Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Homework or Life

I don't know why I continue to be shocked by this every year, but I do. A child who was born the same year as my Sweetheart (actually her mom and I shared a first grade classroom the year they were both born--yikes--2 maternity leaves!), is in 6th grade this year just like my daughter. Only she is in public school.

The bus usually drops her home about 5:00. Yesterday her Dad picked her up, so she got home earlier. And at 9:00 last night, she still wasn't finished with her homework. She had stopped for supper and a bath. Her Dad was working with her the whole time. She's 11.

This, after a full day at school. Another friend who I used to teach with has a daughter in 11th grade AP classes. She reports her daughter routinely stays up until 2:00am to complete her homework. Not sure when she gets started. I know many children in high school don't get started until after supper because they are in extra-curricular activities until many hours after school is out.

No wonder these children grow up and do NOT QUESTION why they must work long hours, 6 or 7 days a week. No wonder they don't think twice about going to school for 4-10 years after high school. Our niece works a full-time job and has just gone back to school for a Master's degree. This, after working her way through college and graduating just a few months ago. She's not married. She doesn't have children. She's in her mid-20s. Does she know there are other options out there besides just work and school?

Work. School. Work. School. Schoolwork. It's all the same. It's what we're made for, right? These poor kids don't even seem to question it.

I shudder to think how I would be handling it if my children were in public school right now and carrying such a homework load. Would I let it get in the way of church? Family time? Scripture memory work? Service? Chores? How is there time for anything else but school?

Oh I pray for families today. I wish people knew there was an alternative. I could list and list the things that happen in our day that would NOT be happening if my children (and therefore our family) were under such a burden.

I am grateful for each and every one of them. And I wish more people knew.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Little Area at a Time

Enough talk.

Enough dreaming.

Enough planning.

Enough pinning!!!

Yesterday, I got up and DID something!

Before. Cookbooks, loose recipes, broken pig bookend, Christmas wrapping paper....

Underneath our antique china cabinet. Yikes. An explosion.

And....after!!! "Pretty" cookbooks up top. Diabetic cookbooks in the middle. Utilitarian cookbooks and magazines on the bottom. I got rid of a few cookbooks I have never used. Christmas wrapping paper removed. And loose recipes in my binder (which is standing up there.)

Some stuff removed. Everything else straightened up.

How I could have been even more radical:
I know there are only 2 recipes I use out of one really thick cookbook. Why not scan them in to the computer or make copies of them and stick 'em in a binder? I mainly go to the internet for recipes, but I'm not ready to get rid of all cookbooks just yet.


And you know why I started in the dining room right? It's little. That's my kind of room.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What My Camera Is Full Of

We need to invest in photography lessons or something. Both of my girls LOVE making movies and pictures with my camera and my phone. I just actually ran out of room on my iPhone. Folks, that's a LOT of media on there.

I haven't used our digital camera since I got the new phone, but today I did. And when I went to download the pictures for tomorrow's post, here is what I found:

Wake up! It's the big day!

Gotta eat breakfast.

Feed the horses...

Driving to the show.

The parking lot, I assume.

Everyone got there early for good seats.

The judges are ready. 

Go! Go! Go!

Yes!!! The winner!

That's some trophy!!!

We might need a bigger table!

I love these kids.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why I Keep Thinking About Simplifiying

Too Busy?

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from forming intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"

"How shall we do this?" shouted his angels.

"Keep them busy in the non essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work."

"Overstimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ"

"Fill the coffee table with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services, and false hopes. "

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead."

"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion. Let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause."

It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there. Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge. How about this definition of busy:


Original source unknown--this little story is all over the internet....and it makes me want to change our life even more!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up--Week 3

Remember, my Weekly Wrap Ups focus on the "other" stuff--not the book work. Because honestly, who wants to look at a post full of pictures like this?

I'm so glad dolls are still allowed in the 6th grade!

