Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No, Mr Smarty Pants, I don't think that's funny!

I've got a 9, 7 & 2 yr old that are all quite verbal with their opinions.  Granted, so is their mom.  But as a child, I was raised to be seen & not heard.  It's been amazing probably for my mom to hear some of what she's heard over the years from my boys.  I'm a bit embarrassed actually.  However, I think I'm a pretty strict mom.  My boys definitely think so & to see & hear what goes on in our little neighborhood, I'm pretty much the strictest mom around.  Doesn't seem to stop the neighborhood kids from coming to our house on an almost daily basis though.  And we're definitely strict about manners.  There better be a "Mr" or "Mrs" said when speaking to an adult & definitely no "yeah", only "yes ma'am", "no ma'am", "yes sir" & "no sir".

Maybe I'm being worn down by these three boys - correction - three very ACTIVE boys, all going in different directions, all with different personalities.  Being that we home school, I have to purposely schedule breaks for myself & that hasn't been often enough, let me tell you.  I'm learning though.  What I can't seem to get a handle on is the constant back & forth discussions between me & said boy being disciplined. I don't think they get the "seen & not heard" thing.  I get that they're only so mature at 9, 7 & 2.  I get that they're not able to control certain aspects of their responses.  But it's the constant arguing & debating with me that's wearing me out.  I swore I'd never say stuff like this, but if I had a $1 for every time I said "Don't debate with me! Just do what you're told!", I'd never have to worry about having cash for a chai latte that's for sure!  My middle son said something very insightful.  He said that he knew inside how he should react, wants to react, but he couldn't stop himself. Wow!  Proud of him in that moment, but he'd also just gotten in trouble for hitting his brother with a game box top, so I couldn't exactly praise him too much.

I have a very limited sense of humor.  Ask my oldest & he'll tell you I have NO sense of humor. It's one thing to be silly, it's another to be a smarty pants.  I've also been told I have a horrible sense of timing.  He seems to have inherited my bad timing gene because it's always when I'm getting on to him that he decides to try & be funny.  When I get mad at his response, he tells me he was just kidding & wonders why can't I see that.  Sorry, I don't find it funny being told "Nah, I don't want to", when I've asked him for the 5th time to finish his chore.

I'm on a daily quest to make it less stressful by NOT overreacting to things.  They will be grown before we know it & I seriously don't want their memories of me, homeschooling, of childhood in general to be of constant punishment & my over-reactions. But I also don't want to become numb to their slipping of manners & allow the disrespect to morph out of control.  My 9 & 7 yr old have a 2 yr old following their every move & listening to every word.  I've already seen him picking up habits from them that I'm not too thrilled about.  He's like a little mini-me of both of them, a little split personality going on while he's trying to figure out his place in our little party of 5!

So what do you dismiss or let go? If something is a repeat offense, does your form of punishment escalate?  Those of you with multiple children, consider their age differences & share how you may discipline differently between them.  Obviously a 2 yr old can't be punished the same as a 7 yr old.  And on that same note, shouldn't the 9 yr old be held to a bit higher standard?  Thanks for sharing!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Still Standing!

Thankfully I haven't thrown in the towel, but that would actually require I have a towel to throw - a clean one that is!  Homeschooling can definitely be all-consuming, especially for a list-checker like myself.  I love to make lists.  I feel like if I can check something off my list then I've accomplished something.  But, ahh, then there's that procrastinating side of me too.  I'm not a lazy person.  I just put things off that seem unimportant at the time.  OK, I'll be honest, I put things off that I simply don't want to do!  I guess I'm somewhat of a dual-personality - obsessive & just plain stubborn all rolled up into one.  In order to check something off a list, it would mean that it actually made it to a list.  So back to the towel comment; some things have taken a backseat - laundry, dinner, sleep!!  More than once I've been asked, "so, are we eating dinner tonight?" or "I don't have any socks/pants/clean underwear".  Don't take any of that to mean that my wonderfully supportive husband doesn't pitch in & help, because he definitely does.  He's done his fair share, more so than I care to mention.  Because after all, aren't all wives/moms supposed to be able to do it all & be it all to everyone, every day? Um, that would be a huge NO!!!  If there's one thing homeschooling has taught me thus far, it's that I cannot do it all & I most certainly cannot be everything, to everyone, all at the same time.  Sadly, we put those type of back-breaking, spirit-crushing expectations on ourselves way to often.

