Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leap Year

To celebrate this day, I would like to go on a nature walk tomorrow to look for frog eggs. We could put them in a bucket and care for them until they turn to tadpoles in the spring. We did this last year (but not until April) and kept them as pets in our outdoor science lab (aka swimming pool) until they were big enough to fly (or hop) the coop. It was great fun.
But......since we still have six feet of snow on the ground (literally), we are going to make Oragami frogs instead. We're going to have a leaping contest with our frogs and then play human leap frog in our living room after we remove all of the furniture.
Brother W. and Brother N. came over to home teach us tonight. I really appreciate it when they come. Brother N. always does such a great job of engaging the children, and almost always adapts the lesson to their level of understanding, while at the same time touching Mike and I with the spirit of the message. Not everyone has this ability. Since we have such diligent, faithful and consistant hometeachers, I am more willing to make the necessary sacrifice for Mike to go and do his. I see how it affects our lives and want my husband to bless others as Brother N. and Brother W. have blessed us.
The Lord's work is just that....the Lord's work. It is His desire to bless us through others. Sometimes we are the bless-ed and sometimes we are the bless-ing. Some people call it "Carma." I call it the gospel in action.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sometimes I Just Want to Shout!!!!

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

By Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday Morning Battle

I felt so releived to see Mike come home to get us yesterday morning. (The car is not working again, he had bishop ric so he took the van.)
Sunday mornings are offten stressful, chaotic and full of miss haps. Here is an illustration...
Liam wakes up. He is very crabby from being so hungry, as he didn't eat much on Saturday because he had been throwing up the night before. OK...I thought....does he have a fever No...ok, I think he'll be fine to go to church. I sit him at the table with a banana, he scarfs it down and screams for more food.
Next, wake up the girls. Tights, I forgot to find Lundi's tights. I send her to go look in her basket. "Mom, I can't find any off-white tights, only white!" "That's fine, wear white." She brings them up, as she was putting them on she realizes that they are actually Lauren's tights. Does she go look again? No, she wore Lauren's and dealt with the crotch at her knees all day.
Oh ya...Liam needs more food. I didn't want to give him a bowl of cereal, I didn't want to spend the time to clean up his usual dumping of his bowl. So I grab a handful of dry cheerios, toss them on the table in front of him. That will buy me another five minutes I thought.
On to the boys......
Caleb gets up, in a surprisingly pleasant mood (he is usually grumpy). Thank You Heavenly Father. I had ironed his favorite shirt and he was appreciative.
Back to baby...I sat down to feed him a bowl of apple sauce, as spoons in the hair are never a good thing for Sunday morning.
On to Lauren.....after she ate, I asked her to get dressed. And she did.....with the exception of one shoe. "I can't find my udda shoe, Mommy." So I call in the reliable help...."Lundi, can you please help Lauren find her other shoe?" "Sure, Mom." They look and look and look, with no success. Lundi went down to fetch an old pair of hers, put them on Lauren. She was happy, even though they were three sizes too big. I don't have time to care about that right now. I said to myself. Mental note.....look for shoe again before leaving.
Wash up baby, change and dress him. Check. One out of five is 100 percent ready.
Until....Lundi starts trying to teach him to fake burp (a favorite pass time among my children).
Then I hear "Mom....Liam puked up!!" Oh, no! I thought, he is still sick. Then I found out the whole story and dismissed it as coincidental.
Next...find a new shirt for Liam. But where, oh where I thought? I am flying be the seat of my pants this morning. Please help me, Lord. I really want to be on time for church. I find a white turtle-meck hanging in his closet. This will do.
Does it ever seem, that no matter how much you plan ahead, there is always some obstacle that you didn't plan for? Like a puking baby?
Move on to next kid. I find Harrison dressed, but with untied shoes and a crookedley buttoned shirt. "Come here, bud. Can I help you a little?" I finish the fine tuning, fix his hair and remind him to get his coat. Check. Two kids 100 percent ready.
Go look for the shoe again. No luck, I guess she is either wearing her sneakers, snow boots or the too big ones. I decide not to have her change. I call her into the bathroom for hair fixing. "I want a yellow barette, Mommy!" "Purple matches your dress better, honey." It's not that important, I thought. She wore yellow. Three kids 100 percent ready.
Mike comes home. "I am so glad to see you." I hug him and rattle off a list of things yet to be done. He gets right to work and we finally get out the dooe at 9:55am. Almost on time.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


