Homeschool Trials and Celebrations

One month ago, we decided to officially homeschool Westin, our first grader. In that month there have been trials and celebrations as we begin to discern what works and what doesn’t. We have let go of the 7 hour school day and seen how quickly the days can fly by without getting anything done (or so it may seem from the outside). We have wondered why on Earth we thought we could take control of our children’s education and then, what would happen if we didn’t and why we chose to homeschool in the first place. It’s not always happy-go-lucky and then, some days or hours it is. It’s amazing the learning that can be done having the freedom to take learning outside the classroom –  when you have the time to do so. 

Thanks to the recommendation of a seasoned homeschooler, we were able to start teaching Westin how to write in cursive and he is doing amazing and enjoying it! We are hoping that this will help with his dyslexia as others have found to be true. Sad to think that this is an art that most schools have left out in keeping up with the new common core curriculum.

 

Allowing him to help decide some of our curriculum means that he has the opportunity to learn more about things that interest him and to dive deeper into subjects that he finds interesting. We are focusing our primary efforts on math and language (which can be our biggest battle depending on the day) but beyond that, we’ve been exploring his new passion for rocks, delving into history and whatever else may come our way.

Lulu has taken an interest in learning more as well, and it’s fun to see the two kids working together. Some days, it seems as if they do nothing but fight (sibling love), yet I can see their relationship strengthening as they create, build and play together. They both miss their school friends at times, even though Lulu still goes  to school twice a week, so I am hoping in time we can start connecting a bit more with other kids to fulfill that need.

I’m not doing everything perfectly, and I have to be reminded and remind myself that’s okay. We are learning and growing in this homeschool journey and each trial and celebration helps us grow in ways that wouldn’t be possible in the public school system. 

Following God’s Call

Montana Ministry

We are moving to Montana! There, I said it.

Why Montana???

Simple answer? Why not? Or…

We are accepting God’s call to go into ministry!

Okay. Maybe that’s not such a simple answer. The truth is, I had never considered going into ministry. The thought had never crossed my mind. But, God has used a series of events in our lives to bring our family to ministry at a non-profit Christian adventure camp named Camp Bighorn in Montana and we are accepting the call. We will be sharing more about this journey, and inviting you to take part, in the weeks and months to come. This is beyond exciting. Beyond crazy. But sometimes, God will invite you to do more than you ever imagined in ways beyond your comprehension. And along the way, He will remind you, “you are not alone”.

So here we are. Homeschooling, listening to God, and stepping out in faith to wherever this adventure may lead! I hope and pray you will join us!

Goodbye First Grade, Hello Homeschool 

Homeschooling

Last Thursday, I officially withdrew Westin from first grade at his public school. It was a decision that I had pondered ever since he entered Kindergarten, as we debated the pros and cons and logistics of how to make homeschool work, or if we could make it work, with two working parents. Or if there were other options that we could try. Or… the list goes on. It was a decision that I (we) had been wanting to make, but were afraid to make the plunge; that is, until I just couldn’t take the devastation anymore.

As I had posted recently, with common core, kids are no longer allowed the time to be kids. We were fighting every single school night to get through over an hour of homework that was often times absolutely pointless, poorly written, and/or made no sense. One of my many breaking points with trying to help Westin with his homework came when he was supposed to read a sentence which asked something along the lines of, “Why did the judge dump rocks in the pit?”… Yeah, can you explain that one to me? And there were many, many math problems with the new common core format that were an absolute joke. Well son, let me have you solve the same problem three different ways, thereby taking at least three times as long, draw these twenty-nine blocks for me, solve this equation using terminology and wording that you (and I) don’t understand, and tell me how you feel about your answer?  No thanks.

I wish that I could honestly say that was the worst of it. Sadly, first grade was progressively getting worse and worse, as was Westin’s attitude, and there was more and more homework. His test scores were falling despite his intelligence and ability to comprehend the subjects at home. I considered changing teachers or schools rather than homeschooling, but after many discussions with parents seeing the same thing in their children, stories of teachers leaving the profession due to their unwillingness to conform to the governmental overreach and detrimental effects of testing and pressure to their students, more information coming forth on how they are using student data, Westin (and every child) being treated and lableled as a number rather than a human being, as well as a big move in our horizon (more on that later), I was not willing to allow my baby boy to succumb to the disaster that has become public schooling any longer.

So, this marks week one of our new homeschool adventures. We have a lot to figure out, and I genuinely wish that public school was what it once was. BUT, I came home to a smile and hugs at the door after our first day of homeschool and only a few hours apart on Monday instead of the normal whining and frustration that had become the normal, school night battle. And even with a bit of a challenging day yesterday, I’m already seeing a significant change in attitudes for the better of everyone at home. It’s definitely not the easy path, but I hope it will be worth it!

Well Played God… How God Speaks to Us

how God speaks to us

Have you ever had those moments when you saw just the right quote or verse when you needed it, heard just the right song, the sermon at church seemed to be written just for you, a friend said the exact words you needed to hear, a stranger touched you in an unexpected way?.?. And you just knew at that moment that it was God speaking to you?

