Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grace!

My precious Grace,

Four years ago, God blessed our lives in a mighty way.  You joined our family and life was never the same.   
It’s wild that when you joined the family, it’s like you were always there.  It’s difficult to even remember what life was like without your sweet voice, without your sweet smile.  Like our lives were missing you, and we didn’t even know it.

This has been a wonderful year of growth for you, my dear girl.  Although you talk nonstop at home, you hesitate to be a social thing.  You like to hang with your mom, and I’m totally cool with it since I know in my heart of hearts that this is a stage, and it is passing, quickly passing.  You are growing up, and you don’t need my presence to feel safe as often as you used to. 

This year has been marked with a significant growth spurt.  Your legs have gotten so long.  You’re still a slender little thing, and your feet are still as tiny as they were last year.  They may have grown a half size.  You’re going to be a skinny, long-legged girl with teeny feet.  You cut your bangs a few weeks ago, and I thought I was going to have a stroke!  They’ve finally grown out…{sigh}

You’ll start preschool this coming school year.  You sat in with Hannah and the boys for a good portion of our year last year, but you have your own things for this coming fall.  That excites you in a magnificent way.
I love the way you dance around the living room and the way you jump into the pool without a concern in the world. I love that you tried to convince your swimming instructor that you wanted to be a mermaid when you grew up, and you needed to know how to swim with your ankles crossed.

 I love the way you paint and color everything pink because your world is pink and in your eyes, everything ought to be pink.  
I love that you trust so completely and that everything in your little world is impressive and exciting.  You are a joy and you find joy in your life even at four years old.  You seem to celebrate the little things as you explore your world. I hope I can encourage you to continue that attitude since you inspire me to find all the joy that you find.

The Lord has certainly blessed your heart with a sweet, generous spirit that genuinely cares about the people around you.  Last week, as we took care of your little cousins, you awoke in the night worried that one of the boys would wake and be afraid in the night.  So you went to spend the rest of the night sleeping by him.  In the dead of night, you thought of him.  That, my dear, is a moment of complete selflessness. 

You are precious, and I love enjoying childhood with you, my little one.  May the Lord bless this year in a special way. 
I love you,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2011-2012 School Year Wrap up

We finished our school year May 9th.  This year was our best year yet.  I’m not entirely sure why because there were so many days that were more or less “Plan B” days. There were days that didn’t go according to plan or according to my schedule or the schedule I thought sounded good…the schedule that looked like a dream come true on paper. 

Life rarely goes according to schedule, and one of my goals is to teach my kids to be flexible, to adapt.  My own personality really, really wants things to go smoothly, according to MY plan.  I like to plan.  I like to make lists, and I want to check off everything on my list. 

I want things to go perfectly.  But life is not perfect.  Things rarely go perfectly.

I worry when the extras don’t fit in or when I only complete the extras.  I worry that we don’t do enough hands on projects, and on days when we are mostly hands on, I worry we haven’t had enough structure or bookwork.  I always worry that I haven’t done enough as a mom, as a home educator, that I haven’t been enough of what I need to be.  Have I, gasp, socialized everyone enough?  Or have we been out and about too much?  I have a hard time finding that happy medium when we’re in the thick of things.

Then, I hear my husband’s voice so many times cheering me on, telling me that the children are learning a lot more than I think they are…even when we haven’t checked off every assignment or gone over every little detail.  Now that we’re done with our official year, I can see the big picture of what we’ve learned a little clearer.  I am so thankful for this year and the time I’ve spent with the kids.


Time and time again, I’ve had one or more of the children begging for another chapter of whichever read aloud we’re doing.  I’ve also had them make nonchalant remarks about the things we’re studying and play games based on the ancient history we’ve studied.  Charades was a good one.  One had to act out a historical event, and the others had to guess which event that was.

I’ve had the kids in the kitchen more…which is a huge learning curve for me because I don’t really like the mess they make all that much.  They are learning a lot of new chores.  They’re folding their own laundry and cleaning their own rooms.  They’re vacuuming and doing the dishes. I’ve always done some chores, but they’re capable of a lot more than I was giving them credit for.  All of this should have started when they were younger, and I would let them try their hand at things sporadically. But sometimes I did it all so it would get done right the first time. 

Bad idea.  Then you have to train them how to do things they need to know how to do after they’ve formed so many bad habits.  So…chore lists for everyone.  And everyone pitches in. Period. 

Ethan is reading…really, reading.  It was a long road to get us to this point, and there is certainly room for improvement.  But isn’t there always room for improvement for everyone about something?  I am so happy for him.  It’s become one of his favorite subjects.  Other subjects are going well, but reading is definitely the highlight of our year for him.

Daniel’s reading is progressing well.  He’s reading some every night before bed to help him sleep.  He has a “thing” about going to sleep.  He gets so worried about being able to sleep, he has a hard time getting to sleep.  He’s pretty high strung, so it takes him a while to wind down. So the fact that he asks for a book to help him relax is a pretty major deal.

Hannah loves her school time.  She is ready and willing to do reading, math, handwriting anytime, anywhere.  She is the one who begs to have a reading lesson and then will proceed to ask me for one more.  So with her attitude, I think she’s already doing well.  She’s also my little helper and has a phenomenal attitude regarding chores.  She asks for her own list and gets busy.  

Grace was thrilled when we bought her a couple of books for next year.  She, literally, squealed when I brought her books out for her to browse through.  She’s so excited to be at the big table with the others and even more excited that she has her own things.  It’s a blessing to witness her enthusiasm.

So while I don’t believe homeschooling is for everyone, I do believe it’s for us, for now.