Tuesday, March 24

The Prayer I've Prayed...

...since about September.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us -- yes, establish the work of our hands."

I can't fully express how the elements of this prayer have been answered, but it's pretty amazing.

  • We feel like the "afflicted" days have been redeemed.
  • We love telling this "splendorous" new story of God to our kids.
  • We take off on Sunday to begin the new "work of our hands."
  • And the days of love and joy and gladness... are nice.

School is out at our house for three weeks. I'm sneaking some work in so they don't totally atrophy on me but it's just a touch and we're looking forward to our field trips as we drive out to Colorado. J's friend's fourth-grade class sent us a "Flat Stanley" that we need to take pictures of with us on our adventure. So, Stanley is coming with us! Should be fun.

I'll see you again after we get there.

Monday, March 23

On HOTM: Stopping Midstream

The lessons of life typically apply across the board. For instance, I learned this lesson in my creative writing classes in college: When you’re writing, don’t take a break at the end of a thought. Stop in the middle. Stop when you get your groove and you have a clue about where you’re headed. Then when you get back to it again you can slip right into the process and move ahead. ...

Read the rest of my post here.

Thursday, March 19

Helping People

To go along with our study of the Presidents (this week it is Coolidge, Hoover and FDR) we are thinking about how to help others. Hoover dove into war relief efforts and FDR did a bazillion thing for the downtrodden through his New Deal policies. Some ideas succeeded and some didn't. The point was that they cared and they did something rather sitting on their bum. This is the character trait I want to instill in my kids.

So, their project idea was to build a facility that would help people in some way. They call it the Lobby. It has a health agency, a supply cabinet, a travel agency, beds and a pool table. The downtrodden can come here to get some pretty specific needs met. We all agreed it would be great have something like this in real life where they can go and feel loved and human during the day.

J turned the project into a media presentation using his mp3 player to do narration. I wish I could post it. It had creative titles and even a dedication to FDR in the credits. Here are some other features though:

The people outside can't wait to get in. (See the guy banging on the window?)

They are orderly, however, and line up at the door.

They check out their pool cues from the front desk.

And they can lay down for a nap

after they take off their hat.

There's a bunch of really funny pictures that are too fuzzy to post. But the whole project just has J written all over it. He loves to do these things.

On top of that we thought hard about what things we can do to help the poor. So, we found some things to give to the Community Warehouse, some other things to give to another family who is starting over and we even called Dad at work to ask him to buy some things on clearance that we can simply give away. Saturday we'll spend time with friends who are leaving to help the people of Bangladesh. I love it when life and learning totally intersect. These are things we would have done ANYWAY.

Tuesday, March 10

Finishing Here

A year ago we were preparing to move. Trying to keep momentum in our schooling was difficult to say the least. First, we looked for months for a house over the river in our favorite city of Portland. Secondly, some vocational things came up that pulled on us emotionally. Thirdly, once we finally found a house to rent there was the disarray of packing and the distraction of getting it all done. And finally, I was deeply considering giving up homeschooling.

Somehow we muddled through all of that and ended up staying the course in our homeschooling. I have to say that I held it all very loosely and just waited for God to say, "Let go." But when our circumstances shook down, I didn't -- it seemed in the boys' best interest to continue for various reasons.

Now we're moving again. This one is bigger... it's not just over the river and there is a real sense of permanence in this move. This time we're leaving our favorite place and all of the support I've built around me. I've been doing this long enough to feel comfortable in my role as a mother-teacher. But am I too comfortable? A part of me thinks that so far I've done my sons a favor by keeping them home because moving around as much as we have would have wreaked havoc on traditional schooling. But how far will the favor take them?

