Thursday, May 31, 2007

Weight Watchers

Today I bit the bullet and joined Weight Watchers. I went to a meeting nearby with one of my friends and bought a Monthly Pass. My goal is to lose 60 lbs.
Just about everyone I know ( women, at least ) who have lost significant weight and kept it off, have done it with Weight Watchers. So.... I'm giving it a summer try. Accountability is a biggie with me... I'm just not that motivated to do things like this alone.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Curriculum is a Tool

While at the homeschool book store this afternoon, I had a mom ask me, "So there's this math curriculum and that math curriculum and that other one over there. Which one is the best?" We talked for a little while, and I tried to explain that the various features of different curriculums appeal to different people for different reasons. But there is no BEST curriculum! Because the best for one person isn't necessarily the best for another. I think we homeschool moms get so caught up in finding the BEST book or program or method, hoping that if we find it we are guaranteed success in educating our children, that we lose sight of the fact that all these things are TOOLS which we use to accomplish our goals.
We should be asking, "Is this TOOL something that I would enjoy using? Does it include the things that are important in mastering this subject? Can I use this TOOL in the way that is most effective for my helping my child learn? Or will we struggle with this style or presentation or content? If so, then it doesn't matter how many other people like using this TOOL. It isn't the right one for us."


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Minor Injury

Well, I drove Alex to work this morning, came home and spent an hour on the computer reading email and blogs, and then got started on my bedroom. I filled 2 bags with trash ( so far ) - papers, broken knick knacks, holey socks, etc. etc. -
and cleared out one corner of the room, pulled out dressers from the wall and vaccuumed BEHIND them ( true confession - I wore a dust mask! ) I had planned to spend all afternoon in there, but.......
The phone rang and it was Page, the nurse at summer camp.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your plans for the afternoon, but it looks like Eric has dislocated his finger!"
Eric is my 17-year-old, who is working at camp as a counselor-in-training ( CIT)
He was playing tetherball with another counselor after lunch, and slammed his finger into the other boy's palm. The joint of his left index finger dislocated, looking quite crooked and ugly when I got there to pick him and take him to the doctor. We were quickly sent on to an orthopedist, who X-rayed the finger and determined that nothing was cracked or broken. He then injected numbing medicine into the hand and proceeded to wrestle the joint back into place! AGH.... not something for the squeamish to sit and watch. It popped back into place after what seemed like an hour but was probably 30 seconds. A splint and prescription for pain medicine, and we were on our way back to camp, where Eric was playing dodge ball with his charges in the gym a couple of hours later!
The splint can come off at the end of the week, and he should be good as new! The doctor did suggest protecting that finger with the splint for any future tetherball games or anything similar this summer.


Attack the Bedroom!

Four of my five children are at summer camp for the week. The only one home is my oldest, who will be at work most days. So my project for the week is to attack ... my bedroom!
I am naturally a packrat and a sentimental saver. I am also NOT naturally organized, and I have a hard time envisioning a neat and efficient way to store things in my home. So my bedroom has become a catch-all. When I don't know what to do with something, it usually ends up in a pile in my room. There is a table piled with photos, scrapbooking materials, concert programs and field trip brochures and award certificates ~ and I haven't touched any of it in, oh, a year or more. There are bags of outgrown clothes waiting to go to Goodwill. There are sleeping bags, boxes of seasonal decorations, rolls of gift wrap, art supplies, an old computer that we no longer use. It has become overwhelming to the point that I avoid doing anything in there at all. Except sleep. Fortunately ( or unfortunately ) my husband is a also a "messie", with clothes piled next to his side of the bed and a dresser top piled high with papers, tools, assorted containers, loose change, etc. He never mentions the condition of the room, although I bet he would appreciate a room that was comfortable and attractive and in order, even if he doesn't realize it!
My heart's desire is for our bedroom to be a sanctuary, a peaceful refuge, an attractive and comfortable place of rest and romance. This is a huge challenge! My friend, Eileen, suggested that I just bag up EVERYTHING in plastic trash bags~ clear out the whole room and dust and vaccuum and clean and paint ~ then begin going through the contents of the bags one at a time and only returning those things that I really need or want. The rest stays out. I think I need to do that with furniture too. There is a desk in there that is too big and bulky and I really should get rid of it. I'd like to find a smaller computer desk and set up a corner "office" for my husband for when he needs to work from home... now he has no "place" to do that, and either sits on the bed with his laptop on his lap or even sits on the floor. And there is a plastic bookshelf that is rather ugly. And my dresser is missing a drawer because it fell apart.
My big motivation is a quilt that my mom is making for my 25th wedding anniversary, which is this summer. It is gorgeous, and will be the centerpiece of my "new" bedroom. I just need to get things ready. Eileen has promised to help. She is the opposite of me! She is a neatnik, a clean freak, a natural at organizing and decorating. Her house is beautiful and warm and welcoming. Of course, I can't let her step foot in my room the way it is right now! I'd appreciate any and all prayers in regards to this endeavor. I feel like I'm getting ready for battle...

