Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What are we REALLY teaching?

Rookie year of homeschooling the Vikings so far has been a growing experience for all of us. The kids are going through a period of "de-schooling" while I realize how little I knew about where they are academically and how much they're capable of.

I was struck this weekend by the fact that we are already "off track" to what I envisioned. I seem to have already forgotten that I wanted lifelong learners, strong readers, deep believers, hearts for service, critical thinkers, good citizens, and lovers of the arts and gotten caught up in following a pre-set lesson plan structure put together by people who don't really know my kids.

I also realized that I'm already tweaking what I thought would be a perfect curriculum for the kids. The Vikings are having fun doing language arts and science, begrudgingly doing math, and have no particular use for this curriculum's social studies.And, there's so many other things that we are interested in and are available locally that following the prescribed curriculum is already becoming difficult.

And, I'm trying to not stress about the fact we're "falling behind" and make things worse. Trying not to panic and wonder about putting the kids back in public school. Trying not to buckle unde the enourmous pressure and responsibility I feel to do this correctly.

Then, I was reminded that it's all good, it's all a journey, and it has only been a few weeks. I wanted the flexibility.  I wanted the decrease in structure. And, I got it to the benefit of my Vikings.

My worries, struggles, and revelations are all perfectly normal. I got my kids back home where they are happier, healthier, and sleeping better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goodbye, glasses!

My four-eyes and I have been together since junior high. Like 30 years.

In those 30 years, I've probably been through at least 15 pairs of frames and 2 or 3 things of contacts. Initially, my eyes weren't too bad. But, for my 30th birthday, I got the delighted news that I could no longer pass my drivers license eye exam and I was officially "someone who NEEDED to wear glasses."

Ninety-five percent of the time, this was not a big deal. Summer humidity going into a AC-cooled room; winter dryness into humidified inside air, and occasionally summers were a pain - especially when I was lifeguarding 50+ hrs/week - since my insurance (and my wallet) couldn't cover a second pair of glasses to use as prescription sunglasses. Plus, due to a "cute, button nose," when sweaty I was forever pushing them up and adjusting them...which has become a sort of "nervous tick" that I continued to do even when I'm not wearing them. LOL

In 48 hours, it will no longer be a problem.

Thanks to fantastic new health insurance through DaHubby's work, I will be undergoing LASIK surgery Thursday for nothing out-of-pocket.

Fortunately, I'm in a wonderful grace period as well...I have not yet reached the point where I need bifocals yet. My up-close vision is still 20/20 and apparently this is a huge blessing for someone a few years past 40 such as me. For an unknown amount of future, I will be 20/20 at a distance as well as 20/20 up-close!

And, that's hard to get my head around.

Pojke, who didn't blink twice when DaHubby underwent the same procedure a year ago, is slightly upset by the thought of this surgery for me. "I won't be able to recognize you" and "You won't look like my mom anymore" have made us chuckle and reassure him that I'll still be me.

But, considering how worried he was when I got home yesterday from my pre-op appointment with a dilated-eye-but-I-drove-home-induced headache and nausea, the jury's still out on how he'll react on Thursday when he sees me. LOL

My internal image has been a-girl-with-glasses for nearly 15 years. It should be fun to meet the girl-without-glasses when I shake off the fog of the Valium and a nap on Thursday afternoon!

And, I'm looking forward to my first pair of "fancy" non-prescription sunglasses!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It really says that?

I've spent some time over the last couple weeks putting together a Child Training Bible for the Viking Hus. I've often been frustrated while talking over behavior misdeeds, either proactively or after-the-fact, and I can't find a corresponding Scripture to cite. This resource could be the answer to that problem.

As I was taking the time for all the highlighting and tabbing of Scriptures, it occurred to me that the folks at CTB were able to come up with 21 childhood "hot topics" and find several Scriptures about each. Anger, complaining, defiance, fear, fighting, impatience, lying, making excuses, not listening, quarreling, selfishness, tattling...and those are just the ones around here the last few weeks! LOL

People often say that the Bible doesn't speak to modern culture anymore but it has been hit home again and again recently how much *specific* Word is given about situations I'm trying to instruct the Vikings about multiple times per day.

