This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Background Check

Just in case you wonder what my qualifications are:

At the beginning:
Grocery clerk (Dad was the manager—and that made it harder)
Dishwasher (no place to go but up)
ID checker, college cafeteria (one way to meet people)
Dormitory receptionist (another way to meet people and know lots of gossip)
Payroll assistant
Campus DJ

After gaining a BA in Advertising and Public Relations:
Department store clerk—costume jewelry department
Quick Trip assistant manager—lasted all of two weeks
Retail store manager—luggage and gifts
Retail assistant manager—jeans and assorted clothing
Customer assistant for an expedited shipping company
Riding instructor and barn worker for a 50 horse barn (low pay, extreme temperatures, difficult charges, high rate of injury—my dream job as a little girl, realized at 29 <sigh>)
Optometric assistant
Nurses’ aide (I really gained a heart for seniors there)
Ophthalmology assistant—more than once (this was a really good occupation—ophthalmology is interesting and the outcomes are usually positive)
Did anyone see advertising used?

In the middle of Mommy (all of these were over-night jobs):
Office assistant for a trucking company
Resident Night Counselor for Mental Retarded Adults (one of my most favorite jobs—I loved these people)
Night Supervisor for abused and mentally ill children (a job where I felt I could make a difference, I don’t know if I can say I loved it but it changed me forever.)
Night Operator—doctors’ answering service—boy was this an eye opener and educational
Personal Care Attendant—seniors (I got really attached my clients here and it could be very emotional)

For the last almost two years I have been blessed to stay home and devote my attention to my guys as MOOOOOoooooooooooommeeeeeeeeee!!!!, chief administer of hugs, teacher, arbitrator, dietician and chef, laundress, housekeeper (not so hot at this one), pet tender, chauffeur, listener of all wild imaginations.

Praying this can continue for years to come.

Before I was a Mom I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn’t understand the bond between a Mother and her child. I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important. I had never known the warmth, the joy, the heartache, the wonderment, or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom. –Unknown

Friday, February 2, 2007

Skeletons in My Closet

I’ve had this happen more lately and it has surprised me. People find out our schooling choice and they say, “But you don’t look like homeschoolers!”

What do homeschoolers look like? Or act like? Because I think that is what they are saying too. Well all I know is that maybe one of the reasons we don’t look the part is that…shhhhhhhhhhh… We sometimes allow trashy TV.

Yup, uh-huh. We are “those” kind of people. We watch the wrong shows. And on top of that we listen to the wrong music, worship the wrong way and eat the wrong food. I am sure I school my children the wrong way. Seems like whatever someone I meet does, my family does the opposite.

Now most people are pretty good natured and accepting. They take us for who we are because we take them at face value too. But then… there are some people...

But about those viewing habits—You know, I really don’t watch that much television anymore. Somehow my HGTV, West Wing, JAG and ER got replaced by what the boys were watching. But we have videos. We have more videos than…well lets just say we have more videos than we should. And that is where the bulk of the viewing is done, with pre-recorded material. We watch shows that might terrify some. (Trust me, there are families who watch stuff I won’t, and that is fine. They get to choose that. ) We laugh at what I call “boy jokes.” And we have one reality show in particular that my children are waiting for the new season. We had two, but I couldn’t be chained to the television for more than one night a week. It cuts into my computer time, you know. <Snort>

Over five years ago (back when I was going to raise my children to be cultured and not watch television, and eat only healthy foods and say only perfect and polite things) we met a family that homeschooled one of their dc and the others went to public school. They were open and genuine people and their children were amazing.

When we visited their house they kindly showed us around. What really blew me away was they had more videos than Blockbuster. How could this be? Their children were sweet and thoughtful, polite and interesting. They had many hobbies. How did this happen with so much television allowed? Well apparently they didn’t watch alone. If someone was watching they had company. They talked about it.

So fast forward today. We are thousands of miles away from this dear family. But I still try to carry some of the lessons I learned from a more seasoned mom. We have a video collection and watch movies pretty regularly. We try not to let the boys watch alone. We try to have conversation and discuss why we choose what we do for our family. I am sure we fail miserably, but we try. Our eating habits…well let’s not go there…we try to be polite, but well…they are boys and I am working on it. We allow computer and <gasp> own an X-box 360. We do sneak in a bit of culture and call it fun and they don’t know the difference.

Trashy TV…well…I am sure my boys will tell you all about it with you sometime if you are around us enough. Let’s just say…well, all those people who accuse me of sheltering my boys would be surprised. But then I put them in ballet. That surprises a lot of people. My trash is however, non-violent. Their dad takes care of that area enough. Neither of us allows the trash that affects hormones. And if we watch a movie with you, well, we only watch Pooh with non-family…okay…maybe more than Pooh but you know what I mean.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Just Joking

Q: What's white and furry and shaped like a tooth?
A: A molar bear!

