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, August 26, 2013

It's Happening

For the last few weeks, some of my kids have been in school, I have been around the office, some kids have been at that very office, some of our teachers have been teaching, and some of my schedule has been schedging- know what I mean.?

But today, today we jumped into it all.
Homeschool day one- check
Teens in school- check
Dinner planned- check
Dance class handled- check
Smooched my husband- check
Dressed the part- check check

Some went wrong. Plenty went right. We realized some things that needed to change, and more importantly we remembered that we need to account for one another.

There are so many times when we are all running our own directions, and we don't have to worry about making nice with the people around us, because we will be on to the next thing in just a minute. When you take a minute, to be in this minute (or hour or day) you don't get that option unless you want fighting and grumpiness and an overall bad day. For me this applies mostly to homeschooling, but really it fits everyone all the time.

When we are put together with another person or a group of people, it's important to take a minute and account for one another. It's like when you have a small house, and then you move to a large house, and then, like the rest of America, lose your house and have to move back into a small house. You sit closer, you bump in the halls, you squeeze around tables, and you wait outside the door because probably you have less bathrooms. You have to account for one another.

It's not all bad. Bumping into my honey in the hallway? Yes please. Kids don't have a choice but to snuggle up on the couch? I'll take it. Impromptu conversations about how Sam's birthmark looks like a chicken leg? Classic. 

Tomorrow, we are going to practice accounting for each other. But for now, I am going to sleep. This mamma is straight. worn. out.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just For You Mom: Bear With One Another

Sometimes I want to crawl into a hole and forget about my issues. More often, I want to put myself in timeout and zone out to a saucy episode of Friday Night Lights and scream "GO 33!" Like I am a real football fan. Timeouts are reserved for times when other people's struggles make my heart heavy.

I'm working on my more recluse side. Nothing about me begs to be alone, but sometimes I find myself quoting Peewee Herman, "I'm a rebel Dottie. A loner" when really I should be quoting Jesus when he said loving others is the most important rule we could ever keep. 

Today I am over at Just For You Mom writing about Paul's admonition to bear each others burdens.

I'll keep working on it. For now, "there's things about me you wouldn't understand. Things. You COULDN'T understand. THINGS. You shouldn't understand." 

I get the sense you're trying to understand me. We've been over this.…

Monday, August 12, 2013

On Organizing The Nonsense

Since switching jobs, I've spent some time in my house attempting organize. Futile I tell you.We have a foreign exchange student living with us now. His name is Ted. Well, clearly that isn't his real name because he is from China, and people from China just aren't named Ted. I would say this sounds like a generalization, but I think we can agree on this point.

We can also agree that having an eighth person, and now a ninth person, sleeping under our roof means we have a lot of mouths to feed, a lot of dishes to wash and dry and put away, and just a lot of bodies to fit on my couch. When we sit to pray before bed, I am reminded that we need another chair. Right there. See me pointing? I want it to sit just beside my fireplace and instantly become my most favorite place in the house.

Our ninth person will come and go. She is named My Melanie and she just moved here from Washington. She lives up the road where she rents a room. It's just close enough that I get my hug fix and have her at my dinner table.

My husband and I share a calendar app. It's helped us stay in touch through events and to-do lists. Is that sad? Maybe, but it's sad and organized. The app is called Cozi. We each have it. It's free. When I add things to my calendar, it shows up on his. Plus, each of our kids has a different colored dot. We can keep up with our schedule without wasting face time talking about it. Plus I can schedule him to receive reminders when I need him to remember something. No more skipped braces appointments. No more double booking dinner with his friends and a birthday party for the kids. I like almost everything about it.

Everything in my house needs to have a purpose or it needs to go. I can't seem to fill enough trash bags. It's just all nonsense. It needs to have a place or it needs to have a new home. I just don't want it anymore.

