Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rolling with the changes

In parenting, I've found that I'll occasionally hit on a solution to a problem, or think of a new way of doing things that really works great.  The first time I made a great parenting discovery, I thought, "Awesome! I have figured out parenting! Now I'll just sit back and enjoy the ride."  But then the children entered a new stage, things changed, and what used to work great no longer worked at all, and things were falling apart again.  I quickly realized that I will never "figure it out"; it's always in flux.  There are always new challenges.

Not surprisingly, the same is true with school.  I will find a new way of teaching, or a new curriculum, or some other idea that solves a problem or makes things run smoother.  But alas, it doesn't last!  I'm constantly having to adjust in that area too.  

For several weeks (maybe months), things haven't been going well in our little school.  We've been stressed, grouchy, tired of the same old routine, people, and attitudes.  After all, we are a peri-menopausal woman and two adolescents who spend all our time together; the hormones are raging around here!  Finally, I had a total breakdown in front of the principal, and he said something has to change.  We talked about putting them in public school; he also suggested that he could teach them after he gets home from work (but what would we do all day?); finally after much discussion and many tears (all mine), I thought of a compromise that might work.  Since math is our main area of tension, he could teach math at night and I'll teach all the other subjects during the day.  

We implemented the new schedule this week.  It's only the fourth day, but it has been a great week!  The students don't give the principal the attitude they give me, and everything is more pleasant without math looming over our days.  We are free to spend more time leisurely discussing ideas and going through the other subjects in a much more relaxed, happy, and productive atmosphere.  When Mike gets home, we eat dinner and then he takes them for math while I'm cleaning up the kitchen or exercising or doing whatever I want...all by myself!  

Tonight I was cleaning up after dinner and listening to the class in the next room.  It was very strange to be on the other side and not involved at all.  I was reminded of a scene from my one of my favorite movies, Dead Poets' Society.  After Robin Williams got fired, he came back to his classroom to clean out his stuff, and he got to listen in while someone else was teaching his class.  

Even the kids admit that this new schedule is working much better.  I wish it would last, but I know changes are coming and we'll have to reevaluate again.  But I am enjoying the calm while it lasts!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New history curriculum

We just started a new curriculum for World History.  It covers everything from creation to now.  It's full of great pictures, interesting activities, and Biblical truth.  We finished Unit 1 yesterday, which was all about the creation of the world, and we had a worldwide dinner to celebrate.  We had pizza from Italy, pineapple from Hawaii, guacamole from Mexico, rice from Asia, and a Mediterranean barley salad.

Today we're starting Unit 2, which starts with Noah and the ark.  We took it on the road. While I drove to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, Sarah read the lesson out loud. While we waited for our food, Noah filled in the timeline book.  On the way home, we measured 450 feet (the length of the ark) and ran the distance of it for P.E.  On the way, we happened to encounter some boulders and named them the mountains of Ararat.  When we got home, we measured the width of the ark, which just happens to be the distance from our mailbox to our neighbors' mailbox.
 A sea lion on Mt. Ararat



We had Easter at Jeff & Amy's this year, because Jeff wanted to smoke the ham in his new smoker. It was delicious!
I took little deviled egg chicks.
The kids are still not too old to enjoy hunting for Grandma and Grandpa's Easter baskets.
 They always enjoy spreading the milkweed pods that Grandma collects for them.

My brother, dad, and husband watching the festivities.

 Amy, Mom, and I took a walk after dinner and saw this pretty sunset.

 Mike played 4-way chess with Sam, Ben, and Noah.
Sarah and the boys

The palm frond left from the Passion Play we went to on Easter morning at Pekin First Church of the Nazarene.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Letting go

Mike's sister wants the kids to come and visit her in Texas.  I checked flight prices and told Mike how much it was going to cost, and we decided we couldn't do it.  But I've been watching for cheap flights, and a great deal came up, and after talking with Mike and clearing the dates with his sister, I bought the tickets.  Right after I did it, we had to leave for Kuk Sool.  I cried all the way there.  How can I put them on a flight by themselves?

I had a flashback to when I was 16.  My brother had left home, and my parents wanted me to go with them to Colorado.  I was too cool to go on a family vacation with my icky parents, because I was a teenager.  And I hated roadtrips, even back then (still do).  We compromised and they let me fly by myself while they drove.  My aunt worked for the airline so I could fly for almost nothing.  I remember getting ready to board the plane in Denver, and my mom was crying.  I couldn't understand why on earth she was so emotional, because I was going to see them in two days when they got home.  I get it now.  She was putting her baby on an airplane alone for the first time, and that's really hard.

So I told my kids that story, and I said, "Someday you're going to put your baby on a plane without you, and you'll understand."  Sarah said, "I'm not going to cry when I do it. I won't be an emotional mom."  Noah said, "Yeah, her tear ducts dried up years ago."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I gave my students an assignment to draw the days of creation.  Sarah drew a mermaid on day 5.  I said, "After you're done drawing God's days of creation, you could make a separate drawing of 'Sarah's days of creation.  Day 1: Sarah created Sarahland, teeming with candy.  Day 2: Sarah created unicorns. Day 5: Sarah created mermaids..."  She liked that idea, but she never got around to doing it.

