Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - Our School Agenda

Homeschool Memoirs!
I'm a pretty steady person when it comes to curriculum. There are people who do a little bit of everything and there are those who change their curriculum annually. I like to find a curriculum and stick with it.

Well, for at least 3 years.

When our oldest began school, we used Rod & Staff. It was godly and it was cheap! Two good reasons to choose a curriculum, right? However, half-way through his 3rd grade year, the black and white, page after page of rote math problems were getting to him. I'm not one to have the kids make the decisions, but I was beginning to see that he (and my other children) needed something else - something a bit more, dare I say it? - fun. Shocking, I know.

Somewhere along the line, I had read how a former homeschooler mentioned that, as an audio learner, she would have benefited greatly from the dvd programs available today. As my oldest is an audio learner (and, therefore, highly distracted by noise), I grabbed a hold of that bit of information. I began to research the dvd programs offered by A Beka and BJU. My husband and I fell in love with BJU and the fact that they offered a more inexpensive satellite version really sold us!

So, 3 years ago, we began BJU HomeSat. Absolutely LOVE it! There was some starting off costs - buying a decent television, some portable dvd players, and a DVR (a dvd player and recorder with a hard-drive). Our children have favorite teachers as well as teachers they don't like as well - just like they would in a school setting. The great thing about the BJU teachers is that they aren't just videotaped in a classroom - they are teaching the individual child at home. This allows them to do some really cool projects, experiments, and interviews that would not be possible in a classroom.

Unfortunately, we got notice a few weeks ago that BJU will no longer be providing HomeSat after this school year. We found out one day after our new, non-returnable, too-much-to-mention DVR arrived. Oh well. We are recording classes for future use and are hoping to finish elementary school via the dvds.

BJU offers these satellite programs on dvd - for one price you get all of the books (teacher's editions, included) and all of the classes without the hassle of recording (my husband spends about 6 hours total every week editing and burning down the dvds). However, that one price is a bit high for those of us with several children.

Interestingly enough, our oldest child, for whom we subscribed to the satellite in the first place, has begun A.C.E. this year. So far, he enjoys it. Of course, it's been two whole days, but, we take it one day at a time. Why the change? Mike is on a three month grace period. If school here at home doesn't improve (i.e., his attitude, the distractions of younger siblings playing, etc), we are seriously contemplating enrolling him into a small private school after Christmas. This school uses the A.C.E. curriculum. We wanted Mike to get used to the curriculum so that, if he does attend the school, that adjustment will have already been made.

This year, we are also joining a brand new homeschool cooperative at our church. This will take care of their Phys. Ed. and art requirements as well as teaching my children sign language, Bible, music appreciation, and get some Math review for those who need it. We are very excited about this opportunity for our children to learn more in these areas that are often forgotten about due to time and lack of knowledge/skill.

Every family - every child - is different. BJU & A.C.E. may work for me while Rod & Staff or A Beka works for you. Some families embrace a homeschool cooperative while others will steer far from them for various reasons. I am glad to learn from others - especially this year as we pray about what to do in the 2009/2010 school year. Comments on what has worked for you in the past are appreciated!

Happy schooling to all of you!



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beautiful Moms

What makes a beautiful mom? Most of us have an idealistic picture in our minds when we think of beautiful moms. Mine may be like many of yours. She's gentle, has a natural outer beauty, she's soft-spoken, kind, fun-loving, and seems to have all the time in the world to play with her children.

However, I don't know too many moms who fit all of those qualifications. I sure don't!

It takes time to be beautiful. Think about you morning preparations. It takes time to look nice. You do your hair, you clean your face, you may put on make-up. The nicer you want to look, the more time it takes.

Such is the way with godly beauty. It takes time. Time in the Word. Time on our knees. After our morning quiet time (which, let's face it, is difficult to come by when you have little ones in the house), we need to frequently speak to God throughout the day. He doesn't leave us after our quiet time. He's still walking next to us. We need to talk with Him - thank Him for the kindness your 10 year old just showed his younger sister, ask Him for wisdom in how to deal with the argument going on in the next room, tell Him you're tired and need His strength.

Godly beauty comes little by little. Isaiah 28:10 - "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" God knows that we can't just open our Bibles one day and have instant holiness. It takes time.

When we brush our hair, there may be some tangles. They slow us down. We need to work through them. God wants to work through the tangles of our life - slowly, gently. If we don't rush Him, we will come out a finer vessel.

So, ask the Lord to help you in one area of your mothering. Let Him work on you this week. Seek Him in His Word. Talk with Him and allow Him to talk with you.

