Content Amidst the Chaos

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Our first week September 11, 2010

Filed under: homeschooling — jps23 @ 10:47 pm

WE DID IT!!!!  We survived the first week of school with seven little ones!  Here’s a little overview of how it went for us, in case you are wondering.

The first and second days, we did really well at getting up early and getting started.  The problem, however, is that we stayed up VERY late (or early into the next morning) in order to make everything happen.  I will be adjusting that this weekend because it catches up with you.  I think I just wanted the first week to go well so I was willing to do WHATEVER it took to make that happen.  Now we know what works, so we can be more prepared for that ahead of time.  The third and fourth days started later, but they still went well.  I didn’t like starting later, so we won’t make that a habit, but I was still happy that we got through the day.

WHAT WORKED-

  • a firm schedule- I started with times, but then I just made sure our day followed the schedule order so I wouldn’t stress too much over finishing right at 9:29 in order to move on to our 9:30 activity.
  • timers- The first day went great, and I had Superman buy the girls some kitchen timers for their independent reading, which they loved.  When day two started dragging a little, with Picasso not finishing until 5:00 that afternoon, I decided to use the timers for each individual activity.  I used time cards found at Homeschool Creations, and I chose times that were a little more than what I thought they needed in order to build their confidence with the timer.  The timer can be intimidating, so you have to use it the right way!  Being able to beat the timer motivated them!
  • prepared meals- Superman was a jewel and prepared their lunches for the first two days.  On day two, he put their lunches in a glad disposable container for each kid (we’d love to eventually get these, but the glad containers served the same purpose without the dividers).  The special touch was that he packed what each kid likes and wrote their name on them, with a picture of something they love!  I know!  Now you know why I call him Superman!  He also posted on our family message board what our menu was for the day and had their snack prepared.  This eliminated all arguments and whining about what we are eating that day.  Dinner was also ready to go so I didn’t have to finish a full day of school and then stand over the kitchen counters and stove top preparing dinner.
  • workfolders- This is taken from Homeschool Creations, again, and it has been wonderful.  I put their time card on their folder pocket.  I’m not putting cards in for the whole week yet, but I hope to eventually.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK-

  • late nights for us- Staying up past midnight (I’m not going to tell on us by giving you the actual time).  I was tired by the end of day three.  It’s go, go, go for a homeschooling momma with a range like ours.  The baby still has to be fed, diaper changed, and entertained when he’s not napping.
  • nap times- Getting the boys down for a nap is hard right now.  They share a room, and they just want to play.  I’ve got to figure that out this weekend.
  • Being off schedule- We were thrown off by some car issues that had our day starting with uncertainty on Thursday.  The kids don’t like that!  The one thing I learned, though, is that they are loving school!  When I told them we might have to take Daddy to work, they moaned and whined, asking if a neighbor could loan him a car.

I even got to attend a reading conference on Friday, thanks to our moms babysitting the kids.  Picasso has some struggles in reading, and I am hoping this conference will give me some insight on what approach to take with her.

"This little light of mine!"

A look at our schedule:

  • breakfast and morning chores
  • morning school routine- calendar time, which we do all together (I’ll have to do a separate post on what all this includes.  It’s more than calendar and the weather!)
  • outside time- I do this early to get the wiggles out.  We also work in snack time here.
  • music (which we didn’t do this week because they needed a little extra time with workfolders while they are getting used to them)
  • workfolders for the girls while I do “preschool” activities with the boys (I’ll post more about this later, too, but my inspiration comes from this blog)
  • lunch- I usually read aloud during lunch.  I’ve been reading a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago.  The kids love the pictures and the way every story points to Jesus, even those from the Old Testament.
  • art (see music)- my plan for this is to follow Charlotte Mason and do picture studies, as well as having the kids do an activity similar to the artist we are studying
  • quiet time- reading or other quiet activities for the girls while I put the boys down for a nap
  • instruction time with the girls- This is where I teach the bulk of our curriculum, Paths of Exploration.
  • handiwork/projects- This is time for the kids to work on and learn new skills and activities.  This could be a time to do sewing, cooking, building projects, etc.  We haven’t started this officially, but I am hoping to once we get the morning schedule moving more fluidly.
  • afternoon chores
  • outside time

