Wednesday, December 30

EH Best of 2009

These are the top 10 posts that came up in conversations with others this year, things I shared verbally to friends or things that I just spent time chewing on and revisiting.

10. New Year's Interviews: Our simple little family tradition will be something we'll not only appreciate later in life, it makes us giggle now as we compare one year to the next.

9. Thoughts from an Unexpected Place: I love it when inspiration for this journey comes out of nowhere. But I wouldn't call Shane Claiborne nowhere.

8. School on the Road: We made a major life change this year... moved from Portland, OR to Denver, CO. Moved from floating to fulfilling. It's been humbling. This was just a little sidenote as we journeyed along.

7. Picking Up Some Pieces: I am guilty of having tunnel vision in the midst of our year. But we have to continue to be aware of the needs around us or what the heck are we doing this for?

6. Year Round or Summers Off: We have to make these philosophy determinations all the time. If you don't have a solid rationale behind your philosophy it will crumble. Take time to write out why you do what you do and it will shape how well it works.

5. You are Accepted Here Just As You Are: I'm just really, really thankful for this experience.

4. Admiring My Dyslexic Son: Homeschooling has its challenges, but in this challenge it's easy for me to see the positives.

3. Homeschooling When it Sucks. Speaking of challenges... I've added a couple new "Homeschooling When..." articles to the cache this year. This one is getting a little air time outside this blog.

2. and 1. It's a tie. These are the moments we all wait for. The times when our kids follow a passion and succeed. Here are two moments from J & B this year.

Have a wonderful New Year. -- Debra

Wednesday, December 23

Boys and Ballet

I took all my boys to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas yesterday. It was put on by a small local ballet company. I called it a play when I explained it to them because I didn't know how else to describe it. They may never trust me again when I say we're going to a play.

"That was interesting, " said J, "but I'm only saying that so you don't think it was a total waste of money."

"I liked it," said B.

"When is this going to be over?" asked S.

Well, at least they've been introduced.

Sunday, December 20


I just had to move that last post down a bit, lest you think I'd turned into a homeschooling naysayer. Nope, just experiencing a dose of reality.

I can feel Christmas break moving in now. The past two mornings have felt like possibility rather than pointlessness and we are relaxed. Whew.

So, now what?

  • We're going to go check out the Christmas Wonderland at the Bass Pro Shop (?) in Denver today and maybe a living nativity tonight.
  • We have one more day of school to do tomorrow so we can put to bed our unit. We'll actually spend a good chunk of it watching the movie version of our read aloud, Journey to the Center of the Earth. (Which seems like a better idea than watching Elf like my son did during his Friday classes this week.)
  • We're going to see a ballet version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas on Tuesday.
  • I'm contemplating taking the boys to An Interactive Christmas Carol on Wednesday.
  • We were looking forward to a Christmas with just the five of us but, instead, company will be here on Wednesday night. The boys will like that surprise.
  • I'm looking for tickets to go to Portland in February. It will be nice to see some friends and my parents again. If I do this now, I can put the "plane tickets" in the boys' stockings and surprise them.
  • I'm finishing up making something for my husband today and some other gifts for local friends.
Christmas break, seriously, could not have come at a better time.

Wednesday, December 16

Homeschooling When it Sucks

I've been doing this for eight years. In case no one ever told you, I'm going to tell you now:

There will be days...
  • when the children wiggle non-stop and you can't get their attention without use of force.
  • when the desire to organize your tax receipts, clean your tile grout, or finally get to that dentist appointment will seem far more enjoyable than schooling your kids.
  • when your children will literally scream at you, "You NEVER help me!!"
  • when your children will not stop screaming at one another.
  • when you completely agree that public school is really God's answer to ignorance.
  • when the baby/toddler just won't nap.
  • when other people's agendas will take over your day.
  • when you literally CANNOT finish a sentence without correcting someone.
  • when four math problems will take two hours.
  • when you convince yourself that they can still think clearly with a fever of 101.
  • when they just don't get it... for the fifth time.
  • when they scowl at you.
  • when they all ask for your help at once....continually.
  • when they refuse to talk to you at all.
  • when they tap the dang pencil.
  • when you discover what they've really been doing while they're supposed to be completing their computer-based curriculum.
  • when your husband surpasses your skills in housekeeping, because SOMEONE has to get it done.
  • when company asks if they can come in the middle of the school year.
  • when you get an earful of someone's narrow opinion about your choice to homeschool.
  • when you put them in the car for a field trip and they whine because they don't want to go.
  • when your expectations are way toooo high.
  • when your children cry.
  • when you cry.
  • when you say outloud, "I'm done."
It's not every day, but they do show up. When those days come, know that tomorrow is a new day and God can redeem anything.

Tuesday, December 15

The Weekly Task List

I know some of you do this regularly, however, I've never been brave enough to venture far from mom-centric learning methods. Weekly task lists seem to disconnect my children from me and their ability to work independently is questionable many days. Yet, certain events last week got me rethinking how we do this (yet again).

This is our last week before we break for Christmas and it seemed that we had a lot left to accomplish. So rather than rethink it all again I decided to just lay it all out there for the boys. I decided to try the weekly task list.

I wrote out on the whiteboard everything that needed to be finished this ideas, math lessons, vocabulary studies, history thoughts, lapbook, etc.

Then I said, "By Thursday, this board needs to be wiped clean. So, what is your plan to get it there?"

They went to work... BUSILY. They took ownership of everything and we are, indeed, wiping that puppy clean. Cool.

How do you make the weekly task list work for you?

Sunday, December 6

Admiring My Dyslexic Son

Describing my middle son has always been easy for me. He has a good amount of healthy determination. He is a problem solver and loves a physical challenge. When he’s with peers he watches them for a bit and then picks a good one to become friends with. He’s an inventor and a builder. He’s sensitive and compassionate.

And we’ve just figured out that he’s dyslexic.

While I don’t think his dyslexia is severe, it consistently gets in his way: he talked late, he uses nebulous words like “things” and “stuff” when he tries to describe things, spelling is tough, and reading has been a very slow going process.

After reading up on this learning disability I have found out many things about its inner workings. But what’s really been made clear to me is not the severity of my son’s weaknesses but the abundance of his strengths. I’m learning that he relies heavily on context in order to understand meaning. I’m also learning that this applies to more than just words.

He understands his entire world by noting its context. He solves problems by considering the situation he’s in and calling upon his prior knowledge. He chooses friends by first noting their character. He knows how to serve others by picking up on their emotional cues. He can even find all the lost things in our house just by paying close attention to his environment. These traits demonstrate his genius ability to create sense and purpose out of the world in ways that don’t require reading. However, when it does come time to read, he perseveres through it just like any other problem he encounters, by fitting together everything he knows until it all makes sense.

I am amazed at the remarkable strengths this “disability” brings out in him – intuitiveness, creativity, and empathy among them. This new knowledge about my son doesn’t disappoint me in the slightest because I’m confident he has all the skills he’ll need to create a purposeful, productive and fulfilling life in the years ahead. We’ll just cheer him on no matter how long it takes him to get there.

Wednesday, December 2

Focus on Special Needs

Heart of the Matter's December online magazine is now out and it's all about special needs. I didn't submit anything for this one (though we're all about special needs here) because there have to be others who go about this task with a lot more wisdom and insight than I do. After reading a little of this issue, I'm finding that I was right.

Have a look at it here!