Friday, August 11, 2017

Ready to Start a New Homeschool Year.... Oh, Wait.

Here it is, the middle of August.  This week, my husband and I finished our stint as Tuesday morning breakfast cooks at New Life Camp, an overnight Christian summer camp here in Raleigh where my kids have been campers and counselors for the last 20 years. The temps are back in the 80's instead of high 90's.   My Facebook newsfeed is full of posts from my homeschool mama friends already starting school, or for those wringing out the last few weeks of summer for all their worth, planning to start school in the next few weeks.  WalMart and Target are full of back-to-school banners and bins of Crayola markers, glue sticks, spiral notebooks, binders, and backpacks.  My favorite homeschool bloggers are posting all kinds of advice about Getting Started and Easing into the School Year and Surviving High School and Planning Great Field Trips.   And for the first time in 23 years, I am not making lesson plans for a child of mine.

This is my first "new school year" as a retired homeschool mom, and it feels... weird.   Bittersweet.  Surreal.  Suddenly the relentless rush of days of feeding, clothing, planning, teaching, chauffering, tending, counseling, and otherwise raising children has skidded to a halt, and I find myself wistfully thinking back over the years as though flipping through the pages of a scrapbook, catching glimpses of co-op classes and piano lessons and waiting at band practice and reading aloud on the couch and full calendars and a messy house.  The messy house remains.  But I've rolled over into a new season.

I am still teaching other people's children this year,  so I am making middle school geography lesson plans.  My youngest will still be home working this fall before moving away to start college in January. I feel incredibly grateful and have no regrets - except for all those things I wish I had done better.
I am adjusting, but am not quite there yet.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Homeschool Moms Celebration Brunch

Even though I have closed my homeschool after graduating my youngest child, I still plan to remain involved in my support group and in the homeschool community.  One of my roles in Lighthouse the past couple of years has been Mentor Coordinator, and yesterday a group of us hosted a New Homeschool Moms Brunch to celebrate the end of the school year with some fellowship and encouragement.  It was a small group, 6 mentors ("seasoned" homeschoolers) and 5 ladies in their first year of homeschooling.  My friend and fellow mentor, Becky, opened her beautiful home and served as hostess, and the mentors all provided items for the buffet table.




Everyone ate and chatted for a while, and then we gathered in the living room for introductions, since our support group is quite large and everyone doesn't know one another.  Irene shared a devotion and we gave out 2 little gifts.

I gave everyone a Homeschool Survival Kit, based on one someone had made for a homeschool meeting years ago.  As I told the ladies, this is a visual reminder to sit on your windowsill, bookshelf, kitchen counter, etc, so that when you see it, you are reminded of the messages and Scriptures that go along with it. 






Becky then gave out little scented candles that were labeled "Romance"!  She encouraged everyone  to pay attention to their marriage relationships and make time for romance.  Homeschooling can become overwhelming it we let it, and start to take up all our time and energy.  We must not lose sight of the importance of nurturing the relationship that is the foundation of our family - our relationship with our spouse.  



We spent the rest of the time just talking and answering questions. It was a sweet morning spent building relationships with and pouring encouragement into some new friends. 



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Final Graduate

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, Cornerstone Academy graduated its 5th and final student.

This year has been tough, emotionally. I have been grieving the "lasts" -  last first day of school, last Eagles basketball season, last Liberty basketball tournament, last semester as a homeschool.... and on and on. I have tried to savor the moments and appreciate the goodness.  My head knows that this is the end of one chapter, but the beginning of a brand new one that has fresh potential for growth and new experiences and joys.  But my heart still hurts.  My years of actively mothering and teaching a child under my roof and under my care are over.

I have grieved other stages of life as well. I remember feeling sadness when my youngest started kindergarten, and I realized that I would never again be a mother of a preschooler. Sounds silly, but it felt like a physical blow.  Similar to the when my oldest turned 20, and suddenly I was old enough to have a child in his twenties.  And when the baby turned double digits, and then became a teenager, and ALL my children had left behind those tender years of childhood.

I shed many tears this past week, even as I look forward to seeing what the future holds for my baby boy. I am proud as punch of him, and of his older brothers and sisters as well.  I LIKE my kids. They are good people.  I am FULL of gratitude that they all still seem to like being around me and their dad and each other. I don't take that blessing lightly!

