Monday, August 31, 2009

Unveiling the New Plan

My three year old just said, and quite nonchalantly, I might add, "Mom, I think there's a buffalo in the house." Okay. Good to know.

Second topic: I'm sure you are sick of my thinking-out-loud type searching I have been doing over the past several posts concerning home school. (This is a total sidebar, but is it home school or homeschool? I see it written homeschooling and home schooler. Are these made up words? I personally go back and forth as I try to please both camps. Does it show our complete inability to raise educated children if we don't even know the correct way to write our educational approach? Thank you for not responding.) No matter how bored you may be with my current train of thought, it is my current train of thought and refuses to be derailed or halted by any size herd of buffalo. (See how I tied that in to the random piece of information supplied at the beginning of the post? Sometimes people mistake me for one of the Bronte sisters. Except that I had a normal childhood. And I think I've outlived them all.) After all, this is my blog and what good is the thing if I can't write down my mental forays?

Ahem.

Based on a great deal of study, prayer, discussion and thought, we will be making some serious changes to the way school is carried out in our home. We decided that we are not doing such a bad job at home and the pros were far too heavy to just toss aside. When I stepped into a teacher supply store for the first time in my homeschooling (home schooling) journey, I did choose fifth grade work for my fifth grade student and third grade work for my third grade student. These workbooks were chosen in areas which I think the children are the least proficient. It was remarkable to me to see their level, especially considering I have never had what most people would recognize as "school" in my home. That is about to change. Here is the current Sanders' family educational model (until we try it out tomorrow and find that it simply will not work with our numbers, tempers, or moods):

  • Monday will be a preparatory day. Heavy cleaning, teacher training, shopping and general organization will consume this day of the week.

  • Tuesday and Thursday will consist of the Language Arts (a new term for me!). We will improve our grammar and penmanship. We will write stories and act out plays. In time, we will add a foreign language.

  • Wednesday and Friday will be our Math and Science days. We will blow things up and discover the how and why. We will figure and deduce. We will memorize and time.

  • Every day will include recess and family and individual reading time. I believe heartily in computer time, so that will also be included in every day's schedule. Every day will include chores and every day school will end by 1 pm, leaving plenty of time for unstructured play.

  • Each child has a place for their own things. We have a sticker chart and incentives (they've never had to deal with deadlines, so I think it will be best to lead them gently into "time's up!").
Tomorrow is the first day of school and everyone is excited. The clothes are laid out, the pencils are sharpened, the Mom has her oomph back. I'll keep you posted.

And, if you need to get a hold of me, I'll be at work until 1.


Love forever,

The Mothership

Just Cleaning?

I clean empty apartments or homes either between renters or on the market. It's something I can do to earn money without having a regular job with regular hours. I can say, "no" if it doesn't jive with my schedule. Most of the time, I work early in the morning before the family wakes up. This morning I had an apartment to clean.
My second child is the one who seems to be overlooked more often than the others. She is obedient and helpful. She is never cruel and is usually the one to take the initiative to do something good. Last night she told me she really wanted to come help me clean. "I'll be getting up at 4:30," I told her. Her eyes opened extra wide, aghast. She bit her lip and looked up at the ceiling. "Okay. I still want to come, but you have to wake me up."

As I peeled myself out of my bed, before the birds, the newspaper boy and the sun, I thought, There is no way she is coming. I went to the bathroom and she heard the toilet flush. She popped her head up--as if she was purposefully sleeping lightly so she wouldn't sleep too long. "Do you want to go?" I whispered. Without a word, she jumped out of bed and put on her shoes. She was already dressed. My heart ached as I realized how much my daughter wanted to spend time with me--because I doubt it was all about the cleaning.


We worked hard for three hours. She worked right along with me. We visited and laughed. We played word games and talked about puberty. When we were done, I made a quick stop at the store. We held hands.

She is eight. I don't know how those eight years went so quickly and I know that the next ten will also go by "as it were a dream."

She may not remember today, but she will remember that we were friends. She may not remember holding hands, but she will know that we wanted to be together. She may not remember learning, but she will know how to clean a toilet. Someday she will be gone and I will long for my little girl. She may not remember today, but
I will.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oh, Thank You!

