Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear American Journalist

Dear American Journalist,

Please don't go to Iraq for a report. Please don't go anywhere near ISIS. While it may be the next best story that will win you a lot of money and fame in the journalism world, I, personally don't need the story that puts your life in grave danger. There is only so much America can do to protect you on foreign soil, especially in one of the most dangerous countries.

Concerned for your life more than your story,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm Learning to Walk Again

I'm learning to walk again.

Our boys aren't the only ones learning new and different aspects of life as a homeschooling family. I'm learning to walk again.

Life is so rushed. I think we can all relate to the term "rat race". We become families rushing to get through so we can get to. We are running from here to there to fulfill our responsibilities, expectations and life's activities. Somet...imes we literally do not stop but only to sleep enough to do it again the next day.

Families transitioning from traditional school to homeschooling will often mention how much life slows down. When researching all things homeschooling, I remember reading or hearing this from families who, like us, have experience from both sides of educating our children. It's not until weeks after we've been homeschooling do I understand what they meant.

While some describe it as 'life seems to run at a slower pace', I'm more inclined to describe it as this..."we are learning to walk through life, not run through it."

It hasn't been til these past few weeks of homeschooling did I realize just how much rushing and running we were doing, both mentally and physically.

Our weekends are no longer planned around weekend homework. The slow down is especially noticed on Sunday evenings. We aren't rushing to get 'life' ready for the upcoming week. We don't have to prepare ourselves mentally for the upcoming week...tests, homework, lunches, clothes ready, books in backpacks, etc. I honestly didn't realize how much Sunday evening mental preparation I was rushing through.

Monday mornings are no longer dreaded. Oh, the dreaded Monday mornings of waking up sleepy children. Children who dread the coming week b/c of school. We would wake up at the latest time possible only to find ourselves rushing to get out the door on time. Rushing through b'fast, rushing through a change of clothes, brushing teeth..."get your backpacks! Did you hear me say hurry up!" Running out the door with all kinds of elevated commands and demands b/c we are rushing. Or for some, rushing to be catch the bus on time.

The rushing continued in school. My boys learned quickly that if they didn't get through with their work, they either had to bring it home to complete or sit out of recess in another classroom to complete. They acclimated to rushing through their work to avoid both circumstances. They learned to rush through their lunch in order to eat all of it and still have a few minutes to talk with neighboring friends...unless it was quiet lunch that no one got to talk.

And the rushing didn't stop just b/c school was out. "Get your homework done before you go outside to play with friends."...this equated to my boys rushing through homework so there would be enough time to play outside. The other aspect of this was "you can play outside first, but you will need to come in early to get your homework done before bedtime." So, here again, rushing their playtime outside. The rest of the evening was rushing...get homework done, baths, supper, prep for tomorrow...all before bedtime at the latest of 9:00, only to start it all over again the next morning. On evenings we had extracurricular activities, the rushing became racing. Racing to beat the clock to fulfill all our duties and activities.

So, in all, one of the most noticeable aspects of our past few weeks of homeschooling, we are learning to walk. And yes, we are having to learn to walk again. Rushing was all we knew when it came to life during the school year. Don't get me wrong, I am busy but that's not to be confused with hurried or rushed. You see, I'm busy planning, grading, teaching and fulfilling my duties as a mother and wife. But I'm not rushed. There are some days we don't know what to do with ourselves b/c of all the extra time we have. When the boys cooperate and focus, we are finished no later than 1:00 and that includes breaks, snack and b'fast. But there are days we are still schooling at 3:00 or later. These days, the boys just took longer to complete their assignments. They are slowly learning that they control how long their school day lasts. They aren't used to this. In traditional school, their day is planned for them...every minute of the day and even into the evening. Homeschool allows them to have more control of their day. They aren't rushed to complete their assignments but at the same time, they are learning to work independently, manage their time reaping the benefits or sowing the consequences.

Yes, life does slow down. I'm learning to walk again. And as a toddler learning to walk for the first's just as freeing now as it was then.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Teach a Man to Fish...

This past Thursday morning, I had an appointment.  My dad took the boys fishing so we did school in the afternoon.  I think the best lesson learned of the day was the fishing trip...teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Learn Something New Everyday #2

Today's English lesson turn natural science lesson:

Much of bear meat's flavor depends on what the bear ate. A bear that fed on fish will taste different from a bear that fed on berries.

Here's to hoping I never eat bear that ate skunks.

Friday, August 8, 2014


I plan to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of our homeschooling journey.  I'm not doing this homeschooling thing to portray a perfect image of a perfect family with nothing but smiles everyday.  It's a work in progress and a journey.  Just like life...journeys have pitfalls, curves, bump along with the pleasant views. 

Today would have been a good day to incorporate a sleep study in our lessons.  My motivation, energy and focus remained in bed while my body sat in our 'classroom'.  I think most of my breathing was through yawning.  Yay, for the weekend to recoup and prepare for next week. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Learn Something New Every Day # 1

In studying our English lesson of the problems was asking a question. "Why do some chickens lays brown eggs?"

We turned this English lesson into a natural science lesson:

"Let's get weird for a second and pretend you have a chicken sitting beside you. Imagine this crazy chicken is kind of an off-white brownish yellow. You're no chicken expert and you have no idea what breed you're looking at. Here's the secret to predicting the color of eggs a chicken will lay: look at their earlobes. This is true stuff. The pigments in the outer layer of the eggshell will always approximate the color of the earlobe of the chicken that laid the egg."