But just remember--homeschooling has a lot of that in it!

We finished reading "The Boxcar Children" this week. We also finished the diorama. Oh Little Bit LOVED this project. She has played and played with it--each day acting out what I read to her in that day's chapter. Wanna see?

The whole scene around the boxcar.

Violet laying out the tablecloth and Henry at the swimming pool.

Jessie and Watch. See the little stump back there?

Benny reading his "book."

Yeah, so the waterfall just kind of STARTS. It's weird. But it gave us a little place to put the milk in the refrigerator. 

Inside: The 4 pine needle beds, the shelf with dishes, and the broom. 

Behind the boxcar, Little Bit made the dump. 

Time for a swim!

Oh I love that book.

The only thing I am disappointed about so far is that we have not had those "cuddling on the couch" moments that Sonlight promises. Ha! Not their fault. We are just already at the table so I read to them at the table. This is one reason I was originally looking for a big comfy chair to put in the homeschool room---so we could snuggle up and read. Instead we moved the TV cabinet in there and that has been awesome. I just need to be sure to get up from the table and walk into the living room to read to them! I guess part of me is afraid if we leave the homeschool room, we will get distracted and not get back to work. We'll see...

In science we did an experiment that was a total flop. Didn't prove a thing to us. I haven't really gone back to find out where we went wrong.

Little Bit adding blue food coloring to hot water.

Sweetheart is going to add a cup of cold water and yellow food coloring with a hole in the bottom. 

Put it inside. 

And they mix. But which water was heavier?? Hmm.
So we did the experiment the other way--hot water into cold water and guess what? The water turned green again. Hmm. This did not prove to me which one was heavier.

Thursday brought rain for the first time in forever. Not much...but rain nonetheless. And we found ourselves with temperatures in the 80s at about 9 in the morning instead of 100! Can't pass up that opportunity!

Once they got that out of their system, we started school late. Totally worth it!

Sweetheart got a locker for her birthday. My sister had heard Sweetheart lament about how she wanted a locker. (Several years ago she said, "Am I EVER going to go to real school again?" After some talking it turned out she wanted a locker. I told her most elementary school kids don't get lockers anyway.) So this year, my sister, who teaches middle school, wanted her niece to have the full middle-school experience. She has spent all week trying to learn how to work that combination lock! Ha! Just like the real thing! She's so proud of it.

And Little Bit found the box it came in to be quite handy. She just loves "little worlds."

And this mama is glad it's Friday and there is NO birthday weekend looming for us! I am behind on laundry in a way that I have not seen in some time, my kitchen was a total wreck this week, Little Bit's tics have been back because we missed her supplement a few times over the weekend...basically that fun little weekend threw me off my game bad!!

Therefore I need a weekend.

The End.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Have Never Decluttered

It hit me last night. I have never actually decluttered. What I have done, is get rid of stuff. I have. Bags and bags of stuff have left this house. But I only ever get rid of just enough. And I don't think that's the real definition of decluttering.

See, we've been looking at those cute little homes near the beach. We know for sure that one day we want a smaller house than what we have now. Smaller and fewer things. Our house right now is just a smidge too big. Really, I like this house. But we have way too much stuff. So apparently, 1500 something square feet is too big for us.
Even when it's picked up...stuff, stuff, everywhere!
Anyway, in thinking about actually moving that close to the hurricanes beach,  it has occurred to me that I will NOT want to be dealing with tons of stuff. I will want to be able to pack up and evacuate easily. I will want to be able to fit those things that are precious into plastic tubs and slip them in the truck and go.

I will want to be more free.
Home stagers say clearing your fridge off makes a big difference. Huh.
I will want to worry less. I will want to have it down to it just being stuff. Replaceable stuff that we need in order to live. Like this $20 garage sale couch I'm sitting on. The other day one of the girls spilled yogurt all over it. Didn't bother me at all. We cleaned it up. But I was thinking how differently I would have reacted if we had purchased a new (expensive, over-priced) couch. I don't want to be like that. I want to react like I did with the yogurt and this used couch.

