Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Choose a Curriculum by Jamie Hausgen

Homeschooling Curriculum – So Many Choices
I am certainly not an expert on homeschooling curriculum.  I have been homeschooling for seven years, but I initially used a very non-technical approach in choosing our curriculum.  My oldest children (twins) had used Abeka at their pre-school and the church we were attending used Abeka at their academy, so we went with Abeka, too.
We used Abeka exclusively for kindergarten (2 years) and first grade.  Abeka was a good fit for us in some areas, but in others, it was not.  My twins are SO different.  One of my twins just whizzes through most subjects and the other one does not care much about school seemingly at all.  Abeka “assigns” a ton of busy work.  I understand that in a regular school setting, the time has to be filled up, but I didn’t want to do school from 8 am to 3pm at our homeschool.  I can also see the point of the extra work from the stand point of giving the kids extra practice on a concept, but for the most part, I eventually cut out all of Abeka’s assigned “seatwork”.  That being said, I know many families that have used Abeka with their children from kindergarten through 12th grade with great success.  By second grade however, I felt the need to start investigating other curriculum for our homeschool. 
We currently use the following curriculum:
Abeka:  handwriting, reading, math for 2 children, poetry, science/health/history – strictly for reading
Math-U-See:  math for 1 child
Spelling Power:  spelling for all children
Veritas Press:  Bible and history for all children
Apologia:  Science for all children
Queen Homeschooling Supplies:  Language Arts for all children
Another thing I have learned through our years of homeschooling is to have my kids work on as many subjects together as possible - meaning everyone does the same lessons in as many subjects as possible.  It has been really fun to be able to learn all together.  My children are only 2 grades apart, so doing this has not been too difficult.  However, I have read blogs written by moms with many children who still try to combine subjects/ages whenever possible.
There are many different homeschooling philosophies or styles that may affect the type of curriculum a family chooses to use.  When we started homeschooling, I had never heard of a homeschooling philosophy, so I have never really had a concrete one.  I have read that a homeschooling style like mine is called “eclectic”.  We use some classical, traditional, and Charlotte Mason curriculum - this works for us.  Some of the common philosophies or styles of homeschooling are Charlotte Mason, Classical, Traditional, Unit Studies, and Unschooling.
The job of choosing curriculum can be difficult.  When I am interesting in changing curriculum for a certain subject, first I pray and then I usually ask my friends to see what has worked for them.  Also, there are many homeschooling blogs that have curriculum reviews.  And on many curriculum websites, you can request a free catalog and sometimes view samples of their products.  I have never been to a homeschool convention, but many of my friends have attended conferences and find them very helpful.  There are homeschooling conventions all over the country; you can find one close to you by searching the internet.  Abeka has local book displays in many cities several times a year.  It has always been helpful for me to go to one of the displays and view the books to get a feel for what I’m considering purchasing.  The schedule for Abeka book displays is on their website.
There are also online schools and classes on video that parents can use in their homeschool.  Many cities or areas have co-ops where homeschooled children meet one or more days a week and are taught by other people besides their parents.  Many of my friends have their children in a co-op type program called Classical Conversations.  There are many Classical Conversations communities all over the country.
Curriculum can be expensive, which makes the decision on which one to choose even more important.  The local homeschool group my family belongs to usually holds an annual used book sale each year where I have found good deals on curriculum and books we need.  I have also bought much of my curriculum on Ebay and borrowed books from friends.  Sometimes curriculum companies have sales and sometimes different curriculum is available from different distributers causing the price to vary.  I usually make a wish list and keep an eye out for sales or free shipping deals.  If you choose a literature-heavy curriculum, utilizing your local library is always an option instead of buying a lot of expensive books. 
Once you set your budget and narrow down your choices, curriculum shopping can actually be kind of fun.  I usually end up enjoying the process of planning our curriculum for each new school year.  I always love it when the new books start arriving in the mail with promises of a rewarding and fun school year ahead.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

