The “H” Word – 10 years later

I couldn’t get myself to speak the word.
It was what I knew God wanted, but how
in the world could I tell Chilly?

That was ten years ago this month.
We were moving our young
girls to the city of Detroit. (previous post
here) But didn’t God know that the Detroit
City schools were… well… not the best.
Actually they didn’t even fall into anything
close to “Ok.” What is God thinking?

Chilly & I trusted God and of course
He had a plan. NOT the plan I wanted to
hear about, though. NOT at all!!!
For several days I knew that GOD had spoken
to me and instructed us to do the “H” word.
REALLY? “Oh, Lord. We hardly know any
good examples of kids who have been
schooled that way!? Really?”

I couldn’t do it. My mouth wouldn’t
speak the word. But then one night
when the girls were snug in their beds,
Chilly & I sat in the living room; he
turned to me and said it! HE spoke
the “H” word!
“Honey, God wants us to homeschool.”

“I know! Oh… ugh. I know! What in
the world!? What do I do? Where will
I begin? It’s so huge!”

God directs our lives. He calls the shots.
So we said, “Yes!”
Then something insanely crazy happened…
I wanted to to homeschool.
How is this possible?

You know that whole verse about God giving
you the desires of your heart? Well, I
didn’t think this WAS my desire (by any
stretch of the imagination!) But God
knew better. And when we said, “YES”
He changed our hearts! It became thrilling
to think of… scary, but exhilarating!
(That’s how obedience goes… just saying!)

A month later I was spending a few days
with my cousin in Ohio. She had homeschooled
her girls all the way through. They had
college scholarships and are gorgeous,
well-adjusted ladies now. My cousin
poured into me every bit of info
that popped into her head, and I frantically
took crazy-detailed notes. Thank you, Becky!

Later I attended an evening info session
at a local event… scribbling more notes
and then scouring the internet for all
shreds of info available. (There’s wasn’t
as much 10 years ago as there is today!)

With fear, trembling and joy we started
what would become a 10 year journey into the
“H” word… We became a homeschool family.

To be continued…

(If there’s a topic you’d like to
know more about, please let me know.)

Online School Field Trip

Online school… is … well, online, but it also has books,
papers, pens & pencils, projects (digitally turned into the teacher),
real human teachers and lots of other students. Yup… students.
photo 2
Yesterday we drove two hours to join in the first all-school
field trip at Uncle John’s Cider Mill. Only a portion of the student
body was present, but it was large! Very Large!
photo 3

The kids met their teachers face-to-face and some of the
other students who are technically in their classes. It
was fun to put faces to names that have previously only
appeared in the chat boxes during an online Live Lesson.

photo 1 photo 2

Besides a corn maze and some other typical yet fun
fall activities, the farm had a giant bouncy pillow…
which continually drew Max & Chase back to it’s jumpy
fun, over & over!
photo 1
IMG_2757

Being outside in the fall in Michigan certainly sits near
the top of my “Favorite Things about Fall,” and meeting
very real (and friendly) parents, students and teachers
from the world of “cyber-school” made it a day we’ll
remember for years!
photo 4
www.connectionsacademy.com

School, Insanity & Salty Tears

I don't REALLY feel like this... but I certainly relate enough to crack up laughing at this!

I don’t REALLY feel like this… but I certainly relate enough to crack up laughing at it!

The last three weeks were filled with 14 days of hard work, tears,
sadness and continually finding words to encourage my kids
and myself.  Then,  7  of those days offered smiles, comfortable
routines and no more tears. And it is all because of schooling.  Here’s the deal…

In 2004 we started homeschooling our children (because we’d just moved to
the heart of Detroit city).  Then, last year we put our youngest 3 kids into
a university prep charter school near our house.  And now… this fall we’ve
gone a completely different route.   Our youngest three are doing online
public school!

Yes!  Free online public school, Connections Academy. It’s taken many of
the things I love about homeschooling and the few things I liked about
traditional public school and mushed it into one!  Here’s a bullet list
of how things have gone for us.

– Day ONE was insane!  We had the computer that the school gave us
(Yes, they provide one per household) and my laptop.  But after we
took the infamous “1st day of school” picture and sat down to begin
my very aged laptop went to computer heaven (or the opposite!!)
Now what?  THREE kids sharing ONE computer for Online school?
Yeah… NO!!!  Insanity. Tears.

