A favorite piece of a song: "You've made a life where no one every tells you what to do. Now the only tyrant that you're working for is you. It's never easy, to keep all the promises you make, but no one's gonna get you fired, if you just give yourself a break. And when you feel the weight of the world put your mind at ease, Little Hercules." ~Trisha Yearwood song, Little Hercules.

Most of my pressure begins with one of my own bright ideas.

I think I am learning to scale back, but then I look at the calendar and think hmm...

I decided tonight I will give another small piece. It really is small but I can't tell you how difficult it is to keep carving out things I wish I could do.

I don't compare myself very much. I am more or less on any given day pretty pleased with myself, my efforts and how I do my job.

Going green??

This is how I looked an hour or so ago. Okay maybe not JUST like this but I was green.

My name is Robin and I am addicted to Arbonne.

(Hi, Robin. Thanks for sharing)

This morning while it was quiet and I was sipping my coffee, before the day had taken it's toll, I was feeling extremely lovingly toward my children. (See my morning post)

I still love them of course, but they have driven me a good bit down the road to utter insanity today. I decided this was the perfect time to try my Arbonne Sea Source all over body mask. It's green.

Note: If you want the children to leave you alone repeat this, " I will be upstairs for an hour or so. I will be completely naked and covered in green mud, with all the doors open and I may be walking around.

My skin is so soft and I smell wonderful! I was able to clear my head, refocus, relax, and forgive myself for serving up Cookie Crisp cereal for dinner with toast, yogurt, milk and juice to make it complete.
So this is She-Hulk. I am no longer green but I am completely rejuvenated and feeling like I can actually get everyone through their showers, in bed on time and I may only need duct tape for one of them.
Bedtime shall be strictly enforced.
We are going to the waterpark tomorrow.

Art Appreciation

This is what I am using for Corey's Art Appreciation course. It can be found about anywhere.

This is perfect for colored pencils and in my opinion is appropriate for older kids because it is very detailed, requiring fine motor skills.

There are 60 masterpieces from Grandma Moses to Picasso. There are small color prints inside the front and back covers.

My lesson plan for this course includes, printing each work from the internet in color and a short biograhy of each artist in the back of the book.

I will display one each week. The following is a lesson plan that will repeat weekly for each work.

Lesson 1. (Monday) Copy the artist’s biography on index cards. Observe the displayed original at your desk and begin work on your piece.

Lesson 2. (Tuesday) Continue your piece. Take 10-15 minutes to search the name of the piece and the artist on the Internet. List a few notes on index cards (information not previously included in the artist’s biography). Each bit of information should be on a separate index card. The index card should include the source of the information. (Do not use Wikipedia)

Lesson 3. (Wednesday) Complete your piece.

Lesson 4. (Thursday) Do another copy of the work changing colors and shading. Observe how the tone and texture are changed. Make a notation on an index card about what you did differently and how it affected the piece.

Lesson 5. (Friday) Quiz over reference material and then we will display your work along with the original in the family room.

Each lesson will be placed in a page protector with the original, the student's two works, the index cards and the quiz.

The grade will be based on completion and quizzes. 75% and 25% respectively.

The course is held in a 3 ring binder.


The beggining of my most bittersweet year

Thursday, August 7th 2008

You've got to me kidding me. I am planning on a more low key everything this year.

It was sad to me as I planned out the year marking our school days, holidays, scheduled breaks and all. It was if with a squiggle of a dry erase marker I had gone through 6 months.

I caught myself as I busily marched through the days marking them, adding activities and dental check ups. In only a few weeks my baby girl will officially become a teenager. I joke that she was born one, but she is the sweetest momma's girl. She still sits in my lap and has me rub her feet to help her sleep.

In a few short months, my oldest baby turns 18 and this is his senior year. This is not possible. I cannot be graduating that adorable little boy in the cowboy hat.

I wanted to shred that calendar, cancel all the plans and through sheer determination force time to stand still just a little while. Just long enough for me to hold them.

I know my job, I know the work we must accomplish but more than the work I want to enjoy this last year with all my babies at home.