Thank you, thank you for your comments on my last post. (If you haven't yet commented, please do . . . I need your wisdom.) You gave good and thoughtful advice over which I have been mulling. My husband and I have had a good long discussion that hasn't yet ended. (I'll be washing the dishes and he will walk into the kitchen and say, "You know, another thing to consider is________," or I'll send him an email that starts out "They do need __________, right?" Though there are long breaks in between sentences, the discussion hasn't ceased for many a day. We sat with our children and offered options, which they countered. We countered back and they offered another perspective. It is rewarding to have children who can have a good argument for the sake of a thorough study. I like them--which, I suppose, is the problem here.

And so the search for the perfect educational model for the Sanders Family of Right Now (because we change quickly) is still under remodel. I'm glad for the change. We haven't had a mix-up in a while. To respond to some comments:
  • No, I'm not burnt out, emotionally exhausted, post-partum or wearing tight pants. I am completely stable right now so it's a good time to make rational decisions.
  • I am for sure buying totes, tubs, baskets, or containers of some sort for each child so they have "their" stuff.
  • I like the idea of homeschool being my job--I am at work until 1pm, but am available to help others or do my own thing after that time.
  • The hard things about public school can be important for a child to experience to prove to themselves that they can handle those hard things. Being with mom all of the time is not always the most effective way to teach a child independence. **simpering sigh** I know this first hand, since I have never been one to be walked upon. Maybe public school gave me the thick skin I needed to be a homeschooling mother.
  • Public school offers bad influences, but they also have a bushel of great teachers and upright students.
  • Everyone who sends their children to school still has to teach more at home. Would it be a good use of time, energy, money and resources to go to school all day then do homework and then supplement? Add dance and scouts and piano lessons and there is no time for play and family. Or did I read you wrong?
  • To quote Brandi, "No decision in this case is irreversible." Okay. That relieves some pressure.
  • And, Urban Mom, THANK YOU for the validation. I often forget that by raising respectable, valuable, contributing people, I am serving.

I have so much to learn. Then, of course, I had no idea how to breast feed 11 years ago and now I could be the president of La Leche League. We all have opportunities to grow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Run It's Course?

Get ready for a long and honest post. Please do not continue reading if you do not want to see my inner demons and the havoc they wreak (I did not know how to spell that word until just now.Wreak; from where does that come?)

We homeschool our children and really do love it. Although I am not a stellar homeschooling parent, I do not think I am failing them either. I probably teach like I do everything else: mediocre, fine, B. There are some areas in which they are far ahead of their class, some where they are behind and some where they are perfectly average. My children are socially balanced, participate in activities outside of our home (scouts, dance) and play well with other children. Because of lack of exposure, they do not use phrases such as You're not my best friend anymore or I'm not inviting you to my birthday party or _____current over-hyped and over-priced product_______ is soooooo cool! They are connected to family, they teach and learn from one another, they have regular, intimate conversations with their parents, and they have learned about the birds and the bees from their informed parents (not first graders that learned what they know from a fourth grade brother) at an age and in a way we deemed appropriate. Other perks from the parents' perspective is the tighter control we have on friends and the child's use of free time. We get to see the light bulb turn on and the satisfaction of accomplishment. I get to learn or remind myself of ideas and concepts learned so many years ago. We can take the chance to teach about the world with our moral compass instead of the states' and we are at bat when important life questions are asked.

There are some things about public school that are quite attractive. This time of year, when the other children are buying new clothes, filling backpacks with new crayons and clean notebooks and anticipating the excitement of a new grade, a new teacher and a new desk partner, we just keep getting up and cleaning the house, doing the laundry, reading our books, and exploring our craft box. I feel hum drum. There is no celebration of taking pictures in the dew-wet grass in their bright white sneakers with tightly braided hair. There is no need for backpacks or uniforms. My friends are making out their To Do lists that include organizing, cleaning and setting aright the home. Reading books left forgotten for the summer and childless grocery shopping sit on the list, waiting for school to start. My house is never clean, I rarely get time alone, I have mastered reading my books amidst the chaos of five children on hardwood floors. I paint walls with a child on my hip, I cook with a child standing on a stool by my side, I fold laundry just a touch faster than my baby unfolds the laundry.

