Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Resolutions: Homeschool Style

I am a list maker.  You should see me prepare to go grocery shopping...I make a list of the menus for the next 2 weeks.  Then I make a list of the items needed for those menus.  Then I make a list of the items I need in addition to those other menu items.  Then I write a Master List of everything in the order in which I find it in the grocery store.

Anal retentive much?

New Years is a great time for list makers.  I get to make a list in hopes that THIS year...*THIS* year I get it right.  Never hurts to remain positive, right?

Hence, my homeschooling New Years resolutions:

1.  Cut down on 'time clutter'.  Time clutter being anything that takes up our time when it is not something we love. 

2.  More field trips.  At least once a month, there will be a field trip somewhere.

3.  Less 'socializing'.  Okay..that sounds bad, I know.  But honestly, the first year or two we homeschooled I was constantly out with the kids somewhere socializing...mainly to prove to everyone (and myself) that homeschoolers ARE socialized!  Look how many opportunities there are to be social!  Now I am like...meh.  Been there, done that.  We need to focus more on school.

4.  More independent learning. 

5.  More hands on activities.  The first part of this year seemed so busy that we never got around to the fun stuff...and that's one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool in the first place.  I don't want my children's education coming solely from books...I want it to be relative, to have meaning. 

6.  More fine arts.  My kids loved when we learned one composer and one artist a month.  When times get crazy, of course those are the things that are first to go.  But to me they are part of a well rounded education.  So...more of that please!

7.  More handwriting practice.  I kids have lousy handwriting.  This year I want to focus on that.

8.  More educational games. 

9.  Organization.  This is more for me than my kids.  When life gets hectic...I get sloppy.

10.  More handwritten letters...thank you cards, pen pals, letters to grandma and grandpa.  It's becoming a lost art.

What about you?  Are you looking to re-vamp your homeschooling in 2012?

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Dear John Letter to Christmas's over. Between you and me...over.

As much as I love you, by the time it's done on the 25th...I'm done with you too.

Christmas and I, we have a mutual understanding.  When the love is gone,  we feel no need to linger on in a lovers' charade.  Just leave.  

Yes, the cookies were grand.  Ahhhh, those sprinkles.  And the lights...the LIGHTS.  Yes, yes....the packages and bows, lets us not forget those.  And all that mistletoe....

Where was I?  Yes, yes...Christmas.  It's time for you to go. 

So long.  I'll miss you in about 10 more months.  And when I do....I will be all yours again. No questions asked. No strings. I promise I'll still get all tingly when I hear you call me with your jingle bells.

With warmest regards,

The Accidental Homeschooler

P.S. Oh, and one last thing...any rumors you heard about me and Spring?  Not true.  Not at all.  ;P

Friday, December 23, 2011

Powerful Stuff

One of the most powerful things I have read in a long time.

Merry Christmas!

"I’ve always loved the celebration of Christmas, with the decorations, the lights and even buying presents. But that’s not what I need right now. I need a serious infusion of hope and comfort.
After losing both of my beloved parents in a six-month period and experiencing a life-threatening accident sandwiched between those two painful events, I feel beaten up. I don’t mean to whine, but at certain points in our lives, we feel slammed against a concrete wall, screaming for answers to some very serious questions. Like, Why I am alive? or, How in the world can I get through the pain that I feel has swallowed my soul?

Christmas is exactly the answer to the most troubling questions in life. As a matter of fact, it is the only answer. Sure, a lovely, perfect baby was born to a wandering teenager whose husband-to-be wondered if she had cheated on him (with God?), but beyond that conundrum lies a series of the most profound events ever to hit earth. God came and shouted to every one of us that He was here to overcome everything.
Don’t miss that. He was here to overcome everything: confusion, joy, agony, abandonment, loneliness, marriage, death and all that we experience on this earth. If that doesn’t confound you, nothing will.
Right now, as I walk through my days feeling lost and lonely, I need to know that God showed up to not only be with me in all of my temporal troubles, but to get me out of them—one day. That’s not pie-in-the-sky. It is reality. And at the heart of that reality is the love of God. The supernatural spirit who is God bound Himself into the tiny womb of a little girl because He knew that I needed help. And He did it because you need help too.

Christmas is about God leaving heaven and showing up. He had come before, but we didn’t pay much attention, so He came again to make us understand what reality is and what it isn’t. Reality isn’t unending hurt, loneliness, confusion or financial woes. Those are temporary, and we mustn’t forget that. The bigger reality is the overwhelming, awful passion of God. Let that sink in this Christmas. If you and I can, then nothing else will feel important.

