Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stream of Consciousness...

Because sometimes I forget that it isn't about building their resumes or having the smartest kid in the room...

I homeschool...

to find opportunities to practice compassion together every day

to foster meaningful friendships with their peers

to educate my children so that they see the world as God's see it

to help my children find their God given purpose in life

to make prayer, scripture memory, and time in the Word part of a day's natural rhythm

to model a lifestyle of worship before my children

to leave lots of margin in their lives for creative play, alone time, and exploring

to encourage them in hopes that they will love the process of learning

to strengthen family bonds

to foster meaningful and lasting friendships among siblings

to take vacations in April and September when it is empty and cheap

to create lasting memories of time together rather than apart

to practice and teach what it means to honor others above ourselves

to study and learn about topics together

to get outdoors as much as possible and enjoy God's amazing world

to deepen our family relationships

to train my children to evaluate all things through the Word of God

to teach them how to think so that they won't be told what to think by others

to help them know God in a personal way

to practice the fruits of the Spirit in a safe place

to allow them the opportunity to know baby C (7 months) well

in hopes that all of the knowledge we gain draws us closer to our Creator

and so that I have more time in each day and each week to acheive these goals, yet with a recognition of my full reliance on His work in their hearts and lives.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Keeping it in mind

When things get tough homeschooling my little ones, there are two stories that return to my thoughts. These aren't necessarily the most uplifting thoughts, but they are two statements that help me maintain perspective.

A friend of mine met a woman at a birthday party. The woman had been homeschooled through high school, so my friend started asking her about it. This woman was not planning at all to homeschool her own children at all. Her reason?

I never want to be as stressed as I remember my own mother being.


That statement has stuck with me. I try to remember it on days when things are getting tough. A stressed out, frazzled mom is NOT what I want my children to remember from our days at home together.

And in a weird way, this sad statement helps me at those moments. I am able to pause in my mind, back up, and pray. I have to give the moment and the day over to God and release MY agenda, which is often the cause of the stress.

I continually pray that our family will build fun memories together. It doesn't matter to me that my children homeschool their own children. But, I want their memories of our time at home together will be fond ones that they will cherish. I pray our time will solidify and strengthen our relationships instead of damaging them.

And this little statement helps me remember to keep giving my agenda over to God and resting in His plan each day instead of stressing over mine.

Story Two
I have been overwhelmed this year. Homeschooling with a baby, three year old, 5 year old and 7 year old has been quite a challenge for me. I have made some effort to seek out other moms with 4 or more children for encouragement and advice.

Recently I visited a friends with four kids over the same age span. But her youngest is now kindergarten and the oldest is 5th grade. I wanted to see how she ran the day, kept herself organized, and how things were set up.

Our time was great and it was so nice to see how things might look in 5 years. But at some point I turned to her and admitted that having the baby and three year old was so tough. I asked, "What on earth did you do back then?"

She smiled. "Remember, that is when I gave up and sent them to school?"

At that time, she had gotten so frazzled about homeschooling and it had brought out so much anger and frustration that she and her husband agreed to send the children to school.

I didn't know her at that time. When we met, she had her oldest daughter at home with her and was in the processing of trying to "convince" her husband to let her homeschool them all again. After months of praying, attending a conference together, and a year with one at home, they brought all 4 home again. And she is having a great year.

But that story acknowledge for me just how tough this situation is. There will be other challenges later, but the challenges that I am facing right now are extremely frustrating at times.

Frustrating enough that some awesome homeschooling mommies that I know threw in the towel for awhile. And that is OK. God worked it out. But somehow, knowing that honest truth that she shared with me has made me feel less alone.

This story is another one that reminds me to stay focused on God and rest in Him. I can't let homeschooling consume my mind. And I certainly pray it won't have a negative impact on our family.

This story also reminds me that God works in ALL situations. I may find a time that I need a break and He leads our family down a different path for awhile. That doesn't mean that I can't go back to homeschooling if it is my desire.

Just two thoughts that sometimes help me get through tough spots.

They help me to remember to rest in Him and let some things go that need to be released for the JOY of homeschooling to be restored.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Studying Antarctica


We had a blast studying Antarctica and the Arctic.

Seriously. I think this was one of the most fun areas that we have studied so far. And yes, if you venture on this journey one day, be sure to do it while there are Arctic temperatures outside. It does add to the affect.

I admit that I was not looking forward our Arctic and Antarctic studies. I mean, there aren't any people, so there wasn't any clothing, food, or any type of culture to study! We haven't studied animals in any other countries because our science studies are covered at our co-op. But it seemed like the only thing to study in these areas.

Yep. We were left with animals and explorers. Ugh.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that we loved both topics completely. And both topics pointed us to God over and over again.

The animals in these areas were so fun to "meet"! We made a lot of use of National Geographic DVD's. Our favorite one (by FAR) was, "Really Wild Animals: Polar Prowl". The kids learned so much from this video and it was very well done. Our other favorite was The Blue Planet Seas of Life: Ocean Worlds, Frozen Seas. It appears to be discontinued by the manufacturer, but our library had it.

And yes, we watched a little bit of, "March of the Penguins," but it was a bit "slow" for the kids. I'll finish myself another time. The story of the penguins is amazing and speaks of the majesty of God's design in His creation over and over again.

We talked about food chains and food webs during our studies. And of course, we talked a lot about penguins, the clear favorite animal in this house!

It was really convenient that the local library hosted an activity hour called, "Penguins and Polar Bears" during our study! The girls had a great time at the library and enjoyed the topic so much more because they were knowledgeable about it from our studies.

The librarian gave a talk about these creatures and shared information with the children.

Yes, the girls remembered a lot of the information that we had learned.

Then we created a cotton ball polar bear and an "ice scene" with aluminum foil and colored creatures.

We spent our second week studying Sir Ernest Shackleton, an Antarctic Explorer. His story is amazing and inspiring. Truly God has a protective hand on him during his journey. Shackleton himself was an amazing example of servant leadership, so we talked a lot about his character as well.

The video, Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, is well worth watching. And yes, I did cry. Some of it was intense, though visually it was tame enough for the kids to watch and listen to. The parts that gave me chills often were beyond their comprehension.

And, at the end of it all, was our get together with friends.

We began by making an Arctic food web. The paper plate represents the ice. The animals on top of the ice are on the top of the food chain. The animals under the ice are the ones that live in the water and are lower in the food chain. And of course, it is all held together by the energy from the sun.

(idea from Beyond Penguins website in Fall 2009 issue)

Next we talked about snow crystals. Snow crystals begin with a hexagonal shape, so we started with that as our base. Then everyone had a fun time creating their snow crystals.

Yes, my house was a busy place!

Next, we were off to the basement for the Antarctic Olympics! First, we were polar bears who had to crawl on all fours to get our (Swedish) Fish from the ice hole (plate).

Then we were penguins who had to pass our penguin egg (bean bag) gently from our feet to the person's feet in line behind us. No fair using hands and don't let it drop!

Finally, it was time to get dressed for our Arctic Adventure! We had a snow clothing relay race as everyone raced one at a time to put on their hat, scarf, and boots.

Then it was presentation time. K (age 7) gave a talk about penguins.

T (age 5) talked about the dangers of icebergs.

Then it was snack time. We had some boxed drinks (so they wouldn't go bad while exploring) as well as some explorer food. It was a lovely mix of foods that would not go bad if you were stuck on a boat in the Arctic. We also had some Italian Ice!

And yes, little C (6 months), was there! Of course, he was dressed for the wrong continent.

Another great continent study!