Q: What's the first sport in the Bible?
A: Baseball (in the Big Inning)

Q: Who are the 3 smallest guys in the Bible?
A: Knee-High-Miah, Bildad the Shoe-hite, and Peter (who was so small he could sleep on his watch)

Q: Who played in the first tennis match in the Bible?
A: Joseph served in Pharaoh’s court

Q: What was the first car in the Bible?
A: Honda. (The disciples were all in one Accord)

Q: Where do jam-tarts come from?
A: Jamtarctica.

Q: Why was '6' frightened?
A: Because '7' '8' '9' (seven ate nine).

Q: What kind of animal can you find in the military?
A: An armydillo.

Q: When is the best time to go to the dentist?
A: At tooth-hurty.... (2:30).

Q: Why did the cookie go to the hospital?
A: It was feeling crummy!

Q: What did the hat say to the scarf?
A: "I'll go on ahead and you can hang around."

Q: Where do dogs park their cars?
A: In the barking lot!

Q: How do you know a cow is laughing?
A: Milk comes out her nose!

Q: How do you tell which end of the worm is the head?
A:Tickle it's belly and see which end laughs!

One day some young fish and their father were swimming along in the river. Their father said "Be careful crossing the river...I don't want you to get hit by a gar...." (Get it?!! A car! A gar! A gar is a type of fish!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Octave Stretch

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Psalm 98:4

Often as homeschoolers we are asked, even by those who are supportive of our choice the, “But what about math, science, PE…” fill in the blank, question. And most of us have thought about that and can answer with some confidence that we are capable of teaching it or will make ourselves capable by the time the questioned subject rolls around. And we will know when the time comes to turn our children over to a “specialist.”

But I have been puzzled by homeschoolers’ lack of confidence when it comes to teaching art and music, especially the music. I would like to offer that while most parents are not musicians, have not had theory, or even taken lessons themselves, that they can indeed become teachers to their children in art and music if they have a desire too. Personally I find the thought of upgrading my knowledge in Beethoven and Boticelli more pleasant and than returning to Chemistry 101. But that’s just me.

—Ignorance is bliss…

I had pondered the idea of teaching the boys piano, having seen books in homeschool catalogs for just that purpose. While I was researching the idea I learned on a forum I can no longer link to (because I choose not to pay to play) that while we homeschoolers can teach our children rocket science, yes, well maybe an exaggeration there, piano should only be taught by professionals.

I can teach them algebra but not piano??? Okay, maybe we haven’t gotten to algebra yet. But, really, I cannot teach them piano?

The professional stating this was a homeschooling mom who taught piano lessons to other people’s children. Now I can see why she was vested in this. And to her credit she had graduated with a music degree. And she did know more about piano than me. But, mercy, she was expensive!! I’m talking about $30 or more for a half hour. And I am learning that is not considered unreasonable. But my darling sister only pays something like $10 for my niece’s lessons. Okay, they live near nowhere. I am sure this mom really was worth every penny. But still...

I pondered that the high school band instructors I was familiar with could never have seriously played all the instruments they were teaching. Most likely they had at sometime picked up all of them, but few people play everything. What they do though is study about them. Why would I not be capable of studying music? Couldn’t think of a reason why not, so I did. I had some theory and guitar, thanks to my time in parochial grade school and Sister Rosemary, bless her sweet soul. I had three months of very poor piano instruction in college. I have access to a phenomenal library system and so it was there I started.

We had noticed Roo’s aptitude and attraction to the piano early on. We priced lessons and to be really honest at the time we chose food.

But we had the piano. Electric piano for those who want to know. Snob away if you will, but you try moving 13 times in 14 years and I bet you wouldn’t buy an acoustic “real” piano either. We were also the owners of one of those keyboard thingys, graciously gifted by the Grandparents. That became something the boys had total access to, limited only by volume and time of day.

So we chose to teach our children piano at home. Now to my husband’s credit he is a musician. He has that gift of picking up any instrument he stumbles on and within about five minutes he can make it produce some lovely sound. Have I ever said I hate love him? He also has training in viola and guitar. And he plays the violin. And the mandolin. And bass. And the drums. When he does this music thing, which I love, I just get so jealous. I really would love to be able to praise God with music. But I can’t and I digress.

So, ignorantly, we proceeded to start piano with Roo. Some Bastien books off e-bay coupled with an adult Alfred book and we were in business. Daddy started Roo off. He had been through the adult book himself. And little Roo, all of seven was started.

Well Daddy had things like traveling for work that kept him from being consistent with piano. So na├»vely, I volunteered to oversee the process. And we began. Sometimes haltingly, sometimes beseeching Daddy when he walked in the door at night. But we began and all of a sudden there was a breakthrough. It was the same kind of moment when it clicks and your child reads words and then thoughts and ideas, not letter by letter, frustratingly sounding things out. I approached piano similarly to reading and math. I never left him sit alone at the beginning and try to work through problems, why would I do that with piano—not criticizing those who do differently, I just know what works for us.