And, then it starts to get *really* uncomfortable...when the Scriptures are used for the "big kids" in the house as well.

Impatience: "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way..."

Unforgiveness: "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents forgive him."

Making excuses: "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts."

Discouraged: "...My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness..."

Then I begin to wonder who is gonna learn more from this newly organized little book...the Vikings or ME?

Monday, August 13, 2012


I tend to be a joiner.

Not always in the peer pressure type way but when I get on-board with something, I tend to want to submerse myself in whatever it is. I get an A for enthusiasm but it's not so good since I don't generally "dabble" in things. It's all or nothing.

But, this time (for whatever reason) it seems to be different.

I'm tired of "us versus them."

Bottle feed vs. breast feed. Attachment parenting vs. cry-it-out. Spanking vs. not. Feed-on-demand vs. puttin' a kid on a feeding schedule. Organic vs. not. Vaccinations vs. not or limited. Strict non-junk food vs. a taste of a french fry or ice cream in moderation. TV vs. none. Public vs. private vs. homeschooling.

I'm just over it.

So, when we decided to keep the Vikings home this coming school year, it wasn't a big personal and family declaration of independence or road-to-Damascus moment of revelation.

It's just what works for us for now.

And, can we just homeschool without getting all political and confrontational about it?

I feel strongly about it being the right choice for us for now. And, I've felt strongly about other issues (particularly early childhood intervention and education) and have done extensive training and advocacy for those positions including heading to the state capital to talk to legislators but, excuse me if for just this moment, this rookie year I don't want to join in every group and/or jump on every board with each political, legal, or advocacy group for homeschooling. I just want to focus on us and feel successful and keep our head about the academic waters right now.

It's not just about  it being "better"; it's about this is "better for us."

We aren't judging public school parents. We haven't condemned our local district. Nor public education as a concept. We don't care about our kids "more" or think the rest are neglectful for not making the same choice.

And, it's not really a lifestyle change for us - it's just more fully us to live this way for now.

So, while I appreciate all the chances and opportunities to immerse ourselves in this new educational adventure, I'm resisting. Whether it's age, experience, or no one longer needing  to join a group to feel OK with my choices, we'll pass for now.

Our reasons were clear to us. We feel obedient to follow that. That's all that truly matters to us.

The rest will come in its own timing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Family that your heart picked

Having grown up as an only child, having siblings is an uncharted mystery I never really understood. While I have half-sisters, I was 20 when they were born and have never lived with them longer than a summer when they were newborns. I love them dearly but I'll never be as tight with them as they are together.

I felt incredibly awkward when we lost DaHubby's brother to cancer in 2005. How could *I* understand what it was like to lose a sibling? And, I still struggle with how the Vikings get along - one minute loving each other and the next screaming at the other.

But, God's sent me other sisters my own age - those with whom I've crossed paths and they have been stitched to my heart.

Lisa's been around since 2nd or 3rd grade. Jodi burst into my life in 7th grade and I've been trailing behind her ever since. Carolyn & I were connected at the hip for more time than not from about 5th grade until we graduated high school.

I made friends that have been with me a while as adults as well (Jill, Shelagh, & Brian) who rode the ups and downs of a developing adulthood.

And, I've learned that family isn't always about blood but about hearts that connect, minds that meld, ears that really hear, and eyes that see the you that you see in the mirror and the you could become.

This was brought home to me in an unexpected way this weekend. I attended a reunion of sorts in my hometown of people I went to camp with as a kid. I attended a sleep-away camp growing up run by my hometown's Recreation Department. I started going when I was 8 or 9, continued until I was 15, and then completed several summers as staff in one capacity or another.

And, while I bear many typical battle scars and emotional baggage from "regular" life growing up, something about that camp was magical for me.

