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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Roles Clearly Defined

I was very amused today to look out the window and observe Patrick and Carter "working" in the yard. They spent a few hours today building a new ant habitat in our back yard. They have built a great mound and dug a trench around it. They sprinkled skittles on the mound to entice the ants to stay put, as well as water in the trench to trap them...haha!
The thing that caught my eye while watching them were the roles that they automatically assumed. Patrick, who is usually the thinker and planner, stood and watched Carter do the digging of the trench. Of course, Carter was more than happy to do this because he is a doer. He loves activity and doesn't need to think a lot about what he is doing....as long as it is getting done. They were both in their elements.
Even when they played soccer, these same traits came out in them. While all of the other little boys were fighting to get their feet..or any other parts of their bodies...on the ball, Patrick was dreaming of ways to work as a team to get the ball into the goal. When he did come up with a plan, he kicked it to his cousin, who then kicked it into the goal. He was more excited about that goal than if he had made it himself. What was Carter doing? He was just trying to get a piece of the ball.
Today, when Madison decided that she wanted in on the building of the mound, Patrick was more than happy to let her carry water back and forth from the house! How does he do it? I should take some lessons from Patrick on delegating!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


By finding a balance in our lives, we find it in ourselves as well. Our children follow our example. I pray that we will find that balance in all that we do and all we set out to achieve, so that they, too, will find it in themselves.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sick Day For Mom/Teacher

One of the hard things about being a full time mom/teacher is handling sick days. I woke up yesterday morning with a fever and very achy legs. Knowing that I had promised myself a full week of school, complete with all of these wonderful ideas for Science and Social Studies, I didn't allow myself to get back into the bed. I got up and pretended like everything was okay. We made it through the morning, had lunch, then...........I was done! My body was screaming louder than my conscience. I told myself, though I didn't really believe it, that I would just take a little time to rest, then finish up with school stuff later. Of course, when I did settle down to rest, I couldn't stop thinking about the dishes piled up from the morning, the unmade beds, and the books lying everywhere. So, okay, I got up and made all of it right...as right as I could with my legs rebelling against every step that I took. When I finally felt like I could rest with no guilt, I realized that school wasn't going to get finished. Jeff called to say that he got invited to go to a revival, but that he would stay home since I felt bad. I told him that the best thing he could do for me was to bring dinner home, which he did. I told him that I would be fine if he wanted to go. With the last meal of the day done, I knew I would be fine. The kids were great. They played quietly and even sent me a get well note complete with a photograph of themselves(Madison has learned to attached pictures to her emails).
My neighbor was home all day with, seemingly, the same thing that I had. Her son was in school, so she was alone in her bed resting with no responsibilities or guilt for the things that were left undone. For a moment, I felt a little envy. But then, as quickly as I felt it, it was gone. I knew that I wouldn't change a thing. I prefer a little guilt with my aches and pain any day!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Help!

I'm a lucky woman. Tonight after dinner, Patrick insisted on washing the dishes while I did something relaxing. He did a great job and totally enjoyed putting food down the garbage disposal. This mothering job is getting easier and easier....and very rewarding!

Before I Was A Mother

Before I was a Mother
I was a wife
Jeff and I had full hearts
And a lot of empty rooms in our home
Rooms waiting to be filled
With the rest of our family
Before I was a wife
I was a student
Struggling through college
Always looking ahead to the day when I would become
Someone besides a student
Forever feeling the need to find that other half of myself
Always afraid that I wouldn't
Living and loving the freedom of youth
Embracing it while, at the same time,
Longing to let it go
Before I was a student
I was a sister
I was a daughter
I was part of another lifetime that is gone
Yet is because I remember it
I was my sisters' playmate as we made playhouses in cotton trailers and cotton fields
Had tea parties under the mamosa trees and learned to swim in our pond
I was one of Daddy's little girls
I was called in for dinner every night by my Mother....my Mother
I am all of these things
I am as much a part of my past as I am my present
My sisters' playmate still lives inside of me
My Mother still calls to me, though I can't yet go to her
I am still a student because I continue to learn
I did become, but didn't quit becoming
The world goes on around Jeff and me
But there is still the two of us
Our hearts are even fuller as we are surrounded by
The rest of our family
I am a Mother
I am the Mother who is now calling to my children
I call to them daily while at the same time
I am teaching them to find their own way
Before they become anything else, they are our children
We are their past, and we are their present
Before anything else

Monday, February 19, 2007

Home Economics

Carter has been asking to do the dishes for a long time. I'm usually in a hurry to get it done and don't want to bother with pulling the chair up and checking behind him and all. Yesterday, I decided that if he were willing to help that I should let him. I ran the water for him and put all of the lunch dishes beside the sink. I turned around to grab a chair for him to stand on and realized that he didn't need one. Furthermore, as he began to wash the dishes, I saw that I did not have to check behind him...he was doing a great job of getting them clean. All this time, I thought it would be more of a burden to let Carter do the dishes for me, when in fact, it would could have been helping me. I was able to have a break from the chore while Carter got to do something that he'd been wanting to do. He was so proud of himself for doing that for me. How could I have taken so long to give him that little bit of joy?!?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today at OurPlace

We finally had a week with few interruptions, so we were able to get some fun things done.
In Science, we studied the Earth's layers, earthquakes, and volcanoes. Luckily, we already had a volcano mold that my sister gave us. Her daughter had used it in a Science project. We mixed red food coloring with vinegar and poured it in first. Then, Patrick sprinkled baking powder into the hole and out poured "red lava".

