"'And you've quite given [writing] up?' asked Christine.
'Not altogether...but I'm writing living epistles now,' said Anne, thinking of Jem and Co."
- Anne of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery


Grocery Store Encounters

He spotted us the second we walked in the door and commented on my Skidamarink's white-blonde hair. He had hair that color when he was a boy. Now it's grey. The man approached us from his spot by the oranges, asking Skid, "What's wrong with your ear? Did you know there's something behind your ear?" He pulls a quarter out from behind my boy's head. Skidamarink smiles and says thank you as the man hands him the quarter. The man chats about how when he was a boy he would ride the bus into town and watch a movie and eat "a bag of corn" and ride the bus home for a quarter. "Not much you can do with a quarter these days." He smiles and chats for a few minutes more about white-blonde hair and quarters. Then he hits us with his news: "I have to go to a funeral today. My daughter's funeral. Paren't aren't supposed to live longer than their children." And before I can say a word to him, he turns and walks away. All I can do is pray for him, so I do.

When Cap asks me in desperation, "Mom, why am I staying 4 forever?!?" I understand why he is frustrated. He's in a hurry to grow up. He says he wants to marry his friend from school and have a baby of his own and have whiskers just like daddy. And I know it's frustrating to wait so long to grow - to feel like you can't do anything important. But, when I think of the man with the quarter in the grocery store I know how important 4 and 2 and all of those young years are to the world.

The man didn't do much more than glance at me. He didn't ask my name and didn't offer his. I wasn't the one he needed to talk to. There are some gifts that can only come from children. I know that on that particular day - likely the worst of his entire life - he recieved a blessing from my boy. Skidamarink brought a smile to that man's face. He gave him a gift of joy and a memory of happy days. I couldn't have done that. But my sweet little 2-year-old did. God's loving embrace through the smile of a little blonde-haired boy.


Packing Up Memories

Just over two weeks and we'll be moving away from our home of the last 8 1/2 years.  Not far, just across town.  We'll send the boys to the same preschool, use the same doctors, frequent the same places.  But still, we're moving and it breaks my heart.

I couldn't be more excited about our new place - a little old house out in the country with plenty of space for our 4+1 family to roam.  We call it "the farm" to denote our dreams of all the adventures we'll have there.  Still, I'm heart-broken.  I don't want to leave.

I hear the words of what I think was John Wesley's story of his encounter with a Native American.  The man asked, "If you Christians believe in eternal life, why do you build houses like you will live forever?"  Those words keep floating through my mind and I'm horribly ashamed of myself.  Why am I clinging to what I have now when the promise of what is to come is so much better?

I know why.  It's the memories.  I've called this place home longer than any other and as I look around at these walls, I see a store-house of memories. 

This was the place we bought just before we were married.  The place Jeff moved into with all of my stuff.  The place I dreamed about coming home as a bride.  This was the home we came to fresh from our honeymoon.  Where we learned to be man and wife, crammed into one tiny room while the rest of the house was a chaos of reconstruction.  This was the place where we worked to make everything perfect only to find soggy walls and leaky pipes.  My grandpa helped Jeff to hang every board of drywall and every piece of wood in the living room floor months before the stroke that made him unable to work with wood again.  It was here that I learned that Grandma was cancer-free and later that the cancer was back.  It was here I returned in the early morning hours after her struggle was finally over.  In this place I found comfort in sorrow - grief over loved ones lost and deep betrayal and shattered dreams.  During the most painful days of my life, this place was my sanctuary.

And, oh!  The joy!  In the confines of these walls I found out I was going to be a mother.  We planned and dreamed of our little love - making a space perfect for him.  I paced the floors in giddy anticipation and numbing fear as I labored.  And a few days later, we brought our little bundle home.

I remember a house awake in the middle of the night.  Bouncing up and down stairs to soothe a cranky baby.  This house saw all his firsts:  first roll-over, first smile, first teeth, first steps, first owies.  Now his firsts are bigger - learning to ride a bike, reading words all by himself, pouring his own glass of milk.  How he has grown under this roof!

Two years later, this house saw all those baby firsts over again.  A second time we learned we would be parents.  A second time we planned and dreamed, now making our house perfect for two little boys.  We brought our second little love home and again the house was awake at night.  Again it witnessed baby cries and giggles.  Here he has learned to roll and crawl and walk and talk.  He has grown from an infant to an independent little man, sharing in our conversations and eager to learn to do it all himself. 

This place has been full of the joy of two little boys - best friends who can't stand the thought of being apart.  The stairs have been mountains to climb, the floors have been seas and jungles and deserts and fields.  Vents have been bumpy roads and deep dark dungeons.  The whole place has been alive with the laughter of tickle fights and chases.  The bathroom has been saturated with splashes.  Tears have been shed here of lessons hard-learned and squeals of delight have resounded at the first I-did-it's.

And there are countless other memories:  chats with friends, birthday parties, bubble blowing, kiddie pools, cookie baking, cupcake stealing, and backyard fires. 

Looking at the yard I see the careful arrangements of all our favorite plants:  the Clematis that we inherited, the surprise lilies, grape vines, rhubarb and a vegetable garden, ivy and herbs, daisies and mums, the lilac bush my mom planted for my 21st birthday, the cosmos that Cap grew from seed this year, the blueberries, the apple tree and the plum tree and the river birch and the butterfly bush. Eight-and-a-half years of growth.  My kids have picked flowers for me from those plants.  They have run hard, barefoot in the grass.  This place is full of memories.

