Saturday, January 28, 2012

Circus Tales

We took the herd on the road this past Thursday evening. Thats right, the circus was in town, and we got to go! Thanks to the local public library, both of our kids read 10 books and each received a voucher for a free ticket. Plus, we attended on opening night, which was half-price. So essentially, the 4 of us went for the price of one admission! Gotta love a great deal! :)
Maybe when I become even more blog savvy (because I have LOADS o' free time!) I will post some pics of the trip. Of course, our seats were a bit high up and far away, so they weren't the best quality. But I am NOT complaining, I assure you!
I was so certain that BE would love seeing the elephants the most. But, every time, that lil guy throws me for a loop. What was he the MOST excited about? The horses, of all things! I'm sure that the elephant interest has not's still thriving.
I enjoyed the elephants the most, I have to say!
It was amazing to watch them "sit" on the giant stools, "dance" and "go to sleep".
The elephants looked like somebody was inside thier baggy skin, trapped under layers of gray wrinkles, just trying to find a split in the seam so they could break free. When they would move around, their skin would follow. Nowhere near as sleek and fit as the tigers, or as muscled and precise as the horses.
But it was the elephants I enjoyed the most.
Because I can relate to them.
I lumber through life, i go through the motions I have been "trained" to perfect, I perform my duties diligently.
But still, I feel that somewhere inside of me there is another creature altogether just groping aound, checking and rechecking the fabric of my suit, struggling to break free, to be released from the baggy excess that weighs me down.
Is it a longing to be free from my responsibilities? No, I don't think so.
Prehaps its that bit of me that belongs to HIM, that simply feels the rub sometimes, the not-belonging-here-on-earth longing for heaven.
Once I get Home where HE is, I think my skin will fit just right.
This was a circus post.
The circus made me long for Heaven.
Sometimes, the way my mind works.... its beyond me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Getting Easier(Harder)

I love the new set up we have going in our bonus room upstairs. Or the "schoolroom" as I call it now. I love that I have set Blue Elephant an actual predictable schedule for school. Pledge and Prayer first, followed by letters/phonics followed by reading followed by.... yeah, you get the idea. Everytime we sit down, we follow the schedule. Except where I slide reading time around with math time and then swap out social studies for a puzzle (of the U.S. map)... Okay, so it's not a "strictly adhered to" schedule, but it IS working. And as a parent, and a home-educator, "it works" is the method I am striving for.
Blue Elephant seems to be responding well to the new locale, as well as the new additions to our school day. I now give him a journal topic everyday. (Thank you to my also homeschooling sister with a 3rd grader for this idea.) He LOVES the journal part of things. I may just have an author/illustrator on my hands. (After he becomes a successful zoologist, of course!)
So thats the part that is getting "easier".
And then theres the "hard" part.
I know that this is my first year of being a defined homeschool teacher, and that as the years go by, i will toughen up (right??) but it has been difficult to adjust to the reactions of people when they learn that we homeschool.
Everything from "Oh."....awkward silence... to "Wow! I could NEVER do that!" (As if being there for your children's learning process is akin to eating worms. This is education, people, not Fear Factor.)
From "How, you know, how long are you going to, you know, DO that?" to "Does your son enjoy it?"
The answers are "Oh, about as long as I will stick with being a parent"... oops, that doesnt have a "reverse" option... and "No! He is miserable! A lump, a mass in a chair never speaking, never learning, never growing! And its GREAT!"
Can you see just a tid bit of sarcasm running through this post?
Sorry about that.
It's just hard being so... well, so "misunderstood" [read:judged] for having made a personal decision with my child's best interest at heart.
I am certain that education options are not the only way I differ in my parenting methods than other people. There are probably a million ways that my methods differ from other parents, because I am, at the heart of it, a weird parent. No really, if you were my child, you would think so, too, as I know both my elephants must already feel this way about me.
But back to the topic...
Homeschool is a personal decision, like any other personal decision, it has to work into the fabric of the family to which it is applied or it is pointless to pursue.
It works beautifully in the fabric of our herd. Our days are spent in togetherness, and discovery.
BE is being challenged, and learning, and remains curious to learn MORE- a sure sign that he is not burnt out on homeschool.
But I am getting a little ragged around the edges with homeschool, or rather, just the area of the opinions surrounding homeschool.
I'm not saying you have to do it, in fact, I don't reccomend you try it.
If you were to group homeschool and flying pigs in the same category [rediculous things] then it goes without saying that you would be miserable attempting the homeschool option.
But, before the next time you comment upon learning that I (or any other homeschool parents) have chosen this life, please just realise that we put alot of time and thought into it BEFORE we made the decision.
Homeschooling itself, thats the easy part.
Dealing with the backlash for choosing to homeschool?
Thats the hard part.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What a Difference the Word Makes