The biggest tug for me is the fact that because I am so busy keeping a home and schooling my children that I do not get to serve others. To have a couple of toddlers over because their mother needs someone to tend them throws my whole day into commotion. I want to help them, but my children need to learn to write and, you know, read.

And then there's the work. Teaching my pods at home is a lot of work. There is the teaching, to be sure, but there is also the preparation. Since I am not quite so egotistical as to think I know everything I would like my children to know, I try to set up field trips, guest teachers and outside mentors. Calls are made to grandparents for more information, the Internet is always on and I have shelves and shelves of books for study. Even with this, children ask questions my resources can't answer. I'm sure public school teachers would say the same thing, but at least it wouldn't be my fault if a child was ignorant about a thing. (Yes, judgement against homeschooling moms is high--extremely high.)

Here I sit, wondering whether I'm willing to take the cons along with the pros.

I would love your input. Those of you who know me or my children, do you see gaping holes or flagrant shortcomings? Comment anonymously, if you think it would be embarrassing to tell me what you think I ought to know. Why did you choose to home school? Why are your children riding the bus to public school every day? Would you make the same choice again? Did you do one then change to the other? On a slightly different note, what could I do with my pods to celebrate the beginning of a new school year, to make it special?

You can see I feel I am at some sort of a cross roads. Talk me through, world friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Behinds

I have nearly one hundred pictures of children reading; either to themselves or to a younger sibling. I can't resist it. It is a beautiful thing to see my child loving a thing that I so dearly love.


When we returned from our recent trip to Wyoming, I realized I have a weakness for something else: backsides. I have no great explanation. We went to a rodeo while there, but didn't get shots of animals. I got shots like this: There is something about the unity, the walking toward the same destination, the striving together for a joint goal.Maybe the attraction is in the fact that the subjects can't see the camera, don't know that they are being watched. From behind one can catch them in an unposed moment. You get the unadulterated reactions. And, without too much sleuthing, one can catch best buddies,

being together,

by choice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

You're Never Going to Believe This

But, I saw a bear! A real bear. A grizzly bear. In the wild. I even got a picture of it. Keep in mind that I just have a cheap, cheap, super cheap point-and-shoot and I still got this amazing picture.
















Do you see it? Isn't it huge? Isn't it completely freaky? I was jumping out of my skin.

Wait. What? Oh, does this help?


I KNOW!! I have been to Yellowstone five times--five exhaustive times--and this is the first time I have seen a bear. It's hard to imagine getting a closer shot, but this is Picasa/Canon's best zoom.


And, there you have it. It was a great day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My One


We were holding hands and driving in a contented quiet. He gently stroked my hand with the pad of his thumb and I looked over at him. Here he was; my partner and friend, not looking for a romantic moment or trying to get my attention. He was just there--and was making sure that I understood that he knew I was there. My heart was filled and I said, "You are my favorite person in the world. I would choose to spend time with you over anyone."

"HEY!!" roared the back seat occupants. "What about US?!!"

"I like you, and all, but this (gesturing to their father and I) is the most important relationship on Earth."

Passionate dissension.

"Daddy and I are sealed together for eternity. You will always be our children and we will always love you, but I want you to leave someday."

More passionate dissension.

"I hope when you leave, you find the same kind of satisfying marriage companion that I have found. You will not love your mother more than your spouse, if I have done my job right."

I don't know if they got it,

but they will.

I gave them a Snicker's bar to help heal the wound.


I'm a good mother like that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Hobby

Pulling a chair away from the table and climbing onto the table. Once there, she kicks and pushes everything off. It doesn't matter how tightly the chairs are tucked into their places or how closely we are watching, she is up there in a matter of moments. It also doesn't matter what she is pushing off (glasses, bills, sewing machine (I saved it just in time), full pots of oatmeal; you know, whatever). If it is on the table, she assumes it was left for her snow plow practice. Isn't she the cutest one year old ever?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wedding Spirit

I've discovered something about my third child--the one named after me (for good reason). She would be the perfect Wedding Pep Squad Captain. She has always been a fancy sort; likes to wear dresses, wants to keep her hair long, could always go for another bow. The morning of the wedding I explained that my husband's nephew was getting married and that we were going to go to the reception.