Things don't matter.

So that's why it hit me that I have never really decluttered. I remove enough stuff that the cabinet doors close. I get rid of enough that the room looks tidier. I toss the obviously ruined, broken, or worn-out items.

But I don't get rid of stuff that we don't need. As long as I find a neat little place for it---it stays. Most all of it.

I wonder what would happen if I really went through this house and just got rid of stuff we don't need. I don't even mean decorative little things sitting around doing nothing. I mean those things in our closets and cabinets and shelves. Do you know I have not missed one single thing I got rid of from our homeschool room? I got rid of a LOT of stuff and I haven't missed it one bit. Don't even need it! It hasn't affected our school day at all! So why did I have it for so long?

I think I truly get the definition of decluttering now. And I think I will like the way it will feel to really be that free. To see my kitchen counter tops. To spend less time moving, cleaning, and fussing with stuff.

Watch out world. The thrift stores are about to get really lucky.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On My Mind

Can't get the beach off my mind.

S and I have been joking/talking about moving there.

And maybe we looked at real estate online.

Just a few.

And maybe we looked online for churches.

And maybe we have no business even thinking about such things.

We just started the new school year. We have a homeschool group here. We have friends and family. Sweetheart will be starting piano lessons (in the opposite direction totally). And S driving that far to get to work doesn't exactly meet our goal of him being home more, you know?

But it sure is nice to think about "one day."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Hardest Part

Housework? Challenging, but do-able.

Homeschooling? Work, but fun.

Laundry? Never ending, but mindless.

Cooking? Boring, but necessary.

Training my children? Getting harder every year. Give me toddler fits any day. Toddler fits I know how to handle. Give me potty training again. I was prepared for that.

Guiding my children spiritually? Overwhelming. Hard. Worrisome.

I see how other children have turned out around me. And there are so many pitfalls. And there are so few people around to help. There is so much to avoid and guard against and prepare them for.

Absolutely overwhelming.

So I will do the only things I know to do: pray, study my Bible, and obey.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up--Week 2

MOST of school looks like this:
Working under her loft at her desk.
And that isn't very exciting to post each week or talk about or take pictures of. So, my weekly wrap ups will probably focus on the other stuff we did--the fun stuff.

'Cause you can only look at so many pictures of this:

So we did our first experiment in Zoology (Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day).  It was about understanding surface currents in the ocean and how they work. (And how things like plankton just go where the water takes them.)

Aiming hair dryers over a casserole dish of water...

...gets the Cheerios and glitter going in a circle.
Then on Friday we had our first field trip. S took off of work and joined us, which made for nice weekend all the way around. First, since Little Bit is reading (or listening to, rather) The Boxcar Children with Core A (Sonlight),  we went to a railroad museum.

 It was torn up very badly during Hurricane Ike and honestly wan't worth the ticket price since so little has been restored, BUT....we found what we were looking for:

She said, "Now I see why they needed a tree stump to get in!" Made the whole trip worth it--learning brought to life!
And the girls enjoyed it. So, I guess it's all good.

Then, since Sweetheart just finished reading about Christopher Columbus (Core D+E), and since a trip to Corpus Christi to see this
replica of one of Columbus' ships
was sort of not going to happen, we went to see another old sailing ship. OK, so it's a few hundred years newer than Columbus' ships, but gave an idea.

Again, not really worth the ticket price. But we had fun.

And then on Saturday, and this has nothing to do with school, we celebrated Sweeetheart's birthday.
Opening presents at breakfast.

At her party that evening.
And then on Sunday, we went to the beach and the girls tried surfing for the first time ever.
Balance Daniel-san!

I don't have a picture of Sweetheart, just video. But they both did great!

And basically, I wish it was still the weekend and my husband was still off work because we had the best time.

But now it's on to week 3 of school!