Sunday, December 2, 2012

Brace Yourself ~ I've Blogged

So, I was just over on the homeschool musical's blog, and I thought I'd stop by here and write a little something.

My last post had a couple of great pictures of Lydia getting ready for a performance.  Those are bittersweet now.  Since Lydia is in public school, she won't be in this year's homeschool musical (Willow Blues).  *BIG SIGH*  We've had two rehearsals (we only meet on Thursday afternoons), and I've really missed her both times.  I think she's doing okay, but I know she wishes she were in it.  Thankfully, her school Christmas concert is coming up, and she was given a small speaking part.  Her music teacher also gave her a "thumbs up" the last time they had music class.  They say he almost never gives those out, so apparently Lydia was singing really well that day.  She came home all elated and everything.  I fear she may feel deflated after this concert is over (on the 6th).

Emma is in the musical, and she's having a great time being with her friends again.  Brittany is in public school this year too, though, so she doesn't get to see her.  There are lots of other great young people there.  We've got a great cast, and I'm already having fun working with them.  This is definitely my niche (at least from my point of view.  I hope others feel the same and aren't thinking, "Why do they let this woman in here?")

I still haven't put up the big Christmas tree.  I decorated the bannister, and I put a small tree in our bedroom. Dave said, "Oh, gave me my own little tree!"  The goof.  I had put it there as motivation for Lydia & Samuel to clean their room.  "Once your room is clean, guys, there will be enough room to put this little tree in there!"  (It's not working.)

Oh...I was going to put a picture of their messy room on here, but my camera battery died.  Aw, shucks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hole in my Schedule...Hole in my Heart

Three months since my last  Well, Kilroy (the musical we were in) kept me busier than I'd planned.  The performances were over the last weekend of April, and the following Tuesday I started cleaning at camp for our first retreat.  Whew!  Anyway, here are some of my favorite pictures of the performance weekend.

Lydia with foam rollers in her hair
I did all of that for nothing.   She couldn't sleep with them in her hair.

Getting her stage make-up done

Sloane getting Lydia ready
Emma with Sam in the receiving line
Lydia--with the boys!
She's always with the boys!
Pray for me....
Oh, phew!  Her friend, Grace, joined in.
Emma, Brittney, & Jeffrey
One of the best things about this whole experience is how
the Lord answered our prayers for a best friend for Emma.
We love you, Brittney!!!
Abby (who helped with the Harmony Brothers--the young boys),
myself, and Hannah (Abby's sister & a cast member)

Lydia H, myself, and Hannah
Getting to know the amazing young people was so much fun!
The people are the best part.  = )
As much as it's nice to have a little more time at home, I sure do miss everyone!  There's a big, empty spot in my Thursdays and in my heart.  However...we're already reading scripts for next year.  YAY!  Bring it on!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Service in Schooling

Since reading "The Moore Formula" (a balance of study, work, and service) in The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, I've been praying and looking for service/ministry opportunities for my kids.  Almost immediately, things began popping up.  Emma's youth group was doing a bake sale fundraiser for a young family in our town whose house burned down.  They have a baby girl, and while everyone was okay--nobody was home at the time of the fire--they've lost pretty much all of their stuff.  So, we baked some cookies and muffins on a Friday and delivered them to church.  Saturday we helped at the bake sale itself.  (The kind people at True Value set up a table for us right inside the front doors.  Nobody could miss us.  Thanks, True Value!)

Emma & Friends

Karyn, Emma's devoted youth leader and nurse extraordinaire (she was my nurse when Samuel was born), was hoping we'd raise about a hundred bucks.  Because of the generosity of our loving community, almost $500 was given to the young family!  Emma was deeply moved by people who gave extra--especially when they didn't even know the family.  Yeah...we live in a pretty sweet town.

About a week later, our homeschooling group went to a nursing home to chat with the residents, help them make Valentine's Day crafts, and provide some entertainment (a song, poetry recitation, etc.).  This was the first time the children and I did something like this together, and after you watch the video, you'll agree we've got no place to go but up.  (Jeffrey did a splendid job, I must say.  The rest of it is a little...comical.)

