our winter season has been about abiding. falling real short here on overcoming, championing, shining, excelling, celebrating, funning.....

sometimes, it's all you can do to hide in *Him

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We've had a really nice, restful Winter break.  Lots of family-time, we hosted friends over for our church's winter Bible conference.  We had 7 extra guests for a week-end, which dwindled down to 5 quests for the week. (plus our expanded family of 8!)

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I dared to buy Emma-the-wonder-labradoodle a bright red winter coat...because it was not really clothes, more of a horse-blanket...so I technically did not break Sky's "no dressing the dog" edict.  If genetics rule, then I am in the running for crazy cat-lady and eccentric-old-lady-who-puts-her-dog-in-dresses (no joke)

She looks fabulous!!

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Amie and Demi-Sky have been very busy drawing, painting and writing creative stories.  I love to see them busy.  I love to see them busy on things not dictated by me. The above is a self-portrait in works by Amie, it is pencil and not quite finished.

The only schooling during the break has been our current read-aloud, which is this book by Grace Livingston Hill.  She is one of my favorite authors, and I collect her books in hardback, early edition.  She wrote during the 1930's and her work are faith-filled.  I started this one with the kids, not sure if they would like it, but they are really in to it. Very cool homeschool-mom-moment when at the beginning we ran into the word "fobish" which happened to be a vocabulary word from Sky's study of "The Scarlett Pimpernel" it was ultra-cool to read that word in this novel, kind of like spotting animals in the wild....

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So, this has been our winter season, one of hiding and abiding.

I hope the coming year will be full of the fruit and joy that come with abiding in God, for you all, as well as us here at {Home}

Children's Church drove me to drink. maybe.

...Actually, if it really did, that would really be something, because I don't drink. We've been serving in Children's Church as a family for many, many years.  I think it has been 6 years at this church.  It's structured so a family teaches in one of their own children's class, and then moves up with the class each year.  Lovely concept-yes, it has been rewarding to watch the kids grow and to know them well.  It's fun to have all our kids help us.

And yet... we've come to the point where we want to stand on a chair in the big meeting and yell out,

"what is WRONG with you people and what is wrong with your children?!"

The past year it has become such an ordeal that we treat our family to a nice restaurant lunch to soothe our savaged souls.  (I should mention our service is 2 1/2 hrs. long & we are there early for set up and late for pick up) Lately I have found myself contemplating some kind of adult beverage to numb the rattled nerves.  We really are at a loss, we have a handful of boys who are a major behavior problem.  At first we thought it was their young ages, but they are now in 5th grade and have added serious disrespect to their catalog of behaviors.

We deal regularly with 5th graders who kick each other while an adult is telling the story, or push the chairs over on end, who talk over the adult, interrupt the adult with observations/questions that have nothing to do with the class, yell out slightly crude words  or funny nonsense while an adult is talking. We are not always the adults in question.

We have one boy who cannot sit still at all, and will sometimes end up rotating from head up in seat, to head down on floor, back to head up again.  I once watched him do this, then moved to contain him as he started to ooze over into the row behind him...then realized that the man trying to pin his many moving appendages to his seat area was actually his dad.  I cheered inside that for once a parent would have to deal with it.

The girls have never been a problem, until this year.  Half the girls in our class attend the private school our church runs. Suddenly this year, the lead girl decided they are too old to do crafts, so they all refused to do them.  (until I brought out the glittery stickers, change of mind!) the girls now spend the class talking to each other and ignoring the girls who do not go to their school. And talking while adults are giving the lesson.  And subtly stretching the truth/lying to your face to achieve something or a privilege they want.

We've contemplated quitting several times, but there is a shortage of parents willing to serve.  Actually, we finally did email a resignation for the next school year...but I'm sure they will call our bluff.

As much as I dread it, and feel guilty for dreading it;  I know {in my heart} that those kids need adults taking an interest in them.  From the behavior I see from a handful, I seriously wonder if their parents (of the problem kids) spend any time with them at all.

