Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Land of the Lost

Man! What were those little green guys' names? If I were extra-motivated, I would look it up. But this post is not about THAT Land of the Lost. This post is about my house.

Husband bought Sweetheart a Gameboy last summer. She really needed it because ALL the children at her daycare had one and we were clearly letting her grow up scarred and unpopular because she didn't. No, all kidding aside, he just wanted to buy her one (and she had been asking.) Well we haven't seen that little pink wonder for many months around here. I've wondered about it's wherabouts a few times, but being unmotivated as I am, have done little about it. Apparently it's even too much trouble for me to say, "Hey, where is your Gameboy?" However, now that daycare has started back up, she is in a finding frenzy.

So tonight we started looking. The search began at Grandma and Grandpa's house. That's the last place she remembers playing it with her cousin. Grandpa patiently took the couch apart and flipped over furniture. The girls ran around the entire house with a flashlight. No luck.

So, we came back home. I suggested they look in the coat closet. During the winter, since neither one of them can actually reach a hanger, they just sort of fling their jackets into the closet while shutting the door as quickly as possible before anything tries to escape. Needless to say, the bottom of the closet is...well, missing.

Upon digging, we uncovered the entire dollhouse family that has been missing, one ceramic tea cup that has been lost from Little Bit's tea set, 2 plastic dishes, Mrs. Claus from our Fisher Price Christmas set (along with the sleigh and 1 reindeer--who knew she would just ditch Kris like that? It's shocking, really.) and 1 book.

We did not find the missing library book that I just had to pay for. We did not find the Gameboy. Hmmm.

I decided to look just one more place before the girls went to bed. There are 2 laundry baskets of baby doll stuff that have been sitting in our bedroom floor for a few weeks. I need to go through them and toss a bunch of stuff when the girls are not looking. I started looking in those and uncovered.................Grandma and Grandpa's mail that I picked up for them when they were out of town 2 weeks ago!!! Oops. Luckily, only one bill will be just a teensy bit late because of their youngest daughter.

So, a few things we had been looking for, a few things we did not even know were lost, but still not those items we actually were hoping to find.

I'm thinking those Sleestaks must be to blame! (It was driving me crazy--I looked it up, OK?)

Today (If I Could...)

This morning I had to go back home to pick something up after I had already dropped the girls off at daycare. Now, it is a rare occasion when I am in the car by myself. Today I thought...

wouldn't it be nice if I could just swing by and pick up my friend Jennifer in my new Nissan Altima? (OK, it may not be a sports car, but after 3 years of driving a mini-van, it feels pretty good!) We could ditch the kids for a few hours and go to Chili's or The Olive Garden for lunch and talk away for the better part of 2-3 hours? I would totally do that if I could!

OK, so the fact that she lives several states away is an issue.

And I have no idea who we could ditch our collective 5 kids with for several hours.

And we would just end up talking about our kids and husbands the whole time and then miss them and run back home to them.

BUT I TOTALLY WOULD, IF I COULD.

I met my friend Jennifer in the 8th grade. Without getting into specifics about our ages and all, let's just say that 8th grade was some time ago. My church youth group was going to spend the weekend at her church having a youth group weekend retreat. She was sitting at the registration desk checking people in. I noticed she was left-handed. I ALWAYS notice when people are left-handed, because I am too. That's how we struck up a conversation and we have been friends ever since.

So, we have never lived in the same city? No problem! We started writing letters back and forth in 8th grade and we remained pen pals for years. Our church youth groups got together for church camps, etc. so we ended up seeing each other in person at least 2 times a year. She's the kind of friend who I can go months without talking to her (even though that hasn't happened in a LONG time) and we just pick up where we left off.

Thank goodness for the invention of e-mail! I know, Big Mama never thought it would take off, but it has saved our aching little hands. And our friendship. Because who has time with our 5 collective children to sit around and write letters? And find stamps and envelopes? And mail them? (Sometimes we can't find the children!)

We have been e-mail pen pals since like 1995 or 1996. We have written our way through many pregnancies, several miscarriages, many moves, job changes, babysitter searches, breastfeeding, and lots of everyday nothingness.

I love her to death. She's short and cute and I feel like Gigantor when I'm with her. She's worries and thinks about things more than any one brain should be capable of doing. And I totally get her.

That is why today, if I could, I would take her to lunch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Was Right--It Was Joyful!

We attended a funeral service today. My 7 year old has been to funerals before, but she was much smaller and probably thought we were at some church. We have also been to "viewings" or "visitations" at the funeral home with both girls. But, we stayed on the other side of the room from the casket and really didn't mention anything about it. Our 7 year old, Sweetheart, is very sensitive. She has been known to break out crying over missing her grandmother. The one she never met. And she's serious.

But today when we entered the funeral chapel, she immediately spotted the casket at the front. "There she is! I see her!" she said excitedly. (She's obviously grown taller since the last time we attended a funeral.) She really, really wanted to go forward and pay her respects, or rather, SEE her. This was a dear 93 year old member of our church who had passed away. The great-grandmother of one of Sweetheart's friends. Sweetheart didn't know her, but we went forward.

We talked a lot today about how that was just her body and the part that made her Mrs. B was with the Lord. Sweetheart went on and on wondering what her NEW body looked like and could she see the video that they just played, and is her heart still inside her and I bet she's so happy to see my grandma and do you get your new body just as soon as you get to heaven or do you have to wait? I am exhausted of questions today!

