Parental ponderings and homeschool wonderings

So....a lot's been going on in this head of mine (shocking, I know).  If you are a Christian parent, you NEED to pick up a copy of "Family Driven Faith" by Voddie Bachaum, Jr., in my humble opinion.  It's literally changing my life.  Here's the deal -- estimates on the low side are that 70% of teens raised as believers leave the faith before the end of their first year of college.  "Why?" raises a tons of possibilities and in this book, he doesn't necessarily try to find the reasons; he just tries to help a Christian parent change what they can to where it can prayerfully not happen to them.  Let me ask you this, Christian Parent -- what are you doing on a daily basis to "preach" the gospel to your children?  Are you having regular family worship in your home, led by the spiritual leader of your home (your husband, if you have one and he's a believer)?  Now, don't loose me here 'cause I know what I'm about to say a lot of people are going to blow off.  Just listen to my question and let it sink in and then, above all else, pray about it (and don't attack the messenger!).  If your children are gone from you for 6+ hours a day attending school, how is that affecting your job as a parent required to teach them the things of the Lord?  "Well," you say "I just can't homeschool my kids."  That may be true but I'd like to take a stab at helping you see that it's not as far-fetched an idea as you think it may be by dissecting some of the arguments I myself have been clinging to lately.  **Disclaimer**  While I'm currently only homeschooling 1of my children, we made the decision recently that Caleb & John would stay home next school year, too.  After reading this book, Jonathan & I are prayerfully adding Nathan to that list.  I'll explain why as we go.

Argument #1 -- Nathan will be in junior high next year.  I can't teach junior high!
Can't I?  If you've ever picked up a homeschool curriculum catalog before, you're going to know what I'm about to say is very true -- there are TONS of options out there.  Many of them include "virtual" teachers.  There are parents out there who have tread this path before me & thrived; I can glean from their experiences.  Regardless of my insecurities about teaching junior high, am I allowed to let fear keep me from obeying God?  If I truly feel God is calling me to homeschool my children, then am I allowed to tell God I can't because I'm afraid.  *ouch*

Argument #2 -- Nathan is in band.  I can't give him that option at home.
True that!  I can't do band with 6 kids of all different ages and no one able to play an instrument other than me & Nathan.  Band is very rewarding -- I know.  Been there, done that!  I used to say "High School band was the best 4 years of my life!".  And while that is true in many ways, obviously many things have come into my life since then that have trumped it.  And no parent wants to feel like they're depriving their children, right?  I certainly don't.  However, I'm coming to realize that "good is the enemy of the best".  While allowing Nathan to be in the band would definitely be a good thing, is it the best thing for him right now?  Can I justify my decision to allow Nathan to stay in public school just so he can enjoy band?  Can I not find something else for Nathan to do that will be as beneficial to him, all the while keeping him at home?  Pondering that one, big time....

Argument #3 -- Nathan is SUCH a social child.  He'll be bored at home.
Nathan is already bored at home on days off from school.  BUT -- who's fault is that?  As a young man 11 1/2 years old, it's partly his.  He should be able to find something (good) to do to occupy his time.  However, isn't some of the responsibility also mine?  In the very least, it absolutely is -- if Nathan claims he's bored (which he often does) and he decides to occupy his time by bugging his younger siblings (which he does on occasion), isn't it MY job as his mother to redirect him?...  Here's something I've been thinking about a lot lately -- "What do I remember about being in junior high?"  I remember feeling tortured at school because I was not only fat, I also wore glasses.  I do remember the good things, too -- I remember winning the science fair one year, I remember loving being in the band, and I remember the one good friend I did have (Hi, Heather!).  Are these things good?  With the exception of being made fun of, absolutely they are good!  But, I'm sure if I asked my parents, they'd rather me remember the things we did together as a family.  When people ask my kids today about school, it pains me sometimes to hear them say how they love their teacher or their friends.  God designed the FAMILY to be each other's best friends!  That's why we have siblings (hopefully)!  When my kids are adults and look back at their years at home, I want them to be bonded to EACH OTHER and to me & their Dad.  I don't want them to remember so-and-so who isn't in their life any more.  Friends are good to have -- I'm certainly grateful for the true friends I have today -- but family should last forever and the bonds of family should go much, much deeper!  And, I have to go back to the question I asked under the first argument -- is my fear of Nathan's boredom enough to allow me to disregard what God is calling me to?