"What?" she declared. "We're going to a wedding? Will there be flowers and dancing?"

"Yep," I assured her, surprised at her enthusiasm.

"Oh, Mom! Is there going to be a wedding cake?"


"Of course."
"Will someone say, 'You may now kiss the bride'?"

"Are they just sooo in love?"

and on and on and on. Question after question all day. Everything she had ever heard or seen about weddings was suddenly bursting out of her memory. She glowed as if she were the bride. I showed her the invitation, knowing the bride understood this five year old's sensibilities--they are both a little fancy, it turns out.
When it was time to get ready, she didn't balk about wearing tights. She put on pink chapstick and said, "Mom, do you think the bride is just going to Love my lips?" She came back a few minutes later with her pockets stuffed full. "I put tissues in my pocket in case I cry. People always cry at wedding because the bride is so beautiful," she explained matter-of-factly.
When we arrived, it was almost too thrilling. She signed the guestbook in her fanciest curly cue letters. She gaped at the tent, the pretty desserts and the cascading flowers. And she met the bride. The groom wasn't mentioned, though I might add that my daughter decided a long time ago that her future groom would be John from Texas. We do not live in Texas. We do not know a John anywhere near her age. She is immovable in her conviction.
When it came time to dance, there was no waiting. It took some convincing to get her to wait until the traditional bride and dad/bride and groom dances were finished. And then? Then she asked her cousin Blake to dance with her. Now, Blake just returned from a two year mission for our church. When I say he just returned, I'm talking two days earlier. For those of you who have known returned missionaries, they are weird for a little while. They've been living a life completely dedicated to the work of God for the past two years. They aren't used to talking about normal things, sitting by girls or being alone (they always have a companion with them in the mission field). Miss Fancy was a good first dance.
The bride, Whitney, was the highlight of the event. Whitney really was beautiful and so kind to the little adoring girls. My older girl got into the spirit of things, too. Who couldn't, with such a capable Cheer Captain?
When the bride asked if she wanted to hold the bouquet for the pictures, her ecstasy was complete.
Everyone needs to go to a wedding with a Wedding Pep Squad Captain. I haven't enjoyed one this much since it was my own.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Lot of Hair

As you can tell by my sidebar, I have a lot of girls. Four, actually, though the baby doesn't have quite enough to "fix" yet. After doing their hair the same way for the past eight years, I am b-o-r-e-d. The other day I decided to search the combined infinite and eternal knowledge of mothers on the web for ideas.


Wowsers. You people are amazing with the dead strands of cells we call hair. I was completely inspired. Here was one cute suggestion from Adopt a 'Do:



This lady does step by step picture instructions on how to do fun new things with a young girl's hair. Ya' gotta check her out.

Now I just have to figure out how to keep my girls from mussing their new do's.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

To My Brothers In-law

Dear Derek and Kevin,

Regarding your recent visit:

As you know, my husband (your brother) and I have been working very hard on this little cottage of ours. It has been four years of sawdust and Lowe's and the smell of paint. It has included sore fingers and backs and egos. It has meant neglected dinners and piles of laundry, but it has resulted in, what we consider a comfortable, efficient home for our ninety-two children. Neither of us are a notch above amateur do-it-yourself-ers and our work, I'm sincerely afraid, reflects our novice. Both of you know how smooth the wall should be or how level the lines should sit AND YET you were encouraging and complimentary. You have no idea how wonderful it felt to hear you kind words and your helpful hints.

I'm still convinced that I got the best the Sanders' Family had to offer, but you two are quite remarkable contenders.

Thank you, thank you. And come again soon.

Sincerely,
Emily

PS By the way, this goes for you too, LesLee.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Public Service Announcement


I don't know about you, but I often miss really cool events, not because I didn't want to attend, but because I didn't know about them. But don't worry. I've got your back, this time.

TONIGHT is peak viewing of the Perseid's Meteor Shower. Last night, we saw several, some neon green like a light saber.