I was relieved. The whole thing was not traumatic for her. She has a joyful outlook on the whole thing. That's not to say that she wouldn't be extremely sad if it were someone she knows and loves, but still. I wondered afterward what I would have told her if I myself did not have faith. Other children must have questions about death. What do parents tell them when they themselves don't know what they believe?

But we, as Christians, have this glorious hope in the Lord that even a 7 year old can understand. And so it was a joyful day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

There is a Black and White

I grew up in church. Attended my first Sunday service when I was probably around 2 weeks old. My husband grew up at the same church. We go there today. (I know, we are pretty boring people.) Both of our daughters began attending church within their first month of life. We rarely miss.
But that doesn't mean we are going to heaven. Lots of people attend church. We also are regularly nice to people. We use our best manners in public. I have helped many lost children find their mothers in stores. That doesn't mean I am going to heaven. Lots of people are nice.
I was amazed this evening to read the comments from this post. I am amazed by how many different, but very wrong, perceptions people have about God. And about their salvation. I was amazed, but saddened too.
Folks, there is a right and wrong. There is a heaven and a hell. There is black and white. We are going to heaven because we have accepted the awesome gift that is God's grace. Only because of the sacrifice of His Son are we able to have hope.

Maybe instead of whispering that message, my life needs to start shouting it. Apparently a lot of people still need to know.

The lies are rampant folks....absolutely rampant.

What you feel doesn't matter.
How nice you are doesn't matter.
Yes, your children would be better off with faith.

I forget there are many types of unbelievers: those who think they don't need God, those who don't think there is a God, those who think people can choose the type of god they want, and those who think I am an unenlightened southerner who blindly follows what I've been taught my whole life.

The harvest is indeed plentiful.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ready to Answer

OK, I'm going to get down on "paper" what all has been bouncing around in my brain since last summer. I read a book on homeschooling because I thought "What if I have to do this one day because we are missionaries?" Well, we are not ready to go to the mission field right now, but I was sold on homeschooling---because of the Christian perspective. I still think homeschooling can be a good thing even if the family is not doing it because of their beliefs--but how much more powerful when done for the Lord!

WHY WE ARE HOMESCHOOLING

1. We believe that God has entrusted the training of these children to us. We do not believe we can properly train them if they are away from us for 6-7 hours a day. I do not want to entrust this training to others anymore.
2. To protect them from outside influences which do not support our parenting goals. To have more control over what they are exposed to and when. To prolong their childhoods by letting them be little girls and not heavily influenced by what their peers are concerned with.
3. To allow the Bible, prayer, and learning about God to permeate everything we do all day rather than being something we mainly do at church.
4. To give our family more time together. To free our schedule to be flexible to allow for what is really important.
5. To include in our daughters' education learning homemaking skills such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, home management, financial planning, sewing, etc. Instead of spending their day with others their own age waiting to join the "real world," they will be participating in the real world every day.

These are just some of the things that have been swimming around in my head. But if someone asks, #1 will be my short answer to why we are doing this. I expect the question to come up as we are now the only homeschooling family in our church. We haven't really told many people we are homeschooling. I have told several people that I am quitting work. And I have already been asked, "What are you going to do?" I told them I was going to be a mom! I cannot believe that in this day and age people still react that way--at church, even! Now we do have stay-at-home moms at our church. I guess because I have always been a working mom people assume I will not know what to do with myself if I stay home? It's such a strange question. "What are you going to do?"

From what I read in the Bible about being a wife and mother, I have PLENTY to do!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Building a Home

My house is not what I would like it to be. Right now, it's kind of a..............pit stop! Yes, that's a good analogy. We run in here, bathe, change clothes, eat, do homework, sleep and run out the door for the next lap. Just like a pit stop, but far less greasy.

What I want is a haven. I want my husband and my children to walk in the door and just relax. I want home to be so cozy and inviting that they don't want to leave. I want us to be busy here. I want home to be the rule and other things the exception.

So how do you build a home out of a house (or pit stop as it were)? Well, I believe it starts with prayer. That can sort everything out. Then, there is lots of good old-fashioned work to be done. Organizing, painting, sewing, some decorating, cleaning up will all make the house feel like home. But I have seen perfectly lovely homes that I did not want to stay 5 minutes in and chat. I have been to gorgeous homes where I did not feel comfortable at all. What makes the difference?

For me, I think it's, well...me. My family needs my attention. They need to see me smiling and taking breaks from all the work to be done to pay attention to them. Instead of looking at my back while I'm busy at some task (all the time), they need to have me sit down beside them and talk. There are plenty of things that need to be done, but my family is the whole reason I do them.

Folks, I have a lot of work to do. This house has been somewhere we stop off for far too long. I am ready to start living here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's Shaping Up to Be A Super Summer!


It's here! My daughter is officially a 2nd grader. I picked both girls up from school today just before lunch (she got out early) and took them back to my office. There, the 3 year old picked up the phone and had a pretend conversation with her aunt. Then she hung up. Seven year old started fussing because she wanted to talk. "It was not really your aunt--she was pretending!" I screeched. "Well, she hung up and I wanted to talk to her!" They continued fussing for a few minutes.

How do you break up a fight over a PRETEND phone call?

Ah, yes. I can tell this summer is going to be loads of fun. So let's definitely add to the craziness and invite 2 cousins over tomorrow to play! That should help my house get in order!

I feel myself getting in the mood to toss and declutter. Can I start with the children?

Oh no, that's right. They frown on that.