But, they are my memories.  Surely they stand apart from this place - this place which is really just a shell:  wood and nails and various building materials fit together to provide a structure.

I think the thing that makes it hard to leave is that it is a reference point.  I look at the garden out front and remember Jeff, Grandpa and I laying cloth, spreading rock and planting on our first wedding anniversary.  I look at the corner of the living room and see my little man standing there shoulders slumped, learning a new lesson or remembering an old one.  I look at the wall upstairs and picture Jeff painting I <3 you in green over white-primed walls.  I see Christmas trees and Easter eggs.  I hear the sounds of yesterday.  And I wonder, without this place will I remember all of these little moments?  Mostly insignificant, everyday occurrences filled with abundant joy.  When we break ties with this place, will we lose a little of our tie to those memories?

As we pack up the contents of this house, those memories will be carefully packed as well.  In this place they sat out on the shelves in plain sight - times past, but still connected to our surroundings.  There I suspect they will stay boxed in the attic - something to rifle through on lazy days of storytelling with our children and each other.  But they won't be sitting on the shelves and hanging on the walls.  That place will have it's own stories, it's own adventures to display.

I can't wait to uncover the joys "the farm" will have to offer us.  It too will know lots of firsts - even those wonderful baby firsts.  But, in the meantime I have something to savor and a deep loss to face.  I will grieve the surrender of this place.  More than wood and shingles, it is the cover of my storybook - my fairytale.  It will be difficult to close the first volume, even if it is to jump into the second. 

I will treasure my last few days here:  romp with the boys in the yard, race down the sidewalk to school, cross the street to Grandma and Grandpa's, meander down the road to the library.  I'll drink in the nighttime rituals and the morning breakfasts and all the daily happenings.  And then, with some tears and trepidation and excitement, I'll leave this wonderful place behind for something else wonderful.  Trusting God to guide me through it all with the knowledge that it doesn't really matter where I am, because he will be with me.


Overwhelming Generosity

Driving across town this morning, I passed a lot of rummage sales.  Thinking about all of that stuff spread across all of those lawns led me down the path of thinking about our own stuff.  As I mentally sifted through our possessions I noticed a common theme - generosity.

Just about everything we have was given to us.  In fact, It doesn't take long at all to count the material possessions we have that we have actually purchased ourselves.  Take the furniture for example.  We bought a discount sofa set,  a set of storage shelves, a small end table,  a potty chair, 2 booster seats and an art desk (a Christmas present for Cap).  Every single other piece of furniture was given to us.  In our 27 (yikes) combined years of driving, we have purchased 1 vehicle.  We have had 5 vehicles given to us.  I think Jeff bought the computer he took with him to college.  If he did that's the only time either of us has ever purchased one.  And yet we've always had a computer at home.  The trend continues to very nearly everything we own, with the only exceptions being the food in our pantry and my children's book obsession.  Our cabinets are full of wedding presents and hand-me-downs.  While we've bought some of our own clothing, many of them have come in the form of Christmas and birthday gifts.

It's incredibly overwhelming.  It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I considered how incredibly blessed we've been.  What's more, except for gifts we've received from wedding and baby registries I'm pretty sure we haven't asked for any of it.  There have been times we have expressed a need and been knocked off our feet by the generosity of a family member or a friend who responded with a gift we never imagined.  But most of the gifts we completely spontaneous, "Hey, do you want this ____?" kind of things.

Looking around our house, things are pretty eclectic.  We've got oak and walnut and pine and particle board and I don't even know what else. Some of our furniture is very nice and other pieces are very well worn (mostly the stuff we bought).  And yet, it makes our home beautiful.  Not so much because of the aesthetic properties as the incredible testimony to the generosity of people and the blessings of God.


Reason #2 - Flexibility

Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm very often late.  That's really hard for me to admit because it's probably the thing I like least about myself.  I hate being late.  I hate it so much that it is without a doubt the biggest stressor in my life.  I've tried lots of different strategies, but even if I have the kids dressed and ready and all packed up  for an outing hours early something will inevitably happen to throw a wrench in our plans and, despite all of my best efforts, we will be late.

When we are running late I am the worst version of myself.  I get grouchy and overwhelmed and I go from the calm mommy to a growling monster.  It's no fun.

Yesterday morning was growling monster day.  Cap had school and due to a last minute potty break we were about 15 minutes late to school.  Today is calm mommy day.  We've spent the morning eating breakfast together around the table, reading a new Veggie Tales devotional Cap discovered and just chatting.

When I picture the potential mornings of sending all of our kiddos off to school, I don't envision mornings like this one.  Instead I see growling monster mom and frustrated kids.  That scares me.  If the kids do go to school I will have precious little time with them.  I really don't want those times to be stress-filled moments that we all dread.  I'd much rather have the flexibility to spend our mornings enjoying each other as we go about the business of our day. (I'm much more productive on the mornings we don't have to rush out the door at 8.)

Being able to live a flexible lifestyle is a major reason that homeschooling appeals to me - and not just as it pertains to morning routines.  I think there is a lot of wisdom in Phil Vischer's words in his book, Me, Myself & Bob:
"If I am a Christian - if I have given Christ lordship of my life - where I am in five years is none of my business.  Where I am in twenty years is none of my business.  Where I am tomorrow is none of my business.  So our plan at Jellyfish - and it's an odd one, I'll admit - is to make no long-range plans unless God given them explicitly."  
There is something reassuring in the idea of letting God make the plans, especially because I'm pretty clueless most of the time.  But, even if I wanted to make long-term plans I couldn't.  I have absolutely no idea what our lives will look like a few months from now, let alone in five years.  My husband is a seminary student, working towards we have no idea what.  There is a good chance he may end up as a pastor...or not.  Who knows?