So, sleep out with your kids with your eyes facing east, northeast. The moon will come up and ruin much of the viewing, but you'll be sound asleep by then! Brush up on some facts about meteors to share with your children and they will be sound asleep, too!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Please Praise the Mothers

There is one major thing missing from my job: accolades. I'll admit, pretty much the only thing I miss about the work force is the, "Wow! You got that done already?" and the "This is exactly what I was looking for" and even the sincere "Thank you. You saved me."

My pods are pretty wonderful and I've trained them to say complimentary things to me (I LOVE what you've done in here, Mom, and etc.), but it's not the same.

It goes with the territory, I suppose. In a work setting, you take on a project then finish a project. When it is finished, there is usually immediate feedback. While that feedback is not always good, at least you know when you've screwed up. Here in the child rearing realm, you won't know for a while--like the years and years kind of a while--whether you were doing your duties correctly. You may not see (or notice) the repercussions of poor parenting for a long time. When you see the mistake you made, it is sometimes too late to change it.

Then, to make sure that I was completely under-appreciated, I didn't send my super genius children to school. Talk about dumb move for the elevation of my ego. I never get notes home that say, "Your child is the smartest child in the universe," or "You are doing a wonderful job at home because Pod A is polite and kind and compassionate. Thank you for giving the gift of his presence in my classroom this year," which is obviously what they would say, but I would even take a, "Hair brushed, shoes tied. Third day in a row. Kudos."

My rewards come, yeah, yeah. If it weren't for those little smiles or the reaching arms or the "I did it, Mom!" 's, I would have stopped reproducing a long time ago.

Yesterday, my dad was giving a speech. He teaches fifth grade in an Ain't Got Me No Money school. He knows what a difference home makes. He said, in part, "Mother's aren't always appreciated in our society, but I want you to know . . . some of us know what you are doing . . . and we appreciate you."

Mom told me today on the phone and tears sprang to my eyes. Thank you, Dad. I doubt you were referring to me, but I felt it. It was a like certificate for Job Well Doing. I've hung it up and will look at it often. It will sustain me after a day of thankless laundering, feeding, and geography lessons.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Not Yet

It's not that I'm afraid of dying, it's just that I'm afraid of dying now. I want to raise my children. I want them to know me.

When I was seventeen, I went to a dermatologist who, upon looking at my back exclaimed, "You are cancer waiting to happen." Ever since then, I have been careful about checking my skin. I know the ABCDE's of skin cancer and my husband check the ones I can't see well. I try to protect my skin, but know that most of the damage has already been done (I pretty much get a sunburn just by putting on a swimming suit). Add to my fair, freckly skin the family history of skin cancer from both my maternal and paternal lines and you can see why I am nervous about my dermal layer.

Yesterday I read an article about skin cancer that introduced a few facts that I'd never heard before. There are quiet skin cancers--not a mole turning blue and shaped like a hippo, but a spot that just feels a bit different, a pimple that won't go away or comes back in the same place repeatedly, or a bruise under a nail can all be cancer. Bob Marley had skin cancer under his big toenail that he thought was a bruise from playing soccer. Left untreated, it eventually traveled to his brain and ultimately killed him.

I am naturally an optimist, but this thing has got me a touch freaked. I can imagine the tentacles of the cancer working their way into my spine. I'll feel fine for a few more years then I'll be diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer and be gone within months.

Or I could die in a car accident next week.

Or I could live to be 98.

I think I should go to bed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Bit More

Just a few more things about the water park. Besides almost losing my daughter, we had a really great time on the slides. During the week, it only cost $20 for a family pass . You can even bring in your own food and drinks. That and the zoo membership ($50 for unlimited visits for the whole family and includes several other zoos for free or reduced price) are the best deals in town. Much better than the movies.

They got a couple of new slides this year which means I only saw our son when he was hungry. Our two older daughters could ride the slides unassisted, which meant they were busy running up the stairs, waiting in line and sliding down repeatedly. This is a relief because the five year old is always trying to drown herself in the pool.

Just a note. It turns out that it doesn't matter how skinny your toosh is, you still have the "curse of the slide" issue.
Poll: What is the best way to take care of this problem? Do you lean up onto your shoulder blades while still in the slide? Get out and remove suit in one fluid motion? Get out and pretend like you don't have a lot of spandex stuffed in your wahoo? Skip the slides altogether because it is just too embarrassing?