All kidding aside, I am glad summer is here. The possibilities are as endless as the laundry!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Just Want to Go Home

I am not being very productive at work these days. Knowing that I will soon be quitting makes me feel not so ambitious. I have started a new project: typing up directions for my replacement! Now this I am motivated to do! Not sure yet who that will be, but I am really hoping by the middle of June that I am all done working outside the home.

I really want to be home.

Now, I've made this comparison before, but I think it's a little like being engaged. You can imagine what marriage will be like. You can dream about it. You are sure it's going to be wonderful. Coming home is like that for me. I can imagine what it will be like and dream about it. But I really have no idea until I get there.

In my mind, I picture me cooking with my daughters, our little matching aprons crisp and clean as we smile at each other. I picture us reading together on the couch and them skipping off to do chores when asked. I picture them turning into these well-behaved children who fetch me many compliments whenever we are out in public. They will exceed all grade level expectations due to my wonderful homeschooling techniques. They will amaze their Bible class teachers with their knowledge of scriptures. We will have a cozy home and enjoy our days together always.

Sleep deprivation will do this to you.

In my sane mine I know better. It's going to be a major adjustment. One that they don't even know is coming! (We haven't told older daughter that she will be homeschooling next year. Not even sure she's ever heard of it.) Neither one of them really remembers what it's like to have mommy home (I used to be home every summer with them.) And none of us have lived with the changes that God has been making to our home. Chores? Unheard of. Training? What does that mean? Learning to be a wife and mother? Never thought about it before.

I prayed for a long time today in the car. It was nice to drive by myself somewhere and just talk to God uninterrupted. I have come to the conclusion that I have some real thinking and praying to do. I need to really think through what my goals are. As a wife, as a keeper at home, as a mom and trainer of my children, as a homeschooler. If I don't know where I'm going with all this then it might turn out to be one big disaster. I want to be a godly family. I want to raise godly children. The Bible is just about all I have to go on.

When we become homeschoolers in 1 more day, that will bring the grand total of homeschooling families at our church to....................one. OK, not a lot of support there. I can't really think of anyone that I know who makes homemaking a goal in their life. Or even thinks much about it. So, not a lot of support there. And raising my girls to be wives and mothers? People I know would really think we had gone off the deep end at our house. We just feel like the oddballs lately.

Maybe that means we are doing something right? At any rate, that leaves the Bible and prayer as my only sources for encouragement. And my internet "friends." This is going to be one interesting journey. And I am ready to begin.

Right after I get some more sleep!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

All Change Is Stressful

I came from possibly the most stable home environment that has ever existed. I lived in the same home until I went to college. My parents still live there. My schoolwork from 1st and 2nd grade is still in a box in the closet. A lot of my toys are still there and my children play with them. (Don't think I haven't checked e-bay for prices on these things. One day when mom and dad are out of town I am going to make some serious money!) We attended the same church my entire life. I never moved schools. My mom rearranged the living room furniture exactly 2 times a year. There were very few divorces in my family. The worst people I knew were my aunt and uncle who smoked. I was just sure they were going to hell.

When our older daughter was little, my husband and I had a discussion. I asked him what from his childhood did he want her to have? He said, "Nothing." His childhood wasn't perfect. He surely didn't always feel safe. There was a lot of pain in his family. Then he decided there were 2 things worth passing on: 1. his mom always took him to church and 2. she read her Bible every night before bed. And what did I want to pass on? Lots. But especially the stability. The knowledge that people and things would stay consistent. You could count on them.

Have you ever seen the list of the top most stressful things in a person's life? One year in our marriage we had a lot of them. Let's see: I was pregnant, my husband changed jobs, we sold our house and moved into a new one, my mother-in-law passed away. That was all in a span of 4-6 months, too! We made it through that time, but it was hard.

Change is hard. At least for someone who is used to a whole lot of stability. Now don't get me wrong, I like interruptions. Days that are all the same are terribly boring to me. As a teacher I always liked the "special days." Field trips, field day, assemblies, etc. Some teachers HATED that stuff--it interrupted their scheduled day. Not me. But big change? That is a different story.

As you may know, we are gearing up for some big changes around here. The name of this blog is so perfect, folks. I am excited about these changes. They are things I have prayed about. They are blessings from God.

But they are still hard.

My husband starts his new job tomorrow. He ate cake and packed up his desk today at the old job. In 2 days my daughter will be finished with 1st grade at her private school. We will begin homeschooling. I will be quitting my job soon to stay home. This is a lot to take all at once.

Like I said, I am thankful for these blessings. But they do bring stress with them.

13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. Luke 4:13-17

I think what is important is to remember that none of these things came about because of my excellent planning and foresight. All of these things were given to us as gifts. What is expected of me is to live each day as the Lord wants me to. He will take care of tomorrow. I think He's made that abundantly clear.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Children Are Already Smart

What else do I possibly need to teach them?

Me: We have some errands to run this afternoon after we pick up your sister.

Three Year Old: Where is the errand store?

Man! I wish there was an errand store!!! Wouldn't that cut down on all the running around we have to do? Good idea, honey!

Seven Year Old: When did you get your first watch?

Me: (telling story about first watch) I don't remember if it had a second hand or not.

Seven Year Old: Did it have a third hand?

Hey! You know what? There are 3 hands on a watch. Hello?

And three year old likes our new car better than our old van because the windows roll down by her seat and she "can see all that God made, Mommy."

I told you my girls were smart.

How We Got Here, Part 497!

Not really. But this story has gone on for a while. Sorry, but it's hard to cover 3 years in one post! Now where did we leave off?