Me? I'm working on being more kind. Verses such as "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" and "...and in her tongue is the law of kindness" are at the forefront.

Whatever God chooses for you to work on will take time. Don't get discouraged. It's your beauty routine. All of us know women who seem to become even more beautiful with age. Everyone thought they were beautiful when they were younger, but their older beauty has far surpassed that of their younger years. The Lord wants to do the same for us - a mom who seeks the Lord is beautiful and will only grow more so as the years go by.

May God bless all of you - Beautiful Moms!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Realizations

The other evening, I saw an old acquaintance and met his wife. His wife was exactly what I always knew he'd marry - sweet, pretty, absolutely charming! It was fun getting to know them and to find out that they attend a great church. We know a few families who attend (or have attended) there, as well, so it was neat to find we had mutual friends.

This couple has been married for a little less than 10 years. They have no children, but I know they'd make great parents. I had a feeling that the Lord just hasn't granted this desire to them, but we weren't in a setting where it was really appropriate to discuss.

I went home that evening feeling a bit envious of this couple. While we stumbled across the porch over the paraphernalia our brood had scattered all over its surface, got the "could've-been-better" report from the babysitter, and looked at getting them all up and ready for church the next morning, this couple went home at their own pace, entered their neat house, and can spend the majority of their time focusing on one another.

Oh the peace! Oh the romance! Oh the envy I had!

I know that no one's life is perfect, but I was wondering what it must be like. I also know the dangers of envy. I tried to make myself remember the desire to have children when we had none. I imagined how the quiet would become overwhelmingly loud as time went on. I prayed and thanked God for each of our children by name. I then asked him to show me how blessed I really am and to help me with the envious feelings I had.

I went to sleep. I awoke with the same feelings.

When I went to church, I saw a friend of mine who, as I had found out, is also close to this couple. I told her how I knew the husband years back and how I just adored his wife. Both of these women are, apparently very close.

Then, the Lord answered my prayer in an unforeseen way. I found out today that the sweet wonderful wife has battled thyroid cancer for years. She still battles it to this day. They have recently found spots on her lungs, as well. What they are, they don't know as of yet. On top of that, they do desire strongly to have children - and still there is silence in their home.

Oh, the sadness of reality!

As I left church during service just to drive and cry, I prayed for this sweet couple. I also realized that I am no longer envious.

I am blessed beyond measure.



Friday, August 22, 2008

Beautiful Moms

Recently, I was thinking about starting a whole new blog which would have been a daily devotional directed to moms. The title was to be "Beautiful Moms" as I believe all mothers who are trying to please the Lord in their mothering are beautiful. However, this new blog would have taken up way too much of my already crowded schedule. How could I blog about being a godly mom while my children were being neglected?

Therefore, I've decided to designate Tuesdays here at Love & Rewards as the day I will dedicate to Beautiful Moms. Some Tuesdays will be a devotional thought geared toward mothers and motherhood. However, I would love to have posts which pay tribute to Beautiful Moms. These may be moms from history or moms we know - our own included!

Here is where YOU can get involved. The Beautiful Moms posts won't always be written by me. I want to hear from my readers. E-mail me a tribute about a beautiful mom you know and admire. This can be a couple of paragraphs, a longer tribute, or a poem. Then, I will let you know what Tuesday I will be posting your tribute.

You hear from me all the time and I'll definitely contribute to the Beautiful Moms postings. But, now is the time to hear from you all about the women who have shaped your lives or encouraged you in motherhood!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Reminder

A friend of mine just posted about her little girl's first steps. Jenna is a first-time mother and absolutely thrilled about this milestone. In her post, she mentions that she may have "bored" her readers with this news and hints that she's a bit overly excited "as a first-time mom."

My 7th child took his first steps a few weeks ago. Not only was I just as thrilled with this "step" into maturity, but his 6 older brothers and sisters went crazy with glee as well! Milestones such as the first smile, the first laugh, sitting up, the first meal, and walking are NEVER boring. I love when my children accomplish such things and I love to hear about other children growing and maturing as well.

Not to mention, as stay-at-home moms, we normally get to see these accomplishments first-hand. When Jenna's baby is 8 years old, she'll love hearing mom tell her about seeing her first steps and how excited she was. Jenna will be able to tell her daughter exactly where she was. Why? Because Jenna was there to see it happen.

"...the fruit of the womb is His reward."

Being there to see our babies' firsts truly are a reward from the Lord. They bring us such joy.