If you homeschool, then you know what it is to have an "off" day in the classroom. Okay, lets face it, if you are a parent at all, you know what it means to have an "off" day!!
Homeschooling is wonderful. It is richly rewarding, it is full of discovery, challenge, lightbulb moments of learning, and that is just on the parent's end of things... I love homeschooling. I adore being a mother. But like any "career" in life, I have hard days at "work".  What a difference the Word makes.
Today I said to myself "oh, yay, I DON'T have to teach today!". (It's Saturday!!) I am grateful for the 2 day break from school, each weekend. It affords me time to refresh, plan, rest up, and prepare for the week ahead.
Today's Bible reading was just what I needed. Surprise, surprise! (If you are a believer, you know what I mean; the Word is truely alive and active, and God speaks to our present moment through it.)
In Psalm 119:25-32, I found my refreshment. I prefer the NLT version, so it may read differently than your Bible:

I lie in the dust;
revive me by your word.
I told you my plans, and you answered.
Now teach me your decrees.
Help me understand the meaning of
your commandments,
and I will meditate on your
wonderful deeds.
I weep with sorrow;
encourage me by your word.
Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing
your instructions.
I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your
I cling to your laws.
Lord, don't let me be put to shame!
I will pursue your commands,
for you expand my understanding. 

How I needed this today! And of course He knew, He always knows. After an "off" day, this calling of homeschool can be discouraging, disheartening. But I know where to turn when I need to be lifted "out of the dust" and "revived by the Word"... Even when I am sorrowful, even when it is mind-numbingly difficult to be a parent, even when it seems nothing is going right, still I will cling to Lord my Savior, in who's commands I find my strength.
For I have chosen to be faithful. I will meditate on His wonderful deeds, I will count my blessing, I will find my solace and my refreshment in the Lord my God.
Thank you, Lord. Every word of the Scripture is able to speak right to the heart of my need, right at the moment I long for understanding.
I understand anew that I am called to these precious little ones, I am to teach them not only the ABC's but also the love of the Lord. I cannot, MUST not lean on my own strength and understanding to get through.
Lord, keep me from lying to myself about parenting. It is impossible to BE a Godly parent without Your strength, it is impossible to raise Godly children without Your direction and leadership. I cannot do this on my own, I would be foolish even to try!
And so, "I cling to your laws. Lord, don't let me be put to shame! I will pursue YOUR commands, for YOU expand my understanding."
What a difference the Word makes! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Room, New Way

I've never been much on resolutions. I've never really gotten on the "new years" bandwagon before. I didn't this year, either. I mean, I've made some changes that happen to coincide with the New Year's holiday. Just not not not "resolutions"... it's like if you call them that name, they are doomed to fail, or something. (maybe thats just me.)
Anyway, our 2nd semester of Kindergarten started back on Monday the 2nd. Blue Elphant was excited (relieved) to be back to a more structured day. I must remember that while I may be more of the spontaneous type, BE thrives on a schedule.
Truthfully, we only took a handful of days off for the holiday, but I was so busy I hardly noticed the break! (any other parents think Christmas flies by way too fast now that we are grownups??)
I was excited to begin teaching again. I was REALLY excited to begin in my "brand new" schoolroom.
When we started this venture in August, we were schooling in the kitchen. It worked, but i always felt claustrophobic. The kids never do stay in the playroom (our upstairs bonus room) when I ask them to, so switching half the room into a schoolroom was the perfect solution.
So we have a new semester started in the new year, a new space for our learning, and a new approach as well. I now have written a "schedule" of sorts for my BE to follow for each day. We start everyday with prayer and pledge, then begin our subjects. I have designed the day so that he gets mini "focused" breaks throughout school. Read a book in his reading chair (the rocker that my too-big-too-fast elephants have outgrown), or play a game with me and PE. Monday we played Candy Land (and it counted for school!!). He also gets built-in "songs and silliness time", in which we can jump around and sing and shout. Every 5 year old male elephant has to get his ants out of his pants after awhile! And, he knows that at the end of every school day he gets time on his "Scout Computer" (Leapster) before I make lunch. This structure and bit of predictability has really helped BE so far this school year.
New Year, New Room, New Way.
Its working for us, and BE is thriving. And that is just about all that matters to me! :)