for when the days are long and you need a cup of lemonade.

It is nigh to July.

And I can feel the itch to school-plan. Which makes no sense to my I’m-relaxing-and-it’s-still-summer self.

Nevertheless, the itch is there and mostly it’s because when I’m not pressured to get a lesson done or feeling the push to “do school”, I remember why I love homeschooling in the first place.

This morning I let the kiddos play outside with no chores; feeling rather out of sorts and trying to come up with something fun to do that wouldn’t involve a.) packing anyone or anything up or b.)much effort.

I’m pretty sure that both a and b are synonymous.

All I really wanted to do was sit in the cool and quiet with no noise and knit peacefully, thinking lots of profound thoughts and sipping cold brew.

However, there were chickens dead because some unknown predator had gotten into the chicken house (again!) and beheaded more of our dwindling brood. Due to said circumstances there was one very upset 11 year old who wanted to find said predator and do away with him Once and For All.

There was also a puppy and various cats/kittens who continued to sneak in through all the various doors left open and I  said/yelled (I could seriously use a foghorn.) for the 12 billionth time for ALL THE PEOPLE TO SHUT THE DOORS PLEASE AND THANK YOU.  I may or may not have added those last four words but surely one of the 12 billion times I did.

I continued wearily brainstorming to come up with a plan. Weary at 10:30? Yup. Sadly.

Going to get ice cream for lunch? While I love the idea…Nope.  That involves effort and packing. And it also involves risking a sugar-high naptime encounter. Regardless of effort and packing I Was Not going to go there.

bingo.

My mind settled on the best idea yet.

Lemonade and a read aloud.

Oh yes. Along with some almost freezer-burnt banana chocolate chip muffins that have been languishing in my freezer. No one minded them, since they all wanted at least two.

I squeezed a whole bunch of lemon juice in a gallon jug, dumped some stevia in, (no sugar! Woot!) added a BUNCH of ice, filled it with water, and poured 5 cups full. And sweaty kids sat down with eyes lit up like it was Christmas when I pulled out the read aloud that had also been languishing, though not in my freezer.

(Confession: there are way too many read alouds we have begun, and not finished.)

This one was “The Treasure Seekers” by Edith Nesbitt, and the munchkins settled into munching and then drawing/coloring/water beads. Water beads! Go get some! Now! Even if you aren’t a kid! (Again, I digress. But these things are awesome. I didn’t want to stop playing with them while I read out loud.)

We read a couple chapters, and it was awesome. And it was what kindled the reminder-fire of why I love this.

At the end of the school year it seems like all my good intentions fly right out the window and the kids are way more on their own, math, copywork, math, copywork, over and over.

It wears us all out and it’s boring.

Morning Time, with it’s prayers and singing and memorizing and read alouds and fun science facts and mapwork and nature drawings and poetry, all but disappeared from March/April on.

And Morning Time is what I love.  It’s what draws us together. To begin our day with prayer centers all of us, and reminds me of my most important work, teaching truth, goodness, and beauty.

Funny poems, sometimes just one, that make everyone laugh. Sometimes we can’t stop and there are choruses of “one more! Read one more!”

The excitement of knowing one or 5 more states, the standing and singing the doxology. The tea time and the satisfaction of another verse tucked into our memories.

This is why I love to homeschool. Because of the relationships. The time spent together. The learning together.

We have been in somewhat of a survival mode for a few months, and it’s so much easier to just send them off to play, or to do their math, and that’s ok too. Sometimes you really do need to sit quietly with cold brew and knitting on the couch.

But for today, I am realizing that the fun got drained away and it’s time to come back to coming back together.

We read at least two chapters and by then it was lunch time and we were hungry but full-up with all the good. Yes, the 3 year old got bored for part of the time and went back and forth between multiple activites.  Yes the water  beads were fought over and hoarded  by the 9 year old.  And then while I was in the middle of the second chapter, his two sisters were struck with some sort of strange benevolence and decided that their big bother needed multiple spoonfuls of their water beads.

I kept on reading, saying a silent prayer of thanks for the sweetness that shows up at the oddest moments and for the sheepish, knowing grin that spread across the one who didn’t deserve to have kindness given.

