Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just a Few Moments

Whenever I am in a public arena and someone finds out that I homeschool, they often ask, "how does that work?"

I hate that question, because I don't know the answer. First of all, I'm not sure what they are wanting to know. Are they asking, "How do you stay sane?" or "How are you smart enough to teach several grades and subjects?" or most likely, "How are you sure that your children are learning as much as those in real schools." Oh, and of course, "How do your kids get a social life." (eye roll)

Secondly, I change "How it works" so often I don't have a one minute summary to share. Life changes fast, and school must fit in somehow.

And finally, I can't explain how it is so different than "classroom" learning so most of those accustomed to a school setting won't wrap their brain around where mine is coming from in our short conversation.

Since I'm much better at writing than a face to face conversation, here might be my answer:

I have a curriculum, but sometimes we get way off track because our lives find incredibly interesting subjects that we love- and we learn better when we love it.

I have a plan that usually changes by the hour.

The "school hours" are shorter but the learning lasts all day.

The school year doesn't end, but the structure changes according to how nice it is outside.

I am aware of state standards, but mostly try to forget them.

I am grossly under qualified in credentials, I am vastly over qualified in investment.

If I would happen to put one of my children in a public school, I have no idea whether they would be ahead or behind the class. I wish not to compare, and I wish not to tempt myself to worry about it. I know my kids are smart. I believe all kids are smart in one way or another. As for classroom smart, I don't know. But I guarantee they are learning.

I am all too often influenced by a small voice in the back of my head..."are we doing enough of this- or that..." And if I get too obsessed by that voice, that is when it is hard.

We learn best in a relaxed, go- with- the- flow organization.

My goal is for them to know how to learn. Then they will be able to learn whatever is necessary at whichever time in their life.

As for me, most people assume I am super organized. On the contrary....not at all. However, I am creative and I can sneak learning in almost any situation.

And I am assuming that any other homeschool mom you ask will not have the same answer as I would. Maybe similar- but somewhat different. We are not clones. There are many ways to learn.

This morning I was personally in turmoil over something unrelated to school. Brooke and Max were pleasantly playing together. I gave Savannah and Summer instructions to copy four of their reading sentences. They replied, "can we do more if we want to?" Both of them.

They sat down at the table and worked quietly. I had a few moments. And it hit me, all was good.

When I was younger, we had a small, clear cube. Inside that cube was a plastic square with a small indention in the middle. On top of the plastic was a small metal ball that seemed to be forever rolling. The goal was to direct that ball to sit in the indention. It looked easy, but it certainly was not. I remember tensing up, intently focused to getting that ball to it's sitting position...but many times it kept rolling and rolling.

This morning, for those few moments, I sat on the couch and just took it all in. The ball was still. It was beautiful. I wish I could have bottled up whatever it took to make everything work together, for it is rare.

But even in the tense times when the ball won't seem to stay still, so much good is happening. I cannot speak for anyone else, but my family was made for this.

Today I am thankful for:
1. My kids can cook.
2. A little boy, Max.
3. A roof over my head.

Monday, February 27, 2012

All of the Things My Plants Can Do

Since I cleaned, I thought putting a centerpiece on my table might keep it from getting cluttered.... pretty things motivate the girls and I.

These Tillandsia plants (or air plants) are ideal because they don't require soil (one less thing to make a mess).

We named them.

Plants are good for so many things...

Look at all the shapes and textures!

With the kids, we can look at them and use descriptive words....

Or draw them, looking at the lines.

Discuss them, looking at the parts.

The roots for drinking. The stem for transporting. The leaves for making food (photosynthesis) and producing oxygen.

They can learn how to take care of them, how much water to give. Do they produce seeds? Can a stem grow roots? How much sunlight do they need?

This philodendron started from a stem cutting Grandma gave me over a decade ago.

They like to water the plants. They like to dig in the dirt and plant in a pot. They use fresh herbs in cooking. They absolutely love flowers, and to study plant differences. And I like them, too.