Take a moment to remember your children's first coos, smiles, and steps. Each one is special. Thank you, Jenna, for reminding me.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - About Me

Homeschool Memoirs!

My weekly assignment is to tell my (hopefully) new readers a little about myself. For those of you who have been reading this blog for quite some time, you may feel you already know too much. But, I guess it's a fair way to warn people so they can decide whether or not they really want to come back!

As you can see in the sidebar, I am happily married to the love of my life. Eric and I have been married for almost 14 years. Our anniversary is 20 days, 3 hours, and 20 minutes away. But, who's counting?

Both of us went to the same Christian school, though he's much older than I am. In fact, we're attending his 20 year reunion this Saturday. MUCH older.

OK - only 3 years. But, at one time that was a huge difference. But, that's another post. If you want to read a little bit about our courtship, feel free to go here and here.

Anyway, we were married 3 years before we had our first of seven children. However, it was during our first year of marriage that we had our first serious introduction to homeschooling and the conservative mindset that often accompanies it. When we saw, firsthand, the results, we knew we wanted to raise our children the same way.

Actually, Eric was sold on the idea first. He told me, "I think we're going to homeschool our kids." I said, "What?!" Once he told me we'd be in it together, then I was sold as well!

Shortly after we became parents, we moved back home to where we were raised. My husband is partner with his father on the family farm and we are blessed to live in the farmhouse where our children can see what daddy does everyday. Yes, it's often a distraction during the school day when the tractors and combines are driving around, or when a rooster needs to be put to death. But, it's a wonderful place for our children to grow up. It's also a wonderful place for Eric and I to take evening strolls when the children are all in bed and quiet. Well -- in bed.

I guess people would call us conservative Christians. We just try to look to the Bible for answers and for direction. We belong to, what we believe, is the best church in the world. Our church family is a major part of our lives and most of them homeschool which results in a wonderful "support" group. This year, another mom and I are beginning a homeschool cooperative at our church. We are very excited about this venture. Our children will be able to benefit from the gifts and skills that other parents may have that their own do not have or have the time for.

There is way too much about me for me to post here, just as the case would be for anyone. But, the more time you spend here at Love & Rewards, the better you'll get to know me. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it's a fact. I love to have fun, but I enjoy meditating on issues pertaining to marriage, family, and scripture. Therefore, my blogs often result in humor sprinkled with truth.

As far as our homeschooling, I'd like to say that we fit the idealistic image of the always happy, peaceful, and bright homeschool family. Some days are indeed wonderful. Many, however, are just plain challenging. The baby screams, the 2 and 4 year old run around loudly, the older ones lose pencils and get a brain cramp on simple math facts.

I, of course, take everything in stride and with a smile.

Ooops - sorry. That was Julie Andrews.

I'm
the one who gets frustrated and find that I'm at the end of my rope by 10:00 a.m. - especially on days when I have neglected to truly seek God's face. Homeschooling has challenged me in my growth as a Christian. I have truly found that without God, I am nothing and I can do nothing. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. I am finding that instead of trying to hang on to the aforementioned "rope" throughout the school day, it is better to hold on to God and keep my eyes on Him.

To sum up who I am - I am nothing. God is all in. I'm a sinner saved by grace, married to another sinner saved by grace, raising and schooling little sinners - some who are saved by grace and others we pray will be one day soon.

That is who I am.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Medals or Crowns?

During the last couple of weeks, the Olympics have been taking place in China. To be honest with you, I have not seen any of the events and I don't feel like I've missed much. In fact, the first time I heard how awesome Michael Phelps was, I thought he was a singer or some other such celebrity.

Don't get me wrong; back in the day, I enjoyed watching the Olympics. I loved to see the Team USA members stand on the podiums receiving their medals while the National Anthem played. I suppose if I had access to television, I might watch some of the events this year.

But, then again, maybe I wouldn't. Often, my stomach turns when I see a man or woman being applauded and heralded for a mere sport while God and His faithful servants are ignored or mocked. But, I guess that's OK because the Bible does say, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

I'm not sitting here in judgment on those who choose to watch the events and festivities. Here is my challenge, however. While you watch the competitions and celebrate the USA while they accept their medals, remind yourselves and your little ones that just as there are rewards for hard work here on earth, there are rewards in heaven for the hardworking, faithful servants of Christ. Remind them that those gold, silver, and bronze medals may tarnish. Someone greedy of gain may steal it from it's rightful owner. Yet, our crowns will never be marred, they will never be stolen - they are eternal. Ask them if the accomplishments of the Olympians really matter in eternity. Does anyone even remember who won the Olympic gold medal in swimming back in the 1930's? God remembers our service to Him forever.