Oh yes. The memo. That did it for me. So we checked into the private school at our church. I was working at the church by this time so I could get a discount on tuition---great. We signed her up. She started just after Valentine's Day in 1st grade. She was super excited about the change. I couldn't believe it. She never looked back as we walked out of the door of her old school.
Well, it turns out switching curriculum more than half way through the year is a big challenge. It soon became apparent to us that she would not be able to keep up or catch up before school was out. They had just covered different things in math than her old school, spent a lot of time on a completely different phonics program, and there were just too many gaps. It was hard on me to realize that my daughter would be repeating 1st grade. I had been a teacher, for heaven's sake!!! Why couldn't I fix this? In the end it just didn't matter how hard I tried, or how much effort she or we put out, it just wasn't going to happen.
Of course, I had a lot of regret. Why did we start her in Kindergarten at all? Etc. Etc. My husband sat her down and told her that Mommy and Daddy didn't care what grades she made, just to try her best. She said, "OK." Then, "You don't?" She relaxed, we relaxed and we had a great spring. I enjoyed private school because they planted a garden! And did art! And went on cool field trips! And had Rodeo day! It was too cool.
I can't leave this out: at her old, public school they never did a craft or art project. Not at Halloween time (OK, they probably just don't want to create controversy.) Not at Thanksgiving time. (OK, surely at Christmas.) Not at Christmas. Not even a stupid coloring page. Nada. THEN, they completely skipped over the 100th day of school. I don't know about where you come from, but around here we have a big, fun day of math activities on the 100th day of school. In Kindergarten (at the same school) they had made shirts and done all kinds of cool things that day. But not 1st grade. No ma'am. By 1st grade they had apparently had all the fun they were going to have in Elementary. There was work to be done, by golly! We can't stop to make an art project not one single time in the year. We can't possibly skip our workbook pages for one day to do something special, yet educational. Meanwhile, I was looking out my office window at the private school kids tracing their shadows on big paper on Groundhog Day. Man, I'm glad we moved her. If nothing else, she re-discovered that school could be fun.

She is now 3 school days away from completing 1st grade (again) at this private school. She is an awesome reader. She does well in math. She writes. She draws. She is very ready for 2nd grade. So, I think we ended up making a good decision. I have been so thankful that she is in private school, away from the state-mandated testing that controls everything in our state. I think she has learned a lot. I know she has enjoyed school. But next year, we are planning to homeschool.

I'll tell you why in another post. I need to know the answer myself so I can tell people when they ask!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Icky Days

Sometimes I don't like Saturdays. I can't believe I'm saying that since for most of my life I lived for them! These days Saturdays mean an interruption to our comfortable little schedule. The kids always wake up really early on Saturdays and I don't get to sleep as late as I'd like. (On school days I can hardly get them out of bed!) Some Saturdays, like today, my husband has to go into work. Some Saturdays we are all together the whole day. For whatever reason, I just don't always enjoy Saturdays like I used to.

I think it's because it's the one day we have to do everything that needs to be done. I have to make a grocery list, go shopping, pay bills, catch up on laundry, clean the house, etc. etc. etc. Not a joyful outlook on the day.

But this morning I'm reminded of what a blessing it is to be home with my girls today. I have the money to go to the grocery store. My washer and dryer are both working. I have a house to clean. I am very blessed.

One day at work I couldn't get something to work out and was getting really frustrated. One of our office volunteers suggested I stop and pray about it and then try again. Of course, how silly of me. It's not that I don't think God listens to prayers about little things, it's just that I don't think to ask. I pray for the BIG things--jobs, money, my children's safety, for my husband, problems we may be having, etc. I forget to pray that God will just help me have joy and smile at my children as I go about my tasks. And really, that is not a little thing.

Dear Lord, Please be with me today as I do all the tasks you have blessed me with. Help me to show a spirit of joy to my husband and my children. Help me to be organized and to bless my family with a clean house, clean clothes, food in the pantry, and still time to enjoy my family. Thank you for this day. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

How We Got Here--The Final Straw

So, we weren't having much success at our local public school. It was now February of 1st grade and our daughter had been working like a dog to keep her head above water. Then the memo came home.

This was a weekly memo at my daughter's school from the principal. It covered different things each week. The section you are about to read was entitled "Parents As Tutors."

"Our children are at school on an average of 61/2 to 7 hours a day. During that time, they are working closely with their teacher or teachers, being introduced and practicing skills that are new to them. Some students have the ability to learn at the pace set for them by the school and the teacher. During the course of the day, they are bombarded with new words, new math concepts, new information about the world around them. Not to mention, new social experiences that they must learn to adapt to. Unfortunately, most of our students do not have the ability to master all of the skills given the massive amound of information entering their brain in such a concentrated amount of time. For this reason, a strong relationship with the teacher is quite beneficial."

She goes on to describe how parents should reinforce learning at home, etc. But, excuse me??? Did she just say that they throw so much at the students during the day so quickly that most kids cannot possibly keep up so parents need to help? Should we maybe adjust our expectations so that MOST of the students can keep up? Don't we want students to master new skills? Is going at a breakneck pace working?

It was that same week that we visited the private school at our church and made our decision to move our daughter right after Valentine's Day. This all came about very soon after my conference with the teachers where they told me my daughter was on a "wait and see status." Meaning, I understood, that they were not ready to test her for special education just yet, but perhaps in a few months they would look at "other things we can do."

For a kid who was so excited to start school, this wasn't working out exactly as planned.

The story continues here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It Starts Early

My three year old was helping me cook the other evening. This is the conversation we had:

Her: Mommy, why you cook dinner?

Me: Because we are hungry.

