Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding Our Voice

Life gets crazy.

My role as wife, mother to 4 boys, homeschooler, keeper of the house (which sounds soooo much nicer than "housekeeper"), cook, laundress, volunteer, sometimes-singer, writer, and whatever else often leaves my head spinning. Really, it is no more than most other women accomplish in a day. We, the great multi-taskers, cover an enoumous amount of ground on any given calendar day.

 Sometimes I feel lost in what I do. As much as I want to do these things I am doing, my own voice becomes buried in the myriad of work to be done. What would I even say?

 Perhaps you, too, feel overwhelmed with all the little things that go into a "day in the life" of you. At times I feel that if I actually did everything I wanted to every day, if I actually accomplished that mental list I keep in my head, my body would probably explode...or implode...not sure which, but it would be ugly!

So, how to organize ourselves? How to reclaim our own voices, yet remain faithful to the work we have been given by God? This week, let's explore!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wisdom from the Scottish Master

"The first step toward action is the beginning of the death of doubt...."

The Scottish Master would be George MacDonald. I love his fiction, although some of it can be a little challenging to read at times. Currently I am re-reading The Marquis' Secret. This quote is from that book.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Yea, It's Friday

Ahhhh, the end of another week. Well, at least as far as school goes, that is! On Friday, I know I have survived another week of homeschooling. You would think that after seven years of this, it would be no big deal. Not true! I guess because the kids keep growing and changing our school keeps growing and changing.
   On Monday I start out with enthusiasm and big plans. Tuesday does not derail this at all. Yet somewhere between Monday and Thursday, something changes. I know it is Thursday each week, because that is the day I barely make it. Each week. By Thursday night, I am ready to throw in the towel, run away to Hawaii, and hang up my homeschooling hat forever.
   I know, I know. I chose this life. And I still choose it.
    I never meant to homeschool. When our oldest was a baby, ArtGuy and I talked about what we imagined we would do for schooling. We were were so poor, we knew private school would not be an option. Both of us were  public-school educated, and did just fine. I looked at my handsome husband and laughed, "Well, I know one thing we won't do - homeschool"!  We both had a good laugh.
    I can be very slow to learn in my life. One thing I realize now. Usually when I say I won't do something, God manages to bring it into my life, or challenge me in that area at a later date.
   So.....a few years later, we faced the question of kindergarten. Ironically, we had moved back to my home state, and to the very school district where I was educated. It is a good one. The Young Adult would certainly have gone to public school if all the kindergartens had not changed to full-day the year he began. The Young Adult had been in preschool, but we had concerns. He was very bright. So bright he was always far ahead of his class. He would get quite bored. He had always been in small classrooms, so the teachers found ways to challenge him. On top of that, he missed home while he was gone. So much so that when I picked him up from school, he would share nothing until I recounted everything that had happened in his absence.
   Our fears were that he would be bored in kindergarten and would end up in trouble. We did not want to see his bright, unique spirit bruised. So, realizing the full irony, I decided to homeschool - for ONE year, to give him time to mature.
  And that, as they say, is history! Somehow or another, we ended up deciding to homeschool each year. Until about five years in, when I realized it was no longer such a temporary thing, but our lifestyle.
   Homeschooling is hard, but very addicting. We have such freedom. Yes, there is a lot of work that goes into it, but we get to learn the coolest things! I have a seven year old who can't get enough of Ancient Egypt. How cool is it that when I was talking about the Pharaohs to my husband, I could turn to Romeo and ask him a question about Hatshepsut I didn't remember, and Romeo could explain at length.
  Yes, I have to spend a lot of time with my kids, but we like each other. We can handle it. And on days we can't, we take a break.
  So, all in all, by Friday I am glad for a break. But I will be ready again come Monday!

  Here are the finished pictures of our Annunciation art projects. I will post the lesson plan for any who want it. The Young Adult is no artist, and just read. But Cookie Boy's and Romeo's projects turned out great!