As members of the United Methodist church, the potential of Jeff becoming a pastor means an even greater need for flexibility.  Pastors in the UMC are subject to itineracy - meaning the leadership of the conference gets to choose where you will serve and when.  Last I heard the average appointment for a pastor is around 5 years.  That's a whole lot of uprooting for kids.  Not to mention that pastors kids have a tough row to hoe as it is.

Whether Jeff ends up serving as a pastor or not, it seems to me that homeschooling would provide some stability for our kids.  It would make frequent moves a little less traumatic.  We could take mid-year breaks to go visit relatives and friends who live further away.  Evenings that might be full of meetings and events wouldn't mean not getting to see Dad at all.

And beyond those freedoms there is the advantage of flexibility in day-to-day scheduling (Not feeling well today?  We'll do it tomorrow. ), flexibility in subject matter (Find a tangent that's interesting and educational?  Why not follow it?),  flexibility in learning style (If one teaching method isn't working we can just try something else.)  Education can be as fluid or as fixed as we want it to be.  We can do whatever works for us.  And that really excites me.


Even the bad days rock!

Yesterday was a really rough day.  Cap had a really bad day at school.  The teacher said he was "having trouble hitting", broke all of his crayons and was just angry all day. Both Cap and Skidamarink were grouchy on the walk home from school.  Cap because I wouldn't stop to put his coat on in the 80 degree weather and Skidamarink because I wouldn't let him cross the street by himself.  They both cried the entire way home.  So we got home, I immediately put both of them in bed.  The little one I watch arrived a few minutes later.  His contribution to the chaos was an extremely messy, change-the-clothes-and-mop-the-floor dirty diaper.

By the end of the day I had a tear-stained face,  three cranky children,  baby food covered clothes,  a dirty-diaper smell that I couldn't get rid off, a migraine and morning sickness.  It was not a good day.

And yet...

For such a bad day it had some beautiful moments.  Like when I was washing dishes and couldn't help but sit right down on the floor in the kitchen, scoop Skid up into my lap and cover him with hugs and kisses.  Or the conversation I had with Cap about his day at school...

After he had rested for awhile, I called him back out into the living room to sit and talk with me.  I asked him what had happened in school.  He shared with me that a boy in his class had been hitting him and he started hitting him back.  I have no idea if that's what happened.  The school's policy seems to be not to disclose any information involving other students (A really frustrating policy when  you only hear part of the story.  There's a little difference in how I respond to hearing that my son is randomly hitting other students and how I respond to hearing that my son takes a swing at a kid who is continually hitting/pushing/bullying the girls in the classroom.  I really don't want him hitting, but there is an significant difference in motivation here!)

We spent some time talking about how hitting is not good and how he should not hit others.  We talked about how hitting feels and how important it is to think of how other people feel.  And now comes the shining moment of the day:  Cap broke down in tears saying, "Mommy, I want to repent!" (Phraseology that he picked up watching What's in the Bible?)  He got down on his knees, buried his face in his hands  and cried.  I pulled him into my lap and asked if I could help him.  I helped him find the words as we prayed together, asking God for forgiveness and for help treating others with love.  Then I wrapped him up in a hug and just held him for awhile, giving him a tangible experience of forgiveness.

Those are the moments that make it all worth it.  For awhile I struggled with my decision to stay at home with my kids and how it would look to others.  Doesn't it make me look like a failure?  I mean I'm a decently intelligent and capable woman.  I got accepted into a highly selective pre-med program.  I could have done something.  It's moments like these that have taught me to have confidence in my decision. All of the baby poop, splattered food,  noise, mess and chaos is more than made up for by those spontaneous moments of guiding my little living epistles to the Father.  What more challenging, significant and breathtakingly honorable occupation could I ever have?


And We're Back...

The first three weeks of school went great!  Cap did all of his work, got tons of clothespins (for doing kind things for others), and did everything he could to help the teacher.  He had a great time and had good days. - Much like the little guy I am used to at home.

School this week has been like reliving last year.  He's exhibiting behaviors he never shows at home.  He's being disobedient and throwing fits and not being kind to others.  Sure, Cap has rough days at home.  There are days he struggles with doing things he doesn't want to do and occasionally he has trouble controlling his emotions.  But those times are few and far between.  The phrase that's especially difficult for me to hear is that he "isn't considerate of others".  That is NOT the kid I know.  The little boy I know always wants his brother to get his milk first and wants to help with everything he can.  He's always looking for some way to do something nice for someone else.  So, why the disconnect?  Why is it that my little boy has a habit of transforming into someone else at school?

I spent a large part of last year trying to answer this question.  I came to a few conclusions, but it was still perplexing.  I understood a little more through our homeschool experiment this summer.  The other day I read an article that I think may be a big piece of this confusing puzzle.

