in between.

When there are subjects that we struggle through, it's exciting to see them get it.

I have enjoyed learning with them. I know that I don't remember a lot of what I learned in school (I'm sure they won't, either). Mostly because I never used a lot of that information once I was done with a class. So it's been a lot of fun for me to look at things through a microscope, refresh myself on algebra (yeah, that sounds kind of sick), and learn about historical events from a Christian perspective (something my schools didn't teach).

I also love to snuggle up on the couch and read aloud to them. And do the voices. It's still fun!

I like that their education includes practical living skills - laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.

I love talking off for a walk over to the bread store. Or wherever else. We have some good conversations during those jaunts.

I am so grateful that we're not having to deal with things that take place in the public or even private schools. I won't even go into listing them - we've all heard so many stories. That's not to say that everyone who goes there has a bad experience, but there's enough going on in life without having to face those as well.

I love my boys immensely and am so blessed to have this time with them; to see them grow into godly young men, to be able to pour myself out for them, to disciple and love them. It will be over much too quickly, but at least I've had this time, which I wouldn't trade for anything.


Summer Homeschool

190-fountain2The plan was to continue doing a lighter schedule of homeschool through the summer. Here we are, more than a week into July, and that hasn't panned out so well. Where does the time go? The local public schools will be headed back in about 5-6 weeks! It's time to sit down and get those lighter plans together so we can still get something accomplished before summer is over. I had all these great reasons why we would do this, but I will say that it's hard to break the habit of just taking the summer off. Maybe even more for me than for the boys! Of course, there are always so many projects and tasks I'd like to accomplish while we're out for summer break, but if we're working with a somewhat light schedule, I can still get to some of them.

I'm not sure why I don't really blog much about homeschooling here. I've been doing it for the past five years. Well, I probably do know why. Because I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I'm not disciplined and structured enough to stay on track (lost on a bunny trail or something) and the last thing I usually want to do is point out my shortcomings. Especially to the whole world. Especially when it comes to parenting/homeschooling.

Reading other HS blogs can be an encouragement, but it can also be intimidating and make me feel even worse about what I do...or don't do. We have the homeschoolers whose children have learning disabilities, so that's a completely different category, of which I'm not a part. Then we have the The Perfect Homeschool Family.

The Perfect Homeschool Family has anywhere from three to ten children and they have it all together. Or so it seems. They live out in the country and the kids get up the crack o'dawn, do chores, have their devotions, help prepare a delicious and nutritious homemade breakfast, and then clean up. This delicious and nutritious homeschool breakfast consists of fresh-baked bread (Mom gets up an hour before the crack o'dawn to grind her wheat and bake it) and butter (churned the day before by the young 'uns), scrambled eggs (plucked bright & early that morning from beneath the hens), bacon (cured last winter from the hogs they raised), and milk (straight from the cow out in the barn, thankyouverymuch, Pa).

Following this delicious and nutritious breakfast, they get themselves clean, dressed, and ready for the school day. And all of that happens before 8:00 a.m.

My boys don't often roll out of bed until 9:00 a.m. Even with my nagging, harassing, and shaking gently waking them from their slumber. Yes, they're teenagers. Yes, they need adequate sleep to function well. Yes, they have alarm clocks that are sometimes used and mostly ignored.

Then the PH Family digs into their lessons for the day. By lunchtime, they've accomplished the following:

  • taken turns reading Shakespeare aloud (except the baby whose vocabulary hasn't quite advanced enough)
  • dissected worms, frogs, and cow's eyes (obtained from their own property) and sketched incredibly accurate drawings of each
  • discussed world politics, written (or drawn) a compare and contrast paper on the various worldviews
  • completed a chapter in trigonometry, geometry, or algebra - depending on the individual child, probably out on the patio in the gorgeous morning sunshine
  • practiced handwriting by completing a grammatically correct letter in cursive to either their Compassion child, state representative, or missionaries in Africa
My kids have had a sugary lovely breakfast of chocolate (antioxidants) cereal in a bowl with 1% milk (none of that high-fat stuff) that came from a store. Although it is hormone free and in a recyclable jug.