The Smith family loves to ski. Our children have taken lessons since they were five. It is a pretty big sacrifice on my part, as I am usually the one to take them to their lessons. I can usually be found in the lodge with the baby, trying to keep him away from the fire. The mountain where we go is totally run by volunteers and is a very friendly, safe and fun place for the kids. I couldn't ask for better.
Just a short time ago, Harrison slid down the Main on his botom because it was too big and steep for him to ski. On Saturday he asked Amy (the racing instructor) if he could join their class for the day. She said he could. And can you believe it? He was skiing the Main yesterday, flying through those gates like a champ!!! He has made amazing progress this year. Go Harrison!!!
Caleb and Lundi have participated in a racing lesson all season. They have worked hard to learn to go through the gates as fast as they can. It wasn't until Saturday (their last racing lesson) that we learned that the final race was on Sunday. They didn't even ask to go to the race, but later that night at the dinner table expressed their disappointment. We discussed it and after bearing our testimonies of spiritual blessings verses temporal blessings, we gave them the choice. I knew they would choose the right. I love to see my children walking in truth.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tried & True (according to the Smith clan).


  • Saxon (K-12) They do have an online placement test that is free, which I found to be really helpful.
  • Wrap-Ups (PreK-4)
  • Mathematicians Are People, Too. Stories from the lives of great mathematicians. (K-4)
  • McGraw Hill workbooks (PreK-1)

Language Arts

  • Spelling/Grammar
  • Explode The Code (This gets my highest recommendation!)(PreK-4)
  • Up With Language Series (3-8)
  • Literature
  • Great Illustrated Classics (1-5)
  • Five In A Row (PreK-3)
  • Tales From Shakespeare (This one is written in comic book form.)(4-6)
  • The Childrens Classics-Tales From Shakespeare (3-6)
  • Puffin Classics (2-5)
  • Writing
  • The Little Red Writing Book (Writing Prompts) (K-2)
  • Daily Witing Prompts (3-5)
  • Explode The Code (PreK-4)
  • Create-A-Story Game
  • Phonics tiles
  • Learning To Read
  • Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons (preK-?)
  • The Read Aloud Handbook (Adult)
  • Explode The Code (PreK-4)


  • Lyrical Life Science (PreK-6)
  • Backyard Scientist (PreK-8)
  • The Teaching Tank (PreK-12) They also have discovery books you can buy.)
  • The Mudpies Activity Book (1-4)
  • Do Fish Drink? (1-3)
  • You're Taller in the Morning, but Shorter at Night (all ages)
  • Animals Without Backbones (1-4)
  • Blister Microscope w/slides (PreK-adult)
  • Magnets (K-12)
  • Potato Clock (1-5)
  • Magic School Bus-The World of Germs Science Kit...this came with petri dishes to grow our own bacteria....really cool!! (3-6)
  • Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry (Pre Level 1)
  • Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry Laboratory Workbook (Pre Level 1) I am not giving an age on these because I learned so much from these books. But I would say that even a kid as young as 6 would understand it---now you all know how much chemistry I learned in school :)


  • Story of The World (1-5)
  • Don't Know Much About....(series) (2-4)
  • If You Lived.....(series) We love these books!! (1-7)
  • Historical Biographies by Peggy Pancella
  • Living History-The Hands On Approach to History ((3-7 but can be adapted for younger kids. I use it for all of my kids).
  • Classical Kids-An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece (1-6)
  • Founding Fathers.....Uncommon Heroes (2-5)
  • I Love America (preK-2) This is put out by The National Center for Constitutional Studies. (It is fabulous for the small kids, we love this!)
  • LDS Church History
  • Your Story Hour (audio CD's...great for school in the car) (3-8...but even Lauren loves these)
  • Where in Time is Carmen SanGiego? (2-4) computer game
  • The Learning Calendar


  • Visualize World Geography (1-8)
  • Great States!! board game (K-3)
  • World Book Encyclopedia Atlas for Kids (1-4)

