GTHBYF ---huh? read to find out

We prayed a family Rosary last night and as always it's a rich blessing to me. Hearing the voices of my children, led by my husband, rising up in unison to Our Father in prayer and asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother, is the most precious thing in the world.

I only wish I could be disciplined enough to do it everyday with the kids. We used to pray it in thirds throughout the school day but somewhere in our busy schedule it got dropped. I know, shame on me. It takes 15 minutes, that is really nothing when you think about it.

I found a solution to getting all our other prayers in though. I printed them, cut them out and matted them. Then I posted them throughout the house in places we are a few times a day - kitchen sink window, bathroom mirror, front door, computer desk. I am finally able to remember them this way. For too long I had them in my binder, my bible or my journal and I just never got to them. Now I say them everyday.

I need to choose a time for the Rosary everyday. I have it on cd.

This week we will focus on St. Michael, dh assigned the memorization of his prayer for the week. Woohoo!! He hasn't assigned anything in, let's see...EVER!

The assignment came as we wrapped up the tea party. Sunday nights are historically family nights for us. In the last year they morphed into tea parties, though my oldest is not terribly found of that verbiage. We don't always drink tea, last night it was milkshakes. We played Dinsey's Haunted Mansion (CLUE), Cranium, and Disney's Trivial Pursuit. (For the record - I get no kickback from Disney) and after our games before bed we prayed our Rosary. Then dh started talking about St. Michael, thus the assignment. It was a perfect night. We haven't done this in a few weeks and the kids have been letting me hear about it. Just goes to show how easy it is to get off track and lose sight of the whole point.

GTHBYF

Get to Heaven Bring Your Family

(not my line, totally borrowed and adapted from a Danielle Bean talk I heard this spring)

My coffee is but a stain in the bottom of my Tinkerbell mug, and it's time to rouse the little girl I babysit and get her breakfast and ready for the bus. My kidlets will get up as she is leaving.

I hope you have an amazing day! It's beautiful here, and I can tell this is going to be a good day. I might even get some painting done :)

Many blessings to you,
Robin

summer school

The drugs have worn off finally, it's 9 pm. It took three pills instead of one to get me relaxed to a point I could have the test. But after the third one, I slept and I was still sleeping till a few minutes ago.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to blog a bit about something ON topic. Summer school.

We will be pressing on through the summer. After giving it some thought I decided we must stay the course. The first 6-7 years of homeschooling we went all year. It was one of the initial principles I wanted to apply. Following the hurricane our school day/year was shot and by summer we needed a break. Then last year it just fell that way, largely without thought.

I prefer to have a year round schedule that allows for long breaks. We take many unplanned breaks throughout the year so it follows in my mind that we have that time to keep us honest.

I also strongly believe entirely too much information is lost over the summer. When I started homeschooling I didn't want to make the public school mistake of spending the first quarter reviewing. I also recognized after the first couple years, how difficult momentum, and organization is to maintain throughout the year. When the summer is taken off you do get that exciting boost at the beginning of the year, that's nice but it burns out by Christmas and January and then we push through to the end, collapsing at the finish line. Last year I ended school, one Monday morning totally unbeknowst to the kids and myself as well. I was just so tired of it all I declared, "guys school's out" sometime in May.

I haven't worked out the year long calendar or given a great deal of thought to how the schedule will look all summer but I know we are holding course.

Breaks are great and necessary. But for my school, I realize now that the long breaks are serving as a crutch, and actually hindering our discipline, progress, and retention. The breaks are like slot machines. The kids are always jockeying for a break, hoping for a break and in my honest assessment they are purposefully doing less and being more difficult in an effort to wear me down to gain those breaks.

I see the negative results of these breaks in their work ethic. They are always watching the clock looking for the time off. They know full well they will not have completed their work by the typical end of school yet they work no harder, no longer. It doesn't effect them. They do not expect me to hold them to their responsibility.

Charlotte Mason speaks of excellence and discipline. This summer is where we will begin to build that element back into our school. If the kids worked their best, they would have a much easier time of each day, as opposed to dragging out work some days or being difficult with me, distracting their siblings, etc.

For my part I fall behind on grading, forget where we were in Algebra and have to review everything to be able to teach effectively. The classroom gets disorganized, my desk buried. Then I need weeks to regain my composure and be able to teach again. These unplanned breaks derail me, and the summer buries me. I cannot teach this way another year, I will not.

I believe kids have our number. Like Dobermans they can smell fear and failure and they know when we will not really follow through at least mine do. They never fail to monopolize on my weakness and turn a day that is slipping into a total loss or "off day". It's no wonder they slack off, what's the consequence? The year will be over and they will have no consequence for not having finished. I'll begin working on the new summer schedule next week as soon as volleyball wraps. But for a few pieces I have all the materials, and curricula I need to start next year so as soon as we finish this year we can move on.

