Confession #1 - my dog is sabotaging my blogging because he's tired of seeing me do all these other things and not play with him. So he's throwing his face on my keyboard and pushing my hands out of the way. I may have horrible grammatical errors - more than the usual. Bear with me.
Confession #2 - I'm jacked up on Coca-cola and Cookies and cream hershey's chocolate which I downed with some excedrine to help me get rid of a horrible tension headache/migraine I've had all day. And I didn't excercise.
Confession #3 - the above mentioned headache had me in a Jackyl/Dr.Hyde mode with the kiddos. I swayed between screaming like an ogre because I was in tears from the pain, to feeling guilty, to being as sweet and loving as I could (and quiet) in order to compensate for my earlier explosion.
At any given moment, a stay at home/homeschooling mom will wonder if she's schizophrenic. It's true - ask around!
Fortunately we are not crazy! Or alone!
Confession #4 - the 's' key on my laptop is super sensitive and has added an extra 's' to every other word. I have now calculated that I personally need $1650 to have fully functional electronics. Just for me. Not counting anything for the kiddos or anything the husband is likely to buy because where there is a will, he will make a way. This is just my dream money to have a working new laptop, a printer, and a smart phone in which all it's features work more often than not.
Word of caution: the HTC1 and Android is like Obamacare - good in THEORY, horrible in practice. Just sayin'.
I'm at a testing point in my life because we found out today that for the most random of reasons, the children and I were kicked off the hubby's medical insurance, and we won't be reinstated until we prove we are his family... and then maybe it will be back-dated to provide continuous care. Fan-freakin'-tastic! Because one of my RA medications cost - and we found out today when we tried to pick up a refill that I've needed since last Friday - $137. So I told Paul I'll just deal with it until the insurance issue is resolved.
I hope the kids and I survive. I hate to admit it, but I have 0 patience, grace, or tolerance when I'm in pain. And I have a high pain tolerance to begin with. It's like constantly hearing fingernails at a blackboard for me; I get to a point where I can't handle another thing. I know this full well. This was me today. This is not good for a homeschooling family.
But I have been reminded, over and over, that God loves me because of who I am, not what I can do - and all my children need from me is to do less and be there more. So where normally I'd be like, "Really?!? God, You had to throw this our way now?!?!" Something in me senses that this trial season will deepen my relationship with God. Instead, my prayer tonight is more like, "God, You are my Shepherd. And You are a Good Shepherd. If You are leading me through this valley, I will follow close after You because I trust in the pasture You are planning to take me to! I believe I can experience victory - even over my pain, my temper, and my emotions - right here, right now, with You. Your Word says You are gentle with the 'momma lambs' and their babies as You shepherd them, and I know You will continue to carry the kids and I through it all."
What I'm experiencing in this walk with God is that He's never failed to show me His presence. Even through little things. Last Sunday Paul gave the only $1 we had for offering. It was no biggie; we had food and gas saved up since last paycheck. I wasn't worried about only having $1 left until this Friday. I found no reason to object to him giving that $1 in the offering. It's not our biggest offering. It wasn't our biggest sacrifice either. But when we got home, I found a piece of mail I had not opened yet, and as I did $2 fell out in singles on the floor. This survey junk mail sent us $2 in the mail. Paul and I couldn't help but laugh but the reality is this is how God works - you can't outgive Him, and He desires to bless you more than you desire to honor Him. I don't feel like I needed the $2 but I believe He sent that our way just to show us He's here.
As far as the homeschooling goes, God is providing above-natural (or "supernatural") results. My kids are progressing in leaps and bounds and I know it's not the result of my amazing parenting and teaching techniques. All of us homeschooling moms try our best but we are very honest - there are days when a lesson is a movie, physical education is "Go ride your bikes outside!" and we may have "days off" at random. That's just the flow of life. And as we do "life" together, God has put a desire in my children to expand their knowledge all on their own initiative, and it's paying off greater than I could've ever planned or taught.
Tonight while Daddy was making pasta and I had a hot rice sock over my head and sunglasses on (in my living room... It was THAT kind of headache), the kids climbed up on the kitchen table to see the pot boiling and had an impromptu science lesson on the cycle of water, evaporation and condensation. I could totally take credit for creating a 24/7 classroom environment where they don't ever really stop learning - and Paul loves to share his science knowledge with anyone who will sit still long enough to indulge him - so as parents we both agreed that we would teach them as their curiosity arises and never say, "ask about that tomorrow while you're doing schoolwork". What I cannot take credit for is what the older 2 kids did next: Without being told to, they brought down their science notebooks and drew their "science project" of watching a pot boil water, and explained with notes the cycles with charts and arrows. At 7pm. While dad was making dinner. Why? God knows. Why not? This is the work of God answering my prayers of what I dreamed homeschooling would accomplish, academically, in the kids.
