Time to make the donuts

So we began to pick the school pace back up a bit this week. What a sluggish start we are having! This is precisely why I am opposed to long breaks--- argh!. We have essentially done no bookwork for about 3 weeks or so and it shows.

It seems to me to be principle of discipline. If a lawn goes unkept for an extended amount of time it is a great deal of work just to get back to where it was when one finally gets back around to it. You also cannot use that amount of time to improve it, because so much is wasted on maintenance. Am I right or am I right?

When you waste money you not only lose the benefit of the money, the potential savings but you also lose the interest you would have earned had you done something wise with it.

This reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the talents, Matthew 25:14.

As I reflected on that wonderful lesson in stewardship I could not help but feel convicted about how it applies to the gifts of my children and their education. Ultimately my mission and ministry is to return them to Jesus, teach them of their God. But is that all God is calling me to do? I know it's nothing to sneeze at, but does God want even more?

Is that merely handing them back to God as the last slave did? Is that all He expected me to do with them when I know He created them for great things? I don't think so. I think God uniquely equipped me and I don't think He will be too happy with me if I don't call my children to use ALL their gifts, all their heart and soul to become what He created them to become.

To achieve this lofty goal we must use all our time, all our talents and we must work and pray without ceasing. I don't think He means for me to take the summer off.

Whether He means for anyone else to, well I don't know, if you want me to ask for you I will :)

For me, these long breaks whether by accident or design always leave me catching up and regretting the lost time.

Alright, time to make the donuts...

Great weekend

This was the most amazing weekend. Truly, truly wonderful. We worked and stayed active all weekend and it felt like it lasted forever. Instead of shutting down tonight wondering where did the time go, it feels like a long, long weekend.

We accomplished so much, but rested and relaxed more than we have in ages. We managed a great yard sale and Stu was awesome, totally on board and in a good mood even during the process. Two floors of my house are darned near perfect. Easy, simple, understated, serene, pretty, clutter FREE. When I say 2 floors I mean every drawer, ever corner, every closet, every nook, and if we have crannies they are good to go too.

The basement is largely cleared out but will take a few hours to finish before I can begin painting. I feel a hundred pounds lighter. I was actually dancing around my house today - felt like a million bucks.

Steve checked off a dozen or so little projects off the honey do list and we made time for each other. We had coffee and watched Fox News Sunday.

Tomorrow we start back on a more full time school schedule, I have a busy work week, and more around the house to complete.

It feels so good knowing we did our best and we are making progress, getting closer every day to our greater goals.

I can't wait to start a fabulous week tomorrow! So exciting.

Blessings,
Robin

Yard Sale from...

...hell. Okay aren't all yard sales really that way?

I have dabbled in simplicity. Dipped my toe in the cool waters of minimalism. But this weekend I am doing a belly flopper in the deep end of the K.I.S.S pool. (Keep It Simple Stupid) It begins with the deepest cleaning, most thorough tossing, biggest pain in the butt yard sale ever!

Actually it was supposed to begin today, but I wasn't ready and so I hid under the covers and at my desk while the eager yard sale shoppers rang my doorbell from 7 am - 10 am. Just because I advertised it in the paper!! humph ppl.

I am like a woman obsessed - EVERYTHING MUST GO! If I could get a big blow up gorilla for the roof of my house, I would. It ends this weekend.

The next 5 days of this month will continue to see endless Freecycle offers, trips to the Catholic Resale shop, and listing after listing on eBay. I begin August 1st a new woman. Thinner and simpler in every aspect of my life.

As I have walked around this house, yard, and garage I made a point of touching everything and thinking about it. Do I need it? Want it? Do I want to dust it? Move it? Clean it? Repair it? Patch it? Sew it? Build it? Craft it? Srapbook it? Read it? Wear it? Why do I have it?

I want what we need. I want what we really,really want. Not the little impulsive wants but the bigger wants. We want new lives. We are ready to trade in this one.

We want many more hours of family fun. We want dad to change jobs, stop traveling and do what God meant for him to do. He has a job, a career that supports our family well but this is not his dream. Does he have to work forever and never explore his own passions and purpose? No.

