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Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's Official...We're Going To Be One Of Those "Weird Families"!

I am so excited to announce...I have FINALLY and OFFICIALLY decided to home school our kids.

I have struggled, wrestled, and thought about homeschooling for the past 2 1/2 years. Since R started kindergarten (he's now in 2nd grade) I stressed out about it. 3 days before public school started, I chickened out and decided to send him. I think it was mostly peer pressure and fear of family reactions about homeschooling.

Since then, so many things have happened. Most importantly, my husband is 100% on board with it! I am so blessed and lucky to have a man who loves me and trusts me enough to educate our babies. He knows I have nothing but their best interest at heart and would never jeopardize their future or their educations.

I have also been led and taught so much by God recently. Mostly that now is the time to stand up for my faith and what I believe in. I have sat back and allowed my kids to attend public education where they come home reciting the latest swear word they've picked up off the playground, sharing the way they were bullied or witnessed another child being bullied, and things they are learning that I either wish they didn't or flat out disagree with.

They learn about many religions in school. They made beautiful construction paper Menorahs, lovely Kwanzaa decorations and happily play "witches and warlocks" in gym class and color pictures with witches, black cats and ghosts. But when it comes to their faith, they aren't even allowed to sing a song about their own religion at school in a program that is supposed to be about Christmas. The Christmas they celebrate in school is the watered-down, commercialized one of course. Bells ringing, Santa on his sleigh with all of the reindeer, and a jolly Frosty the Snowman take center stage. Not a mention of Jesus.

I don't mind that they learn about other religions. However, I think it should be equal time.

The most important thing for them to learn, in my opinion, is about Jesus. They get nothing about Him in the 6 1/2 hours of time they spend in school 5 days a week. Since private school is not an option and cyber school is still public schooling, homeschooling it is.

I have ordered our curriculum and it is slowly but surely arriving. I am so excited.

Now we can start bowl-cutting their hair and sequester them at home so that they never socialize again.

Right?

Ha ha.

Frankly, I'd rather they not learn the kind of socializing they've been learning in school. They have a more colorful curse word Rolodex than I do and have started saying things like "That sucks!" Certainly not earth shattering, but not the kind of language I want my 6 and 7 year old fluent in.

I'm sure being home schooled is a guarantee that they will be perfect and unfettered by this cruel world.

Ahem.

I have no illusions.

Okay, maybe I have some illusions. But I won't know what they are until I meet them head on.

Here is my plan so far. This is a living and breathing plan, so I'm sure it will be tweaked or over hauled as needed.

*Order 1st & 2nd grade Abeka curriculum
*Gather/get any supplies needed for classroom:
     -markers (for the kids and for me)          -glue (sticks and regular)
     -calendar                                              -wall map (US, State)
     -empty jars for storage                          -letter trays
     -clipboard(s)                                         -Easel/dry erase board
     -3-ring binder(s)                                    -Laminator
     -Bulletin board                                      -Clock for learning to tell time
     -Pens/Pencils/Erasers                            -Globe
     -construction paper                               -thumb tacks
     -rulers                                                  -notebook paper/journal notebooks
     -scotch tape                                          -Art supplies/paint
     -Weather Center                                   -Baskets for each child for cubby
*Get together a lesson plan to accommodate Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade curriculum.
*Get all supplies in place before the new year.
*Have a meeting with their principal telling him of our plans and officially withdrawing them from school (they are not legally mandated to attend in our state until they are 8 years old.)
*Find co-op for activities, field trips and playmates. (Have to work that all important "socialization" in, yes?)
Find out about daytime classes they can take in place of gym class/recess.

So...we're basically starting at scratch.

No, I'm not nervous at all *she said while twitching violently*.

Piece of cake.

As far as where we'll do our learnin'?

Here is the vision I have for our classroom (maybe minus the Sponge Bob pinata. Maybe):

Nice homeschool arrangement

A girl can dream.