Yes, there are so many things my plants can do.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cocoons, Pick Up Sticks, and Shine

My family just left me alone to clean today. I will, for sure. Cleaning in silence is such a welcome experience for me.

My thoughts, however, are cluttered as well.

I want to dream BIG. And I know I am the type of person that will hear a command and start running before I hear the entire set of instructions at times. Or maybe fill in the blanks myself. I am so eager to see the world change, and I believe it will. It has to.

I know, we could pray for Jesus to come back and take us away, but from where I sit I almost feel like that if that were to happen, I would have about a minute- or even a second of complete terror and anguish because I have not finished the race. I don't want that feeling, so I'd rather live out the next 60 years pursuing, crying, helping, hurting, laughing, celebrating, and crying some more. I want a better idea of how big God really is while I am still here. Otherwise, I fear regret. Like when you are in an awards ceremony and you know you could have done better if you would have just tried. You could have gotten the gold.

I know God will wipe away my tears.....but I'd rather say, "I have stayed to course. I have finished the race."

Everyone says they are busy. I say it. Yet I hate it. Some people say it and I just have to give them a little smile and move on..... because who thinks cleaning in silence is a luxury? What is busy? It's all relative. Busy-ness is not an excuse.

But I do need to clean. And I do need to raise up my children properly -which I believe that the most important ingredient to a properly raise child is time spent with them. Real time- like long walks and good books, and a minute or ten to calm them down when they are in distress.

And a minute turns into an hour.... and the world is still hurting.

BUT this is THE BEST part about God. All it takes is a willing soul. It's all over in the Bible- Moses, Gideon, Joshua, Esther, and Paul. One willing soul is powerful- and sometimes the less resources we have, the better. Even time.

So... my cluttered thoughts about school and jobs and houses and should we move now or wait... isn't about time to make up our minds? And what is for lunch? I'd really like to make another pot of coffee... Will we add more children to our family? Could we travel the world? Can we give more, live on less, or can I have more luxuries..... How do we serve our families? My couch is disgusting. The kids want a dog.

And I skimmed through a blog about the sovereignty of God yesterday because I didn't have time to actually read it. God is sovereign.... but that doesn't mean let the poor rot away because God made them that way. There is a line somewhere. And it does involve our work, sweat, and tears- and blessings.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:27-29

So I have a mental picture of a hand holding a colorful set of Pick Up Sticks. I set the had let go..... and start to pick them up one by one again.

Sometimes we have to let go. Sometimes we have to pick up.

Sometimes all we can do is one stick a week. Over and over and over we work on letting anger go. Decision making. Multiplication. Shapes. But if I am to raise up only four people to work for good....and if that is my calling....I'd better do a darn good job at it.

Meanwhile, I can buy Fair Trade coffee and chocolate and wear T-shirts that support a cause and even jewelry. I can not be ignorant to the injustices and include them in my prayers. I can give people hope with my words and joy with my gifts. Right where I am, in the middle of my motherhood.

And if I do that, maybe all the other sticks will be so much easier to pick up.

Today I am thankful for:
1. Silence
2. Sunshine
3. Really good music that says what you want to say...

My Marbles

We have been waiting for this day for weeks.

Anticipation has built up- to go to the Moon Marble Company.

We found out about it in the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce....and it's only a few minutes away from us!!!

And the best part....
We got to watch one of the artists make a marble! This is Ernie.

We all picked a tube full of marbles.

Plus one marble made by Ernie. Stuff like this makes me giddy.

Bonus!....Science experiment on my facebook today. Cracked marbles.

This was one of the best Friday nights I've had in a while.

I love my new marbles.

Today I'm thankful for:
1. My parents and my Ellie
2. Honest people- holding on to Savannah's lost purse and Sook's lost phone
3. Art

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Everyone needs a little spice.....

Which is why I had Brookie, I'm sure of it.

