Thursday, April 3, 2014

Do Homeschoolers Get Snow Days?

An old neighbor of ours was quite intrigued by the idea of homeschooling.  We shared a meal with him here and there over the years, and he would always pepper us with questions about how it all works.  Once, he kind of chuckled and asked, "So, I'm curious.  Do homeschoolers get snow days?"  With a smile and a chuckle of my own, I replied, '"It all depends on the day".

If I need a break...If the kids need a break...If it's too cold to move...If it's not too cold to build a snowman...If I can stand the thought of 42 coats, gloves, boots, and hats spread from the back porch, into the school room, through the kitchen, and down the hall...If we're not terribly behind in school...If we're not forging ahead...If I'm feeling really nice.

We had one of our late-in-the-year snow storms this morning.  Inches of wet, fluffy Spring snow. So did we take the day off and spend all morning bundling everyone up and playing in the white stuff?


Nope.  Sometimes we do, mostly we don't.  When you have older kids, they have to keep going, snow or no. And since we don't exactly drive to school or walk our kiddos down to the school bus, well, it's pretty easy for us to get to our classes, even if the roads are frozen.
I will say this, however.  The beauty of it all never really goes away for us.  So even if I make my kids stick to their books, they do get to have homemade hot cocoa and take the day a little slower.  Lots of times I'll have anyone who wants to, make a big nest on the floor and play Lego or knit while I read out loud.  Besides, the kids are always free to sled and play outside when their work is done.
See? I'm not so mean...Even for a homeschool mom.




Monday, March 24, 2014

The Bitlings

My husband is a visionary.  For years, I fought it, ignored it, and tried to change it. Why? Because, well, everyone knows what happens to the wives and children of *visionaries*...I won't mention them here because they are very scary things.
But once in a while, a visionary hatches a plan that isn't really too ridiculous, or unconventional, or scary
Kenny likes to read the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. He knows that they were once friends, and would meet together here and there to chew on their ideas. They called their group of writers the Inklings.  And just this winter, my visionary husband started leading a group of high school-ers from our church in a writing group.  What did he call it?  Not the Inklings.  The Bitlings.  And if you don't get that play on words, perhaps you could ask someone in the 21st century.  I know I had to.
So every 3 weeks or so, we have a group of about 10-12 young adults in our home, and I feed them and occupy the younger crowd while Kenny teaches and inspires.


Can't you just hear the gears turning? Such a life we have, raising children into adults. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mr. Bingley, All Grown Up

Our second born, Joey, is going full-steam ahead as he finishes his last year of high school. Bittersweet for us, for sure.  He is working two full days a week, leading worship at our church once or twice a month, pulling a 99.9% in a very aggressive Spanish class, taking voice lessons and choir, and finishing his World History, US Government, and math at home. Last Friday he also had one of the lead roles in a small production of Pride and Prejudice.  He was talented and darling, if you ask his Mama.  Handsome, I'm sure, if you ask anyone else. I have to say, though, that I missed seeing Danny up there with him, as he has been in past years.  It's kind of like singing in a round; one moves out and another steps in.
'Mr. Darcy' and 'Mr. Bingley'.  In real life, they are good friends. 

Mr. Bingley and Emma

Mr. Bingley and Strange Friends and Relations

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Best Salad Ever

My husband loves Greek salads.  He had one at our pastor's home once, and has begged me to re-create it.  We tweaked it a bit, and when we found our Feta had gone bad, we substituted fresh shredded Parmesan.  Oh. My. Goodness. This salad is so good, I think I could live off of it.  Hey, and it's healthy too.  Double goodness.


We finely chop: 2 slices of red onion, 1 red pepper (seeded), 2 Roma tomatoes, 1 English cucumber (peeled or not, I don't have a preference), and a handful of chopped Kalmata olives.  Then we toss it with just a bit of balsamic vinagrette dressing, and a sprinkle (or two. Or three) of shredded Parmesan cheese. We get our cheese at Costco, about $10 for a two pound bag. And please don't use that granulated stuff in the green can!  You'll ruin the salad!