Right now, we are making sure we get the instruction time intact before we add the extra stuff.  They are doing so well, and they have missed it the last couple of days.  We have had the t.v. unplugged and stored in the basement all week now and we are loving it!  We didn’t have cable, but we were in such a bad habit of keeping it on most of the day.  With it gone, there is no argument about keeping it off.  They can watch a video on the computer for now.  We may eventually set it up for viewing downstairs, but there’s no rush.  It has been a blessed week, and I am looking forward to the next one!  I will leave you with more pictures of our first day (since Superman was home, he took a lot of pics for me).

Dozer doing one of his tot trays

The boys are studying the parts of the body

couldn't have done it without this guy- love him

Advertisements
 

Back to school! August 4, 2010

Filed under: homeschooling — jps23 @ 4:24 pm

It’s the first week of August, and my nephews and niece started school this week.  My two other nephews start school next week.  Wow.  It’s still in the 90’s here in Georgia and the kids are already back in school.  I can’t imagine how hard it is for them to shift gears between the swimming pool and the cafeteria.

We will be “starting school” in September, right after Labor Day.  What’s with the quotation marks, you ask?  Do you not feel like your school is real school?  Let me explain my quotation marks.  Superman and I are lifelong learners.  I talked a little about that in this post.  Our kids love to learn, too, because learning at home is fun!  They aren’t reading information out of a textbook that they have to turn around and memorize for a test.  They are learning through every day experiences around here and out in the world.  SM and I are intentional in that venture.  “Did you notice that?”  “Do you know why they do it that way?”  “Why do you think it works like that?”  These are all questions we ask, IF they don’t ask first!  So while we aren’t doing structured academic instruction right now, they have been learning.  They sit and write their names or alphabet for fun.  I think Smiley, the three year old, knows how to spell his name because Picasso, the eight year old, loves writing and drawing so much and has worked with him on the letters in his name over the summer.  We love to learn through real life experiences!  Which is why the curriculum list I am about to share with you is not long and overly extensive, like most.  I don’t know how some of these homeschooling mamas keep up with it all!  Anyhow, the following is a list of resources I will be using this school year, starting after Labor Day:

  • Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration– This is a brand new curriculum that is based on the works of Ruth Beechick and has a very heavy Charlotte Mason element.  It covers history, geography, science, language skills, and art.  It uses nature study, narration and dictation, living books (aka real books vs textbooks), and copywork.  Charlotte Mason encourages the language skills in a more formal manner later, so that learning mechanics doesn’t get in the way of learning content.  Her approach encourages children to learn through reading quality literature with examples of good mechanics.  This curriculum also includes ready-made lesson plans, which I struggled over allowing myself to use.  I have a degree in doing that stuff, so I don’t need to pay someone for that kind of thing.  However, I am at a busy season in life with four young, wild boys in addition to my three creative girls, so I’m letting that one go.  I don’t have to do it all.  The other great thing about this curriculum is that it focuses on teaching critical thinking skills.  It isn’t just cramming our kids’ heads with knowledge.  This curriculum starts with US history and moves into world history next year.  It has a Bible component available, but we ave something for Bible already.
  • My Father’s World (1st grade curriculum)– I purchased this to use with Picasso two years ago, and wound up not using it to its full capacity.  I will be using the Bible element of the curriculum for our Bible instruction.  We will be starting a time line notebook to use throughout our schooling, adding our history from POE to it, as well.
  • Math- This is the area where I am winging it this year.  I looked at two particular curricula that were very hands-on and concrete, which is what Cowgirl needs, especially.  I already have the manipulatives, and the workbooks were simply white sheets of paper with practice problems.  The girls are also in three different places, with one beginning double-digit addition and subtraction, one still mastering that concept, and one that is beginning to understand multiplication.  I have a variety of resources that I will pull together to get them through math this year.  It’s one of my strong subjects, so I’m not real worried about getting it right.  This is an area where I am saying not to $100+ curriculum that does what I can do on my own.
  • We will be starting the year with some music theory to prepare the girls for learning their instruments.  Picasso will be learning violin with The Violin Book, Cowgirl wants to learn (you guessed it) guitar, and Mary Lou wants to learn the recorder in preparation for learning the flute.  I hope for the three of them to also learn piano, but I’m not sure if I will do private lessons or just purchase a curriculum for this.  SM and I are band nerds, but neither of us plays piano.
  • We will do picture study (art), music study (composers), and handicrafts, in keeping with Charlotte Mason’s ideas for learning.  We will also play outside daily for PE, take trips for nature study so we don’t over study our own backyard, and learn skills pertaining to health and self-care on a daily basis.
  • The boys will be doing a few different things.  They’ll attend some of what the girls are doing, especially Bible, and a good deal of their instruction will come from the 1+1+1 blog.  She has wonderful, practical ideas that we started using two years ago.  I also found a great study of the alphabet for free from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  It is AWESOME!  And did I mention it is free???  Earnhart and Smiley already know their letters, upper and lower, and their sounds, so we have a head start, but at this age, repetition is key.  It will help Dozer learn more of his letters (I was surprised the other day to learn that he knows some already), too.  Earnhart is a preschooler by age, so his stuff will be a little more advanced than the other boys’ stuff.

To you non-homeschoolers, this might seem like a lot.  However, visit many hs’ers blogs and you will find a curriculum list a mile long.  No thank you.  That is not for us.  I love the ideas of Charlotte Mason, and all that I am using has a foundation in CM.  I am looking forward to beginning the school year.  The kids ask me on a regular basis when we are going to “start our homeschool”.  It can be overwhelming to think about some days, since my nature does not include the word organized in any way, shape, or form.  I’m working on that, and have been for a while.  But mostly, I’m praying about it because it is going to take an act of God to help me get that way!

The Atlanta Botanical Garden, where I plan to take many nature walks with the kids this year!

 

God spoke July 29, 2010

Filed under: family size,homeschooling,Our home,The Siblings — jps23 @ 10:07 pm

We all have bad days.  Those of us with seven kids and those of us with two kids.  Those of us who homeschool and those of us who entrust others to educate our kids.  We ALL have bad days.  So today, and yesterday for that matter, were bad days.  At least today threatened to be bad, until my mother and my best friend who understands and doesn’t ask any questions made it better.  And then I got home and checked the mail, which I RARELY do.  That is normally left to Superman as he pulls up from work each afternoon.  My day was redeemed, people.  God spoke to me in a letter from a friend.  When I say friend, I mean a lady at church that has worked in the nursery with my boys.  When I say friend, I mean a fellow homeschooler on the more experienced end of the spectrum with 2/3 graduated, her girls, with her son in his high school years and not in jail or socially inept.  When I say friend, I mean a Facebook friend that bats a comment back and forth with me from time to time.  We have not spent a ton of time together.  We don’t really KNOW each other.  We are quiet and distant observers of one another.

