Home and Family, Homeschooling

And it begins again….

Tomorrow is the first day of September.  Just about everyone is beginning school….whether public, private or home.  The leaves are beginning to change in my neck of the woods.  Backpacks and sweaters are appearing, and the local radio ads have switched from summer fun spots to office supplies and cold weather wear.

As my daughter has worked on a curriculum plan, and we’ve sorted, stacked, and reviewed books, I can’t help but remember doing the same things.  Teaching reading, history, and science.  Pouring over new ideas for math approaches, or struggling with literature decisions.  How much is enough?  Too much?  Have I missed something?

Relax, Mom.  You’ve got this.  Do something everyday.  Keep at it.  The perfect book, kit, plan, etc. may or may not be out there, but you can be effective whether you have them or not!  Our children don’t need to see “perfect”; rather, they need to come to understand “consistent”, or “required”, or “effort.”  Those things don’t cost money.  They aren’t produced by someone else.  They are home-grown.  Homemade.  And priceless.

My grandchildren aren’t heading back to a traditional classroom with a backpack, a lunchbox, and new jeans.  They are here, in my home, learning at Mom’s (and Grandma’s) knee.  Basic academics, traditional values, life skills, family dynamics, and a bit of silly thrown in are definitely part of the curriculum plan.

It’s gonna be a good year.

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Home and Family, Homeschooling

Change is a good thing!

One of the challenges of living as a homeschooling family is the reality that you spend LARGE quantities of time together.  While that is a tremendous blessing, it can also be hard.  And same-y.  Daily anything can become a drag.  This summer as you spend time together, and during your planning for the coming academic year, insert some change.  (If you have children that depend on a routine, plan ahead, and let them know what is coming!)

  • Take a few days and reverse your meals.  Have dinner for breakfast, and vice versa, or eat outside.
  • Plan your meals using different themes.  Try all finger foods for a day.  Or add a previously untried fruit/vegetable at each meal. Don’t turn on your stove for 24 hours, but still eat at home.
  • Introduce a different culture’s cuisine every few days, and learn to make food from another part of the world, or explore the same basic food from different countries.  Some foods appear in most places, just in a different form.  Sandwiches become quesadillas, bao, etc.  Looks for examples of soups, one-dish meals, salads, pies (sweet and savory), or desserts.  YUM!
  • If you generally spend Friday running errands, pick a different day of the week, or check out a few less-familiar stores.  You never know what you might be missing!
  • If you live in a “touristy” area, become a tourist for a day and explore all those places people come from all over the country to visit.
  • Spend time at a different local swimming pool, library, or park.
  • If you can have access to them, teach your children to use a typewriter, or carbon paper, or use a slate and chalk for a day rather than paper and pencil.
  • Have a game day as a family.  No academics.  Minimal chores.  Easy meals.  Play games together-board games, card games, go outdoors and learn hopscotch and jacks and kick-the-can.  Laugh together.

As we open up the world to our children, we encourage them to think a little differently.  Flexibility is a requirement in today’s craziness!  Take some time as a family, and develop some together!

Home and Family

What legacy will you leave?

I have a shelf (or two) filled with books dealing with finances, thrift, homemaking, and such.  One book was recently added by financial guru, Jean Chatzky, “Money Rules.”  The book lists 95 very basic rules for dealing with money throughout the seasons of life.  I was reading, smiling, and just basically thumbing through the book…then I read rule number 88.  Spend more time building a legacy than an inheritance.  What’s more valuable: leaving $20,000 to your kids, or instilling in them a work ethic that lets them earn an extra $20,000 a year?

I have come back to that page a number of times, and spent even more time rolling the thought around in my mind.  Are we leaving inheritances or legacies?  Or more specifically, am I leaving inheritances or legacies?  What would I gift to my descendants if I could wave a magic wand? A few things.

Hopefully, they have all  developed a solid work ethic in temporal things.  Have they developed the same work ethic in mental, emotional, and spiritual things?  God is real, miracles do happen, and prayer has real power, but work is required.   Relationships add richness and joy to our lives, but require commitment and effort.  Education is the gateway to growth and success, yet it cannot be acquired half-heartedly, or through force-feeding.  Self discipline and consistency must be applied.

Will I be successful at leaving a legacy of service, duty, enduring well?  Or will they simply remember isolated conversations about the importance of those things?

Will home be a place of inherited “stuff” or will it be filled with love, peace, and acceptance that they can claim as their own, and carry with them where ever life takes them?