Our support group graduation ceremony featured 43 homeschools presenting diplomas to their seniors. As always, it was a lovely, moving ceremony.  As I told him when I presented him his diploma, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and blessing of being able to homeschool all 5 of my children. It has been challenging, tiring, and frustrating at times, but most of all, it has been my joy and my privilege.




SLIDE SHOW

Monday, April 3, 2017

THRIVING CREATIVELY

The theme of the upcoming annual North Carolinians for Home Education Conference and Book Fair  is THRIVE : Equipping, Encouraging, Connecting.

"Thrive" is a good word;   it means to PROSPER,  FLOURISH, GROW VIGOROUSLY.   That is what we want for our children and our homeschools, right?   We don't want to just "get by", we want to prosper and flourish!  We don't want our children to just be "good enough", we want them to be all they can be!

So the question is, what will cause my family to thrive?  What will allow ME to thrive?  What is the "formula"? What steps do I follow, what curriculum do I buy...?

Psalm 1: 1-3 is a good starting place.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely.
They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

(The Living Bible)



Those words "everything", "day and night", and "always" make me cringe a bit, because I know I don't always do everything God wants me to do.  But I know this is God's blueprint for how to THRIVE.  So just because I don't do it perfectly doesn't mean I shouldn't try, and do the best I can. This is where I want my children to start as well.

Proverbs 11:28 says

Those who trust in their riches will fall,
    but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

(NIV)


So here, thriving is equated with righteousness, which means living a moral, virtuous life that is in accord with the character of God.  Because God created mankind in His own image, we have the ability to live in line with His character. That means that we reflect God's nature. 
We are creative because God is Creator. 
We are spiritual beings because God is Spirit.  
We communicate because God communicates, and is the Word. 
We are intelligent because God possesses all knowledge and wisdom.  
We are relational because God is  tri-une, and personal, creating mankind to be in relationship with Him   
We understand morality because God is a moral being, holy and pure.  

When we embrace and nurture these qualities in our lives and in our families, then we are able to THRIVE, living as God created us to live! 

Let's talk about one of the characteristics of God - CREATIVITY.

What is creativity?  One definition is "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, etc. and to create meaningful NEW ideas, forms, methods, and interpretations."

When you think OUTSIDE THE BOX,  when you find NEW and ORIGINAL ways or methods for dealing with tasks and obstacles, you are being CREATIVE!  


We want our children to be leaders who are innovative, who come up with new ideas and better solutions, whether in the workplace, the church, the community, government, school, or family.
Creativity is an integral component to a thriving economy, a thriving church, a thriving community, and a thriving family.

Creativity is not about being able to draw or paint, although those are creative activities.  It is making things, solving problems, cultivating beauty, exploring ideas.   It is a key part of being "educated", and feeling  fulfilled as a human being!



Why is creativity important?  Supporting the fact that creativity is part of God's character and developing our innate creativity allows us to THRIVE, numerous studies, such as this one here,  have found that practicing creativity improves both emotional and physical health and well-being. 
  • increases feelings of positivity; improves mood
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • improves ability to resolve conflict
  • increases self-confidence and sense of purpose
  • increases spontaneity
  • contributes to emotional and physical healing
Developing and practicing our God-given creativity helps us to live healthier, happier lives!

What if I'm not creative?  Your innate spark of creativity might be dormant through lack of use, but it is still present!   How do I know?  Because Colossians 1:16 says

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him."

Genesis 1: 27

 "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 

God was lavish and bold and expressive in His creation!  Pastor and author John Piper writes:

"If you are God, your work is to create out of nothing. If you are not God, but like God - that is, if you are human - your work is to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make Him look great." 
 ( Don't Waste Your Life, 139)



Young children express their creativity very well. Anyone with a toddler has been amazed at the ingenuity displayed when he pushed a box up to a chair so he could climb on the counter to open the cabinet to get to the shelf where you hid the Oreos behind the box of brown rice!   Think of the imagination that is typical of preschoolers - imaginary friends, dress up costumes, tea parties, blanket forts, made-up songs.  But do you know that measures of creativity and imaginative thinking fall drastically once a child starts school?