Social Studies

  • Our Communities (1-3)
  • Children Just Like Me (K-4)
  • Manners Please (K-3)
  • Mind Your Manners (4-6)
  • A Child Guide to Cultures of the World (2-6)
  • The Book of Great Inventions (2-5)
  • A Young Persons Guide to Philosophy (4-8)
  • Philosophy For Kids (3-6)
  • Exploring The Wonders of the World (4-7)
  • The Usbourne Book of Explorers (2-5)
  • Character Counts (PreK-2)


  • Poetry for Young People (2-8)
  • Teaching 10 Fabulous Forms of Poetry (3-7)
  • Oxford First Book of Art
  • The Art Book for Kids (which means no nudes) (1-4)
  • The Usbourne Introduction to Art (1-4)
  • I Can Do All Things-Beginning book of drawing & painting. (K-?....I use this book)


  • Music For Little Mozarts (workbook, flash cards and audio CD) (PreK-2)
  • Music Together (birth-5)
  • Name That Classical Tune (audio CD 2-4)
  • Meet The Masters-The Story and Life of the Great Composers (1-adult)


  • Play and Find Out About The Human Body (we love this one, too!) (K-3)
  • BODY-An Amazing Tour of Human Anatomy (2-7)
  • Understanding Your Body

Let me know if you have any questions.

The list of websites will be coming soon....slumber awaits me.

Also, I would love to hear other peoples' recommendations, too.



Hello Friends

I am in the process of getting together a list of our favorite homeschooling supplies. It is by no means a complete list, that would take me a month. It is a list of our favorites.
Also, I put the grades in parenthesies.....this is a very loose guideline. Many of the things I have used can be adapted for younger/older children. If you have specific questions (like what I do or don't like about a particular item, or where I bought it), you can ask me. I just don't want to list all of the details for each thing because sometimes I can be really long winded in my descriptions....especialy with stuff that I REALLY like. I will also be including a list of our favorite/most used websites.
Another thing....if you see something that you are interested in but want to be more sure, you can stop by my house and check it out. (like if you want to touch before you buy.)
Last but not least....there is a HUGE used curriculum sale every year in Augusta. I get alot of my stuff there. If any of you are interested in attending, I will post the details here as soon as I can find out. You can also put unwanted homeschooling items in the sale if you give them a heads-up. I think they keep 10% for their overhead cost of renting the building and such.
A word of caution....It is so easy to over buy!! Be careful not to buy stuff unless you are absolutley sure you need it. Alot of distributors have their "Must Haves" list and try to scare you into buying many un-needed products.
The list will be coming soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I've been in a "quick to anger" rut lately. When life gets hectic, Mike's school is demanding (they own him, don't ya know?) and our schedule is full of (assumed) "must do's," I find myself getting angry more often. Not good.
Within the last week or so, I have been more conscious of my rut and have been trying to get out. The Lord has great timing and is always aware of our needs.
I went to Juanita's last night because she neeeded me to come over. Though I supposedly went there for her, it was just as much for me. You see, she had a book titled "The Soft Spoken Parent." Just what I need to help me in my quest to become better. There are so many quotes that I want to print out and hang on the fridge so that I can remember them in the middle of an anger inducing moment.
A truth about anger....
"We often feel quite conflicted after blowing up with people we love. After unloading on a child, our minds may be insisting that we were right and that they needed to hear it. But our hearts tell us that we have violated the contract of love. We have turned against those we swore to bless and protect, to encourage and to teach."
I regret ever being angry at my children. So often i go about it the wrong way. I am going to be better and with the help of the Holy Ghost i know i can do so.
Thank You G. Wallace Goddard for writing this book. Thank You Juanita for being an answer to my pleas witht the Father to help me be better.
I'm going to spend some time with G. Wallace now and I am not going to get angry when the kids come home and do the things that I usually get mad at.
I'm off to being a better parent......I'll report my progress in the coming weeks. (I wish I could figure out the "Labels" feature on my blog.)


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Old Germs

Do you remember being afraid of them? Do you remember thinking they were different than young germs?

