Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, E!!

My baby boy is 21 today, and I cannot believe it. Twenty-one years ago, at 8:10 am he made his silent entry into the world. Premature, cord wrapped around his neck, tiny face as blue as a Smurf. The pediatrician who was in the delivery room immediately began resuscitation and after 12 of the longest minutes of my life at that point, he wiggled and made a tiny sound, like a little whimper. It reminded me of the sound a newborn puppy makes.

I was alone in the delivery room since his father had abandoned us months before. I remember lying there looking at this huge clock on the wall, as it ticked away the minutes, tears streaming down my face, and (funny now) steam rising from the oxygen mask. At 8:35, they finally laid him in my arms and he opened his dark eyes for a minute, looking at me as if to say "well I am here, I'm not impressed, and I am going back to sleep"! (He still looks that way pretty often... :-) He then snuggled up to me and slept for the next hour, with a miniature oxygen mask on his tiny little face. I was so worried because he hadn't cried, but believe me, when he woke up he made up for it! He let everyone in the area know that he was there, alive, and very unhappy! But after getting his tummy full and more snuggling, he drifted off again, happy as could be.

He weighed 8 lbs, 2 ozs at birth, and yes he was 3 & 1/2 weeks early. We were at the pediatrician's office for a checkup on his "due date", and he weighed 10 pounds on-the-nose. The doctor looked at me and said "this is what you would have had if you had gone full term!"

The night I was in the labor room, there was a bomb threat in the hospital. I was not told anything about it until the next day, but my family and friends had to be evacuated, and I heard the "bomb dog" walk through. I asked the nurse why there was a dog in the hospital and she said "must be a service animal". Quick thinking on her part! She stayed with me the entire time, which was risking her life had there been a real bomb, but she never complained and later told me it was her duty. That is dedication! I have never forgotten the kindness that she and the others at the hospital showed me that night.

So today, as my baby boy turns 21, I am reminiscing... thinking back over the past 21 years which have gone by in a blur, faster than I would have ever thought possible. We've had our ups and downs, but through it all we had each other and I could not ask for a better son. He is spirited and questions everything, handsome and strong, kind-hearted and chivalrous, born 3 decades too late (he would have loved the 50s), and one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the pleasure of talking with. He is also quick-tempered and grumpy at times (lest you believe him to be perfect!) hates to mow the yard and refuses to keep his room clean, but he has become a young man of whom I am very proud, and I love him with all my heart.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fuss and grump session!! :-)

I haven't posted in so long... When I began this, I thought I would have time and inspiration to write every day, but that has not been the case..... We've had some difficulties over the past few months, but K and I just do what we can, and she has been a trooper. She gathers up her textbooks, worksheets, and pencils, and we go to work. As those of you who know me personally already know, I consider us Lifeschoolers, so using the textbooks is tough for me. So canned and stilted! But I can also see that in our case at this particular point in time, they are serving a purpose. I am so proud of the progress she is making, and the worksheets do help me to document that progress. As anyone who homeschools knows, learning takes place any -  and everywhere, and we couldn't stop it even if we tried! I still believe that the most valuable learning experiences are the day-to-day living which we do.

I hope to have time, energy, and inspiration to blog more often in the near future. Thanks for taking the time to check in with me. I hope you have a great day!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Good Day....

Sunday was a very good day. Seems that those have been few and far between for us recently. Job losses, on-going illness, loss of friends, financial worries, car troubles... We've had our share recently. But today... We had a wonderful church service this morning. Ate lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant - luscious guacamole. Beautiful weather...

In the afternoon, as I was contemplating our homeschool journey and where we've been and where we are going, K was being a busy bee. I was reading a homeschooling book - bits and pieces of it, a section here, a chapter there, not straight through of course - that would be so un-unschooly of me! :-) Any way, I was reading about letting kids be kids and delight-directed learning. Good book. Good information. I am totally sold, of course, but enjoy reading about others who are, too. Reading questions from doubters like HOW a child can possibly learn "everything they need to know" (whatever THAT means!) by unschooling, and "won't children tend to do nothing if not "made" to study????" Things like that. So I was pondering these questions and reading the wonderful responses in the book, adding my own response in my head. During all this, K was busy....

