Identifying learning gaps

Some people get very worried when people homeschool their children that the children will have learning gaps. I think we all have learning gaps. I was in my 30s before I learned that dilemma didn’t have an n in it, something I learned incorrectly at public school. Beside that, things keep changing. Pluto is/is not a planet depending on who you talk to. I guess there’s a Southern Ocean now? The whole of Eastern Europe switched up AFTER we all memorized the USSR stuff. We always need to keep learning.

However, a great way to catch learning gaps is by simply talking with your children. For example:

Micah has his money bank in the school room and pulls out a dollar bill.

“Who’s that?”

“George Washington.”

“What’s he doing on my money?”

“He’s a president.”

“Does he live a long way from my house?”

“He’s dead.”

“From a laser beam?”

Obviously, we have a little educating to do here. 

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Sabbath Rest vs the To Do List

I’m prepping for school this fall. Never mind that Emma starts back to her co-op on Tuesday. Never mind that I started doing school anyway just because we needed to get some things done. This fall will be prepped for, it may just take until spring. I’m still working on redecorating the school room. It’s time to purge the household goods again to make them more manageable. I’ve been switching the kids’ clothes for fall weather. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I have a lot of things to do and I have negative time to get them done in. All these projects are due or past due.

Yet, I keep encountering stuff on Sabbath rest. It’s everywhere. So, I’m being told I need to rest. And, unfortunately, I deal with being told to do things about as well as my three-year-old.

Unrelated, his favorite thing right now is to tell me how much he loves me when I tell him to go to bed. “It’s time for nap.” “But I LOOOOOVE you.” He’s tricky, that one.

So, resting. I did it today. We went to church. We ate out. I took a nap. I took a walk. I watched a movie with the kids. I did load and start the dishwasher, but that’s it.

And I feel a little like Toad (From Tomorrow in Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel)

“Blah,” said Toad.

“I feel down in the dumps.”

“Why?” asked Frog.

“I am thinking about tomorrow.” said Toad.

“I am thinking about all of the many things that I will have to do.”

“Yes,” said Frog. “tomorrow will be a very hard day for you.”

Now, in the book, he decides that he will start on his to do list today so that tomorrow he can take life easy. But, I’m being asked to rest. And it’s sometimes hard to listen to that. But, unlike Toad, if I choose to work today, I will still work tomorrow. I have children. There are always things to do. It will never be done. So instead of following the call to try to get ahead, today, I rest in obedience. And obedience, in the end, will trump productivity and getting ahead because it’s reward is better than an organized home, it is peace and renewal.

What’s on your to do list for today? Do you take a Sabbath? What does it look like for you and your family?

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Micah time

I just finished our three day practicum for our homeschooling program, Classical Conversations. I needed to attend to complete my tutor training for the class I will tutor next year. Since Emma would be at our church’s Bible camp, I had to sign the younger kids up for the kids’ camps. Hannah went to history camp, Isaiah hung out in nursery camp for naps (and not much else, he’s fond of mama right now), and Micah went to play camp.

Day 2, I started hearing about Micah in the morning. “Oh, Micah, he has a lot to say! What is this ‘Micah Time’? Is that something you have him do while you school the girls? We’ll encourage him to join the group, but he keeps going off to the corner to quietly read or play and he tells us it’s ‘Micah Time’.”

I laughed. Did I have a thing where Micah quietly read or played while I did school with the girls? Oh, that would be lovely, but no. The more I heard, the more I realized, he was playing them. He created this magical thing so that he wouldn’t have to participate in unfamiliar or undesirable tasks. It wasn’t malicious. It was born out of anxiety I’m sure, but I still clued them into his wiley ways, and the teen volunteers became quiet amused with Micah Play Time and Micah Mommy Time and Micah Coffee Time (I’m really not sure what happened here. I wouldn’t put it past him to con someone out of their coffee, though.)

By the end of the practicum, we’d walk through the halls and random people would call out, “Is it Micah Time?” like he was some tiny celebrity with his own catch phrase.

But really, I need this to work in my adult life.

Oh, you want a snack? Sorry, it’s Mommy Reading Time.

Oh dear, I can’t go to the dentist right now. It’s Mommy Spa Time.

Someone else will have to do those breakfast dishes. It’s Mommy Coffee Time.

How do I make this happen?

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Micah: Hey Mommy. I want to tell you a story from my mouth.

Me: Ok

Micah: Chapter 2, Micker Mater was going up a tree, and he found some bees. He got stung right in the bottom.
Mommy, this is an open eyes story.

Me: Sorry.