The best part is at the end, when Samuel knocks over the huge plywood heart behind us.  Or, when Lydia steps right up to the microphone and you can only hear her voice.  Or, when Samuel says, "Don't spank my bottom!"  (I was trying to clap while I was holding him, that's all.)  I don't your favorite.

Do you ever feel like you're that family?  The one other people sort of shake their heads at with a mixture of compassion and pity?  *SIGH*

Thankfully, this video was a re-staging (because I'd forgotten to ask anyone to record the real thing).  The event was over, and most of the residents had gone back to their rooms.  I am SO hoping the first rendition went better than this one.  At any rate, I know the plywood heart was in the right place.  And so were our hearts.  We wanted to brighten up the residents' day, and I'm sure we did at least that!  I know this kid charmed a few of the ladies:

P.S.  I gave both boys haircuts the next day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh Lydia...

The setting for Kilroy Was Here (our homeschool musical) is a New York USO club in 1942.  Naturally, there's dancing.  For one of the songs, several of the older kids waltz in boy-girl couples, while the younger girls simply dance with each other.  However, we have an odd number of younger girls.  Our director, Char, knowing Lydia's sparkling personality and adventurous spirit, decided she'd have Lydia dance with one of the younger boys.  So, this is a quick shot I got when Peter first pulled her out onto the dance floor.  Well, it looks like Lydia is pulling Peter, but he does ask her to dance.  (The pic is a bit blurry, but I just LOVE it.)

They handled it quite well--especially with everyone watching.

BTW, Peter is such a nice boy.  Our families have been friends for years.  He's got two older sisters, who,  I'm sure, lovingly teased him as much as Emma teased Lydia (which I think she enjoyed very much).  That's what big sisters are for.

Lydia's been talking about this pairing up non-stop since yesterday afternoon.  (Yes, it makes me a little nervous.)  

Here we go.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Oh for the love of...books!

One of the homeschooling books I'm currently reading (or re-reading, rather) is Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson (2006 printing).  It's one of my faves.

(You can't look inside.  I'm borrowing this image from Amazon.)

I read this little section on page 81 yesterday, and wanted to share it with you.

"Whole Book Fever ~ This affliction is spreading rapidly throughout the home schooling community.  It is contracted through frequent contact with whole books.  There is no known cure.  Symptoms include the following:

  • You lose the motor function needed to close a good book and put it down.
  • You have an insatiable desire to browse in other people's libraries.
  • You hyperventilate with a rapid heartbeat upon finding a whole set of mint condition Landmarks with dust jackets at a garage sale.
  • You are physically not able to pass by a stack of old looking books without stopping to look at them.
  • You schedule your vacation around the annual community used book sale.
  • You begin stacking books horizontally in your bookshelves to make room for more books.
  • You fail to tell a friend about the library sale for fear of missing a rare find.
  • You buy a fourth copy of Johnny Tremain at a library sale (or Goodwill) because you forgot you had three others.
  • You actually worry about which child will get which books from your home library when you die.
  • You start a booktable business just so you can buy more books at dealer's cost."

It's funny 'cause it's true!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Books and Blogs

Sorry.  I haven't blogged in ages.  I've been spending time reading some nurturing homeschool books and praying for wisdom about how (or if!) we should change some things.  I've discovered I've been trying to fill my children's minds like buckets.  Instead, I think my job is to kindle a fire for learning.  I'm not completely sure how to carry that out yet, but I still have some reading to do.  (Upon re-reading that, I think that if I could do both things, we could make soup.)

