Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Few Firsts...and my Sous Chef!

We've had our share of firsts around here. These photos mark the first day of Classical Conversations. This is something new to us and I am so thankful for it!

Little Bit refused to be part of the picture. She and Little Man joined us for the first few weeks of CC as 3-P and Kindergarten hadn't yet begun.

I do miss Tapestry (which we did last year and LOVED!), but we are loving CC, too. Once a week Sister is in a classroom with her peers (and moi and their mamas). A tutor introduces the new "grammar" for that week - there's something for history/timeline (you can see the timeline cards on the table in the pic. above), science, scripture memory, Latin, math, English grammar, and geography. During the four or so hours we are there she begins memorizing/learning this information. Each student is required to give a 2-3 minute presentation in front of the class. It's intense. It's good. She loves it.

Scout chillin' while we're schoolin'.

The hardest part has been making new friends. The little girls in her class have spent the last three years together. They're tight. It's tough. We've had some tears. And we press on.

I'm trying to figure out how to streamline school - how do you homeschool and tend to the dailies of life? The laundry and meal planning? The ironing? The cleaning? How do you keep things running smoothly on the home front and pour education and life into your children? I wish there was a formula.

If there's anything I'm learning, it's that God's grace really is sufficient and all of life is education. He guides and He leads and He provides. I question how hard to push? What does grace look like in each situation, each day? Sometimes grace is lightening up, smiling, and teasing. Sometimes grace is pushing to muscle through, holding her feet to the fire. Lord, give me wisdom!

One morning this week, my heart sank. I checked over her copy work. There were mistakes. It had to be re-done. It pained me to hand it back to her and tell her to do it over. I assured her I wasn't upset with her, but on copy work - that's the only time she's to copy everything exactly, or it must be redone. If there is even one mistake after she turns it in, it must be recopied in its entirety. Harsh? Maybe. Is she learning to be careful and to check back over her work? I think so.

She is LOOOOOVING history and geography. Like, L.O.V.I.N.G. it!!! I am, too. Sometimes I feel so dumb. I cannot tell you what educating Sister at home has done for my own book smarts. I'm learning all sorts of things - like what made up the Fertile Crescent and the Assyrian Empire and even the Hebrew Empire. I can't point them out on a map quite as fast as Sister, but I'm getting there.

So...we are pounding it out. Trying to get into a rhythm. Thankful for His grace. Ultimately, I am thankful to be home doing this. Thankful for the privilege it is to learn. Thankful to snuggle and read on the sofa. I am thankful to be there to see the lights come on in her mind as a new concept clicks. It's hard. It's so hard. Sometimes I think we've lost our minds. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am thankful. Though it is hard, it is good. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I walked upstairs one morning a few weeks ago and was struck by the light in this space. Hello 1963. This is the main bath upstairs. One day we'll tackle it. For now, it's charm is growing on me. It's a happy little place. I wonder how many children have bathed in this very tub? 

The majority of the walls in this house are plaster and have picture molding. The Engineer has forbidden me from putting a single hole in the plaster. Eventually we will order picture chain and hooks and utilize the picture molding. For now, anything you see hanging on plaster is hanging on a pre-existing nail. (Hence some of the odd arrangements found throughout our abode.) But the den, one day library, is all wood paneling. Sans the picture molding. So I went to town...trouble is, there's a frequently used door on that the pictures hang crooked 24/7. It's a little bit ironic, don't you think?

You know you're a mom collect your kids' gum...and their friend's.

A dear college friend came with her four children and spent some time with us a few weeks ago.

We had a sweet time together and got to share our hearts.

I am thankful for friend's like her.

Their last full day with us we loaded up and headed to a splash pad/amphitheater spot to picnic and play.

We wore those babies out! 

Mine, hers, hers, mine, hers, mine, hers...

Thank y'all for such a great visit!!! We love you and miss you!!!

I'd shared some about Little Bit being rather, um, disobedient...a bit of a trouble maker. Through a conversation with a friend, it hit me - when Sister was three, we were taking walks in the wagon, collecting leaves, picking flowers, reading 24/7. She was my "helper" in the kitchen. We were coloring and painting and playing. All. Day. Long. Little Man was a newborn. She was helping me "mommy" him.

What is Little Bit's life like these days? Well, they aren't like it was for Sister. I'm trying to teach older children and am giving her coloring books and puzzles, sometimes I stick her in front of an episode of Dora or I'll send her to play alone. I read to her, but not nearly as much as I read to the older children. 

So I decided to try a little something, to go out of my way to fill her little love cup by playing with her and treating her like a three year giving her more one on one...