Here's an awesomely blurry shot of what our room looks like now:



I'm excited. The kids are excited. 

E was so excited in fact, that she had me start a little with her kindergarten workbook today. 

Maybe that was a mistake. I don't want to say anyone's spirits were dampened, but the experience was such that I considered adding Valium to my supplies list above. 

So...January 2 is the official start date. I am busily scouring eBay for curriculum at a discount. So far we've saved over $250 off retail. That's pretty awesome. 

Now to figure out how to make a realistic lesson plan that fits in our day, works around 3 grades, and meets state standards. 

Any suggestions for me?? I'm all ears! Don't see the comment section below? Click on the title of this post and it will take you there. 





Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Story

The Master Artisan wiped the last bit of paint from his brush and set it gently on the table, never once taking his eyes off his masterpiece.

It was incredible. Breath taking. He had never before felt so in tune, so connected with his work.

It was spectacular...he couldn't even begin to put into words how he felt staring at the canvas.

His eyes took in the spectacular color. The amazing lines. It was a color he had never seen before. There was no name for this brilliant hue. Of the millions of colors in the spectrum, this one was unique.

As he stood pondering his work of art, it was as if the word filtered softly through the air, and slipped silkily into his brain of its own accord.

Aubreen. That was the only word that captured the color in its truest form.

Deftly, in three fluid movements, he had the canvas wrapped and stored away. Unveiling it would have to be done carefully and with much consideration. He had labored for years, decades. It was surreal to think that he had actually finished. All the times he had sat staring at his paints, struggling to put onto canvas what was dancing within his mind. It all led to this. This moment in time when he could finally put his supplies away and consider it "finished."

He laid awake that night, charged with the anticipation of the unveiling that would take place the next day. He slept not a wink that night, but arose the next morning refreshed and resolute.

He entered the city gate among the many towns people, all there to witness this remarkable occasion. The mayor rushed to greet the Artisan-putting an arm across his shoulders as he led him toward the grandstand in the center of the throng of people.

The Artisan, aware that this was how it was to happen, shrunk back at the sight of all the people. Although he had much excitement about sharing this wonderful creation, he was hesitant to end this intimate journey. For so long it had been only he and his work. But today, he felt like a parent presenting his newborn child to the world for the first time; proud, excited, nervous, protective...

Before he realized what was happening, the mayor thrust him onto the stage in full view of the audience. He took a moment to blink, trying to clear his thoughts. There before him was a mass of people as far as the eye could see. It was a sea of faces, each blurring into the next, all waiting with anticipation etched across their faces. His hands held tighter to the canvas. He felt the slightest bit of apprehension spread through his chest and into his throat.

While he had considered this a labor of love, he could see the almost rabid expectancy on the faces of the crowd.

And then it was time. A hush fell over the crowd.

The Artisan looked down at the wrapped package in his hands and then slowly up at the Mayor. The Mayor smiled broadly and motioned toward the easel that stood empty to the Artisan's left.

Slowly, with trembling fingers, the Artisan carefully unwrapped the canvas. As the last bit of cloth fell away and he hoisted it onto the easel, there was a collective gasp.

Everyone rushed forward, anxious to get a closer look. The Mayor all but shoved the Artisan out of his way so that he could stand directly in front of the canvas, gripping both sides, staring wide-eyed at the amazing work.

Very quickly the mass changed from intrigued to a riot, forcing their way closer to the stage. Amidst the chaos, as the Artisan was pushed farther and farther away from the easel, he could hear snippets of conversation;

"Amazing!"

"Unbelievable!"

"What color IS that?!"

"It's red"

"No, no! It's more green!"

"Let me see!"

"Out of the way!"

"What color is that?!"

The Artisan stumbled blindly down the stairs. He looked longingly toward his work. It was obscured by the thousands of people clamoring to see it, to touch it.

A voice rose above the noise. The Mayor spoke into the microphone, "Artisan. This is amazing! Tell us about this?"

