Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trying New Things

I've noticed something about women in my peer group ( 30-something to 40-something with middle/high school age homeschoolers).  Many of us are "finding ourselves" again.  For years we were completely absorbed by child-bearing, child-rearing, training, discipline, bedtimes, naptimes, feeding at regular intervals, etc.  Eventually the children become more self-sufficient and are involved in a myriad of activities.  Mom no longer has to spend her entire day managing and training and teaching to read.  Often, she is assigning work, driving to a class or sport, explaining a new assignment or subject, and driving some more.

And then she wonders who she is going to be when she isn't THIS anymore.  It isn't that far off.  She can imagine the time coming when she isn't keeping educational portfolios, wearing the hats of teacher, guidance counselor, chauffeur, and therapist all at the same time.  What will she be then?  What will I be then?

I have a few friends who were SOMETHING before they were homeschooling mommies.  Some of them can BE that again.  Some people I know never let their skills diminish and have stayed somewhat active in that identity BC (before children).  Others of us don't want to go back to what we were BC.  Still others, like me, weren't exactly in profitable careers before marriage and kids.  I got my degree in Humanities and managed a bookstore for a year before my oldest was born.

Let me take a moment to discuss the value of a degree in Humanities.  It is completely intangible.  It has been invaluable as far as home education is concerned BUT it has never put food on the table or paid for soccer. And the student loans that take years and years to pay off are not worth it to me.  Weigh that against a recent radio program I heard that said that people who entered the workforce full-time right out of high school make 1 million dollars more in their lifetimes than people who get degrees in the arts and humanities.  I LOVED going to college.  I love the classes, discussion, people. I would love to go back for an advanced degree (maybe), but I won't consider it unless I can pay cash for it.  But I digress...

I have found that I want to contribute to our family in a different way.  Maybe in a more tangible way. Possibly to take some of the financial stress off of my hard-working-husband's shoulders.  With this in mind, last year I signed up with Premier Jewelry to sell jewelry to ladies.  I had the support of my friends who thought I would be great at it because I accessorize well.  It isn't panning out.  Basically, I've exhausted my pool of friends and haven't charmed any strangers into wanting to have their own jewelry show.  I'm o.k. with that now.  I have definitely learned a lot about myself and my personality through this experience.  Direct Sales is not my best skill!  That said, I have recently signed up to be a Stampin' Up demonstrator.  I have been making and designing cards for nearly 10 years with my friend, Bethany.  When she presented this opportunity to me, it came with no financial risk and the potential to support my habit with the occasional bonus.

Last night I had my first class/workshop.  I did pretty well teaching others how to do what I already love.  And, I think that is the key.  I LOVE making beautiful cards.  I have had some success selling them in the last few months.  I'm even considering starting an Etsy shop to sell them online.  Joining Stampin' Up makes it possible for me to buy my supplies at a discount and share something I already love with others.  So I'm trying this new thing.  Not with the goal of making money (which was probably my mistake with the other endeavor), but with the goal of doing what I already like and sharing it.

I would like to hear about your journey into new things.  What do you want to be when you aren't THIS anymore? Do you think I should try selling my cards online?  Here are a few of my recent samples.

Designed by Bethany B. 
Designed by Bethany B.

Inspired by Pinterest

Inspired by Pinterest

Monday, July 7, 2014


Yep, that's my family.  And today, it is a great reminder of what I can't do.  I can't hold them back.  I can't keep them from becoming.  I can't make them grow up slower.  I can't keep them from growing away from me.

Not that I really want to.  It is just happening too fast!

Yesterday we took Miss Arty-pants (my oldest girl) to Tennessee for a two week camp.  The basic description of the camp goes like this, "Summit’s Student Worldview Conferences are intensive two-week retreats designed to teach students how to analyze the various ideas that are currently competing for their hearts and minds." Soon, she will be out in a world with ideas and influences that will compete for her heart and mind.

Soon, as in two years. Forever to a teen. Not so long for a parent.

She wants to live on the other side of the world.  She wants to serve others and study her art.  And live on the other side of the world.  She wants to speak another language.  Daily.  She wants to be immersed in another culture and lifestyle.  I want to have the courage to let her.  So, she is at a two week camp to help her understand what will be competing for her heart and mind.  Not to make her fearful, but to prepare her.

This won't be her only preparation.  Definitely not.  But, it is a big step.  Away.  This child has been leaving me since she was born.  I'm pretty sure I've lost her more times than all her other siblings combined.  And every time I was the one who lost her.  She was never lost - never knew she was lost.  I don't want leaving to equal losing.  So, we prepare.

She prepares to leave and I prepare to let her go.

So that she won't be lost.