We are "on break" right now (that means I am not counting days or doing any "just in case" documentation), and plan to begin our "new school year" sometime in late June although we truly school year-round. I was reflecting on the past year and trying to decide if I want to do anything differently this year. What worked, what didn't... you know what I mean. So... back to K.....

While I was thinking about all of this, she was on her own. No direction from me at all. Just being a busy little girl. First, she gets out her watercolors and paints a (really good:-) picture...... Then she watches a couple of shows on APT - one about Mozart, another that encourages vocabulary building...... After that, she gets out several bouncy balls (you know, the kind that come with jacks) and discovers the differences in bounce depending on weight and height of release. She is so excited with her discoveries! ...... She then gets out her Wizard of Oz Monopoly game, and cons me into playing "our version" of the game. She was adding up a storm, telling me what I'd rolled almost before I could read the dice...... Then she reads from a Beatrix Potter book (our current favorite!), reading silently and aloud to me......After this, she gets her sketch pad and watercolor pencils out and draws several pictures in the Beatrix Potter style. She is using her beautiful illustrations as a guide....... Soon we decide we want homemade ice cream, so she helps to measure the ingredients and we discuss why we need this one or that one. This leads to a discussion of how ice cream is made and why we need to use the salt, ice, etc. She asked if that is how the "store bought" kind is made. We do a little Internet research (at her request) about it while the freezer is spinning, and I learn some things too! I tell her stories about when I was little and we made ice cream with a hand crank freezer, and how all the cousins would take turns. And how sad I would be if the adults decided to make Black Walnut - ick!..... After the ice cream is all eaten up - yummy and NOT black walnut :-)!! - she went out on the front porch to brush and play with her cat. Shadow was a fur ball this winter, and is shedding like crazy and appreciates the grooming! This led to a discussion about why animals shed and questions about us - do we shed? - and discussions about animal care. Then after supper, which she helped prepare, she and her brother ate fresh fruit which led to a discussion about where the fruit came from (strawberries, peaches, kiwi) and how it is grown and shipped.

All of these "learning opportunities" - Art - painting, drawing and appreciation; Music - history and appreciation; Vocabulary building; Reading; Science - chemistry, biology, plant life, animal care, etc; Math - adding, prediction; Family history; Daily living skills; and others I am probably missing, occurred without any prompts from me. No lesson plans, no testing, no grades... just wonderful learning experiences in the course of a wonderful day. Learning which happens in a natural way, about topics that are important to her, without any coercion or timeline. How much more effective can education be? How can ANY one believe that children will not or cannot learn when left to their own devices??? I don't know how to STOP children from learning, other than by making it drudgery. And even then, most will still learn in spite of that, because they will continue to learn the things which are important to them... Lifeschooling, Unschooling, Delight Directed, Child Led, World Schooling, Real Life Education..... Whichever label you choose to use.... IT WORKS!! Try it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised! I LOVE Lifeschooling!! It was a very Good Day! :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Out there" doesn't come close....

I am sitting here at my desk, shaking my head. I just read an article about what some women feel is the "new" job for all the mothers who find themselves unemployed. The "new" job is.......... being a mother. Does this strike anyone else as ludicrous?? The women interviewed for this particular article - for the most part - were worried about going back to work because they wanted to, and not just for financial reasons.

One commented how "surprised" she was that her 8 year old daughter wanted to "spend her summer" with her mom, and that she was "worried" about being home ALL summer with her children........ WHY should it be surprising that children want to spend time with their parents. Are you surprised by it? I'm certainly not. God intended for children to spend time with their parents, to learn from them, and be guided by them. And why in the world would someone not look at spending time with their children as a gift?

