Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Homeschool Hints - Part II

In Part I of this series on Homeschool Hints, we talked about some basic principles to help in your transition to homeschooling. Now I’d like to move into some practical tips to help your day run more smoothly.

  • First of all, the key word is PLANNERS. Buy a teacher’s planbook from a teacher supply store. And look for the planner with the most space…you’re going to need it, especially if you are schooling more than one child. If these are too expensive for your budget, never fear. You can create your own using Excel, or a piece of paper and a ruler, if you are technically challenged. You can also find templates to print for free on the wonderful website of Donna Young (http://www.donnayoung.org/). She has an abundant supply of free planning forms available for homeschool parents to use. If you are a Type-A planner like me, you will find this website addictive! Now that you have a planner, buy or create one for each of your children. At the beginning of the school year, you can purchase these inexpensively at any store with school supplies (or you can create your own). The year I decided to use a planner for each of my children was the year homeschooling became manageable…yes, really. Every weekend, I write in each child’s planner, listing their individual work for the whole week. While this may seem an overly simple idea, it revolutionized our homeschool. Now, each child knew exactly what was expected of them, without my having to tell them. No longer did they ask me every ten minutes, “What do I do now, Mom?” interrupting while I was trying to work with another child. No longer did I have to check my planner every ten minutes to see if everyone was on track for the morning. And, best of all, my early–riser children began getting up (BEFORE me) and completing a good portion of their independent work before breakfast, leaving us lots of time for reading great historical fiction books, science experiments and art projects. I used to spend time every weekend planning out all of our work for the following week. Now that I am more experienced at this, I have it down to spending time about once a month, planning out our work for an entire month, thus freeing me up for other things. Trust me, the best thing you can do is to invest in some planners for everyone!

  • Another tip that seems like a small thing but has big results is this: Don’t answer the telephone. We tend to do school in the morning hours at our house and are usually done shortly after lunch (my kids are early risers). When we began homeschooling, I purposed to not answer the telephone during school hours, knowing it could be a major distraction. Interruptions of any kind when you are trying to teach your children are disruptive to their learning, and a quick “five-minute conversation” can easily turn into a half-hour wasted. My friends know to call me in the afternoons if they want to talk to me, and an answering machine insures that important calls aren’t missed (it also allows us to pick up if it’s Daddy!). Your kids will appreciate having your undivided attention and their learning will benefit from a focused environment. We also added a sign to our front door that discourages solicitors (“No Soliciting—Homeschool in Progress”).

  • And now, the MOST important tip for today: Before you do anything…PRAY. Don’t enter the arena without putting on God’s armor and provision. Homeschooling is not an easy task and we need to be sure we are leaning on God’s strength to be the patient and loving teachers our children need. The days that nothing seems to go right at my house tend to be the days that I stumble out of bed late and don’t take the time to pray before going to greet my children. I try to pray for each of them individually, for our school day, for strength for me as their teacher and for all of my friends who are beginning their school day as well. I don’t want to ever presume to undertake this high calling without leaning on the divine help of the Saviour.

In the next installment, I will provide some curriculum reviews and some resource recommendations. Please check back soon for Part III.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Dearth of Manners

As I write this, I am sitting in an airport, waiting to return home from an incredible eight days at sea in the Caribbean. My husband and I decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary in a very memorable way and to escape together for a few days of relaxation and romance. Our cruise took us to several tropical locations as well as several “at sea” days.

During our journey, we noticed one thing over and over again. The crew members on our ship were absolutely amazing. They had so obviously been well-trained to treat each passenger with the utmost respect and cordiality. Each crew member would greet you politely when you passed in the hallways. The waiters at meals would pull out your chair and seat you with a smile. We heard many “sir”s and “ma’am”s and were served with the utmost respect. If you had a special need, they would bend over backwards to make it happen. Their behavior seemed to hearken back to an earlier time, when good manners were the norm, not the exception.

In contrast, however, was the behavior of many of the passengers. While some were very pleasant (such as our wonderful dinner companions), the majority were not. Time after time, we would be the ones to step aside in the narrow hallways, while the other guests plowed on through without even an “excuse me” or “thank you”, as if it were their God-given right to be first. We heard complaint after complaint about the pettiest of issues. Here we were in the closest thing to paradise on earth, and people found something to complain about! We also were appalled at our cigar-smoking neighbors in the stateroom next door, who daily chased us off our balcony with their noxious fumes. Even simple items of courtesy, such as “please” and “thank you” seemed to be absent among many of the passengers.

We couldn’t help but ponder what the world would be like if everyone acted with the same courtesy as our Royal Caribbean crew. People would be appreciative, eager to serve others and polite in their social interactions. Our assistant waiter, Manuel, had a response that we found noteworthy. Whenever we thanked him for filling our water glasses or giving us bread, he would look us in the eye and gallantly reply, “It is my pleasure”. He seemed so sincere in this statement, making us feel that it truly was a pleasure for him to serve us. What an honor it was to be served by someone who made you feel as though nothing was more important than fulfilling your every need.

It’s time for us to start a revolution…let’s teach our children old-fashioned manners and then turn them loose to change the world. Let’s be diligent in teaching them to speak politely, to seek opportunities to serve others (and to take pleasure in it), and to just be aware of the needs of the people around them. If Royal Caribbean can manage this, surely we can, too!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Counting My Blessings

Today, I just want to share with you that I am counting my blessings. Twenty years ago today, I married the man I adore, my very best friend. I have watched this man grow from a very young husband into a beautiful man of God. I am ever so blessed to have his leadership in our family, his devotion to me and our children, and his heart that is fully committed to God. He gives me more than I could ever desire, loves me without fail and is a loving and tender father to our children. He has never given me a moment's cause to doubt him, has been there for me through sunshine and rain, and still thinks I am beautiful. He is all I could ever ask for in a husband and I pray that we have many, many more years serving our Father together. Today, I just want to honor him and tell him how very much I love him. Happy 20th anniversary, Alan...I will love you forever.