Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Changes That Come When Children Grow Up

Our friends, the Nemitzes, had their 2nd annual (thanks to Emily, home from college and wanting to see everyone!) Thanksgiving Weekend Bonfire on Saturday, and a few of us moms were discussing some of the changes that have occurred in our families as our children are growing up. My friend Tracy was commenting on how her oldest, who is almost 18, has a job this year, plus basketball practice 4 days a week, plus a few other commitments, which means she is rarely at home - something Tracy was not prepared for before high school graduation! She suddenly realized how much her two children did together for school, and now her son was left floundering a bit without his sister around so much. Another friend was talking about her son's first (not very pleasant) foray into the world of dating. There are a lot of new things to deal with that make us moms of older children look very nostalgically back on the days of sippy cups and multiplication tables.

Most of my homeschool friends whose children have grown and left for college or jobs have said the same thing. They were unprepared for how much they would MISS them!  It is a huge adjustment, because for years we have had them around pretty much all day, every day! Sometimes, even the older ones who still physically live at home are so much in their own independent world that they are still "missing" from the family.  One friend half-jokingly suggested that we start a support group for homeschool moms of grown children, to help work through the transition to "retirement".

Not only do we miss having our children around, but we also lose that "extended family" of their close friends.  Many of my children's friends are like part of our family, and I miss seeing them at ballgames or co-op or the other activities that were part of our regular routine.  Thankfully, I can still stalk keep connected with many of them on Facebook.

Another real issue as your children grow up is how to handle holidays and vacations. It has been hard on my older children as well as on me to have them miss family camping trips or visits up north to see grandparents and relatives. It used to be that the whole family would make the annual trip to Massachusetts each summer to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  But this past summer only 1 of my 5 children made the trip.  It makes me very sad to think that my children might now go years without seeing their grandparents.  I think it is even sadder because I see myself getting closer to that time of life when I may not get to see my own children for extended periods of time. It has already happened with my oldest son, who is on his 2nd year-long deployment overseas with the Army, thus missing another Thanksgiving and Christmas with our family.

I know my mother went through this, as has every mother since the beginning of time. Transitions are tough. There's just nothing easy about it. To all you moms with little ones who can't wait for them to grow up -  be careful what you wish for.
It will come all too soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain...
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain...

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love...

 We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest, our life, our health, our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Benefit of Homeschooling: Sleeping Late

A post by Kris over at Simple Homeschool called Why We Don't Start School at 8:00 AM  caught my eye.   It appears there is a quiet sub-culture of homeschoolers out there who don't get up at the crack of dawn, but rather are happily snoozing in their warm beds while the big yellow buses are gathering up their charges and the car pool lines are winding around the neighborhood schools, and not starting school until 10am, or 11am, or - gasp! - after lunch!!

Who knew?   Who knew there were other families like us? 

Those of us who grew up attending traditional schools ( virtually everyone over age 30 and the vast majority of those younger)  know that school starts between 8am and 9am.  In high school, I had to catch the school bus at 7am, which meant I was up at 5:30am so that my siblings and I could shower, get dressed, and eat before heading out the door. Didn't matter if it was pouring rain. Didn't matter if you were up after midnight the night before finishing homework.  Didn't matter if you had a cold or sore throat. School was inflexible and ruled by alarm clocks, bells, and schedules.

Some homeschoolers duplicate that schedule in their homes.  For those with young children and naturally early risers, that probably works great!  I know families who are all up and ready for the day at 5am, doing devotions and algebra with Dad before he leaves for work at 7am. When my children were all little, we were up at 7 or 7:30, and starting school by 8:30 or 9, after morning routines, breakfast, and chores.

For some though, getting up early is a struggle, and studies show that most teens do not get adequate sleep as the need for sleep increases in adolescence.

It is hard to break old habits, and even harder when societal pressure tells you that you are doing something wrong if you do. But letting your teens sleep later is actually a good thing.  Our family schedule changed as my children got older.  We tend to be night owls, and staying up late meant I also let my kids sleep late in the morning. It just made sense to me.  My  13-yr-old typically gets up anywhere between 9am and 11am, so on most days he starts schoolwork around 10am, sometimes later.   That is what works for us!

Will this cripple him later on, making him incapable of using an alarm clock and getting up for early college classes or a job?  No.  Really.  All my kids have made the transition to early morning rising when required, are very diligent workers, and have not been scarred because they were allowed to sleep late as teen-agers. 

Flexibility and individuality - these are two of the great things about being a homeschooler.   So if your family's routine doesn't match up with someone else's, that's okay! If you are Early to Bed, Early to Risers, that's great!  If you are Night Owls and late risers, super!  No need to apologize!  Instead, be thankful for the freedom we have to live and educate according to our own needs, convictions, and preferences.  And do it all to the best of your ability, to the glory of God. :-)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Don't I Do That Anymore?