North, SOUTH, East, West by Sandra Timmons

If the opposite of “north” is “south,” then the opposite of Sanguine is Melancholy.  You remember the sanguine—the life of the party who loves crowds, doesn’t mind looking foolish if it helps the entertainment factor, sometimes seems irresponsible because details often escape him, occasionally gets into trouble at school for not paying attention to minor things such as rules—that sanguine?  Well, Ms Melancholy is the opposite of all of that (and more).  She is very prone to be an introvert, doesn’t make friends easily, is analytical (paying close attention to details), and is susceptible to being moody.  She is very thorough and will pursue a project until it is finished because of her perfectionist tendencies.  Since she doesn’t like to have attention focused on her, she really doesn’t like parties or large group functions; if she absolutely must attend one, she will enter as quietly and unobtrusively as possible, hoping that no one will notice her.
Do you see the potential for conflict if Mr. Sanguine and Ms. Melancholy marry?  Remember—opposites attract!  And if you happen to have a sanguine child and a melancholy child, life is going to be very interesting around your house.
As babies/children, melancholies are usually quiet, undemanding, and they like to be alone.  Even as infants, they appear to be thinking deeply.  They do best when on a schedule and will follow a schedule even from the very beginning.  As a matter of fact, they may become quite distressed when their routine is upset.  They respond best to a parent who is well-organized, and they do better in a quiet, tranquil setting.  Noise and chaos seem to upset them.
As teenagers, they may, as introverts, find it difficult to make friends.  They will often prefer to stay home working on homework, projects, etc. instead of going out with a group of teens.  As drivers, they are very careful, taking good care of their car (or the family car), being sure that such things as oil changes, etc. are done on time.  Being perfectionists, they are usually legalists, meaning they will rarely speed or break any other rules of the road.  They may even drive one mile under the speed limit, especially in the left-hand lane, forcing the faster drivers to have to slow down or pass them in the right-hand lane. 
Melancholies—How to Get Along With Them and Help Them
1.       Know that they are very sensitive and get their feelings hurt easily.  Watch your words and the volume of your voice.  Melancholies like to have quiet surroundings, so consider that when dealing with them.  Noise (especially loud noise) is truly stressful for them. 
2.      Remember that they are “wired” to be pessimistic at times.  This may sometimes even work into depression.  If you see signs of this, do not hesitate to contact a physician. 
--Don’t try to “jolly” the melancholies up but do encourage them to express their feelings.  Sometimes just sharing their thoughts with someone who is willing to listen in a non-judgmental way is all that is needed.
--Never imply/tell him that his problems are stupid or silly.
3.      Compliment them sincerely and lovingly but don’t be surprised if, at first, they are suspicious of your compliments.
4.      Accept the fact that they like it quiet and that they like to be alone sometimes.
5.      Try to keep a reasonable schedule for this child.  The most important part of a melancholy’s daily life is his schedule.  To feel secure, he needs to know where he’s going, when, and why.  If you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person who is never really sure what is next on the schedule (a.k.a.sanguine), you will have an agitated, upset little melancholy on your hands.  You are the adult; you must make the changes for your child. 
6.      Be grateful that you have a deeply sensitive and emotional child.
Proverbs 27:12—A sensible man (a.k.a. melancholy) watches for problems ahead and prepares for them.  The simpleton never looks and suffers the consequences.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Disciplining the Wrangler by Jennifer Strecker

My husband, Steve, received a call from the 6th grade science teacher, Ms Dunn. “This can’t be good,” he said aloud to himself when he heard her sweet voice.  “Well, Mr. Strecker”, she proceeded. “Ben was supposed to turn in a family tree project last week. Everyone in the class turned one in except Ben.  He told me about your situation.”  “Situation?” Steve asked. “Well,” she laughed “at first I thought it was a situation but now I’m thinking it’s a little more creative. Ben told me he could not do the family tree project because he had been adopted.”  “Oh no,” Steve sighed.  “Well, I decided to send him home with a note because I needed to verify that information so I could give him an alternate project. When he returned to school, I could tell the signature on the note was not that of a parent’s.” “This is getting good,” Steve thought.  “I confronted Ben and I said, ‘This is not your parent’s signature.’ He immediately responded without hesitation. “Ms. Dunn. I thought the note would be too painful for my dad to read since I am adopted and all.”
When my husband told me the story I was humiliated!  Were we raising a heathen child? Worse yet, were we rearing a pathological liar? “Are you sure she said ‘he responded without hesitation?’” I asked.
I remember what my husband said to my son that day when he came home from school. “Ben, I want you to tell me what you love about home, or…would that be too painful since you were adopted?” The look on Ben’s face after he processed the question was priceless.  Needless to say the resultant punishment was swift and effective. Ben had to do an additional project and take a lesser grade for his hard work. 
Donald Winnicott in his book, “The Child, The Family, and The Outside World” writes, “What is the normal child like? Does he just eat and grow and smile sweetly? No, that is not what he is like. The normal child, if he has confidence in mother and father, pulls out all the stops. In the course of time he tries out his power to disrupt, to destroy, to frighten, to wear down, to waste, to wrangle, and to appropriate….”
Ben is now 21 and we received many more calls over the years from various teachers.  Ben has always been a “Wrangler.” But through discipline, love, struggle, and much prayer Ben’s character and conscience have been developed. He is a joy and a fine young man. He will continue to test and push limits. We will continue to struggle with the appropriate discipline. But, the goal is for Ben to know we support and love him. We cannot rescue him.
In the New York Times Bestseller, “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys,” Kindlon and Thompson state, “sooner or later, every boy gets into trouble, whether as a result of his impulsivity, his activity level, or just because he’s human: it is a normal part of growing up….The best discipline is built on the child’s love for adults and his wish to please. “ They further explain that all boys “can find inspiration in discipline that consists of genuine guidance and empathy.”
Kind but firm discipline is daunting, but necessary to mold our little boys into kind but firm men.