One author, Dr. Raymond Moore, explains that homeschooling should be more like Rolls Royce craftsmanship rather than a Yugo being put together on an assembly line.  (I'm really glad I saw that episode of How It's Made now.)  He doesn't completely cut out curriculum though.  Here's a quote:
"True homeschooling is tutorial, handmade, customized to each child...a balance between systematic structure where needed and a great deal of freedom for youngsters to explore.  Your curriculum should be tailored to your child and provide him much more time to pursue his interests than your workbooks."
He also says there should be a balance between study, work, and service.  I like that.  Too often I think we're so busy getting the bookwork done that there isn't time to help out at the Humane Society.  All of my kids want to volunteer there again.  I need to make that happen, even though I loathe coming home with all that cat hair all over my clothes.  It's almost like I've got my own coat of fur.  Oh well.  "It's for the children."

I have been blogging, btw.  I simply haven't been blogging here.  We've got a blog (is there a synonym for blog?) for the families in our homeschool musical.  The kids all have demo CD's with which they can practice the songs, but if the song has parts (soprano-alto or soprano-alto-tenor), then it's really hard to hear the middle and lower parts.  So, I make videos of me playing each part on our keyboard at home and post them on the blog.

The next song we're working on is dog-gone difficult.  It's fast.  It's in three parts.  And it has a ton of accidentals.  I've spent most of this weekend working on these videos.  It's crazy.  I get to the point where I can play the part perfectly a few times in a row.  Then...I turn on the camera to record...and I keep messing up.  *sigh*  Here's a video of "Take 47" or so.

Oy.  It reminds me of this:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Homeschool Pharisee

We've been about two weeks behind in our schooling for some time.  We took an unexpected week off in late October to attend a missionary conference in MN, and then we didn't get much schoolwork done over Thanksgiving while we were visiting my in-laws in MD.  Add to that a couple of sick days, and you can easily see why we're beginning week 15 instead of 17 or 18 (out of 36).

This morning, during my quiet time, I was asking for wisdom about this very thing.  God is so good.  He does give generously without finding fault!  He reminded me that my standard in homeschooling (as well as everything else, of course) is Him!  And one place where His standard for educating my children can be found is in Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently  to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."

Another area of obeying God's standard for home education is submitting to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1).  For me, that means teaching 875 hours and incorporating six certain subjects.  (Thankfully, Wisconsin keeps things fairly simple.  Your "governing authorities" could be different than mine.)

So why...why have I done this to my children?

This is Jeffrey's binder.  See, I'm a planner, which I think is a good thing.  But instead of using this binder as a guideline, it has become our master.  And to top it off, Emma and Lydia have their own binders.  So, I've had three binder-masters!  Hmmm...come to think of it, the word "binder" has a double meaning here.  It keeps all of the pages in there nicely, but it has also bound us--chained us--to crossing everything off.  Slavery to the binder is not a good thing.  Having a plan?  Yes, that's good.  I'm glad I took the time to fill all of this stuff in.  However, I think I put too much in there.  I've got busywork and completely unnecessary things in there.  And worse yet, we get so busy trying to catch up that we don't enjoy any of it anymore!  Once we get everything checked off for the school day, our mind set is like this, "Whew!  Good!  School is done for today."  And that's not true.  (See Deut. 6:5-7 above.)  Because I think we're done, I don't even look for teachable moments.  I'm too tired and frustrated.  Besides, I've got supper to make, housework to do, kids to bathe....  My day is one big "To Do" list, and I'm sick of it.  But the good news is:

*Drum roll*


I am following the governing authorities perfectly.  My children are learning for at least five hours per day in more than six subjects.  Any feelings of being behind have only come from me--from that binder to which I've enslaved us.  See, I've taken God's standard and added to it the things which would make us look good.  Uh-huh.  Homeschool Pharisee.  That's me.  And just like a Pharisee, I've been frustrated with my kids--and with myself--for not being able to keep up with the impossible.  Along with that, I've sacrificed much relational time with my children for the sake of ritualistic "stuff and fluff".  We're going to make some changes around here.


To be honest, I don't know.  But I'm actually okay with that.  I'm trusting God and asking Him for wisdom.  And really, I'm just so very relieved!  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  *happy sigh*

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Homeschooling, Part 3

Finally, the last of the trilogy!  