That’s what I need this Christmas. What about you?"

Pediatrician, wife, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is one of the country’s leading experts on parenting, teens and children’s health.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If You Have a Son...Please Read This

Last night I dropped my daughter off for a sleep over at a friends house.  I was introduced to the teenaged son of the household.

He stood up and shook my hand.

Myself, my hubby and the other girls mom and dad made our way into the garage while having a nice conversation. It was raining cats and dogs, so we stayed in the garage to talk.

After a few minutes, the teenager came out to the garage with an umbrella.  I thought "Maybe he has somewhere to go and we are in his way."  But  he just hung around.

Fifteen minutes later, as we went to exit the garage and make a dash to the minivan...the teen with the umbrella quickly came to my side and held the umbrella over me and walked me to the car.

I almost felt embarrassed.  I was definately impressed.  I have never had anyone do that for me.  Well, maybe my husband did years ago, but never a teenaged kid.

It had me thinking all the way home.

THAT'S what I want my son to be like.  And who is going to teach him this? Me.

We mothers with sons are raising the next generation of men.  It's up to us to produce men of good character.

Raise them to never NEVER *EVER* hit a female.  (And by the same token, raise our daughters that it is never ever ever okay to BE hit by a male....even her brother.  I know too many moms that let their sons just pummel their little sisters and just sit there and do nothing, I guess thinking that kids will be kids. Absolutely not. Unacceptable.)

Raise them to know that they have to WORK for a living.  Don't expect the world to hand over a house, clothes, sir.  Get out and get a job.  Nothing is worse than grown men who have the attitude of "The world is picking on me!"  Get over yourself and give the world something positive to say about you!

Raise them to respect other people's boundaries.  Emotional boundaries as well as physical boundaries. 

Raise them to defend the defenseless. 

Raise them to be respectful to other adults.  To look them in the eye and speak to them when spoken to.  To extend a hand to shake. 

Raise them to become good conversationalists.  To not interrupt others and not to bring up topics that may hurt the feelings of others or cause hard feelings. 

Raise them to stand their ground and defend what they know to be right and good.

Raise them to have good table manners.  And never wear a hat to the table.  And always wear a shirt when you sit down to the table.

Raise them to try to look clean and neat, not dirty and sloppy.  And call me crazy, but please don't go around in public without your shirt and shoes.  There is no reason for you not to have these things on.
Take pride in your appearance!  The Bible says our body is a temple...treat it like one!

Raise them to do everything they do to the best of their ability. 

And best of all....teaching them these qualities costs nothing.  You don't have to be 'rich' to teach your children the qualities of good character.

But the's priceless.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Need Advice

Hear that noise? Shhhh...listen closely...

It's my hiney puckering because we are discussing selling our house and building another one.

I'm a frugal woman.  The thought of spending money to this magnitude makes me uneasy.  So I bury my head in research and opinions to take my mind off of my feelings.

Basically, I want answers to the following:

1.  Our house we live in now needs new carpet desperately.  Yes, we are selling it, but I am of the opinion the house would sell faster and for slightly more if it were move in ready.  But I don't want to get the very best carpet either....that's a lot of money.  Thoughts?

2.  Is it really more cost effective to do a lot of the building yourself?  Sure, we can hang our own dry wall and paint, hang cabinets, etc.   But it will take longer for us to do it.  Thoughts?

3.  I have watched Holmes on Homes too many times.  I don't trust any contractor as far as I can throw them.  How does one find a great contractor?

4.  Do I really need to finish all of the little things that are not 'perfect' in this house before selling?  Or just clean and paint and make it look shiny?

5.  Am I insane for even worrying about any of this during the holidays? Hmm?

If any of you have ANY experience building your own home, please...share your advice.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's Your Sign

Hubby and I have been coveting this one particular piece of land for the last 13 years.  It's beautiful.  It's perfect.  And I will never tell you where it  is because you might love it too and buy it before I have a chance to.

I've wanted to live out in the country since I was little.  Must've been all those Little House books and shows I watched, but I can see myself feeding the chickens, hanging out the laundry and tending the garden.  And I would love to have room for my kids to roam...without fear of them being snatched up or being in someone elses' yard.