August 7th 2009

I will have only two students. One will be in high school the other will be 8 yrs old. Don't tell anyone, those are not exactly babies anymore.

Longing and whistfulness has taken over now. My days of school at the kitchen table with a high chair are long gone. I want it all back. It went too fast. I didn't know how much I would miss it. I don't want my baby in college yet, not yet.

This is my life. these children, homeschooling. I know I have many more years left homeschooling but if they go as quickly as these last 10, it will hit me like a tsunami. I can flip the book of my life and read ahead (as I do in all good books). I don't know the details but I know it's a love story with a happy ending. I just want to savor the middle of the story a little longer please.

This year, I will take more pictures and I will blog everyday about our life together, I'll keep track of these memories that carry my family into a new reality. I will find myself a million times holding my breath, filled with indescribable joy, as my three students sit in my classroom, this last year.

Above all though I have one great joy, a true comfort. I know I haven't missed a thing. I have spent 10 years with them everyday, day in, day out. I had the privilege of sharing all their firsts, their days, their naps, their learning, their friends, their curiosities, their triumphs and failures. I woke them up and spent all day with them. Tens of thousands of hours exploring the world together as a family. Watching their eyes light up in discovering something new. Seeing them conquer fears, or division. We have laughed, cried and I have loved every minute so far.

I am sad to see this last year begin and I will cry a river when it wraps up in a few short months with a graduation ceremony. But I am so thankful we made the decision to homeschool. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I wouldn't give up one moment with these children. They are my favorite people. They are my purpose, my joy, my heart, my love, my beautiful babies.

Thanks be to God for the call to homeschool. It's the greatest joy of my life.

Run with the roses

School Planning, housekeeping and pots of coffee.

Household management is essential to effective homeschooling. A poorly run home will contaminate the homeschool environment. I believe it and over all these years I've seen it, I've done it and I've learned the hard way.

So, to this end, at this time of the year I like to do a new wave of "spring" cleaning. The truth is this must happen several times a year. It also happens before and after the holidays and then again in the spring. It's during these times I like to hit some specific marks. I think we should all mark it on the calendars and adjust the schedule accordingly.

Kitchen cabinets, toys, games, crafts, closets, and drawers get hit. I truly believe it is impossible to maintain organization of the large areas if the details are not tended. If I hit them hard four times a year, keeping them up isn't such a task.

I actually enjoy this, cleaning and organizing. The day to day stuff can become mundane but taking a good look at an area, making it nearly perfect, clean with everything in it's place. It's euphoric for me. I become like a train with no brakes, get out of the way! I want to plow through everything and everyone in my way.

It takes some self awareness in the midst of my cleaning fury to stop and play Hungry Hungry Hippos and Go Fish. To sit and listen to the kids talk and hear about their day. I do stop though and I am always so glad I did. What could be better than sitting in my beautifully clean space with my great kids? Nothing. I put the unfinished portion of the ckecklist out of my mind and sit in the moment. Being simply where I am.

I like the imagery of being like a river, flowing over and around obstacles as opposed to letting them become a stopping point. Going with the flow. I like being in the moment. When I am with the kids, I want to be fully present there. Not thinking about the cobwebs I saw in the bathroom, or the handprints in the hall. And when I am cleaning I like to be fully present there as well and not feeling guitly that the kids miss me and not thinking about whatever is not done.

Each item I accomplish is important but none are more so than making time for my prayer and reflection in themorning and evening, time to answer my husband's phone call, spend some time with the kids or read my books at night. It's amazing, how centering prayer and focusing in this way on the priorities increases productivity. When an obstacle arises I need to try to meet it, address and flow with it, keeping my eye on the goal of reaching the ocean and the endless possibilities it holds.

When I am in this mode, the kids can have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner or pancakes and I don't feel guilty. Clearly I am not playing Martha Stewart in every single role in home at that moment. But the priority is not elaborate meals right then. The priority is a temporary goal of heavy duty housekeeping and it's a hyperfocused, brief period of time.

My one constant struggle is giving up the goal of perfection. What's perfect to me, is probably not perfect to anyone else, but even my goal is sometimes unrealistic. I have to constantly adjust my definition of perfect to where we are as a family, what I feel up to and what I have to work with.

