Posts Tagged ‘home schooling’

Longest. Hike. Ever.

Okay, so not really, but for someone who’s been slacking off on her fitness routine the past few months, this hike totally kicked my butt. It was something like 2.5 miles.  I know, I’m a wuss. I DID have Eliot strapped to my back the whole time, but that doesn’t really exempt me from wimpy status, does it? There were 5 moms, 19 kidlets, 4 frogs, a zillion lizards, 2 kids who couldn’t hold it and had to poop in the woods, 1 scary she-man who passed us on a bike, 1 cotton mouth–oh, wait, no, his eyes weren’t “slanty,” maybe it was just a water snake, and ZERO (amazingly) serious injuries in 3.5 hours. It was AWESOME. When we reached the end Liam asked if we could go again. The moms all but screamed NO! Did I mention that the oldest of those 19 kids was 8? We must be crazy.  Anyway, here are the pics. Good times. Beautiful day. God sure makes pretty stuff.

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Someone could write a book on this topic–not me–and probably already has, but there are a few things that I’ve learned are absolutely essential to surviving your day as a mom who teaches her kids at home. No, they really don’t have anything to do with the kids–you can read all of that in the book I mentioned that I’m sure someone out there has written. These are personal goals. Three simple steps to my daily survival that I’m sharing with any other home school moms out there who may be about to throw in the towel because they feel like some sort of hideous monster by 2:00 every day.

1. Daily Bread-or in most mornings cases, a daily morsel. Just a 3-5 minute snippet of truth that’s going to set your mind for the morning. It would be nice to get more, you know, 30-45 minutes of Bible reading, 15-20 minutes of prayer time, followed up with 10-15 glorious moments of journaling while sipping hot tea and listening to some relaxing classical guitar strumming out old hymns on a CD that you found for $9.99 at on of those Target stations where your kids are always begging to press the buttons. Yeah, that would be nice, but face it, you slept in too late, because you stayed up too late because you let the kids stay up too late doing some science project with Dad. I’m onto you.

Seriously, some of my favorites that are short but packed with awesome little grace nuggets are Comforts from the Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick; 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Meyers, and Whiter than Snow by Paul Tripp. Seriously, these dont take but a minute–that minute that you may have to lock yourself in the bathroom because the kids are mounting a riot if they don’t get their breakfast. You can do it.

2. Brush your teeth. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how easy it is to find yourself cleaning up from lunch and realizing you’ve left out this important step in your daily humanity.  Because seriously,  five year olds have NO tact and it’s a huge bummer when your kid tells you your breath stinks right in the middle of a really exciting grammar lesson–so disappointing–totally throws off your groove. You’re going strong with one of your best dialects, thinking you’re the most engaging and entertaining teacher ever and she’s like, ‘mommy, you’re stinky!”You can’t really recover from that.

3. Put on a bra. I’m not joking, and before you start crying “TMI!” think about it for a minute. It’s easy to think, “hey, if I can teach in my pjs, why bother?” and there’s some truth to that, but it’s gonna have a spectacular impact on your day. You wouldn’t think that one single article of clothing would make such a difference, but when things start dragging you down, it really helps to have that little lift, and honestly, the more kids you have, the more things need lifting.  If I were a better writer I could have really developed that metaphorically, but I think we’ll just take it at face value and leave it at that.

Obviously, getting up at 5:30am, working out, doing devotions, taking a shower, getting ready and fixing breakfast all before the wee ones are out of bed would probably make me feel like a million dollars, but we all know that’s not going to happen.


Additionally obviously (that’s my new favorite phrase that I just made up), if you don’t stay at home with your kids all day you’re thinking, “well duh! Get up and get dressed like the rest of the world.” The thing is, for some of us, we home school just so that we DON’T have to get up and get dressed like the rest of the world. What I’m describing here is the fine line that separates blessedly casual and productive from dragging depressedly through the day.

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There was this really great moment the other day as I was driving Liam and his buddy Brayden to Giggle Bugs to play, when I couldn’t help but listen in on snippets of their conversation.

” . . . as the pinchanzees were swinging from the trees . . . ”

” . . . no, really, it was hee-larious!”

”  . . . and mom says that when Harry Potter’s arm broke, he went to a musician to fix it . . .”

” . . . we have a whole tray of pomagramets at our house . . .”

Then they started clapping to the Christmas music in this sweet, innocent way and I had to just hold on to these moments because soon they’ll be too cool to clap to Christmas music and too articulate to make silly pronunciation mistakes. And I just have to say, that moments like that these days are precious because most of my moments with the kidlets lately have been less than sweet, less than patient, less than grateful. Not for any particular reason, just because I’m home all day with a 7 year old, a 5 year old and a 19 month old, and, as every stranger is so quick to tell me, “I’ve got my hands full.”

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Andy recently took Liam, Gillian and me with him on one of his work trips to Raleigh. After already traveling for two weeks in a row we decided it was worth the extra effort to be together and packed up all our school stuff, sent Squire to kick it with his Nali and Grandad, and went on a road trip. Raleigh has tons of great museums and the BEST children’s museum I’ve been to yet (even better than Greenville’s I think). It sort of turned into museum week actually, with The North Carolina Museum of Art–they had a Rembrandt exhibit that was amazing–on Tuesday, The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Wednesday (the spider), and Marbles, the Children’s Museum on Thursday.  Gillian has declared every day since that she is too exhausted to do school, then when I tell her we aren’t having school she runs outside to play. Anyone else reminded of a certain Silverstein poem? Anyway, here are a few (okay, a lot) of pictures from our week of adventures.

