Why Everyone Should Homeschool

She looks up at me, excited but a little unsure. A smile and a little nod are all it takes. She sounds out the next word and skips down the rest. For a moment – for just a brief moment – her confidence wavers and she depends on me to steady it.

Head tilted, brow furrowed, eyes squinted, mouth agape. He’s running calculations in his head but it’s not adding up. Waiting on me, the one who’s supposed to have the answers. I gulp. “I’ve never been good at math,” I think to myself and then slap my own wrist. Your thoughts eventually become your truth, Bridget. And for the first time in ages (or maybe ever) I respond not with the lilt of a question in my voice but with authority.

I’ve got this. Yeah. I’ve got it under control. (For now.) But it hasn’t always been that way. I’ve had to look up at others and with a smile and a nod, they’ve steadied my confidence. I’ve looked with baffled eyes at people who’ve held my hand and pulled me onward – even if I didn’t get it right the first time or the next time or the time after that. I’m grateful for all the teachers I’ve had, both in school and in life.

In this season of our life, while we are doing school at home, I’ve come to realize just how many teachers children really have. Those little suckers are always learning, everywhere you go. Everyone you meet, every one you see, everyone you hear…they are all teachers. But as a parent it’s my responsibility to be the primary source of learning. And the same is true for you, no matter if your children go to public school or a co-op or if you use Montessori methods or Waldorf standards or if you unschool or whatever path you may be on with your children. Ultimately it’s our responsibility as parents to teach our children the ins and outs of living. Does that frighten you as much as it does me? Sometimes I can’t even handle my own thoughts, my own desires, my own deamons…much less all the ones of four tiny humans!

But here’s a little secret I’ve learned during our homeschool journey: The biggest lessons your children will learn won’t come from books or flashcards or their favorite educational app. It won’t come from that unit you slaved over to prepare or the vocabulary words you drilled into their heads. It’ll come from what they see you do, how they see you respond, the choices you make and how you work through the consequences, both good and bad.

Maybe you figured this out long before I did. If so, why didn’t you tell me? :-) And if not, here…take this tidbit and jot it down. It might come in handy some day.

Teach them to love reading by letting them see you read. Teach them to enjoy music by getting lost in a song. Teach them to cook by cooking with them. Teach them to respect others by being good and kind to all people, even when it’s hard. Teach them thankfulness not only by telling them thank you, but by telling them about the blessings in your life. Teach them to give by letting them see you give to others and by giving to them what they want the most: you. With the timbre of your voice, teach them when to speak up and when to shush. Teach them patience by waiting for them to stutter out the whole sentence without rushing them or by letting them scoop up hundreds of tiny rocks as they walk to the car, even if it’s going to make you late. Teach them gentleness by wrapping them up in your arms, even when they’ve messed up. Teach them faithfulness and self-control when you want to give up, but don’t. Teach them peace when you help them begin to navigate the waters of controversy (and if you have a two year old, you have controversy!). Teach them love not only by surrounding them with hugs and kisses but by giving firm correction when that’s what they need. Teach them joy by smiling at them and laughing with them, by celebrating with others and letting them see you soaking in the little things. And teach them that they are unique and special and wonderful by letting them see you dare to believe those things about yourself.

(Oh, wait. Some of that sounds kinda familiar.)

But there’s more. While I’m giving out tidbits, here’s another one: Teach your children, but also let them teach you. (This is the one that took me the longest to see and even longer to learn). Let a caterpillar inch up and down your arm and be mesmerized at how it moves. Take their offerings of sticks and rocks and treat them as the rarest of treasures. Look for the sparkles hidden in the gravel and the beauty of a little yellow weed. Watch them play with others at the playground – often there’s no us and them, just smiling, sweaty faces whirring round and round on the merry-go-round. Listen to them sing, with nothing holding them back. Watch them dance at the dinner table (and maybe even join them). Laugh at their terrible jokes and teach them better ones. Color – with or without staying in the lines. Swim (without obsessing about what you look like in your suit). Build things and paint things and create things and believe that they are masterpieces.