Her: Why Daddy doesn't cook dinner?

Me: Because taking care of the home is the Mommy's job.

Her: What Daddies do?

Me: Daddies take care of our family by going to work to make money so we can buy things we need.

Her: Oh.

End of conversation. Now, you might not agree with my answer. I wondered later what my answer would have been if I was a die-hard feminist.

And I was struck by how very early they take note of what's going on around them. Attitudes, assumptions, thoughts...are all developed so very early. You might think the kids are little and you don't have to have it all together until they are older. Not true. Kind of scary, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How We Got Here--The Next Year

The story begins here.

OK, so Kindergarten had changed some. No more home centers and circle time. No more "Spot can run" making you the best reader in the class. But, all said, she ended the year just fine. She was reading the coveted level 6 books, passing her weekly spelling tests, writing was coming along, and she still liked school. Oh, except math. Her teachers told me at the end of the year that she didn't like math at all. Just changed moods completely when it was time for math.

So, I set out that summer to make sure she knew math could be fun. We cooked, we played with measuring cups in the bathtub. We made things with shapes. We played games with dice. I pointed out each time that "This is math." "It is?" she would reply, surprised. Good, I thought. We have made progress. We also read and wrote and did all sorts of things. I was determined she would be ready for 1st grade!!!

Now here is an area I felt prepared for. I had taught 1st grade for 4 years and continued working with first graders even after I left the classroom. I knew she was ready. Because believe me, I've seen what "not ready" looks like!!!

I was so very wrong.

After working on homework for 45 minutes to an hour each night, she still wasn't keeping up. The teacher told me what we needed to work on, but WHEN? After an hour of homework I'm supposed to "work on" other things as well? We borrowed a desk, bought a desk lamp and set up shop. This kid did more work in one week than I did in college!

Come October, I asked the teacher if I could come observe in the classroom. I mean, what was going on here? I looked through her work folder every week seeing F after F. From the back seat a little voice would say, "Are you mad, Mommy?" I was. But not at her. I was mad at the expectations being put on these kids. I was mad that school was so hard! I was mad that my family could not relax in the evenings and do fun things.

So I showed up, with the teacher's permission, to observe a phonics lesson. They did the typical calendar stuff with no time for any comments from the children. Then the phonics lesson began. The children sat in their desks with a phonics worksheet on their desk and a pencil which they were not supposed to play with. The teacher (who I truly think used to be a good teacher back when school was fun), stood at the board and taught. They watched her write on the board and they listened.

For one hour and 15 minutes. I am not even close to kidding.

Then they were set free to do their worksheet. I watched my daughter and most of the ones she sat by writing down all the wrong answers. Two children near me asked me if I could help them.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have pulled her straight out of school and started homeschooling. Instead, we suffered through a few more months of school. Then the memo came home.

Read about the memo here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How We Got Here

When the doctor told me my due date, my head just fell. I couldn't believe I was going to have an August baby. As a teacher, I knew it was possible to just sit on the bench at recess and pick August babies out of the crowd. While the rest of the 3rd graders were organizing a game together, they were the ones happily playing in the dirt. Nothing wrong with that, but they just stood out from the crowd. They weren't immature, they were just not as matured as their classmates. And an awful lot of them struggled in school.

When my daughter was 4, I was still teaching, though not in the classroom. My entire job revolved around our state's test. I looked over data constantly and always noticed the August birthdays and their scores. Not good news. There were a few exceptions. Probably my daughter would be one of those, I thought. She's a smart little girl. Not to worry.

The decision to send her to Kindergarten that year was not taken lightly. See, when I went to school, it started after Labor Day. (Our state law required students to have turned 5 by September 1st). But the year my daughter started, school began like the 2nd or 3rd week of August. She was 4 years old when we sent her down the hall with the big purple backpack on. Sure, she had her birthday a week or two later, but still. We had decided to go ahead and start her because she did great in 2 day a week preschool! First of all, she LOVED IT! She fit right in with the other kids. She knew all her letters and most all of the sounds. She could count to 20 or higher (I can't really remember that long ago.) I looked up every "Kindergarten Preparedness Checklist" that I could find. She fit the bill. My teacher friends even said, "She's a girl and she's your oldest. She'll be fine."

Well, this wasn't your mother's Kindergarten, folks. The first thing my husband and I noticed was the lack of centers. Now folks, it had not been since I was a Kindergarten student since I had stepped foot in a classroom. I had just quit my job 2 months prior!!! In the district where I taught, there were still centers. Wow. We had a lot of adjusting to do.

The third week of school I was called in for a conference. Her teachers were concerned that she didn't know all of her letter sounds. I wanted to say, "Excuse me. But did she not just start school 3 weeks ago? Was there some sort of memo that I missed saying we should teach certain things to our children BEFORE we actually bring them to school? Because I must have missed that memo." However, I bit my tongue. I first told her teachers that I was a former teacher (Reading Recovery trained, no less!) They were nothing but nice and we had a great relationship the rest of the year. They didn't agree with the way things were either, but this is how things are today, they said. They told me what reading level she would have to be on by the end of the year. (It was the Christmas goal for 1st graders at my old job!) Wow again.

So we entered the world of homework 2 times a week, falling asleep on the couch most days by 4:00 (her, not me!), asthma that was aggravated by every cold she picked up at school (10 missed days!), six weeks multiple choice tests in every subject area, pressure to read, etc. I rearranged our living room so her play kitchen, baby dolls, etc. were all together. If she wasn't going to get to play and pretend at Kindergarten, then she would do it when she got home, by golly!

