Friday, August 29, 2008

Marissa in Rawanda, Mission Trips with History Lessons

I just checked out the blog of a sweet, sweet young lady who served as a Youth Intern at our church. She is now serving the Lord in a faraway land. As I read what she had to read I sat stunned at what a difference one of us can make, if we know. Sometimes knowing the injustice or the pain, or the___________fill in the blank is all it takes to get us on our feet.
As I read about the injustices and the death, I wonder what can I do from here. I have some ideas, but it is limited:
Buy things from the communities in pain (ideas on )

Teach our children...I was told just yesterday that we can not be innocent and wise, I am moving that around my spirit, but I do believe it to be true, mostly. Teach them them about the pain and loss in communities near you, encourage them to read excellent literature and works by those who have suffered in our nation and those abroad, read biographies and autobiographies about others. Tell them about tough history, painful history, even if it is personal....Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, Civil Rights in the US, Apparteit, sadly we have many choices.

Choose to serve outside of our homes, with a plan, put on the calender regularly.

Go places that you think might not be safe and hug a kid or take someone to dinner.

I am sad today, about things happening in the world that I don't know how to help.
Being sad is ok.
Maybe being sad is best and if not we should wonder why.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Answers, Ideas, and Teenagers Knowing It All

I want a new checklist, that doesn't change from child to child or for that matter from day to day. We have some hard and fast rules in our family. We also have some guidelines that we pray continually over, seeking to protect the purity of our children's hearts and integrity and like it or not, those guidelines and what we allow are often dealt with based on the people (besides our children) involved. This is difficult at best, I ask for God's grace, often in successive moments. As a momma of one teenager and 5 up and coming teenagers, I now realize I don't know it all. What I know today is that I want the best for these kids. That my ideas have changed would be an understatement. When we found out that Zachary was going to be, it was the night that Clinton was elected....the first time. I was far more liberal AND at the ripe old age of 19, I had the entire plan for the coming 21 years completely set out. Fifteen years later, during one of the nights of the Democratic National Convention, I am far more conservative and I am trying to plan out tomorrow and how I will answer the questions, the big questions of the big kids, because I don't have all the answers anymore.

Movement, Just Enough Still, in Curtain Forts

My sweet mother, Marner, Rachel, moving in with us and for those of you that have actually seen my home you are now saying, "huh?", but God is good. I need to say that a lot lately, that is a side note.
I worked for years to get away from my mother, was out of the home on and off through out adolescence and on my on young, pretty independent even younger. Our experiences were those of two people surviving pain together and independently often at the hands of the same people/person. We did....survive, but not without scarring and deep bruises to our spirits. For the last few years God has graciously begun to redeem our relationship, to heal our hearts and to give me a heart of forgiveness and hope. My mom is not well, she has struggled with lung and ear issues for years and while surviving the first 50 years of her life in addition she worked, alone, to provide for me, during a season. Pain doesn't disappear and hurt has not been allowed to be covered with me in the most recent past, I have been forced to deal with it. I am grateful. The dealing with it and continuing to deal with it has put our family in the position, to once again defy the odds of the American Dream and re-shape the family, to how God intends it to be. So here in our small 1500 sq. ft. home, where I have said it is more like camping and sticky and you never sure what you are going to eat, we have put up curtains and made a room, moved kids around, mopped a floor and started transferring my moms life directly into ours, to make a new ours. DJ proclaimed upon looking at the twins new room "wowee, a biggest tent ever." We have always let the kids enjoy building sheet tents in the house, I guess this will be an extension of the Great Adventure of always Having and Being just enough....with tent/forts in the dining room.
Pictures will come
Just enough space.
Just enough time.
Just enough of get us by.
Always Just Enough of Him.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Panic and the Stories We Tell Ourselves, Truth AND Consequences