Friday, June 21, 2013

School Done by Noon by Jamie Hausgen

A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool
My family just finished up our 7th year of homeschooling – so we are enjoying summer break!  The following was our schedule for this past school year.  My children just finished up 5th grade (twins) and 3rd grade.
We usually wake up around 7:00 a.m. unless we were out late for some reason the night before.  My kids like to get up and get moving so they can finish with school and have some free time.  We eat breakfast.  The kids get dressed and brush their teeth. Someone takes the dog out, and then the kids get out our “school stuff”.
We usually get started between 7:45 and 8:00 a.m. 
First, we do Together Time.  I try to do as many subjects together as we can.  Some of the items we do during Together Time are strictly review for my older kids, and some of it is a little advanced for my younger one, but I feel like review is good and that being stretched is good, too. Together Time consists of:
·         Calendar, weather chart, and date chart – my kids fill in the date on a calendar, they chart the weather (sunny, rainy, cloudy, etc.), and they fill in a date chart where they write the date, such as Monday, May 6, 2013.  This helps cut out the “What day is it” questions that I have been getting since we started our summer break.
·         Bible verse memorization – They learn 1 to 3 new Bible verses each month. 
·         Vocabulary word of the week – We have a “word of the week” book that we went through this year from Queen Homeschooling Supplies.
·         Prayer – very important.
·         Math and phonics flashcards – this takes about 3 minutes total.
·         Daily Language Review – This is a workbook that I bought from amazon.com.  There are 5 language related questions that we went through every day.  We did the 5th grade Daily Language Review this year.
·         Science – This year, we used Apologia’s Astronomy book.  We finished earlier this school year, did some review, and then went over a manners book that I bought at a used book sale.
·         Geography – Our geography curriculum for this year was United States Geography.  When we finished the curriculum, each child picked their “favorite” state and did a mini-project on that state.
·         Bible and History - On Wednesday-Friday, we did our Bible and history curriculum from Veritas Press.  We have used this curriculum for both these subjects for 4 years.  *Next year, we are going to read a chapter in the book of Proverbs each day.
·         Reading – Throughout the year, I read books out loud to the kids.  The books I read are recommended books that go along with our Bible or history curriculum.
·         Computer time – Computer time takes about 25 minutes and is supposed to be a “fun” time of review and memorization.  They watch several videos and listen to several songs, including a Books of the Bible song, a presidents of the United States song, a state capital song, a geography song, a math facts song, a grammar fact song, and a different Schoolhouse Rocks video each day.  They also go through some Spanish words each day.  I change the list of Spanish words each month.  My reason for doing “computer time” is to hammer in different facts and concepts while giving the kids a break from sitting at their desks (the kitchen table). 

After computer time, the kids did their other work for the day.  I rotated from child to child and worked on spelling and math and any other subject they needed help with.  They finished up their spelling and math on their own and also worked on a handwriting assignment, a language assignment, and a reading assignment.
Snack time/art time is at 10:00 a.m. every day.  We always break for snack time and art time for 30 minutes.  The kids also usually pick some music to listen to.  Sometimes I had something assigned for art and sometimes they did “free art”. 
On Thursdays, each child had a “reading/comprehension quiz” – it took less than 5 minutes.
Fridays are different than other days at our homeschool.  We did Together Time including computer time as well as handwriting, language, reading, and art time as usual, but we didn’t do math or spelling on Friday!  Instead, we did poetry and fine arts – we studied different poems and different artists each month.  My kids also read sections from the Abeka 5th grade history book and the Abeka 5th grade science book out loud as supplements on Fridays.
This is our day to day schedule, and we always finish school work by noon.  There have been many times I’ve felt guilty about finishing so early in the day, but I don’t want to “assign” schoolwork just for the sake of doing school work.  Some of the reasons I feel confident in our schedule include:  we ALWAYS finish our school books each year, 2 of my kids are ahead in math, and one of my kids “turns it off” when she gets overwhelmed with busy work.  Also, when we’re finished with school for the day, my kids don’t lie around eating junk food and playing video games all day.  They have chores to do. They play outside, They read their Bibles and also read for entertainment, and sometimes, they do play the Wii.   
We do deviate from our schedule to attend field trips, attend art-days with our homeschool group, or to get together with friends.  One of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility.  I know as my kids get older, we will have to adjust our schedule, but right now, I feel like we are in a good grove.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NORTH, South, East, West by Sandra Timmons