Another mother came to the realization "that she'd always really known" that she preferred to work and was "tired of being home with JUST her children". I find this incredibly sad. I am so incredibly grateful to be home with my children, and often the very best days are when it is "just us"!! WHY does anyone intentionally have a child only to turn it over to someone - most often complete strangers - to raise??? Can someone please explain this to me?

Believe me, I understand all about having to work - a single parent does not have to be reminded of our obligations and responsibilities. But many, many parents PLAN to have children while KNOWING that they will go back to work - by choice or by necessity. Pardon me for saying so, but I just DON'T GET IT....

Another woman quoted in the article knows SO little about her 2 year-old's life (yes, I said TWO) that she had to "get directions from him to find his playgroup room", and the "pediatrician's staff didn't know who she was because they had always seen him with the nanny" when she took her son in for a check-up!! PLEASE..... Does she know ANY thing about her son's life? Anything? At all??

I will probably ruffle some feathers by posting this, but that is OK. Ruffled feathers means we are thinking. If we begin to truly think about situations, maybe that will lead to realizations. And perhaps, just perhaps, that will lead to action. I know that in this case, I might be "preaching to the choir", but some of you may be able to influence other mothers in similar situations. And on those days when YOU think there may be "life out there", please remember that the LIVES in here (our homes) are SO much more valuable than anything "out there" could ever be. In fact, "out there" can't even come close..... :-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Welcome to my pity-party.... :-)

As I write this blog, my little girl is dancing around in her pj's with my sleep shirt over them, to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6. We've been discussing Bach - when he lived, why he wrote the music he did (or why we think he did), where he lived, etc. She has asked some very insightful questions, and is loving his music. We haven't listened to this particular CD in quite some time, and I'm very glad that she found it yesterday! My favorite (tonight :-) is Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. It is so beautiful!

Although I try really hard to not mention this often, at times like this I wish there was someone here to share her with. When she is being so cute and asking such great questions, I sometimes wish that there was someone to turn to and smile, knowing that both of us are thinking "this kid is really something". I wish that she could be a Daddy's girl, as I was. She deserves that. At times, I would give almost anything for us to have a man in our lives who is wonderful. I know how much my children are missing because we do not.

But at the same time, I am honest enough with myself to know what they ARE NOT missing by one certain man not being here - and that more than makes up for the rest. Knowing that they are safe and happy, that they know they are loved without question and accepted for who they are, and knowing that I am continuing my homeschool journey without having to justify it to anyone, even that we can listen to and enjoy Bach without rude or obnoxious comment... those things are very precious indeed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I wish I'd written this!!! :-)

I found the quote shown below and just had to post it here. Ms. Tate really hit the nail on the head with this -- I wish I had written it! She does go on to say that this is not her usual comeback when questioned about homeschooling, and reminds us that it is usually better to answer briefly and walk away to avoid confrontations about something that we know is best. It just puts a smile on my face to know that I will be THINKING about this the next time someone has a snarky remark to make!! LOL

"I don't go around telling folks in my neighborhood or my church, "I don't understand how you can possibly send your kids to public school. I just don't have the patience to get my kids ready by 7:00 every morning and help them with homework for hours every night. How can you really be sure they're learning anyway, when all you get is a report card every 9 weeks? And aren't you worried about socialization? When your kids spend all day in a room with a bunch of other kids the same age, how will they ever learn to function in the real world?" (bold emphasis mine)

"Defending our Decision to Homeschool" by Mary Jo Tate posted on

Can I hear some Amens??

Monday, February 23, 2009

I wrote this blog for a homeschooling site I am on, and decided to post it here, too. Thanks to Deb who encouraged me to do so! This was in response to a question about a "typical" day for homeschoolers, and she is SO right that there is no one "right way" to homeschool. I know I tease people about being overly organized, but I hope they know that I truly believe we all need to do what works best for our families. Just because I am Organizationally Challenged does not mean I couldn't use a little more of it in my life. And just because someone else is super-organized doesn't mean they can't "loosen up" a little sometimes.