Needless to say, even though she loved it...Kindergarten was not what we were expecting.

The story continues here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

New Year's Eve in May


January is NOT the time I feel renewed. I don't feel like it's a "fresh start" because it's right in the middle of the school year. Now May is a different story! School is almost over, summer is beginning. THIS is a fresh start. This is my new year. (By the way, I also feel this energized in August just before school starts.) I always make big plans this time of year.

We are putting up with school but not much else. Homework is done because it has to be. But really, folks, this year is already over. Even the teachers would agree. So my thoughts are already on the summer vacation. It starts in just 10 short days!

My sister is the kind of nerd who has already printed blank calendars and is penciling in every activity for the next 2 1/2 months. She was born like this. I actually have made a schedule this summer. I was not born like this. I was inspired by
the Maxwell's book. I hope it will help us get things done and limit my computer time/children's TV time too. (Time-eaters!) This is very not like me, you must understand. Another reason I think the schedule will be important this year is because if we are going to homeschool next year, how could I go from laying around doing nothing to expecting to get something done all in a one week's span? This will make the transition smoother, I think.

So as I make plans to stash the school work and backpacks, I am also making plans for what I want to get done this summer. Doesn't everyone make these kinds of lists, if only in their heads? Like I said, some people do this on January 1st, but not me.

Here are some of the things floating around in my head: 1. wallpaper the entryway (it's only been a bare wall for 6 or 7 months) 2. declutter some closets 3. finish painting rooms 4. sew, sew, sew (duvet cover for daughter, curtains, dresses, etc.) 5. teach social studies and science to daughter since they skipped those in school this year 6. have a lot of fun and enjoy my family

Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. See? My husband is right. Everyone is going to be a lot happier if we have a schedule. Oh yeah, and just like January for some people, weight loss/excercise is part of this plan, too. For both my husband and me! We really need to encourage each other because folks, we used to be skinny. My mom just showed me a bunch of pictures from when we were dating. Enough said.

OK, I need to go dig out my swimsuit now...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sisterly Love and Other Lofty Goals

My children have not been getting along very well lately. The three year old is mean to the seven year old (pinching, hitting, knocking toys over). The seven year old is overly concerned with fairness ("Why doesn't she have to...") and quite impatient with her little sister. I have had enough.

The act of serving those outside the family is considered "good citizenship." So what is serving those inside your own house called? Love. They need to know how to love each other. I don't think this just happens naturally. I grew to love both of my sisters over the years. But growing up, no one could make me madder faster! I've heard myself sounding like my mother..."That is your sister." As if that explains everything to them.

I will be working on this one. I don't expect them to always get along and run to hug each other every morning when they get up, but I do expect them to treat each other at least as well as they treat their friends. Really, it's more than that. I want them to reflect God's love in their lives. I want them to have servant attitudes towards others. I want them to be concerned for each other.

When I quit work and we are all home together this summer, it should be interesting. Just having to live with each other minute after minute will change their relationship. Seeing me lovingly react to the other child will convince them that the other is lovable. Being involved in activities together will grow them closer together.

It makes me wonder, has separating them day after day affected their relationship? Does my 7 year old get impatient with her little sister because she spends all her time with other 7 and 8 year olds? It will be interesting to see what homeschooling does to their relationship.

It's just one of my goals. And one of the reasons I'm so eager to get back home. I think, really, that homeschooling is a bit like marriage. I can imagine how it's going to be, but I won't know until I actually get there. Anyway, children who love each other better is one thing I'm hoping for.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Such a Great Mom

For Mother's Day my daughter's class wrote many lovely things to their moms for gifts. I love every word of it and will keep it somewhere safe. So precious. My favorite?

"My mom is so smart! She even knows when I was born."

Clearly, I'm qualified to homeschool!

Friday, May 11, 2007

24 Hours in a Day

We never have enough time. You can't get more--there are only 24 hours in a day and that's it. The best you can hope to do is spend your time wisely. When I was in school we even got graded on our report cards for "Uses Time Wisely." Which I think meant "do what the teacher tells you when she tells you to do it." From my experiences as a teacher I can tell you it also means, "don't spend 15 minutes playing with your pencil before you write your name on your paper" and "don't get up to get kleenexes every 5 minutes."

A great deal of our time as a family is taken up by 3 major things: work, church, and school (not necessarily in that order). As parents, we head off to work first thing in the morning. As a family, and with my husband being a part-time youth minister, we spend a lot of time at church or working on church stuff. As a student, my daughter spends 7 1/2 hours a day at school and another 30 minutes to an hour on homework each evening. And this is only first grade, folks. Public school was worse. I've dreaded thinking about what middle school would hold in the homework department!

Coming home is going to add SO much time to our days! Subtract the 4 hours I spend on work each morning and add them to our home. Homeschooling...subtract 8 hours a day and add that to family life. Oh I know those hours could quickly get eaten by other things. I'm going to be careful to guard them! The things that have been lacking at home will be covered. The time with my daughter will be a treasure. And maybe, when we see a snail on the door like we did this morning, we will have time to stop and really look at it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What's On My Mind

I like to look at old magazines from the 50's and 60's. I like the advertisements with women all dressed up and with a pretty apron on looking thrilled about their new kitchen appliance. I like that all the men wore suits and ties and came home at the end of the workday for a fine supper cooked by their wife (with the new appliance!).