As a side note, as Christians, is it right to cheer and hold up an unsaved (as far as we know) man or woman as a hero? How can we stay up late cheering on our team and then not be able to get up in the morning to worship the One who deserves all glory and praise?

Challenge your children, and yourself, to think of heaven's Olympic champions. Whom does God hold in higher esteem? Whom are the angels applauding? Whom should we honor? Here's a list of names to get you and your family started:

D.L. Moody

Charles Spurgeon

The local pastor who faithfully shepherds his flock according to Scripture

Missionaries such as the ones you'll find here, here, here, and here.

The father and husband who loves his wife and trains his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

The wife and mother who submits to her own husband, loves her children, and is a keeper at home

The child who honors and obeys his parents

These are the champions in God's eyes. Makes Michael Phelps pale in comparison.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Need for Change

As you can see, I'm in the mood for change! Please be patient as I will be making some changes to this blog in the next few days. It's not "home" but I hope you will feel comfortable here again soon! It is still my desire to bring glory to God while encouraging my readers here at "Love & Rewards."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weekly Blog

Homeschool Memoirs!


Check out this link if you're a homeschooling mom and like to blog. I'm not one to join these types of things, but, as the school year is fast approaching and I love to write, I thought I'd participate in a weekly blog designed to encourage other homeschool moms. I'm looking forward to this venture and I look forward to gleaning inspiration from other moms like me!

Looking unto Jesus in our homeschool this year!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Health Care?

I went to the doctor's last Thursday. Well, it was actually the "after-hours/urgent care" facility. Only, it wasn't after hours nor was it extremely urgent. It was 4:00 and I had a sore throat. However, 2 of my daughters were diagnosed with strep throat earlier in the week and my doctor didn't have any appointments available on Thursday.

Hence, The Facility.

I realized around 2:00 p.m. that they would probably make me stand on a scale once I arrived. Every doctor's favorite thing to do. Next time they tell me to stand on the scale, I'm going to say, "After you." Anyway, I hadn't had breakfast that morning nor had I had time for lunch. Though I was getting hungry, once I realized this fact, I did what any self-respecting female would do.

I starved.

Unfortunately, it ended up being the one and only doctor's appointment I've ever had where the nurse walked right past the scale.

Figures.

The aforementioned nurse escorted me into an examining room and began the preliminaries. Temperature (normal), blood pressure (102/49), and the questions. We came to the one about drug allergies.

"Are you allergic to any medications?" she asked me in her heavy European accent.

"Yes," I said. "Erythromyecin." I know that's probably spelled wrong. I'm not a doctor. Or a nurse. However, she didn't have a clue what I was saying.

"Could you spell that please?"

Was she serious? Spell it? I never entered the national spelling bee. I wasn't the one who took 4 years of college to be able to spell these types of things. However, Nurse Helga didn't know what medication I was talking about or how to spell it. The one medication I'm severely allergic to. This was not comforting.

After we got that all settled, I sat. For an hour. In a yellow and purple box-like room. With an empty stomach and a sore throat.

Then, the doctor came in. Apparently, she had forgotten to look at my chart because she had no idea why I was there.

"Oh. Strep? Did they do a culture?" Oh yeah, I'm feeling really good at this point.

Nurse Helga comes back to show the doctor where to find the very long Q-tips with which she can choke the innocent patient. Once that's done, Helga rushes down the hall to the lab. I was hoping she could perform a culture better than she could spell.

Meanwhile, the doctor decides to look down my throat, feel for swollen glands, and look in my ears. She informs me I have quite a bit of wax in one ear. Have you ever been told that? It's pretty humiliating. You know they go into their meetings the next day and say, "Hey, you should've seen the patient I had yesterday. She had enough wax in her ear for a whole museum!"

I am then left for 15 minutes to await the result of my culture. It comes back negative. No strep.

Half hour drive - one way - in rush hour traffic, empty stomach, a nurse who could've killed me with her poor spelling, humiliation over wax, and no strep.

"We'll send it in, but there's only a 10% chance it will come back positive. The biggest problem with strep isn't the sore throat but the complications that can come from it - like heart trouble and rheumatic fever." Which is why I came to the Urgent care in the first place.

I signed the paper which disallows me the opportunity to sue for malpractice and the doctor says, "OH! Drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. I can't believe I almost forgot that." She quickly writes that on the chart and sends me, my sore throat, and my empty stomach on my way back into rush hour traffic.