Of course we Lifeschoolers truly have few "typical" days, but we do have a rhythm to our lives with which we are very comfortable. Let me give an example. Last week, K and I had two very different days during which we had very different activities, but phenomenal learning still took place........

One day, K got up around 9, and was gung-ho about the books. She wanted to "do school". We sat at our old farm table in the "school room" (one end of our den, which SO does not look like a school room!) for almost 3 hours. She did math worksheets, language arts pages, read several stories from a reader I picked up at a thrift store, did two chapters in a Science book... I can't even remember everything she did. But she was happy and chatty and asking questions.... It was a good day......

The very next day, she got up around 9 again, and didn't want anything to do with any of it. She was a grumpy girl and said I "made" her sit too long the day before, and that we are Lifeschoolers and I knew that we "didn't have to sit and fill out pages to be learning"............ I had to leave the room for a minute to wipe the big grin off my face after that statement! So (after I had sufficiently recovered) I told her that we didn't have to open a book if she didn't want to. Now I may hear a collective gasp at this point, but let me finish!

That day, she read 2 chapters from one of her books (those of you who know me know how she has struggled with reading, so that is a HUGE victory for us!!), then she spent at least an hour with her paints and crayons and colored pencils. When she was finished, she showed me a beautiful card she had made for our uncle who is sick.......... Then she wanted to make brownies, so we did that, and she did almost everything all by herself................. She watched a show on APT, then came and began discussing Greek mythology with me, asking questions and telling me about the show she'd watched. We got on the Internet and looked up some things, read a little about it............. After this, she made our lunch (sandwiches and chips) and set the table. (Not as enthusiastic about doing the dishes... hmmm... guess we need to work on that! :-)............ A little while later, I went in her room to put away some laundry, and she had pulled all her puzzles off the shelf and was busy putting them back together. She had mixed up all the pieces to "make it more fun"! ............ Later, she used her computer that her brother built for her, and played some games and did some writing............... Then later still she built an awesome structure with her zillions of building blocks. The most fun part there?? Knocking it down, of course!!

So - completely by herself and with absolutely no directions from me, she covered: Language Arts, science (chemistry), Math (spatial relationships and computer game), Reading, Art, Composition, History, Domestic Skills, Reasoning, Questioning, Computer Skills.... and probably a lot more that I am missing right now.

The two days I've described were totally different. Yet they each produced all sorts of learning possibilities. If I had imposed my will and made her sit down and "hit the books" that second day, it probably would have been a horrible day, filled with tears (hers) and tantrums (mine). Instead, both days were GREAT. And of course this has played out many, many times over the years, with both K and E. I think it proves that some days need structure, and that many days, we just need to lighten up!!

Have a great day everyone! :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who is your hero?

After we got back from church today, I sat down to check my email. I was reading some of the "top" news stories on AOL, when I noticed a report about the American people and our "heroes". This poll was conducted by a well-known research company, and was done in a random fashion, as most polls are done.

Do you have ANY idea what the majority of individuals - when asked "Who is your hero/who do you admire most?" - said in response? The number one answer was ........... Obama.............. And guess where Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was on that list?? ............ Number 11. Yes, that is correct................ Now, I am not here to debate whether Obama will be a good President or bad.... whether he is a good man, or a bad one.... I'm not going to get political at all. I just think it is a shame and disgrace that the American people - as represented by a sampling - chose a man who very few people had even heard of a year or two ago as their "hero". Now maybe he will do great things while in office. Maybe not. That remains to be seen. But the fact remains that as of now, he's done relatively little, in part simply because he's only been in office for a month!

Now look at what Jesus has done for us..... How many others have died just for you? Who else can forgive your sins? Who else loves you unconditionally as He does? Now I know that there are many in our country who are either atheists or hold other beliefs. But time and again, in other polls conducted at various times, the MAJORITY of Americans have stated that they believe there is a God, and that Jesus did come to live here on earth and was crucified. That tells me that there are many here in our country are believers, if not Christians. So WHY would there be so few who see Jesus as the ultimate hero?

