Thursday, January 15, 2015

Leaving the books out...

I think Evan made Ben this awesome plane. At least, I think it's a plane. Could be a tractor. Maybe.

There's this super simple thing I've started doing lately that's making a difference in our homeschool. I'm guessing probably everybody does it already, and I'm the last one walking into the party with my maracas, but just in case somebody else here has not yet arrived in their sombrero... here goes.

I leave out unfinished work. 

Yep, that's it. Told ya it was bonehead simple.

I shall expound, however. So, at morning time, I take out all the books I will be using, and I put them in a pile next to me on the floor by the sofa. Said sofa is in the picture above. As we use each one, it goes into one of the many small cloth crates I have lying around (also pictured in the left hand corner of the picture above.) We sing a hymn, hymnal goes into crate, read SOTW, it goes into the crate, etc. But I often forget to do Seth's reading lesson for the day (we're finishing up Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading), so I leave that one out. It may be lying on the arm of the sofa, or it may be on the floor, but I DO NOT put it away.

This way, when I walk by it over and over again, I will remember that we haven't done that yet. Its presence is like a flashing red beacon saying, "Your son doesn't know enough about compound words yet. Use me! Love me!" 

Same goes for the pile of books for tablework on the kitchen table. I put out a stack for Seth and a stack for Evan. Seth's stack got done early in the day, but Evan's didn't. It was still sitting there after lunch, mocking me. "Get to me. You know you'll feel better if you do, even if he is just in pre-K. Ahh. Doesn't that feel good?" 

You're welcome. I'm just here to make you feel better about yourself. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Homeschool mom t-shirts...

Ok, so if you homeschool, I know you've seen those homeschool mom t-shirts. I've walked by that booth at the homeschool conference. I'll slow down in the middle of my mad dash to get to Rainbow Resource before they're out of my preferred spelling book, but I don't slow down much.

Maybe this is considered sacrilege, but most of those t-shirts make me cringe a bit. Yeah. Sorry, but it's true.

One of the best sellers seems to be this one that says "I'm a homeschool mom. What's your superpower?" Then there's this one about being a full time multi-tasking ninja. Maybe I could like the one about being in love with your kid's principal, but I think "yeah, too confusing and possibly risqué."

I think what I don't like about most of these shirts is the tone of "we can do it all, and we're proud of it."

I'm telling ya, if I was wearing one of those bad boys to the park, that would be the day that my boys decided to play rough with all the toddlers, and then my oldest would come up to me and say, "Mom, how do you spell "us" again?"

Where's the t-shirt that says, "I'm a homeschooling mom, and I'm completely exhausted, and we're behind in math, and I'm just praying that I'm not making my children stupid?" Yeah, they're not making those yet, shockingly enough.

People buy t-shirts that say that they're proud of their sports team or they love chess or that they think Wyoming is beautiful. I know t-shirt sayings don't mean that much.

But when I see those t-shirts I think about the mom I met on the playground the other day who asked me how many boys I have, and then she told me that she'd homeschooled her two boys for a year. "They were so close together in age, and it was just too hard." I'd had a rough morning with my guys, and I understood. I could look at her and say, "I know what you're saying."

In my state, homeschooling is an increasingly popular education choice. Last year, there were more children in my county being homeschooled than were enrolled in our private schools. Homeschooling feels like it should be a viable option to a lot of families around here, and it seems to me that some of the people who aren't choosing it feel like they're not choosing it because they aren't strong enough.

How are those moms going to feel if I show up in a "homeschooling superwoman" shirt that is a complete lie on most of my exceptionally ordinary days with my non-child prodigy children who are not reading the Latin Vulgate for fun?

I want this company to make this into a t-shirt. I'd totally buy this one. Totally. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The next stage of mothering...

A friend of a friend posted this article on Facebook yesterday called "I'm Afraid to Stop Having Babies."  I talked about it with David last night and with a close friend today.

Ben is 3 now, and though he still has his passy at nap time, and though he still snuggles against me when he wakes up groggy from his nap, I see the day approaching when he'll no longer seem like a toddler. It's so easy for me to want to keep him a baby.

The baby stage is what I've lived and breathed for the last 7 years. That feels like such a long time in my life as a mother, and I've grown comfortable there. The unknown future with older children honestly seems scary to me, and though I know that's probably largely because I fear the unknown, it's still hard.

Maybe part of what I'm mourning is the loss of a simpler time of mothering. Parenting babies is tough, but it doesn't feel as complex to me as trying to figure out what sports would be best for my oldest or how to prepare him for yearly achievement testing. I knew what I was supposed to be doing with my little ones and how to do it (for the most part). We had fewer activities. Instead of tae kwon do and Cub Scouts, it was playing at the park and blowing bubbles in our cul de sac.

I'm beginning to navigate different waters now with my slightly older children, and I don't know what I'm doing. There are days that I really feel that.

I also don't feel like I was prepared somehow for mothering after the baby stage. All my life, I looked forward to getting married and having babies. That was what I dreamed about. The time after they were babies didn't get any consideration from me. I just didn't imagine it.

So now I'm here, living in an in between space. My youngest is still a toddler, but my oldest is in 2nd grade. Even if I had another baby tomorrow, the days of only parenting young ones are over for me. I probably just need to mourn the passing of that phase and get excited about the next one, and I know it.

Knowing it doesn't mean that it doesn't still feel sad and confusing sometimes. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't shed a tear or two about giving away the baby gear. Welcoming a new person into your family is such a  wonderful and special and unique kind of exciting. Feeling like you won't do that again should feel like a kind of loss, right?

I think my phrase for this year is going to be "Fear Not." I have a lot of fears, but I don't want to be ruled by them. More of my friends and acquaintances are dealing with cancer and health problems and parents dying. I've been dealing with chronic illness. Maybe part of wanting to stay in the young mother stage is wanting to live as if the natural difficulties of getting older can't touch me if I park there.

But I can't park there, and I want to live boldly and joyfully while it is still called today. I can't control what happens tomorrow, but I can fight to trust that God is good. He has good things for me and my family, and even though I don't have a clue what I'm doing so often in this parenting gig, and even though I don't know what trials will surely come, today is what I've got. I'm not supposed to worry about tomorrow. I'm supposed to serve and love and open my arms wide to welcome what He has for me, whatever that is.