Let me explain.....
Yesterday we had to go south to get some things done. Mike needed to help his Mom re-do her resume. The original plan was for him to go right from school to meet her in Portland. But since he didn't actually make it to school (the roads were bad) he left from home, so he decided to invite us to tag along. Anyway, we went to lunch, they got their business done, she went back to work and we headed to OOB.
We got to Laurette's house and found bit worrisome. She is Mike's great aunt who lives alone and is 94, so we don't expect her to go jogging every day. But she has never been known to wear her pajamas past 7:00am. When we got there, she was asleep on the couch in her PJ's. Not too alarming, right? Well, later one of the kids opened up the fridge to get a drink and a huge wave of stink went through her (very tiny) house. Red flags started going up. As a nurse, Mike is trained to recognize the signs of a person being unable to take care of themselves. Next she asked for help with her check book, which led to a discovery of a $400.00 overdraft. Yikes!! This is coming from someone who has never bounced a check in her life. She is one of the only people I know who actually still uses the register in the back of her check book....subtracting (by hand) each withdrawl and adding each deposit. Anyway, as Mike helped her with that, the kids entertained themselves while I cleaned out the fridge. Everything in there but the condiments was rotten-----as in slimey- stinky- plug your nose- moldy-you would puke if you were pregnant-get sick if you ate it----- kind of rotten. (When I am pg, it's always Mike's job to get rid of the Unidentified Fridge Objects--UFO's). So I cleaned it all out while trying to preserve her dignity. So with each item, I asked "Is this still good?" knowing full well that it wasn't. A few times she said "I just bought that last week" at which point I gently tried to persuade her that it was indeed rotten. After that was done I left and went to the store and bought stuff for spaghetti to make dinner for all of us and some bananas, cucumbers, tomatoes, milk, yogurt, bread and cheese...just to tide her over until today when her friend was taking her to the store.
Anyway....We all ate spaghetti for dinner, except for Caleb. His plate sat...and sat....and sat, untouched until it was time to clear the table and wash the dishes. At which point I inquired "Aren't you going to eat, son?" He picks at his plate, I move on to the sink, come back a few minutes later and say "Caleb, it is offensive to Laurette that you take that big plate of food and not eat it." (She did live during the depression, after all, which might also explain the saved rotten food). To which he replied "I have a tummy ache Mom, and I can't finish." I didn't really beleive him, but then again he isn't usually one to pull this trick. So, I met him in the middle "Try to eat atleast five bites." He picked some more until eventually all the dishes were done except for his. He left the table and that was the end of that.
UNTIL....the drive home. We stopped to get gas and Mike bought candy bars for everyone. Suddenly he was hungry.
"Wait, son. You love spaghetti. Why didn't you eat your dinner?"
He said "Well, I feel better now."
I said "OK, so were you really sick at Laurette's house?"
His response...."I just didn't want to eat it because it had old germs on it.!!"
Mike said "But Caleb, we just made that spaghetti fresh tonight."
Caleb said "No, I don't mean that, I mean like old people germs. You know, like her dishes are old and it makes food taste funny."
OHHHHH BOY!!!! Did we get a laugh out of that one. Mike was laughing so hard he couldn't see to drive. The reason we thought it was so funny is because we remembered thinking the same thing when we were kids. I remember being at my grandma's house and (sneakily) washing cups before I used them. I would die of thirst while waiting for her to leave the room so I could get rid of those old germs before I got a drink. I was afraid of old germs. Needless to say, we empathised with the kid and fed him when we got home.
I also remember pouring huge bowls of Grapenuts and being forced to sit there (seemingly) all day to finish them. Nobody told me that I might not even like Grapenuts (which I didn't...still don't), but I poured a bowl of cereal just like I did at home, fully expecting to eat them all. But before I could do so, they turned into a big blob of....that stuff that T&M put on their Mama's kitchen floor one time, and then stuck plastic spoons in it to make a masterpeice. (My sentiments exactly, T&M...that stuff is better left UNeaten).
I wish I had my grandma's sugar bowl that I use to depleat in an attempt to make those Grapenuts more palatable.....but that's a story for another day.


Saturday, February 9, 2008


It's a secret love of mine. I just don't tell anyone because I am really an ammature.
I would love to get inside my Daddy's brain and learn in five seconds all that he has learned in fifty years. I admire his talent and aspire to be like him.
When Mike finishes school, one of the (500) things on my list is to take a photography class. Infact, I might even go back to school full time. There are many classes that I would like to take. (I can dream, can't I?)
Anyway, I have been experimenting with the camera lately and have been trying to figure out all of it's bells and whistles. Here are a few of my favorites......