It's a delicate balance between enjoying and exploring throughout your school day, and meeting the requirements we've set. It's great fun to trace down a rabbit trail, but knowing when to pick the math up and catch up is important too. Discipline, and self control are central elements to CM, and I am not imparting this properly.

For me summer is a great opportunity. We can chase those rabbits without hindering any book work. We can spend mornings reading aloud under trees, and whole weeks catching up on labs and experiments. We can make day trips to museums, zoos, parks, wildlife habitats, and all kinds of cool stuff. We can make up all that math we slacked on, and not lose any momentum. But my greatest hope is that they will build a deeper level of commitment to their work, and own it, it's their education after all. I will build in breaks this year instead of falling into them out of necessity and I think we will all push harder knowing exactly when and where the breaks will be.

So summer school is the order of the day and I am excited about it. The kids have mixed reactions - one is relieved, he can catch up, one is excited and looking forward to cool stuff and one is skeptical. Those of you familiar with the kids can easily figure out who is who!

I am a fan of year round schooling with lots of planned breaks, and we are getting back to it.

Blessings,
Robin

So you had a bad day...

I've been putting off when and how to share some recent events in my life. Partially because I've been busy but mostly because I wasn't sure if I wanted to, should or could write about it.

Today as I lay on the couch, racked with guilt and trying to avoid tears I decided that perhaps writing about this would bring me some comfort and peace. Or at a minimum allow me to think through what I am feeling.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I go to the hospital for an MRI and MRA, procedures I am all too familiar with. Recent symptoms have caused me some concern, but during our trip to Minnesota I had episode which frankly shook me to my core.

I woke up the first morning at 3 am, with intense burning and itching in my feet, legs and hands. They were not hurting but achy and sort of numb. I soaked them, rubbed them and applied lotion with little relief. I had an extremely difficult time walking and couldn't use my hands a few hours later. I couldn't grip, snap or clasp things, and walking was hard and exhausting. This lasted 3 days, and I was in bed for the duration. The fourth and fifth days I managed with a wheelchair to gain a bit more mobility and my hands improved. The next week I was fine, or right as rain, as my mom would say. It was bizarre.

I avoided doing internet searches and attempting self diagnosis. One, I don't think it's usually a great idea because I know too many people who unconsciously develop symptoms after reading about possibilities online. And two, I needed to be positive and while my gut was telling me this was serious I didn't need to catastrophize it all by seeing page after page of doom and gloom. I didn't go to the ER because I knew from experience that this would call for a series of tests, and specialists and would take some time to work through. I never felt any symptom that was life threatening or I would have gone. I decided to get home to my support, and familiarity and go from there.

In addition to these symptoms I had been ignoring others as well. I have frequent numbness in my face, particularly my nose, mouth and chin. I have had diffiulty with vertigo and have fallen down and even up my stairs a couple times a week for some time. I have trouble getting my hands to do what I want as well and I was chalking it up to developing into a clutz in my mid-thirties. The itching is also frequent in my hands and feet. I even have a bit of cognitive difficulty sometimes making very little sense when I speak, without thoroughly thinking about what I want to say. I use the wrong words or can't come up with the words. More than just not getting my kids names right, which I do all the time!

I have had one similar episode a few years back and these other symptoms intermittently. Our concern is that I have MS, we'll see. I have some heart problems, allergies, surgeries and have had an aneuysm rupture in my brain too so I have, let's say a "colorful" medical history. A history I have chosen to ignore for some time now.

I move most days at top speed, running my home, organizing things and staying right in the thick of life. For a few months I have felt my energy slipping away. I tire easily, and take days to recover from a major exertion. This is not me.

Yesterday Steve and I scored some cheap tickets to a Jimmy Buffett concert in the Lou. After a full day in the life around the house we left about 4-ish and returned around 12:30 am. We walked a mile to the venue from the parking lot, waited online for the gates to open to get good seats in the lawn (which we did!) and then stood and danced for the concert. Today I feel like Wiley Coyote having been flattened by a boulder.

Feeling this way is bad enough. But what is worse, so much worse and paining to me is the overwhelming guilt and worthlessness I feel. I had a long heated discussion with God this morning. I cannot lose the one thing in my life that defines me, and makes me feel worthwhile, serving my family and others. What am I, who am I like this?

The answer is: I don't know. For Miss Control that is a tough pill to swallow. Very tough.

So today is a bad day, I feel bad, I feel upset, I am frustrated and sad. I am going to have to learn to embrace and enjoy the good days, relax and let the bad days be, accept all the help and support of my wonderful husband, children and friends and moreover allow God to redefine and reshape me.