Anyway, this land has been for sale for ever, and the hubby and I have been like stalkers...we call the number on the for sale sign every few months and ask if it's still for sale.  And it always is.  And this year it's gotten cheaper. I KNOW.  Nothing ever gets cheaper.

So we called again yesterday and the man agreed to take us around the property...again.  Although he doesn't know it, but in the past 10 years we have taken two other tours on this land with him.  Thankfully he didn't remember us.  Or he might place a restraining order on us.

While walking the land I had a talk with God. "Show me a sign, God, if this is meant to be." 

My senses were on full alert.

Through a conversation, I learned that he and his wife homeschooled all five of their children.  All are grown and successful.   Then I met his daughter in law, who had come to ask him a question.  She was also homeschooled.  She was lovely and social and intelligent and gracious.

Was this my sign?

As we stood there discussing land 'stuff' (I zoned out for a while and enjoyed the horses on the property), I saw a hawk gliding right over our heads, swift and silent.

Was this my sign?

And then, from out of nowhere, our conversation was interuppted by an extremely loud:

"heeeeeeHAAWWW!  heeeeHAAWWW!"

"Oh...that was the donkey up the road.  There's a few up there,"  replied the gentleman selling the land.

Okay...that HAD to be a sign.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Take a Peek

Occasionally I catch myself thinking a thought, and realizing that it is quite possible that thought is...well...not what 'normal' people think.  Here's a peek inside my brain as of late.

Like while crocheting hats for the homeless, I wasn't using a pattern, so every once in a while I would try it on my own head to judge if it was large enough.  Then my brain said "Ahem...excuse me.  Who said you had an average sized head?  What if your head is smaller than average?  All these hats will be too small for everyone else.  Or what if your head is too big?  These hats will be falling off people's heads because you made them to fit your own big head."

So, to my family... that's why I was measuring our heads with a tape measure.  Now you know.

Last night we sat out and watched the meteor shower.  There were some awesome meteors!  But I couldn't stop myself...every time one shot across the sky, I started to make a wish.  Then I realized how stupid this was and had to force myself, in my brain, to stop making a wish every time I saw a meteor.  Sorry.  It's been ingrained in me since childhood, and a hard habit to kick.

Had a conversation about the 'Bodies' exhibit coming up in Atlanta.  You know, where real human bodies are plasticized and posed on display.  I had to explain that we wouldn't go because everytime I think about those bodies...I think how they were once cuddled in their mother's arms, once the joy of their father's life.  I think how they must have been so excited over their first bicycle, their first kiss.  How they probably had a broken heart over their dog dying.  How they probably were someones daddy or momma.  I can play their whole life out in my mind.  So, there is NO way I can go see them gathering dust in a display case.

I wonder what goes on inside my dog's head as she barks at the three bowls of Christmas candy stacked up on the kitchen counter.  Just sits and barks.  I would love to know what she is thinking.

There you have it. A peek into my brain.  Scared yet? :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Missing: One Christmas Spirit

MISSING: One Christmas Spirit

Last seen just after Thanksgiving.

Height: About 5 feet

Weight:....well, none of your business

Distinguishing Features:  Smells like hot cocoa and peppermint candy.  Sounds like jingle bells.   Enjoys quiet evenings watching sappy Christmas movies with family.  Twinkles like Christmas tree lights and brings joy and peace to all who encounter it.  Feasts on peanut butter balls.

If Found: Please return to the Accidental Homeschooler.  She needs it, or there will be peanut butter balls to pay.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I REALLY Want For Christmas

I get so uncomfortable when someone asks me what I want for Christmas.  It makes me all twitchy inside.  I feel greedy and , well, weird. 

My husband realizes this, so he just waits for me to submit a  list and shops from the list. No asking involved.

But if any of you want to know what I REALLY want for Christmas, here goes.

Printer ink cartridges.

Printer paper.

A maid.

A cook.

A chauffeur.

Ballroom dancing lessons.

Art classes.

Free gas for a year.  For my car.

Someone to research my mom's family tree.  It would all be in German.  Add German lessons to that.

Two weeks to drive anywhere we want to. (Road trip!)

Those shelves and drawers that go in the closet to organize all my stuff.

A gift certificate to the dog groomer for a years worth of nail trimming and bathing.  And brushing.  (I have a very fluffy dog who HATES any of these things.)

A personal assistant who will do my grocery shopping and other mundane errands.

Violin lessons.  And a violin.

A horse.  And enough land to ride it on.

