Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Studies

Over here on his blog, the original blog, I just want to offer a little more depth to my posts. I could never fathom taking credit for good things in my life, without acknowledging the best thing in my life: Jesus Christ.  I was sharing the painful parts of a story the other night with one of my longest-time best friends, and she remarked to me that I was a better woman than her... I'm not, though, I insisted. That's not me. As in, literally, not me. It's Him. With a Capital H, Him. Only through Him, can I live at all. Certainly, only through Him can I forgive.  It's true love. I will be praying for all of my dear ones to know Him. I pray that I can share Him more often, more beautifully, and more boldly.

I have the best plans of continuing to homeschool over the summer.  These plans consist of very organized days, eager and willing children desiring to do their math, and soft music playing in the background.  I think that all of the workbooks for summer bridging activities will be interesting and they will inspire learning and creativity.  Doesn't everybody imagine such summer days?  

I wonder when I will stop dreaming about such summers, and will just embrace what really happens.

I wonder when I will stop being surprised by my plans not working out the way I want them to.

This summer, I'm trying a little more of a proactive approach (for my psyche, anyway) that involves only a few days a week of actual work, and less than a few hours of time a day devoted to such work.  At least, I think, we aren't just lounging around doing nothing. My children's brains aren't just being lazy, wasting away into nothingness.  I think of it like a compromise.  A very flexible compromise.

After all, there are days that I am lazy, too.  It's hard to admit that out loud, but, it's true.  There are summer mornings when I just don't feel like being organized, or on time.  We don't start lessons, because I don't make it a priority, and the kids don't have it as a priority.  Some days are just... well, lazy.  Here is the compromise part:  It's OK.  

It's ok to be in our pajamas all day.  It's ok to skip math and go to the pool. It is even ok to wait to start the laundry until tomorrow (or the next day). 

So, we are trying to be a little bit disciplined and a little bit flexible.  We are having an expectation of math and grammar three days a week.  While I don't think this is asking too much, my kids continue to balk at said assignments. 

"It's summer"
"The sun is shining"
"It's too cloudy"
"My head hurts"
"My stomach hurts"
"My third toe on my right foot hurts"

You get the idea.  They think I was both born yesterday, and was never a kid. Meh.

This is my proposal (read: expectation, read: demands):  Three days a week, less than a few hours a day (sometimes less than an hour a day).  Work on the (wretched) math and grammar (please!).  The oldest daughter still actually has curriculum to finish- as in, she still owes me, like two papers, and has another novel to get through before she can start junior year.  She, actually, is very agreeable to my (ahem) proposal.  We also have a loose schedule of crafts, library time, science time, and Bible study.  In my perfect vision it isn't such a loose study schedule (I guess I'm a little bit of an organization freak- I like schedules like I like geography and timelines- everything in its own time and space).  In reality, though, we have these lazy days, and rainy days, and sunny days, and sick days.  We also really do have to get the laundry done... everyone has grown, and most of the girl's shorts are a little too short for my liking.  They really only have, like, three pairs each.

July is the fun month, though, where we relax a bit on the schedules.  Like I said, it happens every year.  It gives me time to get organized for next year, and it allows the breathing room needed to re-evaluate what did and didn't work for us.  I'm embarrassed to say that I've just figured out that the way I teach (that, mind you, worked for my other two kids), does not work (at all) for my youngest.  So, this July, specifically, this week, will be spent putting together next year's curriculum for her.  I'll keep you posted!

Homeschooling is the best thing ever, even when it isn't the best thing ever.  I love that I can do it, that my husband wants us to homeschool our girls. It is hard at times, but so worth it to be able to spend the best parts of our days together.  Sure, it's nice to get a break, and yes, I have those moments when I wonder what on earth am I thinking, but over all I wouldn't change it.  I love the summer-time when we all can relax a bit, even though I sometimes struggle with all that relaxing.  It is a great gift to be home with the kids.  And, for real, I know that they really are learning... even when they are "not".

