Check out my post on using affirmations to help our children understand God's love!
That's right, that was a Bohemian Bowmans plug!
Check out my post on using affirmations to help our children understand God's love!
This is our testimony. The story of how God took us "from glory to glory", in the most unusual way.
One thing that I love about homeschooling is watching things change over time. When we started our homeschooling journey last September, we were "doing school" in a tiny, crowded rental house, in the bedroom/living room floor (that is bedroom & living room in one), with borrowed books, scanned copies, and free online worksheets. I had no copier/printer, so three times per subject, I hand-wrote out each test, each worksheet, and each grade and recorded them. It was tedious and time consuming. I will admit that for a while there, I really questioned my decision to homeschool (and my sanity). But even while I struggled to find the rhythm of schooling for our family, I had a peace knowing that I was doing it because God had blessed us to do it.
I'm about to tell you how great God is, and how He answered our prayers in such an amazing way. So going back to 2009, I had three children in public school. We had just bought a house within walking distance of a school that we loved, and that our daughter had attended since pre-k. We thought that everything was great. And then something happened to our family that shook us to the core, and tested our faith to the limit. This was such a terrible, unthinkable thing, and it threatened our livelihood, our reputations, and our faith in God. In the process, my parents, who were living in our mother-in-law apartment, felt led to move. They moved all the way across the country from us, and all at once I was struck with the realization that for the first time in my twenty something years, I was so far away from my mother that I couldn't just run to her. We were utterly alone. And yet, God stepped in. Our truest friends stood in the gap and prayed for us. Our family stood behind us to defend us against our accusers. And in the end, justice and God prevailed over all.
Afterward, life went back to normal, but I was much more cautious. I began to pray for God to give me a way to homeschool my children and protect them from the things going on in their school and on the bus, and at the babysitter's. It seemed every day they would come home and tell me some horror story about bullying, cussing, theft, and all sorts of other distractions. I eventually spoke with my husband about the possibility of homeschooling, because it had been a desire for me since before my daughter even began school. I had not pursued it actively, but had been researching it and collecting resources.
At the time that I approached my husband about it, we sat down and did calculations and figures. If I quit my job, my husband would have to make ten thousand dollars a year more at his job in order to pay our bills and still tithe. He agreed with me that the time had come to move actively toward that goal, but we both looked at the situation with doubt. My husband had worked for his company for only two years. And in those two years, he had gotten one raise for a grand total of one percent his income, which was literally less than a thousand dollars a year after taxes! At that rate, some big whig would have to die in order for my husband to even have a chance to make that sort of raise. So we prayed. And prayed. And... you got it.... prayed.
Only a few weeks after we began praying for a way, my mother called and jokingly asked if I wanted to move across the country and live near them. I laughed it off with, "of course I do, but..." But she was serious. My husband worked for a very well-known franchised business where we lived in the South Eastern US, and my mother had just had a chance meeting with the owner of the same franchise business in her own town in the South Western US. The meeting had come by chance, while my step-father went to ask a question about a sign that had been up in their town for a year and a half advertising "coming soon". Meanwhile, the business had not been built, and my parents made a monthly trek forty-five minutes long in order to partake of said franchise's product. So my step-father asks about this sign falsely advertising the business opening, when none other than the owner comes to answer the question. Mind you, the man is at the exact location that my parents are on the exact one day per month that they drove out of their way....
So they begin to talk to the guy about the building of this store, which he explained was being postponed while arrangements were being made for finding proper management of the store. My mother throws in casually that her son in law manages the same business all the way in the Southeast, and this guy perks up...
Mentally prepare to faint, people....
The guy asks where exactly this was, so my mother tells him, and he laughs and says that he had worked at the EXACT same LOCATION fifteen years earlier. In fact, he has family that lives in the same city that we were living in. Now scoop yourself off of the floor. Realize that these locations are 1200 miles apart. And that the cities on both ends of the US that I am referring to have less than 100,000 people in them, so we are not talking huge cities. Now this guy in intrigued, and asks my mother when he can meet her son-in-law to have a chat. So my mother tells me all of this over the phone, and I can't believe it. My parents had already been in the Southwest for a year and a half at this point, and we have not even visited them. I went home and told my husband about it, and of course, he gets excited, but we both think at this point that the chances are slim.
Life continues on, and the possibility of such a grand move slowly faded into the background. And then my mother calls me again. She said that they had gone to their monthly visit to the franchise, and the owner had been there. Not only had he recognized them, but he came up to them and asked them again if we were planning a trip to the southwest any time soon, because he was very interested in meeting with my husband about a job. Again my husband and I fantasize about the imagined adventure, and again we shake our heads thinking it was only a dream. The difference was that this time, we began planning a trip to visit my parents, you know, just in case. I think that the correlation between us in this situation and Gideon with his fleece are far too strong to ignore.