When I had my first daughter and faced going back to work, I longed for those days. What I mean was, I didn't WANT all the choices I had before me. I wanted everyone to expect that I would stay home and raise my daughter instead of constantly asking, "When are you going back to work?" From what I read, I understand that women of that time felt "trapped" and longed for the choice of working or not. I'm not so sure I believe that story though. I think there were plenty of women who were quite happy keeping house and felt forced into leaving by all the changes around them. Feminism roared loudly and women started listening. The first women who joined the workforce, even single mothers, were not thought highly of, from what I understand.

Flash forward a few years and you will see a little group of "rebels" who decided to chunk all that they had and go back home. And now you can choose either and feel equally despised by one group or the other. What choices we have today! :)

I have been on both sides of the door on this one, so to speak. I have worked full-time with 2 children, I have worked from home, I have worked part-time, and now (soon) I will stay home full-time. Everyone says it doesn't matter what you decide to do--it's between you and God. Even Christians say that each lady can decide to do what's right for her particular family. I won't talk bad about your decision if you won't talk bad about mine. But I'm not so sure.

We have a day care in our church and every day I watch children being dropped off only to be picked up again 8-12 hours later. I see some parents bring their children to day care even when they themselves are off of work. When the day care closes for a holiday, some parents get mad! On the other side of the coin, some parents obviously hate leaving their children and rush straight from work to pick them up, kissing on them and talking to them all the way out the door. Each of these families has made their own choice. Some do not have a choice. Is it just all OK? Does God want some women to stay home, but He wants others to go to work? Is this what He wanted for our families?

I think the answer is to start praying. Pray that God will show you His plan for families. His plan for YOUR family. Read scripture and then pray again. Don't listen to any messages from the media, your friends and family, or even other Christians. Only listen for God. Then pray that He will get you there. If you are stuck, pray. If you really like your job, pray. Just pray to know what God wants for your family, then pray it will happen.

Because folks, I'm here to tell you. He will answer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

MAJOR Revision Over Here at "The Family Revised"


Want to hear how cool God is?

You know I've been praying for God to make us into a godly family. I want us to be the way He wants us to be. During part of this process I decided I'd better read up on homeschooling. I didn't really agree with it, but thought, "What if I have to do this one day because we are missionaries? Shouldn't I know something about it?" Well, the book I read was written from a Christian point of view and needless to say, the Lord worked on my heart. How else can you explain my about-face? Now I wanted to homeschool! I wanted to be a homemaker! Where were these thoughts coming from?

God has been working on me a lot. Turns out when you pray for God to change your family, you might have to do some changing, too. We have learned so much about God's plans for family. Now I'm not saying everyone should homeschool. But I do believe we are to train our children and that is a job I'd rather not sub-contract out. It hasn't been working for us.

But, (sigh), there is no way we can homeschool because I have to work at least part-time to make ends meet so...

Haven't I been here before? Just like the Israelites standing at the edge of the Red Sea. The Egyptians are coming up fast from the back and nothing is before me but water. How will God possibly fix this?

Who knew he would part the water!!?!

Well, God is at it again folks because my husband got a job offer--WITHOUT EVEN SEEKING IT--and if this all works out, I can quit. I can stay home. I can homeschool.

This is HUGE. It is so completely obvious that it's from God that I just had to share how good He is. He's always good, even if this does not work out. But what a blessing. What a God we serve!

So, that's my major revision to our family. Things are about to get really different around here, folks! And don't you just think that a new blog design would be the perfect complement to our new life style that I will most assuredly be blogging about? Me too! Our good friend over at Everyday Mommy is giving away a free blog design for Mother's Day. What a cool gift for someone! (Clearing throat loudly.) OK, I know it's random. :)
I am excited and nervous and looking forward to this change. I will keep you posted!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Proverbs 31 Today

I have read and heard a lot about being a "Proverbs 31 woman" online. Interestingly enough, I have heard almost nothing about this passage of scripture at church. Hmmm. The first time I remember that Proverbs 31 woman being used as an example to women today was in Debi Pearl's book. Since that time, I have read a lot about it. A lot.

Today I was blessed to read a personal account of what that passage means. Click on over to Sara's blog and see her take on this passage. She has some great things to say.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

So Much To Do Part 2

OK, so we've established that when I get interested in something, I tend to really get into it. We came back to the church where we grew up in the summer of 2004. Our children's minister was on the way out the door and I saw a need for some work to be done in our children's Bible classes. So, I asked him if I could work with the younger children and I dove in. Well, pretty soon I was not only decorating and rearranging classrooms, I was writing curriculum and gathering materials for teachers, shopping for needed stuff, teaching on both Sundays and Wednesday evenings, organizing parent meetings, helping launch children's church, painting a puppet stage, supervising VBS, the list goes on. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Why? Why would I get so busy? Well, I was good at it. After 11 years of teaching school, surely I was qualified to make these types of decisions and had a good background in education. It needed to be done. It was for my daughters' good. I've talked about this before. I really thought that I was doing the "Lord's work." How could serving in your church NOT be good? I have been taught to use my talents for God. Right?

But oh, how it grieves my heart to think of all the hours I spent with my back to my husband and children while I typed away on Bible lessons and VBS schedules. I see other women doing this same thing nearly every day. Oh, it might be scouts, or their bunco group, or the ladies' ministry, or any number of things that take their time and attention away from their family. BECAUSE THEY ENJOY IT AND WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DO SOMETHING THAT FULLFILLS US, RIGHT? Are you going to argue with me on this? Ladies, it's a lie of Satan. He wins if we turn our backs on our families, no matter how "good" the deeds are that we are doing.

