Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

I believe the last time I mentioned the foster care process it was stalled. At this point I’d say it is dead in the water. Not long after we started the process G’s unit received alert orders that they would be deployed. At the time it was a year out so we thought we’d go ahead and foster for a year until he departed. We waffled a bit, went ahead and took the CPR class, then stalled. Frankly, I realized that as long as G is First Sargent here, he is not really available for family – he’s not ours. It eventually reached a point where I couldn’t even count on him to take B twice a month while I went to Bible study. Therefore, foster care would be all mine all the time.

Now I’m not meaning to complain about G. That is just where we are right now. Not to mention the rough waters we just came through with G’s mom the last few months of ’08. I had to come to terms with the fact that foster care was more than I could handle all by myself, and would add stress to G’s already maxed out life, as well. So, that is where we are. Perhaps after deployment, when G ends his military career, we will begin again.

In the meantime I think prayer and soul searching are in order. We really thought this was where God was calling us, but have found ourselves to be in error. Perhaps He’s just preparing us for something down the road. Who knows, at this point. Our steps have not led where I thought they were going, and I’m resigning myself to B being an only child for a little while longer. And that’s not proving to be so bad, for now.


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Stewardship of my time and home is one of those ongoing challenges in my life. A few days ago I purchased the Motivated Mom’s chore list to help get me on track developing chore routines and stop so much from falling through the cracks. So far it looks like it will help. They’ve thought of so many things that I do struggle to remember, from cleaning the toaster to trimming B’s nails (not to mention my own!). These efforts have kept me from spending as much time in blogland as I used to. Sometimes I feel guilty about that;and I miss reading some of my favorite blogs. But I think I have my priorities straight. I do take some time each day to check on the FIAR boards and ran across this blog-post today: Why Bother? Here’s one quote, among so many wise thoughts:

I want to be a gracious wife, not just a gracious hostess. Not just a lovely face to the public, but a comfort and a blessing to my husband. So, why bother with homemaking? Because God call us to be virtuous wives and He tells us that virtuous wives live in well-ordered homes.

As she says after that, ouch! After 18 years of marriage I still have so far to go. I’ve recently begun a mentoring relationship and often wonder what in the world I’m doing trying to mentor someone else. I may be 9 years older than my mentee, but I certainly very often don’t feel any wiser or more established. Actually, she has four kids, three of which are older than my one, and has been homeschooling much longer than I. And I’m supposed to mentor her?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a beautiful experience and we have a wonderful relationship. Basically, we’re in the same stage of life, and have many of the same struggles and goals for ourselves. We’re walking along side one another and encouraging each other along the way. It’s just that title of “Mentor” that gets me sometimes. I have to remember that it’s not about being perfect or having it all together. I have often likened myself to a cactus. My personal growth at times seems so painfully slow. But I am growing, and God is using me in spite of my many weaknesses and shortcomings.  That is encouraging

These past few months since the move have really clarified my priorities. Through G’s encouragement, I know I should keep this blog. Although I have had to greatly reduce how much time I spend here, and virtually stop reading other blogs. As much as I miss those blog friends, the “real-life” face to face people in my own home and community are my priority. Perhaps in another season, after I grow some more, I’ll be able to spend time reading all those wonderful blogs again. Until then, I am more focused on my family and local community and will write here as the spirit leads.

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I’ve avoided the subject of our application process to become foster parents. Frankly, we have stalled in the process. After completing the classes and the background check (complete with finger prints) and taking the CPR classes, we stalled on completing the paper work. I’ve mentioned before, I think, that G is completely consumed with his First Sargent duties. I have not pushed to complete the process because, really, I don’t want to do this by myself. I want him to be involved; I want him to take the lead.

This week I did inquire about it and he said he wanted to continue the process. The news of the Eldorado case had him thinking about it again. The next day the agency called to check if we were still interested. Funny how that worked. I told them that we had been discussing it and committed to having our paperwork completed by the end of the week. Yikes – that might be a little ambitious. So, will we get it done? Will G be able to shift some of his focus and energy back towards home? I want to be obedient to God’s calling and follow my husband’s leadership. I can’t see the next stepping stone, should I put my foot out and take the step? Deep breath.

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It is almost upon us again! Time to turn off that TV for a whole week and see what happens. Yes, National TV Turn-Off week is less than a month away: April 21-27. I just picked up a great book: 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child from Paper Back Swap. There are all kinds of books like that if folks need help with ideas for filling all that time you’re not watching TV. But I have faith that you can come up with your own ideas – each family has their own unique personality. Here’s another great resource: Unplug Your Kids. Come on! You can do it! And you’ll be glad you did.

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I once made a comment while chatting with a fellow homeschool mom that, in thinking about how we would homeschool, I was somewhere between the classical model and unschooling. I remember her eyebrows going up and stating something about those being on opposite ends of the spectrum. I realized she was right and felt a little foolish at my comment. But, as I’ve been reading further, I am finding some overlap in the different methods. I recently read a wonderful book: Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles. I would highly recommend this book. I gained a better understanding of some of the different methods, and why people choose them.

In this book, Mary Hood and  the Moores writings are in the chapter on unschooling. However, I’m attending a conference by Mary Hood next month which states in the description that Relaxed Home Schooling is NOT Unschooling. The Clarksons have their own chapter, called Whole-Heart Learning, separate from the Charlotte Mason chapter. Yet their books are recommended by others for learning how to implement the Charlotte Mason method. So, now I’m thinking I wasn’t too far off in seeing some good things in classical as well as more relaxed models, and so much in between.