It was exciting, but we felt we could do better. We headed to the store for Mentos and Coke. We had heard (from Myth Busters) that a mento dropped into a bottle of coke would cause a chemical reaction that resulted in Coke shooting out of the bottle...not just overflowing, but shooting out. Well, we wanted our volcano to have some power. We took the volcano outside and sat it on top of the bottle of coke. We dropped the Mento in and, while it fizzed up, overflowed, and made a nice volcano, we didn't get the geyser that we were hoping for. We went through 3 small bottles of Coke and a bottle of red soda before giving up on the spectacular show. I called Jeff to ask him what we were doing wrong and he informed me that we were supposed to be using DIET Coke. Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!!! So, that was the problem. Jeff came home with a big bottle of Diet Coke. We ran outside with it...didn't even bother with the volcano mold....and tore open our Mentos. Madison unscrewed the lid and we all ran like we were truly about to be buried in lava! Jeff dropped a few Mentos in and we WERE NOT disappointed. That Diet Coke shot 7 or 8 feet up into the air. By the time it stopped, 3/4 of the Coke was gone from the bottle. It was awesome and worth the wait!!
So that was Science today!
Afterwards, we got the journals out so the kids could draw and write about volcanoes. I can find out more about what my kids have learned about a subject by looking at a drawn picture than I can grading a test. I couldn't believe the details on their drawings, like the vents coming out of the sides of the volcanoes and the bits of rock erupting with the lava. Madison also drew a picture of a man tending to his vegetables at the base of the mountain and showed how he was upset because the lava was going to kill his vegetables. She drew this because we learned that the ashes actually create fertile ground for growing plants. I thought it was a fun touch to her drawing. We continued with our study of American government, American heroes, and American symbols this week. We read a lot of history on many of the American symbols and came to appreciate them in a new way. I bought poster board for the kids and poured all sorts of craft supplies out and told them to make a poster about the things that are symbolic of America. I printed out some pictures for them, but encouraged them to draw and do other things as well. As always, it was interesting to see how different they all were. Madison worked on hers for two days....she loves to be creative. If I give Madison a theme and a few supplies, she can create anything.

Each one of the kids also filled in a 4-square grid ( http://www.teachinglearning.com/foursquare/index.php ) in preparation for writing paragraphs/papers next week on "Why I Love America"
The only bookwork they did today were tests and their problem areas in Math. As always, it is hard for me to put the bookwork aside. I'm sometimes too obsessive about the kids completing everything on my daily plan. We've had a couple of hard days this week, and I just wanted to lighten things up and get back to the joy of learning...outside of bookwork. I never have regrets when I do!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentines Day Fun

Jeff and I woke the kids up early to give them their Valentines Day gifts before Jeff left for work. Actually, Madison was already awake...I guess she was excited about her gifts! Of course, they loved their things. Carter had chocolate before breakfast like he does every holiday. Jeff even bought us a King's Cake. He said he was going to get us a Valentines Cake, but thought the King's Cake would be more fun!

We made heart shaped muffins for breakfast and baked Valentine cookies later that day.

In the evening, the kids sang in church with the children's choir. Their cousin, Bailee, sang her first solo and did a great job. Afterwards, we had a little Valentines party for the kids. Then, Jeff and I took our kids out to eat. It was a fun day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Confirmation

This was the headline today on MSN/NBC:

Kans. ed board OKs evolution-centered science
Guidelines backed by conservatives skeptical of Darwin repealed

While at my sister's house this past weekend, my nephew approached me with a question. He wanted to know what I thought came first...the chicken or the egg. I told him that it was simple. God created the chicken first. He told me that at school he had heard that, according to evolution, the egg had to come first, so the chicken could evolve from it. I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. He is from a Christian home and is very active in church. He has been taught creation at home, but was still being led toward questions by what he heard at school.

What happened with my nephew, along with the headline today, is just more confirmation to me that my children are where they should be. Yes, they will face these views out in the world one day. However, they will be older and more grounded by then so that the views may not cause doubt to creep into their minds. I am so thankful that I am able to show them God in every subject I teach them, including Science!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Great Rewards

Saturday, February 10, 2007

First Rodeo

Jeff and I took the kids to their first rodeo last night. Actually, it wasn't a full rodeo, but a bull riding competition. It was kids' night, so there were lots of fun activities for the children. They each got a free bandanna for being one of the first 200 to arrive. The clowns threw beads out and addressed the kids a lot. Carter even got chosen to dance with one of the rodeo clowns. They asked who wanted to dance and Carter stood up and started dancing at his seat. They spotted him and pulled him out to dance with the clown. Carter immediately went into the "worm" dance on the floor. He got lots of attention for that! Patrick and Carter both participated in chasing the calves for $100. Whoever managed to snatch the string of beads from one of the calves won the money. They didn't win the money, but had fun playing. I was just proud of them for getting out there. Madison would have none of that. She was having fun just meeting new friends and taking pictures!