And, most important in my eyes, will they have received a legacy of faith in God, belief in His scriptures, and a desire to be with our family and Him forever?

What legacy are you hoping to leave to those you love?

 

 

 

Home and Family

I don’t do drama! (Rant warning)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

When did our society decide that every annoyance was to be addressed?  Or every disagreement aired and discussed? I realize that I am a grandmother, and so older than many, but I remember my father looking at me and telling me, “Life isn’t fair. Get over it.” (And he was right. Life isn’t fair.) Or, “So? Your point?”  (Lest you think he was uncaring, please note that those comments often came as we discussed the problem over ice cream from the local ice cream parlor.) At the time, it annoyed me to no end.  Now I confess, “Daddy, I GET IT!”  We are able to grow more, learn more, have more joy, and teach more effectively when we are able to “get over it.”

So many times in the recent past someone has asked for my help…for themselves, for a friend or loved one. Don’t get me wrong. If I can help, I am more than willing. The problem? The “help” these folks are seeking comes tightly wrapped up in drama! Layers and layers of it!

Come to my home, and we can discuss religion, academics, child care, organization, running a household, or any other number of topics and have a great time. I will teach you make bread, save money, or write your own curriculum…happily. But please check the whining at the door! I can’t change how your mother-in-law, neighbor, congregation member, or other obnoxious person responds to you or what they say. And neither can you. “Get over it.”  Move on, and prove them wrong. It becomes much harder to argue with what someone is doing when everyone can see that the outcome was a good one!

Besides that, your children are learning to whine, complain, and become victims the more you model that behavior. If you desire them to be strong, motivated, and able to persevere, you must do the same. No one has a perfect life. Anywhere. Stop insisting that life is unfair because you have problems. (If you think there are people who don’t have them, you need to pay better attention to others around you!)  I don’t remember Christ being a complainer.  The Reformers and later Church leaders just got on with the job. We must do the same!

I’m not apathetic to the plight of others; I just have no power to change someone else’s life.  If things need to change, make a different choice.  Do something you haven’t tried.  Or just stop thinking about all the negative. It is amazing how much a positive outlook helps, but drama is exhausting. It can literally make you ill. You miss the joy and beauty of life. And the Lord can’t guide you if you are focused on wallowing in the mire.

So if you want to know how to cook a meal from scratch, plan your literature study, or get a garden planted, let me know. The rest is for you and the Lord to unravel!

(This post is in no way meant to point the finger at those who truly suffer from clinical depression.  But if you do, get professional help.  That is also out of my league!)

Home and Family, Homeschooling

Plumbers use jackhammers. Who knew?

Life is a constantly changing opportunity to play the game of “Associations.”  You know the one I mean- when I say a word, you say the first thing that comes to mind (Christmas/tree, spring/garden, birthday/cake, etc.).  I am learning a new group of associations.  Fascinating.

Plumber/jackhammer.  Not generally the first thought I would have had, but I am so grateful it is true.  How else would they get to the collapsed cast iron pipe under my foundation?  All drains are now working properly.  YEAH!

plumbersWM

Small children/medicine balls.  We found two of these at one of our favorite “odd lot” haunts (6 and 10 lbs. respectively), and brought them home.  What a wonderful thing!  Having the young ones roll them around, use them to get through a quick obstacle course or two, or push them in laundry baskets helps so much with large muscle use on a cold winters’ day, and gets them turned back “on” for academic time!

Penmanship/white clay.  For the eight-year-old, penmanship entails a piece of paper, a pencil, and the assigned items to write.  For the six-year-old?  Not so much.  Due to the differences in learning style and approach, he is creating clay letters and using those for word creation.  Since dyslexics see life in 3D, working with 3D letters helps him orient himself to the task at hand, and he is much more successful.  Love it!

Jacobclaywm

Cleaning/joy.  During the last week, we have had the opportunity to help clear the family home following the death of my father-in-law.  The eight, six, and four year-olds were troopers and carried things up the stairs from the basement so that they could be sorted and given away.  When my sister-in-law commented on their ability to focus and work as hard as the adults, the eldest beamed at her and said, “we love to work!  Especially with Grandpa in his garden!”  And then he got back to the task at hand.  What a payday for the parents and grandparents of that little boy (who is well on his way to manhood)!

Life is full of surprises, and the unexpected can be a learning experience all its own if we are watching for it!  All these, and so many more, are a great reminder that I am not as smart as I wish I were-and that’s okay.  Someone else has it covered, and He will send the unexpected and unanticipated to us when we need it!

