Saturday, September 12, 2015

Starting My 20th Year Homeschooling...... Some Tips I've Learned

Our school picture for the 2015-2016 school year.  Notice we don't wear shoes.

I guess now that I'm starting my 20th year homeschooling, I'm probably considered a veteran homeschool mom or even a pro. But really, I don't feel like either of those.  I'm still learning how to do this correctly and I know I've made lots of mistakes.  So, that's my disclaimer and I'm very thankful for God's grace and His ability to take our shortcomings and use them for His glory.  
But for any new homeschool moms, here are a few tips that I've learned over the years:

  1. Start each school day with prayer and the Bible.  This doesn't have to be some fancy family devotional.  Most of the time we start with the Lord's prayer, our memory verses for the month and scripture reading.
  2. Have a schedule and a plan.  Don't just tell your kids to grab their school books, sit at the table and get going.  This approach with lead to you putting out fires all morning. If you have multiple children, you'll be running from one child to another to answer questions and help.  Have a set time to spend with each child and try to keep it uninterrupted.  This way you can go over all their work for the day and correct yesterday's work with them right there with you.  Each child will know that they have a certain time for you.
  3. Be sure to keep you mornings free.  Remember, to homeschool, you have to be home, right?  I rarely plan anything during our school hours.  Think of it as a job.  Maybe once a month I will plan a field trip but I have learned to say "no" to many seemingly great educational things for my kids to do.  If there is one thing I see now with homeschool moms, it's that their kids are involved in way to many activities, clubs, sports, arts, etc.  But that's really another post.
  4. Start as early as is practical for your family. Even though my husband and I get up early in the morning to exercise and to have our quiet times, we don't start school until about 9:15am.  We like to have our chores done, the kitchen clean and everyone dressed for the day. I'm not a fan of schooling in pajamas or even me in sweaty work-out clothes.  I think children perform better and are less lazy when they are dressed.  This encourages them to be serious about their school work and prepares them for adulthood.  
  5. Be OK with admitting when something is not working. Say the math curriculum you bought back at the homeschool conference that looked so awesome is bringing your child or even yourself to tears, well be OK with ditching it and getting something else.  Tweak your schedule if things aren't  running smoothly or change up history and science activities.  There is no homeschool police that's going to come to your home and check to see if your child filled in all those silly science workbook pages!
  6. Enlist the help of your husband, particularly with discipline and encouragement.  Also, don't be afraid to ask for help from tutors or other homeschool moms.  We are all in this together!
  7. And just lighten up!  I've really had to do this. Is it our goal to raise perfect little Christian robots who score amazing on the SAT?  Well, if it is, then it shouldn't be.  We are homeschooling because we feel that God has called us to, right?  And because we love to be with our kids.  So, let's let God do His work and leave the outcome to Him.  The most important thing is remaining in harmony with the Lord and with our kids. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why I Need to Stop Crying at Birthdays.......(not talking about my own)

I'm having a hard time with birthdays lately.  Now I'm not talking about my own.  Getting older for me really isn't that big a deal.  But it seems like everytime I turn around one of my kids is having a birthday! With 10 children, we have at least one birthday just about every month.  And what's up with this growing-up thing?  It happens almost overnight, or so it seems.  My 5th child just passed me in height and I'm wondering when that happened. Shouldn't there have been some trumpet blasting or something to warn me it was coming.  My little guy in the picture above turned 17 this past spring and the picture on the left is how I still see him in my mind most of the time.  My oldest daughter just had her 21st birthday this month.  In talking to other moms, I think we all agree that we feel the same as we did 10 plus years ago but our children change so much.  They grow physically but also their personalities grow and change.   I do love to celebrate birthdays, making the day extra special for my child.  But lately, I've been so sad.  I don't want to feel this way.  I want to rejoice in their growing-up but I miss their little selves. I have such good memories and I dread them growing-up and moving away. My husband handles it much better than me, telling me that this is how it should be.  He always says that if they don't grow-up then they can't be your best friend.  I try to keep a happy face on around the birthday child.  Many times we look at their baby book and talk about their birth.  We also have a tradition of going around the table during our family dinner time and everyone saying what they love about that child the most.  It's always fun and funny until it's my turn.  Then I start to get all mushy as I talk about how much that child means to me and our family.  Everyone says, "Mom stop crying!"  I guess it's just life and as a mom of many I really need to get over it.  If you still just have little ones, don't rush this time.  It will pass so quickly and those little chubby hands will be big man hands all too soon.  Those little hair bows will be in the trash.  The high chair and crib will be put in the attic and your car will actually be clean! And pray for me that I can stop crying at birthdays and just be thankful, happy to have been blessed to raise this precious child. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