Be their teacher at home so that when they aren’t with you, your words will guide them.
Be their student so that they know they have something worth sharing; that they are good and helpful and useful.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 6:5-9{emphasis mine}

 

Looking Back at Back to School

2010:
PK&K

2011:
Aug 10, 2011web-6

2012:
1and2

This year:
2013-2014first day_web

Gazers

I wish I had a picture to show you. The social media experts say that posts with pictures are better, but I don’t always believe that’s true. Like books. Sometimes the movie version is just great, but sometimes what you saw in your mind as you read those words was so grand that no camera could capture it, no actor could do it justice. The movie tries and fails and robs meaning and delight from the words.

Tonight I stretched out on the back deck, seat cushion under head. Frogs croaked and crickets chirped. And I could hear my daughter breathing in and out. My son hummed, not even aware that he was doing so. So faint a sound, I almost wondered if I was imagining things.

Swish! One short streak across the sky.

Falling stars, I always called them. But now we call them meteors. My children know so much more than I did at their age. In some ways that is positive progress, but does all this progress somehow steal the joy of childhood?

Falling star or meteor. No matter which, I made a wish.

Swoosh! A long one stretches out, arcing, pulling my eyes across the sky. “I SAW ONE! I SAW ONE, MOMMY!” she shrieks. And he misses it because he was moving around (yet again). He was the one who was most excited about watching and yet it’s like he has ants in his pants. Sometimes all it takes to get what you want is to watch eagerly and sit patiently. I want to shout, “How hard is that to do????” But if I’m being honest it’s pretty damn hard sometimes, especially when your brain is whizzing and whirring on a loop.

Just be still!

I think maybe I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Be still and know that I am God.

Just like my budding astrophysicist, even when what I want is right before me I struggle to just.be.still. To wait, to watch.

But this…this decree from God isn’t a firm ruling from a harsh leader. It’s a gentle reminder from the One who cares for us more than any other. The One who knows that if we’d just slow down and look around, the things we’ve been looking for may very well be right here.

Too

Sometimes my head and my heart get all wobbly and I wonder if I’m the only one whose heart gets tied in knots like this and if any one else’s brain gets flipped over wrong side out and surely I’m not the only one but it certainly feels that way. Well, sometimes. Just sometimes. It’s not as often as it used to be and it’s surely not as intense but there are still moments, days even, when I feel invisible. As if nothing I say or do makes a difference. And then other times I’m the opposite of invisible and I wish nothing more than to pull into my own self and hide, like a Popple. Remember those?

We’re supposed to live in the in between, or that’s what I’ve been told. We’re supposed to not be too loud, but not be too quiet. We’re supposed to go, but not go too far. We’re supposed to give enough, but make sure you don’t give too little. And we are stuck in this land of in between where no one ever defines the “too”. And it’s in the “too” where so much pain and hurt can be found and before I ever thought of that, it was already true but now that I think about it it’s gone from being just true to being my truth and the truth hurts, which I was told but you never really learn that until you learn it on your own.

And once again I wish I were invisible. I wish I could go about my days living and loving and doing what my heart-gut screams at me to do but sometimes I just can’t. Sometimes I let the “rules” silence me. I back away from messy situations because I’m afraid of getting dirty. But, you know, without getting dirty you can’t really appreciate being clean, now can you?

 

 

Seven Wishes

This year I started writing wishes to each of my children on their birthday. One day – maybe when they turn 18 or 21 or possibly for some special event like graduation or a wedding – I hope I’ll be able to put them all together in a book for them as a gift.