The article, Can Behavior Problems be a Sign of Giftedness, described my little guy to a T.
So how can you tell whether your child's misbehavior is due to giftedness?  One sign is if the unwanted behavior is specific to a situation. Maybe your child mucks up only at school. But at home, he's consumed with a project or pastime, often getting lost in the activity and losing track of time, or isn't easily deterred from the task (he doesn’t hear you calling him for dinner because he's engrossed in a book, say).
We saw a major turn around in Cap's attitude and confidence over the summer when he discovered something he wanted to learn - how to read.  He's been working hard to build and recognize words.  But reading isn't a big part of the activity in school right now.  They are doing worksheets that are either easy or boring for him.    I'm not trying to say that my child is a genius and that the work they are doing at preschool is beneath him.  For whatever reason, maybe he's just not engaged by what's going on in school right now.

His behavior may be understandable, but it's still inexcusable.  The disobedience, rudeness and unkindness needs to stop.  Hopefully looking at how school is and isn't meeting his needs will give us a starting point for preventing a continuous cycle of bad behavior.


Reason #1 - Peace

The biggest question is why? Why homeschool? I've been meaning to write these posts for awhile, but it's such an overwhelming task. When people ask the question, I find myself talking on and on and not even getting to half of the reasons homeschool is interesting to me. There are so many reasons homeschooling seems like a good idea. And just when I think I've got a pretty good list of the pros, I come up with more. It's a pretty common occurrence to hear this question in my conversations with my husband: "isn't that a great reason to homeschool?" Everything from midnight runs to Krispy Kreme to increasingly busy schedules to the potential of back problems from the weight of backpacks makes me want to homeschool. But before I get ahead of myself and all jumbled up in my excitement for this seemingly crazy idea, let me step back. I'm writing these posts because I want to lay out my reasons in some kind of reasonable manner. I want to simply state my reasons without running into the very common temptation to defend homeschooling as the absolute best way to educate children (a defense I am ill-equipped to make as I'm not sure that homeschool is the best thing for us yet.) So, here we go: reason #1 why I think homeschooling may be the best option for us...


The kind that Jesus talks about.  The don't worry about anything - God will take care of it kind of peace. It seems to me that it's pretty hard to live a peaceful existence in the world today.  If we take an honest look at our society peace doesn't rule. Stress does.  Lots and lots of stress springing, I think, from two sources:  hurry and worry.  

There's no doubt that we are in a hurry.  Our schedules fill up and the places we live become more like hotels than homes.  We fill up our time with all sorts of things - most of them good things - until we are frazzled and empty with no time to rest or reflect.  I do it.  But I don't want my kids to do it.  I don't want them to grow up thinking their time isn't well spent unless it's fast-paced and full of accomplishment.  I want them to take plenty of time to grow and learn and experience life.  I want them to have time to be still and hear the voice of God.  It breaks my heart to think about how busy the lives of so many little ones are.  They are constantly running.  It seems nonsensical that many kids have more hectic schedules than adults, but I'm pretty sure it's true.  They go to school and do homework and learn instruments and go to church and sunday school and midweek programs and play sports.  And all of those things are good.  Yet they all add up, leaving very little time to just... be.  I want my kids to learn instruments and go to church and sunday school and midweek programs and play sports.  I want them to grow and learn and thrive.  But how do I reconcile the experiences I want for my kids and the peaceful non-hurried life that is so important?  I'm not sure, but I know that it's important to figure it out.  And I think maybe homeschooling is one way to make it work. 

What if my kids were done with "school" before lunch?  What if they had all afternoon and all evening for pick up games and sports leagues and church stuff and practicing piano and playing drums?  Would that give them time to just play with their friends in the backyard?  Would that give them time to develop a talent or gift they otherwise might never pay attention to?  Would that give them time to sit and think and grow in relationship with God and with their neighbors?  I think it might.  And, honestly that's one of the biggest reasons I want to homeschool.  I know hurry is always going to be a struggle.  But it seems to me that going to school for 7 or 8 hours a day for 15 years is a pretty big expenditure of time.  Especially when all of that material can be learned in an astonishingly small fraction of the time at home. I don't want my kids to grow up and discover that they never had time to just be kids. I don't want them to learn the habit of excessive hurry.  

 It strikes me that peace is one of the most vital aspects of life as a Christian.  Being a Christian means trusting God through Christ.  If I put my trust in God I won't worry.  Any time worry enters my life it is a sign that there is a part of me that I have not fully surrendered to my Lord.  Believe me, it's my biggest struggle.  I am a big worrier.  It's the reason I cringe when someone calls me "a person of great faith."  Faith is hard for me.  I'm no good at trusting God.  Thankfully, God has grace enough to cover my sinful worry!  

It's a common misconception among adults that kids don't worry nearly as much as adults do.  Somehow as adults we forget the agony we experience as kids.  We look back and the concerns of childhood seem trivial.  I think it's all a matter of perspective.  I fully believe that separation anxiety is just as big of a stressor for an infant or toddler as the stack of bills and skimpy bank account is for an adult.  Sure, the child has no good reason to believe that their parent won't return.  But the child doesn't know that.  Their crisis shakes them to the core, leaving them unsure of the future in much the same way that the crises of adulthood rattle us.

I'm a little afraid that the ruling educational theory plays up worry.  The prevailing idea seems to be that the goal of education is to create successful adults.  I think there is some truth in that idea, but the question is, "what is the measure of success?"  So often, even despite the best of intentions, it becomes a matter of comparison for the kids.  They think, "I'm not successful until I'm better than so-and-so."  Worry abounds when one child wonders ,what if I'm not any good?  What if I'm dumb?  What if I can't do at x, y or z? What if I'm ugly? What if I just don't understand this?  What if I fail?