I have to back up.  To when, I can’t really say for sure.  I’ve always been hard on myself, but since embarking on large family living and homeschooling, I seemed to have increased my own criticism of myself.  I don’t want people to look poorly on life with seven little ones.  I don’t want them to see it as burdensome.  I don’t want my kids to grow up resenting it.  I don’t want to fail, yet many times a day week, I proclaim my failures to Superman.  I can never do enough or be enough for my ________ (fill in the blank).  I do this to myself.  And it seems that Satan is very aware of the Georgia homeschool convention schedule because he starts whispering to me the week of, usually right after I let others know how excited I am to attend.  And yesterday, as I have done in the past, I decided not to go.  Didn’t matter that we had already paid for it.  I was headed to the local Board of Education tomorrow, instead of the conference, to sign up the girls and Earnhart for public school.  I mean it.  I’m not in a very good place right now.  I wouldn’t normally share that with anyone.  Not even my mom or best girlfriends.  I don’t want anyone to say, “Well what did you expect?  You have seven kids!” or “You need to stop having kids.  If you can’t handle it now, then what will happen if you have another one?”  I don’t know why.  It doesn’t really matter if they say that.  I just don’t want to hear it.  So back to the letter.  It was clearly God reminding me that He has called me to this chaotic life, and that I’m not disgracing it as badly as I think I am.  At least that is what I got from the letter.  I am not sharing this to boast or toot any horns.  I am simply sharing this because I want you to know how awesome God is!  My friend wrote this letter a few days ago, before my melt down, and it just happened to arrive today, and I just happened to check the mail.  If Superman had checked it, the letter would still be sitting in a stack of mail in his passenger seat, or the floorboard, some time next week.  I’d like to share some excerpts so you can see how God spoke to me through this letter.  Although I sort of blew our cover last post, I will be using our good ‘ol blog names to protect the privacy of the innocent.  😉

Dear Content (more like Chaos, on this given day) and Superman,

I want to tell you how much I admire your family.  You live what you believe, and that’s not easy to do sometimes, or maybe even most times.  I admire how you have a large family.  I imagine you hear remarks everywhere you go.  I remember when I was pregnant with E (my third, and last), an acquaintance asked me if I knew what was causing it (we get that one quite a bit!), and that was only with a third child!  I’m sure with seven children, you hear that and worse.  But I hope occasionally, you hear better.  I was in a store recently where a family passed by with six children.  I’m certain they were all siblings, and I was fascinated, as I am with your family.  I love to look at each one of your children and see who they remind me of  with regard to their parents and to each other.  Your children are all beautiful and adorable.  I’m sorry I wasn’t at (our church) sooner to keep your girls in the nursery, but I have been blessed to keep each of your sons.

I also admire you for not having air conditioning (….) that will cost $10,000 for you to get in your house.  I think it says a lot about your family that you are willing to wait on it (she’s referring to our plan to save up the money to get it and not go in debt over it).

I also admire you for being a generous, giving family. (We’ve given away two OLD appliances recently, one to her family) You were so kind to give us your spare dryer, and Superman, although dressed for work, you were so willing to help me and E load it onto the truck. (….) Generosity comes back to you and I know that your family must feel that.  It is also very cook the way Content always compliments you, Superman, on how kind and helpful you are to other people, and E and I were able to experience that first hand.

I hope you all have some kind of an idea of the example you are to others, even to me, whose children are 2/3 grown…just one more to go.  I’ve learned a lot just by observing your family.  Staying home full time with children is wonderful, and it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Staying home full time with children and homeschooling them is wonderful, and is also the super hardest thing I’ve ever done!  With seven, it must be very challenging many days, but I know you all are committed to it and I promise I’ll pray for your family every time I think of you.  Hang in there with all the challenges, even with nasty neighbors who complain about your yard and your house.  I’m praying about that, too.

Please remember that we don’t live that far from you, and if our family could ever be of help to you, we will be.  –PH

Heard and noted.  Thanks, PH, for the reminder that this is worth it.  Thank you for believing in my commitment to this for our children, since just this week, I quit believing in it myself.  Thank you for reminding me that all this is more important and impacting on others than a clean kitchen counter would be.  Thank you for changing my plans in the morning.  Instead of meeting with the Bored Board of Education tomorrow, I’ll be planning and learning how to enhance my children’s learning experiences for their own unique little lives.  I can do this.  He wants me to do this, and He just reminded me that I can do it well, regardless of the opinion of my own worst critic.  PH, you were the vessel through which He accomplished this today.  Thank you.  That’s worth a free dryer and then some.