Homeschooling, Parenting

No child is broken (rant warning)

The past few weeks have been a flurry of doctor and therapy appointments for a number of my grandchildren.  There has been so much information disseminated, I will be processing it for weeks!  One lesson stands out above the rest though.  No child is broken!  There are adjustments we as adults need to make when working with children, but that is for us to do.  It isn’t their job make our lives easier.  It is our job to find what they need to help them.

Learning styles differ.  (Did you know that dyslexia is a learning style?  More on that in an up-coming post.)  Abilities and perceptions vary from person to person.  Approaches to learning need to be adjusted to meet the needs of different children.  All of that is do-able.  The problems come when we as parents or care-takers want to be “in charge” of things.  NEWS FLASH- we aren’t “in charge” at all! The Lord sent all His children here with a plan…His plan.  Our job is to find out what it is for each of them and follow it.

Children need to use all they were sent here to use.  Muscles need exercise-expect climbing, running, jumping, throwing, and a ton of other movement.  It is not only normal; it is necessary!

They need your time-as much as you are willing to give them.  They need time to talk, cry, share, learn.  Self-discipline is only developed as the adults around them help them with consistency and follow-through.  If they don’t learn it, it is on us.

Messes follow young ones like day follows night.  That’s okay.  It will give us a chance to experience all those things we wanted to do as children but were stopped because it was “too messy.”  Spend time creating and cleaning together.

Children ask questions-lots of questions.  They aren’t blank slates waiting for someone to write on them; they have opinions, preferences, and interests they came here to express and explore.  Let them pepper you with everything they can come up with through their life.  The joy of discovery is not to be missed!

When we ask them to sit still for long periods of time, be quiet for hours on end, spend hours with a screen (because it is easier than interacting with them ourselves), or do it our way-no questions asked-we are not helping them grow or learn or develop into who they were sent here to become.  Growing up is hard work, and helping it happen can be inconvenient and frustrating, but there is no greater reward than spending time with them and their children…and their children…

Finances, Home and Family, Homeschooling

I can have a life or write.

Life allows for many things, but not everything.  Lately the choices seem to require that I look more and more at the bottom line.  What is the cost?  What are the benefits?  Where should I spend my time?  It has taken weeks to get back to the keyboard.  Why?  Life.  Lots of life.

A few weeks ago, one of the two-year-old twins pulled a hot bowl of soup off the counter, and we spent three days making trips to the ER and burn unit in Salt Lake City.  He is on the mend, and we are so grateful that there shouldn’t be any lasting scars or other damage; but a week just got sucked away with doctor visits, medications, and grandma time for the other kids.  (I think medical black holes are some of the biggest out there!)

We have had the electrician in twice in the last couple of weeks, and have one more repair scheduled.

Our four-year-old grandson has been in and out of evaluations and other appointments.  We now know that we have an additional grandson with Sensory Perception Disorder and he also has auditory processing challenges.  Goody.  More therapy and evals coming in the near future.  It will be wonderful to be given the tools so that we can better help him as he grows.

Military trainings are not scheduled around families.  Just sayin’.

I got the flu. Ugh. Okay. Not the H1N1 crud that is going around right now, but I got pretty sick.  In some ways, it was nice to be forced to take a few days and rest.

Our plumbing sprung a leak.  And then another.  We are now in the process of having entire house replumbed.  In the end it will wonderful; right now it is a bit chaotic.

What have I learned?

  • Setting a New Year’s resolution about being calm and letting go is easier said than done.
  • School day disruptions are not the end of the world, but things will run more smoothly the more closely life can resemble whatever “normal” is.  Keep good habits going as you can.  Also, having an in-home library, and lots of hands-on activities is a real blessing!
  • Prayer is a wonderful thing!
  • Music is a gift.  I can listen as clean, think, or hide.  And I can watch the joy in my eldest grandson’s face as we work on his piano together.
  • I am blessed with an incredible network of people who are willing to jump in and help me keep my head above water.  I am so grateful!
  • All of the $$$ skills we learned as a young family are indispensable!  As we pay for plumbing, and other unexpected expenses, it so great to know that I can dust off my copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and channel my inner tightwad.  We can do this!
  • Thank heaven for food storage, and the tools/skills to use it!
  • When you buy an older home with lots of “character”, repairs are in your future!
  • The Lord is faithful.  Our family is returning to health.  We found a plumber who will do the job, and is willing to work with us.  My home is still a refuge from the storm.  And I can be happy as life goes on around me.

Can I have a nap now?  And then I will work on more writing…life allowing.