Things to note: Day 1 has a heart-shaped light bulb.  On Day 4 has the Big Dipper and the man in the moon. 
Day 6 includes some creature with horns, which Noah dubbed The She-Devil.  Day 7 shows God's pillow and teddy bear.  You can hear Him snoring, but you can't see Him, because He's a Spirit.

Then there's Noah's.  Day 6 features Adam (with prominent penis) clutching his side and yelling, "My rib!"  The woman is on the ground, being approached by a spider as big as she is, and she's about to be crushed by the upside down cow.  I asked Noah why the cow was upside down, and he said it was because God created animals in heaven and dropped them down to earth. 


In psychology class, I made an ink blot and gave the kids a Rorschach test.
Noah said, "It looks like a butterfly with horns."  Sarah said, "It looks like the face of a serial killer." 

Then we looked at the original Rorschach ink blots.  This is what Sarah had to say about them:

 #1: I see 3 dancing people with a reindeer in the middle.
 #2: I see 2 people on Halloween high-fiving with candy horn heads.
 #3: I see two cavemen in a cave with fire.
 #4: I see an elephant from the underside.
 #5: I see a bat.
 #6: I see a cat from the underside.
 #7: I see 2 bunnies staring at each other.
 #8: I see a rainbow cupcake.
 #9: I see fire and water and more fire.
Based on her answers, she got this result:  "Your underlying valor and heroism would have made you a great candidate to fight in The First Balkan War."  ??
I took a free online Rorschach test and got this result: "Your score is 3 of 10, meaning you selected 3 answers that are commonly given by individuals with some psychological disturbance."  

Monday, March 21, 2016

God's too clingy

Noah and I were having a chat about hearing God's voice.  I told him that I think He is speaking to us constantly in a variety of ways; we just have to learn how to hear Him.  I used the analogy of a radio station broadcasting all the time, but we only hear the music when we turn the radio on and listen.  I said, "God loves us so much that He is always communicating with us."  Noah said, "Geez, that's clingy of Him."

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Last night we went to a live performance of "Little Women" at a high school.  I thought it would be good for the children to get off their screens, get a little culture, and support their friend who was in the play.  It was a long car ride home, and it was late, and everyone was tired.  Noah had borrowed a dollar from Sarah to buy a bottle of water at the play.  She was ranting about immediate repayment of the principal, plus fifty cents interest.  Noah was rebelling against the steep interest rate and saying he might not pay at all.  He told her she'd just have to repossess his empty water bottle.  She snatched it out of his hand and started beating him over the head with it.  He yelled, "Stop hitting me with my repossessed water bottle!" 
Proof that merely exposing uncivilized beasts to the performing arts does not automatically refine them.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Key questions

I told Noah that I just finished my Beth Moore Bible study, and he asked, "What was the main thing you took away from it?"  I told him that it was about how the Old Testament tabernacle and temple point to Jesus, and how He is the tabernacle (God's meeting place with us). 

Then he asked me, "How is that going to affect the way you live your life?"  Wow, the guy really cuts right to the heart of it!  I told him that I'm changing my lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising to get my temple in better shape to glorify God, since His Spirit lives in me. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

He's not finished with us yet

Today was one of those days when I get discouraged about Sarah and lose hope for her ever becoming a nice person.  She was being so mean-spirited, bossy, know-it-all, selfish, and just nasty all day long.  The more I corrected her, the worse she got.  Finally, we took a long bike ride after school.  In front of us, a little boy's ball rolled across the street, and he just stood and stared after it. Sarah stopped, got off her bike, picked up his ball, carried it across the street, and handed it to him.  I just looked at her in wonder.  That's the kind of person I want her to be, but I rarely ever get a glimpse of her.  She said, "What?" And I said, "I'm very proud of you."  Just then, a Brandon Heath song ("Wait and See") came to my mind.  I thought of the lyrics for the rest of our ride.

There is hope for me yet
Because God won't forget
All the plans he's made for me
I have to wait and see
He's not finished with me yet

God has used this song before to encourage me about my kids.  They've only been alive for just a few years.  He has great plans for them.  I just have to wait (more patiently!) and see.  I can hardly wait to see what they (and I) will become when He's finished with us.  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Old candy

I was reading Where the Red Fern Grows aloud.  I got to this section:

and one of the kids said, "What is horehound?"

I said, "I assume from the context that it's some kind of old fashioned candy.  Never heard of it." I looked it up and discovered it's a plant.  I thought it would make a yucky licorice-tasting candy.  But in the interest of education, I bought some.  (Surprisingly easy to find and cheap).

It was actually good, and we all liked it!