 

I love learning! April 25, 2010

Filed under: family size,homeschooling,S3,Superman — jps23 @ 11:22 pm

Let it be said that I have NONE desire to go back to school (that is the way Mary Lou says “no” in reference to how much she has or doesn’t have of something in particular- I know it’s improper English, but hey, it’s cute).

Tipper and Mary Lou

That being said, I love learning.  I love to browse Barnes and Noble or amazon.com for books on topics that hold my interest.  You’d think that with all the books I have on organizing, I’d be a pro and my house would always stay clean.  The problem is, no one else reads them!  But I digress…

The reason I share this with you is twofold.  Tonight, we started this amazing small group with some friends, Preacher and her hubby.  I never told her story (she is my kids’ minister at church, one of my dearest friends, and a 2010 graduate of our local college about to begin her seminary degree this summer), but part of it includes her finishing a degree she started 18 years ago at a Bible college in Arkansas.  Her father had heart problems that brought her back home and left her without a completed degree.  Fast forward to today, and she is completing that degree at the Bible college where Superman was just offered an opportunity to teach.  I must say that I think she is doing something now she might not have done before, and that God has her right where He wants her.  I can’t wait to see where He is taking her!  Anyhow, she has learned some amazing stuff in completing her degree, and fortunately, she shares a lot of it with me.  One of her professors has introduced her to the idea of forming very small groups called DNA groups, which refers to the fact that with Christ living in us, we carry His DNA.  It is also an acronym for something, but I don’t remember exactly what that is.  I know that ‘nurture’ is the N, though.  The idea is to meet with this really small group and, hold onto your hats, read the Bible.  That’s it.  No books.  No study guides.  No one’s interpretation of the Bible.  Just placing yourselves under scripture and discussing it.  You eventually break off and start new small groups, avoiding the possibility of getting too comfortable and allowing the chance to spread the DNA of Christ.  You assign a few chapters a week from a particular book in the Bible, chosen by your group, and you read it throughout the week in preparation for your discussion.  If all haven’t read, you just discuss but do not move forward until everyone is caught up.  Our group is made up of Preacher, her hubby, Superman, and me.  The best part is that our kids are just playing with each other while we study, and they see us in the Word together and know that it is important!  What an awesome thing for them to share and experience!  Picasso was even eavesdropping tonight because she was so curious as to what could be so interesting.  We are going to start with Matthew, and we’re reading chapters 1 through 4 for next week’s discussion.  Tonight, we just talked about the group approach and why it is a needed change.  We’ve gotten so product driven in Western churches that we are being pulled away from the scripture and the truths that they hold.  I am so excited to take such a simple approach to learning more about Jesus.

My other reason for visiting my love of learning involves homeschooling.  This year, we’ve participated in a homeschool co-op, which was really just a resting place for many of the local parents who were waiting on a charter school to open up in our area.  Needless to say, I’m not teaching homeschoolers at heart, and my girls aren’t being homeschooled because the goal of this co-op was really more about preparing these kids for a public-ed classroom.  Charter schools seem to be a great idea, but they are still public schools.  Now, before you take great offense at my “still public schools” statement, I don’t mean that in any ugly way.  That just isn’t the educational choice for our family.  So, my girls didn’t get the experience this year that they would have gotten at home, and while some aspects of this year were nice, it just wasn’t what it would have been at home.  If this year has done anything for Superman and me, it has affirmed our desires to homeschool our kids.  There are many reasons, which have been introduced on a small scale, but the whole shebang will have to come in another post.