Romeo's statue interpretation of The Annunciation

Cookie Boy's crayon drawing of The Annunciation

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Child and Parent Development

It is my belief that children shape their parent's development almost as much as a parent shapes the child's development.
     For example, an easy-going baby/toddler will often result in a more relaxed parental atmosphere. A very intense child can result in a parent who has a difficult time relaxing, and who sometimes forgets to enjoy the process.
   Not always true, but a good generalization.
   Out of four children, I am the parent of three very intense kids. Some are less intense now than they were as little ones - thankfully! Only one of my children is easy-going. That would be Romeo. God knew what I could handle when he was born (not much) and graced me with a child who is sunny and super-sweet.
   Not that the other three are bad. They just require much more intensive parenting. Well, two do. Cookie Boy was by far my most "Spirited Child", but seems to have mellowed some as he has aged. That is good, because this kid would hide under tables when upset and not come out for a long time. He can still hold a good grudge, but gone are the days when only Mama could even look at him without a screaming fit.
  The Young Adult and the Bubie are very intense children. The Mad Toddler actually reminds me of The Young Adult, which makes me a bit nervous. The Young Adult still requires almost as intense parenting as he did as a toddler. I think that is pretty normal with very bright children, but it is exhausting.
   One day in a used bookstore, I came across a copy of "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I bought it on a whim. I went home to read it, and actually cried my way through it. I understood my oldest two children so much better, and I understood myself as a parent more. 'Cause guess what? I am a spirited parent who was a spirited child!
   Spirited children are lots of work, but there are many advantages, as well. I have grown tremendously as a person through my mothering of intense kids. My world has been opened up and challenged in new ways. I have learned new things. So, it is not a bad thing. Just a challenging one!

 In other news, have a blessed feast of St. Juan Diego!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Art Projects

Whew! This week has been full of projects, and I am not a really crafty person, usually! But the boys are taking an online class through (LOVE them). It is called "A Pioneer Christmas". They took a Colonial Thanksgiving one with the same teacher, Lorette Rhodes, and she is fantastic! So I signed them up for this one.

The particularly loved the crafts this time. They all chose crafts from the Boy Scout site, which made their manly hearts happy! The Young Adult (12) made a hunting knife. Cookie Boy (10) made a shot pouch (which his dad insists looks like a man-purse), and Romeo (7) made a hunting rifle. These crafts are already being played with quite a bit, so it was worth it. But let me just say 2 words - paper mache! Ugh! Messy, sticky, bleh! The end result was great, though.

Then, Romeo had another project he has been working on. For art this week, I have a lesson plan on "The Annunciation"- looking at different paintings by Renaissance masters. One of the projects I suggested was to make your own Annunciation, any way you want. Romeo chose statues, with plaster guaze. That would be Rigid Wrap,to you and me!

The figures look amazing! He is quite the artist, which makes his father quite proud. We are still working on them, but so far, I am in awe. I helped him, but only under his direction.

Gabriel, but his head is too heavy. Hoping ArtGuy will fix that!

Mary - I think this is just gorgeous!

The Annunciation

Friday, December 4, 2009

What We Do For Love

So today is my oldest son's 12th birthday party. We offered him two choices:
  1. Invite two friends, and we will take you somewhere fun: the movies, bowling, rock-wall climbing, etc...
  2. Invite a few more friends, and have a sleepover with video games
As I am making this offer a few weeks ago, the little voice inside my head is chanting: "Option 1! Option 1!". Of course, he goes with option 2. So now six other 11-and-12-year-old boys are invited. Five are coming for sure.
It hit me that every year these kids are getting bigger. Five extra boys in my house means something different when they are 12 than when they were 7. First of all, they take up way more space. Secondly, they tend to stink. I am thinking of handing out gift bags as they enter the door with deodorant and toothpaste (since they always seem to "accidentally" forget their toothbrushes at home).
Sigh. I love my son. THAT is why this is happening.