And I thought of the days when God gives me lemonade and refreshing joy from various things like connected friendship and prayers said out loud just for you that make tears slip down your cheek. And the knowing that you are prayed for, often, and always  by a heart-sister.

For when He amazes me with kindnesses like lunches with friends who’ve known each other for years and can always pick up where we’ve left off. For 6 am coffee with other friends who have felt the same pain, and know how to read between all the lines of what you say.

I thought of the ways we grow up into Him that so obviously couldn’t be manufactured by our good behavior and the fruit that sprouts and grows, so surprisingly, on simple and once-bare branches.

Truly, there is much treasure to seek and find in this life..

And I’m thrilled with the reminder that simple joys and blue Tupperware cups full of lemonade can make smiles spread wide.

He fills our cups, for sure. 

 

 

 

 

{yarn along} : unhurried + little pink shrug take 2

Joining Ginny

I know, I know.  It’s kind of a rerun from last week.  But I did get started on a new shrug, which is exciting!  {My model for the sweater was into doing all sorts of crazy faces. If you hadn’t noticed already.} So all that is left on shrug take one is the button.  Something wooden, most likely.  Yesterday I got in a row or two while teaching long division.  And as I knitted and made one left and made one right I was thankful that teaching math comes in small bites.  (Whew.)

I love the feeling that comes when your child has that “Aha! ” moment!  Especially when you have explained the same things for the umpteenth squared time.  He got it.  And I could’ve danced around the room when he began to fly through those problems instead of laboring over each one.  This is just one reason I am so glad we homeschool.  It’s not easy, many days are hard, we are challenged with just the logistics of people in each other’s space for this many hours at a time.  Honestly, I’m challenged with this as much or more than anything.  I said I wouldn’t ever homeschool, (!! Ha! Never say never!) and yet now I can’t imagine anything else.  Well, I can imagine mornings having coffee with other moms and a quieter house.  But I can’t really imagine not having them here with me.

For all of the chaos and arguing, for all the weariness and too-often questioning myself and whether I am doing ok and hopefully not ruining my children, there are relationships being built at our kitchen table. There are memories being made while the forts are being built.  The traditions of stories and tea, (however irregular some of those traditions can be some weeks) are things I hope these little ones never forget.

Which brings me to the book I am reading, The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson.  Oh me, oh my.  This is my new favorite book.  The tag line alone caught my heart and made me exhale.   “A simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling”.  

Aaaahhhhh.

So the other night, I filled my bath with hot-as-I-could-stand and lots of bubbles, sank in, devoured part of it, set the book down, and promptly splashed just enough water out to get my nice, brand new sigh-of-relief-in-the-form-of-a-book nice and wet. Thankfully it’s not ruined, and I picked it up again yesterday.  This book is from a mama who has been there and done that with 8 children. And it, like Teaching from Rest did a year ago, is confirming so many things that God has already brought to my heart. Gentle learning environment. Keeping things simple.

This quote:

The latest trend to “educate early” is in direct opposition to nature. The child’s level of development plays a huge part in their ability to grasp whatever we are trying to teach them. ….If it’s interesting to them, they will learn so much more.   … In fact, studies show that in two or three years, a child can learn everything they need to know for success in high school and college.”


I love this –

“You have a God-given compass inside you when it comes to raising your children…”

Just as a sidenote – this woman has several children who are finished with school,  some who are in college and several whom she is teaching at home still. She speaks of their children who are in high school now being fully engaged with their education because they have had time to explore and discover.

When someone writes from experience, it gives so much meaning to to their words.  And she speaks of listening to her intuition.  Laying self-doubt aside. Being unhurried.  Not despairing over the seasons of making meals, changing diapers, and trying to keep the house falling apart, because children are always, always learning.  It may be that sitting down to read a book is the very best thing for the day. And the most necessary!