The good news: I was in reasonable distance from a Starbucks and was able to pick up a frapp on the way home. While in the parking lot, I heard a driver yelling at a biker - "...you stupid jerk!" The angry man was driving a van with the letters "T.L.C" written on the door. You gotta love the city.

By the way, I'm still sick and my throat hurts more than it did last Thursday. But, I'm taking my chances and staying far away from The Facility. It's not that urgent.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Welcome to...My Life

Have I ever mentioned that my husband is a farmer? Hence, the odd coincidence that we live on a farm. When we first moved here, the only animals we had were some chickens left behind by a previous owner and a 20 year old goose. A goose that, at 4:00 a.m. thought he was a rooster. I won't go into that now - it deserves a post all it's own.

Well, throughout the past 8 years, our menagerie has varied in size and species. As of the day of this post, we now have in our pasture 3 horses, about 30 chickens, and a cow.

Well, I guess he's not a cow. The technical term for him would be steer. For those city-dwellers out there, a steer is a member of the cattle family who can no longer create other members of the cattle family. He's only good for one thing.

Hamburger.

Right now, he's just a bit older than veal. Not quite hamburg...but well on his way. In fact, he may find his way to our freezer a bit sooner than expected.

You see, he was cute. Once. The little calf was about the size of a dog and all the kids loved him. He had to be hand fed for a while. A long while. He loved to be pampered by our little girl who loved to brush him.

Then, he gradually grew. More specifically, he grew horns. OK, so they're only 2 1/2 inches long, but I don't want to be on the receiving end of any type of horn, thank you very much.

The stupid cow, er, steer refuses to stay out of the chicken part of the pasture.
We had to manipulate the door to the chicken shed so the cow, er, steer would stop going in and claiming it as his own personal stable. Stepping in chicken you-know-what is bad enough. But, cattle you-know-what in the chicken shed - not fun. We also had electric wire put around their section to keep the horses and cow, er, steer away from their feed and water.

Did you know that young cattle can do the limbo? Really. He gets under that wire every single day and waits for me to come feed and water the chickens so he can partake of their corn and dump their water pails.

Stupid cow. He doesn't deserve the title of "steer."

So, last night, I went to collect my daily 20 eggs from the chicken shed. Like clockwork, all the chickens came running to me expecting their feed. This time, the cow came running with them. Normally, I can swing the empty egg basket at him and he'll run off. Of course, normally, my 6'4" husband is right behind me. Last night, he was out spraying the crops.

So, I go into the chicken shed to collect the eggs. I didn't feed the chickens first as I still had to go to the barn and refill the buckets. Whenever I collect eggs before feeding them, they follow me right up to and into the chicken shed. Last night, the cow was right there with them. His nose right up to the cage-like doors of the shed. When I came to the door to get out, he stayed right there.

With his 2 1/2 inch horns.

I tried opening the door to smack him in the face to get him to run off. Nothing. He just tried licking my fingers. Going outside the shed to face a hungry cow, er, steer with horns is not my idea of a wise decision. So, there I was - in the chicken shed, with this stupid animal using his horns to try to get the doors open while taking a break only to try to lick my shoes or gore a hen here and there.

Did I mention all the kids were in the house, Eric was in a field a few miles away, and I neglected to bring my cell phone? Yeah - me, a cow, and a bunch of chickens.

"Go away, you stupid cow!!"

"MICHAEL!!!!!!" "MICHAEL!"

I figured if I yelled for one of my kids they'd come out. Eventually, one of them did.

"Mom?"

"Yeah - the cow has me trapped in the chicken shed!!! Would you please call daddy?!!"

This bit of information made it's way through the house rather quickly and 5 of the 7 children came running out to see mommy stuck in the shed. Glad they're not quite old enough to think about how great a camera would have been at that moment.

My daughter called her daddy - three times. Unfortunately, the spray truck makes so much noise, he never answers his phone when he's out in it. Oh well. He was bound to come back before it got too dark.

Until then, it's me, the cow, and the chickens.

But then, the 10 year old hero showed up. Michael entered the pasture and distracted the cow, er, steer. I finally was able to make my way out of the shed, out of the pasture, and out of danger posed by those 2 1/2 inch horns.

Stupid cow. Of course, if I'd stop calling him a girl, things might not be so bad.

Perhaps it's time someone inform him about the fate of the rooster who made collecting eggs such a miserable chore.

Welcome to...my life!