Visit my friends' adoption blog

My friends, Jerry and Eileen, are in the process of adopting children from Ethiopia. These children will join the five they already have ~ three biological ( one is married now ) and adopted twins. Their story is amazing. Read about it on their blog ~

Monday, May 28, 2007

NCHE Homeschool Conference

We spent Thursday thru Saturday at the NCHE Homeschool Conference and Bookfair in Winston-Salem. This was my 14th consecutive year attending the conference ~ hard to believe but true. It is something I look forward to each spring... a way to "fill my tank" as we come to the end of one school year and prepare to start another. Some years I find the workshops inspiring and motivating ~ this was one of those years that I was less enthused by the speakers I heard. Actually, it was the workshop topics that didn't hold as much interest for me this year. But there were a few nuggets. Tracy Klicka, homeschool mom and wife of HSLDA attorney, Chris Klicka, gave a talk called
"I Think I'll Quit Homeschooling: Five Reasons Why Moms Quit School and How You Can Keep From Becoming a Dropout". Now, I'm not thinking of quitting. But Tracy made some great comments that hit home. Here are some of my notes:

5 Reasons Why Moms Quit Homeschooling

#1 Forgetting God's Call; Losing Our Vision

- does God call us to raise our children for Him?
- has he led us to homeschooling as part of that calling?
- Remember what really matters! Academics is only part of the big picture!
Deuteronomy 4:9 Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. [ oh, how easily we forget! are you writing down the things that God has done for you and your family? ] Teach them to your children and to their children after them. [ we are not off the hook even when our children are grown with families of their own - we have a responsibility to our grandchildren as well! ]

#2 Trying to Homeschool in Our Own Strength, and not God's Power

John 15:4-5 Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Praise God that our Heavenly Father is not just our children's teacher, but our teacher as well!

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Have you ever said, " I can't do this!" Good! None of us can. But God can do great things through surrendered hearts. Our children belong to him; do you trust Him enough to give control to God, and trust His leading?

2 Corinthians 12: 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." That is why I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

#3 Focusing More on being a Teacher than on being a Mommy

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Ask yourself, "What kind of house am I building?" Before we concern ourselves with what curriculum to use or how to schedule our school day, we should concern ourselves with building a loving relationship with our children!

Read Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson ( or any Sally Clarkson book ~ I love them all! )

#4 Not Taking the Proper Time for Reaching the Hearts of Our Children or Training Them in Godly Character

learning for learning's sake ( prideful) does not honor the Lord

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sould and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."

Mark 8:36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, [ get high Iowa or SAT scores, get into college, earn lots of money ] yet forfeit his soul?

What is your foundation?

Isaiah 33:6 He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

#5 Stumbling Over Jesus and Having Wrong Expectations for Our Homeschool Life

-again, control is the issue; am I trying to be "king of the hill"?
-even if my desires and goals are good ones, I must yield my life and desires and expectations to the Lord, because his ways are the BEST ways

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 84-11-12 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed in the man who trusts in you.

Another excellent speaker was Phil Downer, an attorney, former Marine, father of six, and president of Discipleship Network of America ( DNA ). He gave the keynote address on Saturday morning, titled "Building World-Changing Leaders for Christ". I had been feeling uninspired that morning, and had just prayed on the way into the building , saying, "Lord, speak to me through one of these speakers today. " And shortly thereafter I was in tears, as Phil's words touched my heart.

I browsed the book fair more casually than usual, because I wasn't making any big purchases this year. I have already bought my Tapestry of Grace curriculum for next year. As a result of ordering my curriculum in a "bundle", I also received some gift certificates to the TOG Bookshelf that I plan to redeem for some of the history and literature books that I need for Year 1. Other items I will buy through my local homeschool store. They are having a 15% off sale this week, but even if they weren't, it is more important to me to support this store so that it can remain in business than to save a buck or two at the conference or elsewhere.


A New Place for Me

I have been at Homeschoolblogger for a while now, and while I will still be keeping my blog there, it has been difficult to access regularly due to server issues. So I decided to create a new place for my writing here because I missed having a place to record our family adventures as well as my random thoughts and ideas on homeschooling, parenting, marriage, homemaking, church life, Christian growth, and ~ well, whatever comes up! This blog is called Learning Together because for 13 years that has been the focus of our family life. Although two of our five children have "graduated" from our homeschool and gone on to college, we are still a family who interacts and enjoys being together ( most of the time), and there is always a lesson to learn!