My point…next weekend is homeschool convention weekend, and the bonus is that it is hosted merely 15 minutes away from our house!  The sitters are lined up, the registration has been submitted, and we are filling out our conference planning sheets.  I’m a little bit nervous because it is time to make some serious curriculum choices.  When we were just getting started, it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming because they are little, and well, the best curriculum for little ones involves lots of play.  Now we are at a point where the girls can read independently, which is super helpful, but we are also dealing with three totally different types of learners!  Mary Lou could do workbooks and worksheets, which I’m not a huge fan of, until her little heart is content.  She’s learned very well that way this year, however, this method is the farthest from the best option for the other two.  Cowgirl is very literal, which is very common with autistic children, and she gets bored out of her mind with worksheets.  She would probably do best with a lapbooking/notebooking approach, and even then, it will have to be done in small spurts.  She hates to write, and she lets that get in the way.  If she could dictate to me all day, there would be very little holding her back.  I have to figure out the balance in this.  Learning is the point, but eventually, the girl is going to have to write, so I’m still figuring out this plan.  She also loves nature.  She’s obsessed with animals.  She learns best in this environment, whose only connection to workbooks is that you have to chop down a tree to make a workbook.  Then there is Picasso, my sweet, dreamer child.  Art is her thing.  She’s also so introspective, always searching for meaning in EVERYTHING.  Learning with her is an adventure with few limitations, but a worksheet is the last place she cares to share those thoughts and observations.  I think notebooking is more up her alley, which is kind of a scrapbook of what you’ve learned, because it allows her to be artistic and creative.

Any way you describe them, the only word that works with all three is “different.”  Now, they all three love Jesus, so that’s a start.  All three of them can be flexible (some more than others, of course).  So, I know we’ll survive these differences.  I’m just nervous about honoring and addressing their differences while still being mindful to raise and train them to be well-rounded learners.  Oh, and did I mention that I have four, yes four, boys ages four and under to educate/entertain next year, as well?  I know, I know.  I don’t have to keep them home, and some of you are thinking that if I choose to, I have no right to complain about how hard or tricky it may be to do it all.  I’m just sticking my tongue out at you right now.  Yeah, this is going to be hard, but God wants us to do hard things.  We are never promised an easy, cushy ride.  And if you think that’s hard, examine how hard it is to un-teach certain words and actions picked up from other kids at preschool.  Think about how hard it is to get a sick one to the doctor while keeping the other six from catching what the sick one has.  That puts a large family out of public life for at least two weeks!  Am I complaining?  No, just stating facts.  However, if I wanted to complain, it’s my bloggy and I’ll cry if I want to!  I try not to, as my blog name is Content Amidst the Chaos for a reason.  Digressing again.  Ugh.

Only a portion of the massive exhibit hall

I am not complaining.  I am excited!  I can’t wait for conference this year.  I love the workshops with all the different speakers sharing their experience.  The exhibit hall can be overwhelming, but the great thing is that I don’t have to buy one thing (which is not what will happen, but at least I know that I don’t HAVE TO).  Even the stereotypical homeschool musical family group is a delight to see.  The diverse group of people that gather at the convention seeking the best educational options for their children are different indeed, but with one common goal and mission, causing you to care less that they are wearing a denim jumper made by their 9 yr old daughter and matching their six other daughters.  Endless chess games, overpriced food, the brand new RV parked in the exhibit hall that VERY FEW homeschool families can even afford, the nursing babies, and the smiling vendors.  Ah yeah, it’s conference time!

 

Who are these children??? April 5, 2010

Filed under: homeschooling — jps23 @ 10:08 pm

Now, before I even get started on this post, let me say that this observation is in regards to my family.  I’m not saying that this applies to everyone, so please don’t be offended.  Here goes…