So two years or so later Boo has started. Boo plays piano as Boo does everything else, marching to his own beat, making his own way. Announcing every so often he will do his own compositions today, thankyouverymuch. And so I go with it. He is after all only six and I know why piano teachers don’t want them younger than seven. But he asked to play. I have offered to let him quit. He plays for about 15 minutes and then is so very done.

Roo is at 90 minutes of practice time 4-5 days a week and I still sit with and direct the flow for at least half if not more. I think it is an awful lot of time to ask for, so I need to be willing to put in my time. He plays the goofy songs in the lesson books. He is learning a hymn or two for me. He can play some Bach and Mozart and Beethoven, but he also plays “The Pink Panther” theme and “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and during Nutcracker season he had about three songs going from that. He also still works on some things of his own, but nothing big—just little rifs. His biggest limit at this time is his size he can finally stretch an octave on one hand, but it takes planning and lots of practice.

I am glad we didn’t know at the beginning we were doing it wrong. I don’t know that this would work on a brass instrument for us, although I might just be silly enough to try. Music is something we love here, so we are very motivated about it. If a parent really didn’t like music, it probably would be better to get a good teacher.

We know there will come a time when both boys will need a “real” teacher, but we are holding out for the teacher that will “get them” and their personalities. And put up with their parents. When we have money for food and piano lessons.

So if someone tells you that only professionals can teach music, well they might be right, but give yourself and your child an opportunity to try it at home if it is something you have on your heart.

Psalm 100
1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all

A Prayer to Rest Upon

Psalm 33: 18-22 NASB

Behold the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.

For our heart rejoices in Him
Because we trust in His holy name.

Let your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
According as we have hoped in You.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mice in My House!!!


Well…okay, maybe they aren’t that bad. In fact they are kind of cute. My sons love them. Alright! I think they're pretty cute too.

I know a lot of homeschool families find rodents to be wonderful pets. One of our cats would think that was a great idea, but alas, we are not going to be adding to the menagerie anytime soon.

My mice are the work of artist Ellen Jarekie who creates House-Mouse Designs®

They include “Amanda Writes,” “Mice-tro,” and “Two-Part Harmony 02.” Roo and Boo fell in love with these on one of my frequent occasional exhaustive tours short trips to Hobby Lobby. I had other ideas in my head and minimal funds, and so, did not even consider them.

But thanks to a generous and rather large holiday gift card and some holiday money came my way I went to Hobby Lobby solo when the rubber stamps were 50% off. A national holiday to be sure. So without the help of my young men I picked these out. They were tickled that Mom had taken their artistic advice when I brought my loot home. They were even more tickled when I created the cards.

For background stamps I used © Stampabilities® backgrounds, “LeLondon Script” and “Composer’s Dream.”

Monday, January 29, 2007

Last Week's Limbo--Time Money Can't Buy

Last week was a limbo. We accomplished school and made it to our activities. On paper. In the planner I record in it looks like a satisfactory week filled with accomplishments. Of course I don’t record everything in that planner, including our rising and going to bed times. Which were horribly out of whack—even for us and that is saying a lot. It was like the weekend that never ended. Not even a vacation feel to it.

Because DCG/Daddy was home and while he was busily working away, what he was working away at was finding a new job. Which is frustrating, hurry up and wait work. Stressful for him, my job I felt was to keep the boys on task and keep life marching on as usual as possible.

Mid-week we started the new basketball class and that added to the oddness of the week. And then, dear, darling DCG/Daddy helped out with some school work. A little history with Roo, reading with Boo, piano with both and some memories were made and as I told him later, while no income came in, the lessons learned, the sharing that took place, the wisdom he brought to their day was something money cannot buy or take away…as the commercial says, “Priceless.”

Praying this week offers more tangible rewards and the hope of something new, but hopefully we can squeeze in a few more life lessons with Dad.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war rise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When you said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Do not hide your face from m,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Learning to Lean on Jesus

Writer John Stallings

I’m learning to lean,
learning to lean,
Learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed,
I’m learning to lean on Jesus.

The joy I can’t explain fills my heart,
Since the day I made Jesus my King;
His blessed Holy Spirit is leading my way,
He’s teaching and I’m learning to lean.

I’m learning to lean,
learning to lean,
Learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed,
I’m learning to lean on Jesus.

There's glorious vict'ry each day now for me,
Since I found His peace so serene;
He helps me with each task, if only I'll ask;
Ev'ry day now I'm learning to lean.

I’m learning to lean,
learning to lean,
Learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed,
I’m learning to lean on Jesus.