We believe in living missionally... incarnationally. Will they learn to do this in a semi-sheltered setting? Will I be able to speak this greater message to them if they are dulled by my familiarity? Is looking down the road at "how they turn out" the correct perspective or should their transformational experiences of today be my focus? Will I ever be successful to teach that life isn't all about us if I continue to keep us all about US? The most inspiring family I know of runs a ministry here in Portland called Blanket Coverage. From the get-go, they had their kids out on the streets with them meeting the needs of the homeless. Because they didn't live in fear of the suffering that could come of that they now live with the knowledge that they taught the greater lessons of feeling compassion, taking courage, and treating all people with dignity and respect. I want to do that. My boys need me to do that or I've truly failed as their parent.

So, it seems, on several levels we are busy about finishing our life here. Here = Portland, evergreen (!), our co-ops, work, places we frequent, present relationships (which will continue tho the presence will be missed). But here also means what we do inside our family to build up young men who love others. I have no idea if I'm finished homeschooling though I hand-picked the school district we will be living in just in case. Again, I find myself holding this endeavor very loosely -- which we must learn to do with all things.

There will be tears (there already have been... are now). I can't tell you all the fabulous things I have gratefully and painfully learned at this precious stop in our journey. But I'm looking ahead to what things my boys need to learn and maybe the next chapter needs to me more about letting them experience lessons that, when left to me, I'd never have the courage to teach them.

Sunday, March 8

Taking Attendance

Every morning I get out my roll sheet, hold it in front of my face, pencil at the ready, and call out the full names of each of my children. They wait expectantly to hear their name and respond with an exuberant, "HERE!" as I check them off and move down the list.

Yeah... no.

I have, however, always kept an attendance record for various reasons. The biggest reason is because I have this gnawing fear that someone will, at some point, check up on us. Secondarily, as the family memory keeper, I like knowing what we did as we look back at the year.

For most of my career as a home educator I have lived without a feeling of permanence. I knew we could move at any time to any place, so I took it upon myself to do some things that other states might require (such as keeping a portfolio and making detailed lesson plans) just in case I moved to one of them. Similarly, I have never lived in a state that required me to keep a record of attendance, but now I am moving to one so I am pretty pleased that I am already in this habit.

Here is a copy of our current record sheet for one of my sons. The first section is a monthly breakdown of our home activities. I add up all the weekdays and subtract any days we took off, listing them in the middle. Then I tally up all the days we were "on" and total it at the bottom of the chart.

The second section is a list of our field trips that count as a full day of school. They took place on days when we were "off" such as Saturdays or Spring Break (or during an interstate move...you can see I've planned a couple for the end of the month as we make our way to Denver).

These two sections total up our school year attendance. Home learning + field trips = total attendance.

The rest of this document is just FYI to jog our memory that we did indeed do more than just sit and tear our hair out over math every day. The Special Events section and the Extra Curricular section are small proofs to my kids in the years to come that they were more well rounded than the world wants them to believe. These do NOT reflect the only times we left the house and interacted with the world around us. We have done and will continue to do plenty of that.

For those of you who keep track of attendance, what does your record look like?

Thursday, March 5


So, in case I haven't said it plainly enough. We are moving to Colorado to do the exciting thing seen above. (If I was savvy I'd link it to the actual website. No can do.) So, this creates yet one more interruption for our school year. But it's an awesome one so I'm not complaining.

6 more playdates for the kids.
23 days left to pack.
24 days left in Portland.
1 more homegroup night.
1 home inspection.
4 worship services.
1 more chance to preach at evergreen.
1 birthday to plan.
13 more days to work for Target.
1 HOTM submission to write.
1 dentist appointment.
2 more art classes.
2 more Taekwon do classes.
1 more sports class.
11 more days of school at home.
1 good-bye lunch.

Sunday, March 1

It's Different There

Not to perpetrate the stereotype of what the weather is like in Portland or anything but this just made me laugh...

Current:Light Rain
Wind: NE at 10 mph
Humidity: 86%

And the week ahead?


Meanwhile, where our house is it's...

Current:Partly Cloudy
Wind: NE at 0 mph
Humidity: 30%

And the weather will then change to...


I think the high will be 70°F. So much for needing a new raincoat. So long melancholy winters. I will miss you.