The crowd parted as every eye turned toward the Artisan.

His throat felt like sand paper. He licked his suddenly parched lips.

His voice was no more than a whisper.

"It's Aubreen" was all he could muster.

Silence hung in the air for a beat and then everyone started talking again at once.

"No it's green!"

"It's blue, I tell you!"

"You're both wrong! It's red with flecks of yellow!"

And so it continued.

Time moved slowly. It was as if everything was moving underwater.

He simply stood listening as everyone shouted out what color they thought it was, each believing his own opinion was right

The Artisan wept. His creation, so unique and unusual was not being appreciated for what it was. Instead, each tried to define it based on what they believed it to be. What they were used to seeing. What they wanted it to be.

They weren't seeing it for what it truly was.

He felt despair. A cold, empty lump in his heart.

How could they take something so beautiful and relegate it to something so...ordinary?

They would never be able to experience it to its fullest. Instead they had chosen to make it into something familiar, comfortable, known.

They argued and fought. They debated its color. Some said "green", others "blue", still others "brown." Each voice louder, more confident and more forceful than the last. Each more sure than the others that he was right. They based their assumptions on past experience, on their friends' opinions, and on what made them feel most comfortable.

If anyone suggested asking the Artisan, others hushed them and explained that each man had his own ability to interpret what the color was-- to decide for themselves what its name should be. They reassured each other and themselves that the Artisan wasn't needed, that he didn't want to explain it to them.

Others even said they didn't believe the Artisan even existed since they hadn't seen him with their own eyes. They had been too far back in the crowd to see.

The Artisan hung his head. He felt great sorrow. All he had worked for was for naught.

They wouldn't listen. They were convinced that they knew better than he, the creator; The Master Artisan.

People who had never so much as picked up a paint brush in their lives, who had never had the burden and miracle of inspiration burn in their hearts, or toiled endlessly, painfully over canvas, now suddenly knew better than he who had.

He stumbled slowly, resignedly away from the crowd. They had all forgotten he was even there.

There was not one acknowledgement of his effort. Not one nod in his direction.

Each man took turns accepting accolades from the others as he determined what the color "actually" was. The crowd roared louder with each exclamation that every man should decide for himself what color the masterpiece was. For those few who insisted that it was in fact Aubreen, they were pushed farther and farther outside of the group and some were even dragged away and beaten.

The Master Artisan walked solemnly away-off to a different land where he may find those who would appreciate and embrace what his art truly was.

And it was finished.
***

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holding On Tight To Let Go

I was told once that Christians are called to be flexible. I was also told that I am as flexible as a board.

Ugly truth.

I have been busting at the seams to write. I have been trapped inside my own head. It's a stressful, exhausting place to be. There is no reprieve. The same thoughts thump around endlessly, driving me crazy.

I picture the last scene in the movie pi. *Spoiler alert* The main guy in it is brilliant. He eventually gets so sick of it (his own brilliance) that he drills a hole in his skull--a self lobotomy--so he's no longer that intensely smart.*

I don't have to worry about the brilliant part. Instead, it's the constant struggle to understand what God wants from me. To be and do and think what He would want me to. And to get rid of the ugly, selfish things.

That's where I struggle most.

I see so many people self-promoting. It makes me cringe. I have never been a fan of the type of people who say "Look at me!" Even under the guise of helping others. My Facebook page has become a litany of those "Look at how awesome I am" posts.

It's such a turn off. While I'm comfortable in front of people, I don't like being the center of attention. I definitely don't take compliments well and I worry constantly that I will be too prideful and start crediting myself with anything good.

Still...it's hard when you see others who will use anyone or anything to catapult themselves to greatness or gain attention. It's tricky to question someone's motives, but it becomes apparent sometimes why some people do the things they do. And it isn't out of the goodness of their hearts.

I have thought about that in regards to this blog many times. I have hoped that my imperfect, neurotic life may be a source of humor and hope for others. Humor because it's fun to laugh at and with others and a source of hope for those who may struggle in the same way...hope that they aren't alone. But not a way for me to shine how "terrific" I am.