Maybe I'm wrong about all of that.  I certainly expect that my kids will have their share of worries no matter where they learn.  But I wonder if home wouldn't be a less worry-filled place to learn - a place where we don't have to worry about a learning curve but can discover together at the pace that is best for us?  A place where failing a test or wearing the wrong style of clothing or being a clutz won't bring paralyzing shame.  

I want my kids to experience peace in a profound way.  I don't want them to spend their childhoods having their heads crammed full of knowledge and accomplishment that they don't have time for peace.    It absolutely amazes me how many kindergarteners I have heard of this fall that have homework.  And not the kind of homework where you find something blue to share with the class.  The kind of homework where you write out spelling lists 5 times and complete a page of addition facts.  In Kindergarten.  That blows my mind.  And that on top of a full day school and traveling to dance class and soccer practice and everything else that goes on in the lives of little ones today.

It's hard enough for me to live a life of peace.  I do not want it to be a struggle for my children.  I do not want them to spend their childhood's frazzled about all of the things they have to do.  I want them to have time to be kids and that's a big reason I think homeschooling may be right for us.  

Back to School and other news

August is over and school is back in session. Captain Silly Wiggles began pre-k 4 last week. He has had a comparatively good first week - no bad reports from the teacher. (Compared to bad reports every day last year.) Ok, actually there was one bad report. On the second day of school they did some cutting work. After a lecture on not cutting clothing or anything besides the paper what's the first thing my little guy did? Cut his shirt. And continue to play with the little hole until it turned into a giant hole. Ah, the power of suggestion. Still, he's not biting anyone or running away from his teachers, so that's improvement.

The most traumatic part of the last two weeks has actually been Skidamarink missing his big brother. Really missing him. The first day we dropped Cap off, Skid cried because he wanted to stay. He wanted to sit at the table next to his pal and play. When I finally got him out of Ben's classroom, he ran across the hall to try his luck in the pre-k 3 classroom. We've had pretty much the same experience on all of the other days we've taken Cap to school. Plus he is constantly wanting to know if we can go get his brother. He'll grab my fingers and try his hardest to pull me towards the door. "Mom, let's go get brother now!" 5 minutes after we leave the school. And he'll continue insisting it's time to get Cap about every 15 minutes until it actually is time to go get him - 3 hours later. I've got a few things planned to help Skidamarink adjust to his brother being back in school and to make the most of our time together.

But for Cap, so far things seem to be going well. It's not very often I get any response other than "nothing" from my question of "What did you do in school today?". Even my more pointed questions ("Did you sing some songs? Did you play outside?, etc) are usually met with one word answers. Still, no frustrated emails from the teacher is good news. He's coming home happy and not complaining about going which is even better news. (I'm aware that he's only had 4 days of class, but this is still a marked difference from last year. Everything could change, but I am hopeful. Cap is excited about learning since we've discovered something that he's truly interested in learning - how to read and write. He seems so much more confident in his ability to learn and to succeed - partially because he's 3 months older, but I think that our work together over the summer has played a big role!

This is an important year for us. It's the year when we'll make a decision for school next year. Keep him in the same school? Put him in public schools? Homeschool? Will we send Skidamarink to pre-school even if we keep Cap home? I'm very excited for the investigation opportunities this year poses. For conversations with different schools and people with different backgrounds. For experimenting with different ways of learning at home (something I hope to always encourage no matter where our boys go to school). For learning more about my kids and who they are and what they need. For listening to where God may be leading our family. And into all of that mix we will throw in the arrival of a new little one. According to Cap he will be having a sister and a brother in April. According to dad, it will definitely be a brother, and only one! So many things to think about and dream about in this year! So excited to experience it all!



I started this blog to help me through the process of discerning the right choices for my family - be they physical, educational, emotional, or whatever.  There are so many decisions to make and today I suddenly found myself very emotional, wondering about one decision in particular.  During a spontaneous crying session, I found myself at the feet of God, with nothing to say but the words that stuck out to me from our scripture lesson this morning:  Abba, Father.  (I honestly didn't hear much else from the lesson, what with two preschoolers to wrangle.  But, somehow, I heard those words.)  I found myself crying for help from my Daddy.  There was a lot of comfort in that - knowing that God is my perfect heavenly Father, that he loves me unconditionally, that I can trust him for everything.  And with the comfort of that trust, I was reminded in a new way of something God has shown me over and over again.  

As I was sitting at the feet of my Father I realized that not only am I worried about making the right decision, I am worried about making the right decision in time.  I feel confident that there is a choice God would have me make in most circumstances.  And I've heard the verse about asking and receiving, so I know that if I ask for guidance I’ll get it.  What I'm concerned about is that I'm on a timetable.  I need to know what it is God wants now.  Right now.  I worry that the revelation will come too late or at an inconvenient time and I won't be prepared - I won't be in control.  

 That’s the key phrase: I won’t be in control. My search for knowing the right answers and my need for answers in my own time is often just a symptom of a lack of faith.  Why do I need to know every step of the right course before I head out?  Harsh honesty tells me it's probably so I can double check my footing - put more bluntly, it's so I can double check that what God tells me is right.  I’m realizing that what I’m actually saying is, “I trust God… but I don’t trust God.”  It’s nonsensical.

 And my ludicrous cling to autonomy leads me to worry: if I demand to be in control, there is a very strong possibility that I will make the wrong choice despite all of my lists of pros and cons and hours of research I pour into decision making.