And also, to clarify, he gets those abs from me.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Climbers

Some people, I am told, have children who do not climb. In my view, that means I have exceptionally talented children. You see, they all climb.
Very well.

Very a lot.

Take this darling creature.She is a bit of a dare-devil so we decided she would like to go down the less-scary slides at the water park. They only allow one person at a time on the slide, so I sit her down and push her off. The first part of the slide is enclosed so I can't see her, but in a moment she came into the light. She is going slow. She is going too slow. She stops.

Now, I don't know about you, but I have tried to stop a few times on those things. I have burned my knees on the plastic sides and broken fingernails as I claw at the tiny ridges along the sides hoping that if I can't stop, maybe I can slow a little. There are times when I am praying that the earth will end because I need to stop going down the slide. But, now, when my three year old pod is sitting far, far away from my protective arm, she figures out how to stop.

"Oh, no," I say to the 16 year old life guard, who looks a lot like Ron Weasley, "She has stopped!"

"Huh?" he enthusiastically declares.

"My daughter has stopped in the slide and . . . OH, NO!! SHE IS CLIMBING OUT!! What should I do??" I figured they had some kind of protocol for this situation.

At this point, to give him credit, Ron Lifeguard Boy stood up. Big, big gesture, and thank you for it.

The man behind me, obviously a father who understands the need for quick movement during a time when a pre-schooler is CLIMBING OUT OF A 30 FOOT WATER SLIDE looks at me and says, "Just go!" I did. I wrapped my arms about her as I went flying past because, even though my daughter's life depended on it, I couldn't stop in the middle of the slide.

Ta-Da!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Insomnia

I was so tired my head buzzed. I laid in my bed and felt my body thanking me for the respite. The baby was still awake, but she often will fall asleep if we lay her between us. None of that mercy tonight. She crawled over my head, poked her fingers into my ears, tried ripping my eyelids from their thin connective tissue, blew sopping raspberries onto my cheeks and neck and otherwise generally tortured me. I could feel my body screaming GO TO SLEEP, but I could also sense trouble.

Soon another child joined the bed to show us the back of her head. "Oh, it's covered it hair!!" I lamented. "I know. It's so hurts," delivered with the cutest doggone face that there was no resisting the dart oozing with the Darling poison.

Uh, oh. I sensed it again: trouble, in the form of a second wind.

Another interruption from the plethora of child-sized options; this one requiring me to get up and physically inspect the mom-is-the-only-one-who-can-help-me-now calamity. Took care of said calamity.

And did some dishes.

And some laundry.

And some bookkeeping.

It is now midnight. I am exhausted, but wide awake. Can't take drugs, I still nurse too much. Warm milk just makes my mouth taste disgusting in the morning. Don't really want to take a warm bath. My bed already faces north (or is my face supposed to face north?). He's asleep, so that option is out.

Typing this post is starting to make me drowsy.

Boy, aren't you lucky to have wasted your 48 seconds on this drivel!

Love you, anyway. Wish I could give you a new mixer or camera or custom sling.

Goodnight!

John


I know I'm probably going to get in trouble for this, but I get a kick out of people talking about Revelation--the Book of Revelation, that is. Truth be told, I am completely confused by all the angels and dragons and trumpets and nymphs. Isaiah? I get Isaiah. I understand flowery language, poetry, saying the same thing in four ways (which is probably why I also enjoy Dickens). But when people pull the mark of the beast out of their hat and act like the supreme authority on it's meaning and nuance, I just start giggling behind my thoughtful expression. The book is an enigma to me, I mean, what the heck is the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns? Am I alone here?

Obviously, there is an important purpose for the Book of Revelation, otherwise the Lord would not have had it included in our canon, but it doesn't speak to me in the way John does (yes, I understand that John also wrote Revelation--I think he was trying out a new literary style), or David, or Moses.


If you enjoy Revelation go at it! It is not my cup of tea. May propose that it is infinitely more valuable to study
prayer,

faith,

love,

sacrifice,

and grace.


Maybe when I am 68 and full of a lifetime of wisdom I'll join you in your quest to discover the identity of the 144,000. Until then, I'll stick with John's decipherable truth:




For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16