More than any other year so far – even the first – this year of homeschooling has been difficult for me.  I don’t know if it is the backlog of things that didn’t get done since my husband was deployed the first part of 2011 or adding another child to the lesson planning/attention paying/intentional time spent learning mix or simply that I am getting old or something I can’t completely comprehend, but it has been exhausting for me.  I just feel tired, and I am longing for simplicity and time to relax.  I am struggling with the very-too-long list of things to do, and I am also finding it stressful when everyone seemingly needs my attention all.at.once!  I’m tired of my house always being a heap of projects and “art” and messes.  Eek!

So when a friend asked me recently, “So how is your year going?”

I smiled carefully and said, “Terribly.”

A funny thing happened though:  As that word slipped out of my mouth, I thought, “But I don’t really want my children to learn any other way right now.”  I shared that for the first time there have been very real conversations (between Handsome and me) about whether it is time to send some of the kids or all of the kids back to school.  I was very real with what I said, but as I spoke I started to think of all the things I do love about where we are at.  So I am counting my blessings for the things that are going well this year:

551.  the spelling program that I had been putting off buying because of the price but then finally bought in hopes that it would help one of my children not only spell but read – it is helping on both counts, and it has been good for the others too!

552.  the projects that are taking over our living space are all kid-inspired, “Can we please do this, Mom?” type projects – so fun, and learning too!

553.  my co-op class has combined with another class, and I am finding it pure joy to team teach with the other teacher!

554.  We have strengths in exact opposite areas – a beautiful thing!

555.  the freedom that I am learning (in that white-knuckled, I really don’t do this well sort of way) in not trying to do it ALL (not that trying to do it all was working for me either)

556.  the learning that is taking place, because we are learning not to try to do it all – it looks different, sometimes like play or leisure, but is oh, so amazingly profound!

557.  the literature books are getting thicker around here . . . and more interesting for me

558.  One child is just finished his last phonics lesson.  He is reading many years ahead of his grade level, and it is a delight to see the joy with which he embraces books!

559. oldest child is finding her loves in life.  She’s knitting and taking an “applique and hand stitching class” where she couldn’t wait to learn to dye fabrics.  She’s riding horses and learning to care for them too.  It’s fun to see this girl grow and develop into  someone with “loves.”

560.  Speaking of loves, I just finished teaching a unit on color theory to my co-op class.  It was so much fun!  I loved it!  I think the kids had fun too.

561.  I also just finished knitting a shawl that I LOVE . . . the color is “winter wheat,” the yarn divine, the pattern amazing and fun!

562.  Thankful that that shawl is headed to a cooler climate to keep a loved-one warm; I hope she enjoys using it as much as I enjoyed making it.  It is fun to be able to pass on handmade gifts.

563.  Today a friend reminded me of James 1 – long ago memorized – God is our source of wisdom.  We need not dig it up on our own; it is generously given to us!

564.  the computer slowly but surely being taken over by the ten-year-old as she uses her typing skills to learn Latin and so many other things

565.  the amazing opportunities that we have as homeschoolers – classes like knitting and “learning biology through art” and learning about gears with K’nex and learning about design with Legos and watching a woman spin and make soap like a real colonist would have – amazing opportunity!

566.  seeing diligence pay off – I have been just amazed at all the things that the kids learn by recitation; it seems they can memorize anything.  This practice which has so fallen out of favor in public schools is a treasure to our homeschool, as we learn poetry and verses and definitions and so many other things simply by repeating them each morning!

567.  K, who comes on Mondays to do hands-on activities with the kindergartener!  What a great way to start the week!

568.  for my science-loving, over-educated husband who doesn’t sweat the small stuff and teaches science to our kids!

569.  so, so thankful for our homeschooling friends – moms on this same journey who help prop me up and really amazing, creative, fun kids with whom my own children have so. much. fun!

but my favorite one of late:

570.  I got to hear him read his first word!  A note from a friend read, “First steps, first words…. READING FIRST WORD TRUMPS them all!!!”  And you know, she was right – I did miss his first steps and his first words, but I feel so, so honored to get to teach him to read his first words and to hear him say, “Mom!  I’m learning to read!”


Last night at dinner, I asked the kids, “If you could design an ice cream flavor, what would you put in it?”

I learned that we have a few strange kiddos!

The youngest one (the six year old boy) said, “SALAD!  I want ice cream with vegetables in it!”  Then he told us specifically that he wants, “bananas, apples, and blueberries.”  After a little botany lesson, he conceded that it was fruit that he wanted, but the image of salad ice cream will not leave my mind!

His brother wanted salmon ice cream.

The next oldest, Ethiopian by birth, wanted to use berbere (an Ethiopian spice) to add some kick to her dessert.

I was wondering, “Whose children are these?”

Finally, the one I have to claim, because we look just alike, piped up with, “Well I want peanut butter and chocolate in mine.”  Never mind that I don’t really like peanut butter, I’m takin’ hers!

What flavor ice cream would you make?