Worrying is one of my biggest battles.  I’m a worrier.  I have been for as long as I can remember.  But worry is certainly sin.  Sure there is concern, but that’s a different thing.  Worrying, which is my area of expertise, springs from a lack of faith and there is no room for worry in my life. I have had to acknowledge the sin of my worrying over health and safety and every little bump in the night and rely on God to free me from that sin.   In the same way I must also acknowledge the sin of my worrying about if and when God will show me the choices I should make.  There is no doubt.  He will show me and it doesn’t matter when, because he’ll show me at the right time.  The only thing I need to be concerned about is listening and following.

So, no more approaching decision making from the land of worry.  No more checking the clock to see how much more time I have before I have to make that crucial decision.  I know that I need to let my Father lead me, resting in the confidence that he will not lead me astray.


Letter Ee

We are currently using a combination of You Can Read and Raising Rockstars, plus whatever else we stumble across. :)

Captain Silly Wiggles is currently 4 years & 1 month old.
Raising Rock Stars

Our learning this week was centered around John 3:16:
Even a child is known by his deeds.

Song: Every Move I Make & Your Everlasting Love 
Letter: Ee
Number: 6
Sight words: a, see, the, and, is
(I'm still working on deciding how I want to use RRSP & YCR together.  
We stayed with the same unit until I decided what to do.)
Sight reader: Where is the egg?

On Monday we...
1. ...did the Getting Ready for Ee worksheet.

2. ...worked on his cutting worksheet.  This time it was a ruler that he had fun measuring with.

3. ...traced the Ff's on the RRSP worksheets.  He was is a really goofy mood and kept changing grips trying to be silly. He tried writing with each hand, with the end of the marker in his mouth and wanted to try with his toes.  I managed not to get too frustrated and he eventually finished.

4. ...did the Color by Word YCR worksheet.  He did a good job matching the word to the color he was supposed to use, but didn't do more than coloring the actual word.

5. ...played the Clothespin ABC game.

On Wednesday we...
1. ...worked on vocab cards.  He didn't trace any, but we said the words together & talked about the E sounds.  Then he cut them out very carefully.

2. ...tried the YCR sentence search.  He wasn't ready for this worksheet.  He was supposed to circle his sight words as I read the sentence.  Instead he wanted all of the words to be circled.  We'll probably skip these worksheets for awhile.  (Which is fine, because there is more than enough material.)

3. ...tried the YCR word search.  This one isn't for him right now either.  He was very concerned that there were extra letters that didn't have words.  I guess he thought they were lonely? :)

4...tried the YCR word shapes page.  This was his first dot-to-dot and he really didn't get the idea.  We'll practice a little more on some ABC or 123 dot-to-dots and try these again later.
5. ...traced the lines from word to word.  He enjoyed this one and did great with it. He read the word, traced the line, and read the word again.

6. ...put together a number puzzle I found in the dollar section at Target.

On Friday we...
Went to the pool!  It was my birthday and we celebrated with a trip to the pool and then the boys passed the evening with their adopted Grandma while Jeff and I went to dinner and browsed Barnes and Noble. I love bookstores!  I made a valiant effort and succeeded in not going to the children's section right off the bat.  (I did spend most of my time there, though.)

We actually spent two days at the pool and one day at the zoo this week.  Cap learned how to swim without water wings and started going under on purpose!  He went off the diving board after lots of begging.  We let him, but he wasn't too sure about it in the end.

This week was a whole lot of trial and error.  We found things that worked, things that didn't, and ways to adapt things that didn't work.  We also made lots and lots of time to play.  It is summer, after all - what fun is it if you can't throw all the plans out the window and go hang out at the pool?

All of our printables this week came were developed by Carisa at 1+1+1=1. Visit her website for all kids of wonderful resources. You can find her letter Ee printables here and You Can Read Unit 1 here.

The cutting workbook we used is called I Can Cut by School Specialty Publishing.

The most important consideration

I am a Christian who believes that every part of my life belongs to God.  I don't always act like every part of my life belongs to God.  I often hold on to my "independence" like a rebellious teenager.  Still, I believe that God has something to say on every decision I am faced with.  I have no business making decisions for my own life without following the lead of the one to whom I have given my life.  (That doesn't mean I always turn my decisions over to God, just that I know I should.)  I believe that God wants certain things from & for me and I believe that the path he would choose for me is the highest possible fulfillment of my life - his ways are the best.

Jeff and I are reading the book The Call by Os Guinness with a couple of friends.  As I contemplated our discussion last night, I realized that while I have considered God's will for our boys' education, I haven't explicitly expressed the ways I feel God is working through this conversation.  I want to take some time to do that because I honestly believe that what God wants is the most important consideration.

I have experienced calling.  At different times God has revealed himself to me in a powerful way, shown me something about who I am created to be, and called me to action.  I know that I am called to share the love of God with kids.  I know that I am called to minister to the church (universal) which I see as broken in many respects.  I knew very early in my relationship with Jeff that I would marry him.  I experienced it as a call before I even knew much about him.  Those things are an integral part of who I am - to deny them for me would be like denying the color of the sky.  The best way I can think of to describe my experience of call is as an awakening.  There have been moments in my life when suddenly God has shown me some part of myself.  He has shown me parts of myself that have always been there that I didn't notice or understand before the call.  Sometimes it's like having a really fuzzy idea of some truth without the ability to articulate that idea and suddenly it all comes into focus.  Other times it's the experience of a hearing a completely novel idea and realizing that deep down I always knew it was true. It brings peace.  It brings clarity.  