I have felt alone many times.

As I change and feel myself becoming more aligned with what God wants for me, I see the disparity in the world around me. And more alarmingly, in those who I'm close to.

I re-read the above statement and think it sounds incredibly arrogant. I don't mean that I've "come so far" or that I've surpassed anyone, but rather that I have had my eyes opened. I believe I am seeing more of God's will. Seeing and living are two totally different things. Make no mistake. While I may SEE, putting it successfully into practice is quite another story.

I am having to learn and relearn how to relate to others as I become a different person. I find myself asking, "Did YOU change? Did I change? Have I never really seen who you are? All of the above?"

I am learning that I can't expect others to be where I am in my walk. Even though God asks the basics of all of us, our journey to getting there is completely separate and unique. That's hard.

It's like when you see a fantastic movie and you want to tell others all about it. You want to spoil the ending so that they can go along on the ride with you. You urge them to see it for themselves so they can experience it first-hand.

Or if you're both careening separately along a highway at 100 miles per hour. It seems like the road is flat and straight for miles, but, from your vantage point, you can see a sign warning that there are sharp curves ahead. Your friend/family member doesn't see the sign when you do and you are desperate to make them aware. That sense of urgency and sadness of what may happen to them if they don't see is overwhelming. You're signaling and waving wildly to let them know, but they think you're distracting them from the amazing ride they're having. They're annoyed with you. They think you're crazy. Ridiculous. Misled.

You can only hope that they see the sign in time.

And you find yourself wishing, even for a split second, that you could just go back a few miles to before you knew the curve was coming. Back to when you both just enjoyed the ride. Back to not worrying about your friend. And you realize that you can't just ride along, waving at them, laughing, smiling, cheering them on, when you know they are about to crash in a fiery heap.

That's where I've been. Torn between reaching out and sharing what I believe to be life changing, life saving information and observations with worrying about offending or disenfranchising those I care about most.

Is there really a way to win?

God has given us free will. He no more wants to force us to love Him that we want to force anyone to love us.  It grieves Him when we make choices and decisions that are not in line with His will, but he allows us that.

If God allows us free will, how can I "demand" others follow or believe according to His will?

I can't. And I know that.

The rub? How does that change or dictate my relationship with others?

Some who I held in high regard have now slipped. Some I once held in such esteem have *overnight* changed into someone who believes, professes, and lives contrary to what I believe God wants us to. While they may not have actually changed or changed that quickly, I now realize the difference.

If I were to meet this person/people today, having no history with them, I would probably hold them as an acquaintance at best. They most likely would not be a close confidant. So, how does one go about rerouting the entire relationship now that things have changed? Especially if the "change" isn't troublesome or apparent to the other person?

I tell you what...it's darn near impossible to do it easily. There is a grieving process. While those people are still in your life, it's not the same. It's like losing someone close to you because they don't fulfill the same position they once did.

I tell myself that if I just do what God wants me to do, He will work it all out. But I'm not naive enough to believe there won't be pain or discomfort. It's for the best, I know, but pain is pain.

Hurting sucks.

Having uncomfortable conversations sucks.

Finding out there is no Santa Claus sucks.

You find yourself in that devastating place of learning that your "parents" aren't perfect.

Every kid goes through that stage...finally seeing your parents as human beings rather than the caped crusaders you saw them as in your gilded youth.

And you have to shift everything.

What does that mean and how does that look?

I don't know exactly. But I'm there.

It's awful. And it's a chance for me to rely solely on God.

And I am getting a little closer every day to figuring out what God has planned for me.

I know that if I just jumped in feet first and believed, some amazing things would come of it and it would all be okay.

Instead, I sit here beating my head against the proverbial wall, mourning the things that have changed.

Have you ever been in that place where you KNOW what you should do but doing it is so, incredibly hard?

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