This Where the Nonsense Turns to Makesense

..A large family working to perfect our sweet skills: Loving others, making an impact, parenting on purpose, living simply, and embracing sarcasm.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Brewer Home School

We have homeschooled* on and off since my 15 year old was in kindergarten where she began her school career in private school. She is now in public school in an International Baccalaureate (IB) program where she is rockin it. My kids have experienced private school, public school, and public charter school, but we always seem to come back around to homeschooling. I'll tell you why.

You might be thinking we homeschool because we are scared of the people at public school. You may be thinking we homeschool because public schools just can't teach my type of kids. Or you may be thinking that we homeschool because I can't afford a religious education, I want my kids to learn about God and education at the same time. None of these is totally accurate.

In simple terms, we homeschool because it is the most efficient. It's fast. It's free of busy work. It allows for multitasking. While previously we have homeschooled using curriculum I wrote myself, based on the district's standards and with the help of a few mentoring teachers, this year we are schooling with the help of K12: an online public school program. We used them once before, and it was a great experience.

  • They send you everything. No seriously, we got three computers, two printers, all of our books (text and literature), enough tempura paint to cover a city mural, paper, workbooks, test tubes, a microscope, playdoh, clay, paintbrushes, a scale, rocks for science, math counters, play money, instruments, and on and on and on. Really great stuff.

  • They write the curriculum and tell you what to do each day. This was my biggest complaint about homeschooling. They swooped in and made this part all better. They know the standards. They know what works.

  • They have fun technology and tutors to help with less than fun subjects like algebra.

  • They level my kids and challenge them.

  • There is still time to do the things I want to do if I decide to do them.

  • They track progress and attendance.

  • They connect kids for social events, and not all of them are weird.

  • They give my kids rewards like $50 in Amazon gift cards for taking high stakes tests.

  • Having a large family, I want them to integrate our lessons more. Four science lessons is a lot for one teacher (me). It's just too easy to choose one topic and change it up a bit to fit different age groups. I'm still praying for them to see the light. And by "see the light" I mean I hope they get one of my fifty emails and do something about it (aka hire me as a consultant to write this curriculum).

  • Sending the supplies back was as simple as they could make it, but getting twenty boxes back to the post office was a little taxing. Still. Worth it.

We have always agreed in our house to evaluate what works best for our kids depending on our circumstances and their needs; we don't just assume we will homeschool forever. This year, it's what is right for four of my kids. As high school approaches for my two mid-kids, we will once again reassess. Or is it assess. Well that just looks like a swear, but you get what I am saying. No schooling answer is right forever. A dozen factors change making what worked last year not relevant to what can work this new year.

What is true forever though is that yes, you can homeschool your child. And you can do a great job. If you feel it isn't a natural step, find yourself some resources, ready up on it, join a group of other successful homeschoolers.

Check out my HOMESCHOOL tab above for resources, links to previous homeschool posts on this blog, and stories of our adventures.

If you have ever considered homeschooling, don't be scared. Be brave. It may be the best thing you ever did.

*Dear ABC check people. This is a word now. Get with it and stop underlining my words.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Linking Up With Gypsy Mamma: Belong

I love this weekly exercise. It's good for my brain to type for five minutes straight on one topic, never picking my pencil up from the paper- so to speak.

You can follow the button below for more information, but really the low down is just to type for five minutes on a topic she gives- no editing, no muss, no fuss, no time to rethink what I have said.

Today's topic? Belong

I'm watching Steel Magnolias. I couldn't help myself this fine Saturday. I awoke to a thread of quotes from this movie from a group of girls I have been friends with since forever. It's a place where I belong. I've been friends with one of the girls since she and I were in our awkward phase: we both were regularly mistaken for boys. It's true. I don't want to talk about it.

But we both found a place where we belong. My brother's wife. Our other two best friends who were strong enough to pummel into our group, wade through the sarcasm, and come up with a few of their own zingers are there, too. We are on a group text because iPhone understands us. We very rarely talk about important things. Sometimes we will throw out a prayer request or an update on something, but usually it's nonsense. Clearly I like nonsense. It's home to me.

We live in two different states, three different cities. We are all strong women, and in the world we would never get along. We would be called incompatible because most groups only have enough room for one leader, and we are not a passive. We belong because we all have Jesus in common. Sometimes that can be your only commonality, but sometimes that's all it takes. Thanks girls.