Despite the bone-wearing hard days, we get little bright spots, moments where you just want to hug the heck out of the kids and say,

"look at splendid you!" 

One day recently, Spider-monkey boy (the one that turns acrobats in his seat) was sitting next to me (so I could lay hands on him if needed and keep him out of the next row)...totally out of the blue (and out of turn of course), he turned to me and said..."I'm going to Disneyland today" then he added "I'm going to Catalina Island tomorrow"..then he added "I'm going to Hawaii next week"  by now my awe was changing to amusement.

Next he hit me with

"I'm the center of the vortex of gravity!"

"Yes, you are all that, sweetie."

and I wanted to hug the heck out of him and say

"look at splendid you!"

so yeah, we kind of quit, but no one has acknowledged it, so I'm guessing they called our bluff...

I Spy {someone is always watching me} guest post

...For your consideration:  if you fudge on your child’s birth date so he can have a facebook page, are you chipping away at your own integrity in his eyes?  Does the end result (a fun facebook page) really justify the means (dishonesty)?  If you sneak snacks into the movie theater, even though a sign at the entrance says “no outside food or drink?” what are you teaching? Everyday, as parents, we are faced with these tiny, little choices.  These tiny little choices will add up to a weight of truthfulness and integrity.

Integrity for our boys will not start in college, when he decides whether or not to cite a reference for a term paper.  I’ve learned that integrity starts at home, with the little eyes that are always watching me.

I am writing today at The Mothers of Boys Society about integrity.  Click over to read the entire article.

I Spy {someone is always watching me} M.O.B. Society

Sweep the corners- guest post at Moms of Boys Society

Flour, milk, sugar, yeast.  Measure them out, son.
Exactness, fineness, sugar to sweeten.
Careful with the yeast- don’t drop it,

measure it…

carefully – thoughtfully.

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” -Matthew 13:33

...I am writing today over at the M.O.B. Society about leaven and teaching our sons to sweep out the corners of their hearts.  Click over to read the rest... Sweep the Corners

making the paths straight

We sat, my son and I, across from each other at the table: dissatisfaction rolling like waves off of him; simmering anger rolling off of me.  
I pondered the air of spoiled, ungrateful-entitlement he projected, trying to put a lid on the angry indictment I wanted to rain down upon him.  
I knew it might relieve my feelings temporarily to verbally put him in his place...but I  instinctively knew I would miss changing his heart.  
So we sat.  The son of my heart and I.  Facing each other from two different places.  He; self-absorbed, entitled, ungrateful and victim with a capital 'I'.  Me: slapped in the face at his spoiled attitude, hurt by his ungratefulness, incredulous at his sullenness. 

The conversation and attitude that preceded went something like this...
He: "I don't want to skateboard today, can't I go sit at the bookstore, read and get a hot chocolate instead?"  Me: "no, skateboarding is p.e. and Teddy really looks forward to it, it would be boring by himself, you are his friend, you need to get out there."  He: "did you bring us a snack?" [full accusation in tone, he knew I did not]  He: "can we at least get donuts afterward?"  He: "will you take us somewhere later?"  
This was all with an air of accusation/dissatisfaction.  Spoiled much???
I wanted to reach his heart, not teach him to hide his feelings.
I didn't know how to accomplish it.  So we sat, at an impasse. 
I still haven't come up with a magic answer.  His father's was -more work-plenty of it, and throw out the wii.  The wii is off limits except on Saturdays now and we are adding in more work.
This whole scene left me thinking about his/my/our relationship with God.  This week in our devotional reading we read Isaiah 40:1-3  "...make clear the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
Our hearts are not straight, they are full of crooked places, mountains, pits, weeds.  Our hearts (both my sons and I) are crooked and rough in places.  My job, as his parent, is to help him smooth out those rough patches and to help him make his heart a smooth highway for the Lord to pass through.  
This verse ran through my mind. "For he knows we are but dust and that our days are few and brief" (Psalm 103:13-15).
Also, this verse had heavy weight with me; "He will feed his flock as a Shepherd; in His arm He will gather the lambs; in His bosom He will carry them.  He will lead thoe who are nursing the young." Isaiah 40:11
Christ as the shepherd cares for his flock through his ruling and correcting.  He is leading us on the right way, adjusting us as we need it- and His leading/correcting/adjusting is neither too fast or too slow, but it's at the pace of the flock He shepherds- this includes the pace of the lambs [the young] and those nursing the young.  He gathers the very young, who cannot keep up, in His arms.  What a beautiful reminder as a mother, given a flock to shepherd for Him- to keep to the pace of my young, and to gently lead them into straight places.  
The shepherd is so gentle and gracious to me, over and over.  How can I not be likewise?