– My kind and compassionate husband took pity on me and put out a
plea on Facebook for used computers.  That very same evening our
precious friends from church were dropping off not one, but TWO
brand new laptops!  Thanks to our friend’s work and an unexpected
money gift we’d been given the month earlier, we now have enough
computers for all three children!  Praise Jesus!

– That thrill worn off quickly… All I’ve used for over 16 years is MAC
computers and now I had 3 PCs!   Everything is the COMPLETE
opposite!  HELP!  More school, insanity and salty tears. But I knew
I’d get it eventually… plus my kids were teaching me how to use it.

– We were told that it would take a while to “get used to computer school”
Yes… no joke.  The first two weeks it took between 9 and 11 HOURS each
DAY to complete the assigned work!  WHAT?

– Of course there were tears!  (Mostly MY tears, quietly shed in a private
corner during the day, and in my time with Jesus in the stillness of the
very early morning.)

–  After a week of this I made several email and phone-call pleas to the
teachers.  “HELP!  What are we doing wrong?”

– The teachers were so, so kind and gave us every bit of encouragement
and ideas they could.  But the daily hours continued to mount!

– We stuck to it, knowing that this WOULD be GREAT when it settled down.

– And then it happened….  We started getting the hang of it!

–  The 3rd week has actually been fun!  All the joys of having my kids home,
being involved in their learning, knowing what they’re studying and
connecting  it to daily activities, news reports, outdoor exploration, etc
all clicked in… again… finally!

– I truly love having my kids at home, learning!  We have a blast.

– Later on I’ll post more about a regular school day as an
“Online Schooling Family”  and the field trip coming up soon.

 

GRATEFULNESS fills my heart.  Of course more challenges hide around
the corners… that’s life… but we’ve walked through a rough beginning
and know that “we can do this!”

 

(NOTE:  Comments are closed… I’m having some trouble with that. But
you are welcome to email me at realnetta@gmail.com.   I’d LOVE IT!)

 

Thoughtful Thursday

Summer break has officially ended at our house. School started today. As I think back over the summer I’m rejoicing over the lessons that have bounced around in my head & heart. Here’s a few:

Last day of summer Ice Cream Treat

I’m making a point to pray specific Bible scriptures for people… especially regarding my family & church.

I’m not my kids’ activities director. Yes, I provided a few unusual things to do each week, but their unscheduled time  brought out more creativity than a cart load of preplanned crafts or games.

Being together with the people you love can be such a good thing… even when it’s not super fun (and might even include times of tears and topics of deep sorrow).

Taking time away from the normal routines of life really manages to clear my head and encourage my heart.

I drove on the outside lane of the hugely tall Sunshine Bridge near St. Petersburg Florida… and amazingly I did NOT slide right off the edge! 
My ridiculously weird fear of driving on tall bridges is now a thing of the past! YIPPEE!

 

Self inflicted guilt does not make me better… it does the exact opposite. (and I think sometimes people actually take some sorta weird pleasure in
feeling guilty… when in actuality they should examine themselves. If something
needs to be changed, change it! If it’s unnecessary guilt then stop… and move on!)

And, after 44 years of being a chicken, I finally learned to dive into a swimming
pool. Yes!  Finally!  And my swim coach (aka- my husband) had me do it over &
over again!  Another fear, conquered!!!

Sleeping a little later in the summer months provides some lovely rest & a more relaxed feeling. But, never wondering if my kids will wake up while I’m still spending time with Jesus because I got up when it’s super dark… is even better!!

The joy of having HOME be your school… reading in a tree!

 

Is that BATMAN in that tree?

 

 

 

Mom’s World

You know you’re a Mom when….  (this all took place yesterday morning)

The jam is gone cuz your kids poured it onto their pancakes

You can’t find any of your own pens so you borrow your son’s

This is everyone’s favorite thing in the diningroom

The living room floor is actually a prehistoric city for matchbox cars (??)

When you say you’ve decorated the kitchen with kids artwork you’re not just talking about the frig

The chalk wall sees constant use but little cleaning

Your lunch is salad… with tator tots!  mmm

When I stop for a moment to look at the joy & love in my home, I remember that I am truly living my dream!

xoxoxo

“Gentle Answers” aren’t always my Forte’

The wise King Solomon said “A Gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1) Ugh… I can be preetttty  accomplished at making “tempers flare.”  Solomon goes on to says that “the tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing.”  Oh dear…and ALSO…  “Gentle words are  a tree of life.”  Ouch.