So even with the possibility hanging over our heads, the reality seems so unlikely. And then one day a man came into my husband's place of business and randomly strikes up a friendly conversation with him about the business. They spoke for a while, laughing and enjoying a glass of tea while the man asked him how he liked the business he was in. My husband was honest, and told him that it was good to him, but that he wanted more for his life than that. The man began to tell him about his brother who had started out much the same way that my husband was starting out in the business world, and told him that in a matter of a few years, he was doing so well that he owned and operated nine business ventures successfully, and some of his top employees were making one hundred thousand a year doing something that my husband was making about a third of that for. My husband was impressed and asked the guy what his brother was doing currently... and the guy said... he owns a franchise like this in the southwest... Yes. Unknowingly, this guy struck up a conversation with my husband about the very man that had been asking about him! This is not coincidence.
At this point, we were convinced that this was the way God was choosing to answer our prayers, so we began to pray for clarity and a peace over the situation. We went to visit my parents on our vacation, and met with the business owner. We had been praying for an EXACT amount of money, which was necessary to pay all of our current bills PLUS the cost of having another household in another state, and the loss of my income if we moved. The man met with my husband, chatted a while, bought us all dinner, and then made him an offer. To be honest, the initial offer was not what we were looking for, so we went back to our hotel dismayed. My husband had given the man his references during the interview, and he had told him that he was going to check them. So literally before we even made it back to the hotel, my husband's phone rang. It was the owner. He was calling because he had checked my husband's references and received a glowing recommendation from his boss (whom hubby had already spoken to about the opportunity), and he wanted to rescind his intial offer. In its place, he offered the EXACT amount that we were praying for (and it wasn't a round number, which is what makes it miraculous), PLUS moving expenses paid, and a sign on bonus a few zero long.
We.Were.Shocked. It was exactly what we had prayed for, only 1200 miles away from where we thought that we would get it. The rest is history. My husband moved half of our household to a rental in the Southwest while I wrapped things up in the Southeast. Then I followed him with the children a month and a half later, and began homeschooling. We rented a place for several months, and then we bought our home here in the Southwest!
So even when schooling got tough, I remembered to thank God for it, because He gave us our hearts' desires. And this journey has been amazing so far. I just cannot wait to see what else He has in store for us.
What do you get when you have three children, two parents, and a dinner table? I'll give you a hint, it isn't the boring picture you may have of politely asking someone to pass the peas. Dinner at our house is silly, spontaneous, and ... spirited (Yes! I made an alliteration!)
For instance, one particular dinner this week involved a massive "paper, rock, scissors" competition between all members of the family. It was amazing! Sometimes we have dessert before dinner. Sometimes our daughter "performs" a song for us. Sometimes we just watch movies on the laptop. But we always have dinner together as a family, and we always do it around our family dinner table.
The family dinner is a dying art in many homes these days. I can't say that I grew up in the type of family that had dinners like this. Growing up we didn't even have a dining room table, so our dinners were facing the television in the living room. I won't fault anyone for this, but there is nothing that I cherish more in our family than those moments of smiles, laughter, and easy conversation. Dining together at a table puts us face to face with each other, where we can see the subtle changes that we might miss each day in our loved ones.
When we were a two-income home, dinner was a time to relax and ask questions about each others' days. It was great hearing our children sharing exciting moments and proud accomplishments from their day. Even Hubby and I would chime in with anecdotal moments that we may have had, and sometimes we even had the chance to share life lessons based on our work experiences. Now that we are a one-income family, I already know everything that the kids have done during the day (!), but our dinner time conversation gives us a chance to share what we are proud of from the day with Daddy.
I once heard about a family that, once a month had spaghetti night. Alright, how exciting. (Sarcasm). No, these people HAD spaghetti night, as in OWNED it. Once a month, they would make spaghetti, spread a plastic table cloth over the dinner table, and DUMP the spaghetti into the middle of the table! Can you imagine how much FUN you could have digging into a giant pile of spaghetti? Can you imagine how much cooler that would be if you were a kid? I haven't been brave enough yet to try this, but it has always appealed to my inner child. I just might have to do it.
If you don't already, I'd like to challenge you to have dinner as a family at least five days a week. I know we all have super busy lives, hectic schedules, and gosh only knows what kinds of distractions, but I believe that this one thing could change your entire family dynamic! If you can't have dinner as a family, perhaps get up earlier and have a family breakfast. You can't share the events of your day, but perhaps you can share your dreams with one another. I think that would be a lot of fun!