In a 1968 study on creativity by George Land,  98% of the 1,600 three to five year old children given a test on divergent thinking scored at the highest, or genius, level.  When that test was given to those same children at 8- 10 years old, only 30% scored at the genius level.  The number dropped to 12% when they reached 13-15 years old.  The number dove to 2% when the same test was given to over 200,000 adults over the age of 25.    What happens to children between the ages of 5 and 25?  Well, school happens.  The conclusion drawn by Sir Ken Robinson is that modern education, which emphasizes learning for a test and giving the right answer, stifles divergent thinking.  

EDUCATION is not a mechanical system, where you put in raw material, manipulate it in certain ways, and produce a consistent end-product.  Education is a HUMAN system.  There are certain conditions under which people THRIVE!  Look around you. Where is that happening?  Look are your children.  Are they thriving?  If not, what conditions need to be adjusted?


If you are a mother, you are creating something beautiful every day!  You are creating art!  Every hug, every kiss, every pat on the back, every nose wiped, every lesson taught, every meal prepared, every tear wiped away, every prayer lifted is adding to the color and texture and design of the beautiful life that is entrusted to you. 
And you are more creative than you think!
  • creative in getting your kids to eat vegetables
  • creative in stretching a pay check
  • creative in getting a reluctant child to do his lessons
  • creative in finding time to be alone with your husband    

Creativity is like a muscle that needs to be stretched and exercised.  The more you use it, the stronger it gets!  Just because I cannot run from my driveway to the end of my street without feeling like I'm going to die doesn't mean I don't have the ability to do so. It means I haven't used those muscles in that way in a very long time.  If I start slowly and am consistent in practicing, bit by bit I will develop those muscles and regain that ability.  I may never run quickly or gracefully, but that doesn't mean I can't do it!

Stretch your creative muscles!  Some possible creative pursuits that you might explore with your children are
  • GARDENING
  • WRITING -  letters, a blog, short stories, poetry, a journal
  • DRAWING
  • SCULPTING
  • HANDCRAFTING  -  sewing, knitting, rubber stamping, candle making, jewelry making, etc
  • COOKING 
  • MAKING MUSIC
  • PLANNING - birthday parties, unit study celebrations, church functions, family reunions, support group events
  • DECORATING  -  your home for seasons or holidays,  
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
  • DANCING / CHOREOGRAPHY
  • ACTING
  • STORYTELLING 
  • DESIGN - fashion, landscape, graphic, more efficient ways of doing things, 
  • BUILDING -  blocks, LEGOs, woodworking
  • DEBATING



STORY

"The Story of Gillian Lynne"   ~  paraphrased from the book The Element by Sir Ken Robinson.

Gillian was only eight years old, but her future was already at risk. Her schoolwork was a disaster, at least as far as her teachers were concerned.  She turned in assignments late, her handwriting was terrible, and she tested poorly.  Not only that, she was a disruption to the entire class - one minute fidgeting noisily, the next staring out the window, forcing the teacher to stop the class to pull Gillian's attention back, and the next doing something to disturb the other children around her.     Gillian wasn't particularly concerned about any of this -  she was used to being corrected all the time, but she really didn't see herself as a bad child.  However, the school was very concerned.  Finally the principle wrote to Gillian's parents, saying that Gillian obviously had a learning disorder of some kind and it might be more appropriate for her to be in a school for children with special needs.  This was the 1930's, and classroom inclusion and accommodations were not yet the norm.   Today, Gillian would probably be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and put on medication. But the ADD epidemic hadn't been invented at the time and wasn't an available condition.

Gillian's parents sprang into action and took her to a psychologist for assessment, fearing the worst.  The doctor, an imposing man in a tweed jacket seated behind a large, oak desk, asked Gillian's mother about the difficulties she was having at school.  While he didn't direct any of his questions to Gillian, he watched her carefully the entire time.

Eventually, the adults stopped talking. The man rose from his desk, walked to the sofa, and sat down next to the little girl. "Gillian, you have been very patient, and I thank you for that, " he said.  "But I'm afraid I need you to be patient for just a little longer.  I need to speak to your mother privately for a minute. We're going to go out of the room, but don't worry. We won't be very long."   The mother exited the room and the psychologist followed, but first he leaned across his desk and turned on the radio.