How about you?  Do you have any off the wall Christmas wants that would cause someone to look puzzled and ask "No...really...what do you want for Christmas?" if you told them?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Co-Op: A Homeschooling Mom's Little Helper

It's that time of year that warms a homeschool mom's heart.

That's sign up time.

We didn't participate in co-op in the fall because it seems that September through December are busy enough with starting school and all the holidays that are in those months.

However, January through March are pretty darn cold and boring.  So off to co-op we go!

Here are the plans for each kid:

4th grade daughter wants to take drama, sewing and electricity/circuits.  I know.  She's a Renaissance woman.

7th grade son wants to take electricity/circuits, beginning Spanish and P.E.  Yes, P.E.  Where else can one gather together a group of 7th-8th grade kids and play dodgeball these days? 

And all of those classes will cost a mere $33.00.  Oh, and 2 hours of my time helping out in other classes.  You can't beat that with a stick.

I find co-op to be particularly helpful in that it provides a small dose of 'real school'.  They make new friends, do group activities, have someone else teach them a skill.  And usually we only utilize co-op for enrichment-type classes, although there are academic classes offered as well. 

What about you? Do you co-op?  What classes do you teach or participate in? 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Case for Santa

Since I covered the REAL meaning of Christmas in my last post, today I get to defend Santa Claus.

YES...Santa comes to our house every Christmas. 

I don't know when folks started getting all bent out of shape about Santa, but I don't get it.  Don't get me wrong, I fully support your right not to do Santa with your kids...but I just don't get it.

"It's lying to your children."  Well...yeah.  It might be.  But so is telling them that their shots won't hurt THAT much.  Or that their crummy little crayon drawings are beautiful.  Face it...there are times when we soften the truth to protect their feelings.  That's lying too.

"It's diminishing the true meaning of Christmas."  Saint Nicholas was a real person.  He gave to the poor.  My personal thoughts are this:  if Santa coming one night out of the year causes a person to question their Christian faith, then you have bigger problems.  If you are raising your children in a Christian home and model your lives as such EVERY day of the year, then there should be no problem.  I wonder if anyone has ever done a study to see if a child has ever grown up to be an atheist because Santa delivered their Christmas presents.  No really....I'd like to know.

"It's putting all the focus on gift giving."  Like you aren't going to give your child any gifts at Christmas?  What's the difference if Santa brings them or you get the credit?  They are still getting gifts.  And there is nothing wrong with enjoying gift getting as well as gift giving.  We do it on their birthdays, don't we? 

Personally, I have never met anyone who resents their parents for allowing them to believe in Santa Claus.  I've also never met anyone who rejects Christ because of Santa.

I do know plenty of people who have amazing moments of joy when they remember how magical it all seemed as a child.  I spoke to a friend last night who told me how her father would wake her up at 5:00 on Christmas morning running into her room yelling "Hurry!  You're going to miss him!  GET UP! QUICK!"  And they would run outside looking....

I thought that was a precious memory. 

And I don't think Jesus holds it against them one bit.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Maybe I Am The Only One Who Needs To Hear This...

Had a conversation with a good friend yesterday and of course, Christmas was brought up.  She mentioned that her priest had stated something along the lines of this:

"Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. PERIOD.  Why do people feel the need to cram all this other stuff into Christmas?"

It was a thought that made me think...and you know how I love those.  I pondered that the rest of the afternoon.

He was right.  Why do we make ourselves crazy during the holiday season? 

The night Jesus was born, he was with his family.  Aside from the angels alerting the shepherds and then, later on, the Three Kings bringing their few precious gifts...that was it.  Low key and yet...the most profound moment in the history of mankind.

And we think we can even come close with our tinsel and gifts and office parties and numerous Breakfasts, Lunches, and Photos with Santa, along with parades, shopping, decorating. 

I don't think Jesus wants His birth to be commemorated in a stressed out, brain frying haze.  I don't think He wants us to be at our wits end, worrying about not having the money to buy a tree or if we have enough gifts for every single person that we cross paths with in our daily lives. 

I think He would be just as pleased if we all slow down a little and just 'be still'.  Savor the time of year with those we hold the dearest.  Behold the magic of that first Christmas, when all was quiet and peaceful and there was nary a garland or lighted tree. 

So, to those of you feeling the stress (this may just be a letter to myself)'s okay to just 'be'.

Even if the rest of the world is driving themselves crazy.