Yes, even I learn something new every day. I didn't know chickens had earlobes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

And We're Off...

Here are few pictures of our 1st day of homeschool.

I want to apologize to those of you who are artist for disgracing the artistic community.  That's the best I could do for a pig.

We learned what homonyms are.  These are few they came up with.

BB has a pet crab he got from an earlier beach trip and has declared it our class pet.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot develop a warm, fuzzy relationship with a crustacean. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our New Way of Schooling

As most of you know, I am on FB and post most of our daily happenings there.  But for those who aren't, I would like of inform of you a major lifestyle change for our family.  Below you will find an 'announcement', if you will, I posted on Facebook.  While this doesn't explain my heart on how we came to this decision (maybe another post), it will at least give you an idea of major changes are going on in our family:

It's hard to know where to start with a post like this. I hesitate b/c I put myself out there for either much criticism or much praise. I'm actually looking for neither but I know given that it's social media and I have 100s of friends here which equate to 100s of opinions. One or the other will happen...either way, I refuse to let it define our decision or our family. Praises will not confirm our decision no more than criticism will doubt it.

Last year during our Christmas break....well actually since our boys started school, I've had a desire (slash) interest to homeschool. The idea intrigued me but that was just intrigued me. But this past Christmas, the idea became more than an intrigue but rather a desire. A desire based on many, many issues that became increasingly hard for me to ignore. For those who believe in God calling you to fulfill His will....I accepted this increasing desire as God calling us to a different avenue of educating our boys. This desire wasn't to enroll in a private school nor to become an avid lobbyist of changing the public school system to fit my ideas of what I think public school should be (but ever so grateful to those who have heeded that calling). This desire was to homeschool. This desire was to become an avid participate in our sons' education by way of homeschooling.

After months and months of praying, researching, seeking wise counsel, tears, self doubt, naysayers, advocates, explaining the whys, discerning and many, many confirmations that only God could have orchestrated, it was with excitement, anxiety and relief (to finally say to God, "you win") that Jeremy and I made the decision to homeschool our boys beginning this year. It's a decision we will take a year at a time. I don't know what next year holds but I know who holds it. I know as our duties as parents continue as long as God allows us to be the parents of Christian and Brooks, we will not stop seeking His will.

Our boys are excited but understand that our days will not be filled with video games, TV watching (unless for educational purposes) nor lazily lying around the house as the day passes by. The idea of no homework excites them the most.

I know as many of you who read this have the ever present and popular reaction of: "what about socializing?" "are you crazy?" "you are ruining your boys' life". Believe me, I've heard it all. I had one lady literally tell me "You are Crazy." Yes, yes, I am crazy. I'm crazy about my boys and like many other parents I know, we are doing what we think is best for our family.

In regards to homeschooling...if you feel the need to leave a critical comment or mentally think it, I ask a few things of you before you do. Have you done the months of research most homeschooling families have done to come to their decision? Are you criticizing based on experience or b/c of something you merely read, something you merely heard or is it the typical response most give to homeschooling? Do you know the personal stories of those homeschooling as to why they chose this avenue of education? You see, I have learned that most people who criticize this choice haven't taken the time to understand the reasons why a family chooses this avenue. The critic hasn't done the amount of research it takes to come to this decision nor have they prayed the prayers for discernment and clarity. The critic finds it easier to respond with criticism and judgment than to try and understand. Most homeschoolers don't just up and decide this way of life overnight. If one does, this decision was poorly made and will most likely cause more heartache, more stress and possibly failure. To fully understand a homeschooling family, you have to understand their reasoning and to also understand it's a personal decision.

I've also learned that when someone chooses to homeschool, some educators, be a teacher or administrator, tend to take this decision as a personal attack against them or their teaching ability. This is as far from the truth for us as it can get. Our decision is not based on any particular situation that happened to us in public school, although for some homeschooling families this true. In the 3 years we were enrolled in public school, not one incident made this an easy decision. We had not one teacher that caused us any strife or animosity towards public schooling. I have several family members and many friends who are public school teachers and they are wonderful people who any child would be blessed to have. They have blessed so many children and their families throughout their years of teaching. They give love when there's none being given at home. They inspire when there is no inspiration at home. They are at the forefront in the everyday battle of educating our children. They are often underestimated and wrongly criticized for the system's failures. They have a talent and gift that can't always be 'developed' or 'created', it comes natural from our Creator.

So please, don't take a homeschooler's decision as a personal attack on teachers, principals or PTOs. Homeschoolers may criticize the public school system, this is true and I'm not going to lie...I criticize the system. But there is a big difference in criticizing the system or having concerns about the system than pointing a finger at one who is a part of the system but has no part of the failure. You may not enroll in O care but that doesn't mean you 'hate' the doctors. You may criticize the military but that doesn't mean you 'hate' our brave soldiers. You may criticize the Church but that doesn't mean you 'hate' your pastor or Christians.

And as with all organizations with associations...there are some homeschoolers who disgrace the homeschooling community. There are some educators who disgrace the educating community. There are some soldiers who disgrace the military community. There are some pastors and so-called Christians who disgrace the Christian community. So please, don't form a critical opinion of all based on a few.
As you begin your new school year with excitement and do we. It's a journey, just as with all children whether you homeschool or not, that will be filled with blessings, stress, hugs, tears, excitement, doubts and surprises. It's a journey I can't wait to begin.