Thursday, August 31, 2006

Why I Homeschool - Part 2 Family Unity

I was sitting in a park with Lori. She was one of the La Leche League Leaders that I studied under when I went for certification. She was a pastor's wife, and had 7 kids. Chris, who was two years old then, was playing with her two of her kids, Hosanna and Zach.

"Why do you homeschool, Lori?" I asked. I was gathering data.

She pointed to Micah, her junior high aged boy, who was pushing his skateboard around gently, with her toddler riding joyfully. "I've never seen a boy who loves his brother so much....and he's not scared to show it. A lot of kids would be worried about what their friends would say. He goes to Scouts, and when the other boys start cussing or misbehaving, he is strong enough to say "no" and not follow along, because the majority of his day is spent with people who love him, who value him for who he is, and who emphasize doing what is right."

That really struck me. Lori has moved on, and then I did, too. I don't know if she knows how much she influenced me. What she said became the primary reason why I homeschool. I really do believe that Deuteronomy 6, as well as Proverbs, and Luther's Small Catechism put the primary responsibility for teaching children about God, morality, and reason at the hands of the parents. When children spend more waking hours in a classroom full of other kids than they do with their parents, their parents lose influence in this realm. Quality time does not make up for that.

It makes a difference in sibling relationships also. Because my kids do not live in separate worlds half their days, they have more motivation to get along than to fight. It also emphasizes where I put my energies. We live together, we respect each other's rights, belongings, and personalities. It may not be as important to a parent to enforce getting along with the energy that I do, because its not an issue half the day. Even with five years between them, they are each other's main companions, and they make it work. In our house, human needs come before books. Life is happening around us as we study. That means things interfere. My kids are not taken out of the home and put in a sterile environment for the sake of learning. Learning how to be patient with Maggie, not to invade Chris's space, and that mom has her moments where she just needs quiet! is just as important as debating who King Arthur really was....more so. They'll be in close contact with people for the rest of their lives, and hopefully, this will make those contacts more real and genuine.

I saw a homeschooling book once that was called "Homeschooling Is About the Baby." What the author meant was that homeschooling puts the relationships into the proper perspective. If the baby is crying and Junior has a problem understanding math, Junior learns that we deal with the baby first and then help with the math problem. People before things.

I'm seeing what Lori was talking about with the peer pressure. Chris has been in some pretty awkward situations and was perfectly clear on the right way to go, and despite his love for his friends, he had no doubt what he was going to do. I was proud of him....and lately, he's been making his sister breakfast and letting me sleep in a little..... :)

go to part 3

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why I Homeschool.....a series

in an effort to psych myself up for the coming year, I am embarking on a little therapy project to remember why I homeschool. I figured you won't mind coming along on the journey, and if you do...there's a huge blogroll on the lefthand side.....thanks for checking in....

"Wow, you homeschool? I could never do that. That takes a HUGE commitment."I've heard it a hundred times if I've heard it once (and I have). What I want to reply is "Wow, you send your kids to school. I could never do that. That takes a HUGE commitment." I don't say that. But it does take a huge commitment. I don't think people realize how huge.

It requires that five days a week, you wake up really early and get your kids up and ready for school. Then you have to take them there (unless there's a bus). You have to make yourself available when they get out of school or arrange for after-school care. Then your evenings consist of homework, baths, and bedtimes.

Since I did go to school myself, and because I know many parents who send their kids to school, I happen to know that for many families, getting kids up in the morning, getting them to school, homework, baths, and early bedtimes are often not pleasant experiences (I get exhausted just thinking about it). And that is five days out of your seven day week! After all of that battle, your kids' most pleasant time of the day is the only time you don't get to be with them!

It bothers me that when my child turns five, a force completely outside of myself takes complete control of MY entire day, and not only dictates where and what my child does, but what I do some extent for the next twelve years. Now that's what I call sacrifice!

That's doesn't mean that our lives are completely oblivious to structure. We have wake up times, chores, bedtimes, school time. But WE decide what works best for OUR family. We can wake up at 9:00 or even later, if we so choose, and its okay. When you homeschool, what takes a school six hours often takes us just a few hours. There is no time devoted to crowd control, grading, etc. We can also choose to go as shallow or as deep into a lesson as we want. If there is a problem understanding, then my kids don't get left behind and we don't spend endless evenings trying to 'get it.' Either I can work on it as long as we need to before we move on, or I can decide to conquer it at a later date. There usually is no homework, because by doing the lesson with my children, I know whether or not they understand. If my husband works late, then we can make an exception and let the kids stay up to see Daddy...and then wake up later the next day. We also only "do school" three days a week. Wednesday is choir, library, and errand day (all full of educational value, of course! ahem). Friday is Dad's day off and devoted to fun and relaxation (possibly field trip).

This strengthens the family instead of separating it out. We are together for our days, and over all, that is a pleasant thing. Many of the battles that a school family undergoes every day are averted (we do have a few though). All in all, it is a truly peaceful existence.

go to part 2

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Saturday, August 26, 2006


You have a 7% chance of going postal!