Full of God's Goodness to us!

Mikey likes it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Keeping Toddlers Busy During School

How many times have I gone to a homeschool conference and seen a workshop titled, 'Occupying Toddlers While Teaching Older Children'.  Of course I never actually went to one of those seminars.  I was confident I knew what to do with all my littles to ensure a perfectly peaceful and uninterrupted school day.  Ahem.  And confidence is the same thing as success, right?
While I'll admit my home has rarely been labeled as noise -free, clutter-free, or stress-free, I have learned a few things about keeping my littles happy and semi-quiet so I can teach the olders.  I don't do anything highly structured, (tried that many times and made everyone cry.  Including me.)  but I have a timer.  My kids love the timer.  I set it for a half-hour to 45 minutes when I need them to play alone.  I get out something constructive, like Duplo or drawing books or play-doh, or I have them make a fort or play store, complete with cans and boxes from mom's pantry, and away we go.  Perfectly, of course, with no fighting over toys, no crying over bonked heads, no asking how many more minutes until the timer is done.  It works pretty well, so long as it doesn't go on forever. The littles get a chance to play something special, and I get time alone with a child or two who needs extra help. And the littles are instructed to not bother Mommy until the timer dings. See?  I really didn't need that fancy seminar. It just took me about fifty years to get really good at this.
My darling baby boy, scooping up dried beans.

Ellie quickly joined in with brother.  Sarah wanted to also, but she was the one working with Mom.

Happy children!
They stayed put for almost an hour. And those beans only took ten minutes to sweep up, rinse, and put on the stove for tomorrow's dinner!  Talk about the five-minute rule...Don't worry...If I have you over for dinner, I promise I won't serve you beans that my children have been playing with.  On the floor.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Project House

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time, they say.
How do you manage a huge move, renovation, update and organize?  One bite at a time, naturally. How do you manage a very large family in the middle of tournament week and regular life? One bite at a time, again. Or perhaps if you're really wanting to finish things up, you could sneak in a few extra bites, here and there, just to make sure the elephant doesn't get left out and rot, eh? Some days I feel there are just plates and plates of elephant all through the house, waiting to be eaten.  Like today...
 Sorting out all these books to fit them on...
 the new bookcases we just got and are putting together. Or are playing inside of, depending on who you are.

 Helping Thomas finish up his expository speech for the four-day tournament this week. And yes, he is in my closet.  Never mind...

Trying out paint colors in our bedroom.  One of three rooms to be painted this spring.

It's a good life.  A busy one.  A project one.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When the Weather is BLAH

When the weather outside is frightful
And cabin fever is so not delightful,
And when you have no place to go,
Get a few of your favorite people in the whole world, and have a tea party!


Complete with lovely tablecloth, real China tea cups from Kenny's grandmothers (who both lived to be 96, by the way), Candy Cane Lane tea, and pretty little bowls of snacks. 

I used to hate the idea of tea parties, thinking of all that work I'd have to do just to have something hot to drink, for goodness sake.  I am so not a fancy person, I really prefer jeans and mugs to sticking my pinkie out and speaking with an English accent.  But thankfully over the years, my children have been exposed by neighbors and friends (thank you, Mrs. Barstad and Mrs. Lusk!) who showed them how to have a real tea party.  They come as they want, dressed up or not, with all sorts of wonderful accents.  Today we had a lovely lady with a southern drawl from Australia (still working on our geography). a spy from Czechoslovakia, a dyed-in-the-wool American, a princess who was NOT from Spain, and a little four year-old who just wanted to eat her snacks.




Bad lighting, I know.  But isn't she sweet?

My darling 14 year-old


Even squirrelly boys are welcome to our parties!



The snacks?  You won't find cucumber tea sandwiches or scones with lemon curd today.  But our girls did scrounge up some leftover quesedillas, cheese popcorn, Teddy Grahams, peanuts, and snowman shaped marshmallows.  Perhaps we'd change the menu up a bit for the Queen, but we sure had a lot of fun laughing away the gray skies and freezing snow!