These are just 3 of the arguments I've had in my heart lately and it all boils down to fear.  Fear of failure, fear of pushing my kids away rather than bonding them more deeply to our family unit, fear of loosing family or friends who don't agree with our decisions, fear of other numerous things....but isn't this where FAITH is supposed to come in?  Absolutely it's going to be hard!  I know 'cause I've already done it and it was hard with only ONE child in school!  But the bottom line boils down to 2 things (and I promise I'll shut up after this).  #1 God IS calling me to this, I'm certain of it.  #2 My number 1 job as a Christian mother is to evangelize and disciple my children.  Don't miss the point here -- YES, they're education is important and I'm not trying to down play it nor would I ever claim I can teach better than their teachers can (we've been blessed with GREAT teachers our 2 years in public school).  But, if I had the choice of a child who couldn't read but was passionately in love with Jesus as their Savior or a brilliant scholar with no regard for the things of God, I wouldn't have to think twice about what I'd pick.  And I CANNOT "keep the main thing (the condition of their souls) the main thing" when they're gone from me 6 hours a day.  I have a hard enough time getting homework done in the evenings, much less getting to the heart of my children and prayerfully influencing them for the Lord.

**Is God calling every Christian parent to homeschooling?  No and maybe you're one of the one's He's not called to it -- in all sincerity, you'll have to ask Him (please do).  But I'm certain He's calling me and I hope that you will pray and ask God how you can better influence your children for Him, regardless of where you decide for them to get their education.  And pray for us, too.



February's theme was chocolate!  :)  We read books on where chocolate comes from and celebrated Valentine's Day with friends.  Because I forgot my camera & because I'm lazy, here's what her blog had to say about our day (my notes in italics):

Karen and 3 of her kids (Lydia, Timothy, and Elizabeth) came over this morning for a Valentine breakfast and lunch. Elizabeth needed to do some homeschooling fun, so we all benefited. Big thanks to Karen for including us and coming up w/all the great ideas. (Doing things with friends makes things so much easier and so much more fun!) 

We started with chocolate filled heart shaped doughnuts from Tim Hortons.

Then it was on to cutting hearts out of red peppers for the vegetable & cheese skewers.

Next was the task of making heart shaped pizzas. I made the dough but it was forgettable. However, the fresh mozzarella on mine and Karen's was scrumptious!

Heart shaped sugar cookies would have to be made, of course! After they cooled we iced them with a cream cheese icing and topped them with fresh sliced strawberries and sliced bananas.  (Didn't have bananas on mine 'cause I don't eat bananas but boy, oh boy, were those cookies with strawberries yummy!!!)

The main attraction of the day was chocolate dipping strawberries.

Then striping the dipped strawberries.

The final lunch menu of heart shaped pizzas, heart shaped jello bites, vegetable (cherry tomatoes & red pepper hearts) & cheese (baby bell cheese cut into hearts) skewers w/ranch dip, and hawaiian punch.

The final dessert menu of chocolate dipped strawberries, heart shaped doughnuts, and heart shaped sugar cookie pizzas. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!


January homeschooling

January was a "princess" theme:
 Making a princess wand
 My 2 princesses (and the completed wand)
Princess Elizabeth and her crown

She also made a castle out of cardboard and toilet paper rolls, made a "princess pillow case", read about real and fairy tale princesses, and watched "Cinderella" & "Beauty And The Beast" on DVD.  On January 22nd, Elizabeth & I took in "Disney Princesses On Ice".  It was called something different but I'm pretty sure it's the exact same show we saw in 2008 which was kinda disappointing.  But, at least with a better camera, I got some pretty good shots.  
 Elizabeth & her $12 icee
 Mickey & Minnie
 Aladdin & the Genie
Sleeping Beauty 
 Prince Eric and Ursula from "The Little Mermaid"
 Mulan & MooShoo (sp?)
Cinderella in her carriage