Friday, February 20, 2009

My peaceful planet... at least for now!

Good Morning! I am sitting here doing my "morning thing" - reading the news, checking the email, touching base with friends - and I am struck by the quiet and serenity which surrounds our home. Both of my children are still asleep - they are like their mom, night owls who love to sleep in! E doesn't have class today and doesn't have to be at the station until this afternoon. K is apparently dreaming sweet dreams because she was giggling in her sleep a few minutes ago.....

It occurs to me (yet again) how wonderful this journey called homeschooling really is... it is SO cold outside and the two people I love more than anything are snug and safe, warm and cozy in their beds. I simply cannot imagine a life that involved dragging my babies out of bed on cold winter mornings and shipping them off to an institution. This life we live is so blessed and I am determined to never let it change, if I can help it.

Years ago - when E was in public school for 3 years and I was teaching - we did the mad dash thing in the mornings. I had to be at work by 7:30 and - as I said earlier - we are definitely NOT morning people!.......... None of us enjoy breakfast (unless we are eating out while traveling! :-) but I couldn't let him leave without eating something, so that was always a struggle........... He has always been "hot-natured" so getting him to wear a coat on cold mornings was almost impossible........... Although he was a very sweet-natured child, most mornings were just disasters as we rushed around trying to do everything we needed to before going to prison for the day...... It was madness!

I contrast the memories of those mornings with a morning like today, and it is like living in a different world, on a different planet. Mornings are (usually :-) calm and quiet. We move around and do our own thing until we are awake enough to face the day. Breakfast may be at 9 or 11, whenever we feel hungry. If K doesn't feel like jumping right into "school", we cruise for awhile. Some days we just kick back and see where the day takes us. Our lives are just so much more peaceful and calm and enjoyable now.

I am sure many people would say "but what about the real world????" (blah, blah, blah :-) Well... this is the same way that Eand I homeschooled, beginning when he was 8, and he is completely able and willing to get up and out the door when he needs to do so! He has NEVER overslept when he had class or needed to be at work early for some reason. In fact, he had a 5 am!!!! radio show for several months, which meant my shower-obsessed son had to get up well before 4! I think it is ridiculous that some people feel that our lifestyle is not preparing them for the "real world". My children live and move in the "real world" each and every day, unlike the children who are imprisoned in institutions, segregated by age and ability, not allowed to pursue areas of interests except on VERY rare occasions, made to conform and follow ridiculous rules and regs which may or may not be in their best interests....

If that is the "real world", I am SO very glad that my family does not live in it! Give me the peace and tranquility of a morning like this any day. I'll continue to dwell on "my planet", thank you very much! It gets crazy sometimes, but I wouldn't change it for anything. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Discoveries made.....

Oh I am SO not doing well at the blogging thing! You would think that as much as I love to talk and write, I would be tearing this up. But no - illness, problems, busyness.... all sorts of reasons/excuses for why I'm not doing one of the things I enjoy most - writing. Have to find some "me time" in here somewhere!

Let me tell you about a recent thing that happened to us. My wonderful aunt and uncle blessed us with a trip to the Tampa/St Pete area recently. We stayed in a picturesque little coastal town called Treasure Island, and it was fantastic. This area is what I think about when I think of "old Florida" - the houses were all shades of pinks, blues, greens and yellows. Absolutely beautiful. The town is on an island, and many people walk or ride bikes. There are sidewalks and lanes specifically for that purpose, and many of the locals utilize them. Since it is on an island, there are beautiful bridges here and there, and lots of boats and sea birds. The main part of the little town is so pretty, with a bell tower in the center of the square. As I said, it is "old Florida" but so beautifully maintained, with new developments carefully blending with the old.