Now I'm not saying that we can only concentrate on those activities which take place behind the doors of our homes. Certainly not. Just look at the Proverbs 31 woman. This ficticious lady is held in high regard as an example of a godly woman. I read somewhere that this section of scripture would have been read in Jewish homes often as a poem. Their girls grew up with this picture of a godly woman in their minds. And she was certainly a busy lady. Even outside the home. But every activity she is involved in revolves around her home and family. When you begin to get interested in something and think "I would like to do this" spend some time in prayer. Ask God if this activity is going to take too much time away from your family. Ask your husband what he prefers you to do. Because our place in the home and family is a very valuable one. And not just "right now" valuable, but eternally valuable.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

So Much To Do Part 1

When I get interested in something, I tend to really get into it. Maybe a little too much. In 1995 my husband and I went to go see the movie Apollo 13. It was a good movie. And we were completely amazed. All this had happened in 1970 just weeks before my husband was born? Why had we never heard of this before? We went straight to both sets of parents and asked them if they remembered these events. My dad did. My mother-in-law vaguely did, but remember she was 9 months pregnant with her third child. You aren't watching much news at that point.
Anyway, it got me interested. Why, I didn't even know anything about the early space program! I clearly remember going outside during P.E. in 2nd grade and our coach pointing out the space shuttle as it went overhead. It really didn't seem like that big of deal to me. My dad would wake me up early every time a shuttle launched when I was growing up. I couldn't appreciate the wonder of it since men had been going into space my whole life. But now I wanted to find out more.
We didn't have kids yet and it was the summer. Since I was a teacher, I had nothing to do but read and research. I devoured every book I found at the library, searched online for information and pictures. I even went to the stacks at our library and looked up the old Life magazine issues with pics of the astronauts and their families. I drug my husband to Space Center Houston. I really got into it.
The next time I got so "obsessed" with something, it would affect more people...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Celebrating Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. We celebrated tonight at mom and dad's house. My 7 year old and 3 year old were there to help celebrate with dollar-store presents they picked out themselves. Hey, it's not like he needs anything.

I have to remember on this occasion that we are so blessed to have my dad here. When I was in college, Dad had triple bypass heart surgery. He was in his mid 50's at the time. That's a pretty major surgery to go through, but he worked hard at recovering and changed his whole diet to stay healthy. Everyone was so surprised when they heard he needed heart surgery because he was thin and worked out. But his arteries were clogged up nonetheless.

Then, about 5 years ago we found out dad had a tumor. It was an extremely rare, slow-growing tumor. The doctor said he would die from something else, not from this tumor. It was located on the tail of his pancreas. He and mom had a vacation planned and the doctor told them to go. He said they would work on a treatment plan when they got back. But the night before they left he passed out in the restroom at M.D. Anderson. Turns out he was bleeding internally because of the placement of the tumor and had surgery later that week. If he and mom had been on the road, he would have bled to death. This was the 2nd major surgery my dad faced and he was not a young man!

After surgery he went through chemo. The whole time he was sick I prayed for him to live longer. My prayer was not selfish either. I had 2 reasons: 1. That he would live so my mom would not be alone. 2. That he would live so that my children would know their grandpa.

We have been so blessed. My older daughter hardly even remembers when grandpa was sick. He has welcomed 2 more grandchildren to his family since the cancer came. I am so grateful for God's mercy as we celebrate his 73rd birthday today.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Housekeeping is a VERB!

What happened? This house was completely picked up just a few short days ago. We've had a busy week in the evenings. Sunday night we went to the park for a picnic. Monday was my husband's birthday, so we had family over. Tuesday we went to Academy to get his present. Wednesday was church. We haven't had an evening at home this week and everything is falling apart!

There is widom in the Bible about being a keeper AT home. You really have to be here to keep up with things! Just in this living room there are like, 50 things out of place. Some are as small as a pair of scissors laying on the side table. Others are big like a quilt that needs to be folded and put away. But they will all take time to put away. That's just one room of my house.

This is one reason why my children will have chores this summer. I am not going to pick up after them all the time. Plus lots of other really good reasons such as: 1. They need to know how to keep a house. 2. It teaches responsibility. 3. They need to know they are needed around here. 4. It is our job to train them. etc.

I bought and read "Managers of Their Chores" by Steven and Teri Maxwell. I am working on a list of what things will go in the girls' chore packs. I know this is going to take a lot of work and consistency on my part. But just imagine...

Imagine a home where you don't have to do all the work. Imagine husband coming home to a clean house. Imagine everyone working side by side during the day instead of being constantly interrupted by disputes as you try to get something done. (Sometimes when I'm folding laundry I leave the laundry room 3 or 4 times! During one load!)

A youth minister I know once said that we must have a picture in our minds of how we want our children to turn out. What does an 18 year old disciple of Christ look like? OK, what do 2 teenagers who know how to do just about everything in the home and with a proper attitude and are almost ready for adulthood look like? Now, how do I get them there?

Well, 15 more days of school before I implement my plan. So for now one thing is for sure:

Blogging is not cleaning my house.

Time to get to work!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

My Newest Project

OK. I'm ready. I've been thinking about doing this for months and now I'm going to.

I am going to go through some popular women's magazines and pay attention to the message being sent to the reader (us women). Then, I'm going to compare what I read to what the Bible has to say.

This should be good.

I've shown this video around to a lot of people lately. Everyone is amazed by it. It makes me want to never let another magazine in the house. But then there's the TV. And billboards. Etc. How can I protect my daughters from these images?

First, we have to know what to protect them from. So, I will now go buy some magazines. For research purposes, of course.