The older two also loaded the dishwasher and did dishes. The younger one took a nap as a favor to me because I had a headache. They spent time thinking of ways to bless me. That's not something I can take credit for at all. I know that's the work of Jesus in their hearts.
They refused to go to sleep without Paul. We were blessed with a little more cash and Paul knew I needed the items in confession #2 if nothing that I had done all day helped. It's now 9pm and I have just removed the sunglasses, but now I have the rice sock over my eyes and it is discreetly absorbing the tears as a result of being so tired and in so much pain. So Caleb lays down next to me just to cuddle (and he's the least cuddliest of them all) and the other two sit with their Bibles and they are sharing verses they like out loud. They were not told it's Bible time. They were told to get ready for bed. But Caleb told them we need to read a Bible story before bed and they needed to have everything ready for when daddy got home. I can't take credit for that - I haven't been able to stare at printed words all day. But even in hearing them pray I know Jesus is working in their lives because they've moved on from memorized prayer ("Now I lay me down to sleep...") to this conversational prayer where they just express their hearts to God in their own words.
I see Anakin write questions about Bible topics and then use the concordance in his Bible to find the verses and answer his own questions. And he's decided to read the book of Nehemiah. And he has done research on Rosh Hashana and is planning for our family to celebrate it and has thought of what to fast to welcome the new year (disclaimer, we are not Jewish). And when he read in Social Studies the Cherokee account of the beginning of the world, he drew a Vinn diagram to compare and contrast their beliefs against Genesis... after his social studies assignment... Why? God knows. And I'm ok with that. I'm ok with not always being the teacher and with some self-directed items added to the lesson plan. Why not? I'm in no rush. I'm not going to tell him, "Put that away, we need to move on to something else now."
I saw my 4 year old write a list of spelling words 3 times, because it's what the older 2 were doing, so I gave him a small list of sight-words - lo and behold, he could already read them and was more than happy to practice spelling them and practice his handwriting. I also saw this 4 year old work out multiplication with tangibles (blocks), because adding and subtracting (and counting, for crying out loud) was too easy for him. So he was manipulating blocks in groups of 5 and counting by fives to figure out the multiplication. I saw my 4 year old count by 5s and then do subtraction from the 40s and 50s by counting in reverse per how many number of blocks he was taking away.
I saw my 6 year old pick up a 3rd grade chapter book during reading time. She said the "Little Bear" books were "kinda' boring". My first temptation was to say, "Oh no sweetie that's too hard for you! Let's pick out an easier book", but before the words came out the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart that it would make her feel stupid. Instead I told her, "Grab your bookmark, because that book is meant to take a little bit longer than the books you are used to. It may take you a few days or a few weeks to read all of it. Just be patient with yourself and take your time." And she read for a total of 45 minutes today. Her confidence is up. She said she loves it! She's finding it funny so far. Confidence and patience is a big thing for her - when her siblings can read simple things faster than her (and that's including Caleb, my 4 year old) because it takes her a second to sort everything out, she can get so discouraged. When she goes to ballet and she's in a classroom with girls who have the whole ballet gear and have taken dance classes since they were 3, and she can't "get it" as fast as they do - I see the light flicker off in her eyes for a split second, almost invisible to any other eye but mom's, and then courage comes in as she takes a deep breath, smiles, and tries again. I know she wants to fit in more. I know she will too because this matters more to her than it does to them. I see the other girls leave class ready to do the next thing as they jump into their mother's vans and Brielle, the boys and I are walking home for 30 minutes and it's cold outside. Those little girls don't seem to have a care in the world, while Brielle is lost in thought half the way before she finally says, "I suck at spinning." And here I am, thankful for this teachable moment in perseverance and confidence, because I know full well that if she was in public school she would get lost in thoughts like this, and drown before anyone even noticed, because it happened often to me. But it's in moments like our conversation home from Ballet, or when she picks out a tough book, or she chooses to read an NIV Bible (not even the NIrV which is easier for children to read), or she gives multiplication a try on Khan Academy, or she attempted division during her learning assessment and spent 45 minutes on 81/9 (because she drew 81 objects on a piece of paper and circled 9 even groups - and found the right answer to see how many needed to be in a group so that it's evenly divided by 9), these moments I say, "Thank You, Jesus!" I know he's putting a fire of resilience in her as she discovers there is nothing she cannot do... she may just have to learn it first.