I'm not a very confident person.  I think my biggest struggle is for confidence.  I second guess my self all the time.  I'm usually pretty sure that I can't do something before I even try it.  I hate confrontation and conflict, often because I lack confidence in my abilities or my decisions.   I don't like to claim absolutes because there are few things that I am absolutely certain of. The things I am absolutely certain of coincide directly with my callings.  I am absolutely certain that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do.  I am absolutely certain that God has given me a special ability to minister to kids.  I am absolutely certain that God has shown me ways the church is damaged and that he gives me strength to minister to some of those wounds.  I am absolutely certain that I am called to be Jeff's wife.  Despite my hatred of conflict, I stand firm upon these convictions and am more than willing to stand up for them.  

I'm finding God in our discussion of homeschool.  In fact, I'm finding that God led us into the discussion of homeschool.  Honestly, my intentions were innocent - I didn't seek out this weird/against the norm idea of home education.  It found me.  As I've said, we discussed the idea casually before but never considered that we might choose to homeschool.  Really, this whole conversation came about through a link to a page about nature scavenger hunts and my effort to help my "problem child" better transition between preschool classes.  Now, suddenly we're on this incredible journey that seems to be making each of us a more fulfilled version of ourselves and holds promise for some wonderful life experiences.  

Is God calling us to homeschool?  I honestly don't know.  But I do feel confident that he is leading us in the journey.  He has shown up.  He has revealed things that feel like an awakening - the sudden realization of things I couldn't see, but were always there - bringing peace and clarity.  Though we don't want to make this discussion public until we are closer to a decision, I feel confident about this process of discernment.  I know that, if this is where we are called to be God will give me the courage to stand up for a decision that will be extremely controversial.  Maybe we won't end up homeschooling.  Maybe it will become clear to us that we need to send our kids to public school or maybe that homeschool would be a good fit for one kid but not both.  I have no idea where this is going.  I do know that my eyes have been opened in new ways that will be beneficial for our family no matter where our kids go to school. 


Letter Ff

We are currently using a combination of You Can Read and Raising Rockstars, plus whatever else we stumble across. :)

Captain Silly Wiggles is currently 4 years & 1 month old.
Raising Rock Stars

Our learning this week was centered around John 3:16:
For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten son
that whoever believes in him 
shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.
A side note that I can add since I'm posting this a few weeks after we completed the unit: both of the boys are really stuck on this verse.  Cap calls it the Jesus verse and it's his favorite now.  Skidamarink surprised me by reciting it last night.  I tried to get him to repeat it, prompting him with "For...". He proudly responded, "five, six, seven!" It was a good chuckle. :)

Song: For God so Loved the World by GodRocks! 
Letter: Ff
Number: 5
Sight words: a, see, the, and, for
(We are going to try spending a few weeks on each YCR unit, 
plus we'll add to that the sight word from RRSP.)

Once again, the sight reader was a hit.  He continues to want to read all of the books at once and then needs a break before jumping into the workboxes. Here he is reading the book from last week. 

On Monday we...
1. ...did the Getting Ready for Ff worksheet

2. ...worked on his cutting worksheet.  It was an airplane with a jet stream behind it.  He had a blast flying it around the house.

3. ...traced the Ff's on the RRSP worksheets.  He was very careful to stay on all of the lines. After he did some drawing on the page. :)

4. ...built some words with Duplos.  I dug out some duplos and put sticker dots with letters on round label stickers. Cap had a blast "building the word".  He got to play Word World! I got the idea for this one at Filth Wizardry.

5. ...played the clothespin number game.  It is the number counterpart to the Clothespin ABC game from 1+1+1=1 we played last week.  Again, big hit.  You can find this game here.

6. ...played a Cars matching game he got for his birthday.  

On Wednesday we...
1. ...worked on vocab cards.  He traced a few.  We said all of the words together, emphasizing the F sound.  Then he cut them apart very carefully.

2. ...Played with the playdough words. (YCR)  He got these out when I stepped out of the room. When I came back, "for" was all done.  Last week he hated them!

3. ...matched up big and little letters with an egg matching game. I got this idea here.

4...played the Cars matching game.

On Friday we...
1. ...colored the verse.  Again he didn't care too much about it.  One of the ways he's become more interested in writing is by using different materials.  I'm thinking we probably should experiment with some different art materials for coloring pages too.  He scribbled on the page a bit and then gladly moved on.

2. ...played with sight words on our dry erase board.  I had a couple of different ideas.  My first idea was to write the sight words on the board and have him erase the sight word as he read it.  My second idea was to pull out some vocab cards and make sentences for him to read.
Cap's idea was to write the words on the board himself.  I really wish I had gotten a picture of this one, but a little Skidamarink absconded with my camera.  By the time I got it back it was too late.  I love that we had the flexibility to throw away the plans and let him adapt them to what he needed.  If I had pushed the issue of doing things the way I had intended he wouldn't have gotten much out of it and we both would likely have been grumpy.  When he changed the game he had fun and actually learned more - he learned how to form different little letters! Exciting stuff!

Although Cap was very eager to learn this week and although I had lot more planned, we didn't do any more boxes.  We had bigger fish to fry - a trip to Missouri to meet our new nephew/the boys new cousin.  Even though we didn't spend as much time in the boxes as we have in the previous weeks, Cap still mastered the material.  