God speaks to us in so many ways, if we are just willing to listen

I’ve had so many instances of this communication lately, I could go on and on. I thought it would be fun to share a few of these, because heaven knows there have been way too many times when I HAVEN’T had any communication with God and I’ve needed him desperately. Lately has been different though. Lately my faith has grown as I have opened my heart and mind in the midst of a major war with my depression and anxiety, and asked, prayed, begged God to reveal Himself to me. To talk to me. To let me knows He’s real. Over and over and over again. Some of you may not believe in God, some may wonder if He’s real, or if He is real, why would He let you go through this, why won’t he answer your prayers, why you can’t hear Him, why… (The list is endless) Or maybe like me, you’ve felt the spirit working in or around you at various times in your life. Whatever it might be; whether you take this as spirits, God, or merely coincidence, I believe that God has been speaking to me lately more than ever and helping me get through. And maybe, just maybe you’ll find a bit of encouragement in reading my experiences.

It started in January of this year. I had lost my diamond cross necklace several months earlier. I had searched high and low for it and finally given up on the search, convinced it was gone for good. One day, I prayed the prayer “God. If you’re real, reveal yourself to me. Make me believe.” On that very day, I walked through the hallway of my old house and stepped on something on the wood planked floor. I ignored it, assuming it was something from the kids – toy, paper, whatever. I didn’t see anything and wasn’t in the mood to scan the floor (if you have kids around you know what I’m talking about). A few minutes later, I walked back through the hallway, this time stepping on something again and hearing it slide across the floor. Mind you, this is a floor that had been cleaned many, many times with remodel and kid induced messes. But of course, having stepped on something two times in a row, I looked down this time to figure out what on Earth I had stepped on. And there lying in the middle of the hardwood floor, was my cross. God revealed himself to me through my lost cross.

Well played, God

Fast forward. I’ve been trying to read the book “The Me I Want to Be” by John Ortberg for over a year and been slooooowly working through it. Well, last week I sent a text to my best friend, telling her how I’ve been completely burned out by some people in my life. Literally, not more than 5 minutes later, I open my book to the next chapter and it’s about how God places difficult people in our lives to help us grow. I then happened to need, use and apply the lesson the following day.

Well played, God

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life; listening, praying, reaching for God’s calling, trying (key word) to be patient and trust in Him. Wednesday night I started a bible study app that has repetitively stated variations of verses that “you are not alone.” Sunday morning I started working on this post, and was unable to finish as I was interrupted by the kids. After getting their breakfast and feeding our dog Zero, I checked the mail and it was a book about the bible and its’ place in our futures. Um, okay? When Terrance, my husband, got up I was talking to him about how God has been communicating with me and repeating the message “you are not alone.” We went to church, where my mother in law and her boyfriend joined us for their first time (awesome experience!) And then, our pastor spoke his message on… You guessed it. “You are not alone.” Really, at this point, all I could do was smile, cry a few tears, and thank God. Well played, well played… There are so many more instances I could share as of lately but I don’t want to keep you reading all day! However, I would love to know—

How does God speak to you? 

I’d love to read your stories of encouragement, so please comment and share! And if you feel that God doesn’t communicate with you, or hasn’t ever – it’s okay. You are not alone and it doesn’t always happen when you want it to. But I invite you to open your heart once again to hear Him, or send me a message and I’d love to join you in prayer that you may find refuge and friendship in Jesus, our Lord our God. He may just be in the places you least expect to find Him :)

Enough! No Time To Be A Kid

common core homework

Elementary School. First Grade. Earllier this year, I shared how Kindergarten, which most of us remember as our best year, was breaking my kid. Now, we are on to first grade. And as I feared, it’s worse.

My Westin is still a “baby” in my eyes. Do you see those little hands? Those are the hands of a little boy who still has plenty of time to “grow up”. Now, look at his face. This is a face that should be smiling, laughing, playing… Seeing the good in the world and driving us crazy with his little boy sense of humor. But, instead, thanks to common core and higher and higher homework expectations from our little kids, you see the face here. The face that is sad. Mad. Tired. The face that is fed up after having worked all day at school and then at after school because both of his parents work (as so many of us have to), and now homework is taking up the little bit of time he should have to play before he goes to bed. Sure, he got out for an hour for soccer practice, but this little boy has no time to be a kid. He went to bed late again because we’re trying to get it all done and still falling behind. He got yelled at, frustration and raised voices during homework because Mom and Dad are tired too after working all day and then coming home and working with a kid who has no desire to listen or get things done when we have no time as it is, and we are all worn down…

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair and it’s not right. Why are our kids losing more and more time and getting sucked in to the busyness trap of adulthood? Why are they missing out on life at it’s finest? It’s most innocent? All so they can pass a (common core) experimental test? And we as parents aren’t allowed to take them out of school for more than 7 days (sick, vacation, etc. total) without being issued a truancy warning, even though here we all are sitting for an hour or more each night teaching them at home what they should be doing at school? Our kids are not f-ing test subjects, they are human beings! And we parents deserve a break to enjoy ourselves and our children too!

Education and going to school should be about helping our kids learn. Parents should have a part in helping kids learn. But at what point was the value in learning through experience, through living and having fun, through using our brains to imagine and create, through making mistakes or having “nothing to do”, through helping our parents make dinner or clean our rooms… When was the value of all that lost? And when will our kids ever get that back if it is all taken away now, so early in their development? What does it say to our kids if we as parents don’t even understand what in the hell the questions are asking on the homework or the point of it all in KINDERGARTEN, FIRST GRADE, and all the grades beyond due to the new common core curriculum that makes no sense?

I know, I know, I’m repeating myself here from my post before. But I’m so fed up. I’m so sad. And it breaks my heart that so many parents I talk to feel the same way. What is going to happen to our next generation if we keep going like this? What kind of personalities and emotions will they have? How are our kids going to feel about us? How do we stop this cycle and say:

ENOUGH?!?!?!

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