The other day I had them all lined up, holding hands, ready to cross the street....
but Brookie was in front of the car, trying to scale up a retaining wall.

Instead of saying "please" and "thank-you", she will yell at a waitress, "Hey! You forgot to give me my fork!"

She will lay down when everyone is standing, she will sing when it should be quiet, and she won't take any crap from anyone.

I often think about how glad I am that her name is Brooke, and not Sophia or Lilly. "Brooke" is a one syllable word with several hard sounds. A name you can use sharply...often.

Try it.
"Brooke! Your plate is to put food on, not to wear as a hat!"

Man, I love that kid.

Happy Birthday, Baby Brookie Boo.  Thank you for the spice.

Today I'm thankful for:
1. Brooke
2. The Zoo
3. Bedtime


Christ has broken my heart today several times in one way or another. Whether it be sex slavery or beautiful orphan babies with down syndrome wasting away or unfair situations right under my nose, it has broken.

And I simply could not stay broken because it affects everything I do. So I prayed and the answer was, "be a part of the solution." My sorrow turned to hope.

I could not imagine what it is like to be the kind of person so dedicated to the cause that they are there, at risk, saving lives from slavery. I'm just not there. But I still can be a part of the solution.

Coincidentally, today began lent. This is not something I have always taken part in, because I thought it was another religious act. The last few years, however, I have been excited for a fast....growth......seeing what God will do next. And I would like my children to be involved.

I'd like to share it because I think fasts can be many different things. Fasting foods is fine, but there are many other ways to sacrifice and build a relationship with God.

As a family:
1. Clean out an area of our house each day- but before we start, pray for wisdom to know what to keep and what to give away. I don't usually have a problem parting with clutter, but the kids do. I think we have quite a bit that could either be given to someone in need or to be given in order to sell, in which the money will be used to help the needy.

2. We will observe no meat on Fridays as well. I feel as though this type of fast appropriate for small children and is attainable.

For myself:
1. Read Isaiah 58 each day and pray for God to show me how to show his love and the strength to do it.

2. Sacrifice for my family. These are so personal for each one of us but, for example, I will be getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup for my husband. Really, this is a sacrifice. :) Basically, thinking of how to serve them, and hopefully making it a habit!

There is a good article about kids and lent here.

My day ended with a sermon on fighting our Goliaths. Fitting.

Neither eye has seen nor ear has heard what God has planned for me! I love HIM!
Today I am thankful for:
1. Church
2. A beautiful day
3. A personal God

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Advice on Parenting Advice

This has come up a few times during my day, so I contemplated it tonight while Summer was playing games on my computer way past the time I told her that she had to go to bed and I worked on Savannah's knitting project that I know I should make her do, but darn it, I'm tired of it lying around.

And before I go any further, I know I am guilty of the very thing I am about to say so if you have been a victim, please take this as an apology....and I may or may not do it again. But I'll try not to.

I hate parenting advice. Unless, of course, I ask for it. Or possibly if it is my mother, depending on my mood. If it comes from a friend that I definitely know has good intentions, maybe. That is only a handful of people for me.

Otherwise, I will take that advise and do just the opposite out of spite. Maybe. At least I'd feel like it. And if you really want to annoy me, be the first time pregnant mother to give me advise because you read some book and now you are an expert.

I've read the books, too. I will take what I want from those books but I may not take them all thank you very much.

And I don't have to explain it. That is why women talk too much. Either they are talking way too much about a third party, or they are trying to explain every darn thing in order to make sure those listening understand their intentions completely so they won't be the third party later on.

This is what you need to know: (not YOU, just the person that I would be talking to if I ever had the guts to actually say this)

1. These are my kids. I am their mother. I have known them from the second they popped out of my body. You haven't.
2. I love them more than you do.
3. I have hopes for them that are way beyond what you see here.
4. So I will do what I think is best under any one particular circumstance for my individual children.
5. And if your kids are just so wonderful that I would love mine to be more like yours, I will ask you questions. If not, stay out of it.

