Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm Letting Go!

Maybe I can catch up now.  Maybe!  hee promises on that

I had to take an extra week off for winter break to get things back in order.  Alex's ordeal just set us back and zapped my energy so much that my to do list did not get done!

Thankfully, I got a burst of "let's get things back in gear people" and, like a whirlwind, I or-gan-ized!  Of course all the guys I live with LOVE when that hits momma, but they are good sports and helped!

I especially needed to regroup with school.  This has been my hardest year homeschooling.

Yes.  Even more than the first year.  Even more than the year I had my two nieces and nephew.


Well, I think it is because of a couple things:  1) my neck/head issues which hinders our progress and enjoyment some days and 2) I did not realize how much my oldest son taught himself!

I have cried tears of frustration, but more than that, I have fought feeling like a failure more than ever.

This is the hard thing about homeschooling.  YOU, as the parent, are to blame.  No teachers or administration or fellow students to point to!  Nope, it's you and you alone!

So, like all things in life that start to overwhelm me, I took my feelings and thoughts to my husband and my Savior.  What would I do without them?

Tom has this amazing ability to center bring me sweetly and softly remind me of reality.  I believe my Lord works through my husband.

How am I now?  Well, I am very happy to tell you that I am doing really well!

I have been on a good run physically.  I'm not headache free, but I am much better than I have been.  I have been able to start working out again which always helps everything!  And...I am gaining momentum with school again.

Math has been a major source of my issue...our issue!  Alex and Trey need different things, even though they are at about the same level.  They learn in different ways and, much of the time, I feel like there isn't enough of me to go least in the perfectionist way I like to accomplish things!

Yes, I know my friends with 11 and 9 and 6 children or those trying to manage babies and toddlers are laughing at me when I say there is not enough of me to go around, but when you are fighting illness, it all feels so suffocating!

So we reevaluated math AGAIN and we are now using

I love it!  I love it so much we are using it for many things.  We are enjoying it and making progress now.

At the same time, God has been speaking to me about freedom in our learning.  I HATE how much time some things take.  I HATE standards and teaching to the test!  I don't have to test my kids to get money.  I don't have to worry about whether they are learning the exact same things all the other kids their age are learning.  I mean I do to an extent, by law.  I have to make sure they have a competent and comparable education, BUT I don't have to go about it the same way.  I don't have to copy what school has become in our society in MY home.

I actually had this revelation some time ago, but it is hitting my heart even much so that I am reading a lot about Christian unschooling.  If you are a veteran homeschooler, even you may have just gasped right?!  Unschooling has the ability to scare even the most lax homeschool parent!

Aren't you tired of it though?  You know, the rat race, the keeping up, the tedious schedules, the fear of falling "behind?"  Whatever behind is!  I mean, I am right now praying about whether I should have my boys take an achievement test.  The ONLY good reason I can come up with for US is to give them practice in test taking for the SAT/ACT later!

I know thoroughly how they are doing.  I know their strengths and weaknesses in many areas, let alone "standards of grade level."  I fully know that they may lack in one area, BUT I also know that they could test above and beyond in areas that the "system" couldn't begin to teach them or test them in.

Every year we choose to fast as a family in January.  We don't force this on our kids.  We don't have to.  They know the Word of God.  They know the benefits and the reasons why it is a GIFT to their body, soul, and spirit to do this.  We do want to set an example of giving your first and best to God who chose to give you so much...of prioritizing things in our lives...of taking time to cleanse ourselves and gain a fresh start!  This has become a precious time of reconnection for us.  My kids see it and they like it.

AS A FAMILY...A UNIT...ONE...we made goals.  We decided to take on the Radical Experiment this read through the Bible in a year, discuss it, pray for the nations, give sacrificially, and spend our time in more worthwhile ways.  We chatted about what last year was like and what this year could hold for us.

The Lord is speaking FREEDOM to us.  We are not bound by religious tradition of man.  We are understanding that we may never understand the depth of grace.  We are learning why we have been given grace and what to do with it.