So that she will come back from time to time.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Changes coming....Stay tuned

Having just looked over recent (as in over the last 6 months or more) posts, I see that so much has happened that I haven't reported about.  Examples include but are not limited to the fact that my jewelry business is a bust, I really don't like FLVS, and although I am still thankful, I failed dismally to complete my month of thanksgiving.  That said, there are some changes coming to this blog.  For one, I will be posting more often.  Much more.  I will also be adding pages so that everything from every category that I post about won't be on one page to be sifted through ad infinitum.  You will see advertisements - more on that later.  You will also be able to link to my Facebook page that I haven't made yet, my Pinterest page, and my Google+ page.  The biggest (and most exciting to me) change is that there will be a new domain name!

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Restoring Sparkle

Last weekend I attended a retreat for team members of my home based jewelry business.  I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but I was a little nervous about it.  I think I have been a little uncertain about the people in the business since I joined last August.  What was I getting myself into?  Was this some sort of Christian women's sorority of fake, joyful cheerleaders who always made you think their life was filled with rainbows and happiness?  I wasn't sure I was going to fit in with these ladies.  I like Tabitha who I'm signed up under.  She's definitely real and honest.  My "sister" jeweler is also real and has experienced the real challenges of life.  Well, you can't hide the reality when you share a house with 14 women.

The ladies I met over the weekend were real.  They had experienced heartache, health issues, financial struggles, depression, infertility, and more.  But, they were inspiring.  I was thrilled to meet another former Marine!  Who knew?!  Another lady had adopted two boys after fostering more than 20 children.  Her boys are about the same ages as my two boys and I would love to get them together to hang out.  Of course, she doesn't live anywhere near me.  Two had suffered through the death of young children.  I can't even begin to imagine that kind of deep ache.  Throughout the weekend I saw that these women love each other in both their expressions of feelings and in their actions.  They bond together to hold each other up in times of crisis. They won't let each other walk a hard road alone.  And, in spite of life's difficulties, these women sparkle.

Hearing some of their stories over the weekend I realized that I have allowed my sparkle to be dulled by the disappointments of life.  Instead of dealing head-on with personal hurts I had put up walls of self-protection and self-preservation.  I withdrew from outward-focused activities and ministries and turned my focus to my family.  Don't get me wrong!  Taking some time to focus on your family and the healthy relationships in that family is a good thing, but it had almost become my new idol.  I was no longer looking outside of myself or my family to serve God and others.  I had become more negative, less confident, more self-absorbed over the last three years.  All of those things have clouded my perception and dulled my ability to sparkle.  I have returned from the retreat with new information to help my business.  But more than that, I have returned with a desire to let God restore my sparkle, to polish off the negativity and the self-centeredness so I can shine for Him!

A craft some of the ladies made over the weekend

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful for Virtual School

I probably never imagined I would be thankful for virtual school, but I am. For the first time in our homeschooling journey, we have to stay on pace. Yes, FLVS (Florida Virtual School) allows us some flexibility, but if the kids don't stay on a reasonable pace to complete the course in the given time, they will be dropped. Miss Arty-pants is taking Latin (she would say she is being forced, which is pretty much true), Sweetness is taking French, and Stealth-man is taking Critical Thinking.  They are all doing quite well learning to meet their deadlines, etc. This month Sweetness will be adding Driver's Ed to her list. She'll be 15 in January and doesn't want to wait a moment longer than she must to get her learner's permit. But that's a different subject altogether. I am thankful for the new challenge and accountability of virtual school. See you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Month of Thanksgiving

On Facebook folks are logging one thing per day that they are thankful for during the month of November.  I'm a day late getting started so I decided to do it here.  If I blog once each day for the remainder of November, perhaps I will get back into the swing of things.

November 1st:  I am thankful for our co-op.  It is a blessing to me every semester.  It gives us a day when we don't have to do the ho-hum subjects that tire us out so quickly.  I am teaching my beloved Shakespeare this time and three of my children are in it.  I am also teaching a class on Lewis and Clark.  I thought I would do better with this but suffice it to say that they will be watching the PBS video series for our last two weeks.  The children are also enjoying classes like LEGO challenge, Photography, Heroes of Faith, Holes book club, etc.  Being on the leadership team means there is some drama, but we get through it and move on.  The boys are also still young enough to enjoy the afternoon at the park afterward.  In fact, the moms probably like park time more than the kids.

November 2nd:  I am thankful for the quiet afternoon we had today (after a very busy morning).  It is a small thing, but there are so few of them lately.  I'll take them when I can.  I took a nap on my couch with my children around me watching a movie.  Scott is fighting a chest cold so he was laying low today, too.  Currently, the boys aren't busy at every moment so a day at home on the weekend isn't ideal for them.  They'll get busy soon enough.  I just signed up the Ark for his winter soccer season and Stealth-man wants to play tennis with the nearby Christian school.

Here are some recent pics...

Selfie with Stealth-man

Another with the Ark

Our family at a wedding last month.