People around me need calm. They need to be attracted to knowledge and given every opportunity to find life!  This especially includes my family. (If you don’t have children this STiLL applies to YOU!)  Here’s a few things that i jotted down in my journal recently that help me use my words positively as a parent.

 

  • Make eye contact when speaking and listening!  BOTH!
  • Know when it’s time to stop multi-tasking. Busy doesn’t always mean efficient.
  • Be consistent. Set standards. Enforce them & Live By Them.
  • Pick my battles. This doesn’t mean that I stop being consistent. But rather, I decide what the important things are and stick to’um.
  • Be wise. If  I’m constantly learning & growing, then wisdom & knowledge will be more appealing to my kids (and/or those who are following my leadership)
  • Admit mess-ups!  People notice… and kids are people, too. So just ‘fess up, apologize & move on. It leaves a huge impression on everyone… including yourself. (When I apologize it make me think twice before I do it again.)

These ideas certainly apply to all kinds of situations. If you’re in any form of leadership…these can help.  Anything pop out to you? If so, is it because you already do it or you know you should do it?

(So many of you read this blog… so few of you leave your thoughts.)

 

 

 

The Blank Look Does NOT say it All

Remember that minister who wouldn’t stop? His sermon seemed never-ending. And phrases like “and finally” or “in closing” were only segway to more & more & more?

I’ve sat in those services & thoughts, “Please, Minister, look around you! See the blank looks on everyone’s faces?  You’ve lost us. PLEASE stop!”  But those kinda speakers never seemed to notice the body language.

(NOTE:  My husband does NOT do this. His sermons are short (usually around 1/2 hr. and funny but full of impact. Just sayin!)

Well,  Tuesday I started reading a book to my little boys that was definitely for older children. But we tried it anyway. The boys sat for a couple minutes. Then the laid down on the couch. Reached for toys… or anything nearby.

So I asked a few questions & got them more involved. But within seconds they were hangin off the couch again just looking blankly at the wall.

I stopped reading.

“MOM! What are you doing? Keep going! Please!?”

“But you weren’t listening. We’ll read more tomorrow.”

“No, Please, I wanna know what happens next.”

 

So I read. Quite a lot, actually. And when I finally stopped my oldest boy (only 6 yrs. old) asked if he could please draw a picture of the story.  And he did. With great detail. He took delight in making giant background scenes & specific characteristics of each person mentioned in the story.

He was listening! And each morning since then  he’s asked me to continue reading the book that is several grade levels above his current grade. I learned something from this.

It’s NOT that preachers/speakers should ignore body language! I simply realized again that we cannot judge a situation by sight only. We can’t sum up people by first glance & then assume we know what’s happening inside of them. (I hate to admit it, but those of us in ministry do this sometimes.)

How to avoid this icky mistake? Talk. LISTEN. Ask questions. Spend time  together. Serve together. Be interested in them, genuinely. Their “blank-look” isn’t blank (unless, of course, the sermon is lasting for an hour). Something’s going on… and what a joy it is to find out what it is & be a part of their lives in some way.

Can you think of a time when you’ve assumed you knew what was going on in someone’s life & why, and then treat them according to your deduction?

 

 

Overrun with Imperfection

 

I haven’t worn make-up for 3 of the past 5 days.

 –

Our dining room table looks like a library threw up on it.

 =

My electronics (aka computer, phone, internet,etc) forced me to rename them.

 –

I’ve stopped for groceries 3 times but have failed to buy 1/2 of what’s

actually written on my list, so our meal choices are pretty dumb.

 –

My oldest daughter leaves for school next week…

(no words about that right now, just feelings)

The cute wedding gift-project that I want to make for our friends

is taunting me because I haven’t started it yet, and because my

ideas always exceed my talent & time.

 –

My neck hurts from leaning over school books & planning lessons.

Our lovely house cries out for a good clean, but remains unheard.

The beautiful summer weather is gone & I’m kinda mad at myself for

not being excited about fall. It’s my favorite season, but I’ve apparentently

forgotten that tid bit of info about myself.

We start home school in a few days  (I know.. it’s later than you) and

until I get it all planned out… things are kinda rough.

If you’re feeling poopy about yourself;

Incase you’ve been reading all those blog sites where everyone is

creative, gorgeous and totally organized in every area…

Well, ha!

Let’s be REAL.