I was led to re-read my first blog post & it was extremely encouraging because it reminded me that this is a journey of faith, just like the rest of our lives.  I stepped out in obedience & God met me at the door & is still walking right beside me.  In His word He talks about going when we are called, not knowing where we are going.  Well, HE KNOWS!  He knows even before we take the first step where we'll end up.  I definitely don't know the end results & am convinced that if I did, I'd probably still question every step because that's just how I work - I want to know.  Well, He doesn't usually reveal every single step, very rarely actually.  Sometimes He waits for us to take a step before He reveals the tiniest portion of the "why" we may be asking.  All I know is that I was deeply burdened to school my boys at home.  I've seen glimmers, small things that I can categorize & use to explain why we chose to homeschool.  But there's still that unexplained ache in my heart that it's just what I'm supposed to be doing with my children. That may not be too concrete, & black & white, cut & dry it's definitely not.  But I know that when I commit my actions to the Lord, not my expectations, then my plans succeed according to His will, His purpose, His plans.  That's the faith that withstands those tear-stained days, those "10" days on a scale of 1-10 frustrating days.  Faith in knowing that He knows the outcome, He's right there with me, He's able to help me through it even when I don't see the answer right away.  It's the waiting that's sometimes the most frustrating.  OK, it's always frustrating!  I absolutely HATE to wait for answers to come.  I want to figure it out & move on.

My dear sweet Kaden & I were having the WORST time with our reading.  I kept trying different things & instead of getting better, it was getting worse.  So much so that there were tears being shed by him & me.  I tried one type of program, another, & another.  Then he started saying things about what the letters were doing on the page, they were moving, "playing tricks" on him.  I dropped all efforts of having him get through certain books, expectations & just simply slowed down.  I did once again try a different program, but it followed what I was already doing, which was to take it slower & "allow" him to learn & not "push" him to learn.  I wanted to rush out & get him tested for Dyslexia.  But situations prevented that from happening in the time-frame I wanted.  In the meantime, we continued on our new, more simple approach.  I was so worried what the tests would reveal.  So worried that I wouldn't have the ability to help him.  So worried that his confidence would continue to plummet. When the time came to actually get him tested, it went better than I could have imagined.  He was supposed to have been tested over a 2 day period, 1 1/2 hours each day. The diagnostician phoned after I'd picked him up from the first days' testing (in less then the allotted time) & used words like "very impressed", & "no significant deficiencies".  She said she could definitely tell that we are working very hard, that it shows in him & his abilities.  PLUS, she saw no reason to continue with further testing!  What a relief!  I literally sat down in relief & immediately thanked God.  All that fretting, worrying & stressing over what I was or wasn't doing - all for nothing.  Part of me believes that the new program was beneficial, part of me also believes that he  just got to the point of where it finally began to click with him.  Of course I also know that God knew all along that we needed to go through this in order for Kaden & I to learn to work through this together - with His help.  The most valuable lesson I learned was how important it was for me to slow down & listen to Kaden rather than pushing him into something he wasn't ready for.

Wow!  I started this post several months ago & saved it, forgot about it actually!  How wonderfully encouraging to see how far God has brought us.  Kaden's reading abilities have soared in the past few months.