What I'm Doing This Summer

Anyone that knows me or has followed my blog for the last few years, knows I like summer and I like to get things done in the summer.  As a homeschooling mom, it really is a nice break from the regular teaching routine and from all the usual extra-curricular activites.  I typically make a bucket list of sorts to get done during the summer.  Things like organizing and deep cleaning the house, scrapbooking, exercising more, etc.  But this summer I've decided to chill. To just enjoy the break, enjoy my children and not try to get all the lists checked off.  This past year I had a lovely homeschool mom friend pass away with cancer, another dear friend also get diagnosed with cancer, my oldest son was almost deployed to Iraq and my mother will be turning 80 soon and becoming more frail. All these things have made me ponder life.  I've realized that we aren't guaranteed tomorrow with those we love and we won't have these precious years forever with our children at home. 

So here is my list of what I'm doing this summer:

1.  I'm not setting my alarm unless I really have to. 

2.   I'm taking my kids to the pool when they want to and actually getting in the pool and playing with them.

3.  I'm hiring help so that I can do extra things with my older kids or spend more time with my mom.  

4.  I'll get my older kids to do the organizing and cleaning out, if they need things to do and want extra money.

5.  I'm going tent camping for the first time!  My kids and husband have always wanted me to go with them and now that the baby is 4, I think I can try it!  (I'm sure that I'll have a blog post on how it turns out.)

6.  I'm going to stay in my PJ's longer and spend time reading fun books and play more with my kids.

7.  I'm not going to be so obsessed with the clock or my schedule.

8.  I'm going to hug more, laugh more and say "I love you" more. 

9.  I'm going to go on more dates with my husband, even in the day time. 

10.  I'm just gonna chill!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Why I Shouldn't of Had 10 Kids

I hear just about every day from someone who may be a friend, new acquaintance or a stranger a pretty similar comment.  It goes something like this, "I could NEVER  have 10 kids!" Actually, many times it's, "I could never have 3 or 4 or 5 or whatever!"  Now I'm really right there with these women.  I'm no super mom.  I'm just a regular girl trying to follow the Lord's will. 
Well, I decided to make a list of the reasons why I really shouldn't of had so many kids:

1.  I'm selfish and self-centered.  I basically was raised a spoiled little brat that got whatever I wanted.  

2.  I'm not a natural servant.  I grew up being served not serving.  When I take all those spiritual gifting tests, servanthood is always last on my list.

3.  I spent a lot money, tears and work on my bachelor's degree in nursing, so I should use it and not stay home with babies.

4.  I'm RH negative.  Yes, if I lived 60 years ago I probably wouldn't of been able to have more than 2 healthy children. So I'm thankful for medical science!

5.  I'm not crafty and I can barely sew.

6. I'm not patient, in the least!  Now I have learned some patience (which I think is one reason God gave my so many kids) but ask any of my children whom I've taught to read and they will tell you how patient I am (smirk....please don't ask them.)

7. I don't like my plans being changed or being interrupted. This is a daily occurrence when you have even just one child.

8. I wasn't the best babysitter growing up and I absolutely hated pediatric nursing.

9. I don't like messes or cluttered dirty houses.  This has been a real life changer for me.

10. I like to have "me time" and my husband likes to have "me time with me and no kids."  I think he's looking forward to retirement age. 

But God molds us and changes us.  He knows what we are capable of, even when we don't.  He gives us the grace, strength, patience, etc. when we need it.  Many times not before, because then we would think that we are capable on our own and can do it without Him. Where God calls, He equips and I'm so very thankful for that.  Of course, the world would look at my list and say "no way this lady should have more than 2 kids, let alone 10."  But everyday I look at my precious children and I'm so glad that by God's grace, I didn't listen to the world. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Low Key Family Birthday Party vs. The Pinterest Party