Real stuff happens.

And sometimes we just hafta say it… and laugh. It just helps!

(And, saying “poopy” a few times also proves quite helpful, too!

A lesson I learned in Jr. High!)

 

Here’s the little phrase that God’s been reminding me this week:

Grace in Action

My imperfections are huge.

My Jesus is “huge-er” and totally Perfect in every way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Cuz it has Good Pictures

Do we ever really outgrow the urge to pick something based on first impressions?

We mature. We learn to look more deeply. But if we’re honest, we’ll probably

admit that we’re drawn first to the “pretty” one, right?

I’ve done that many times throughout life… but it’s not really as superficial as it

sounds… or, maybe I’m just kidding myself.

Over the years I’ve laughingly said,

“Why do anything the easy way when I can make it more complicated?”

(and I’m fairly accomplished at doing just that)

I’m just SO willing to go the extra mile or take the extra long step cuz

I like the way it looks or sounds… and in the end I wanna pull my hair out from

all the frustration I caused myself.  Most recently I’ve become VERY aware

of my problem.

Homeschooling:

We’re entering our 8th year and I’ll have 4 children that are school-aged

this year. I should totally be in a groove, right?  WRONG!

In our 2nd year of this process we discovered curriculum that worked well.

But, alas… it was boring looking. Too many black & white pictures, too many

scripture verses were in the King James version, etc.  Never mind that it was

easy to follow, all-inclusive and literally taught me how to keep track of grades.

(I hope you’re reading this paragraph with a great deal of scarcasm in your

voice!)  So, I switched. Experimented. Choose something that was bright,

had gorgeous colored pictures and more modern Bible versions. Nevermind

the fact that each subject had 5 to 11 books per SUBJECT!  UGH!!!!! WHAT?

What a struggle!  I’ve wanted to scream a zillion times… instead I just cried

and got cranky!  My kids felt the same way, too… MANY TIMES! Grrr!

All this trouble… just so my kids can have colored pictures in their books?

Am I insane? (OK, it was more than nice pictures that drew me, but that’s

the basic idea. )

It all seems like a great idea.

Seems worth it. Seems like the added work & time won’t be so bad!

But… (here’s the clincher):  If God is not directing us to do something

then our “added effort” and colored pictures are gunna make us want to pull

out our hair! And we’ll start to resent the time & joy it’s stealing away from

our lives.

I’m treading carefully & prayerfully  and asking Jesus to direct my plans

and curriculum choices…

I’m refusing to be sucked into what seems so grand & bright…

I’ll just be obedient.

He knows what’s best for my kids & what they can handle…

and I’m already taking deeper breathes.

(hmm, since I’m relaxing now, maybe I’ll have more time to

take some good pictures of my kids! )

Stuff I Lurned ’bout home schoolin’

I’m NOT a pro. We just completed the 7th years of schooling our kids at home,

and I have a zillion more things to learn. But here’s a few thoughts that may

encourage you if you’re considering going down this path.  I don’t claim to

be the first one to post these thoughts, and there’s no particular order to them.

Just be encouraged.

(The picture below is from spring 2010)

 

 

If God has asked you to home school your children then

He will give you all that you need to do it successfully…
but you must depend on Him… daily!

YOU know your child best. Your gut is usually right.

God gave this child to YOU to parent.

Your kids are on loan from JESUS… they belong to HIM!

Keep that in mind when you wanna pull out your hair!

Look your children in the eyes when you’re frustrated with them.

It reminds you of how very much you love
them and it instantly brings clearer perspective to the situation.


Write down WHY you are homeschooling… BEFORE you begin.

Then, when January rolls around & you’re
feeling a little boxed in, or spring fever stricks with a force,

you can reread your reasons & find courage
to stick to it.

Make sure your spouse is totally in favor of homeschooling, too.

Even if you’re the only parent who will be teaching,
you need his support & encouragement

Quitting isn’t optional. If you know that God directed you to homeschool

your child this year, then decide that you will homeschool your child this year!

Period. No quitting. That’s not to say that reevaluating your decision each year isn’t wise,

but once you KNOW what you’re supposed to do, if  “quitting” is
an option you’ll probably go that route.


Don’t compare your child to every kid you see… or hear about… or read about.

Children learn at different paces & in different ways. That’s one of the great

things about teaching them at home… you can create a personalized method

and environment for them.

Smile. Laugh. Take a deep breath… OFTEN!