Lately, my kids are acting kind of funny.  And when I say lately, I mean since we started going to school.  Now I don’t know if you’ve read earlier blog entries, but our schooling situation is unique this year.  We are a homeschooling family, but this year we are participating in a “homeschool co-op” through our church’s preschool, which I co-teach.  We have only 10 kids in Picasso and Cowgirl’s class, 11 in Mary Lou’s class, and the numbers are just under that for the boys’ rooms.  And these kids are pretty good kids.  No one curses, spits, or puts gum under the table.  They are wildly creative.  However, we have noticed a few things in the time that the kids have been amongst their new friends.  The first is that they don’t seem to value each other as much anymore now that they have “friends” they see daily.  They already had friends, but these are folks they see at church or an occasional get-together.  Having a friend they see four days in a row tends to lessen their “need” to have one another around.  As a result, they don’t treat each other as kindly, and they are not as patient with one another.  This isn’t anything these other children coerced them to do or anything.  They’ve just kind of re-prioritized their relationships with one another.  They got along better before when they spent more time with each other.  Now, after the weekends or a little school break, they do okay, a little more like they used to be, but they fight and fuss with each other like they never had before having these new friends.  The other thing we have noticed is the little things they’ve picked up on, which seem innocent enough, but they are just earlier versions of the really harmful and hurtful words and phrases people use with each other when they get older.  These are phrases that have never been said here, so I know they picked them up at school.  I also know they didn’t pick them up at church because they didn’t start saying these things until after school started.  Things like “You’re a meanie-bo-beanie!” and “You’re not my friend (buddy, cousin, etc) any more!”  And “poo-poo” is about as common as “and” or “the” amongst three-year-old boys, which I have one of, and his brothers like to keep up with him.  The girls don’t say inappropriate things so much, but they taunt one another or say “I don’t want to see/sit with/play with you anymore!”  One of the older girls’ classmates told a story about his dad stabbing a bull in his testicles, while another of their classmates likes to talk about his penis a little more than makes me comfortable.  And guys, I’m the teacher!  I’m right there, and I still can’t protect them from such things.  I know these kids’ parents a little, and they are nice, kind folks, but I don’t know if they use the same discernment in what their kids watch, listen to, or are exposed to.  We highly restrict what we let the kids watch for a reason.  There is so much that kids are exposed to so early now, and we as parents do it sometimes without even realizing what we are allowing to creep into our children’s hearts and minds.  We are old enough and discerning enough to know what to do with such information, but even we can be cast off track by letting too much unhealthy stuff influence our lives.  Now, I know that the kids will not always be perfect loving angels with one another, but we never saw this kind of interaction with each other before starting school, and while they need to be prepared to deal with stuff like this at some level, some day, I don’t want them to have to any earlier than necessary.  They are still very young, and while we are training them to be strong and bold in character, they aren’t quite there yet.

I am counting the days until the school year is over.  It’s been an experience, and we’ve made great friends along the way, but it just isn’t what our family is called to do.  Maybe God wanted us there this year for a special reason that didn’t have anything to do with us, and our presence was just a small part of a bigger picture.  Maybe I felt like I needed to do this to make paying for two houses possible, instead of trusting God to see us through that part since He opened that door for us.  I don’t know if I will ever know.  I do know that this year’s experience has further strengthened our hearts and minds regarding our decision to homeschool.  Yes, our kids learned a decent bit at school this year, but not all of it was good!  And who says they couldn’t have learned that here at home, and a little more?  We are so excited about conference time this year, and we have already signed up for both homeschooling conferences offered in our state!  Superman has decided to play a bigger role in our schooling adventures, and with the girls reading now, we have many different options in regards to curriculum choices.  Working independently is a huge step and a helpful tool in successfully teaching a large group of children on different levels.  Yes, I will still be teaching them, but there is so much kids can figure out on their own if you let them do it in an environment that honors their learning style.  I’m so excited, I can’t stand it!  We’re working on redecorating and rearranging the room we’ll be using as home-base for school, but we certainly will not be limited to learning in that room alone.  We will find ourselves in the kitchen, outside, and many other places for the optimal experience in learning.  There are no limits!!!  I wonder if anyone will say, “Oh, they are so smart!  They have learned so much at home!”  “School” gets all the credit right now.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see…