Because, today I found out that in order to paint my bathroom, I had my children watch two movies and I paid one to take care of Max. And it worked out perfectly. I found out that paying my children to be nice to each other is very effective for me. And movies don't hurt either.

And just as I was getting ready to discipline Savannah, I found a cup of tea she had made for me several hours earlier and ended up only half way disciplining her cause stuff like that melts my heart.

So my advice on giving parenting advice is don't. But on the other hand, please know when to seek out someone else's. (We all need a little help now and then :)

Today I'm thankful for:
1. A walk with Max and Brooke
2. My bathroom is painted.
3. Chinese food.

Monday, February 20, 2012


It's the easiest science experiment of all time. Plant a seed, watch it grow.

But somehow we miss the significance of it.

A small seed has the power of life.

A rock cannot grow a plant.
A lump of clay cannot blossom.
A computer cannot replicate what lies in this small, abundant specimen.



A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat it's fruit.
                                                  -Proverbs 18:20, 21
God spoke the world into existence.
Jesus killed a fig tree with his curse.
And stilled the waters with a command.

Words are powerful.

They can give life or death. I want to choose life. I want to grow and blossom. I want my family to experience everything they are intended for. I want them to be blessed.

Yet as I resolved to do this just this morning, I was challenged. Because as I make my plans to move back to the place of my childhood, I am reminded of death.

Death to my dreams. Death to my spirit. And I cringe. I remember words spoken over me that killed me as a young child. How was I to know they were lies? This death took it's toll on me.

No more.

Jesus has resurrected my dreams, he has energized my spirit, and spoken endless blessings over me.

And I cannot remember these words any longer, I cannot let anger fester, I cannot be defeated, and I will not return death to this place.

And I will fight to keep it out of my home. If this makes me different, so be it.

I want life in my words, life in my music, life in my smiles, life in our activities, life in our frustrations, and life in my family.
And I will resolve to make my home open to anyone wanting life as well.

Choose life.

Today I'm thankful for:

1. My new camera (did you notice?:)
2. Forgiveness
3. Menu planning

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Muzzles and Stalactites

I've complained for a while now that we don't take vacations. But now we had the chance to take a short one.

And it gave me a big headache.

Mostly because, as I planned it, I was annoyed by stupid fees tacked on and realized nothing is really a good deal and that a simple weekend getaway was going to cost a fortune. At least a fortune in my mind since this last paycheck has already been spent in theory. aka: worry.

Which results in a grumpy momma, which defeats the purpose of a vacation.

At the moment I realized this (several moments too late, buy the way), I ran to my room to clear my head. This is what God gave me:

For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope. If we  have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
                                                                                      1 Corinthians 9: 9-11
 A little strange, I admit. I realize the context was not concerning mothers, but yet it may be. You see, I do get so annoyed by mothers that just complain about how much work and so little resources they have while staring at amazing blessings! Meanwhile they are given the undeserving opportunity to take them and mold them and minister to them for the good. But that is exactly what I do.

Because what I do is in order to serve my family (resulting in overtime hours and ZERO pay). And I must do it all and stay under budget. So I sacrifice and then complain.

But wouldn't I be so much more effective if I sowed in hope and just let some of "life" eat up my budget and praise God that he has given me so much, and will continue to provide? Yep.

I need a lot of help to be a good mother. God has a lot to give.

This imperfect weekend vacation revealed to me what God does give. For instance: A husband I do not deserve. Time to appreciate that. Laughter from silly kids. A place to sit that does not include a "to do" list as an amenity. Beauty. All around. Even in the underground that was not discovered by man until 150 years ago. Yet it was there all along.

Thank you, Lord for giving mothers opportunities to enjoy the fruits of their labor--even if the labor does not equal the joy of the fruits. Thank you .

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Take My Breath Away

Love in a heart- shaped Venn Diagram.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sometimes I Wonder......

How I get anything done.