When they were in the corridor outside the room, the doctor said to Gillian's mother, "Let's just stand here for a minute and watch what she does."  There was a window in the door, and they stood to the side where they could watch Gillian but she couldn't see them.  Nearly immediately, Gillian was up off the couch, moving and skipping about the room to the music, looking at the various things on the shelf , humming to herself.  After watching for a few minutes, the psychologist turned to Gillian's mother and said, "You know, Mrs. Lynne.  I don't believe Gillian is sick.  She's a dancer.  You should take her to dance school!" 

So her mother did exactly what the psychologist suggested.  When Gillian walked into the dance school for the first time, she immediately felt at home.  Here were other people like HER. People who had to MOVE to think!  She started going to dance class every week and she practiced at home every day. Eventually, she auditioned for the Royal Ballet School in London, and they accepted her.  She went on to join the Royal Ballet Company itself, becoming a soloist and performing all over the world. When that part of her career ended, she formed her own musical theater company and produced a series of highly successful shows in London and New York.  She met Andrew Lloyd Webber and he hired her to choreograph some of the most famous musical theater productions in history, including "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera".  

Little Gillian, the girl with the high-risk future who some considered "special needs", became known to the world as Gillian Lynne, one of the most accomplished choreographers of our time -  someone who brought pleasure to millions, and earned millions of dollars doing it!   This happened because someone looked deep into her eyes and saw who she really was.  Someone else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down. 



















This story is not meant as a criticism for anyone with a struggling child, but perhaps inspiration to take a second look at what makes them tick, what brings them joy, what conditions let them THRIVE!  All children need unstructured play time in which to daydream, come up with their own entertainment, and make their own rules!  Some children really do need to MOVE in order to THINK!  My middle child was exactly that way, and because we homeschooled, I could let him wiggle, sit in a rolling chair, toss a tennis ball, squeeze silly putty,  hop on one foot .... whatever he needed to do in order to concentrate on the task at hand.

Some of the ways we can help our children nurture their natural curiosity and creativity are:
  • banish perfectionism  - allow for experimentation, dabbling, and mistakes
  • don't be afraid of messes -  creativity can be quite messy at times;  but messes can be cleaned up
  • provide space, time, and tools for a variety of artistic expression -  markers, paints & brushes, all kinds of paper, scissors, glue, old magazines, yarn, fabric, tools & wood, clay, dirt, costumes or old clothes,  musical instruments, cardboard tubes and boxes, puppets, 
  • listen to all kinds of music
  • read! - stories, fairy tales, poetry, biographies
  • ask your child to think of new ways to do things around the house  - encourage creative thinking and problem-solving
  • teach your child not to compare themselves to others - comparison is the thief of joy!!!  Creative pursuits are very individual, and often two people will approach the same subject in very different ways
Creativity is a vital part of the abundant life that God created for us.  Another benefit of creative activities is the ability to bless others!  The fruit of your creative labors can be enjoyed by others, can touch the lives of others, and build community. 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Don't Lose Sight of the Forest for the Trees

This is especially for new or new-ish homeschoolers.



One thing I encourage all new homeschoolers to do is to write a paragraph stating your reasons for homeschooling. You likely have given this a good amount of thought at some point, and may have a "list" in your head. It is important to write it down and keep it someplace where you can refer to it from time to time.... because you will forget!!
 ~in the midst of winter when you are snowed in and everyone is sick,
~in the midst of struggles with learning to read or figuring out fractions or convincing your son that punctuation is necessary, 
~in the midst of trying to manage laundry and sports practices and grocery shopping and lesson plans,
~ in the midst of frustrating days and sleepless nights, 
you will hear yourself saying "Why did I think this was a good idea?" and YOU WILL NEED TO REMIND YOURSELF. 



Many years ago a speaker at the NCHE Homeschool Conference told this story, and it has stuck with me. This woman was head of a support organization in CA, and they required all their families to submit a statement of their reasons for homeschooling. One day a homeschool mom came to her, very discouraged, saying that after getting back her children's standardized test scores, she and her husband had decided the children were not doing as well as they'd hoped and that the kids would probably be better off in school. The leader pulled out the written statement that this family had submitted when they started homeschooling, and read it over for a minute.

 "You say you are disappointed with your children's test scores and think they should be back in school. But I don't see high test scores anywhere on this list of reasons you gave for wanting to homeschool in the first place. This is what you wrote."

And she handed the paper to the mom to read. The statement included things like growing up in a safe environment, building strong family relationships, having freedom to teach from a Christian worldview and include God in their daily lessons, protecting their children's innocence and allowing them to learn at their own pace and to develop their God-given abilities using materials that fit their individual learning styles.

