January 31, 2012

School at the Zoo

Spending time with African Penguins

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January 17, 2012

What our kids teach us

This morning listening to Sara Groves with my youngest I was struck by how much our kids teach us.   Sara sings about this in many of her songs and Sirah was asking me about it today.   We discussed some of the many things my kids have taught me and the others they help me to remember.  I am a teacher in many ways and all good teachers know we always are learning from unique places.  Life is full of teachable moments and as much as I talk about the teachable moments I share with my kids I rarely talk about what they teach me.  The list is to numerous to fully share but this year my goal is to share more of these things. 

I am truly blessed to be the mother of these great kids, it is an awesome privelage.   One I can too easily overlook if I am not careful.  This year has helped me to realize it even more as I watch each of them deal with challenges and trials that life throws at them individually and us as a family.  It has not been our easiest year, still it has been a great year in its own way.  Rarely do you stop and take time to truly assess what you love and what is important to you, what your core values are and what hills you will die on, even rarer is when the whole family is asked to do it at the same time. 

It is good to discover the common ground of family priorities.  As a family we have some clarity about what is important to us. Many things were confirmed for us this year: the desire to have a parent home full time with the kids, home schooling really is our way of life, swimming is much more than just a sport of choice for our family, we truly value Awana, we love our neighborhood, home and overall general way of life, we can get by on much less.  Home is really where we all are.  Location does not matter, being together and supporting and loving each other through the challenges, that is what matters. My children have taught me so much this year.  

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January 13, 2012


What a crazy number that is. This is the number of times this blog has been viewed as of tonight. That is over 15,000 times a year if I average it out over the 8 years I have been blogging here. Of course I know it did not look like that. Apparently I had over 5000 views last month even though I have only posted a total of 19 times in all of 2011! Many people land here after a Google search, most likely looking for a lesson plan, book recommendation, or field trip idea, or just anything they can find about homeschooling. I have had regular readers over the years but the past few years has seen me rarely blogging and that does not lend itself well to regular readers since there is nothing to regularly read :) Still I know a few of you are still out there and will read these words I write even after the months of silence that has been here. For that I thank you for your interest and especially for your support and encouragement through the years.

This year has been a very different one for our family, a different season in many ways. Tonight when I was at Target for the second time in the day already I was thinking about this blog as a friend asked me for the address yesterday. When I handed it to her I reminded her that it is only my best foot forward and all days are not shiny and happy and perfect like they may seem if you only know me through the posts on this page. You are only seeing the highlights, the things I wanted to record, remember and look back on years later. I started blogging before almost anyone I know. I started blogging in 2001 and this blog was born is 2003. Statistics always fascinate me because numbers speak in interesting ways. These numbers might interest you, the number in parenthesis is the number of posts for the year:

Blog Archive
► 2011 (19)
► 2010 (68)
► 2009 (32)
► 2008 (69)
► 2007 (236)
► 2006 (224)
► 2005 (468)
► 2004 (484)
► 2003 (257)

We can clearly see I used to be an avid blogger and then in 2008 something must have happened in my world that changed the kind of blogger I became and last year probably disqualified me from even being considered a blogger anymore :) So I reflect back and wonder what was it about 2008 that changed in me and my life and led to the changes here? Not sure I have a perfect answer. My best guess was my youngest turned 5 and we were out of the house MUCH more. The taxi days of homeschooling had begun. I also started schooling three kids at once and I can still remember the challenges that brought.

I can remember back in the preschool days when all I did was read aloud all day long and would constantly get asked "How do you read that many books?" I remember saying "I just make the time" or "I just always say yes when they ask." Well what I did not know then was that I also simply had more "free time" then. By that I mean time undictated by anyone else's schedule or commitments. Free time I was not trying to use to fit algebra, swimming, science experiments, church groups, playdates, coops, tutoring, teaching outside classes, book clubs, and the list goes on. I simply had more time and yes I made a choice about how to use that time but it is hard to find the time I want to read aloud to my youngest and I certainly do not do it as often as I used to.

We are on the road often and when we are home we are trying to learn long division, spelling lists, how to write essays and get all that hands on time in science in. Sure I could make more read aloud time. We could quit swimming, gym, book club, and not do outside playdates but we are not going to do that either. So we fit it in as best we can and we still try to prioritize. I still make my kids read an hour a day even through our busy schedules. I do my best to make sure my youngest gets atleast half of that time daily if not all of it with me so she can read aloud. If we don't get it in together she still has to do it on her own. Reading is portable and lends itself nicely to all the time in the car we have. We used to do audio books which I loved but now I find it easier to let them all do their own independent reading while we drive from here to there. Maybe a shared audio book is on our horizon though as I miss them as I type this.

If you told me back when I had three kids under the age of 4 that I had more time then I would have laughed in your face but on reflection I did. I am not saying it was not busy, it was the busiest year of my life, and probably the most exhausting. But so much of it was at home and it was almost as if time stood still on some days and passed so slowly. Now it moves at record pace and we constantly fight to slow it down. Tonight as I sat and watched movies with my girls now 12 and 8 I enjoyed the slowness of the evening. I enjoyed their presence and simply doing nothing together but being entertained. Tomorrow brings swim meets, next week brings geometry, building a hovercraft, starting year end projects, studying for major tests and daily swim practice for important upcoming meets. But for tonight we took the time to eat pizza and ice cream and gummy bears while we watched Flipped and Dolphin Tales and simply enjoyed each other.

When I started this blog 8 years ago I don't think I ever believed I would still be typing here and say the words my 12 and 8 year old daughter. I still recall blogging all about my pregnancy and birth of our youngest before many even knew blogs at all. It has served its purpose through the years and I will continue to keep it around even if I only touch base here a few times a year. Who know perhaps this year will be different but I somehow doubt it.

If you are here for the first time, look around and clearly I used to have more ideas to share. I still have and execute ideas all the time, I just have less time to share them sadly for you. However, I am at peace with that for me, because it means we are spending the time living and enjoying. Somedays I still can't help but wonder at the number 135,898 and say to myself "really" this is just a little blog about a little homeschool family in middle america but okay glad you find value here :)

Be blessed in all you do and hug those babies!