Five Minute Friday

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm a Rebel, Dottie

I was flipping through Pinterest one day and came across a DIY blog that had a well  written author and cute ideas. I saved the blog to my bookmarks. 

This morning, when I woke at five because my internal clock obviously functions on New York time (I don't have the answers you are looking for), I read my bible, read a devotional, checked my emails, prayed for a few people on my mind, read through my list of blogs in my bookmarks; you know. The yoosh. 

So this new blog, which has decidedly been removed from my list, hasn't made the cut. And it isn't just the author. Although she's slightly bonkers in her angry stage. Her readers and their comments hurt too much. 

She wrote about how tired she is of women being asked to dress modestly. She quoted scripture, confessed to being no longer Christian, and belittled men for being so simple minded. And like a true politician, she incited the riot, and then she cut bait. She had so many comments: back and forth arguments. It was crowd mentality at its finest. This is nothing like nonsense at its finest. Well. Not really. 

She blames the church. Well who doesn't, lady. It makes sense though, since God created everything. But in a way, blaming God (because deep down we all know he is the beginning and the end -it's why everyone on a crashing plane prays) just proves that he pretty big. 

She blames men. She blames society. And the most interesting point? When she blames rapists for blaming women. Weird but true. I'd love to see the research on this. 

My question isn't about modesty at all. It's more about why people get so heated over things that are so minor. 

Hear me out. Modesty is important. I know what you are doing when your boobs show. I know what you are looking for when you wear those short shorts and then pretend you don't see when people are looking. I have boobs. I get it. 

But what does religion have to do with modesty? Nearly the entire thread of comments was about "as a Christian". At one point, a woman introduced herself as a Mormon and preceded it with "Christian or not". Whoa lady. You better check yourself. Before you wreck yourself. (Is it her fault if these readers do not understand the rules of word modifiers? What she meant was this isn't a religious issue). 

And I agree. We all live on the same earth, but we do not all live in the same world. We just don't. I have never been raised in a male dominated country (although my grandfather might have sent me on a ship back to Lebanon if my family would have let him. He had hopes I would be a belly dancer. Aw. Grandpa. Funny.) I have never had sisters. I have never lived as a girl who DIDN'T have three older brothers. Our worlds aren't the same. 

My modesty levels were not set by the church. They were set by my brothers. And not because they were getting back to their Lebanese roots and bossing me as the men. They approved or disapproved based on their experience as dudes. And I approved and disapproved based on my experience as a chick. I never want my body to be a conversation piece, even as someone's inter dialogue. 

And someone along the way reminded me that one day I'll have a husband, and while I don't mean I am a possession when I say I belong to my husband, 
I belong to my husband. He belongs to me. It's even. We are gifts, not property. 

It's not religion. It's self respect. It's not men's incapable feeble minds. It's respecting others. 

Men aren't feeble. They are more than capable. They are strong and gentle and full of all the gifts God left to them : love, kindness, self-control…

Their shoulders are literally broad for a figurative reason. They carry so much. Why does it offend so many women to cover up a smidgeon and help them focus?

It's pride. We feel a certain way when we dress a certain way so we ignore how it might affect others. 

Less religion and more common sense. Because hey, if I knew you loved alcohol. I mean REALLY loved alcohol. And maybe it's caused you to slip up a few times, would I walk by you on the street and offer you a drink? Would I invite you to a movie or church or the roller rink and hold my drink in your face, daring you not to touch and being offended when you did? No. I do what most Christians do: drink in private and share a bottle of water with you ;)

Mostly what I want to say is thanks for being intelligent. I'm glad you don't attack one another in the comment section. "I like the way you talk".  

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Want to Be a Writer When I Grow Up.. Or Now is Good, Too!

A few months ago, I not so subtly dropped a hint of obvious proportions to one of my students' mammas. She mentioned she co-owns a website geared at supporting mothers as we bumble our way down this all too crazy path called life. I mentioned back that I write, and I may, or may not, have followed it up on my knees asking to submit an article. I love that every time she and I talk, she pretends like I am the one doing her the favor, but honestly, I want to be a writer when I grow up. I want to use my snarky attitude and realist take on diapering and remind moms, "YOU ARE NOT HERE ALONE! I HAVE BEEN WEARING THE SAME YOGA PANTS ALL WEEK. NO MY HAIR ISN'T CLEAN; I RAN IT UNDER WATER. AND THE REASON YOU SEE SO MANY COLORS ON MY TOES IS THAT I WAS TOO LAZY, TIRED, PREOCCUPIED, DIDN'T ACTUALLY CARE TO TAKE OFF MY OLD COLOR." I wish mothers spoke like this more often.