I long to see this carry over into our "school" too.  I long to merge school with life in a greater, more natural way.  I believe that my children each have a destiny that is unique, and I am seeing more reasons why they need to be trained up in the way they should go INDIVIDUALLY so they can most benefit the whole.

I know a standardized test can't begin to tell me what I need to know in order to accomplish the ultimate goal.  I know that spending our days mimicking a failing system isn't going to better my sons.

So, I guess where I am at is...I see the possibilities.  I am learning the ways to reach the real goal.  I am excited by the thoughts of my children being able to explore more of what interests them!  BUT, alas, it is so hard to just jump.

I need the boldness to just go for it and throw off all that hinders!  I feel it bubbling.  I have dipped my toe in the river of freedom!

If you share my personality type, you understand the shakiness and hesitancy to just let go!  You get the nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me want to keep control and orchestrate everything possible!

I just know there is more awaiting us though.  I have to do it!

And I did start.  Last night!  Alex said he wasn't ready to go to sleep...was aggravated that he had to even try and was convinced he would lay there for two hours awake and wasting his time!  I knew he was right too.

He didn't want to read.  He had done enough of that anyway.  He asked if after he did his daily Bible reading (his personal, chosen goal for himself this year, by the way), if he could put in the Art curriculum DVD and learn more about drawing.

Okay...test time for Mom!  I had PLANNED to do that all together this coming summer.  BUT I DID IT!  I let go and let him!  I know!  I know this is nothing big to many of you, but an hour later, he came in our room and said he loved it and had two drawings to show us.  The drawings were great.  BUT HIS SMILE WAS PRECIOUS AND FOREVER BURNED IN MY MIND!

And today, he was back at it...along with his little brother.

Something so simple.  Something he is passionate about.  And I was hindering it because it didn't fit into the "plan" that someone else has said is correct???

Wanna know the saddest part?  I love art.  I love creating.  I took art classes all through school and looked into art schools for my college degree.  I understand how Alex thinks and why he wants to create with his hands.  And I was stifling him.  ME...who should've understood better than anyone.

So how much more am I preventing from coming forth?  What else could we be accomplishing if I threw off the notion of "teaching to standards" and filling our days with planned to the T activities?

I just read a book written by people who analyzed 8,000 studies that followed childrens' learning paths and overwhelmingly, the evidence shows that children forced into formal schooling at young ages (as in before 12!) do worse in the end....worse in many ways.  I don't want those kind of results.

I'm letting go...

of old mindsets

of expectations

of opinions

of worries, anxieties, and fears

of hurts and wounds

of trying to please

of all that keeps us from being who we were made to be!

Wanna join me???

(And PLEASE, PLEASE don't be offended when you read this if your kiddos are in public or other schools!  I am not bashing you or your kids or their teachers or schools!  That isn't the point.  The point is that we have all bought into certain ideas that aren't proving fruitful...ideas that are stifling kids and making them more like robots and people unable to think logically and stressing out families with little time to be together in enjoyment.  So whether you homeschool or not, what CAN you do differently to change the tide?  What have you bought into that is just pushing you and your kids along, keeping you from an abundant life?  Just something to think about!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Year's Eve 2011

We always stay at our house to ring in the new year.  I suppose that may change as my children get older, but for now, I just like us all to start a new year together.  

We were still feeling tired so we weren't up for doing much anyway.  The boys had some cousins over.  Laura was in town.  Amanda and her brother, Travis joined us, and also my parents.  We just played some games and hung out.  It was nice and relaxing!  (Until the boys antics, but I didn't get photos of that, and I'm not gonna spill the details to save some people from embarrassment-mainly me!  All I will say is one incident involved duct tape; one involved wrestling and a bird; and another involved dancing.  Years from now when my boys read this "scrapbook," I'm sure those words will jog their memories of the actual happenings!)

I wouldn't even have pics if it weren't for Laura.  Yeah, I was THAT worn out!  I'm so glad she thought to take these.