Yes, there are many things about homeschooling that are frustrating and time-consuming and plain ol' hard work.  But.  It's totally worth it.  Here are several reasons why I love homeschooling.  (If you don't have time to read the whole thing, then skip to the last bullet point.)
  • I'm a control freak, so I really like choosing our curriculum and deciding what my kids are going to learn--and when they'll learn it.  Teaching subjects from a Biblical worldview is a major component here. 
  • I get to learn, or re-learn, all kinds of cool stuff.  I joke with the kids that I'll go on Jeopardy someday and win tons of money with all of my homeschool teacher knowledge.  (They tell me to try Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader first.  Thanks, kids.)
  • I really know my kids.  I can honestly say that I know what makes them tick.  Because we read a lot of the same books and generally spend so much time together, we have lots of family inside jokes and understandings.  That's fun.  I know their learning styles, so I can choose (or switch to!) curriculum which makes the most sense to them.  And, as the kids get older, we can tailor their school subjects to specific bents and interests.  No cookie-cutter educations here!
  • I really love my kids.  (I'm not saying that parents who send their kids to school don't love them, btw.)  Homeschooling allows me to spend lots of time with them--which, I admit, can be a double-edged sword at times.  You know what I mean.  But, you know how some families struggle to eat together once or twice a week?  Well, I think we average at least a dozen meals all together each week.  (For the most part, the kids eat breakfast as they wake up.  Sometimes Dave eats lunch before or after we do, depending on his schedule.)
  • My kids really know each other--whether they like it or not.  It's important to me they know each other well, because Dave and I won't be around forever.  I figure their adult relationships will be stronger because of this foundation we're laying through homeschooling.
  • Homeschooling provides a top-notch education.  It's tutoring, which is a highly efficient way to teach, but it has the goal of the parent working herself out of a job, academically speaking.  My classroom size is quite small, and each year my students work a little more independently so they can become self-motivated self-learners.
  • Flexibility is freedom!  We can't take vacations during the summer because people come to us (the camp thing).  It's nice to be able to take off whenever Dave's schedule allows.  Being tied to a public or private school calendar would be quite limiting.  We can also be flexible during our schooling, such as: slowing down when the material is tough, catching up in June if we come across some great field trips during the year, and scheduling half-days on Thursdays so we can be in the musical.
  • My kids relate well to people of all ages.  Since they don't spend most of their waking hours with same-age peers, they don't think it's any big deal to converse with someone much older or younger than themselves.  It comes naturally.  They don't even have to think about it.
  • Outside influences are minimized.  I love how my kids aren't caught in the name-brand trap.  (By that I mean they don't think name brands define their worth as human beings.)  A trip to Goodwill is a special treat!  More importantly, we still have our kids' hearts.  They are somewhat influenced by their peers, but Dave and I are still the go-to guys in our children's lives.
  • Finally, the things I love about homeschooling are the things I complained about two posts ago!  Okay, I don't love it while I'm in the midst of the tattling and whining and sighing and yelling, but I'm trying to recognize that every disagreement or annoyance is an opportunity for us (me!) to yield to the Lord--to walk in the Spirit and bear His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Obviously, this is much easier said than done.  Deep down, I am thankful for the many (oh, so many) chances homeschooling gives us to work on trusting God to supply what we lack in our own flesh.  Homeschooling also makes me trust in God for my future.  I'll write that book someday--if He wants me to.  I also have to trust Him with Samuel.  That doesn't mean I sit back with some laissez-faire attitude about spending time with the boy.  Rather, asking for wisdom has become a no-brainer.  Since I don't have enough time or strength for everything I want to do, I need God's direction for what's most important now.  Today.  This week.  This year.  (I'll write more about this later.)  I guess you could say that, more than anything else, homeschooling teaches me.  It teaches me to die to myself.  To yield to God.  To be more like Christ.