Micah: And then, Dicker and Jicker went in a fire truck and chased the bees away.
*starts singing a song*
*ruins up to nursing brother and yells “HONK!”*
I love you, Babyyyyyy! You’re my brother, and when you get bigger you will play with me!
*grabs baby’s foot and shakes it around*

Me: Micah, I need you to go out and find your sisters. Please.

I still love that kid.

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Children: God’s instrument of humility

We were sitting in church today. Bryan was ushering in back, and I had my posse with me, an entourage, if you will, of my favorite little people. Eventually, Isaiah was brought back to his daddy and I had Micah on my lap which is where he behaves best during church. He’s had a runny nose of late, and he kept wanting to pick the dried boogers. We sit up in front in church so beside the fact that nose picking is a disgusting occupation, it could also be distracting to others, so I reminded him many times not to pick his nose. Then, as we were singing the last song, he starts holding Hannah’s hand. I turn to look at this sweet sibling bonding moment only to witness him using Hannah’s finger to pick his nose. Later, recounting the story with Hannah, she remarked, “He really is a problem solver.” Only Hannah could appreciate someone’s problem solving abilities after being used as a human tissue.

What type of creative problem solving solutions do your children employ?

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What it’s like or Hey! That’s where my socks went!

No one has asked me what it’s like being a mom of four, probably because it doesn’t seem that different from three, but it’s pretty different. It’s great because I have adorable and fascinating children, but it’s busy. Very busy.

The other morning I showered and grabbed my socks, heading out to the other room to get Micah dressed and get him out of the girls’ hair so that they could focus on school. I got him dressed, switched out laundry, went over some school, fed the baby, made the lunch, more school, more baby, more Micah. It came time to leave for choir, and I couldn’t find my socks. Emma found me a different pair and off we went.

Two days later, I was getting Micah dressed, and I saw my socks on his dresser! Since I hadn’t found socks yet that day, I grabbed them to put on and helped Micah get a pull up on for nap. In the time it took to wrestle him into his pull up and pants, I lost those socks again! I tore the room apart, but he needed to get to nap, and those socks were gone, again.

Later that afternoon, we were all sitting together in the school room. Micah is wrestling around with Bryan. I’m feeding the baby. One of the girls was reading with us, one downstairs. Bryan got an odd look on his face and asked if Micah had pooped in his pull up. Micah says no, then maybe yes. Bryan pulls out the pants to do a visual check, gets an even stranger look on his face, and pulls out my socks.

Needless to say, I still picked out a different pair.

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Self control

I realized something today as we were sitting at lunch. We had an incident after church. Bryan found it hilarious, but, then, he didn’t have to try to wrestle a cookie stealing toddler while holding a nursing baby. Bryan had a meeting after church. He had just purchased some girl scout cookies. I decided that we could have a little snack while waiting for lunch and sent Micah to fetch said cookies. He brought them to me, and we each had two. Then, in a fit of thin mint induced insanity, he grabbed a tube of cookies and raced out of the nursery. Seeing that he would be caught, he ripped open the bag, spilling cookies on the floor and attempted to shove several in his mouth. I put him in time out and placed the cookies out of reach.

But normally, he doesn’t do that. He was both hungry and tired today, and those trigger crazy behavior in him. He generally is quite adorable and loving, but he’s decided naps are a sometimes thing, and well, sometimes dinner gets delayed. And then, Micah becomes a wild man.

It occurred to me today, though, that his hunger or fatigue were causing him to lose his self control. And if that’s the case, he is exerting a crazy amount of self control all throughout every day. That has to be difficult.

So when your kids get sick or tired or hungry and go crazy (What?! That’s just mine? Sigh.) Think about their normal pattern of behavior and what they normally hold in check and then marvel at how great they are doing. Don’t let them get away with it, but do give them a little grace because holding back that much crazy must take some effort. We should  know. Ahem.

Have you ever pondered the self control of a toddler/preschooler?

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We received this as one of the kids’ free books from some doctor appointment. This book is clearly free because the author has given up on creativity and possibly life in general. It starts out well

But then it deteriorates quickly

Because clearly clocks are the best representative of the square shape to easily confused babies and toddlers


It goes on to throw in cassette tapes because a generation who has never lived without iPods will definitely be familiar with cassette tapes. An iPod itself would surely not have been a better choice. That would make the book too dated.

Diamonds? Diamond shaped candies, of course.

Hearts? Heart-shaped soap from the 80s is just the thing!

Now, let’s just start making stuff up. Rings are a shape, right?

No need to do things like call things by their correct name. Let’s call these cylinders “tubes” just for fun.