At this point in the game, I am making great progress, stopping for friends, and the kids, and for me. Stopping to smell the roses then picking them. They are easy to smell if you run with them in your hand.

more catch up

Almost a week no blogging!

I have been busy preparing and working on school, planning the upcoming year's activities for the events I coordinate and doing some fundraising and volunteering.

There is no limit to the interesting things that happen everyday.

One missed blog day William learned to tie his shoes. It was a very big day. He is 7 1/2. I'm sure by some standards he should have mastered this already. I didn't push or ever make him feel like a dummy. My parenting theory on issues like this or potty training has always been - if they go to college not being able to do _____ call me a failure. I only asked that each time he needed me to tie them he would try once.

He came in and asked me to tie his shoes. I said, "Try once. But let me watch closely so I can figure out what step you might be missing." I did. I asked him if I could show him a couple times where I think it's going wrong. He said "sure."

I showed him twice. He tried, failed. He tried again and got it! He did it over and over and all day long. He was thrilled.

I am careful not to make the kids feel like they are not smart for not knowing something or making mistakes. I strongly believe the best way to accomplish learning - any kind of learning - is to allow the child the ownership. He learned to tie his shoes. I didn't really teach him. I facilitated and assisted the learning but the accomplishment is his alone.

It was the very same with riding his bike this summer, swimming, making his bed and learning to read. This is how I have parented both my older children as well. They are strong minded, confident and capable. They really are something, I am so proud of them.

It's hard not to take any credit, though. Thankfully Steve and I lay in bed at night talking about our day and marveling at these great kids and he tells me, in words that make my heart soar, that I am a good mother and that the kids are as amazing as me - how sweet.

Is there anything else that matters? All I want out of this life is to please my Father in Heaven, to love and be loved by my handsome husband, to be a good mother to these children, to love and enjoy the best friends ever and to someday come to deserve God's abundant blessings.

I cannot imagine living a life of unhappiness and despair, how horrible for those who struggle with life in this way.

I have so much. The joy of seeing my son tie his shoes, or my daughter writing and performing an original song, or my oldest preparing for adulthood. Simple, perfect joy. Loving my home, my husband, my babies. Laughing with girlfriends, good books, music, good food, sunshine, cool breezes, hammocks, dogs, long walks, bedtime stories, lullabies, hugs and snuggles. The love and the happiness overwhelms my senses and overflows in the depths of my feminine soul.

Even in the work, when I am tired or feeling stressed. These feeling remain. Thanks be to God.

the goat that never was

Not blogging for all these days has been like being gagged and bound! I have been held hostage to my responsibilities. It's hard being a grown up.

Where is the drought? I know farmers appreciate rain and water is good...blah, blah, blah. But I am so tired of mowing grass, raking grass, pulling weeds and sweating, I could scream. Would a little drought hurt? When the heck is fall anyway? I am done with summer.

Yesterday I mowed the grass AGAIN. I like the riding lawn mower. I'm good at it. But I was in a tired haze, last week caught up to me. I thought I'd put the beast into neutral but it was still in 5th gear. I took my foot off the brake and slammed myself forward. I cracked my wrist and ankle and my ankle is swollen still. I worked up a gem of a blister raking. I will have a bagger attachment next year.

The kids had to help, especially with my beloved away so I took them for ice cream after we showered.

I called Steve and told him, I'd made an executive decision. "I am getting a goat."

He thought I said I GOT a goat and he said, "you what!"

That seemed like fun so I went with it. I told him yes I'd gotten a goat from Ali at the farm. It was just for the weekend to eat some grass and weeds. I told him the dogs weren't bothering it and it was working out so well.

After saying, "you didn't?!" three or four times and reminding me the neighbors already think of us as 'Hooisers', he told the guys at dinner, what I'd done. They had a great laugh and were teasing him. I could just imagine him shaking his head at me from far away in disbelief.

I finally told him no, I didn't get a goat. A big laugh was had by all.

Now, should I be happy that my husband believes everything I tell him or should it concern me that he thinks I really might put a goat in the backyard?