Mid-January was "CodeMash" (a conference for programmers, although that's probably a pretty lame description, if you ask Jonathan). It's held at the Kalahari Indoor Waterpark Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, which boasts being America's largest indoor waterpark. With an early morning session on the first day, Jonathan left home around 4 a.m. to make the drive which is just short of 3 hours. It had snowed pretty good the day before so we were a little worried but he made it there just fine and had a grand day! That Thursday, after school, the kids and I headed up to join him. Other than taking the turn into the snowy parking lot at nearly 20 miles an hour (the turn surprised me, to say the least!), we also had a good drive up. We were a little disappointed to get down to the waterpark that evening to learn that they had closed at 9 to clean the park before opening it back up to CodeMash folks only from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Not thinking the kids would have done very well being up that late, we decided to skip the waterpark that night and went back to our gigantic suite instead. We had a full-size kitchen (mental note -- take food to cook next year, if you go, so you don't drop a small fortune on eating there!), a living room with a queen size sleeper sofa, 1 room with a king size bed, 1 room with 2 queen size beds, and 2 full baths (1 with a jacuzzi tub). That Friday morning, while Jonathan was back at the conference, was a little interesting. Thinking the few places to eat on site would be expensive (and they were), I decided to take all 6 kids and venture into Sandusky for some breakfast. The kids were already starving when we got to McDonald's, got out, ordered food, and then realized Mommy had left her checkcard back in the hotel room. :( We went back and retrieved the card but then were too hungry and too stressed out to venture out again so we ate there. 2 donuts, 3 orders of pancakes & bacon, 1 pop, 2 chocolate milks, and 2 orange juices cost me $30. Sheesh! After finally eating, we did venture back out to Wal-Mart to pick up the stuff to eat sandwiches in the room for lunch. After some rest, I took the youngest 5 down to "Tree Top Play", a giant 3-story play area where the kids had a blast! Nathan, too tall for the play area, blew through the only $6 I had in cash at the GINORMOUS arcade, only walking away with a tiny plastic robot to show for his efforts. We met Jonathan after his last conference and ventured back out to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Finally, after much patience on the kids' part, we made it down to the waterpark about 8:30 that night. It was sooooo great! None of the things I had feared came true. We didn't loose anyone, it wasn't so crowded that it was uncomfortable, and I didn't feel like I stuck out in a bathing suit. Tons of people there and there weren't many who would have qualified for a beauty pageant, if you get what I'm saying and I'm not trying to be mean. Anyway, we don't have many pictures 'cause I was busy counting heads, following toddlers through the 10-inch deep water playground, and didn't want to chance our big camera getting stolen or wet. Another late night but it was worth it! The kids had so much fun! My favorite memory of the night is Nathan walking up to me yelling "I'm not afraid of heights any more!" after he had ventured down one of the many huge water slides. Saturday morning (after staying the extra night), we packed up the hotel room, had cereal for breakfast, changed into our swimsuits and visited the waterpark for another few hours before heading home. We think Jonathan had a mild case of food poisoning from his fish at Cracker Barrel the night before which was a bummer but he still played with the kiddos in the water. Grabbed some lunch at Fazoli's, stopped at Meijer to replace a windshield wiper blade on the van & grab Jonathan some medicine to help his stomach feel better, and then made the trek home. (I won't say which one of us it was -- we were in both vehicles -- but one of us came home with a speeding ticket -- the first for either of us! And it wasn't for speeding while driving. It was for gunning it to get out of an exit only lane and back onto the highway. Lesson learned!) A good time was had by all and, if possible, we can't wait to go back next year! If you have the money (our suite runs about $250/night but does include passes to the waterpark), the Kalahari is a great place to visit! During the summer, there's a huge outdoor waterpark, an animal encounters village like a mini-zoo, zip lines, and pool. Inside, near the arcade, there's also a paint-your-own pottery place, a mini-golf course, and a few miniature bowling lanes. Totally cool! If you choose a suite, pack some food to save some money! But, if you can afford it, it was a great place to go!

The view into the suite from the kitchen
 The bedroom with the king size bed 
 The other bedroom with 2 queen beds
 The gang headed to the waterpark (only to be turned away)
The kids substituted waterpark play time for jucuzzi tub play time