As a secondary challenge, during your dinner/breakfast/lunch, make sure to be spontaneous! Your children will have such amazing memories of the things that you do and say around that table together. Dinner doesn't have to be stuffy and dull! Make it into something that the whole family anticipates every night.
Now, who's up for spaghetti?
Oh the nonsense that went on in our little school room today!
Today was our first day of year two homeschooling, thus beginning a new chapter in our journey.
I decided to take it easy this week, rather than jumping in head first, just in case the bottom was closer than I had expected. This year we officially have nine subjects, but I am making that easier to handle by breaking up the week into parts, and not testing in all subjects. Today I merely introduced the children to the new year by going over the new rules, new additions to school (computerized learning in some subjects!), and went over the basic direction and contents of the subjects we will be addressing this year.
So our first day went like this:
8:30- Anneliese and I woke, dressed, and joined the world of the living
9:00- We all (well, not Anneliese) had french toast sticks and clementine oranges for breakfast... what, no one ever told you that was brain food??
9:30- I tortured my children, I mean, made them pose for the obligatory first day of school photos in awkward poses against my white walls. I got class, ok.
9:55- My plan to begin school promptly at 10 is shot down with an assault rifle when Eric calls from work requesting his laptop, which is sitting in our bedroom. Crap.
10:05- Bring Sir-Forgets-A-Lot his computer
10:25- Sit down to begin the school day. I scream louder than the baby while trying to explain the day's Bible lesson. Get a sore throat.
10:26- Lay the baby down for her morning nap.
10:27- Return to finish explaining Bible and check the handwriting practice that we do along with Bible lessons.
10:35- When finished with Bible, we move on to Reading, only I have forgotten to copy the pages for that, so I try to talk about what the reading class will be like, since this will be our first year doing it. I copy the pages dark and blurry for some reason, so I end up sitting at their table and showing them my book to do the assignment. They pick right up on it, and I can tell reading is going to be fun for all of us.
10:50- I go through the rest of our new rules, and start talking about science. The kids are excited about it because we are doing Earth and Space this year, which should be buckets of fun. But then I *ahem* burst their clouds by telling them we won't be starting science until next week, in order to keep busy week one more simple.
11:15- It was time for math, and I sat at the table with the kids and went over our new Saxon math book. The kids love how A.D.D. it is, because each day you play fast ball subject change, going over temperature/thermometer reading, time, addition, patterns, a number of the day, and a word problem- all before the actual lesson. This was the main reason I chose this math, but I can see that it appealed to the kids as well. Bonus points because we actually interrupt school each morning to go visit the front porch thermometer. Score one for mom!
12:00- Next we did Grammar, although our books actually say English. I can't keep up. Language Arts? Gah.
Anyway. I had the foresight and funds to buy each kid their own book this year in Grammar/English/Language Arts, but did NOT have the foresight to realize that I can't teach from a book that I don't have. Hrm. So I again sat with the kids at the table and shared a Grenglish Arts books with Julie to go over the preface sort of things. We will be doing Grenglish Arts this week, mostly because the stuff in the beginning is just a brief synopsis of what they will be learning this year, and I don't want to waste a good full school week on it.
12:45- I convulse and fall into the floor with starvation, and the children had to drag me with ropes ala Gulliver's Travel into the kitchen and pump me full of munster cheese, turkey, and bread for lunch. Then the baby wakes up just as a regain consciousness.
1:15- Again, my dreams of a perfectly scheduled school day are struck with a shark pointed arrow when my mother calls to remind me that one of the kids has a doctors appointment at 3. I decide that I want to proceed anyway, and set them up at the computer station. The kids were frothing at the mouth at this point in anticipation.
1:17- I got the kids set up on the computers and we begin spelling and vocabulary (we have a book for it, but the resources online make it less monotonous, and the kids enjoy it more). I've decided that we will be doing Sp/Voc this week, and will be spreading each lesson into two week periods since each word has multiple definitions. In the midst of this, baby has her lunch.
2:20- I shut school down temporarily to get everyone ready to go.
We made it through the doctor's appointment, and then came home and went over History on the computer just before Daddy came home from work.
Then we had cinnamon maple raisin oatmeal for dinner while watching Design Star Allstars on the laptop.
All in all, I would say it was a successful day, if not a little hectic, but isn't that life? The rest of the week holds more subjects we did not even start on, as well as three more doctor appointments! Not to mention the fact that Anneliese is trying to crawl! What am I going to do then??
Ducks in a Row
When my three oldest children were little, I used a hand-holding method that I referred to as the "baby-chain". I would tell the kids to baby-chain, and they would hold hands in a little line beside me,