If people really know who I am, the experiences I have endured, enjoyed or ultimately allowed to shape me they will not like me or accept me. If people really know the stories this life carries, the real stories, the ones that keep me up at night and that others fear, they will send me packing.
This is what I tell myself, this is sometimes what I believe.
I was an open book, now I am guarded book.
Sure I tell you my stories, some of them, with color and tone and hope....but you don't get the details. You don't need them, really, not in this forum, wouldn't like me.....right?
We all have a story.
My story today IS....we are looking to join our local church we have been at for over 3 years. I am told we are loved, accepted and wanted. I say to myself, you don't know my story. Me the talker, the teller on my self, had a small panic, okay a large panic upon the announcement that we would meet with some of the elders and place membership. Mortified, I decided my husband shouldn't be such a leader after all. This all followed my sweet twin girls being baptized 2 weeks ago, surrounded by this family of friends who said they really love us. Surrounded by relationship I realize(d), I still worry.
I don't have any deep thoughts on this, know answer in the conclusion. I am just putting it out there. I believe somewhere in me that you may be fine with the conclusion of my story thus far, and even good with the sketchy details, but goodness forbid you ever need the details and you will (not maybe, but will) change your mind. It has happened you know!?.
This are my thoughts and this is my story conclusion.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just Another Day In Paradise, with more GRACE

It is Monday. We have *deep breath*.....we have-----------
gone to Classical Conversations, looked for and found Daddy's keys, finished math, science, started presentations, worked on bible memory, played hide and seek, cooked supper, eaten supper, and checked teenager's text messages, logged into face book, survived a few seizures and and another day with a broken armed 10 year old, and listened to the children. Whew!!! I am tired, I am happy, I am tired. It is the good tired the kind where you take a deep breath and a sigh of relief AND a thought of gratitude and sleep well.
We have lived in routine/schedule mode for years,this year we have grace. I mean we have always had grace, but gosh, now I am more aware of it and giving it to the children. Amazingly, the more available I make grace to my babies, the better they do and the less I feel like they need grace. Did any of that make since? Learning to positively parent is a new thing, well not exactly...I have wanted to be more positive always, but now instead of looking for an almighty book, or checklist, get this...... I am just treating them the way I want to be treated. Clear expectations, good re-enforcement, lots of re-direction, a smile, understandable consequences, lots of laughing and grace.
It has been a good day, I am tired, but it has been a great day.
A grace filled day.
We all need grace.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Taking Care-Big Brothers and Baby Sisters

We have experienced another broken arm this last week. Maci, fell off the edge of the pool she had been told not to walk on and broke the left arm in two places. Last summer it was my son Zachary who is the oldest and almost a man this summer compared to last summer.
Zachary and Maci(mackenzi) usually bicker more than any of the other children, but this week while navigating her pain, I watched as Zachary loved her...not with an "I love you", but with "I hurts". He was gentle with her, he showed her grace, I became aware that he is becoming a man. Our sweet Miss Marie, neighbor, says to the girls all the time "you will be as big as me in a minute." It really is just a minute and they are as big and as grown. WE are all learning to relate more to shift the paradigm of having another adult type in our home. He is a leader, and becoming more teachable. He is growing up. I am a proud momma. My mother in law advised me very early on that I didn't want to raise good sons and daughters, but instead good husbands and wives. I am not sure what the Lord has for these kids but I believe that it has had very little to do with me. I am mostly mean and too loud, but God has shifted us. The seasons have changed and we are moving and growing. End result....I am not all good, God is all good, the children will survive me.
Thank God.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Too Cool For School-Including Sensory Work, Schedule, Memory Work

(Warning Spelling Check not working and I am tired-publishing now by request)

The weather is so nice in Memphis, I wish we were on fall break and classes have barely begun.  Our family, usually, takes extra time off in the fall after the hottest dog days of summer in July and August have been filled with school, before others returned....alas, we are in class.
Getting down to business for us means back to a routine of school work.  I tend to be pretty precise with this, trying to build in wiggle room for fun, extra reading, sneaking off to journal or draw.
Here is ther run down for those of you who have expressed interest of 'how do you do all that with so many kids'.  I want to say that until 3 years ago we did the basic and prayed for sleep. Only since we have had big helpers and some more self-sufficiency have I been brave enough to leave the house for classes.  God is gracious and through lots of fun reading times, hands on projects, PBS, the History Channel and some creative field trips, our children have a vast knowledge of Science and History. We still depend on lots of reading for Science and History in the younger years where we have never used traditional text (they are so boring and easy to forget).  I have enjoyed watching our children enjoy the process and not just the outcome.

