This Week in Homeschooling

This week, as I mentioned on Monday, I thought we were going camping. I thought I would be packing. I thought I’d be living outside on a mountaintop for a few days. I didn’t think I’d be doing any school; therefore, I didn’t really have a plan for this week. Nevertheless, there’s always something we could be doing; the learning never stops. Right?

Monday, we didn’t do any school lessons. However, we did work on some life skills. The boys completely cleaned and reorganized their room (with the help of their big sister). Abbey kept her nose in a Beverly Cleary book all day. I kept my nose in a coffee mug and a few books, checked the progress of the boys’ room from time-to-time (this job took the entire day — oh, it was bad), made a plan for the week, and baked a ham.

Tuesday through Friday were pretty normal. We studied gases, found the areas of irregular shapes, discussed the elements of a story (and wrote a couple of our own), learned the difference between direct and indirect objects, memorized more prepositions, multiplied mixed numbers, spelled a lot of words that end in -tion, solved for x, memorized some scripture, learned how to punctuate dialogue, continued our study of the Greeks, read more chapters of The Iliad (a retelling published by Greenleaf Press, not the actual poem), took some tests, visited the orthodontist, visited the library, babysat for a friend, and tried to get plenty of exercise.

What’s strange is that when I think about what we do in a day, when I remember how many times I had to ask, “Did you finish…?” it doesn’t seem like we did enough work. But when I look at a list of what we covered, it makes me feel like we actually accomplished something. This is doing wonders for my teacher-esteem! I think I’ll write this post every week!

Of course, when our schooldays are running smoothly, the rest of the house suffers. I didn’t stick to my diet because it was easier to make simple, not super-healthy meals (and I didn’t want to go to the grocery store). I’m behind on washing the dishes. I have stacks of papers, magazines, and curriculum catalogs (tis the season) that need to be sorted. I have stacks upon stacks of graded papers that need to added to my grade book. Oh, it gets worse: I haven’t put away my clean laundry which Karl so lovingly washes and folds for me/us each week.

Therefore, I will be signing off now so that I can tackle the dishes before I go to bed (I’m writing Thursday night).

For next week, because I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, I’ll try to take some pictures so that you can see what we’re up to. Photos just make a blog post more interesting for the eyes.

Answering Your Questions, Part 2

Back in January, I opened the blog “floor” for questions so that I’d have some topics to write about in the future. One question was about my kids: What is one recent something your children have done that shows evidence of God’s grace in their lives? Great question, but kind of difficult to answer.

Now that my littles aren’t so little anymore, I hesitate to write about them very much. Some of the parenting issues I’m facing in this season are private and shouldn’t be published on the internet. On the other hand, this question gives me an opportunity to praise good behavior and praise God for His grace. So here goes.

I don’t know if this is normal mom behavior, but I’m always thinking about, praying for, and watching for glimpses of what God might be up to in my kids’ hearts. Like most moms, I probably put too much pressure on myself to do everything right, thus causing an overload of guilt when I see more sin than I’d like in my myself and my kids. We are still sinning against one another on a daily basis, but at the same time I can see change taking place, too.

For instance, I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I would be taking the kids out for some exercise. The Parks and Recreation Authority in Tuscaloosa offers a variety of activities at their facilities. The only problem, for lack of a better word, is that no one facility offers ALL things. For instance, one park has tennis courts, but it doesn’t have an indoor pool. The facility boasting the indoor pool and walking track doesn’t have anywhere to play tennis.

I have four children who enjoy different activities. Some of them really enjoy tennis (even though we all really stink at it). One of them LOVES to swim laps. Two love basketball. One loves volleyball. No one wants to jog or walk a trail with Mom.

To attempt to make everyone equally happy and sweaty, I try to give equal time at different parks. It’s no big deal, really, because the park with tennis isn’t far from the park with the indoor pool. So, we walked one mile and stretched, played tennis for an hour, then drove a couple of miles down the road to swim laps for another hour.

Here’s the point: NO ONE COMPLAINED when we weren’t doing his or her chosen activity. If one didn’t want to participate, then he or she sat quietly and waited for an hour for the rest of us to finish. God is growing our patience with one another.

On the other hand, tennis is revealing that I need to pray harder for more love and kindness in our words when someone sends the tennis ball soaring over the fence.

Did I mention we stink at tennis? It looks so simple on television.

Thanksgiving Preparations

This week we have been cleaning, reorganizing, and shopping in preparation for our Thanksgiving celebrations. We’ve also done a lot of relaxing, game playing, and enjoying being together at home.

I love it when our families gather to celebrate. We always enjoy being together. What makes it even better is that we’re all believers. We can talk about the Lord, what he’s doing in our lives, and give thanks together for another year of his faithfulness.

For Karl’s family’s gathering, I will be making one of my favorite holiday dishes, Green Bean Bundles. I know long-time readers may have tired of reading about them every year, but they really are that delicious. My mouth waters just thinking about them. I’m also making a pie. The other day, Lynn shared the recipe for Double Layer Pumpkin Pie. I do not like pumpkin pie, but, because other people in my family like pumpkin pie and because it comes with such high praise, I’m going to give this one a try. The cream cheese means that I’ll like at least one layer. I’m also going to make a crowd-pleasing corn dish which involves opening the can, pouring contents into dish, adding pepper (and a little butter — IT’S THANKSGIVING!), and heating to appropriate temperature.