Cleaning the refrigerator is fairly mindless so I start thinking too much. My to-do list is a self-inflicted mile long list of ambitions that I am determined to accomplish sooner or later, all jumbled up in my head and piled on stacks of random pieces of paper and in journals that I may or may not find when I need it. Or I might find it when I don't need it and put it in another pile.

Take this blog, for example. I started with it thinking that I would record our family adventures and lessons learned, but it has turned out to be about whatever I am passionate about that day. This could be anything because I am passionate about almost anything in one form or another, depending on the day. So although I have tried to stay focused. I need a focus. I can't choose a focus.

What is one word that describes me?

What are the service people that come into my home thinking?

I stopped cleaning for them. It was too stressful. And they always end up having to do something somewhere that is not clean. My children always embarrass me. Like when Brooke said, "Mommy! I don't like that man!" a few years ago. And I think it may be the wrong thing to lock them in a closet. If I ever did, surely the service person would need something in that closet.

That was sarcasm, by the way.

Today it was Max dancing in front of the computer with the Go Fish You Tube Mix. He's quite a pro. Summer and Brooke were fighting, and Savannah was just goofy.

He left saying, "you have some great kids."

*chuckle*. Whether he meant it or not, his kind comment put me at ease.

Why did I never love History before?

We just learned about Robert Fulton, the inventor of the Steamboat, so I took the family to the Steamboat Arabia Museum today. Talk about history. The largest pre-civil war collection of artifacts in the world. We read about the steamboats, we researched the history on the Arabia, and then went to the museum. This is how my children learn best. And me, too for that matter.

This is the actual tree that pierced the steamboat, causing it to sink over 150 years ago.

This is the skeleton of the mule that drowned on the boat, the one thing that Brooke will definitely remember.

I left being fascinated with the 1850's. Immediately we went over to Kansas City's "Chinatown". And got lost strolling down the isles and studying every box of these unfamiliar foods, loving a new environment, fish smell and all. I bought tea.

Then we ate Vietnamese food. Love that too. Yes, I love history and culture. And don't ask me to pick just one time period or one ethnic group to fall in love with.

How do I make leave in conditioner?
Random thought.

What has caused my "princess" Summer collect toy snakes?
Even the rubber ones scare me. I'd love to know what goes on in her head. I'm fascinated with snakes, too in a they-are-cool-but-way-too-creapy kind of way. I like them at the zoo, behind glass.

How in the world do I emotionally handle my blessings?
My kids get so giddy that they run around and dance and giggle until I go crazy. That is what is going on in my head, yet I am just there on the outside. The last few days I have been overwhelmed with nervous excitement over one thing or another. I feel like I won the lottery but now that I know what I have, I don't know what to do with it. Not a bad problem to have. However, it needs to be resolved.

I really do need to get some things done.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What I Want My Kids To Know About Love

To: My Children

The first thought that pops in mind is romantic love. Fairy tales, soul mates, chocolate hearts and first kisses. This is not real love.

Next, maybe kindness? Giving gifts? Service? Some times these are the effects of love, but it is not love.

"All we need is LOVE".... somewhat true. At least it's a nice fuzzy feel good thing to say. True love, however, is not fuzzy.

True love is not always hearts and kisses and skipping in a meadow. True love is ugly at times, incredibly strong, and literally impossible. The quest of possessing complete and perfect love is a noble ambition, but you will fail. Shoot for it anyway. And whenever you begin to stray, remember you have storerooms of love to take and give- not from your own heart, but from God himself. This is the only true love.

If you take on this ambition and if you keep your mind on Christ, you will begin to see what true love asks. It asks of you hugs of joy and tears of unthinkable pain. It asks complete blindness to faults. It demands you to be vulnerable. It asks you to be treated unfairly- and to take it. It asks you to give favor to the ones that deserve it the least. To eat food that isn't pleasant to your tongue. To smell a ghastly stench and keep a smile on your face. To be made a fool of and be kind anyway.

It is not romantic, and sometimes down right miserable.