We want a big fat savings account. We want weekends free from chores, yard work, organizing and reorganizing, repairs, and projects. We want dates, fun, travel, and to soak up every good thing God gave us with our children, who are growing up too fast.

We have spent too long saying YES to impulses and NO to the deepest longings of our heart. We, I, cannot be satisfied with this another day. God made us extraordinary and has great plans for us. We have to get on board with his big plans and stop settling for the petty pleasures of the moment and of this little world.

It's the yard sale from hell, because I came to see all this clutter, all this junk as the work of the enemy. A thousand distractions that were keeping us tethered to a small way of thinking. A mindset of waste and excess that is not God's plan for our family. I looked across a garage of clutter and said, "Jesus, forgive me for being such a poor steward of your blessings."

I will do better.

Make me an offer I can't refuse!

a few thoughts on high school homeschooling

For me...

I approach it this way, homeschooling through high school has to be broken down
into components.

Am I qualified to teach high school?

My immediate response is well, I mastered it so yes. I am educated and I found NO material too difficult for me to handle through high school. But it's more complex than that for many and I understand. Typically as a junior, students can begin to take courses at SWIC for example. MANY hs'ers do. They take Geometry, English, Writing, Algebra. This is dual enrollment. I think this is brilliant and is in my top 5 reasons to Homeschool Through High School. If you
have a serious student and your concerns are offering a challenging program this is the answer. This will prepare them well. As for the lower classes 9th and 10th grade, they really are not that challenging.

Sports?

This comes down to one question. Do you have a protege,an athlete or a kid who enjoys sports? If you have a protege on your hands - well you have to really think about keeping them at home and what that means for their potential. Let's face it though as much as dad's wish they were raising the next Tiger Woods, or Tim Tebow they probably aren't. More likely you have one of the other two. An athlete is one who has always been focused on fitness, active, and capable of playing many sports well. A kid who just enjoys sports probably has a favorite one or two and may be very passionate about them.

In either of these three possibilities, the homeschool community will not likely offer a serious program. So, like every other aspect of homeschooling it us up to the parents to locate the resources and make the commitment to give the child what they need. If a child is gifted at a particular sport the possibility of playing in the school system exists but it is leg work, and red tape. Not worth it to me. Intramural sports are available when they enroll in junior college and
frankly the level of play is greater. Walk on tryouts are available and a talented athlete will find a place.

Most kids enjoy local sports clubs, community leagues, YMCA, and when they are in high school if they are good enough they can often play in adult leagues as early as 14. Their skills will increase exponentially in this arena if you can handle them playing with the big dogs.

I think sometimes parents want their child to have the same experience of athletics and competition they had in high school. Team spirit, homecoming, yearbooks, parents tailgating, the t-shirt that has your kids number on it, parent booster club and all. Nothing wrong with that. Homeschooling through high school will not afford you those experiences. If participating in sports in high school is a deal breaker then it just is and no one can make that call but
every family for themselves.

For me, I want to give them a different experience. Popularity was not a goal. Success in a small pond will not be the highlight of their life. No "Glory Days". Character development, faith preparation, life preparation, learning about who they are and what God calls them to be, is the point of these very formative, pre-launch years. And I have to tell you the absolute nonsense, the serious pitfalls to their development, their morality, their path are too frequent and too deep to make it worth it for us. Having said that of course plenty of kids navigate public school and enjoy it. It is simply not something that is on the table in our family - none of the kids ever wanted it.

Responsibility?

Tough one and this is tough love. Kids who get up to catch a bus don't do it anymore happily than our kids being dragged out of bed. My husband has to force himself to get out of bed on time, as do I. Why do we get up? Because we have to. If the kids aren't getting up it's because they don't really have to, do they?

I think a mom on a warpath at 8 am, ought to be much more intimidating than a large yellow bus driving by our house. They need to get up because they HAVE TO, and if they don't obey the rules in the house, they need to feel some consequences that will motivate them.

It's all on mom to run the day, or the day will run over you and so will the kids. Homeschooling moms need to be lionesses not noodles. Loving but fierce, and not to be trifled with :)

There are tons of ideas for getting them up - better & earlier bedtimes, privilege ladders, closing the kitchen, losing privileges, extra chores, getting up earlier and earlier. The method isn't the issue it's the consistency, and mom's discipline - it always is. I know, because I struggle with this like everyone else.

