Archives for July 2009

My 15 year old

I’m not the only one who loves this boy!
My drummers

The giveaway…

…of ‘A Sane Woman’s Guide’ at Conversion Diary ends this evening, so get over there quick and enter if you don’t have a copy yet. I suspect that Jennifer’s kind review of my book, and similar kind actions by many of you in that last months,  is why my book is one of Amazon’s top 25 mothering books (at 7 PM this evening, anyway! Look quick before it changes– it may not be there long! 🙂 )  But seriously, thanks to all of you who have written about my book, recommended that your library buy it, talked about it to friends, and/or bought it yourself!  I appreciate each one of you.

Private skating rink


The kids and I spent some time cleaning the garage this morning, including making the skate shelf look how it is supposed to look, instead of the more common helter-skelter chaos. I’ve come to the conclusion that we might possibly have every size of kids’ skate up to men’s size 11.

Homeschooling: Late summer blues

As summer creeps rockets closer to August, and I start to think about school again, emotions flood through me. Dread is one, frankly.

That may not jive with what you’d expect from 15-yr veteran homeschooler, but I’m keeping it real here.  Two years ago we brought 9 and 11 year old girls into our family, which greatly increased my difficulty level as a homeschooling mom.  Before you can even think about reading and math, you’ve got to have some language, some way to communicate.  And guess what: it takes months to get even a moderate level of understanding.

You’ve got family-growing issues: kids jostling to find their place in this new family constellation. Just an example:  our newly arrived then-11-year-old had always been a firstborn.  She came into a family with two big sisters. NOT easy.   For anyone.

You’ve got kids who don’t know the first thing about how your family functions.  I never realized how much kids learn naturally about their family when they’re tiny, or how many unwritten rules our family has.  And to a newly arrived older kid, every rule is negotiable –or shocking/incomprehensible/ridiculous.  Makes for a LOT of challenging behavior.

Add to that grief and rebellion and bonding stuff– and also the simple fact that we had 7 kids being homeschooled that year– and it is pretty easy to see why their first year home was tough.

We spent most of the year on basics for the 5 grade-schoolers– language and love and limits, with a tiny bit of math and reading thrown in here and there.  The high school kids could and did work on their own, so their curriculum didn’t change.  But forget science and history and essay-writing for the younger ones– it was literally all we could do to read with everyone and do a little math.

Their second year home, afraid we hadn’t gotten enough academics, I plunged into a more involved school schedule.  Science was back.   Idaho history.  Crafts.  Korean.  Grammar.  Writing.  My intentions were good, but several of the kids were still not ready.  In two months I was so burned out by constantly pushing kids through academics that every morning felt like jail.   I scaled back.  Writing and Bible and reading and math stayed.   But once again, science and history were pushed aside.  You do what you can.

Looking objectively, we made a lot of progress in those two years.  All 5 of the younger school kids got definitively better at reading —  such a cornerstone to learning.  The two kids that I tested both years (with the Iowa Basic) scored many percentile points higher in 2009 than in 2008.  Indisputably they learned.  But I always felt vaguely guilty that we weren’t doing more.

So now I sit planning our next school year.  Wanting to chart a good balanced course.  Wanting to make it better than before.

Part of me wants to get kids caught up, whatever that is, to make up for a less than ideal last 2 years of school.   Pile on the science and the history and the grammar.  Get everyone reading at grade level and constructing sentences properly.

But can you really ‘catch up’ kids who have spent only a couple years speaking English?  And how crazy would I go, trying to get huge amounts of work done?  How cranky would they be?  I don’t want every morning to feel like a joyless slog.  But I’m not the unschooling type.  I need structure, and so do the kids. But is there a way to inject more fun and be more effective?

I find myself wishing summer was a month or six longer. I’ve even half-heartedly daydreamed about public school.  But then I walk among my big kids and see (by the grace of God) what wonderful, smart, NICE people they have turned out to be, and I remember all the reasons we embarked on the journey of homeschooling in the first place.  (Maybe I’ll blog about that soon?)  And the funny thing is, I’m even more convinced of the rightness of homeschooling for the y0unger kids than I was for the older.