There are however somethings I WANT to bring into my house. I would like a small, but tall, dining room table for my music room. I would like a few more chairs for around my dinner table. A butcher block for my kitchen. Please see above for chair information. And I would like to finish painting my house. The paint I have. The stamina? Not sure on that one.

Ok. In keeping with my goals of organizing, I should get off my computer. It's time to make dinner. But I will end on a note of organizing my dinner. I made a menu in the first time since we dared call this weather summer. I always make a grocery list, but this time I paired it with a menu and used items from my pantry. I was organized. It's worth it. My stress is tinier. When weird things are thrown my way, I am not functioning in chaos, so that little loop doesn't send me spinning.

ON TO THE NEXT! I am making this for dinner. And I already cooked my chicken; I made a double batch the other night at dinner time. One time cooking and messing.

Happy first day of school. Here's to an organized fall. Here's to mud in your eye.

Friday, August 02, 2013

First Steps In Homeschooling: Your Resources to Getting Started

I know, I KNOW how overwhelming it is to start something as wild as homeschooling. It's a lifestyle. It's not like taking a new job or becoming obsessed with a new hobby or pouring every minute into your kids' extracurricular activity. It's actually like all of those. Before I scare you off, let me give you a few pointers on the best way I know to get started.

1. Find a friend: Talking homeschool shop with another mother is a great way to get ideas, keep perspective, and avoid frustrations. Co-ops can be a good way to get connected, but they may tempt you to be a bigger participant than you have time for. Look for balance.

2. Set a schedule: The amount of time you spend doing school depends on your family size and the depth in which you want to explore a topic. On average, I can get through a homeschool day for five kids in about five hours. Some days would run a bit longer if we found something super interesting that held our attention. There are a few factors that make up this daily schedule. Kindergarten lasts about two hours. First through fifth grade about three hours. Middle school and high school is about one hour per subject each day, but we always seem to move along a little faster. The important thing is to make your lesson plans, and finish your work each day.

3. Learn to multitask: Wrangling your home duties and your homeschool day takes mad skills. Find ways to work on home and teach at the same time rather than having your chores eyeballing you at the end of the school day. Fold laundry while your little one reads to you. Unload dishes as you give a spelling test. Make it a game and have your kids pick up five messy items every time they miss a math fact. Be creative. 

4. Teach your kids to be independent learners: The ages and capabilities of your kids are the biggest challenge or help. My children have mostly been homeschooled, so they understand what I mean when I say they have to wait for my help. They are independent workers for the most part. I expect a lot of them in our day, so we aren't stuck with homework that night or catch up on Friday. If you have all elementary kids, they will have shorter spurts of independent work. If you are lucky enough to have some space between some of the grades you teach (pipe dream with my kids 12 months and 18 months apart) you will find you can space your direct instruction time between your kiddos. Middle and high schoolers are primarily independent workers. You will set them up and let them loose. They will seek you out when they need help, or you can stop in when you have a sec. My kids are usually placed around the house, so I make my rounds. 

5. Finally, your very best starting tool for new homeschool families? Take care of you. Eat breakfast, spend time gearing up in prayer, check your calendar, plan for dinner, take a shower, make your to-do list with no more than six items. Take your time to chill when it's your natural down time. I have two; I don't really do mornings. I do coffee and read and pray and mosey. I also need a siesta in the afternoon. I wish I could take a two hour nap, but a ten minute catnap will have to do. At 4pm, I am fading. My lunch has worn out, and it's past school hours. I put myself in time out for about 10-15 minutes and snooze. I take care of me, so I  not so crabby about taking care of them. But after spending nearly every minute with my kids each day means it is fine if I call a time out. 

Homeschooling can seem a bit overwhelming. These five steps are not the end of the list, but certainly these bits of advice will get you headed in the right direction. As you get into finding curriculum and lesson plan ideas and even lesson plan books, you will see there is a great big world waiting to help you. Homeschooling families love to help. So start up there with step number one. Jump in. You'll love it.