"Have these things changed? Are your children still benefiting from the things you wrote here?"

 The mother admitted that she had lost sight of those reasons, and perhaps the standardized tests were not the most important part of this whole picture. She left much encouraged, with a copy of her written statement to show her husband.



There is an old adage, "Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees."
Keep the big picture in mind, and don't let one small detail or struggle derail you.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Celebrate Advent with Christmas Picture Books

If you have young children, you probably do some sort of Advent activity to countdown the days until Christmas.  There are lots of creative ideas for doing this and also reinforcing the message and meaning of Christmas with our children.  For years I used the advent unit studies on the Symbols of Christmas and the Names of Jesus found in Celebrate With Joy! by Sondra Burnett/






We have created paper chains with Bible verses on them, tearing off one link per day.

We have collected change in a jar, counting objects in our house that are blessings, and then donating the money to the Southern Baptist's Lottie Moon Fund or another charity after Christmas.   For example,  on Dec. 1,  put a penny in the jar for every shoe in the house. On Dec. 2, put a quarter in the jar for each car we own.  On Dec. 3, put a dollar in the jar for each bathroom.  On Dec. 4, put a dime in the jar for each Bible in the house.  Etc.

We love books, and Arnold Ytreeide has written a wonderful series of Advent adventure stories set in biblical times.  The stories, Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's PassageTabitha's Travels , and Ishtar's Odyssey,  are written as daily readings leading up to Christmas Day, and include questions to talk about together.  Read a different one each year.




Another idea is to collect Christmas picture books and display them in a special basket, reading one story each day until Christmas.  Advent traditionally starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas, but most Advent Calendars start on Dec. 1st.  You can do it either way.
Here are some suggestions for books you might like to add to your Christmas collection.

The Very First Christmas, by Paul L. Maier

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,  by Susan Wojciechowski

Jacob's Gift, by Max Lucado

 Alabaster's Song, by Max Lucado

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

Legend of the Christmas Tree, by Rick Osborne

Legend of the Candy Cane, by Lori Walburg


The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clark Moore, ill. by Jan Brett

Gift of the Magi, by O Henry, ill. by P.J. Lynch

A Charlie Brown Christmas Pop-Up Edition

Christmas Around the World Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, ill. by Brett Helquist

Legend of the Poinsettia, by retold & ill. by Tomie de Paola

The Little Drummer Boy, by Ezra Jack Keats

St. Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, by Julie Stiegemeyer

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Christmas in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, ill. by Renee Graef

The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell

Twelve Days of Christmas, ill. by Jan Brett

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story, by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon

The Candle in the Window, by Grace Johnson

Annika's Secret Wish, by Beverly Lewis

Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth, by Dandi Daley Mackall



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Current Events & Preparing Our Children for an Anti-Christian Culture

The ongoing battle of worldviews being waged in this country is intensifying every day. North Carolina is in the thick of it, with the opponents of HB2 launching heavy artillery aimed at the state economy, in hopes of forcing our government leaders ( who were elected by the people, btw, so this attack is on the democratic process!) to align with the new "progressive movement.



Similar things are happening all over the country. Yesterday, the Michigan Board of Education passed "guidelines" (tied to funding, so we know what that means) saying that all schools must allow students to self-identify their gender. Last week, Massachusetts (my home state) became the latest state to approve protected class status for transgender persons, and, according to the Gender Identity Guidance report by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, CHURCHES can be considered places of public accommodation and subjected to fines and penalties for not accommodating transgender persons in accordance with their gender identity. Similar wording was issued by a commission in Iowa earlier this summer.
U.S. Civil Rights Commission chairman Martin Castro has lashed out at "religious liberty and religious freedom, calling them “code words" for a host of hateful and discriminatory actions including “Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.” " [World Magazine, "Churches in the ‘civil rights’ crosshairs", 9/13/16]

What is your worldview? What and who influences your beliefs about right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies? What are the assumptions ( truth claims ) that determine your opinions and actions? Do your actions line up with what you claim you believe?
Is God real?
What is my purpose in being?
Why is there suffering and what is the solution?
What is truth?
Is truth relative, or is there such a thing as absolute truth - something that is true for everyone?