7 am wake personal Bible and Copy work         sensory work
8 am-Family Bible and assigned Bible work and memory
8:30-English Grammar and CC Memory Work
9:30 Spanish of  various levels for all AND PHONICS for the little guys
10 am Latin Memory work and Latin Grammar for the oldest two sensory work
10:30-Vocabulary-Wordly Wise-Research skills-Study Skills building-Logic
11 am CC Memory Work
11:30 Science (Including Biology 9th grade, Physical Science 7th, Anatomy for the littles with fun Songs from CC and Lyrical Life Science 3) sensory work
Then free time till lunch at 12:30
1:00 Straighten and nap for youngest
1:30 Assigned Reading (historical fiction to go along with our current study of American History and American Lit.)
2:00 Prepare for CC presentations (credit for applicable subject) sensory work
2:30 Math (Algebra2, Pre-Algebra, 5th grade, 3rd grade, 2nd Grade, and numbers)
3:30 History/Geography-Time line Cards form Veritas, 5 states and capitals, The Light and the Glory 7th Grade, Notgrass American History 9th grade, The Light and Glory for Children)
4ish-Before supper chores and FREE TIME-Large Motor Skills
Before 6:30 Dinner

Evening Activities-Church, Choir, Homework, Free time, Website work, Free Reading- As little screens as possible to help keep from having issues with sleep.

Friday, August 8, 2008

In Our Home The Cookie Cutters Broke

Who knew that my talking about discipline in our home would generate so much conversation. I am grateful for those that publicly commented and intrigued by the private comments. Please remember this is how we do it in our home. If I begin to tell you how to do it in your home that would make me no different than the theology that we were hurt by. It may work for some, but not this momma....I am just not nice enough naturally to not get angry when it doesn't work.
Over at Adventures in Mercy she wrote about the advice we can get online, without seeing the living out of this. There are so many families recovering from the same pain, because this is what we sought. That was dangerous for me, I got the advice and I ran with it, without first seeking the Word, my husband and the best interest of our family. I hurt people's hearts and I judged harshly, I didn't like me, because I was failing, constantly. I couldn't be loving or understanding of anyone else. I just wanted a list that is the OCD part of me, having a cookie cutter life would be a comfort to me....maybe. It wasn't so much that it was wrong *possibly*, its that it was wrong for us, or maybe being done for the wrong may never know. The bottom line, this is IN OUR HOME....let me say it again In Our Home. The very same teaching for some has played out very differently In Their Home. God is good that way, we are not cookie cutter people. Today I am grateful for the walk out of what was legalism, in our home, the entire experience made me who I am today. This has changed the integrity of our family, the sanctity of our marriage and my relationship with the Lord. But for God's grace it could have swallowed me alive. This is how we do it In Our Home. As folks peruse through all I have to say, I know I am wordy and opinionated, don't make it a checklist for success in your home. Make your on life. For goodness gracious, if I had a check list for success, we would look more successful. Instead In Our Home, today, we just look like the Pikes...a family seeking God daily, hoping for a little more grace and hope on the journey, healing hearts and playing with babies....while trying to give a solid education. This is my story today, in our home.
What is your story today?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A New Idea....Grace not Legalism

A very important part to our home education journey is the way we correct children and ourselves in this walk. I am a work in progress and when I started the parenting journey, I didn't have good sign post. I have always adored our children and have sought to give them a base in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I was angry. It seems like for years, I was angry, frustrated and feeling often like a failure. I accepted teaching that told me if I followed a certain *checklist* then we wouldn't have conflict, our children would be just want to obey, naturally, and that if this didn't guessed parents were doing something wrong. The result of this was someone had to be to blame, myself, my husband or our children. I was offered the advice that if I didn't do it 'this way', I would have unruley, hellions, that could never serve God fitly. Discipline was just part of the list every part of our lives was touched by the theology. Often I would blame Donnie, after all if would just read the dog gone books himself he would understand. Next I blamed myself, "I am a bad ungodly mother," I would say to myself. Finally, I would become increasingly loud, and unkind with our children, I was tired and discontented. Occasionally, I would get a glimpse of grace and would try to change, but I had been entrenched in the teachings. I had become legalistic. I was working my way to heaven, through my kitchen, my schedule, my discipline style....but I was mean.
Thank goodness for God's grace. I lost everything, I came to the bottom of myself and God was there waiting with a sweet face to gaze into and I saw hope. It has been a few years and I am re-learning. I am climbing out of the pit of legalism, we are becoming a new family. Now, I have a teenager and some up and coming teenagers in addition to my pre-schooler. It is hard, the undoing of pain, is hard work. Bitterness set in at some point and healing is having to happen. I cry out loud and out to God often, "help me, fix this!". He will, He is, He wants to. Kind words are healing to the bones, that is what the Proverbs say, I am believing it.
Healing to the bones, like salve to the heart. God is able, I am not, but God is. If you are stuck in pain and battle with your children, stop, look and listen, God may want to move you, release you, change just may not be about the children.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Education in our home Part Two, Classical Converastions, Memory Work, Grammar Stage,God's Hand in Your HomeSchool, Classical Education