I know that I will continue to make mistakes in our homeschooling journey, I'm human.  But knowing that God is faithful to walk right beside me, enabling me to do what He led me to do, gives me the strength to stay on this path.  It isn't a coincidence that my scripture for today is:

Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. (Psalm 25:4 NLT)

Trusting in Him!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My perspective vs. God's perspective

"So, how's the homeschool thing going?" is a common question I'm asked these days.  Some, dare I say most, are genuinely interested & sincere with their inquiry.  Some are rather astounded that I would take on such an endeavor and can be quite verbal with their amazement: "You're homeschooling & you have a 10 month old?!" Now I wonder, what is the best, most politically correct way to answer that question?  That is without getting way up on my soapbox & quite certainly offending them.  I've concluded that there's really no way for me to do that other than to simply smile, nod & say something like “we make it work”.  It’s a lot like the other comment I hear quite often, “THREE boys?! So, are you going to try for a girl?”  Really?

I remember being introduced to the idea of homeschooling & literally laughing out loud at the thought.  But I also vividly remember early on in my marriage talking with my dear friend Gina about children & swearing that I never wanted to have any.  God has a way of changing your perspective.  Sure, we can stamp our feet, fight it, run the other way & internally argue until we finally realize that all that resisting was a waste of time.  Because somewhere deep inside, we knew all along the path we were destined to take.  I’ve known for quite some time that homeschooling was what we were supposed to be doing.  We exhaust ourselves mostly out of fear of the unknown; I know I do.  Every time I thought about homeschooling, it was like being a first-time mom all over again.  I questioned my abilities & blocked out the basic aspects of myself as their mother.  I’ve been teaching them since they were born!  The best piece of advice I ever received was to always rely on my motherly instincts when it came to doing what was right for our children.  That & an extensive amount of prayer have enabled me to make some of the best decisions for our sons.  I suppose I can say I’ve “matured”, because I'm submitting faster & taking these giant leaps of faith much sooner than in previous battles.  Funny, my resistance began to wear down after we started having children.  And yet, I said oh so many years back that I never wanted to have children.  Let’s retrace this: I went from never wanting children, to having 3 boys, refusing to homeschool to totally loving it & can’t get enough information about it on a daily basis.  I wonder what other perspectives God will be changing for me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Too much stuff, not enough space!

And I'm not referring to our small 3-bedroom home, which is definitely NOT enough space for this party of 5!  What I'm referring to is my brain!! I've spent the better part of this Spring break week continuing my reading adventure in various different books, on-line articles, blogs, etc. When it comes to data on homeschooling, there's definitely an abundance of information, tools, resources, advice (waaay to much of that), examples, steps, plans, guides, charts, reviews, schedules, tips...ahhh!  All at the click of a mouse via my computer or my beloved library.  I've bookmarked so many websites on homeschooling that the list extends the entire length of my computer screen. They've probably seen my name so often at the library for reserved books that they'll start yelling it out when I walk through the door like Norm on Cheers!  My legs ache at the end of every night because I sit curled up so long reading. Wait, did I say "sit" & "read" in the same sentence? I'm thrilled!  My brain is about to burst, but I'm seriously loving the reading mileage I'm racking up on this fabulous journey.  I'm finding out things about myself & my boys that I may never have learned & can't wait to find out more.
The mind of a smart person is ready to get knowledge. The wise person listens to learn more." Proverbs 18:15 (From our morning Bible time.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Confirmation - Stepping out in faith

Heb 11:8. Abraham "obeyed when he was called", "and he went out, not knowing where he was going"