You cannot give what you don't have, so receive the love God gave. Every last bit. Then fight anything that might try to take it away.

And in the end, you will love having love. The pain will be memories of joy. And you will be victorious.

Love your family. We need each other.
Love your fellow Christians. We are family in the spirit.
Love your friends. Not only when they are friendly or when they benefit you, just love all the time.
Love strangers. Your kindness might change someone.
Love enemies. This is the hardest, but the effects are the greatest. And hate will destroy you.

Finally, don't try to love. It won't work.
God is love, and God is in you, so the love you need you already possess in you. And if you already possess true love:

You are patient. You are kind.
You don't envy and do not brag. You are not proud.
You are polite, and are not selfish.
You have self control, and can give grace to pardon the wrong things done against you.
You are saddened with sin and joyful with truth.
You can persevere through anything without anticipating failure.
You encourage even when it hurts, and don't stop until the end.

Sometimes love is pictured with hearts and kittens. I don't think you can't draw love. It's too mixed up. But one thing I know is it's not for the weak. Weak people will exhibit the opposite of love and call it strength.

You have love, and you are a warrior. If you want anything meaningful from the life, you must accept this blessing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


"I have got along just fine without any pluttifikation tables for nine years." - Pippi Longstocking

Summer appears to not listen- even to Pippi Longstocking. But when I printed out these adorable multiplication tables today, she said, "What's this? Pluttifikation?"

On the contrary, Pippi. Summer sighs and moans at the pluttifikation tables, but is a whiz at every day cooking and counting and organizing kind of math. It's amazing she really likes school when presented in her very unique learning style.

I. Love. Homeschooling.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not That Different

I've been going through some struggles lately. It's those kind that make me want to turn off the resounding verses of "don't repay evil for evil", or "love those that persecute you". The kind that make you want to be a Christian when it's convenient. When all is well, living the Christian life seems easy. But what Christ has asked of me these last few months went against every grain in my carnal body.

Interestingly enough, it is my children's devotions and lessons that have kept me on course. I mean, it's fitting for them as well but if I am expected to teach them how to give grace, I have to live it. And I do want them to learn it, not only for their sake by mine as well. I don't like refereeing disagreements over who looked at whom wrong, or whom has to be the prince in their play. Getting even just doesn't seem appropriate after that lesson is thrown in my day.

It is easier to see when it is someone else's fight and my emotions are not involved. Petty, childish, fights that cause way more damage than any fulfillment. They have a familiar feel to the fights that my three little girls bring to my world. Whenever I step back and really think, grace always is more attractive. I really don't care what it is- unless your fight has a purpose for the greater good and is more sacrificing than a way to feed your pride. And even then, grace should be involved. Love. Wanting to help the one that hurt you. Exhibiting the love of Christ himself. Tough stuff.

One lesson today was being connected to Jesus- the Vine. Then our fruit (of the spirit) will be healthy. Yes. It wasn't even try really really hard to show me the fruit of the spirit. Muster up the love you need to smile and keep your mouth shut. Write a cheery Facebook post so that everyone will think you have joy. Write a big check and tell God to chalk that one up to kindness. No. The fruit of the spirit is a by product of a relationship with Jesus. And the fruit of the spirit doesn't just get you by- it ensures victory. This victory is not over another person, but over the anger, the unrest, the manipulations, the pride, and the discouragement.

Being close to Jesus does not make dealing with hard situations non existent, but it gives resources to fight the real enemy- which is not a human. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you have the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self control. Whether you choose to go with your spirit or your flesh is still your choice to choose.

As for me, I know people are watching, wondering how I will respond. People that I really do love and I want them to know how much Jesus loves them. My anger will not show them that, and it may really confuse my kids.

Lesson learned. When my children are fighting, I know what they feel like. I know it is not "nothing" to them. The best way I can calm them down is to remind them how much they are loved- by myself and by God. Then they are in a position to give grace.

And for myself........exactly the same thing.