They get dressed . . . after asking me where their clean clothes are, since the drawers are empty. They brush their teeth . . . after I've harped sweetly reminded them. Did I mention they are teens? I do random teeth inspections. They think they can get away without brushing. Scum and yellow give them away.

At last, my boys have arrived at the table to begin the school day . . . promptly at 10:18. Or maybe lunchtime.

We pray, read God's word, and then have a lively discussion about life application they listen to me tell them what I think God is telling me they should know and do. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do try and engage them in discussion. It's just that they're teenage boys. Discussion usually sound like this:

Me: So what do you think about the way he responded to God's request and how does that apply to you?

One of my two boys: That I should obey.

Other boy shakes his head in agreement in case I look at him.

It's very stimulating, I tell you.

When we're done with Bible, we pray. I seem to be the only one praying for God's word to be rooted deep into our hearts and lived out in our lives. But that's okay. I'm modeling for them, right?

Then we move to the couch for read-aloud time. Yep, you heard it right. My teenage boys still like me to read to them. So we hoist out War & Peace, er, The Door Within. No, I doubt that it makes any high school reading list. But it's fun and engaging to read. And there's the more than one book. They appreciate a series. I still do voices for all the characters. They like it that way.

By now, we probably need to have some lunch. Wow - that was quite an educational morning!


Okay, I really shouldn't complete this comparison. For one, it would make my blog post INSANELY long. Although I may already have surpassed that point. Two, I think it would just depress me. And I think I've made my point:

EVERYONE else has a happy, successful homeschool with happy, successful children. Everyone, except me. One of my children just wants the school day to be over. As quickly as possible. Not even because he severely dislikes school, he just wants to do something else. Like play video games. Of course, some days I want to do something else. Like play on Photoshop, Facebook, or Twitter.

One of my sons hates to read. He absolutely, positively will not do it unless forced. There's no reading for entertainment going on in his life. Unless it's Calvin & Hobbes.

Although I know how to do Algebra perfectly well, I have a son who can't learn it from me. So we battled for quite some time. Now, I have to send him to the Khan Academy videos to learn. But he still doesn't want to have to spend any more than 15-20 minutes on Algebra. And writing out his work? Ha! Ha! Ha! His hand and the pen (pencils are so passe) are like two magnets with the north ends together - they strongly repel one another.

Oops. I said I wasn't going to continue. So I'm done. For now. And there really are successes and positive sides to our homeschool. I guess I'll have to share that in another post for more fair and balanced reporting.

My children are not disabled. They're not dumb. They're also not just about to graduate from college at ages 15 & 16. They're just in between. Could they do better? Probably. Do they want to? It's probably not an issue to them. Are they motivated toward higher education and a future career? Not so much.

Could I do a better job of homeschooling (and parenting)? Of course. Am I the worst mom ever? I'm pretty sure that I'm not, although lately I've been telling one of my sons that I'm working hard on that award this year! I have my moments of brilliance and others that are selfish or lazy.

But here's what I DO know (yes, I really will wrap this up . . . eventually):

God gave me these boys to raise, nurture, disciple, train, and educate. And most of all, to love.

He called me to homeschool them. That includes the fun and blessed times; the battles and frustrations; the monotony, mediocre, and laziness. But He will be with me (and us) through all of it. He promises to never leave nor forsake us and that He is our helper. (Hebrews 13:5-6). He knew that we would be precisely where we are. He also knows exactly where He wants us to be in the future and how it will all turn out. His plans are for our good and His glory. In this I am truly encouraged.

And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1


Wordless Wednesday - Classy



187-headlight self portrait

For more wordlessness, check out the WW hub and Gabriel's blog.

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