I am so blessed to have this amazing husband, these kids, my mom and the best friends a girl could want seeing me through this time. My cup runneth over, really.

Blessings,
Robin

Nothing compares to you

As women we often torture ourselves through comparison. Most women do this at least from time to time over weight, looks, thighs, and the superficial. Those can be hard enough pills to swallow but our husbands love us, and find us attractive, and we get over it. (Please note: If you aren't getting over it...do so!!)

But the comparisons for me and I think for most of us that really sting, and stick are the ones we make about our mothering, our job, and our homeschooling.

Matthew Kelly says "Be the best version of yourself. Not some second rate version of anyone else." I just have to say AMEN!!!!!!

If you were a new homeschooler and I invited you over to chat, see the classroom, and talk shop as I often do with newbies, you might well be intimidated, course you might not! But like most of you when someone is coming over this place just shines. If you saw my well thought out schedules and chore charts you would be impressed. I would be quick to tell you this is me with my best foot forward. The schedule works most days, when we are busy, only on some days, when it's crazy it doesn't work at all but it's there as a compass and I make my way back to it. Chores usually get done though not necessarily according to my brilliantly laid out plan (if I do say so myself). Some weeks the kids get nothing done till Friday then hustle to have a little weekend freedom. I would also point out that I have been doing this a long time. Nine years. I have been focused on organization and thought of my life's work as a vocation almost that many as well. If I were not doing at least a few things right by his point I'd be pretty bummed.

What you would see if you peeked inside my life, and if I would ask you to emulate one of my traits it would be this, I found what works for me most of the time. Just me. Find what works for you and give yourself time to figure it out. YEARS, not days or weeks by the way.

Then when you do, hang on cause next month it might change! LOL! Sorry it's true. What works changes for me often. I have come to accept the ebbs and flows and I am happier for it.

Be very careful when comparing. It is very easy in this homeschooling community to put others on pedestals. For me it has been truly painful when those I admire, respect and aspired to be like have stopped homeschooling altogether. Or maybe they have left their husbands and families and moved in with a guy they met on the internet - yikes! Maybe they moved into a different stage of life and their situation called for a new direction. Still there is a loss and it's a little scary. As if, wow, if THEY can't make it, how on earth will I?

If you are homeschooling know this life is a brave new world! There is a ton of help, infinite resources, and do avail yourselves of what's there for you. But, when the conferences and expos have packed up and left town and the support meeting has been adjourned, you are the one who has to put one foot in front of the other and walk this walk. Be inspired, have faith in yourself, trust your children, put raising saints as the priority above raising scholars, and then do your best. It will be good enough for your family and merely your desire to please God and live out the life He calls you to, in fact pleases Him. He is proud of you, His Daughter.

Blessings Friends,
Robin

Things I heard from the back seat

On our recent vacation to the Mall of America (courtesy dh's business trip it's a yearly, all expense paid treat) I heard a few things from the back seat that caught my, uh ear.

Things I heard from the back seat:

I want an alien and a hot dog, why can't we go back?

Is this Iowa?

It's not funny, that one really stinks!

Siruis Satellite Radio, a gazillion channels, 8 hrs of Fox News Talk Radio...this is torture.

What's the problem Bear Butts are furry?

Are we still in Iowa?

Why does the cooler have to be back here with the children, when all the drinks in it are for the adults? (just soda!!)

Dad! Please crack the window?! EEEWWW! What did he eat?

"It's a lip, it's a lip, it's a lip, lip, lip. It's a lip, it's a lip, it's a lip, lip, lip. It's a lip, it's a lip, it's a lip, lip, lip. It's a liiiiip, lip, lip lip."

Knock, Knock.

Is Iowa really big or are we still lost?

Mom, you just went.

There is much more to share but I need a little time to get to it all. Right now we are in a Holiday Inn in Milwaukee (work detour for 2 nights). This is my least favorite hotel. All the others are not only beautiful but accommodating when we travel. We have beautiful suites and and moreover they are utterly fabulous. This one is close to the airport and must cater to the business traveler because there is NO Disney Channel or Nickelodeon in the room. Let me clarify, NO children's programming at ALL. I am not a 'shove them in front of the tv' mom, hardly. We brought our school work and have been faithful to it even when I've been pretty under the weather. I have taken them swimming, hot tubbing, played games, you name it, while we are sitting in the hotel all day waiting for Big Daddy to finish work. So this mommy gets played out at several points in the day on a good day and not all these have been "good days" (I'll have to explain more later). I see no harm in serving up some tv time under these conditions. Thankfully we leave day after tomorrow. One full day here is all, whew!

Blessings,
Robin

Alrighty time to share the laptop and get some shut eye.