Afterwards, the kids got autographs from the clowns and some of the riders. Before the end of the night, Patrick was asking to go back for the 2nd night of the rodeo. It was a good first rodeo experience for them. I'm sure we will be taking them back for another one in the future!

Days Like This

I so often post the good things that are happening with OurPlace. There are the wonderful experiments and days full of positive learning. Before blogging, I wrote in a journal where I poured my heart out about the good and the bad. Here, I tend to only highlight the good. However, like it is with anything you pursue, there are days of struggle as well as success.
Yesterday was one of those days. I had all three of the kids doing Math at the same time, and it is as if nothing could go right. Carter just couldn't seem to grasp a concept that he has never struggled with and kept getting frustrated. Patrick had to fill in 6 play checks before getting it right and insisted on doing his Math problems in his head. I've told him that is fine, but in this particular case, I needed to see that he knew the process. It worried me that he might not. Madison worked very well, but messed up some multiplication problems that she said she understood. Plus, she was on Math for a very long time.
Now, take any one of these alone and it would have just been a normal part of a normal day. It was just that it happened all at the same time. Also, the boys were both in the frame of mind that they just really didn't feel like doing Math that day. I just felt like I was failing them at that moment. I don't usually have those feelings, and I know that they weren't justified, but they were real.
So, what happened? I finally poured my heart out to them about how I felt. Patrick went in his room for a few minutes to be alone while Ginger(our dog) roamed around wondering what was going on. Madison, with teary eyes and shaky lips, reassured me that they were learning just fine. Carter fought back tears and kept right on working.
How did it end? Patrick came back to the table. We all started talking about the bad direction of the day and suddenly found ourselves laughing....just laughing about it all and at Ginger's confusion from the events of the morning. We were okay.
All of this to say that everyday isn't perfect for us as homeschoolers. The way I felt yesterday reminded me of many frustrated nights doing homework with my children when they were still in school. We don't have those days often now. They are few and far between, but they do happen. I would be sugar coating it to say that they don't. However, we came out of it laughing. The frustration was real for all of us...the resolution of it a comfort.
We struggle
We endure
We laugh
We learn
A hard day at OurPlace is still better than an easy day before homeschooling!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Valentine's Day Party

We met the homeschool group at the skating rink today for our annual Valentine's Day party. The kids all decorated boxes for their valentines and took treats for the party.

There were so many children there. They told each child to take approximately 40 valentines. That wasn't nearly enough. I counted the boxes/bags and there were 90 of them....I saw more come in after that. There were probably over 100 children there in all!

Add the parents into the mix, and it made for a very crowded skating rink. I loved it. I love to look around and know that everyone there is either a homeschooled child or a teaching parent. It is an awesome thing to be in a situation where everyone has that in common. We are so very fortunate to have an organization the size of ours....as active as ours. It was a fun day!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It Begins

This morning when Madison was searching for a t-shirt to put on, I pulled one out of my dresser for her...it fit. She wore it all morning. Then, I put a shirt on to wear out and decided that I would not try to wear it again. The last three times I'd put it on, I took it right back off because it just felt wrong. I called Madison in and asked her to try it on....it fit. She wore the rest of the day. There were a few times I looked at her at church and thought, "Oh no, she has my shirt on." There have been times when she wore one of my shirts around the house...too big and hanging on her as parent's shirts do on little shoulders. However, this time was different. She's growing into my things. She's growing into a young lady. She's growing up.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Our 2nd Home

The kids and I spent the weekend at Vicki's (my twin sister). Last night, Madison and I were discussing how comfortable we all are there. We don't even feel like guest anymore. When we are there, Vicki and her family don't feel the need to entertain us...we are just part of the family. Vicki's youngest child, Landon, turned 4 today. We had his party on Superbowl Sunday. We had lots of food, which her husband made, and a Thomas the Train cake. Vicki didn't invite any outside children because between our two families, we have a house full. Landon had a good party.

Vicki and I took the kids to my dad's on Sat. to visit him and our stepmom, Lyn. We were excited to get to see his new calf....born on Thursday. The kids always enjoy playing at my dad's. There's so much room to run and play. Of course, I like going there because it's always like going home. He still lives in the house that I grew up in.
As always, I have come home tired from the weekend. Vicki and I always stay up too late, but it's worth it to spend time together. It's so hard pulling away from her house, especially when Landon is standing at the door crying. He just doesn't understand why we have to leave.
When we first got to their house, Landon ran to the door and said, "Mama, Sherri's home!" That says it all.