So I guess I’ll chat with my hubby, and pray, and go thru my books, and see if I can strengthen my weak knees for the year ahead.  Even if I don’t know tomorrow, I know Someone who does.

One the guests will never forget

Possibly the most memorable wedding entrance ever. This thing has gone viral, and I know why: it is totally fun to watch!

God with skin on

This post from my friend Shaun Groves had me in tears: Love in action. That’s how I want to love the ones around me. And if you happen to be in the pit of a similar struggle right now, please remember that you are of infinite value to the God who created you.

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God is my victory and He is here.

Apricot Crazy

Here’s what the kids and I spent the morning doing–about 20 pints/halfpints of apricot jam, and about 8 quarts of apricot halves.Apricots

Related links
Apricot Jam
Apricot Crisp
Dump Cake

Family Feasts

Yesterday I had the great fun of opening a package containing a few ‘proof’ copies of my new cookbook. This is the uncorrected advance copy edition that was handed out at book expos this summer– there are a few odds and ends of typos. But it is a fully bound book that contains all the recipes, cooking tips and money saving help. Anybody interested in winning a copy? If so, leave a comment telling me your favorite meal to make when your cupboard is almost bare and you really need to go to the store. (Mine would have to be something with pasta and tomato sauce, since I almost always have those ingredients around.) On Saturday I’ll choose a random commenter to win the book, so get those comments in!

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Let it go

Not long ago I was observing a couple of friends interact, and was surprised by a stinging tentacle of bitterness in the words of one– a loving person whose speech is usually full of grace and forbearance. Wow, forgiveness is needed there, I thought. Why let old hurt fester into such anger?

My mind turned to another dear one, a person whose unhappiness with a family member is longstanding. A mask of shoulder-shrugging indifference covers great hurt, wounds that feel too deep to forgive. This is a committed Christian, one who listens intently for God’s voice and who has boundless compassion for people in pain. Why not let your own hurt go, I thought. Forgive. Heal. Move on.

It seemed so obvious to me.

But before I could get too far on that self-righteous train, the face of one of my own children sprang into my mind– a precious, gorgeous kid who is as stubborn and persistent as I. A kid who has challenged me day in and day out for years. I love the child, truly I do, and each morning I resolve anew to exhibit love to that child in spite of various frustrating behaviors. To hug. To smile. To gently admonish. To touch. To praise. To encourage.

But to be painfully honest, I sometimes battle my feelings. Instead of that burbling, flowing, natural mama-warmth — warmth that comes so easy with my more compliant kids — at times I feel stiff and guarded and all too quick to take offense. I have allowed unforgiveness a toehold, I realize. Much of the time only I know the struggle in my heart. But sometimes that unforgiveness leaps to the surface, in sharp words and impatient actions that I regret as soon as they escape.

I think when we have been repeatedly hurt by someone, we often feel justified in our anger. How many times can we really be expected to forgive, after all? Don’t we have a right to our indignation? When an offender has a long track record, any sane person would eventually give up on the relationship, or at least guard themselves. Right?

In some cases, maybe. But in my situation, I know darned well what I should be doing. What I am called to do. Instead of clinging to my mile-long list of grievances from this morning or last week or last year, I’m called to let it go. To rip that list to shreds and toss it to the wind.

It doesn’t mean I have to condone wrong actions. But it does mean I need to truly forgive. To offer my loved one a clean slate each day, mercy new every morning, just as Christ offers me. Only by His grace is it possible to even contemplate this, let alone carry it off with any certitude. But by His strength and for the sake of this relationship, I am resolved to attack this heart challenge, morning by morning.

What about you? Who in your life most needs your forgiveness? Towards whom are you harboring the bitterest hurt? Tell me about it here if you’d like. Or mull the question over and find the answer quietly.

Then resolve to let it go. To forgive.

Shall we begin?