Thursday, January 8, 2015

Old Year, New Year

Well, they say good intentions pave the road to hell, or something like that.  I had every good intention of blogging more often, possibly even generating some income.  Then life.  Homeschooling four teens/tweens and managing their activities.  Let's see what the Leonards did in the fall of 2014.

Scott and Stealth-man had weekly LEGO Robotics club and took a team to a pre-qualifying tournament.  They won first place in the Robotic Games portion of competition!  He takes a high school level honors science class outside the home and an advanced middle school literature/writing class outside the home as well.

Miss Arty-pants had two regular babysitting jobs and is working to finish all her course work before she graduates this May.  She also takes a college prep literature/writing course.

Sweetness had violin lessons, orchestra rehearsal and performance, a babysitting job, dance, and a play (A Christmas Carol).  Add these to her literature/writing class, among other things.

The Ark started competitive swimming over the summer and was so good at it we decided to continue for the rest of the year.  He practiced 4 days a week and had two out of town meets.  Last month he also began practices for his seasonal soccer league.  He took an introductory writing class.

All of the children also have co-op classes on Friday mornings.  Admittedly, this schedule makes it hard to get the rest of their work done at home, but we manage somehow.

Last fall we also added the adventure of renting out our house for game day weekends to earn a little extra cash.  That is another blog post in itself but it was definitely an adventure, we made some good money, spent a lot of time together, and actually traveled a little too much for us.  It really was great for our family.

With the New Year, we are feeling the need to lighten up the schedule a bit.  Sweetness has had to drop dance because of an ongoing problem with her foot.  She also isn't going to be performing in a spring play (yay!)  Both the girls have dropped their babysitting jobs and are hoping to get some other part-time work.  The Ark is dropping his writing class so we can focus more on his school work at home.  This probably doesn't seem like that much to you, but seriously, I just went from having to leave my house 5 mornings a week to only 3 mornings a week.

January is Operation Driver's License for Miss Arty-pants.  Sweetness has her permit and I need another driver.  Especially if they are going to have jobs.

Scott and Stealth-man have another tournament coming up next week.  If they do well in that one the team will go on to a big one in Orlando later this spring.

Miss A-p is graduating which means parents run the show for homeschool graduation around here. There are parent meetings, graduate social nights, etc.  It also means that she is trying to plan her next steps in life.  Trying to marry what she dreams of doing with what she is able to do and figuring out the best path to do that is hard and exciting, and stressful.  We will probably be taking an exploratory trip this winter/spring to help her make some final decisions.

We also have free lodging for a vacation this year.  Colonial Williamsburg is on our list.

My favorite homeschool conference is in May.  I might make it a mommy retreat this year.  I'm probably going to need it.

We are not the busiest people I know, but our plate is very full.  I know it won't always be like this and sometimes I think nostalgically of the time when they were all little and there were daily naps and early bed times.  But it won't always be like this.  Next year I will only be homeschooling three.

I have to go cry now...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I've been thinking about the future a lot lately.  Not mine.  I'm thinking about the oldest child.  All the time.  You may know that this child in particular has given me fits of insanity as she has resisted so strongly our efforts to guide her in a college preparatory education.  Because, you know, we are homeschoolers and we have a lot to prove to the world and our dubious family.  Can we really give a kid a good enough education to get into college (to get a degree that won't supply her with a living wage)?

The annals of eternity may show that her will is stronger than mine because she sort of won that battle.  Our surrender came after many long conversations with friends, with Scott, and with God.  We decided to stop pushing dual enrollment and college.  We agreed to let her follow her dream.  We think her dream is kinda crazy, but if we don't let her pursue it, it may never happen.  It doesn't mean she can quit learning.  She will have a complete high school transcript.  It just won't be as rigorous in certain subjects as a college prep transcript. It took me a while to be o.k. with that.  The upside is that she will be able to graduate "on time" now.  I think that mainly means that I won't be her primary educator for an extra year.  (enter sigh of relief here)

But the biggest thing is that she is becoming.  Becoming who she wants to be.  Becoming who she imagines herself to be.  It's this becoming that happens when a child takes charge of her future.  The becoming that happens when she leaves home.  When she becomes someone other than the daughter that fits into a family in a certain way.  When she breaks free from the perceptions and boxes of that family she can become something different.  While some of her qualities won't change, she will change over-all. I got to see a glimpse of this while she was gone for two weeks this summer.  She sounded different on the phone.  More mature.  More master of herself.  She made decisions on her own because she was free to do so.  She got herself up early every morning so she could have devotional time and time to get ready for her day.  She GOT HERSELF UP!!  She was on time to her classes and events.  She went out to eat with friends.  She had her own friends!

Her time away helped me to see that she will probably be o.k. out in the wide world.

I pray that I will SEE her as she is becoming.  That I won't try to keep her pigeon-holed as the child she has been in my home.  That I won't keep bringing up the character qualities that I have found lacking while she was growing up.  That I will see her as an adult who has developed and grown out of some of those issues.  It is so easy to step back into family and suddenly find yourself seen as you were rather than who you are.  I pray that as God works through her and through me; that I have the grace to let her become and to embrace who she becomes.

Who she is becoming.

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.