The sliding glass door is the kids' favorite canvas.
On these two I just rubbed away some off the fog and took it through the glass. This is looking out into the backyard.

This one here is my favorite branch all year round. I know, I'm weird to have a favorite branch when there are hundreds of trees in our yard, but this just happens to hang over the deck and I spend alot of time looking at it.

This is the lamp out front....I thought it looked like an alien (or a Bionicle).

Doesn't he look so guilty? Well....that's because he is in this............

.....the girls' bead box!!!


What Is Your Reason?

I published this post on *my* other blog. (It's not really mine, I am simlply invited to contribute). I wanted to post it here, also, incase you have never been over there.

I've been thinking alot about this lately and thought this was an appropriate place to think it out.Some of my children would flunk in PS and some of them would thrive. Therefore, I have core reasons that are applicable to all five as well as individual reasons. Ill write about a few of each.

I have been homeschooling for almost seven years now. Throughout the years, I have seen myself change and evolve as a parent and as a teacher....always seeking to balance the two.When we first moved here, Caleb was five, had been to a great preschool in Utah and was excited about riding the bus. He was unaware of the struggle that we were having concerning his education. I had been thinking about HS since he was born. But like everyone, I struggled with the typical questions. Can I give him what he needs? Do I have what it takes? Will it ruin or strengthen our relationship? Will he be missing out? What about all of the good things about PS? Will I be able to adequatley prepare him for mission/college/life out in the big world? My resources are limited, what about exposing him to things I know nothing about? What if he misses his calling in life because he never found out what he really enjoys? What if he falls behind....everyone will say "it's because he is homeschooled." (As if that never happens in PS.) What will my inlaws think? We live in a sheltered community, isn't homeschooling going to make that worse? What am I going to do when he gets smarter than me? Will he resent me when he is grown-up? And many, many more. I've thought about them all. Every good parent has asked themselves similar questions based on the decisions they make for their own children.Innitialy, the bases of my decision was as simple as this: I didn't think he was ready for all day kindergarten, and I certainly wasn't ready for him to be away from home for eight hours every day. I don't mean "not ready" from an academic standpoint....he was doing all the normal stuff (and then some.) I was afraid that he wouldn't get the stimulation he needed. I was afraid that he would be bored and turned off to learning, which is my BIGGEST fear. I feel like the PS system has a conveyor belt way of "processing" students and I didn't feel like Caleb was ready to fit into their mold. Which we all know, if they don't fit, they don't succeed. I feel this way even today. Caleb is not a "traditional learner." Maybe that's because I believe so strongly in "child innitiated learning," so much of the time he learns what he wants to learn. Currently his interests are birds of prey, ancient Egypt, skiing, Legos, (well, that one is constant) the human body and algebra. We will persue these subjects until he has had enough, moved on or loses interest....whatever you want to call it. I'm not sure he would be permitted to learn this way in PS. I apply this same technique to each of my children. They are individuals. I am a firm believer that if they learn it (meaning anything) when they want to learn it, they retain it. For example, each of my children learned to read at different ages. One was six, the next one was five, the third has just recently learned to read (also six) and the fourth one is four and learning to read. (we use the book "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lesons"). I have taught them all when they asked to learn. I don't believe in dumbing them down and I don't believe in pushing them too hard. It is a tricky balance that I feel only a mother can acheive. At home, there are no learning standards, pressure to succeed or the government looking over our shoulder. We learn in freedom.
I understand that Lauren will eventually plateau and be even with her peers. Just because she learns to read at age four doesn't mean that she will always be ahead of her game. I've read all the studies. However....that does NOT mean I should hold her back (or dumb her down) if she is currently thrilled about being empowered to read! Learning is fun and exiting. Many of us have developed a resentment toward learning because we went through the PS system. (I didn't get over this until i was in college). And many of us have had to wait until we are adults to learn how enjoyable learning really is. Think about how much further ahead we would all be if we were never taught that learning was uncool, boring or nerdy. Now.....I know that not everyone had the same, rotten experience in PS that I had. I also know that things have "changed" (for better or worse, depending on who you ask).At this pont in my career as a homeschooling Mom, my reasons are different. I am still evolving and have much to learn. I really enjoy it, they really enjoy it, it is working for us, the Lord has let me know that this is the right thing for our family and at this point there is no reason to change course.
Just to be fair and objective, we revisit this decision every year, with every child. It also helps me feel less intimidated if I remind myself that we are doing this one year at a time.The first year was the hardest, second was better. Now we are in a "groove" and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on our educational persuits. The Lord has blessed us so much and continues to do so.
We will carry on.
For those of you who homeschool......What is your reason?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Post Number One-Hundred (continued)