Lastly Social Networking and Community Action?

This is the easiest. There is so much for youth to do and I have yet to have an
organization not be thrilled to have my homeschooler as a volunteer. The key here is finding what the young person is passionate about and then seeking out opportunities for them to work in that area. Not to harp on this theme but again, mom ends up doing the legwork and finding the opportunities.

High school can give the kids all the opportunities we discussed - challenging classes, sports, and social outlets in some form or another, no doubt. It's like a microwave dinner. All the components are there to make a meal and if it's all you have time for or what is going to get the job done, it will suffice. If however you want to seek out the best and brightest choices for your
child as an individual, if you want to create an education that is specific to your child's needs, if you want it without artificial this and that, fillers, and generally stuff that's not good for you...then strap on the apron mom and get cookin'. Home cooked meals are the best right? Home cooked, not half baked, homeschooling through high school is best too.

Blessings,
Robin

Cryin' my heart out

Jennifer (and family) are leaving for her new base tomorrow morning. There is a big, big, whole where she used to be in my life. I know she is only a phone call away, but let me try to explain.

Jen had my back, even if I was wrong, and I would have hers (not that she or I were ever actually wrong, but had the occasion ever arisen we would have never let on to a soul.) I have always said about my grandma, I could lie and she would swear by it. At least in front of anyone. She might find a way to tell me otherwise privately but never, ever would Jen, or my grandma for that matter not have taken my side to the death. Do you have friends like that? They are priceless. Reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Godfather. "Never, ever take sides against the family." Something like that. I would "go to the mattresses" for Jen. (so ya know, that means going to war in the mob. They would buy lots of mattresses for the men to crash on and hold up in a safe house in times of war.) Jen and I have been to war, eh Jen?

Jen has been called my pitbull, not so lovingly by some. What people don't know about her kindness could fill a library. What they don't know about her strength, what she has been through in her life, and how fiercely loyal and loving she is, it's very powerful and it's their loss.

As I have wrestled this week, time and again with the reality that she was really leaving I kept thinking how hard this is. Military life has so many struggles, so, so many. Military wives, and children learn to jump in, make friends but not usually get too close. Sometimes though you can't help yourself. Every other PCS or so your path crosses someone else's and you realize that God brought them into your life for a reason and a season -and you are thankful. Sometimes you make a dear friend for life and you feel blessed. Other times too you make a friend who is like the sister you never had and all you can do is say, thank you God for giving me this gift.

This feeling is familiar. Too familiar. It feels like when I left Carol in Mississippi. Knowing Carol, changed my life. She changed the way I parent, my marriage, my faith. Knowing Jen has changed it again. Her support has carried me through the most difficult two years in my health and some of the more difficult ones in my life. What am I going to do without her?

As a girl, my friendships were whispers, and playing. As a teen, our lives were filled with dramas, love and mistakes. As a young woman in my twenties with young children I depended on my friendships as an outlet to keep me from losing my sanity. Approaching my forties my friends feel like anchors, and I need them, I love them. I treasure them. They are like my Ya-Ya's. Their presence reminds me of who I am.

I am wife, and mom always. But with my friends, I am Robin. It's who I was first. It's who I am becoming again as I move into new chapters in my life. It's just me. It ain't always so polished either let me tell you. It's not always pretty, not always easy to take. Better or worse these rare, wonderful women have loved me anyway. Jen is one of them. I have made her so mad I thought she would throttle me but she would just take a deep breath and tell Susan on me.

Coffee chats that turn into breakfasts and breakfasts that turn into lunches until our husbands and children send out rescue dogs looking for us - those are good times. We have sat in coffee shops, crying, laughing, making scenes all in a span of about 4 minutes. We've closed down restaurants and had to tip the waitress handsomely for holding up her biggest table for 5 hours. We've celebrated and mourned. We've gotten good news and bad. We coached one another through the rebellions of our children and our bodies. We've prayed to hold our marriages together and held on, even when some didn't make it.

We talk about everything, and I do mean everything and we talk about it a lot. There will be a chair saved for you Jen, always at the Cafe. I will miss you so much.

PS.

Oh I'll miss you too Dave
yes and YOU too Adam...geez louise.