Camp made me feel brave, funny, and invincible. It made me laugh hysterically and sob uncontrollably when it was over each session. Suddenly, I had no problems making friends or catching on to a new skill whether it was swimming, canoeing, archery, or something crafty. I never remember feeling awkward, embarrassed, or traumatized by some adolescent drama. It was a controlled environment where I somehow felt fearless.

And, I carry so much of it with me to this day...tomboy, nature freak, sailing fan, canoe enthusiast, crafty attempter, honeymooner while camping in Northern Minnesota, Girl Scout leader...I could go on and on.

The people that were fellow campers, my counselors, and my fellow staff hold a special place in my heart. While I may not remember each by first glance, after a quick hug, a reintroduction, a couple funny stories, a few wacky songs, and we are all kids and teenagers again.

I had such an amazing time with a relative few people - WAY more fun than I've had at any high school class reunion. And, they are all like extended family. Like the saying about fudge - they are mostly sweet with a few nuts (*cough* Ray *cough*) LOL

Unfortunately, our camp is no longer standing. It's now been de-forested and flattened into a golf course, for pete's sake! But, there are pictures, stories, and songs that keep it alive. And, that place - even if just for a week or a summer - was one of my most favorite places ever. 

And, those people are like family.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Unexpected blessings

There was a time "when WE were single," as DaHubby and I refer to it, when the division of household chores was different. In the pre-Vikings era, I worked part-time.  We initially agree to a marital division of labor that included DaHubby taking care of the bathroom and doing dishes/filling the dishwasher (my two least favorite chores, neither of which he minded) and I would take care of everything else inside the house.

Times, jobs, priorities, and the size of our family changed over the years but my dislike of cleaning the bathroom and doing dishes remains. Yet, it's fallen to me to do them. As a result, one of the things I miss most from our home in Michigan is the dishwasher. We are renting still here in Illinois and neither of the two places we've stayed had a dishwasher. So, I not only dislike doing dishes but I generally dislike doing them at least twice a day by hand.

Now, I've tried to go the high-minded route...DaHubby installed speakers near the sink so I could listen to music to distract me. I have Bible verses posted so I can focus on God's word instead of the dirty dish water. I've tried to include the Vikings but, at least at this point, it is simply more work to go back and re-rinse the half-cup of dish soap they use. We did some serious downsizing of plates, cups, and cookware to lower the sheer quantity that accumulates but the sink stills seems always full. Nothing has really helped. And, even if we COULD afford a new dishwasher, we just didn't have the room in this rental kitchen for a built-in version and a portable seemed prohibitively expensive.

Until this week.

And, these are the types of things that make me SO glad DaHubby is as handy as he is!

Someone where DaHubby works was upgrading their kitchen and was offering the old, but still very usable,  built-in dishwasher...for FREE!

And, within the next month, using plans similar to these, guess who is gonna be the new owner of a formerly built-in, now converted to a portable, including a brand-new custom Hubby-made cabinet dishwasher?


*big smile*

Thank you, God!! Thank you, Lord, also for a thrifty, astute, and handy hubby! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

In the Moment Inspiration

I made the mistake of saving the reading until the end.

Pojke is struggling to make the leap between recognizing sight words and reading them in sentence/story form. His readers are filled with Pat, Nat, rat, cat, mat, hat, etc but it's still like pulling teeth to get him to read one page of material.

Knowing today was language arts day, I was dreading the inevitable battle of getting him to read 2-3 pages of his reader without him (or me) collapsing into a watery, whiny mess.

The first sentence took FOR-EV-VER! And, after having done spelling, copywork, and phonics, Pojke was ready to bolt.

So I let him.

Yes, I let him. In a moment of what could only be called God-given inspiration, I told him for every 3-6 word sentence he finished, he could run as fast as he can from the dining room table to the top of the stairs and back.

And, we finished the other pages in record time.

It was such a hit that Flicka asked me to incorporate it into her remaining math bookwork! LOL

It's amazing what happens when desperation sets in and inspiration strikes!