Taking a deep breath and believing that home educators need to hear about this I have decided to share to the best of my ability what we will be starting on Monday, but what I have prepared for since late April, Classical Conversations.

Classical Conversations was introduced to me just over one year ago and I let it pass, it seemed out of reach for our family, something that I could not grasp or help our children accomplish...I was afraid of failure. I wish I had held on with both hands and taken this ride sooner.

Classical Conversations is an extension of the Classical Education that I have tried to implement in our home for over 10 years. With Classical Conversations I have the accountability and the resources to complement what we already study.

The particulars of our coming year are Classical Conversations Cycle Three are from God's hand to our family. God is so good, let me say it again GOD is so GOOD, all the time. As I began to evaluate the coming school year this last April, I knew that we would cover American History from Pre-K to Highschool Freshman. I knew that we would need to discipline ourselves to the memory work of Highschool History. God continually brought the Veritas Press materials before me and I even owned many of them. I became painfully aware that we need to improve on our English Grammar, Math Facts and Geography. I was only having minimal success in these areas. Our oldest daughter desired more challenging work and some more accountability to others. I prayed and woke in the middle of the night remembering an old conversation with Leah an acquaintance, now called friend. I prayed for confirmation, received it and in a glimpse had signed on not only for going to CC, but tutoring.....Classical Conversations Cycle 3, American History being the History offered in the cycle. God is Good.

Classical Conversations give the children and the parents the tools for memory work in English Grammar, Latin, Bible, History Sentences, Timeline Cards (Veritas Press), Art/Music,Math facts and definitions, and Geography. The Classical Conversations Guide adds to what a family is already doing, it is the punch to the Grammar Stage of learning (see link below to find out about that- ).

Our home education needs just that punch. I have prayed everyday for encouragement in this walk I started and to continue gaining strength where God needs me to serve in the program. God has given strength. I have been led to multiple blogs, while not all dedicated to Classical Conversations recently mentioning them.

God wants our home education journeys to succeed. Ask what you need, He will show you. Tell God where you struggle, His hand will become evident. God just like that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Our School Looks Part 1,Classical Education 101,Vocabulary, History, Latin, Spanish, Classical Conversations, English Grammar

Yesterday, I tried to give you a picture of what our space looks like.
The next question I want to address is what do we do for school. This is not nearly as fun. But something I am asked to share often. I will do this in 3 or 4 parts ending with our routine and schedule. If there is something specific (as many have asked for this) you are not seeing, email me or better yet leave a comment I will see sooner.
Honestly, it would take so much time to say all we do in one post I have decided to talk about a few subjects at a time.
We have chosen to educate our children based on a Classical Model.
English please?
disclaimer- I realize this isn't by the book Classical Education, it is Pike Classical Education for the Homeschool at our home 101-
We teach history chronologically, we use original sources to teach history as much as possible, we integrate our Literature with our History and we write about what we are reading, we study Latin, memorize as much as possible in the early years,math facts are memorized and Advanced Math is pursued, finally (but not exhaustively) English Grammar is seen as a tool for effective communication.
Please remember this is a condensed version and many great....long books have been published about this.
A Classical Education in our home pre-supposes that children learn in stages so each child will study the same subjects on a different level for the most part, we spend much of our lower school (grammar)years memorizing, the dialectic stage(middle school, JR High, sometimes a bit earlier) we see the older kids start reasoning and understanding what they have memorized more than before and asking as many 'why' questions as they did at two years old, finally in the Rhetoric Stage (upperschool/highschool and beyond), the now young adults begin to communicate, present, and apply what they have memorized and understood, this is all fabulous to watch happen. At this point,I have multiple children spanning all the stages and I continue to learn from them...yes it is fun much of the time, sometimes I am just tired.
A very important part of Classically Educating a child is the study of Latin. Latin you say? Yes Latin, it prepares the children to understand the make up of English vocabulary as well as most other language an American Child would learn.
I can here most of you now (because I read your emails), "what do you actually use?"
Here is a list-
English from the Roots Up
Latin In The Christian Trivium
Rosetta Stone
Story of The World
Notgrass History
Institute for Excellence In Writing (IEW)
Our Mother Tongue
ABEKA English
Winston Grammar
Wordly Wise (vocabulary)
Classical Conversations which will be covered completely in Part two
This is just a short list of what we refer to, write in and use during the course of a week. Remember, that as the teacher I review and refer to probably 25 other books through out the year. I know that this seems boring, sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. I have developed all sorts of learning strategies to make this tolerable, even fun, for the children. If you have spent anytime at all around me you know that it would be hard to imagine our family sitting still long enough to absorb most of this, so we don't....sit still. Now because thinking about school starting back has made me tired, I must go swim.
In the near future you will see links to each of the books I list as well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Real Life

