Goofing Off

Photo on 11-2-15 at 9.04 PM #2Because sometimes it’s just good to be silly.

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Fall Break

It’s officially Fall Break around here.  For us, September held birthdays, visits from out-of-town grandparents, meetings, more meetings, and more m…

FullSizeRenderBirthday celebration for our 14-year-old son (beside me).

FullSizeRenderG-parents, looking at a dog book with the kids.

And now it’s October.  We aren’t actually “breaking” from our routine too much this week because to do that feels like bringing a full-stop to our already-wobbly momentum.  And, anyway, Christmas is coming soon (yes, it really is–stop denying it).

We take Christmas break very seriously in this house.

However, it doesn’t take much for us to feel that something kind-of special/different/holidayish is happening even now.  This week we’ve been lighting fires in the fireplace at night.  We’ve been watching Agatha Christie murder mysteries on Netflix in the late afternoon gloom.  The other day we ate chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.  Several.

And it really is good enough.

So from our house to yours:  Happy Fall, You People (because I can’t make myself type y’all)

The Hardest Part of Homeschooling

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Over at Simple Homeschool, parents are writing about the hardest thing about homeschooling their child(ren).  As I think about this topic I realize my answers to that question have changed over the years.

Once, the hardest thing was coordinating nap times so that I could grab uninterrupted reading time with an older child.

Later it was dealing with constant distractions and short attention spans.

Then it was homeschooling in a foreign country and having everything I relied on for routine and structure stand on its head for months at a time.

Now, with so many of those little kid (and traveling-while-homeschooling) scenarios becoming increasingly distant memories, I’m in a different place.

Now?

The hardest thing about homeschooling is dealing with my own self–my lack of motivation and my general sense of fatigue.  It’s not my kids’ squirming or attitudes or sleepless nights due to power outages that give me pause.

It’s me.  I’m tired, and sometimes–can I be honest?–a little bored.

This isn’t what I expected five years ago.  I thought that after ten years of teaching my kids, of having endless conversations about ideas and the world around us, after years of browsing through museums, of setting timers for wayward math-sheet-fillers, I’d get to a place where everything fell into place and we breezed through the years.

But it turns out that just when this path gets easier in one way, it gets harder in another.

I’m not sure how to the solve the problem of my own self.  I know that this educational choice is still the one that works best for us, so I want to get out of my own way so that we can go the distance.  So far, I’m trying to help this mother out by

  • spending extra time in the morning reading, praying, writing, and thinking.
  • working on a few personal projects that are mine alone, ones that have nothing to do with my kids and everything to do with the person I am outside of Mother.
  • spending time with women friends when those moments present themselves.  (I need to be encouraged and refreshed by other people, though of course there are times when they drain the life out of me, too).
  • doing the types of “educational” things with my kids that make all of us happy, like re-reading favorite books together.
  • exercising with the door shut while listening to my favorite music.

One thing I know is that this season will pass, too, and with it a host of good and some not-so-good memories.  But that would be the case no matter how we managed our educations.  I’m not as naive anymore when it comes to thinking through what I want my kids to have gleaned from this homeschooling lifestyle.  But I’m not a cynic, either.

This journey, like all journeys, is a patchwork quilt of moments, and some squares are more tattered than others.  Still, I’m trying to remember the big picture, the warmth of the whole, rather than picking at flaws in the fabric.

Rest on Labor Day

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It’s Labor Day.  We’re a homeschool family, so technically we don’t have to take this day off.  But you know what?

We are.

Some things we love to do around here when we aren’t working are

  • singing karaoke to the laptop (YouTube)
  • watching television shows from the seventies (Netflix)
  • shooting basketballs in the driveway (OK, I don’t do this one but the kids and husband do)
  • eating pancakes any time during the day we want (just add peanut butter!).

Breaks from the norm are important, as everyone knows, but sometimes we don’t take them seriously enough or set aside down time with intention.  I plan to help our family do that today.  Hopefully you can do something fun today, too, even if it’s just hitting Sonic at Happy Hour.

Labor is important, but so is rest.  How do you make time to switch gears?

With Eyes That Can’t Shut

My weekend with my family was exhausting and I woke up this morning feeling as though I’d been running in my sleep.

On Saturday, we attended a protest in a major city about two hours away from ours and we brought our kids with us.  It’s not something I ever thought I’d do–bring my kids along to a gathering that might get a certain kind of “colorful”, that is–but when my husband and I thought it through, it made sense to us to introduce them to our values in this way.  It wasn’t without trepidation that we loaded the car before the sun came up and headed on the highway.

When we arrived at our destination, we noticed that the crowd was huge already, though we’d gotten there early, and it continued to swell before our eyes as the morning went on.  There were hecklers, people who screamed obscenities at us with wide, angry eyes, and the kids looked at us as if to ask, “Is this how it is?”

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And it is, sometimes.

In the end, we heard and saw things we can never unknow, though a part of me wishes we could for the sake of our happiness.  I don’t know how to process heavy things except through words (and sometimes inconvenient tears) so I commend to you these lines.

Letting Kids Be Kids

My kids are getting older, and this means things are changing around our house.  This Fall marks the first in which all three of mine will be involved in sports practices, music lessons, co-op classes, various church activities, and more–every, single week.

I know that, for a lot of people, that’s nothing new.  But up to this point, we’ve led a slow-paced–and a tad unconventional–life, both here and abroad.  Since I’ll soon have two teenagers, though, I feel our pace of life naturally accelerating.  And it should, I remind myself, even if it makes me a little uncomfortable.

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But what I want to keep remembering in this new parenting season is, childhood is (still) fleeting, each day (still) has only 24 hours in it, and a few activities (still) go a long way in enriching a kid’s life–even a teenager’s.  There’s a tendency in our culture to do too much, and I don’t want to join the ranks of the worn out and stressed just because everyone else is doing it.

On that note, I found this article on letting kids have time to be kids to be both encouraging and informative.  Maybe you will, too.  In the end, our kids only get one childhood.  We should try to protect it for as long as we can.