Now, I just want to preface this with saying that I don't have anything against pinterest.  I actually like pinterest but I really feel for moms these days.  Pinterest parties are just not reality.  They are expensive and time consuming and I think down right stressful for young moms.  Most children just want a happy mom, a few friends or family over and an easy cake with some presents and they are happy.  No need to spend a ton of time and money on a 4 year old's party and especially a 1, 2 or 3 year who won't even remember the party anyway.  I'm so glad that I had most of my children before there was even pinterest or the pressure to have these elaborate bday parties.  Notice my very "homemade" looking birthday cake.  Patrick picked out what he wanted on top and said he wanted chocolate and that was that. Our family is a party in itself (another good reason to have siblings for your children.)  Then we bought and made him some presents.  He was a happy boy, I was a happy mom and all my other children just loved seeing him be the little prince for the day.  So I just want to say, don't feel that you have to go to great lengths to have some fancy, unique themed party for your children.  I think most of it is just for show anyway and ends up being way to much time and trouble.  This is another area in life where I think keeping it simple is your best bet.  Happy Birthday Patrick!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Snow Days/Rainy Days.....Just Embrace it

It's been a long winter for most of the USA and while spring has sprung, or at least is trying to spring, here in the south I know that many places up north are still buried in snow.  We had more than a few snow/ice days here in North Carolina this past February and I must admit I got a little tired of it.  I didn't grow-up with snow so it's still kind of a novelty for me so I do think it's beautiful.  But not so much when it starts to turn all brown and dirty and everything, including school, gets canceled.  Then we all become a little stir crazy.  I know you other moms can relate.  And most people think that because we homeschool, that we just keep going with school...not!  My older kids, who go to private school, are off and my homeschooled kids want to play in the wonderful snow, like all day.  This makes quite a mess when you have 9 people plus a few friends, coming in and out of the house with wet, muddy, snowy clothes.  We did have a fun time and the day we got 6 inches, I even went out and played in it.  I finally just gave-up trying to keep the house clean, do school and stay on a healthy diet.  Because you know when it's snowy outside then everyone wants homemade hot chocolate and all I want to do is bake cookies.  But when I did just give-up and embrace the reality of "snow days" that is when I started to enjoy it and relax.  These days are so fleeting and no school work or clean house is worth us moms walking around the house all grumpy.  So, let us moms just chill out some and enjoy life. You know the saying, "If mom's not happy, ain't nobody happy."  This is so true and we want our children to have happy family memories.  I'm talking to myself mostly here. Let's just embrace the snow days, the rainy days, even the sick days and be thankful for the precious children God has given us to make memories with. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Scale

I saw this above picture on a friend's facebook page and it really hit a cord with me.  I guess because I know so many women that really seem in bondage to the scale.  I for one, do not own a scale and rarely ever weigh myself and this is why.  I realized in my late 20's that my happiness or how I felt about myself was greatly dependent on what the number on the scale said.  If I weighed within what I thought was good for me, then I was so happy but if I weighed more than I wanted to, then I was pretty much depressed the whole day.  That is just plain wrong!  Nothing should have that much control over our emotions or how we feel about ourselves, if it does then it is an idol.  I grew-up with a father that weighed himself every day and wrote it down.  He didn't seem to stress over it, but he's a man and his daughters and wife sure were stressed if they felt fat at all.  A few years ago when I was loosing baby weight, I was looking at buying a scale at Target.  My husband quickly said, "no way!"  He did not want me weighing myself regularly and getting into bondage and passing that on to my daughters.  I never talk about weight to my girls.  I talk nutrition, being healthy and fit to do what God has called them to do but I never talk weight or fat.  I also try to never down-talk myself or my body.  That is also a really bad example that your children pick-up even if you don't want them to.  Now, if a person has over 30 pounds to loose or has been told by a health professional that they should loose weight, then they should weigh regularly to make sure the scale is going down.  I still would shy away from owning one though.  It seems that most women I know that are bondage to the scale are already thin.  They weigh daily and get upset when it's up and they have been "eating basically nothing but vegetables."  I do not think God wants us obsessing with the scale or numbers.  I really do only weigh when I have to go to the doctor.  Instead of weighing, I just go by how my clothes are fitting.  Once I got to the size I wanted to be when I was doing THM after my last baby, then I just decided to maintain by exercising daily and eating healthy. And for the record, I didn't really weigh when I was doing THM either.  I lost a good amount of weight and when my husband and daughter told me not to loose anymore, then I relaxed and was not so strict.  Anyway, I think we as women need to walk in freedom and just say "good-bye" to the silly scale (which can fluctuate by the minute for us women anyway!)  Just like this saying above, we are valued by our love for others and the love they have for us.  What makes us truly beautiful is the love of Jesus shining from our eyes and our lives, not how thin we are.