I hope a few people will be joining us to celebrate on Saturday. I’ll be doing most of the cooking: turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, greens, sweet pea casserole, squash & zucchini, and corn. Karl is making Deviled Eggs — a first! For dessert, I’m making an apple pie. If the pumpkin pie is a hit, I may make another one of those.

Aaaaannnnd, I just realized that I will have to make another visit to the grocery store. It will be worth it, though. Dressing without the cornbread will not do.

Decreasing the daily dirty dishes pile

Spring-type wooden clothespin
Image via Wikipedia

Sunday afternoon, while our family was visiting at Karl’s grandmother’s house, I noticed an old Southern Living book. I say old, but it really isn’t old — it’s from 1997.

I didn’t know it, but, apparently, Southern Living compiles every single recipe from one year and publishes them in a nice hardback book. Included in this book are their best suggestions, tips and ideas from each magazine that year, too.

As I wiped away a little drool* from a photograph of a Grilled Bacon, Cheese, and Tomato Sandwich, I noticed the words “weekend guests” in the “From Our Kitchen to Yours” feature on the opposite page. I enjoy having guests over and can use all the tips I can get when it comes to hospitality without the headache, so I continued reading.

In 1997, a woman named Mary Alice Carmichael of Birmingham, AL, sent in this helpful tip for tackling the stacks-of-drinking-glasses-beside-the-sink problem:

[She] cleverly clips the problem with hand-painted clothespins. Before friends arrive, she decorates each pin with a name and asks each guest to clip one onto the glass they’ll use for the weekend. (Clips are to be removed while sipping, of course.) Once Mary Alive bids guests adieu on Sunday, she tucks the clothespins away in a special place until their ‘owners’ return for another stay.

While I do not have weekend-long entertaining issues, I do have four children. One of my pet peeves is the kids’ use of a different cup every single time they want/need a drink. It isn’t all their fault, though: if their cups mysteriously find their ways to the sink or the dishwasher while left unattended, well, the kids have to get a new one.

A few years ago, I tried a similar solution to the cup problem with colored rubber bands. Each morning, the kids would choose a color and put the band around a cup. But, inevitably, colors would be forgotten or changed, bands would be thrown into the garbage or the desk drawer, or someone forgot about the band-system altogether.

I think Ms. Carmichael’s suggestion could be the holy grail for my cup issue. First of all, I can turn it into an art project. Not only do my kids love to paint, they also personalize every single thing they own. (I guess that’s a by-product of living in a family of 6.) Second, I don’t think they’ve ever seen a clothespin; it will be novel. Third, a personalized clothespin will not get tossed into the trash nor put in the desk drawer. Finally, by placing a little strip of magnet on the back, we can store them all on the refrigerator, which just happens to reside near the cabinet with the cups/glasses AAAAND…wait for it…where we store the beverages. IT’S PERFECT!

*Just kidding about drooling on your book, Mima!

Thankful Thursday — The Kids

I am thankful for my children. While the four of them have quite a bit in common, each one is so very unique. Being their mother has not been easy, but I wouldn’t trade them (or the mothering experience) for anything in the world.

I feel like I can say that with honesty now that it’s 10 pm and the house is quiet again.

As usual, the day offered plenty of opportunities for me to feel guilty about a decision or to feel like I failed one or all of the kids in some way. For example, I thought we’d have fun playing Uno for a little while this afternoon. Little did I know, one child would become greatly offended by the manner in which another child shuffled the cards. Yes, I had to mediate a card shuffling dispute.

It’s like they’re all 2 years old again.
Pic 16/365

On the one hand, I wanted to say, “Oh, you guys are just tired from swimming this morning. Maybe we need to have a rest time today instead of playing games.” But the truth is that I had to help them deal with sinful anger and pride and poor sportsmanship.

One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is knowing whether or not I’m handling a situation the “right” way. Without a doubt, retreating to my room to allow a “Lord of the Flies” scenario to play out would have been wrong. So, even though I didn’t know exactly what to do, I stayed in it. We talked it out.

The day offered plenty of opportunities for shedding tears and talking it out. Each kid spent a bit of time in a room alone “to think about it.” Not an easy day.

But I’m still thankful that they are home and they’re mine.

I am thankful that Hannah enjoyed designing and sewing doll clothes today. She even made a quilted sleep mask.

I’m thankful that Benjamin contented himself with drawing pictures of battles and droids. I think he may be working on another comic book.

I am thankful that Abbey and Noah are best friends. They get into a lot of trouble, but they look out for one another in the trouble.

Today, they enjoyed playing “Food Network.” To play FN, the kids create insane food combinations and judge one another’s creations. It really cracks me up when I hear phrases like, “Beautiful presentation,” and, “I like these flavors.”

The trouble came today, however, when I smelled coffee. I had to put a stop to all of the caffeine ingestion. Plus, they needed to learn that Mama’s Dunkin’ Donuts is not a plaything.

It’s good to give thanks.

By the way, our summer break is coming to an end. I bought some school supplies today. Can you believe it?