 Travis and Amanda...can you see how he loves his big sister!
 Me...not really wanting my picture taken and my Amanda up? or gathering supplies???
 Trey...I'm not buying that sweet look!
 Alex and Laura
 Bubba (Josh) and Trey...why does he look so mean?
 Ethan and Bubba
 Alex picking on his little brother???
Garrison and Tom


Christmas 2011

After Alex got home for the hospital, it seems like tired was our state of being for a good couple of weeks!  He was released on Thursday and Christmas Eve was Saturday.  I'm so thankful we had everything wrapped and ready!  However, every time I sat down, I just felt my eyes want to shut, so I didn't get very good photos. 

Christmas Eve

 Garrison & Andrew
 I couldn't get my momma in a good still shot because she was busy getting her own photos!
 My Daddy...doing what he does.  I despised his early morning video tapings and that always-in-my-face-bright light on his old-school camera, but now I am so thankful that he cared enough to capture all those moments for us!  And he still is!
 Poor puppy!  She didn't know what was going on!
 Trey, reading his card...just love his sweet face in this one.  And that is my Aunt Sue behind him, but every picture I tried to get of her, Trey is blocking her!  Sit still Trey!  Oh, if we had a buck for every time we said that!  shew!
 See?  Can't see her!  But you can catch a glimpse of my brother, Keith and his girlfriend, Vicky.
 My parents must like to watch Tom and me try to keep our sanity...buying the "twins" all this Nerf gear!!!  At least they are past that dreaded popper toy stage toddlers push around.  I HATE THAT THING!  It's so mesmerizing yet so loud and annoying!  C'mon, you have to know the one I mean!!!  (Sorry...a little traumatic flashback)
 Garrison with another football and Xbox Live points so he can play football online with one of his best buddies from when we were a military family.
 My other brother, Juston.  Mom and Dad got him a new camera and my dad has watched the video of him opening it and how excited he was at least five times already!  So cute!
 Andrew got Vicky this wall hanging, and I just laughed hysterically.  My brother didn't seem to catch on as to what was so funny about this!
 Trey and Alex waiting for their grand finale...
Oh joy for the rest of us!  GIANT Nerf guns!?!?  This must be so enjoyable for my lil ole parents!  If they ever have another kid again, I am so buying it loud, projectile weaponry!  hee hee
And here is our best present...our sweet boy...not looking his best, but well on the mend (and you know he tried to run around and shoot that new gun).

Christmas Morning

 My brother made each of my boys a treasure box and had everyone give them something special to put inside.  Very thoughtful!  I love gifts like that!
 Yikes!  That mo-hawk doesn't look so hot not fixed!  Well, let's face doesn't look so hot when it is fixed, but he sure liked it!  It's gone now by the way.
 They started throwing on new sport team clothing and hats as soon as they opened them!
 Alex gave this to his dad! HAAAAAA!
 A dance game and some Mega Block figures
 I've had that jersey put up for a year! If he had only known it was in my closet!

 Notice the Pooh Bear, Sesame Street, and Sponge Bob wrapping paper?  I didn't put names on any of their gifts.  They had to figure out who had which paper!  It drove them nuts not knowing for sure, but they actually had it nailed within literally three minutes of walking in and finding out I had wrapped their gifts like that!

Garrison had Pooh because after "ba-ba" and "ball," "Pooh" and "Tig" were his first words and favorite things!  Alex had Sesame Street because he went through an I heart Elmo stage. Trey had Sponge Bob because, even though they didn't watch it, he knew the song and was singing it well enough that we knew what it was BEFORE he would say momma!  (Yeah, I am still a little perturbed over that Trey!)

 Is that a happy reaction???  oi teens!

Christmas Day with Tom's family

Josiah and Judah
Lydia, Joleen, and Gracie
Hannah and Matthew
Julianna, Hadassah, Trey, and Hannah
Josiah and Caleb
Trey and his moose
Nikki and Rebekah
Nanny (Sandy) and Tom
Julie and Julianna