Friday, August 11, 2017

Back to Homeschooling....Reality Check

You want to see pictures first right?  I'll talk some after...and add a few photo captions :)  These were taken on our first day of school, first nature walk.  Sort of nature walk.  When I got outside my 9th and 6th graders were riding their bikes through giant puddles spraying muddy water all over their clothes and then they went with their two younger boys to "hide from me" in their "fort".  Well, okay, so much for gingerly walking through the forest soaking in all the nature around us....sigh...


Jacob was my bud though all through the walk.  He prefered to hold my hand which I found so incredibly sweet.  He is my youngest through and through and I adore him.  Our forest is made up of many many lob-lolly pines (which crack and sway so beautifully in storms)---they have much much lichen growing on them which I hope is a sign of health!?


Jacob pointed this out to me to take a picture of the "cannon"....boys!




A couple weeks ago we found the remains of a dead animal back in our forest near the creek.  Boy oh boy does it smell!  Not as bad now, but we really need to bag it up and get rid of it.  Now there are only bones left for the most part.  It was really gross but kind of cool to see the giant colorful beetles that had come to eat the remains.


The boys decided to pick up the skull with a stick, bring it home, and said they are going to clean it properly and bring it inside.  Currently I think it's in our front garden bed.  Hello and welcome visitors!  Sigh....again.  ***smiling***   ***this is life***  ***with boys***

















So many pics of Jacob...well, he is the only boy who stayed with me!



But they all collected something in their outdoor adventure and we came in to do some water color paintings and paste them in their nature journals.









So let me back up in a minute.  Yes, we are homeschooling again.  I was about to say sort-of, because we are utilizing the help of  Veritas Classical School for our three older boys, but I'm gonna say we are totally homeschooling again.  Because a major component of homeschooling, that makes many a mother weary, is the fact that your kids will be with you 24/7.  And other than Tuesdays 9-2 and Wednesdays 9-11:15, I will have all of my boys, all the rest of the time.  And that's not bad, I love my boys.  And it's HARD.  There is no doubt about it.  Homeschooling is hard on many levels, and in varying ways depending on your family dynamics.  We have not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE boys at home and let me tell you, it's LOUD, and there is FIGHTING, and ARGUING, and RUNNING, and THROWING, and BREAKING, and it's ENDLESS ENERGY, and TRACKING in dirt, and it's hard...to know...what to do....all the time....and keep them in line....all the time....especially when your a gal who is so, very, imperfect....aka....NOT SUPERMOM.  But, I'm doing my best to stay dependent and to take a moment, a minute, and hour at a time.  And live in repentance and faith.  I want to live in "I'm Perfect" and I never need to repent and that's pride and idolatry of self.  And it is certainly not reality.  So this homeschooling thing, it really brings out the sin in me and highlights all my weaknesses.  I don't homeschool because I'm better or more patient or more organized than anyone else.  In fact, whenever I'm honored with being around other mother's and observe them in the act of mothering...I think...ahhh...I want to be like them :)  We are homeschooling for a myriad of reasons but not at all because "I'm so patient".  And certainly not because we didn't love the school the boys were going to.  (Shout out for Oak Hill Classical!)

Some of you saw my facebook post with all my beautiful homeschool organization.  And mind you, it does help.  It helps, but it doesn't prevent chaos from creeping up, swirling over you threatening to sweep you away into a current of water rushing hard towards total anarchy.  That's kind of how I felt this morning after our breakfast and morning reading, when they started running off to do our "Science experiment", of running laps in the driveway (gotta get that energy out!) and checking their pulse rate to see how high they could get their heart rate.  And then another started doing another experiment, making sugar crystals "aka rock candy".  And then with sugar, and spilled syrup, and strings, and Epsom salts and materials for making "needles" from evaporated salt water, all mixed around my kitchen, and I, feeling starving, having failed to eat a hearty enough breakfast, felt a little overwhelmed to say the least.  I'm looking around thinking...what are we supposed to be doing right now?!!  What does that lovely planner say and how did this HAPPEN!!?  And then moments later, when I find our dog, laying on the guest bed, and I've told her a million times NOT to get on the bed (because she LEAKS urine), I allow my feelings to rule and yell loudly at her spanking her hind end, in front of my eight year old, who proceeds to a few minutes later come in the living room, collapse on the couch, and cry with his hands covering his face saying "she's just a dog MOM"....you shouldn't yell at her or spank her.  And then I feel like crumbling..... but remember, repentance and faith, repentance and faith.  Your not going to be perfect Abby.  So, instead of crumbling and feeling like the lowest skum of the earth worst mom ever, I acknowledged my wrong and we moved on.