The Ark with his new roller blades received on his birthday.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Let Me Encourage You

I have thought of so many things I could blog about in the last few months but have not taken the time to sit down and share my thoughts with you.  Today I have something important to share with my fellow homeschoolers.

We have been on the homeschooling journey for eleven years.  Some would say from birth, which is true, but I didn't decide to homeschool until Miss Arty-pants was about four years old.  She is now in 10th/11th grade preparing to dual enroll in college next year.  I recently had our annual evaluations by a certified teacher.  She said that many parents were panicking over the implications of Common Core and other government initiatives to make things more difficult for homeschool families.  There have been many homeschoolers who stop homeschooling in high school because they are afraid they can't teach their student what they need to know to get into college.  I have also seen a huge push in our own homeschool community to be a part of Classical Conversations.  It is a classical style co-op that guides the education of the homeschooled child.  Many parents are comforted by the high level learning and the accountability.  I would probably consider it for one or more of my children but tuition and materials are expensive by homeschool standards and I really like determining my own educational agenda for my children.

I constantly feel torn between knowing we have made the right decision for our family and second-guessing myself.  Fear that they won't be prepared for college and the real world is sometimes overwhelming.  BUT, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  If you are like me, frequently waffling back and forth between confidence and doubt, let me share what has helped me stay the course over the years.

My husband:  He is completely supportive.  When I have felt like I just couldn't do it anymore he has encouraged me (and the children). He listens and offers suggestions.  He isn't always thrilled with my methods or with areas where he sees gaps, but he has never suggested that I should put them in school because I/they weren't performing.

My evaluator:  I used to think Michelle had it all together.  She has children a few years ahead of mine and does some amazing things within our homeschool community.  Every year I have learned that she has areas of struggle, too.  This encourages me in the "if she can do it, I can do it" way.  Her methods and path are different than mine, but I find encouragement at our meetings nonetheless.

Other Homeschooling Moms:  Especially those who have successfully graduated one or more of their students.  They made it!  Their children are successful, productive members of society!  Every one of them accomplished it a little differently.  You can make it, too!

Our co-op:  LIFE co-op came to us at the perfect time.  We had participated in a few co-ops before, but nothing has filled the need the way this one has.  Why do I love this one so much?  Well, it provides "electives" and supports what we are doing at home.  I was a little concerned at first because I wouldn't know what classes would be offered from term to term, but it has worked out brilliantly.  At the younger levels (below Middle School), the classes are enrichment only.  My kids have taken classes like Microscopy, Arts and Crafts, Florida History, LEGO, Science Experiments, P.E., Crochet, Sewing, Art Journaling, American Sign Language,  and Math Games.  These classes have provided fun, enriching, educational experiences that I probably wouldn't have provided at home.  I've only blown one volcano on my kitchen table.  In the Middle and High School levels the academic level is higher.  Students have taken Shakespeare, Mythology, Current Events, Forensic Science, Fallacy Detective/Logic, Economics, Art History, Essay Writing as well as Photography, Yearbook/Newsletter, and Drama.  So much that I would never have gotten around to or that take the pressure off of me to provide at home.  Parents get to teach in areas of their strengths.  I prefer to teach High School.  Many other parents feel inadequate to teach High Schoolers, so I was also filling a need.  We LOVE co-op.  It makes the week of academics at home worth it.  Co-op also gives us the chance to see many of our friends.  We build up and encourage each other.  After classes we have lunch together and stay at the park for hours while our kids play and visit.  In fact, the moms often require park time when the kids want to go home.  We need that time to unwind from our week.

My children:  They know it is better to school at home in their own learning styles and with flexibility that they wouldn't get in school.  I have a couple of children that need a lot of motivations to get things done.  It helps that I also have a couple of children that are happy to get their work done so they can move on to their own interests.

Flexibility:  I love that just because I have done things a certain way for the last three years, I am free to change it up this year.  And I will.  I now have two High Schoolers and two Middle Schoolers.  We can't learn the bulk of our subjects at the same time anymore.  This year I am trying "block scheduling" with science and history/literature.  We will do each one only two days per week.  They will cover a week's worth of lessons in those two days.  My hope is that concentrations in those areas will lead to better learning of the materials and less "boredom".  We are also going to go on more field trips.  Last year we all were tired of our daily schedule.  It was drudgery that we all wanted to end.  I did a big push at the end of the year just so we could finish by the middle of May.  One of the 'big ideas' of homeschooling is that it is supposed to be fun and inspiring.  It should be a life of learning.  Sometimes it is difficult to accomplish that.  Don't be afraid to change it up.  We all want our children to love learning.

If you are a homeschool parent reading this, I want to encourage you on your path.  You are fully capable of teaching your child and/or finding resources to help you teach your child.  No one knows your child better than you.  Get to know other homeschoolers.  Join a co-op (we have openings in LIFE, hint, hint).  Meet up at the park.  Don't let discouragement take over.  You can do this!