Each week, I use our curriculum’s list of vocabulary words to quiz the kids.  The list contains words that are relevant to what we will be studying each week and usually contains between ten and twenty words.  If a child can give me a decent definition of the word or display decent knowledge of the word, I don’t make them look it up.  We all usually enjoy this time, as we end up talking about all sorts of things.

I especially enjoy quizzing my fifth grader.  Sometimes when she doesn’t know a word, she’ll make up a silly definition . . . hoping I’ll let her off the hook for that word . . . or maybe hoping I won’t notice that she has no clue what she’s talking about.  Other times she just uses great words to describe things.  And so here is a small compilation of words that we have studied the last couple of years:

aqueducts – ducks that are a shade of blue

loincloth – undies for ancient people

One week we had the word mountaineer (someone who climbs or explores mountains) and highlander (someone who lives in the highlands), so it made sense that when I said tumor, she responded, “Someone who builds tombs?”

And then recently, I asked her what tyranny is.  “When people cry a lot.”  Makes sense, since we’ve been studying the Inquisition and all.

Over the holidays, Dimples went to the park with his brother, Grandpa, and Uncle B.

This particular park has a lake where, on nice days, many folks fish.

There is also a wooden bridge that goes across the lake.

My dad, Grandpa, told me the following story:

As my boys were crossing the bridge, running ahead of Grandpa and Uncle B, they happened upon a fisherman who had been walking across the bridge when he apparently dropped his line with the hook on the end.  The hook had fallen through the cracks of the bridge, and when he pulled the line, the hook must have stuck in the underside of the wood.

So my boys, running ahead, found this somewhat elderly gentleman down on one knee trying to unhook the bridge.

Dad saw the fisherman laugh as the boys continued on their way.  When Dad and Uncle B made it to the gentleman, still down on one knee but now chuckling as he tried to work his hook out of the underside of the bridge, the gentleman proceed to tell my dad that he had commented to my boys that he had “caught the bridge.”

And without missing a beat, my five year old happily replied, “Well, I guess it’s yours then.”

{I sure wish I could remember to write down all the funny, clever things he says!}

A Tentative Start

I’ve been away for so long, I’m afraid that my blogging muscles have completely withered, but lately I’ve been thinking that I need to start counting again – counting my blessings and recounting the precious moments that we are living out daily.

And so I’m trying to fit back into this space, fitting the thanksgiving into the numberline, where I left off:

531.  modern technology that allows international calls without the international price tag

532.  four month olds who are seriously chubby, one in particular

533.  smiles from babies, again, one in particular

534.  children praying for their daddy at night

535.  encouraging notes from a friend

536.  another friend who offers sage advice and a listening ear

537.  another friend who is letting me sit in on her knitting class again, to help teach this time

538.  painting with six-year-olds

539.  warm gingersnaps (I didn’t even think I liked gingersnaps until I made them for my class!)

540.  thirteen children who “Oooooh” and “Aaaaah” over my still-warm-because-I-barely-had-time-to-bake-them-before-class gingersnaps!

541.  the mom who told me that her daughter missed me when I was not teaching last week

542.  doors that seem to be closing while other doors are opening

543.  a little girl in the safe home of a friend who has three boys (even if only for a season)

544.  the knowledge that even prayers whispered are heard

545. new classes for my children

546.  anticipation

547. Valentines mailed and delivered

548. a lazy Sunday

549.  pajamas worn the whole day

550.  toothbrushes and toothpaste!

Very Egg-citing!

I have fifty-four eggs in my refrigerator.  Yes, 50 and 4 . . . or 18 + 18 + 18.

Why, you ask, are there 54 eggs in my refrigerator?  That’s a good question!

Easter come early?  Nope.

A craving?  Goodness, no!  (I’m a not so distant egg-hater.)

An egg-stravagant give-away?  I wish.

Instead I have found myself with 54 eggs, three cartons of 18 eggs, because I have apparently developed early onset memory-loss.  Or maybe I just have four kids and too many activities.  And maybe, just maybe I didn’t remember that there was a full carton of eggs in the fridge when I told Handsome to grab some eggs when he was in that isle getting butter.  And then, maybe, just maybe, an hour later when I was at the big box store I forgot that I had told Handsome to get said eggs.  And maybe, just maybe, I laughed out loud and wished (again aloud) for Easter come early when I opened the fridge to put away what I found to be the third full carton of eggs.

I think it’s time to slow down a bit!

And find some good egg recipes.

Got any?

Again and again, I say it to myself, “I just love this stage of my children’s lives.”  Four kids, ages (almost) six to ten.  Crazy, silly, messy, and FUNNY!  They are.

Recently, Little Man checked out a book about Star Wars droids.  That night he was devouring it!  Apparently he was filling his sisters in on all the details when he shared that one of them shoots slugs from his chest.  Not knowing that slugs are also bullets, he was imagining the slug shooter shooting little slimy, snail-like creatures out of his chest.  Think about it; this is reasonable coming from a movie that includes the likes of Jabba the Hut, right?  He and his sisters had a great laugh.

The next day they were discussing the anomaly when Bubba offered a suggestion:  They should also have a droid that shoots salt.  The slug shooter and the salt shooter could duel and see who wins.

I’m so glad I overheard that!