The children and I had such a wonderful, relaxing time. We didn't do anything special - played in the pool and walked on the beach. Found tons of shells - for this Alabama girl, that IS something special! We played miniature golf one night under a beautiful full moon and lots of stars. They had live alligators in certain areas of the course, and K was absolutely thrilled! She could not concentrate on playing because she was so excited about the 'gators!! E takes his golf playing very seriously (even the miniature kind!) and was not so thrilled with her inattention. :-) I guess it sounds boring to some, but it was nice to not have to "go, go, go" on this vacation. We relaxed. We talked. We laughed. We had fun!

We officially "took a break" from schooling for a little while, but of course learned so much while we were there. How can you keep from it?? We found a puffer fish which was dead, but we scooped it up and examined it closely - it's mouth looked like a bird's beak! We saw a clear jelly fish which had washed up, and of course were fascinated by the aforementioned seashells. There were thousands of them - it was incredible! We watched the sun set over the gulf every evening with all of the indescribable colors and lights that go with it. I'm still as thrilled as a child when the last bit of light - plop! - disappears into the water! The corals and pinks and oranges that were displayed were simply breathtaking. It was a magical moment of beauty and quiet reflection for us each evening. I'm not sure how anyone could doubt God's existence when witnessing such an event.

This was the first time any of us had flown, and I will tell you - I was NOT crazy about it! We had uneventful flights down, for which I was very thankful. The flights back were a little rougher, but not too bad. (We flew in on the same day as the plane crash in New York which killed everyone on board.) The safety of it is not really what bothered me. It was more the hassle and the discomfort of the trip that I did not care for. I am tall (5' 10", and on the plump side of chubby - being kind to myself there :-) and my son is 6' 5". We take up lots of space and there just is not "lots" of space on airplanes! But the realization I had on this trip is this: Road trips may be tiring and sometimes frustrating, but the trip to and from our destination is always a very important part of our vacation.

Being in the car together for long periods of time gives us a chance to talk and discuss things that we might see or hear along the way. There is a feeling of "we are in this together" that I enjoy. I also like being able to pack anything I want and not have to worry about airport security. (I like being able to stuff my dirty clothes into a plastic bag and not worry about some overzealous TSA guy going through my unmentionables!! Didn't happen to me, thank you Lord, but I have heard of it happening!) I like being able to carry a cooler stocked with drinks and snacks and enjoying them whenever we want.

I like being able to stop when we want to, and not rely on someone else to tell me when I can and can't eat/go potty/stretch my legs... whatever. As a homeschooler, I am not one to "follow the crowd" of course, and I am apparently just too independent for airline sheeple travel. Now don't get me wrong. I totally understand the need for airport security, and appreciate that measures are being taken, but still felt violated by the shoe removal, x-rays, metal detectors, taking away of my bottled water.... I felt guilty without opportunity to prove my innocence! I don't like that they make you throw away perfectly good bottled water, then charge 3.50 for the same thing inside the terminal. I wonder if they just take all those bottles they confiscate and sell them on "the other side"?? I did NOT like the fact that the sour faced TSA lady sent my purse on through the x-ray machine before I even got my shoes off, and that it sat unattended for several minutes!! You ladies all know how we are about our purses!! Our tickets, cash, credit cards, cell phone - a huge part of my life was in that purse, and she sent it on like it was nothing. I was SO not happy with her, but you feel that you can't voice your feelings because they will take you to that "little room" where terrible things probably happen!! :-} I was proud of myself for not telling her exactly what I thought - great self control on my part. Praying "Lord please keep me from slapping this mealy-mouthed person into next week!!" lol........

So, unless it is absolutely necessary, I don't see myself flying again any time soon. I'll take the road trips any day - me and the kids on the open road, enjoying each other, quarreling a little (OK - sometimes a lot :-), asking the Good Lord to keep us safe........ To me, THAT is a vacation! Besides, I need to get my money's worth out of that travel dvd player............... Have a great day! :-)