I tell a lot about what is happening in my family, where I see God, and how I am raising our children. I want you to be able to picture the physical part of our life a bit so here is a run down to answer some recent questions.
We drink out of mason jars that start as spaghetti sauce jars that we bought from ALDI,there are never enough cups....I don't know the answer to that.
There are NEVER enough forks at our dinner table, the children loose them in there rooms even though no food is allowed, I have even found them in *gasp* the bathroom and under the couch, and in the dirt.
It is hot in my house in the summer, not because we are trying to be efficient but because we only have a few window units that only cool, what I believe is 12 square feet of the house.
Square footage- 1500 sq. ft. that is what we have and we live in a lower middle class neighborhood, that we love.
3 kids share one room and the baby shares with Zach, but never sleeps there so we took his bed down and he sleeps with us or one of his siblings, he has epilepsy and everyone likes it better that way.
It is hot in my house.
15 foot above ground pool that is cloudy most of the time and only green rarely these days....we still swim in it(not when it is green when it is cloudy) after all Sardis Lake didn't kill me.
A cluttered mess, for the record I am a clean freak, I like clean, I love clean, I used to be known for how many times a week I would bleach the kitchen and bathroom and kitchen, dust the blinds and organize our drawers....weekly. I got tired. I still want these things, but I am tired.
We have six kids, a recently deceased dog, a young cat, an old cat, and some fish (i think).
I am tired.
I love landscaped yards, mine is not.
We usually have grass that needs to be cut and the weed eater hasn't been started but once this year. I have what i like to call a flower bed in my back yard, it makes me happy. There is no rhyme or reason to my flower bed, it makes me happy.
The cabinets and fridge are completely emptied by the end of every week, not that we have just a few things..completely with exception usually of a can of corn, some sort of beans, and stale taco shells....we get creative when the money runs out before the week does and we have NEVER missed a meal.
We always have beef in the freezer, we buy it by the side, so we are definitely meat eaters.
We drink fresh milk and eat fresh eggs.
We fight fleas every summer (see note above about animals).
We almost always have someone elses children at our home.
Because of all the reasons listed above I am not at all sure why our children want other people in our home, or for that matter why they would want to come, but come they do. Just about every week a child comes, we argue over which movies we are allowed for, we improvise a meal or two, we try to get the pool less cloudy, turn the box fans on high and pray a blessing for them all. I think our home for most of them is sort of like camping, it is hot, sticky, and you never know what you are going to eat. Camping is fun. I love each of these children, that love us so much. When I have these kids around me, I am more of what I was created to be, I feel complete, I am grateful for parents that trust me with their most precious possessions. We have kids from all walks of life, big nice homes in big nice neighborhoods, friends from gated communities, friends from the same neighborhood, Baptist friends, Harding Friends,Home Educated friends, Public School Kids, kids with single moms, kids with dentist dads, kids with parents who fight and kids whose lives are mostly in a state of change , Catholic friends, and lost friends. Our children are sweet, they have created quite a peer group. We love them. I think it is mutual. I think that even when I am aggravated with our circumstances or surroundings, they just love us.
Thank you Lord for children who love our children and enjoy sharing our lives.
Thank you for the list that makes up our lives.