I prayed & asked for thought direction last Sunday. I'd been agonizing for months re: home-school; way before we even removed them from Faith West. The unrest I was experiencing was unbelievable & had really come to a fever pitch over the past couple of months (not sleeping, angry all the time, anxious while they were at school). But my fears of failure kept me from doing anything. Recently, Mike & I decided we were going to do a marriage bible study together on Sun mornings-never done that before. As soon as we made the decision, sickness swept through all of us. We missed church for the next 4 weeks. I was impressed to pray re: home schooling more than ever & the Sunday we went back we both felt God speaking directly to us through the sermon & scriptures. I also knew He meant immediately, not to wait (Heb 11:8). There were actual words on the screen that said in capital letters "NOW". Mike & I couldn't help but laugh to ourselves in church. We both looked at each other & even though we didn't say it right then, we knew God was speaking to us right there in that service. After service ended, I felt strongly led to tell our Pastor about the confirmation I'd received. It's one of my favorite things to do, tell others about things God has revealed to me through His word. Everyone loves to get answers about things that you've agonized over for so long. But as I stood there waiting to talk with him, I decided I would just say that I'd received a confirmation about a decision, thank him & leave. I had it all planned in my head exactly what I was going to say. Well, God wanted more than that. I immediately felt led to share specifics, actually say the word "home-school". (Even as I am journaling this, I'm struck to share this publicly.) There was no denying God wanted me to fully acknowledge the confirmation He'd given me. And even then I knew we were to start immediately. I hadn't talked with Mike yet about what I'd received in service or about my talk with the Pastor, but I already felt relief in knowing this was what we were going to do. Mike & I talked later that night & I asked him if when we looked at each other during church, was he also hearing from God that we should definitely home-school & he completely agreed. Hesitantly (because I already knew), I asked him if we should finish out the year or start now & he said he too felt the Lord saying the time was now. Even as he said the words, the burden & anguish I'd been experiencing completely lifted. I felt excited, not nervous, happy not freaked out & most of all relieved & surprisingly confident that I could do it, not at all fearful. God showed up just like He always does when we direct our minds & hearts to Him for the answers we seek.

There are so many things, people & situations God has lined out getting us to this point. I truly believe all the way back to me joining Katy MOPS & becoming friends with Audra & before I'm sure. God always has a plan greater than ours. He's provided teaching resources through lots of people, completely free. He's provided reassurance through people that I didn't even know but have recently become associated with. I also believe He used me moving to Bear Creek MOPS, because there are people I'd never have met that are helping me now. Not to say of course that there's not an even bigger picture being painted through all these circumstances, because we know how masterful God is.  But this is just my current vision & understanding of what He's doing. I can't wait to see what else He accomplishes through my tiny act of obedience. For now, I'm praying my boys are the direct recipients of my step of faith. Who knows what else He has planned.

Stay tuned as I attempt to continue to not fear & pray for understanding & humble myself before my God because my requests are heard in heaven. (from Daniel 10:12). Out of a recently started bible study-coincidence? Nope :)

Today ends the first week of our home school experience & it's really been a great week. I'm weeding through the organizational stuff & figuring out what works & what doesn't, for them & for me. Thanks to a fantastic book, "The Well-Trained Mind", I overcame anxieties this week about what I should/shouldn't be teaching Kaden. That book was loaned to me (many thanks Audra) & even tho it's nearly 3" thick, as soon as I opened it & began reading, I knew it would not only give me insight, but continued reassurance. I've been up well past 12am every night this week. Starting with Sunday night when Bode became sick. I think I might have gotten 2 hours of sleep total that night. Seriously? On the day before our first home-school day? Me, the mom who's "very grumpy if she doesn't get enough sleep" according to Tristan. Regardless, God enabled me to be all the things I'm not - patient, loving, willing, energized, motivated. And each day this week has been that way. Sure, I've caught myself not handling EVERY situation just right, like yelling when my very wiggly Kaden just will not stay in one spot! But wonderfully, I'm really learning things about my boys. Tristan really flourishes under freedom. All his work has been great & he's been super cooperative. Kaden is so interested in reading his "readers" that he can't wait to get them out. This from a boy who literally can't sit still. I know it's not all me. When they're ready, it happens just like everything else (ie: potty training-ughh!), it just clicks. But God has a way of making things click just when you need them to, so I've thoroughly enjoyed our first week. "Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3