Although I have been inspired and learned a great deal from John Holt, I know pure unschooling is definitely not a good fit for me and B. On the other hand, classical is too school-like for my tastes with all the rote memorization in the earlier years. I have mentioned the Beechick methods before. I really like the emphasis on readiness, and approaching language and math in a more natural manner – much of learning happening during normal everyday living. I love the emphasis Charlotte Mason places on developing habits – I would call it building character. I also love the preference for “real” books over text books. We have already been enjoying some wonderful literature together, thanks to Five in a Row. So that seems a natural fit for us.

I have been circling for a while, taking in all the methods and appreciating what is good in each one. But, now I am coming in for a landing around Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason. Although they are not exactly alike in their methodology and thinking, it seems they are very similar. So now my focus has narrowed to learning more about these specific methods and what it will look like to implement some of their ideas in our family’s education. I found a local CM group that actually meets once each month to discuss just that – women after my own heart! 🙂 I knew it was the right group for me when, as I approached, I noticed a crate full of books sitting in the middle of the table.

I guess you could say I’ve been living and breathing homeschool lately. I think that will subside as I begin to gather my thoughts and feel like I have some direction as we look toward the more “official” school age with B. That hasn’t been my sole focus, although it’s all I’ve posted about here in a while. I am also reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss for my personal spiritual life (A Place of Quiet Rest) and making fits and starts at a prayer journal. Life is becoming more busy as new friendships are growing and I’m becoming more active in various groups in the community. I guess you could say we’re getting settled here – and that feels pretty good.

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John Holt

John Holt’s book Learning All the Time was a major influence in my ultimate decision to homeschool, and the way I go about it. I haven’t quite landed in the “unschooling” camp, but still look to the father of unschooling as a major influence. I highly recommend anyone considering home educating their kids to read John Holt. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read any of his books, allow me to introduce you. Mother Earth News (NOT one of my regular reads) has apparently posted past articles on their website – from way back. This Plowboy Interview with John Holt was published in their July/August 1980 issue. Grab a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy meeting this interesting fellow who helped pave the way for parents to freely take charge of their children’s education. I can’t express how thankful I am to all the pioneer parents who helped pave that rugged road in the 70’s and 80’s, when it was a tough trail to blaze.

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I mentioned in the last post resisting the urge to launch B into a full-on academic program. I find myself slipping into this comparison habit, looking at what other kids B’s age are doing. And then I start to worry (there’s that gene again) that I should be doing more. Then I start looking up preschool and kindergarten curriculum. In that process I’ll run across an article or two reminding me that I wasn’t going to do that. Here are a couple of my favorite:

These are right along the lines of books I have read by John Holt and Raymond & Dorothy Moore. But even though that is one of the reasons I’m homeschooling to begin with, I still find myself succumbing to that peer pressure. I got really gung ho with B’s FIAR notebook during the first half of this school session, trying to come up with something to go in the notebook every day. Now some of that B enjoyed, and he’ll even proudly show off the notebook to visitors. But it was getting harder and harder to acquire his cooperation in those endeavors. It took a few weeks for that to sink in. But I finally realized I was draining the fun out of our school time. Now we do good to have one or two items to add to the notebook each week.

You see, the spirit of FIAR is enjoying the books together. The lessons are primarily conversational. Oftentimes the subject of a story will lead to more books on a particular topic. Sometimes our discussion naturally leads to writing a story, making a list, or drawing a picture. It’s a wonderful way to introduce so many things at this age, and then see what captures his imagination – what does he want to know more about.

This week we read Storm in the Nightby Mary Stolz. We talked about relationships with grandparents, the difference between the way the author described the beginning and ending of the storm, and onomatopoeia (remembered from another story). We noted the facial expressions in the artwork and B tried his hand at making faces looking different directions. We noticed the quilt in one of the pictures after having read The Rag Coat just last week, and pointed out the different shapes. Today we finished off by reading about thunderstorms and talking about thunder and lightning.

Since I was investigating accredited homeschool correspondence programs, I looked specifically at kindergarten. I had the idea that since any foster kids that come along will likely be in that type of program, I might as well have B do that, too. Of course, reality hit when I saw how expensive that will be. But I also realized that’s not necessarily what’s best for the kiddos. Oh, I’ll do it because I have to for the foster kids. But I don’t have to go that route for B.

So, here’s what I’m thinking, so far, for kindergarten. Of course I have a whole summer to think and plan more specifically, and probably flip flop some more. 🙂

  • Continue Five in a Row (what’s left of volume 2 after this year, and volume 3)
  • Follow Ruth Beechick’s guidelines for K-3: A Home Start in Reading, A Strong Start in Language, and An Easy Start in Arithmetic, AKA The Three R’s
  • B does enjoy the occasional workbook, so I’m considering some pre-writing workbooks: Getting Ready to Write, A Reason for Writing K, or Ruff’s Prewriting Flip and Draw Book – any recommendations?
  • I’d like to do Spanish and found a great Charlotte Mason style curriculum. But that may be more than I had in mind. Perhaps I’ll just check out Spanish books from the kid’s section of the library and work from there.
  • Friday co-op classes – depending on our budget and whether B would be interested in the classes offered.
  • Music – The Pace preschool piano books didn’t work so well with just one kid. I discovered after receiving them they are designed for group classes. In addition I have not been able to acquire one of the teacher manuals. So, I’ll be looking in to what we can do for music. Perhaps one of the co-op classes will cover that base. If not, any recommendations?

I’m sure I’ll ponder this some more over the next several months. For anyone thinking about homeschooling, or if you’re feeling a bit burned out using the “school at home” model, I highly recommend reading these two books: Learning All the Time by John Holt, and The Successful Homeschool Family Handbookby Raymond & Dorothy Moore (anything by the Moores).

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