Congrats! You're not going to shoot up a strip mall anytime soon. You're so well-adjusted, it's creepy.

How Likely Are You to Go Postal?
Create Your Own Quiz

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Middle of the Night Posting

Jeff has been called to the hospital at 1:30 in the morning, so that leaves me wide awake, waiting for a load of clerical shirts to be done. It is rare that this happens. Prayers ascend.

I talked with my sister yesterday, and I am really glad that I did. The thought of "starting school" with my kids leaves me contemplating having my self committed feeling less than enthusiastic. My sister is an elementary school teacher and her school is starting soon. I asked her if she was ready yet. "No," she replied. "I've been rearranging my classroom in order to try to get myself interested." she said. I had to laugh. My sister is always rearranging her furniture. A new look every few months. Its funny that it applies to her classroom, too. I also had to laugh because I seem to be doing the same thing. We're setting up the den for homeschooling. This will be the first year we move away from the kitchen table.

I suppose it is comforting knowing that if I were sending my kids elsewhere, that the teacher may be just as unenthusiastic about starting this school year as I am....and then when I think about how they are supposed to be the professionals and they get PAID to do this, then I get to feel morally superior there is some common ground.

Still, it doesn't mean that I'm not coveting a little of what This Pastor's Wife is writing about Tuesday.....going shopping alone....what's that like?

Monday, August 21, 2006

The People

This vacation wouldn't have been so wonderful without the people. We were blessed to be able to spend some time with both families. I think I saw more of my sister than when I lived close by, though it wasn't nearly enough! Our kids got to reconnect with aunts, uncles, and cousins. We got to see Kris, Brian, and Jeff's Aunt Peg.

We were really blessed by the people of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Pasadena, CA. Jeff pastored there for seven years, and we still really love them dearly. They made a point of inviting us in, throwing us a potluck, and updating us on their lives. We are truly blessed. It was amazing being there, worshipping there, and seeing all the nooks and crannies that we used to occupy...seeing how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same. I loved gazing at the font where Maggie was baptized, being awed by the pipe organ, and sitting in the pew that Chris and I occupied for so many years, staring at the pulpit where Jeff used to preach.

It is a beautiful church, and they are in good hands. It is clear that they have a good pastor who administers Word and Sacrament to them well. We owe Pastor Donofrio a lot ourselves....he baptized our cousin and buried our uncle since we've been gone. Words cannot say how appreciative we are.

If you happen to be confessional and looking for a good church in Southern not let this one pass you by. The theology is good and the people are caring.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


My mama always told me...

"When you go to the beach, YOU'D BEST BEWARE OF GROINS!!!"

Apparently, that was good advice

Zuma Beach

This was the beach that we went to most often when we lived in Pasadena. And it was beautifully welcoming to us...especially the first day. The second day we went was rougher, but still beautiful and meditative. We saw a pod of killer whales out there, too. At one point, there was one only about 50 feet from where Jeff was floating.

Maggie had a lot of fun, too. She focused on making sand castles and rivers. The waves kind of intimidated her. You can tell in her heart of hearts, she is a California girl. Only Nevada girls are better!

"Maggie, those big things behind you...those are hills."

Jeff and Chris in the water. Doesn't it just soothe your soul to look at it? Posted by Picasa

Dodger Stadium - My Blue Heaven
These were our seats the 2nd night we went to a game...they were bargains, but still VERY good. Our first night's seats, courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa, were in the Reserve Level, right above home plate. There really are no bad seats in Dodger Stadium. It is the most beautiful ballpark in the country. To the east there is a remnant of the sunset and shadows of the palm trees. To the north, there is the San Gabriel Mountains. We used to live at the base of those, in Pasadena..
We WON!!!! We were right in the middle of the best winning streak we'd had since 1893. It was great. We got to see Greg Maddux's first outing as a Dodger. Woo-hoo!!! I wanted to get a picture of the every present Dodger beachballs being bounced around the stands, but they were too quick for me.
Whenever the Dodgers win, they finish it off by playing "I Love LA" Now they are putting the words up on the scoreboard. I swear I never knew he was singing "big nasty redhead by my side." I heard someone on ESPN saying we were doing it because the Lakers started doing it. The Dodgers were doing it years before the Lakers were.

It was very considerate of the Dodgers to win both games while we were there. They have not always been that hospitable, but then again, we lived there.
 Posted by Picasa
A Few Vacation Highlights
from our trip to California........California Dreamin

Here's Chris and Maggie at the airport. They were really excited to be getting on a plane. (with our flat traveler guests) It was Maggie's first time, and the first time that Chris would remember.

We stopped in Las Vegas for a few days to visit with my parents, and then we were off to California. First stop: A family reunion at Disneyland with Jeff's parents, brother and sister, and families.

Jeff and Maggie on the Dumbo ride....that was definitely the favorite for the young ones. Though Buzz Lightyear Astroblaster was a close second...the older kids really liked that one. It was well done. I tend to be a "movie theme ride cynic" but it was good.

Maggie was really excited to have her first driving experience.....12 more years until I have to face that experience in real life!

I know Chris is saying here "this is just a guy in a dog suit, so don't forget that I am merely humoring you!"