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My children have quickly learned that the blog is where I post pictures and talk about the things I like, the things that are special to me. They’ve learned that for me, taking a picture of something and sharing it with others is a way of naming gifts and giving thanks for them. Therefore, they often approach me with ideas, pictures, requests to be little features on this space of mine. How can I deny them this little validation? In that spirit, Liam drew me this picture this morning for Halloween. He was very proud of his use of negative space for the ghosts.

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We’re well into week four of our school year and starting to settle into a bit of a routine. The scariness of teaching two separate grades at the same time is wearing off, but the reality of trying to do so with a needy toddler underfoot is sinking in. As I reach the end of the day I find myself often looking at the whole as a failure, noticing mostly the times I got frustrated, the times I was short with the kids or didn’t give Eliot enough attention, the things I didn’t get done, the gifts I didn’t give thanks for, and all the ways I lived “no” rather than “yes.”   Well, that obviously won’t do with 32 weeks to go will it?

I’m finding it helps if I can take it one moment at a time. Looking back just isn’t a good idea at this point in life. I have to take the moment as it comes, ask for just enough grace to get through that one. It goes back to naming the gifts. Each moment is a gift and I have to notice it as that, live in it, take it in and know that it’s good because He is a giver of only good gifts. Moments of NOISE, when all three of them have things to say at the same time, moments of exasperation when the four year old is having a break down over her spelling, moments of laughter when I inadvertently make silly noises as I’m teaching them how to form letters, moments of pride when Gill cranks out the number ‘8’ correctly the very first time, moments of blessed peace when something soft is playing and they’re working on their own, moments of jealousy when I lay Eliot down for a nice cozy nap,  and moments of bedlam when I’m trying to get them all out the door to make it to a gym class on time. Oh, and also moments of disgust when I’m sitting on the edge of the tub washing out Eliot’s stinky diapers and asking whose fool idea it was to use cloth (geez, I’m trying to save the kid’s butt and planet at the same time, the least he could do is poop just once a day for me!) Anyway, they’re all gifts. I have  to be reminded so often. I had to be reminded today. I’m writing about it because I figure maybe someone else out there needs to be reminded as well.            

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We’re halfway through our second week. It has been utter chaos. It’s honestly been pretty hard for me not to get overwhelmed. Eliot is running about the house at a mile a minute, climbing in and on everything and tearing apart anything that comes in, or can be torn into pieces. After he does all of that, he starts crying for attention. Not that cute little, “aren’t I sweet and pathetic” cry, but that piercing, annoying shrieking cry–and that starts when I still have an hour till lunch. This has been the soundtrack to which Liam has had to crawl out of the lethargy while straining to restart his brain. In the meantime, Gillian balks at the idea of actually having to sit still in her chair and not being allowed to say, “this isn’t fun, I don’t want to do this,” and we’ve had more “disciplinary incidents” between all three of them in the last few days then we did most of the summer. They’ve very quickly gotten back into the habit of praying at mealtimes for mommy to be patient. (That part really is pretty funny to me.)

On a personal front, I’m trying to cling to a few truths to get me through.

For the anger of man produces not the righteousness of God.

James 1:20

Why is there so much anger in me when they don’t act the way I want them to? When they don’t learn as quickly or as easily as I expect, when they don’t enjoy the parts that are meant to be fun? My kingdom is build so much on these tiny, constantly moving, never settled little creatures, no wonder it so easily topples. The other day I sent them to the couches and ran to my room to breathe, to cry, to pray, to feel like a crappy parent and a worse teacher. I wanted to stay, to lock the door and crawl into my covers where there are no flash cards, no glitter, no half completed handwriting worksheets and no fighting over who gets which musical instrument. You can’t do that though, can you? Eventually they come to the door, they get hungry, the baby wakes up. Eventually you have to go back to it and get back at it . And as I lift myself off the bed, begging for more grace,  I feel someone else’s arms lifting me a little too. “For me,” a voice inside says and I remember. Remember the thing I always forget. The thing we all forget. The gospel.

 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

1Cor. 13:7

Love bears all things, endures all things. All these little things that are so hard for a mama to bear. All these noises, all these messes, all these tears and arguments, these disobediences and self-revealing opportunities to teach and learn at the same time. This is when I remember that I can bear all these things because Love is what I have. It’s what I’ve been given and it doesn’t matter that I can’t always feel it. Love is what He is and I have Him. Love endures a trashed house, a whining kid and days not working out as planned.

“The state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul.” and “God doesn’t ask me to be perfect, he asks me to praise”

Ann Voskamp

How much was endured for me? And how ungrateful am I? All I’m asked to do is praise . . . . and love. I can do the latter because it’s Him IN me and I can do the former because I have the latter in HIM

I don’t suppose that has much to do with Back to School, does it? This post didn’t go exactly in the direction I’d intended. Maybe it does have something to do with school. Maybe all that is my lesson plan for the year.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

James 1:12

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