There was a time, not so long ago, when

Some resources I have used with my teens that you might want to investigate:
*The Truth Project (Focus on the Family)
*For the Life of the World (The Acton Institute)

With younger kids, ground them in God's Word, talk about what it means to follow Jesus and how sometimes that's a hard thing to do. Study the book of Daniel. Set a godly example, demonstrating God's love and compassion while also standing up for truth. Teach them to be compassionate. Read biographies of heroes of the faith, who faced hardship, disappointment, calamity, and all manner of challenges with hope, courage, perseverance, fortitude.



Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My Baby's Not a Baby Anymore : Turning 18

Last weekend was my baby's 18th birthday.

Gulp.
Shake my head.
Breathe.

My husband, daughter, and I threw him a surprise birthday cook-out at camp, with about 40 of his and our friends. He was surprised!  Which is often a challenge!  It was hot & humid, but still fun! I was too busy to take pictures. 

He is awesome. Amazing. Handsome. Funny. Affectionate.  Competitive. Forgetful. Unorganized. Wonderful.

I use similar adjectives to describe all five of my kids.  I adore them all.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy.






Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Last First Day of School

Reality is setting in, as we embark on my youngest child's senior year of high school.  As much as I said I wouldn't do this, I am marking the "lasts".   Monday was the last first day of school for our homeschool, Cornerstone Academy.  My husband was the one who said it to my face, as I frantically stuck my fingers in my ears, chanting "La la la la la!  I can't hear you!"

"I don't want to make you sad, but do you realize that this is our last "first day of school" ever?"

Oh honey.  Do I realize?  I've been doing nothing but realizing... I've been shoving those realizations down and trying to stuff them back into the box of denial for at least a year.  I've been gazing at my 6'2" baby and blinking back tears.  I've been swallowing around a bowling ball lodged in my throat while sitting in an empty house all summer while he and his sister have worked overnight summer camp, because I know this will be my new normal all too soon.  I have helped my second youngest move into her first post-college apartment, smiling as my insides crumble, because her bed and wall decorations and clothes and stuff are gone from her bedroom now.  The girls' room isn't the girls' room any more - although it will forever be the girls' room.  I have nearly broken down in the grocery store, realizing that a gallon of milk is too much to buy, and reaching for the 1/2 gallon instead. I feel like a crazy person.
Oh honey.  I realize.



I belong to the "school starts after Labor Day" crowd, but the local community college does not. So Jason started his 3 community college classes this week, and I'm still pulling together my plans for his other classes, that will start when they are supposed to start - after Labor Day.  He is taking Writing, Statistics and Spanish at the C.C., so this week he was up and out of the house by 8:30am every morning. This is a big adjustment for the boy who likes to sleep until 11:00am!  I only had to rouse him one of those mornings, when he apparently slept through his alarm.  Not too bad.
I have helped him figure out the online aspect of his classes, which use Moodle and MyStatLab and  Composition Connection for submitting homework, class announcements, etc.  Such a different world from even when my  oldest started college!  I've stroooongly suggested that he use an actual, hold-it-in-your-hand, paper weekly planner to mark down all his homework deadlines, quiz and test dates, project deadlines, etc., since he is a person who NEEDS visual reminders.  I think I'm going to have to go out and buy that planner today and put it into his hands and sit down with him as he fills it in.   He may be turning 18 tomorrow and nearly a grown up and about to fly the coop, but I still have a job to do, and that is to help him gather the tools to be successful when he DOES leave home.  Yes, I still have this job... for a few more months.










It's a whole new world. There is a lot of "letting go" happening around here.  I can see that this is a process and am grateful that the Lord has given me friends and a homeschool community to walk through this with.  Several moms in our homeschool support group have formed an "Empty Nest Survival" group on Facebook, to give us a place  to commiserate and support one another, knowing we are all going through something similar.  My husband is being supportive, he really is, but I can tell he is a bit bewildered by the intensity of my emotions.  He doesn't quite know what to do when I say, "I am NOT okay right now!"   My girlfriends know that I need chocolate and a bottle of wine and a chance to talk it out and possibly even a good cry.

I know God will be revealing the next thing for me, as this year goes on. But I will still be marking the "lasts" and grieving a season of motherhood that is ending, while looking forward to new good things ahead.


*** this post as well as others are linked at  Weekly Wrap Ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers