March 28, 2009

Philosophy? Huh?

In the last 6 weeks I've had several younger women ask me about our home school philosophy and the curriculum we've used. They've also asked me what I did about our sons' different learning styles and how I taught to multiple grade levels at the same time.
Those are all good questions and I wish I would've thought about them 20 years ago! A game plan would've been nice.
However, I didn't really establish a game plan before I began. I just jumped in and did it. Even without "a plan" I count our home school experience a success.
While we never did sit down and come up with a "home school philosophy", we did sit down and establish goals. We had 12 year goals, and we had yearly goals, both for our family and for each of our sons.

We wanted, first and foremost, for our sons to know and love the God of the bible. We wanted them to know what sin is, that we are all sinners, that someone has to pay a price for sin, that Jesus paid that price when He died for our sins, that He loves us, and that eternal life is not just saying a prayer:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

The bible goes on to explain what eternal life is:
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3

We wanted to help them, in any way we could, to know God the Father and Jesus the Son. We wanted to teach them about repentance, submission, God's faithfulness to us, and His amazing Love for us. We felt that the best way WE could do that was to spend time with them. As much time as possible. We tried to ground them in the bible-to teach them that the bible is the inherent word of God and by being familiar with the bible we do indeed get to know God the Father.

Home schooling allowed us the joy and the freedom to spend as much time as possible with our sons. We did almost everything together as a family. Hiking, picnics, day trips, fishing trips, meals together, camping trips,yard work, house work, etc. etc. We wanted to be friends with our sons and let them know they were/are loved and accepted.
(Just to keep it real, I will tell you that one year I flaked out. I'd had it with boys, messes, noise and sibling rivalry. I got on-line and looked up military boarding schools. I even found one just a few hours away. Perfect! They could come home for holidays, but otherwise I'd be free! free! free! I didn't follow through with that, but boy, for one afternoon the idea was tempting.)

Overall, I'd have to say that other than my husband, our sons are my best friends.
I love having them around. I love talking and laughing with them. I love their humor, and their stories. I love listening to their thoughts about life and their goals. I love their facial expressions and the fact that we know each other so well. One of the sweetest gifts in my life has been the freedom to home school.
I could not imagine putting them on a school bus and watching them drive away each morning. I wanted to learn with them and watch them grow. I wanted to be a part of every discovery they made when they were growing up. I wanted to see the excitement in their eyes when they "got" something.

The best part has been being with them as their faith became their own. Because we were with them so, so much, we were able to watch the Lord work in their hearts almost on a daily basis. We were able to pray with them when they struggled with something, as they were struggling. And I'm not just talking about vague, nebulous things. I'm talking about verbs...algebra...that paper on U.S. history they didn't feel like writing...I'm talking about the anger they felt when their brother was a pill... or when a friend hurt their feelings.

I've written a series of posts about our strong willed son, and the things we learned and the joy we've experienced as he's allowed the Lord to become the Lord in his heart. I firmly believe that would've happened whether we home schooled that boy or not, but being here, at home with him, watching him grow spiritually, has been huge. Words can't describe it. I'm just so thankful I didn't send that boy to military boarding school. I would've missed out on so much. The growth would've occurred but it would've been like watching a slide show instead of a movie. Does that make sense? And being with our other sons as they did school at home was the same way.

Like I said before, we didn't have a "philosophy". We didn't use the Charlotte Mason method, or take the "classical" approach. We didn't "un-school". We simply wanted to be with our sons, to love on them and with them. We wanted them to learn the 3 R's, but more importantly, we wanted them to know they were loved by the Lord and their parents. Please don't even think I'm saying that parents who don't home school do not love their children! Not even close! I think what I'm trying to say is that the whole "philosophy" question is intimidating to me. It makes me feel like I've "missed it" somehow as a home school parent because that's something we never really thought about or discussed...we simply bumbled along hoping and praying our sons would grow into young men who love the, in a nutshell, I'd have to say that was our "philosophy".

March 23, 2009

This, That, Either or Neither

I found this little meme... somewhere. I couldn't find the blog again now if my life depended on it.
For each line, I have two choices, and I have to choose which I would prefer. However, being the person that I am, I decided to change the rules a bit and add "either or neither".

1. jog or walk: walk-I walk 17.5 miles a week. I know. I know. That's small potatoes for some people, but for now that's what I do.

2. coffee or tea: flavored coffee (much to my sons' disgust)

3. Pepsi or Coca Cola: Pepsi-especially when I have a migraine. Pepsi usually gets rid of those nasty little headaches for me.

4. flats or heels: flats. Especially nice, flat Nikes.

5. fries or onion rings: fries-I really like them when they're nearly burnt and crispy brown, drenched in juicy red catsup.

6. cats or dogs: either, as long as they come from Toys R Us

7. skim or whole: neither. I love soy milk!

8. small purses or large: neither. I like "medium".

9. van or SUV: a small, nail-polish red 2 door, thank you very much!

10. winter or summer: fall

11. 1 piece bathing suit or 2: Ha! How about cut offs and a sweatshirt?

12. sit down restaurant or fast food: be it ever so humble, home.

13. McDonalds or Burger King: Panera

14. white gold or yellow: shiny goldy gold

15. fish or chicken: chicken, as long as it's dead, de-feathered, cooked and served with some of those nearly burnt french fries.

16. Edward or Jacob: who?

17. pizza or burger: pizza-I have a strong, emotional attachment to Pizza Hut pizza.

18. apple or orange: neither- I need blueberries

19. spend or save: save

20. 1 story or 2 story house: 2, or 3, or 4. I'll take all the exercise I can get running up and down all those stairs.

March 13, 2009


First a howling blizzard woke us
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus-
Lilja Rogers

March 9, 2009

The Nature of the Beast

A few months ago my oldest son described my spiritual state of being in not-so-glowing terms. I know he didn't mean it the way it sounded, but being the female that I am, it was only natural that I twist his words into something he didn't quite mean and turn them into something that has bothered me ever since. (Which, by the way, proves his point....)

Here's what he said, "Mom, you are like the ocean. At the bottom of the ocean all is calm, quiet, and steady. Unchanging. Dependable. But, when storms hit, the surface is choppy. Confused. Chaotic. It's easily moved. That's how you're relationship with the Lord is. Underneath it all you trust Him and I know nothing will pull you away from Him. You're solid deep down. But when you go through hard things your emotions take over and pull you and push you all over the place."

Well, I've chewed on that description ever since. I'd now like to say something on my behalf. I've been thinking about the ocean, and have come up with these observations:

-You can't bodily move the ocean. Any ocean. They stay put, right where God planted them, no matter how much they storm and rage and fret on the surface.

-You can't drain the ocean.

-The ocean is teaming with life. Some of the creatures are harmful, or scary. Some are lovely. Only about 3% of the ocean has been explored. That means there are probably all kinds of lovely and not-so-lovely things yet to be discovered.

-People respect the ocean, just the way it is. The depths as well as the tumultuous surface.

-God made the ocean to be that way on purpose.

-Most people love the ocean and some spend their whole lives either living on it, or wishing they could be near it. ( Don't go there. I know there's not a waiting list of people outside my door longing to be near me. My point is, most people are at least not repulsed by the ocean.)

-If the surface of the ocean were made of glass, solid and unmovable, it would shatter when the storms hit.

-Jesus walked on the water of a stormy sea and a bit later calmed the raging waters.

That last observation is the sweetest of them all. It's only when I let Jesus walk through the circumstances of my life and submit and trust Him that I become still. I often forget to do that when winds start to blow through my life. And sometimes, I must admit, I enjoy a good storm. I'm a stubborn, mule headed person who wants her way. Even if it's not the easy or best way. I often, and foolishly, don't give up the fight until I'm exhausted.

So, having said all that, let me ask you a question. What animal, vegetable, or mineral are you? If you were an object in nature, rather than a person, what would you be?

March 6, 2009

Friday's Fave 5

It's Friday! I can't believe another week has gone by, nor can I believe we are well into March already!
This has been a good week overall and I'm thankful for so many things. I have no idea how I found this blog, but I'm so glad I did. I really need to focus on the many blessings in my life and Friday's Fave 5 is a fun way to do that. Five of my favorite things this week have been:

1. Coffee! But not really. I've managed to sneak out of the house 3 times this week for coffee with friends! It is so fun to be able to get together with friends and talk until we actually want to go home. It's not very often, especially in a family full of men/boys, that I have the chance to do that.

2. Apologia Science. I love their curriculum! My 7 year old son and I have been using their book Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day this year for science and have been having a blast with it! I'm learning as much as he is and have even started my own nature journal as a result.

3. Philippians 1:6 I've been feeling very discouraged lately with where I'm at spiritually and who I am. I've been praying that the Lord would "revive my heart" and my passion for Him. This morning I decided to read the book of Philippians. It is a book filled with reminders of what our thoughts should be on and where our focus should be. Philippians 1:6 encouraged me because it reminded me that my spiritual growth is not dependent on me or my efforts. Jesus is working in my life (and boy does He have His work cut out for Him) and won't ever quit. In case you're not familiar with what that verse says, here it is:

....being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

4. Good cook books. Yesterday I found a short clip on Youtube by a 93 year woman who had lived through the great depression. She had made a series of videos in which she shared her depression era recipes and how to prepare them. I watched a few and then thought, pffft! I've been cooking like that for years! I'm so thankful for the cookbooks I've collected over the years. I've learned how to feed our family without spending a fortune on groceries-healthy, tasty meals that are even cheerfully consumed by our 7 year old. I wouldn't be able to cook like that on my own. I have to "follow the recipes" or else.

5. Hungry deer. No, I'm not really glad the deer were hungry. I'm just glad they were hungry enough to find our yard and our bird feeders! The other day 6 deer meandered into our back yard and proceeded to consume all the birdseed they could sink their little teeth into. It was so fun to see them standing there in the softly falling snow....I wanted them to "freeze" so I could get out a pencil and sketch a picture. I had to satisfy myself with a photo.

Here's the link again if you'd like to participate in Friday's Fave 5.