And so I asked her to help me in the kitchen. She is now my official sous chef. She makes lots of work and she is happy and thriving and her tendencies towards blatant disobedience are certainly still present, but I think are maybe lessened a bit.

I think my three year old wanted to be a three year old. Imagine that? How did I miss this??? If she hears me in the kitchen, regardless of what she's involved in, she comes rushing in and says, "I want to hewp wou!" 

And we have dance parties while we cook! Like, all out dance parties! (Which really just means jumping up and down in one spot and smiling really big!)

And then the younger two had their first day of school. This was actually orientation.

Little Bit wasn't so happy. Little Man was eager. Sister was along for the ride.

It was a totally overwhelming day that found me fighting tears on multiple occasions. 

Think: Totally new to me school, no clue where to go, who was staff/parents - it was extremely overwhelming!!! One child skinned both knees on two different occasions in the 45 minutes we were there. That same child had a total melt down over not getting a treat bag, because one sibling did get a treat bag.

A different child had a complete throw down fit because a sibling was playing with something he/she wanted - mind you, this is while I am sitting at the table with the teacher going over paperwork for the year, I called said child to me for correction and the child proceeded to yell at me, slam their fists down in a pumping action, and tell me I was I had to excuse myself and take this child to the bathroom for a little talk. I was mortified. I know my heart should be more grieved over this child's sin, but the truth is, my pride was wounded. Bleeding. I was so embarrassed. SO embarrassed. 

And then, someone asked Sister where she goes to school, she replied, "I am homeschooled." The person asking commented, "So, you must just be taking the day off." But it was in a very disapproving tone. And it hurt. I know in my head the only approval I need is the Lord's. As long as we are being obedient to His call on our lives, that's whose opinion matters. That's what matters. But this person's words stung. Sister didn't take the day off. She started at 7:30 so she would be finished before orientation at 11:30. And though we began early, we still had more to do when we got home.

By the time we were heading to the car, my pride was severely wounded. MY pride. It's a bitter pill to swallow. I was quite teary. The younger two were crying - audibly. And halfway out to the car, as the younger two were completely losing it, Sister walked over to me and took my purse and the stack of paperwork and walked the rest of the way to the car alone. She freed my full hands of all she could. She loaded all my junk and calmly waited for the rest of us. 

At that point, she was my hero! And my heart swelled with thanks for an eight year old girl who saw her mama on the verge of collapsing and reached out and helped in the best way she knew. I thanked her. With tears in my eyes.

Tuesday was their first day of school. It was a GREAT DAY!!! That night, as I tucked Little Man into bed, I asked if he was excited about going to school the next morning. He burst into tears and said, "But mama, I already went to kindergarten. I want to homeschool." Wednesday was good. Thursday he got in the car in tears. Friday was ok. There are some little guys in his class who are tight. And Little Man is the new kid. It's hard being the new kid. 

Little Bit, on the other hand, is LOVING school, her teacher, and her class - which consists of four little girls total, including Little Bit, and it's only twice a week.

Being a mama is hard. I am sad to see him head off to school each day. I am thankful this decision is only for this year. And I am thankful for a wise husband who ultimately called this shot. The Engineer is a good man and he loves the Lord and us dearly. He takes his role as a husband and father and provider seriously. Though my heart aches, I am seeking to rest in my husband's lead and to submit. I don't do that well. 

Whew...y'all still with me? Now a question - I use igoogle/google reader to manage my blog reading. igoogle will not be available after November 1. Help! What should I switch to??? What do you use?


  1. Wow your little ones look like they are really growing! What a sweet daughter, that is precious that she helped you out. What a tough day, sounds like alot to take in, I relate with the pride thing so much.
    We don't do CC but have many friends that do and they all LOVE it. Praying for friends to be made, that is hard.
    I heart your crooked pictures and I big heart your bathroom. Really, it's awesome!!
    If you find a good reader system for blog, please let us know. I don't know what I'm going to do either.
    Blessings to you busy mommy, it's so much to balance. I so get you about Little Bit being 3, I have that same realization from time to time. So much trouble and messes happen because they just want to be learning and creative.
    Awesome pictures!!

  2. Starting over in a new place is so uncomfortable. I will be praying that each of your children will make some sweet friends.

    My family moved when I was in 4th grade and it was the most challenging year of my life. BUT...I lived to tell about it, and now it is so obvious the things the Lord taught me during those late childhood/early adolescent years.

    I really like your bathroom. It reminds me of Christian's new house.

    Beautiful pictures.

