Tuesday, February 23

Homeschooling When They're Sick

I can handle interruptions – phone calls, emails that need a response, last minute errands. We rearrange things, double-up on work, let projects slide or cut things out.

I can handle vacations – we can choose to take some things with us, or leave it all home.

If the youngest is our interruption because he’s just being ornery I know to give him a nap. If I’m feeling sick I can still direct their efforts. But when the kids are sick I struggle a bit.

Sickness is a strange interruption when you school at home. I keep finding myself comparing our experience to other students’ experience. “What would a public school mom do?” runs through my head. If my children were enrolled somewhere and they came down with a sore throat and a bit of a cough, they’d be staying home… potentially for days. This is not because they are incapable of thinking through ideas but because they are contagious. They stay home for the benefit of the other children rather than for their own benefit. And then have all the make up work on top of it.

However, my children don’t have to go anywhere to learn and their germs are already shared among their “classmates.” So, I struggle with the voices that want to call me “bad mom” when I still persuade them to get some things done.

Granted, if they are feverish and lethargic I don’t assign them anything but rest. But those minor symptoms, that don’t cloud their vision or give them aches, don’t have to get in the way of us making the best use of our time. At least not completely.

I find myself striking a bargain with “the voices.” I watch the kids for signs of coherency and then I direct them toward getting the big stuff done (our read aloud, math, our unit study thought and something language-y) and let the other stuff slide. Even if they are well enough to play with their hot wheels tracks for two hours after breakfast, even if they are well enough to wrestle I still ease up. I’m not certain it’s the best way to handle sick days. I want the kids to know that I care and that I’m not ignoring their discomfort but I also want my lesson plans to speak to me in the morning.

Do you give yourself permission to take the day off? Do you have a hybrid day? Do you log on to the internet learning sites? What do you do when your kids are mildly sick?

Friday, February 19

Review: Mama's Got a Fake I.D.

We had a fantastic 2009. DH finally… finally… saw God move and bring him to a place of ministry that is a perfect fit for him. And when God did that for DH, he also did it for me. You see, I love the church as much as my husband does. Did you hear that? I long to love on her people, serve them, walk alongside them, teach them and see them grow as much as he does. But because I was born in the skin I’m in and because of the tradition I grew up in, I went 32 years before I thought a woman could do those things and still be hanging out in God’s will.

Skipping the long story of all that.

After moving 1300 miles to do this thing that God finally gave us a green light to do, I found myself in a bit of an identity crisis. Because when all was said and done and the boxes were unpacked, dh was finding his groove, and we’d plugged into various places, I still found myself to be the same thing I was when this all started… a homeschooling mom.

Wait! What happened to “becoming myself?” Is this what “myself” looks like? I’ve been doing this for 8 years. Through the entire ordeal of wandering through life, I have been this identity to the core. When it comes to creating learning objectives for my boys, I can fly by the seat of my pants flawlessly. “Well-oiled” describes my prep and planning exactly. I can homeschool in my sleep.

The thing is, I prepped for something more. I’ve prayed for something more. I am one of those pastor’s wives that shares her husband’s ministry 90% (because I don’t know anything about his private counseling times). But I’m not doing the thing that I want to be doing… not even 10%.

Thus, my identity crisis. It’s not been a negative experience. It’s been a time of soul searching and that has been good. It’s been a time of figuring out who God created me to be from the beginning, not just since I had these three perfect little men.

Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira’s book Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. is the plumb line that helped me find my balance. I’ve always known I could be more than just a homeschooling mom but because the hs’ing world really does teach us to forsake everything save our children I didn’t want to rock the boat. (I already wasn’t your typical home educator.) Now, I’m focused on meeting the needs of my family, rather than just my children. In this new equation I get to be included! It may mean looking into other educational options. That's okay. I'm still open to God's best for my family.