As I was saying....we all went skiing yesterday. I am a little soar today from all of that exercise but I feel like I have alot of energy. I tackled the laundry pile (more like the laundry MOUNTAIN) today and was perterbed when I had to go hunting for dirty clothes. Closets were empty, drawers were empty......and the hampers didn't have much in them. What does that tell you? So I had to go looking in corners of their bedrooms, under beds and under toys. I was getting tired of the seeking, so I planned out my speech. When Mike got home (he is just as guilty as the rest of them) I said "I have an announcement and it can't wait until family council."
"Uh Oh." said Caleb. "What is it, Mom?" (We go through these cycles all the time. You know, I make a complaint, everyone does really good for a while, then it's back to the same thing. So i said "From now on, I will only wash clothes that are brought down and sorted in the hampers in the laundry room. That means that you take your own hamper down and sort it and turn them right side out......all of your clothes. I will not wash waded up socks anymore." For some reason, I felt like I had heard someone say something like that before. Hmmm......
Last Friday Mike and I ventured out on a date in the middle of a snowstorm. A really wet, slick, messy snow storm. We didn't know before how bad it was going to be. So dropped off the kids at the babysitters, then headed out to dinner then to run some errands. (Don't ALL great dates include running errands???) We got to the babysitters to pick up the kids at about 10:00. By this time the roads were slicker than snot. We made it out to our town, turned onto the road that leads to our road...then the trouble started. (Mike was following me in the car because I had met him in town.) I tried to make it up the hill once, then twice and still didn't make it to the top. Then Mike said "You take the car, I think I can get the van up." So he took the van, drove it up the hill of th main road to the bottom of our hill, which he couldn't get up. So he sent Caleb, Lundi and Lauren walking up the hill to the house (in the snow, Lauren was wearing a dress and Lundi had shoes on without socks. She had gotten them wet earlier and had taken them off). In the meantime I was making yet another attempt to climb the hill and eventually wound up in the ditch. So I called Mike and said "This time I am really stuck, we need to call a tow truck. Why don't you call Tricia (the neighbor) to come down and get me (she has a 4-wheel drive), I'll go home and get the kids to bed and you can come down and wait for the tow truck." "OK, that's a good plan."

So Tricia came down to get me, on the way back we stopped at the van to get Harrison and Liam, who were still in the van with Mike. So I came in and put all the kids to bed. By this time it was 11:30 or so......way too late. Mike was on the phone with AAA to try to get a tow truck to come pull the car out of the ditch. After that he called me to say that they would be there in a couple of hours. So I asked him, how are you going to get the van and the car home? He said "I'm not. I went down and parked the van at town hall then walked back up to the car. We'll go get the van in the morning."

Small towns do have their drawbacks.....

So......Mike was stranded a mile and a half from home, didn't have boots on and had no definate time as to when he would be rescued. The normal procedure (in our town) to get a road plowed in the middle of the night is to call the sheriffs department. The only problem with that is Mister Snow Plow doesn't like to be told when to plow. He is known as the town bully. If you call and complain about how he is or isn't doing his job, he will take out your mailbox. Ask anyone whe lives here, they will tell you. But on Friday night, we really felt like we had no choice. "We'll fix the mailbox" (again) we thought. So finally, at 2:30, the tow truck comes, uses his wynch and pulls Mike out of the ditch. So then he drives to the bottom of our hill and waits for our road to be plowed. While he was sitting there, Mister Snow Plow passed him by FIVE times, without going up our hill to plow it or even stopping to ask if Mike was OK. So finally, at 3:10 Mike gives up and walked up our hill. The next morning he went down to retrieve the car with shovel in hand, planning to dig it out. (A few years ago we had to leave the car down there and he totally packed it in). But....the car was in towed. So he comes home, gets on the phone to figure out where the car was. Come to find it had been towed at 3:15am. We were so mad! We called the town Selectman to complain and he said it was "just our misfortune." You know me...I will be at their 7:00 meeting at the Town Hall on Monday night!!! I don't care about the $75.00 inpounding fee we had to pay. It's not about that. I want someone else to bid on the plowing job next year. Or I want the Selectmen to hold him accountable for the damage he does when he is mad at the people in the town for calling him out to plow. Isn't this style? Enough is enough. I don't know if what I say will make a difference, but I have a voice and I will be heard.