(more coming soon)

Friday, August 18, 2006


When I was a kid in school, I remember reading a section of The Red Pony out of my reading textbook (big pet peeve of mine, now - reading textbooks). All I remember was hating it. In junior high, I believe, I also did a paper on Steinbeck and chose The Pearl, The Red Pony (go figure), and one other that I can't even remember. I apparently have blocked them from my memory, because I don't remember a word from any of them. Again, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I deliberately read the Cliff Notes when it came time to read Grapes of Wrath. (shame on me).

When I was eighteen, I stayed with my brother and my sister-in-law for a couple of months before I went away to college. "Have you ever read East of Eden?" My sister-in-law asked once, when we were talking books. "No." I kind of cringed. "You really ought to. It's wonderful. We have it right here."

Since they were nice enough to offer me their hospitality, I decided to give it a try, and to this day, I still count it as one of my favorite books. It really is beautiful. But it was the last Steinbeck book I picked up for sixteen years. Several months ago, we were at dinner at our friends' house, and Christie started saying "Oh, I love Steinbeck. Don't you?" That old feeling of semi-nausea crept into my stomach. I have no idea why, since I loved East of Eden, but I think I had convinced myself that it was his one masterpiece. She promptly offered to loan me Travels With Charley, and it has sat patiently on my bookshelf ever since -- until yesterday, when I decided I'd better get it back to her (sorry, Christie).

It is beautiful. I highly recommend it. It is more of a travel diary. Steinbeck, in fear of succumbing to old age, decides it is time that he takes a trip across country, because as an American writer, he was ashamed that he had become unfamiliar with America. He couldn't really get intimate with people if he travelled with someone else, it changes the way people relate to you, so he journeyed alone in a pick up truck with a camper in the back.....and his dog Charley, a full-size french poodle (who seems to have very redeeming qualities, even if he is a poodle). The way Steinbeck describes locales, expounds on his beliefs, and captures the spirit of the people he meets and the places he goes is indescribable. Here is just the first page...

My plan was clear, concise, reasonable, I think. For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world. In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago or San Francisco. But New York is no more America than Paris is France or London is England. Thus I discovered that I did not know my own country. I, an American writer, writing about America was working from memory, and the memory is at best a faulty, warpy resevoir. I had not heard the speech of America, smelled the grass and trees and sewage, seen its hills and water, its color and quality of light. I knew the changes only from books and newspapers. But more than this, I had not felt the country for twenty-five years. In short, I was writing of something I did not know about, and it seems to me that in a so-called writer this is criminal. My memories were distorted by twenty-five intervening years.

So I admit that I was wrong....and I thought I'd plug it, since it is one of Steinbeck's lesser known works.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Which is the best rivalry?

(I love this !!)

"The Yankees/Red Sox is a better rivalry because the Dodgers/Giants rivalry is one way....The Dodgers try to win a championship, while the Giants are trying to beat the Dodgers."

-Orel Herscheiser

(who has been both a Dodger and a Giant)

IF there has ever been any reason to be HAPPY to have a rivalry that doesn't measure up....I think that is it!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back from Vacation to Find Myself Tagged

Line Drive Down the Right Side tagged me with the meme that has been going around...and since its about books...well, can it get better than that?

First of all, I'm going to leave it said that the most influential book in my life has been the Bible, and of course the Small Catechism is right up there, too. But I'm going to go secular with this list....(I'll go through and edit it and make it look better later...its too late and I've been on a plane all day, but my fingers have been itching to blog!!!)

1. One Book that changed your life:

The Princess Bride. When my husband and I met at a summer camp, we quickly became good friends. We both loved books one of the first things he suggested was that we read it together. Neither one of us had really read with another person before..... It was the first of many books...and many to come.

2. One book you've read more than once:

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I didn't realize this until much later, but it taught me so much about how important it was to have a husband that I could respect and that was a good match for me. I cannot count how many times I've read this book. It is a good friend.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island (not the only one...just one you'd definitely want there):

Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen. As my professor once said "don't confuse the book for the movie, or either for her real life." I love the movie, too. But the book is very different.

4. One book that made you laugh: Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs. This was given to me by Line Drive, and it was sheer hysterical torture.

5. One book that made you cry: Diary of Anne Frank

6. One book that you wish had been written: A Return to "Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones but Words Can Never Hurt Me: A Flight from the Namby Pamby PC Culture!"

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Anything that works hard to destroy people's souls. I guess Da Vinci is the newest...but they are out there everywhere.

8. One book you're currently reading: Roughing It by Mark Twain. I crack up every time I think of that bison climbing up the tree after Twain's traveling companion.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: Blue Highways by William Least Heatmoon. I find the idea of travelling across country on all the little roads very tempting.

10. Now tag seven people.

Forgive me if you've already done this....I'm a little behind on my blog reading.

Favorite Apron
This Pastor's Wife
Pistol-Packing Presbytera
Chanting Chatter (doesn't have a blog....but I'm working on him)
Homestead Lutheran Academy
Recovering Pastor's Wife
Mediocre Minister's Wife