I guess it wouldn't be right to not share the GOOD parts too...Let's see...

More hugs....ummmm.....more hugs.....more hugs.....Oh alright, what else :)
More time with the boys...not having to be up and at'em and ready to leave the house at a certain time of the day and afternoon most days of the week...Learning with the boys...about artist Joseph Turner (reading a short bio now before we start studying his artwork), listening to Heinrich Schutz...a German composer from the 1700's who wrote beautiful beautiful music with the boys and finding my oldest at home likes his music!, listening to my boys really SING and finding that my 8 year old actually has a really nice voice--I decided to start our hymn singing with a hymn that I thought my boys would be really interested in---Battle Hymn of the Republic.  We watched/listened to it on YouTube complete with battle scenes on the first day of school and it has totally worked!  I have never heard my boys belt out a song like they are singing this!  I LOVE it!  I'm encouraged that this will be the thing that gets them over the hump of actually using the voices they have to sing.  In about 4 weeks we will move on to another hymn and I hope they will keep singing!  :)

I've loved reading a short biography to them about Robert Frost and reading his poems.  They are so lovely.  I've loved seeing Benjamin do THIRTY, yes 30, math lessons in three days!  He is my only boy doing Teaching Textbooks this year, I wanted to give it a try with him and I'm glad I did!  Each day when he is done (he has chosen to do about 10 lessons a day plus quizzes), I go down and go through each problem he missed, usually about 2 per lesson.  Because he is doing a computer based math, I don't feel comfortable just letting the computer do it all and not being in touch with him on a day to day basis.  So I hope this works out well.  My other boys are doing Saxon with DIVE CD's.  But again, I am spending time checking their work, each day, and then checking their corrections.  Math is too important to skimp on!  This in and of itself is going to be a big job!  I have enjoyed doing what is called "Living Math" with Samuel, using buttons and beans and other manipulatives to do simple oral equations.  And I love reading him great stories and giving him copywork to do and letting him draw a picture from the story.  I love the extra snuggle time with my boys.  The hugs and kisses, and leg hugs.  There's a lot of everything in homeschooling.  Good and Bad.  Easy and Hard.  It's just the way it is!

And so this year we are on an adventure...it's surely going to be a ride, and an accelerated sanctification process.  No doubt about it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sheep Shearing at Hope Springs Farm

My little boys and I had the opportunity to visit a sheep farm on their shearing day.  We got to see sheep sheared last year and it is such a powerful way to bring several different Scriptures to life.  I think every Christian should visit a sheep farm and talk to their caregivers!  Considering God uses sheep to describe us and himself as our "Good Shepherd".  



"He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Isaiah 53:7









 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:6

I asked the shepherd why the Bible says that we are like sheep in that we have gone astray.  She said that if the shepherd isn't constantly caring for the sheep, they will run off and hurt themselves.  They cannot survive without the care of the shepherd.  They aren't very bright!  This resounds so much with me...I definitely need my Father God!  

























My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  John 10:27

Here Jan is calling them in and they run right in.  When I stood near them they ran away and they certainly didn't come when I called.  In fact my mere presence scared them.

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”   John 10:4-5



Oddly, these two babies though got along just fine :) 





We have a friend staying with us this week who loves animals....here she is holding a baby lamb who had just been born literally hours before!






It's little umbilical chord is still hanging on!  Jan and her husband are both veterinarians.  She gave us the opportunity to see her process for caring for newly born lambs...as she tagged him, gave him a shot and looked them over.  (there were two...twins!  A boy and girl)


Here the little guy gets weighed...7 pounds 5 ounces!


Our dear friend Florence came along as well....doesn't look she minds holding a baby lamb either :)



And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 34:31




Thank you Hope Springs Farm for inviting us to your farm!  We are looking forward to coming again!