I would be ungrateful if I didn't share the good things that came out of this experience. The neighbor, whom I have not met (they just moved in and when the kids took then cookies I stayed home with the baby) took Mike to get the van. Then on his way back home he stopped and sanded our (very icy) driveway. I was so grateful. Also, we learned who our town Selectmen are. That evening we were responsible for snow removal at the church. After we retrieved the car, we loaded all the kids inthe van and headed to the church. We were so grateful to see that most of it had been done by another brother in the ward, the one that Mike is paired up with. The Lord must have told him about our terrible day. Again, we were so grateful. The biggest blessing of all....Caleb, Lundi and Harrison bore their testimonies on Sunday. I'm not sure how it all ties together, but the Lord truely does bless us for our efforts and often sends many tender mercies to let us know how much He loves us. I love him, too. With all my heart.


PS-- My spell check isn't working, bear with me until Mike is available to fix it.

Post Number One-Hundred

Who knew that I would get this far? I've written more on this blog (in the last 10 months) than I ever have in a journal.
I know I have so much catching up to do. I'm back with a computer now and hope to get back into the habit of recording our lives.
Starting today, going backwards.....
It's snowing again. The branches of the trees are all droooopy and look so pretty.
Mike is at the hospital working. Liam fell off the chair this morning and hit his head (I told you he is in the "I can't live without a bruise" stage of life. As soon as one turns yellow, he gets a new one.) It's Caleb's day on the computer and he is playing Carmen SanDiego. I have my book club meeting today but I don't think I'm going. The driveway isn't plowed and I'm afraid of getting stuck again. Also, my window scraper is in Mike's car and thers is about 6 inches of snow on the van. Lundi is unloading the diswasher. She is on kitchen this week and dreading every minute of it. Liam is in his room listening to headphones. He discovered this pleasure about a week ago and is so funny when he dances. He has been carrying Lundi's radio around from plug to a traveler. He knows how to plug it in, plug in the headphones, put in and start a CD, and turn up and down the volume. He absolutley loves anything electronic (cell phone, palm pilot, radio, drill, the computer, the camera and any wire he can get his hands on). Funny thing is, he knows how to operate these things. He can even put a CD in the computer and start playing it. He will shuffle the games around until he finds the one that he wants.....which is always Mickey Mouse learning adventures. Amazing. Harrison is watching Caleb play his game and occasionally offering (unwanted) advice.

Yesterday we took Liam to the babysitter and all went skiing. The whole family went for $20.00. Thanks to the Winter Kids Passport. (found here for those of you who live in Maine and want to check it out) It humbling experience. I haven't skiid since I was a kid. Lundi was actually giving me a ski lesson while Mike was teaching Lauren. "Make a pizza, Mom and you won't go too fast." "If you fall just put your body over your skiis and hop right up." (Ya right, maybe 30 pounds, 20 years and five kids ago I could just "hop right up.") Mike ws so impressed with the kids' progress since last year. He hasn't taken them skiing at all this year so that was a real treat for him. Harrison was taking jumps last night and Mike was shocked. Lundi can now ski backwards and float effortlessly back into going forward. Caleb has mastered the hockey stop and actually catches air when he jumps. We all had a great time, even me. There weren't many people on the mountain yesterday. That's a good thing because I don't have the steering thing down yet. I only fell three times my first run, twice my second run and after that I did great. Maybe I'll be taking jumps soon, too. (Ya right!!)
More need attention.