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Independence Day

I love, love, love July fourth!  I love the fireworks, I love picnic food, I love the red-white-and-blue.  I love being patriotic!  I grew up a Navy-brat, and moved every three years, but we always celebrated the fourth.  In fact, the best three July fourth celebrations I remember were celebrated in Stuttgart, Germany on Patch Barracks.  The fireworks were incredible... so incredibly close... that part actually made me nervous. They were close.  Did I mention they were close?  I actually remember feeling heat and smelling gunpowder. Awesome.

So, what are you all doing?  For the first time in a long time (very long time) we are attempting to celebrate with the masses.  I wrote a few weeks ago about going to the zoo for fun, and how those plans seem to always go awry.  So, we are planning (diligently making plan A, plan B, and plan F). We have food contingencies, bathroom contingencies, rain ops, etc. We have bug spray, bug screen, sun screen, hats, tents... you get the idea.  In our pursuit of the celebration of life and liberty, we are are arming ourselves for defense against a meltdown.  I'll keep you posted. We will be hopefully partaking in the Heritage Festival, and enjoying the celebration of independence outside! All. Day. No wimpiness will be tolerated... says the husband. 

There are so many cute things out there, in cyberland, to do, to be festive, to decorate, to cook.  I so enjoy looking at the pictures of everything.  The trick, of course, is to not get sucked into the perfection of it all.  Does this happen to you?  It happens to me all the time... the beauty of pinterest, the perfect recipes, the artistic crafts...  Yes, it is all gorgeous, and exciting, but don't set yourself up for failure.  Most of the recipes do not end up looking like the pictures of the recipes. Sometimes the crafts don't turn out, either.  Just remember, that you are being creative and creating a festive atmosphere for your family, and that is where the love is.  Your family will appreciate your attempts, and love you for loving them so much to be making red, white, and blue cupcakes, and jello, and hamburgers.  It's a blessing to be the keeper of the home:)

I've also read about communities doing a decorated bicycle parade, and having prizes for those dressing up with a patriotic spirit.  This sounds so fun, that one year (some day)  I totally plan to organize a neighborhood parade for the kids.  I've been saying this for a few years, though, and July Fourth is like, tomorrow.  In fact, you may be reading this after the fourth, which is fine, because there will be a celebration next year, too, and I may have that parade thing up and organized by then.  Also, there will be Labor Day, Patriot Day, and Memorial Day coming up... you know, soon.  All of these holidays celebrate patriotism, too.  Red-white-and-blue is always in style!! Time to start planning!

Books, too, are an important part of our repertoire for any and all holidays.  We. Love. Books.  I picked up three simple picture books about July Fourth at the library yesterday.  We will read them together tonight and tomorrow. I don't have baby-babies anymore, but I still like to use picture books, because they read quickly, the pictures are fun and beautiful, and the information is still good, and correct.  Instead of trudging through a textbook teaching the story of The Declaration of Independence, you can read the same information in a story book with pictures.  I have a seriously (like diagnosed, for real, severe level) distracted adHd child.  She can't handle loads of info at once, and certainly doesn't have the attention for a long book.  Story books, with pictures, is the way to go.  My older, non-distracted child loves the art and simplicity of these books as well.  And my oldest, autistic child still appreciates read-aloud time here and there.  He says he is too old for it, but I find him usually hanging around, and looking at the pictures, and listening intently.  It's sweet.

I give thanks to God for blessing me so richly in this time and space. Too often, we take freedom for granted. We take general luxuries and celebrations for granted, too. By we, I mean the collective "we"... I know I'm included in that- I worry about meltdowns at the park, not getting shot at in the park.  Join me in prayer this weekend to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ that do have to worry about violence, and persecution. And their freedom, or more concerning, their lack thereof. Prayers, sometimes, are all we can offer.

So, whatever holiday celebration y'all are planning this weekend, please enjoy it!  And if you're reading this after the holiday, then kudos for planning ahead for next year!  I hope everyone enjoys their weekend, no matter what!  Happy Independence day!