All right, I’m running out of pages here. Pentagons, hexagons, and octagons are kind of complicated. Let’s go with “leaf” and “shell”.

And we’re done. Now that I’ve blogged about, I can get rid of it. It’s been driving me crazy for years, and I just needed to get it off my chest. Let the healing begin.

Surely, we can do better than this. What would you put on the square (or other) pages?

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That’s the name of Thor’s hammer. When Bryan and I watched the Thor and Avenger movies, the most impressive thing to me about this hammer is not its destructive capabilities. No, it’s that when he holds out his hand, the hammer returns to him.

When we had our last baby, I joked with Bryan that I needed this ability with my phone. If I actually remember to have the ringer or vibrate on and the phone rings, it’s never easily accessible to me. It’s always on another floor of the house or buried under books and papers. I missed two calls tonight alone. Imagine if, when I heard my phone ringing or vibrating somewhere, I could simply hold out my hand, and it would fly to me so I could actually answer it. This would be amazing. But let’s not stop there.

When I’m nursing a baby, I’m often stuck in a chair or carrying a baby or short on time when I need an item. Here are a few other items that should come when I open my hand:

  • Burp cloths-So much spit up.
  • Wet wipes-terrible blow out diaper, messy toddler, jelly on the table? This handles them all.
  • Writing utensil-I can never find them, and I buy pretty much all of them when we start the homeschool year, so they must be somewhere.
  • Water bottle-Mom-ing is thirsty work.
  • Socks-No one in my family ever has these when it’s time to walk out the door.
  • Coffee/soda- I’m not caffeining now, but that day will come again, and it will be a glorious day indeed.
  • Chocolate-Because sometimes there are those days.
  • The toddler-Then I won’t have to set down the was-nursing, now-crying baby to assert my authority.
  • Fingernail trimmer-Mostly because I can never find it.
  • Keys-same
  • All the toys in the room-Because then I could gather them together in my hand and slam dunk them into the toy box like some globetrotting wizard of awesomeness.

What I’m really saying here is telekinesis would be amazing right now, especially if I could accomplish it without needing to know the location of an item. How can I gain this superpower?

What would your Mjölnir be?

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When the best is the worst

We really want to be the best parents ever. This isn’t a terrible longing when we use it to make good choices for our family, but I think it’s the main reason we’re all stretched too thin on time, on money, on rest.

We make a choice, probably a good one that we wanted to make (like homeschooling for us), but then we have another choice (extracurriculars? choir, sports, scouting, musical instruments, field trips; co-ops/classes? science, history, math club, arts, writing), and each of these choices come with more opportunities and choices (games, performances, social activities, parties, tshirts, trips, etc.). Now we’re making several choices a month instead of that one initial choice, and each choice gives us the opportunity to doubt whether or not we made the best choice or if our child is now somehow missing out.

Homeschoolers hear this whatever choice we make (what about socialization/prom/pro sports/college?), and most of the time I don’t think most of us stress the “big stuff” because we know that what we’re doing is more valuable for our families (not your families, public/private schoolers, you be you, no judgement here) than whatever it is we’re supposedly missing out on. But it’s the little things that have us doubting ourselves and borrowing against time or money that we don’t have. Should we get this activity t-shirt they’ll never wear? Should we try to squeeze in sledding tomorrow? Do we want to do that park meet up? Study sessions? Private lessons? Birthday parties?

It was the activity t-shirt question that got me today. It was just innocently sitting in my inbox, not intending to bog me down, but it did because I debated whether they would be missing out. I had no need and no desire for probably ill fitting choir shirts that cost more than an Old Navy tee but get worn significantly less. But I stopped and I wondered anyway because I want the best for my kids.

But then today as I drove around with my napping boys waiting for choir to end, I remembered that this is a decision that doesn’t matter. Most of these little bonus questions will make absolutely no difference in ten years.

These are the things that feel big, but aren’t. Sometimes the most important things are the ones that feel small. Reading one more story, letting a wiggly little one with cold feet snuggle in your bed on a Saturday morning, movie nights, a little note or text to show your thinking about them–these are the small things that make the big difference. Would your child be playing in the Philharmonic if you had signed up for those private violin lessons? Maybe, but in the realm of eternity that will mean nothing if you don’t take the time to communicate your love and the love of God to your child.

This is your reminder and this is my reminder that almost every opportunity that’s in your inbox, mailbox, and backpack is not as important as the opportunity to connect. I’m not condemning activities. We participate, too, but when it’s stressing you, your children, your spouse, or your wallet, it will never deprive your child to say no to an activity in order to say yes to a relationship.

What’s your kid’s favorite family activity?

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