For you I wish…
i. that when you need it to be, your voice will be strong and not waver.

ii. that when other’s words are too strong &make you waver, you will not let it sink your soul.

iii. that when your soul is shaken, you will know where to turn.

iv. that when you turn there, you will find comfort.

v. that if you don’t find comfort, you will not become bitter.

vi. that if bitterness finds you, you will seek out the bittersweet instead.

vii. and that if all else fails, you will know that you are loved no matter what.

with Kit-1

Happy birthday, sweet girl!
I love you so.
Love, Mommy

 

From the Birthday Girl

birthday girl (7).jpg

My Birthday is tomorrow.  Today I had a party today at Gramama & Pops’ house. I got a bunch of  stuff. Some of them were rainboots ,a Kit room with Kit,a owl neclis,a table for Kit,a car piggy bank,gulry for me and Kit,a bunch of close. For dinner we had all kinds of pizza like cheese, olive, pepperony.  For desert we had ice cream cake. I had a good time with my family.

I am excited about tomorrow because I am going to the amarikin girl doll store to eat lunch. It will be a awesome day. My best friend is coming. She got a new doll too. I think we will have a blast!

My Girl & Me

Mommy & Me1Mommy&Me2Lydia and I went to Mother-Daughter camp this past weekend with our church. It’s the same camp I went to as a child and although there are new buildings and new cabins (thank goodness!) most things hadn’t really changed. There were, of course, new people and new songs. But there were also some of the same songs and the same people. Nurse Judy is still there and she still greets each cabin with a rousing rendition of the little birdies song. And the chapel is still beautiful in its simplicity.

We walked around the lake (and got our feet ridiculously muddy because it’s been raining there like it’s been raining here) and she found a giant snail. She couldn’t wait to tell Carter all about it!Mommy&Me4.jpg

I loved laughing with her and watching her laugh and seeing her step outside of her comfort zone a time or two.
We found a leaf on the road that had been crushed over and over by cars and she carefully peeled it from the street and we brought it home. I’m trying to figure out how to preserve it. Frame it maybe?

Mommy&Me3

We spent a bit of our quiet time on the swings by the lake. Talking about bits of this and that, I tried to memorize the sound of her voice. It won’t be this small for much longer. We stood on the dock and watched raindrops fall onto the water, like diamonds splashing down, and stood amazed at how sparkly it was.
Mommy&Me5

We took a walk and took pictures and talked about photography. I taught her about lens flare and I’m fairly certain she will be taking thousands of pictures with lens flare. All of the pictures immediately above and below were taken by her except the black and white one (obviously).

Mommy&Me6

The last night while we were making s’mores and singing camp songs, I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky. It went from this to this in about 30 seconds. No filter on either of these. Isn’t that wild?

Mommy&Me7

Oh, I know you’ve probably seen enough of the Mommy & me selfies, but I’m going to keep on taking them as long as she’ll let me.

Mommy&Me9

Gosh, I surely do love this girl of mine! And I loved being alone with her, no brothers or sister to steal my attention away. Nothing but the two of us, each having a chance to revel in the moments of only mother and daughter, not sister or friend or wife or anything else. Just us. And I loved it. She did, too. She’s already asked if we could go back next year. You bet, my love! Absolutely!

Mommy&Me8

I hope that I can remember to stop and see her more. Really see her. Just her. To see her world, to see her find her place in this world, and to see our world through her eyes.

 

His Special Foot

If you ask Carter to show you his “special foot” he’ll rush over and pull of his shoe and slide his right foot close to you. It doesn’t take long to see what makes his foot “special”. It’s skinny and bony and it only has 3 toes. We don’t know why it’s like that, but (so far) it doesn’t seem to be connected with any other anomalies or syndromes.

photo (33)

When he was still in utero, we saw 10 perfect little fingers on the ultrasound. And 5 perfect little toes on a perfect little foot, but the other foot was folded up under his behind and we couldn’t see it. No big deal, we thought.

After he was born and they were cleaning him up, a nurse noticed that he only had 3 toes. They called the pediatric nurse practitioner in and she brought him to my bedside all clean and swaddled. She started talking, “Well…blahblahblah…the nurses called me in to take a look at something and…blahblahblah…there seems to be a small abnormality and…blahblahblah…he only has three toes on this one little foot.” It seemed like she talked for 10 minutes and when she showed me his adorable little foot, do you know what I did? I laughed. I laughed! And then she looked at me like I was nuts. “Ha! That’s kinda funny!” I remember saying. But I said that because she had built it up to be so huge and scary that I honest-to-goodness thought that he had an extra head growing out of his neck. (I have an active and odd imagination).