Yesterday we managed to get in our read-aloud we hadn’t picked up for awhile, “The Story of the Treasure Seekers” by Edith  and later on when the girls were napping we started our Story of the World we just got, and read about Lewis and Clark. We are also reading Seaman – a story about the dog that travelled on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  The TruthQuest spiral bound book pictured is what I have been using for our history curriculum. It is excellent and gives chronological book recommendations throughout history, as well as brief overviews that are quite compelling.  Both Story of the World and Seaman are recommended (along with a whole HOST of other options).

It’s a beautiful Wednesday here… shining sun and children racing outside with bananas for a snack and plans to act out the Underground Railroad since Mr. J just devoured “The Drinking Gourd”  (by F.N. Monjo).  It  talks about slavery and a little boy who figures out that his home is a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that slaves are to follow the Drinking Gourd (Big Dipper) north to freedom.

There’s apple pie and more coffee in the coffee pot, if you don’t mind the scattered legos and laundry everywhere, stop in and we’ll knit and chat a bit! = )

what are you thankful for today?

I asked my children what they are thankful for today.

J (who is 8) said “a warm house”.

A  (who is 3) said “yogurt! Cottage cheese! And I’m thankful for oatmeal!” – she is hungry. Can you tell?

And little miss E (who is not quite 2) said “Ma-maw!!”

And just now, miss A came waltzing past with a mouth full of peanuts and said “I’m thankful for NUTS.” – except it was much more garbled than that. Trust me.  I am not sure that the way she said it is even spellable.

 

I am homeschooling differently this week.

For the last several months I have been pushing. Pushing. Pushing.  Do. Do. Do.  Because of something in my head that said we weren’t doing near enough. And it didn’t really seem to matter what I required, I still felt this way. And the attitudes and anger thrived and grew.

Somewhere in the last week or two, I realized it was time to relax. And that a relationship with my children just happens to be much, much more important than whether my 10 year old knows his math facts.

So this week? We haven’t gotten as many math facts memorized.  But J is working on taking apart an old mixer. “I’m almost to the motor Mommy!”  — and speaking of education, he now understands quite well this interesting phenomenon :

lone plug cut off with exposed wires + electrical outlet + hands = OUCH!

Biggest E has recently discovered Trixie Belden books and can be found with his nose in a book at the table, in the chair, or wherever else.

And when we were in the middle of math and we saw Molly the cat walking on the front porch with a much smaller tummy, we abandoned rounding, borrowing and carrying to go on a baby-kitty-finding-expedition.  After searching several different places, we all came in except Mr. E.  And within about 10 minutes we heard a victorious yell -“I FOUND THE KITTENS!!!!!”

Sure enough, Mama Molly had found a very good spot for her babies – in a drawer in T.’s shop amid sandpaper and sawdust.

Mr. E said “I prayed, and asked God where she had them and then I found them!!”

Someone else said “Wow, she sure found a good place to lay them!” – (yes, we have chickens too.)

Immediately the naming and claiming began.  A said hers was Fancy Nancy.  J suggested Danny and Tom. Mr. E thinks Boots or Socks would be a good name for the one with white feet.

It was so much fun.  We were sad about the two kittens that were dead.  We talked about why, and how sometimes they are born sick.  We talked about what a good mama Molly is being.  And somehow math got trumped and it was totally ok.

The other thing we are doing a lot more of is reading out loud and listening to audiobooks.  We love the Your Story Hour audio dramas.. and lately we have heard about Sojourner Truth, Hudson Taylor, and now we are listening to a four part series on John Newton.  And for Miss A. we have been listening to Beatrix Potter.  Squirrel Nutkin, Peter Rabbit, etc.

While relaxing in our homeschool doesn’t mean everything’s perfect – absolutely not – it’s so much more fun. For everyone. And you know what?

We are learning.

About kittens. And godly examples from history.  And how to treat each other. And how to cook. And how to be diligent.  Because when I don’t push my children to their absolute limit, there is space and margin in our day for me to teach them how to be, rather than be upset constantly for how they are not coming up to the standard I desire for them.

Definitely more important than math facts.

Oh and me? I’m thankful today for laughter.  For every good and perfect gift. For redemption and fresh starts and new chances.

And especially for a note written to me after a rough time with one of my big littles that said :

“I’m sre for not being diligent. we love ech othr.”

yes we do, son. Yes, we do.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.