The guest speaker at our November Lighthouse homeschool group parent meeting was Vicki Bentley. Vicki homeschooled her 8 daughters as well as numerous foster children, led a large support group in VA, speaks at homeschool conventions all across the country, has authored several books, and now works for HSLDA as their Early Years program and Group Services coordinator.  We were blessed to have her visit us, and next time, will definitely have her stay longer, because she had great stuff to share with us!

Her topic was Time Management and Organization for homeschoolers - a timeless topic, as it is applicable to brand new homeschoolers as well as crusty veterans.  Listening to her tips and suggestions, as well as preparing for my mentor group meetings recently, has highlighted that there were a lot of things that I USED to do that I have somehow let slide as my children have grown up and life has changed in our household.  While it is natural that some things will change as we go through seasons of life, not all the things I have let slide have been good to let go!  I have found myself asking, "why don't I do that anymore?"

#1  Menu Planning
When I had 5 kids at home (and even 4, then 3), I planned our meals by the week, and sometimes by the month. It was a necessity, and eating out or even getting takeout pizza was a rarity.  I grocery shopped every week and made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family almost every day.  Now? I usually don't know what is for dinner until 5pm, when stomachs start to growl, and I realize I have to make a run to the grocery store. Way too often we eat out or get pizza, and I haven't made pancakes in a long time.  I have had a hard time adjusting from cooking for a large family to cooking for just 3 or 4, depending on who is home that night!  Not healthy. Not economical.  I need to start making a weekly menu again and shopping for the whole week at once! 

#2  Chore Schedule
We used to have chore charts. The kids had certain chores to do each day, before we started school.  I tried to follow the FlyLady plan somewhat, although never very successfully.  But at least the major things, like cleaning the bathroom, got done on a regular schedule.  Well, kids grew up and left home and their jobs had to be reassigned, or I just took them over.  And now.... it is kind of a "fly by the seat of my pants" instead of FlyLady approach.  I've never been great at structure and routine, to my detriment.  That definitely takes deliberate effort on my part, and sometimes I feel too worn out and overwhelmed to tackle it all.  Grr.  I KNOW that the solution is to simplify, both my belongings and my schedule.... but that is soooooo easier said than done.

#3  Community Service
Again, when my older kids were young, I placed a high priority on including community service in our schedule.  It wasn't a lot of hours, but we faithfully volunteered at the church food pantry one afternoon every month for many, many years.  We also visited the local nursing home with other families from our homeschool group a couple of times a year, both to bless the residents and also to help my children become comfortable  being around the elderly and infirm. But then schedules changed.  We started participating in a weekly co-op, which conflicts with the scheduled nursing home visits. The food pantry day conflicted with sports practices.  So those things fell by the wayside, and I now realize that my younger two have not had that same experience as their older siblings.  Yes, our family is very involved in serving the homeschool community through many, many hours devoted to  homeschool sports and support group leadership, but I'm not sure my children get the same impact from that.

How have you adjusted to changes in your family?
Are there things you have let slide that maybe should be embraced once again?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still here...

I'm still here! Still homeschooling, still baking cupcakes, still doing physical therapy once a week, still up to my eyeballs in all kinds of stuff! It's about time for bed and I don't have anything profound to write about, but I figured I should at least touch base, since I haven't posted in over a month and I rarely go that long between posts.

Alex is getting ready to leave Iraq, but instead of coming home early like we thought, he is actually relocating to another base in the Middle East for the remainder of the deployment. So he won't be coming home until next summer. That's disappointing, but I'm not surprised. I had a feeling they weren't going to come home yet

Sarah has been in Uganda almost a week now, and comes back this Sunday. After that she'll be back here at home until after the New Year, so that is pretty exciting!  She has been posting pictures of their work in Mbale on the Safe World website.  She is helping lead a medical mission trip, even though she has no medical training at all. She is a photographer and artist and media specialist - but wherever God puts her, that's where she should be!

Basketball season has started, and Jason's first middle school game of the season is Friday afternoon.  Woo hoo!  Mark is coaching Varsity boys again this year, and his first season game is Monday. The insanity begins!   go Eagles!

My knee is doing great! I'm walking normally again, and only have a problem now going down stairs and getting up from the floor.  The physical therapist said those are the last things to get back after surgery - that certain muscle motion that I can't remember. But I'm doing exercises to help strengthen that muscle, and probably will only need to continue PT for another 2 or 3 weeks.  It is pretty great to not have constant pain like I did for almost a year before having the surgery. 

I'll try to get back in the groove of blog writing and not go so long between posts anymore.I actually have good ideas of things to write about every now and then.  I should try to get some of them actually written down.