February 27, 2010
Speaking at the Heart of the Matter Online Winter Homeschool Refresher Conference yesterday (about How Not to Homeschool) made me want to get back to my homeschool series here at my blog. I've been taking a break from it and have been in a homeschool slump since the baby was born, quite honestly. Scary, hu? Especially since he's a year old. I tried really hard to get back in the groove at the beginning of this school year, but our best laid plans didn't end up panning out after some of our favorite homeschool buddies that were going to co-op with us decided to return to public school. Dawn and I discussed this phenomenon of kids leaving the ranks and moms 'giving up' (or just deciding to do something different for a while) in our session yesterday. There are no fingers to point, but it is hard on the kids when they have to adjust (both for those going to public school and those who are left behind missing their buddies).
In my career as a homeschooler - now over 8 years - we have seen many folks come and go. We have moved a lot. We've had financial setbacks and major life-distractions that required schedule changes and summer schooling. Our last two years have put us in the 'year-round' camp even if it was an unwilling decision. We do what we have to do to stay the course.
I don't ever want to give the impression that homeschooling is easy... but then again, I don't want to make you think that just because I've had a long "slump", that I don't like homeschooling any more, or would consider giving up. I will be honest that it has been a struggle this year to keep the passion alive with all of my baby distraction. Babies are a lot of work - but so worth it. My children have learned the value of putting 'people before projects'. They have learned how to care for an infant and growing babe. I'm sure that some of our sweetest homeschool LIFE moments will be remembered from this year... the year that we "started school over after Christmas".
With that being said, I thought I would return to my homeschool series and relive some of the memories we have had from our past school years. Not the grades, stars, check-marks, paperwork, small learning assignments, or even the books... but the REAL LIFE memories that stand out from the past. Schooling is learning - and learning is a part of life. We should remember that the memories we make - the moments we cherish - are so much more important than the pages of a Math book or the list of chores that have to get done. Attitude is everything. I think that is what Jesus meant when he said to 'keep your eyes fixed on the unseen' - the things that are not temporary - the things we take with us in the end... our children are the most important of those 'things'.
Below are my memories of 2006-2007 - the year we did 3rd and 4th Grade...
We started off our school year with a water-balloon party. We had high hopes for our tiny Arkansas co-op, but a rift between a few of the moms ended up disbanding it. We were heartbroken. It was hard for me being in another state far from anyone we knew and going through this loss. We tried to manage on our own that year. Doing school without very many group activities was a big change in such a secluded state; however, the scenery and amazing places to visit were a never-ending diversion. Daddy was working odd shifts and late hours, so he had a lot of weekdays off to join us on fun field trips with just our family.
I remember planning for the new year - I love homeschool planning. I just wish that plans always ended up happening the way you hope they would. The longer you homeschool, the more you will realize that being flexible is a MUST.
Little Rock was full of interesting field trip opportunities and we enjoyed the wonderful trolley rides. We miss the trolley and the Arkansas River views of downtown. Part of my heart is still there.
Fall was so pretty in 2006, the trees in Burns Park were a perfect portrait setting behind the red covered bridge. I had a point and shoot camera and was so jealous of the moms that were there with their big fat DSLRs.
A few of our friends that knew the lay of the land a lot better than us invited us to a Lewis and Clark field trip that just 'happened' to correspond with our explorers and pioneer studies. We enjoyed a walk through the swamp, making butter at the museum, and learning about freshwater pearl diving and button making. We miss our friends in Arkansas and often wonder how they are doing.
We visited a local guitar shop for a field trip when we were studying about Ears, Sound, and Music. One of the guys that worked there played guitar for the kids and showed them how to make the different note sounds with each string. He was really helpful. The kids loved reading about Mozart's life as a child, too.
I remember the harvest parties we attended that year and our trip to Texas to come see friends and family.6
I remember visiting the art museum in Little Rock and taking a pioneer wagon ride with friends in the fall. There was a little pair of kittens that we picked up along the ride that I wanted so badly to keep. Wonder what ever happened to them. The kids loved dressing like pioneer kids. We got our costumes at a local North Little Rock costume shop that specialized in tea parties for little girls - but they had an outfit for everything.
The apartment sent carpet cleaners one day that year and our cat disappearing in to a pile of clothes in the bathroom. She actually dug her way INSIDE a dirty laundry pile and had just one eye and an ear sticking out in fright. That was one of the funniest things she's ever done.
I remember the silly letters Morgan used to write. I shared one she wrote to her grandfather on my blog that year.
I remember the snow that year, worrying about Kev making it to work in the ice, and watching the kids make their first snowman - complete with a gum-stick nose. Some older kids kicked it down a day or two later when the snow was gone and broke their hearts. They still talk about that snow man every time they see snow.
Morgan had the most fun playing with our friend Teresa's horse, Thunder. Both of the kids learned a lot from helping gather the eggs from Teresa's chickens, too. We were delighted to have fresh eggs so often. For a little girl so in love with horses, it was such a blessing for her to get to feed and brush and ride one. That's something we 'city-folk' wouldn't have been able to provide without the help of good friends.
We loved every minute of our week of Spring Break with our friends from Texas. They came to stay with us in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment. Our family of then 4 and their family of 6 made living quarters tight, but we had a blast. We went camping, touring the city, played outdoors, cooked together, ate out, hiked in the parks, and cried when they left.
I remember the view from the top of Pinnacle Mountain... and the astounding beauty of Petit Jean. Our nature hike with friends there was so fun!
Boy do I ever remember the amazing falafels at River Market. I wonder if that shop is still open?
Our Easter eggs we made that year were gorgeous.
The trip with my friend Sarah to her private creek was a highlight. Kaden caught his first fish there.
Learning about passover was fun. We need to do it again.
My favorite field trip of the year was the submarine field trip. We had been hoping to go there the entire time we lived in Arkansas, and finally took a guided tour of the sub about a month or so before we moved back to Texas. Two years of anticipation makes a field trip extra, extra special!
I remember teaching Wednesday night Bible class.
I remember the Robin that built her nest in the tree outside our apartment balcony. Her little peeping big-mouth babies grew up so fast. Just like mine are, I guess. Oh, and the little caterpillars that crawled all over our arms that spring...
I remember the Oak pollen that got all over our balcony and caused some interesting fertilization discussions. In turn, the kids learned about the birds and bees.
We enjoyed putting "Stuff on our Cat". Having fun at a cat's expense is good fun indeed.
I remember finally meeting up with my long-time online friend Bev and wishing we had done it sooner after realizing it really wasn't as far away as we thought. Wish she still lived only an hour and a half away.
I remember saying goodbye to our buddies in Arkansas and moving home to Texas. What a multitude of emotions we went through as our family was grieving the loss of my cousin and I wasn't able to attend his funeral, we found out that we had to move back to Texas within a week, and we were excited to be coming home... but would miss our friends there. It is never easy saying goodbye.
I remember the scary centipede in our moving box when we got our things out of storage in Texas... and how it rained on us for moving day.
Those are the memories we have of our 3rd and 4th Grade 2006-7 school year... the real life ones. After all, we are learning all the time - not just when our books are open and our mechanical pencils are moving. I love homeschooling - because it allows you to devote more time to real life.
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