For reals, I feel more like Ms. Collete Reardon (Saturday Night Live) way more often than I ever feel like Joan Cleaver. Lucky for me, neither of those ladies are my mothering heroes.
I look right and left; I look far back; I look in my own backyard. God is so faithful to surround us with mentoring mothers. At the same time, before we even know what is happening, WE become those mentoring moms. Friends who are older than me, or seem more experienced with life, ask me for advice simply because I have been a mom longer.

It's give and take. It's living in community. It's extending grace and living purposefully together in Christ. It's realizing that it does not actually take a village to raise a child; It takes a church.

If you are a mom, or you know a mom, check out this amazing resource of articles, printables, daily devotions, and my article entitled REMAIN AS DIRECTED.

Click here to visit Just For You Mom

Friday, July 05, 2013

Linking Up With Gypsy: Beautiful

1. Write for five minutes with no editing. Just write.
2. Link back (see button)
3. Visit the person who posted before you.

Five minutes.

Go: Beauty is what we choose. It's how we look at something. It has more to do with the eyes we use and much less to do with how something would rank on a "beauty scale." There's no ranking system. There's no sentence that states a fact about beauty. Except to say beauty is what we make of it. If I decide my sweats are beautiful, I mean REALLY decide my sweats are beautiful, then they are. It's like artwork or jewelry or oatmeal. These are very personal items. If you buy a piece of artwork for a friend, they can choose to look and see something they may not have picked for themselves, a piece that doesn't match their other decor, or maybe. Maybe they will choose beauty and every time they pass that piece of artwork, displayed proudly in their home, they will stop and think of the person who bought it for them. The person who took the time and money and care to think of them enough in that moment to buy them something. That's beauty. Or maybe when we receive a bowl of oatmeal that has a little too much, or not quite enough water, or raisins or whatever else we are used to having in our morning meal, maybe instead of noticing all of those things, we will take a minute and be grateful for food and the love of someone who cared enough to take a minute, a thought, to make us a bowl of oatmeal. It's OUR eyes that make beautiful. What will you see when you look out?


 Five Minute Friday

Monday, July 01, 2013

What's Going On Here!

I deleted my last post. My pictures apparently had minds of their own, and I don't like pictures who think for themselves. Creeps me out. So I quit. I thought I should clarify in case you were here, and now you are here again, and they are gone. You aren't crazy, although I am not a doctor. So, you could be.

Anyway. I am watching everything happen around me and trying to refrain from building a bubble around my family and moving in.

  • friends' car broke down
  • friend had a baby, her gall bladder broke, then her whole body broke which is super convenient when you have a preschooler, a toddler, and a newborn.
  • friends are on their way to move here and their UHaul broke, twice. still waiting on news from that as they camp out on the side of the freeway in Washington and try to stay positive
  • friend's kid had surgery and had a wicked reaction to everything: fever, sick, sick, and sick
  • The Man learned that 19 fire fighters were killed in action yesterday. News like this always hits close to home.
  • friend's washer exploded and ruined their house. Twice.

Seriously, every where I look there is craziness. But bubbles don't protect. They are flimsy and probably smell.

Instead I am standing firm that if something breaks through our calm, God is legit. Like MC Hammer, only better because God would never wear Velcro pants. Ever.

This morning I put my baby on a plane with another teenager today. No grown up. Just a teenager who shares her snarky wit and affinity for recognizing a movie quote when the speaker didn't realize anyone would catch on. Isabelle is 15; I don't even have to right to call her a baby anymore, but she is MY baby. I can't decide if I am sadder that she is so independent and rocks at life or if I would be sadder if she was clingy and lame. She doesn't need me because she depends heavily on Jesus. Even when I am there, we stop and pray when crap happens. She doesn't need me. I am glad, but sort of not.

In a few months, she is going to leave for another country to minister to El Salvadorians. It's what God wants of her. It's what she wants. It will change her life and remind her of God's big plan for her. But it means she goes without me. Again. This is the risk in raising your kids to be radical for God. They do it. With or without you, they go and become fishers of men. Happy fishing, baby girl. I am proud of your choices even when you corn dog your brother and your aim is a bit off and you make him cry.