Off and on for the next few months, we spent time talking to orthopedic specialists. They looked around to see if they could find any reason for this to have happened, trying to make sure there were no other associated problems that hadn’t surfaced yet. They watched the leg growth and did x-rays and watched it grow some more. They told us when he was little that there wouldn’t be much to do about the foot. Apparently it’s not very easy to add toes to a foot. I don’t know why! But the problem that they did foresee was that the leg with the special foot was also shorter. For a long time the length difference was negligible. But recently we began to notice that the long leg had gotten a lot longer. His gait changed and he was standing sideways and the worry is that he could injure his hip and/or spine. So we go today to visit the orthopedist again.

When he was little they told us that the plan was to wait until he was older and hit a big growth spurt and at that point they’d do surgery to staple the growth plate of the long leg and give the short leg a chance to catch up. I’m not sure if they’ve had any advances in medicine in the past 8 years that would change that plan or not. I guess we’ll find that out today. Either way, I’m oddly not nervous about it. I’ve talked to him about it and he seems so okay with whatever might happen. (I think if I were more nervous, he would be more nervous). Maybe it’s naive of me; I don’t know. But I do have a peace about it that I can’t quite explain, and I am grateful for that! I find myself humming “Que sera, sera” every time I think about it because it is true: what will be, will be. And we’ll figure out one step at a time and trust that in the end it’ll all be okay. (But I won’t turn down a prayer or two if you have one to spare).

Growing Up Ivey

There was this sweater that Carter loved when he was little.  I swore that I’d take pictures of Asa in the same sweater when he was the same age. That should have happened this past winter, but I’m a slacker and it never happened. When packed up all the winter clothes, I kept out that sweater and jeans and promised myself I’d get it done. Winter turned to spring and I still didn’t get it done. So earlier this week it was cool(ish) thanks to the absurd amount of rain we’ve been having and I popped everyone in the car and we took the shots I’d been meaning to get.

See Carter, circa 2009:
Biggest Boy Train Sweater(low res).jpg

And Asa now:
LIttlest Boy Red Train Sweater-1

And for Lydia there was this dress. I was way behind on getting pictures of Alden in it but I finally got them – even if the sleeves were a little bit short by the time I got it done. And Alden had already lost a lot of that baby-face look. Oh, well.  I’m glad I got what I got anyway. :-)

Lydia circa 2008:
Bigger Girl blue dress (low res).jpg

And Alden now:
(Shockingly, Little Miss Bossy Pants wasn’t interested in letting me get matching shots).
LIttler Girl blue dress.jpg

Birthday Week Round-Up and Why Facebook Birthdays Are Awesome

I complain about Facebook a lot. The privacy issues are horrific. It’s gotten too cluttered with ads and junk. It’s a breeding ground for arguments about politics and religion and all kinds of crazy things. But it’s also a place where I can keep up with friends, see their kids grow, and maybe sometimes learn a little bit. You guys post some interesting and thought-provoking links. You also post lots of pictures of cats, but that’s not the point. The point is this: when your Facebook feed explodes with birthday well-wishes, you can’t help but smile. And y’all really made me smile. A lot! So thanks for that!

I know I’ve had a lot of stuff going on this week and I wanted to post as little round-up so you could make sure to enter all the giveaways I hosted this week.

Monday – Two $25 gift codes to mpix.com
Tuesday – Journal from Gadanke 
Wednesday – Praying in Color book and journal
Thursday – $50 Metropolis Restaurant gift card
Friday – $75 gift card to Studio Jewel

Go and enter today! All of the giveaways will end at 11:59 on Sunday night and I’ll email winners on Monday!

Thanks to all of the companies who helped me share the birthday love this week and to all of you for making my day extra special!