Friday, March 27, 2009

Reality Check

It's been getting harder and harder to engage the brain for homeschooling these days. Spring has a tendency to do that at our house. We've plugged away all year and I'd really like to end on a strong note. Today we sat down with all the books and wrote a plan as to how school is going to be completed in the next six weeks for each student. After explaining what needed to be done, I made them sign the page just so that we are all in agreement.

Not surprisingly, this little exercise resulted in a deep conversation and a puddle of tears by mom and girl alike. When we finally came to the bottom of it, my daughter had the courage to say that she felt embarrassed and weak in a particular academic area. She has been asking fewer and fewer questions recently because she is overwhelmed by what she thinks she should know and does not. She lacks confidence because it was never taught.

What can I say? I about melted myself holding my sobbing girl and wanting back the time and opportunities that are now gone. I had just given her a whole big spiel about not talking negatively to herself or allowing her feelings to cloud out what is good and true. "There is always going to be something to learn. You are never going to know everything. You have amazing God given gifts and talents. Some things are going to be harder, but you'll learn. You'll only know as much as the questions you are willing to ask."

If only I would take my own advice.

Homeschooling is hard. No corrupt system to blame. No other students who are moving too fast or too slow. No annoying teacher who just doesn't understand my kid. No excuses for too much homework or not enough time.

So, I'm praying. Asking God to give His grace to this teacher to empower my children not only to learn, but to know....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last week Joseph came to me crying hysterically that he fell and couldn't move his neck. *gasp* His left ear was on his left shoulder and he refused to try to pick his head up. It just hurt him too much. Here's how he recounted the story.

"I was standing on your bed and slipped on the sheet. Then I fell and hit the open part of my neck on your hard pillow (aka memory foam pillow). And now it just hurts!!!"

So I laid him on the floor and considered the options. Thankfully, we were able to get into the doctor within the hour. Since he was basically immobile for an hour he spent the time thinking and chattering. Here are some of the funny things that came out of his mouth.

"Mom, when will my neck go straight again?"

"How am I going to eat now. The food will fall off the spoon! I guess I'll just have to eat lollipops all the time."

Riding in the van laying down on a pillow. "This is like a roller coaster ride!!"

"Why does everything look sideways?"

The doctor confirmed that, yes, Joseph had in fact sprained his neck on a pillow. Wonders never cease.

This has been a week of First Aid. I'm teaching it in homeschool group to 2nd graders. Of course, they just love to tell stories! Johnny was modeling his facial scar for us (complete with gory details) when another little boy leaned in close to my face.

"You have a big scar, too. Right there." He pointed at the vertical line that now resides between my eyebrows.

"No sweetie, that's a wrinkle. A deep, deep wrinkle." *sigh*

Kids are saying the funniest things over at Mary's Tiny Talk Tuesday. Check it out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Spend Challenge- Days 15-23

Well, I don't have much to say other than this challenge has been hard, but good. I've managed to stay away from the bargain browsing which normally results in unneeded spending. Knowing that Goodwill had everything 50% off Saturday and not allowing my car to drive there was no small feat, but I was victorious. I have to admit that I haven't spent $o. I've eaten out a few times with family and friends. But these weren't "I'm desperate and don't want to cook" outings. They were planned and much more enjoyable knowing that it wasn't sabotaging the budget.

We've already been realizing the positives of no miscellaneous spending for the month. The car has less that 500 miles on it for March which equates to less gas and less wear and tear on the vehicle we are trying to pay off. Also, an opportunity for six of the kids to take a gym/swim class for eight weeks arose. There was no borrowing from savings to pay that fee. I've gotten some organization done at home and rid of some things that were just clutter waiting to be moved and picked up again. We are anticipating some home repairs over spring break. Hopefully, it will be nothing major, but it's comforting to know that we can cover the expenses and stay on track with our van goal.

But more than what we have done, there is a heightened awareness of God's provision. Sean has had three extra contract jobs this month that were unexpected. It's good to save and it's good to work. We are thankful for both.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This has been a difficult month for me personally. It's not so much that something tragic has happened in my own life, but rather it has reached in to the lives of many I love. I'll spare you the details, because they are not mine to share.

I had forgotten in the busyness of my home and family, that there is a real battle going on. Real people with real hurts will either find the hope of Christ or the chaos of despair. I've been reminded that Satan is the father of lies and prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour. I've seen the tears of hurt and betrayal. Sin has never looked so ugly to me.

This verse keeps coming up again and again. Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

To realize anew that the LORD is over all these hardships has been my peace. I know that He is just not passively watching over all these troubles and shaking His head in pity. He's not standing by until things get REALLY bad to sweep down be the big hero. Rather He is actively delighting and quieting and loving and rejoicing and singing over those who are persevering in faith through the hardest of times. This has become my joy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No Spend Challenge- Days 10-14

We're halfway through our no spend challenge for the month. There is something wonderful that happens when you know that you could have something, but you are willing to wait for ir or at least willing to admit that you really don't need it. Suddenly, what you already have becomes sufficient. Then slowly your eyes are opened to God's provision and there is renewed joy in knowing that your daily bread is perfect for your daily needs. Even the opportunity for extra work is a gift.