Homeschooling through the gray days

 Most days are not amazing homeschool days.  I have those, but most days are not those days.  And, some days are gray days- we work through our daily work like Math, reading, handwriting...
and my house is a wreck, the laundry pile is slowly over-taking my bedroom.  
We finish our school day, and the kids scatter.
I leave for one of two or three trips for various lessons/classes.
I come home, just in time to make dinner- and see
My house is a wreck, dishes scattered around the kitchen because child A didn't do them...
the laundry pile in my room, I swear is getting bigger and following me...
and the dining table looks like this.  Books scattered everywhere, waiting for someone (mom) to put them away on the learning shelves.
And yet,
I wouldn't choose an alternate reality.
I hear happy kids' voices coming from the backyard.  My teen is curled up on the sofa reading Little Women.
My dining table is full of school books, workbooks and crayons because it has been a full, successful learning day.  Contractions were conquered, the area of a triangle memorized and explained, division steps done over and over, someone cried over Father's letter home in Little Women (mom's tears) and a castle was painted.
I am blessed
overflowing and running down.

The Mess you don't see

Sifted and weighed...I have too many days of feeling like that...

 Wednesdays are my 'light' days, because Teddy is not at my house...I don't want to do anything big that he would get behind on, so I usually do some basic schooling such as Math, handwriting, reading- but stuff like History, Science, Vocabulary, read alouds get put off till another day.  Because Wednesdays are my light days, I like to think of them as 'catch up' days or errand days- but lately, it seems like my Wednesdays have come out all wonky.

Today I had big plans of cleaning, catch up, laundry and some homeschool planning.  Our learning record meeting is coming up next week- I need to sit down and make sure we've finished everything, all areas of learning have been covered, etc.

Well, first off- I am chronically anemic..and I'm also forgetful and a bit stubborn, so I don't take my iron pills until I'm feeling really bad.  This past week or two, I've fallen asleep while waiting in my car at various lessons- a sign that I am pretty anemic.  The anemia headaches kicked in on Monday.  Wednesday I woke up to a pounding headache, took tylenol and then a sudafed in case it was my sinuses, not anemia.  Went for my walk, felt dizzy and nauseous, so cut the walk short and went home. -crawled into bed. Slept it off, got up, did the breakfast/shower thing...

Had this realization: it is now 11 o'clock.  Half my day is wasted.

Did some laundry, some Math with the kids, tried to straighten the house a bit.
Around 4 pm I had to lay down again.  It was lay down or eat large amounts of chocolate and diet coke to wake me up.  I picked the nap.  Woke up, success! -headache was finally gone!  Now it was dinner time.


I don't often share days like this here, because frankly, I figure no one wants to read whining day after day on a blog...and also because I dread the possibility of being linked to some message board where people are bashing homeschoolers and my horrible day(s) being held up as an example of bad parenting.  But, I do have days like this, more than I care to display...I thought I'd share the ugly, in case there is another mom feeling as much of a failure as I often do.  I know, and believe with my whole heart that the Lord's burden is indeed light...and that he will guide us to the heights, valleys and even pit-stops we need to travel, if only we will open our hearts to his leading.

I will close my eyes tonight on a day that was failed, offering up my weak, temperamental heart.

Today, I remained.  Sometimes that is all I can do.

Tomorrow I will open my eyes, and look to My Father's eye- to see that which I ought to do.
My heart knows it is enough.