Even more exciting were the ways he initiated more learning into the weekend.  He's taken an interest in the concept of compound words - talking about them all the time and even coming up with his own examples.  We had long discussions on phonics - him wanting to sound out every letter he saw in environmental print.  It's a good thing we drove the country roads as we came home.  We had long stops at many a stop sign while Cap sounded out each letter. :)  The most fun learning experience was when Dad found a turtle on the side of the road.  We took him back to Grandma and Grandpa's house and spent some time learning about turtles through observation.
We had so much fun this week.  It was so exciting to find all of the ideas for making learning toys from things we already have.  The boys love them and they didn't cost a dime!  Cap is very much a kinesthetic learner and all of the hands-on materials were great for him.  It was fun for me too - making things and sparking ideas for more learning opportunities. Still, best of all was watching the boys take a heightened interest in the world around them.

All of our printables this week came were developed by Carisa at 1+1+1=1. Visit her website for all kids of wonderful resources. You can find her letter Ff printables here and You Can Read Unit 1 here.

The cutting workbook we used is called I Can Cut by School Specialty Publishing.


Letter Ii

And another post for today.  I was reluctant to blog about our preschool time after the pictures from the first week took so long to upload.  I guess I've learned my lesson: lower res. pictures and more frequent posting! :)

While Cap still needs a lot of the material in the RRSP program (he still gets confused over a couple letters, has little writing practice, needs to learn beginning sounds) he's really excited about learning to read.  Since he's wanting to prolong our time each day anyway, I thought we would try adding more boxes and mixing in the You Can Read program in with the RRSP stuff we are already doing.  You Can Read is made up of sight words and the more challenging material in YCR is motivating him to learn some of the more beginning stuff. Once again, you can find it all at 1+1+1=1. Can't beat fantastic materials that are free! :)

Captain Silly Wiggles is currently 4 years old.
Raising Rock Stars

Our learning this week was centered around Philippians 4:13:
I can do all things 
through Christ who 
strengthens me.
What an excellent verse for the Captain - his favorite phrase is, "I Can't!"

Song: I Can Do Everything by GodRocks! 
(wonderful scripture memorization resource. 
 In fact, when I ask Ben to tell me this verse he breaks out into song!)
Letter: Ii
Number: 4
Sight words: a, see, the, and, can

Cap dove right back in with the sight reader books today - usually wanting to read the ones from past weeks as well! 

On Monday we...
1. ...did the Getting Ready for Ii worksheet. He had fun tracing some slow and some fast.  Ironically, the ones he traced quickly are the straightest.  Skidamarink got ahold of the paper later and scribbled - he did intentionally match colors, though!

2. ...worked on his cutting worksheet

3. ...played clothespin ABCs.  I found this game at 1+1+1=1, printed it out, and laminated it.  I hot-glued some old Cars toys on to clothespins.  Both boys think it is the coolest thing ever!  In fact, it's gotten so much use I've already had to reattach the cars several times.  You can find it the game here

4. ...worked on word puzzles from You Can Read.

5. ...traced lots of letter Ii's.  He wanted them to have long tops and bottoms and decided to color in all of the letters in the verse.  He was so proud of his accomplishments.  We combined the two letter tracing worksheets into more boxes to make room for some boxes to hold You Can Read materials.

6. ...made a Genesis collage. I cut out various pictures of creation and taped a piece of contact paper to the window.  He placed the items on the paper while we listened to the creation story on The Bible Experience CDs.

7. ...worked a Thomas the Train puzzle.

On Wednesday we...
1. ...worked on vocab cards, with a little break for milk in the middle. He happily traced all of the I's and cut them out very neatly. He's improving so quickly!

2. ...well....we were intending to do an I for I activity, but couldn't come up with anyone we knew who started with I except for a friend from preschool who we don't have any contact info for.  So, we just skipped that one.  Maybe we'll make something for her before school starts in the fall?

3. ...played a counting/number recognition game.  Can you guess where it came from? Carisa at 1+1+1=1 is amazing!  Once again, this one was a hit with Cap.  You can find the game here.

4...made playdough words (YCR). We were trying to build sentences, but it was just too much.  I think we'll go down to two words a week for playdough time.

5. ...colored the verse, which subsequently got ripped...

6. ...put together a video for the What's in the Bible video contest. I blogged our entry here: We're Finalists! (We didn't win, but we will be getting a personalized video message from the WITB crew!) Cap especially loved the stick puppets, which you can download on the What's in the Bible page.

7. ...did the Thomas puzzle again.

On Thursday we...
1. ...did the mixed up fonts worksheet from YCR. He blew me away with how easily he completed it!

2. ...played sight word Bingo. Another hit! (YCR)
Hmm...as I look at his shirt, this probably happened on Wednesday to take the place of the I-I activity... Oh well!

3. ...cut out and taped together his verse. Finally, it fits as a crown! :)

4. ...did the strong man craft. I don't have any pictures because he was getting tired and didn't want to do any more.  Then, while I was putting all of the supplies away he decided to finish it up.

We had a few more boxes that we didn't do.  He didn't feel like doing much on Friday (although he was eager to start in the morning).  I didn't push it.  The stuff we didn't do was egg letter matching, write a story together, and play with his Noah toys on the water table. We can do it another time. :) Once again it was a very good week.  I'm blown away by how quickly he's soaking up information and asking for more!

All of our printables this week came were developed by Carisa at 1+1+1=1. Visit her website for all kids of wonderful resources. You can find her letter Ii printables here and You Can Read Unit 1 here.

The cutting workbook we used is called I Can Cut by School Specialty Publishing.