Sean and I have learned this lesson again and again throughout our marriage. We are excited for our children to learn it, too. Earlier this week the girls were wanting to go shopping for some Spring clothes, particularly for some church attire and hair accessories. A few days later Sean walked in with a bag full of things from a student's family. What was inside? The exact items that the girls had desired. No, I don't believe God is Santa Clause hearing our wishes and granting them because we are somehow good. But he is a loving Father who delights to be glorified in our lives, even if it's through a few hoodies and a headband.

How have you known God's provision for your family this week? Please share.

Monday, March 9, 2009

No Spend Challenge- Days 5-9

Well, so far so good. I did cave in a bit Saturday night after picking up Sean from the airport. I so didn't want to come home and fix dinner/clean up the kitchen. I had just finished cooking for the month and was done with that.

On the way home we attempted to go to Steak and Shake with coupons, but the wait looked too long. So we happened upon 96th Street Steakburgers. The sign stated that combos were 1/2 off. We'd never been there before but found it comparable to Steak and Shake. Somehow we saved more than 50%. All nine of us ate well for $20.90. The total saved was $28.00. I really can't think of anywhere else we could have eaten for less.

Our usual Friday night routine this winter has been pizza after the Friday night basketball game. Since basketball is now over, we made our pizza at home complete with cinnamon breadsticks. The kids gobbled them down before I could get a picture. We watched Hoosiers on the laptop with the big speakers. It was a lot of fun.

The girls are itching to go shopping for some Spring clothes, especially ones that they can wear to church. I have some things to return to Khol's as well as a Target gift card that I could use if they break me down. I'm trying to convince them that they can wait, but they are persistent.

So we're almost 1/3 of the way through this challenge. It's going to be interesting to look back and compare bank statements at the end of the month to see how each small amount not spent adds up.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Homeschool Links

I've never relied heavily on the computer as a core component of teaching homeschool, but I have found some great resources lately that have been encouraging to us all. It's great to have a tangible reward to give when the kids complete their work but still need to spend sometime in the learning mode. And it's also inspirational for me to have new ideas and resources at my fingertips to keep things interesting around here. This year has gone so fast. We have will start our last nine weeks on Monday!

Multiplication Games (there will be a day when we don't have to practice these, right?)

Learning to Read Games

Freebie of the Day (a new free download every day from a range of topics- this site is great for providing extra activities for the various national holidays that I've missed in the past)

Reading Assessments (I'm using this to encourage my students to know that they are good readers. They should be proud. I am.)

Music Note Flashcard (The cartoon teacher is a little odd, but the cards work:)

Learn to Type Games

Netflix - We watch instant online movies. This continues to be my favorite when needing to generate a little more interest about a subject. Just last week we were all mezmerized by The Blue Planet after studying about the ocean. I never would have been organized enough to send away for the movie, but with Netlix it's just a click away.

Do you use the internet as a resource in your homeschool? If so, what are some of your favorite sites?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No Spend Challenge- Days 1-4

Thus far the no spend challenge has been relatively painless. I had $20 in my pocket left from our getaway last week and used it for Mom's Night Out and a breakfast meeting at Panera. I enjoyed it to the fullest. Now I am without that cash and three and a half weeks to go.

Sean is gone for the next few days and I can see how this challenge may have gotten a bit more challenging. It tend to slack a bit when he's gone and take the kids out to give myself a break. I'll have to come up with something creative to keep myself busy at home and resist the temptation to run away. Maybe it will be baking, or filing papers, or freezer cooking, or finally organizing our bookshelves like I started to do six weeks ago....

But, for tonight I'm going to sip iced tea, make my friend some birthday caramel corn, enjoy watching "Wives and Daughters" online and sign everyone up for some free birthday treats. That should keep me busy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Spend Challenge

I've been inspired by Amy at the MotherLoad and her journey last month to spend no money outside of the budgeted expenses. At the end of the month she had saved enough money to refinance their mortgage.

We have a goal of paying off our van in May, but I'm quickly realizing this is not going to happening unless we batten down the hatches. Of course there are the usual out-of-the-blue expenses, but more often than not money easily slips through our fingers by picking up extras at the store, a quick run through the drive thru, browsing clearance racks and the occasional stop at Goodwill to "just look". I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

This really is going to be an exercise in planning ahead and resisting temptation. If it means getting rid of our van payment once and for all to give up things we don't really need, it's really not much of a sacrifice. I'm sure my McDonald's diet coke will taste a lot better in a paid for van.

So, I'll be posting quite a bit this month about our successes and failures. I already know that I have a few commitments that will require some cash, but I also have a few gift cards with some remaining value that I think will cover it. Hopefully, in some small way you will be inspired, too.