  3. Precious friend...I love you! I am thankful for your transparent and tender heart. And I am thankful that I see the LORD in you! Hang in there...these really are good days, and your children are being cared for in a beautiful way...always point them (and yourself) to the LORD and you will never regret it!!

    Your photos are precious and wonderful...I love the way you *capture* inspire. :)

    I hear you on the submission doesn't come easy to any of's part of the curse. What a blessing to know that the LORD indeed directs our steps and HE loves and leads us according to HIS perfect plan. In that we can rest most beautifully. We had the same sorts of things happen in our home...I was ready to *homeschool* and Howie said *no* more than once (I think you knew that)...and, it was God's best for us in those days...HIS plans and ways are higher than ours. Keep your heart tender before HIM...HE is faithful and will lead you gently along.

    As for your question...I don't know the answer. I manage my blog reading by having the blogs I *follow* on my side bar and then I visit when I am's the best way for me. Sorry I couldn't be of more help on that front.

    So much Love,
    Camille XO

  4. You are doing a wonderful job! You really are. I know those days, and I know those comments, and I know three children who have been uprooted. Right now, I feel that we are basking in the glow of following His instruction and difficult moves. You will get there, too.

    As for iGoogle etc. I THINK it is 2013. I hope it is, because I freaked out when I first saw that notice and recheck that date every day! If you come up with a great solution for when it does happen - please share.

    You are raising precious people - hang in there.

  5. I was wondering how cc was going. I can so relate with the pride...the joy....the thankfulness. Thank you for posting.

  6. This post was just a delight to read this morning!! Little Bit is just adorable. That pic of her being sad that the others were going to school made me giggle. She will LOVE that photo one day!!
    McCall Manor

  7. I don't remember how I found your blog, but I've been following it for a couple of months now and love it! I love your thoughts and your heart and your pictures. And, then today, I saw your pictures from the park and I'm pretty sure that we live in the same town! I would love to meet up some day!

  8. GORGEOUS photos, J! I especially love the b&w's. You have such an eye for making it all look magical.

    Wow, y'all have got a lot going on right now. All exciting and good and hard, too, I know. Love the sous chef story. :)

  9. I LOVE the green bathroom (and what gorgeous light)! Do not, I repeat, do not do anything drastic to that room. Swoon!

    I have a little Sous Chef too! Including her is the only way I can get dinner cook short of resorting to Dora, which I do sometime. Mostly, though, I love having my little sidekick standing next to me at the counter on her little step ladder.

    I'm praying that you'll experience His grace in tangible ways as you navigate school and home and homeschool.

  10. I love your blog. I love seeing your children. I love your honesty. It is so rare that any of us admit that not everything is as perfect as we would like.

    I read your blog yesterday and have really thought a lot about it. I have an almost 21 year old and an almost 15 year old. When I think back to when they were the age of yours I remember things being much more difficult than they are now.

    The only thing that kept coming to mind when I read your blog is that Jesus is in your heart! If HE is in your heart everything will be just as it should.

    I worked at the school where my children attended. This was a huge blessing. I had a huge bulletin board above my desk and on it were two quotes that keep things in perspective for me even now and in fact are on my home bulletin board.

    One was a dual quote;

    "Our children are watching us live, and what we ARE shouts louder than anything we can say". Wilfred Peterson

    and along with this quote was the biblical reference;

    "In everything set them an example by doing what is good." Titus 2:7

    And the last quote and one that I placed on our school brochure;

    "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

    Just so you know, I am still praying for the last quote for both of mine!!

  11. Hey Jenn! It's been a while since I've commented, but something you wrote reminded me of a recent conversation with a fellow homeschool friend of mine, and I had to share! Her daughter is going through the same struggle, wanting to be "perfect" in her handwriting, yet having to rewrite several of her letters. :) This is how she explained to her daughter all the painful re-do's: her daughter loves and enjoys doing cartwheels and rolls in the den floor. So, she asked her if it would be loving for her to allow the daughter to tryout for the Olympic gymnastics team (this all was happening during the Olympics, mind you). She told her daughter that it would very unloving and even cruel for her to let her do that! She said, "I love you and believe you can do it! But you're not ready...yet. We have to keep practicing!" And the same goes for handwriting. I love you too much to let you stop working on it. :)

    I don't know if that helps at all! But I just wanted to share. Maybe it will encourage you. You are an inspiration to me, and I admire your faithfulness to your kids and family. You're doing a great job!

  12. I always feel silly if I comment on just one thing in your posts because there is always so much there to talk about, but I want to say that I love that bathroom as is. It's awesome. :)