“All of us, at one time or another, beat ourselves up because we don’t match some stereotype – instead of focusing on the gifts God gave us to raise our kids as he wants them raised.” I feel that as a home educator I have been using those gifts, but I’ve also let other gifts go unpracticed -- like the one I spent 5 years and all my money to major on in college...and the ones I fostered in 5 years of seminary. I’m not satisfied to let it go anymore. Caryn’s book gave me permission to be who I am, but be it fully. That’s freeing stuff. “Giving up our identities isn’t doing anything for our kids. In fact it does them a disservice.”

Mamas, go buy this. Read it. Chew on it. And let your frustration turn a corner to feed your own personhood and perspective.

Wednesday, February 17

Fourty Days of Writing

I've never really participated in Lent. Our most recent churches have explored some of the practices of Lent... giving something up for the 40 days before Easter in order to encourage discipline and remove barriers that exist between ourselves and God. I've considered giving something up for the past couple years now, but nothing ever arises as "the thing."

This year, I'm going to take something up that is congruent with my current path and, I believe, will achieve the same goal...to encourage discipline and remove barriers. I've been saying I'm going to do this for a little while now and I've even set aside the first six months of 2010 to prepare to do this so these 40 days will be concerted training time. I'm going to spend 40 minutes for these 40 days writing.

I will work on blog posts, articles for my deadlines at Heart of the Matter, journal entries, character sketches, exercises from The Creative Call, or even flesh out a rough outline for a book idea. I may write talks that I'd like to give one day, or just respond to books or scriptures that I'm reading. I have a book review to do as well.

Through it all I hope that what I'm supposed to say becomes clear and a larger work can begin. I also hope that I gain a truer sense of who I am and how I am part of the greater purposes of God.

"Vocation does not come from a voice "out there" calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice "in here" calling me to be the person I was born to be." -- Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, February 9

In The Past Two Weeks

We pressed on.
Sometimes it's all you can do to just keep this learning process going. Someone asked recently, "What's your first thought every morning when you wake up?" Mine is typically, "I hope this works." And we've had bad days and good days in the process of making it "work." something will typically trip us up; sometimes it's me, sometimes it's the kids, sometimes it's the curriculum, sometimes it's the expectations. But we adjust and regroup and find a way to effectively press on. We finished our unit on plants and began our study of the solar system.

We saw God answer prayer.
S fell three weeks ago which resulted in 12-15 stitches in his bottom lip and two slanted top teeth. We watched his lip heal quickly and have been seeing the dentist to watch his teeth. It appeared that they might die instead of heal and would need to be pulled. But we watched them for two weeks and prayed and prayed that God would heal them. And he is doing just that. After seeing the dentist yesterday she doesn't feel any need for treatment at this time. Whew. Can't tell you how great that divine hug felt. On top of that God worked out a little financial hiccup with the dental insurance and it will at least be put off long enough for me to settle our bill next pay period rather than sweating it out right now. I really, really appreciated that.

We took a break.
DH had a chance to audit a DMin class with Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch back at Western Seminary in our beloved Portland. Naturally, I said, "Sorry, Babe, but you can't go without the rest of us." (I could just as easily have said, "Sorry, Bank Account, but he can't go without the rest of us.") And so last week we were enjoying the company of friends and family in the Portland and Albany, Oregon area. My parents love hanging with my boys and all I had to think about was organizing family photos and reading books. The very best way to fight those winter homeschooling doldrums is to take a trip somewhere and leave school at home. And if you can take two of your boys on the plane for the first time in their memory, it makes it so much more fun.

I read a book that gave me grace.
I'll add more thoughts on it soon, but I feel as if I'm at a turning point. It could be a major re-route. It could be a minor shift. I'm not really sure how it will end up, but I'm ready to be something more than just a homeschooling mom. I have other gifts that I'd like to use... goals, you know. I'm glad to have read Mama'a Got a Fake I.D. as I wade through all the thoughts in my head right now.

In the weeks to come we have an unusual schedule, but I think it's a purposeful one. I hope that in your own busyness that you are able to grab hold of the core of who God made you to be and act from that place.