Let’s start with the Sanguine temperament, and since we will be talking about opposites, let’s just say that it is North.  Most of us know a sanguine because he is usually referred to as the “life of the party,” a real people-person (does not like solitude).  He is an “entertainer” even if it means that he has to make himself look silly or not-quite-bright; the laughter is just that important to him.  The sanguine often seems irresponsible or even unstable because details, appointments, obligations, and names are just not important to him; he’s too busy “working the crowd” to remember those details. 
So how does that translate into a child’s and/or a teenager’s traits?  Baby sanguines are usually not the best sleepers because they, even when exhausted, have a hard time shutting down.  If there is noise in the house at his bedtime, he is way more interested in what is going on that he is missing than he is in going to sleep.  Getting him to eat may be a challenge if there are other things going on around him.  Save yourself some misery if you are going out to eat; take finger foods for him.  Do not order and pay for food for him; it will be wasted.  There is no food that is as interesting as what may be happening in the surrounding scenery.   And heaven help you if some of the other patrons realize just how cute he is and then start waving or talking to him!
As the sanguine gets a little older, you will realize that he is inquisitive (nosey) but cheerful.  If life gets dull, he creates his own excitement in hopes of entertaining his friends.  It is not unusual for a sanguine’s activities to get out of hand.  He may become personally acquainted with the school office staff, especially the disciplinarian.  School is a challenge for him because there is always a crowd (a.k.a.class) gathered, and, surely, he is supposed to entertain them all.  If this gets to be a real problem, the teacher may need to be sure that he is seated up front--close to her so that she can help him curb his entertaining tendencies. 
Hopefully, as he grows, he will learn to control his own tendencies that might get him into trouble.  That habit of forgetting details will overflow into his homework assignments, projects, etc.  The teen sanguine driver will be a challenge, and he can be easy to spot because his driving may be rather erratic as he changes lanes with no warning, speeds up, and slows down.  He does this because the scenery is always more interesting than the traffic.  He prefers to talk to and look at his passengers—even if they are in the back seat!
Sanguines—How to Get Along With Them and Help Them
1.       Recognize their difficulty in finishing tasks.  Remember that follow-through is difficult for them and that they are easily distracted.
--Try to keep them from as many detail situations as possible.
--Avoid giving them multiple instructions:  “Do your homework and then get ready for bed.”   One instruction at a time is better until they learn to control their own behavior.
2.      Realize that they often talk without thinking first.  One of my favorite quotes about sanguines is by Florence Littauer—Sanguines often open their mouths to find out what they’re saying.  --If you want to be sure that they realize what they just said, say something like, Now, you just said….  Is that right?  Did I understand you correctly?
3.      They really need variety and flexibility.  They always want something new going on and do best when an attitude of fun is present. 
--Try to keep projects short or at least broken up into smaller units. 
4.      Remember—details are not their forte’—don’t expect them to remember dental appointments, homework assignments, etc.  Find ways to help them remember important things—a homework assignment pad, a large calendar on the refrigerator door (making it a point to discuss it every morning). 
5.      Getting anywhere on time is a challenge for them.  Be sure their clothes for the next day are laid out before they go to bed at night.  Their book bags, etc. should be checked at night and put by the door so that all they have to do the next morning is grab them and go. 
--As a teenager begins driving himself to events, don’t be surprised if he returns as least once because even if he leaves on time, he’s going to forget something and have to go back for what he forgot.
6.      Most important—praise them for everything they accomplish.  Compliments are like food for sanguines.
7.      Thank God for your sanguine!  You will be blessed by his humor!

Proverbs 17:22a—A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Journey God Leads You on Can Take You by Surprise by Kellie Perego

If you would have asked me 20 years ago, are you planning to home school your child because for someone who did not complete college, I thought I was inadequate to take on such a task. But when God is in control sometimes He throws a “monkey wrench,” so to speak, in our ideas that we have.
I knew I was in trouble when my son, Parker, was expelled out of two “Christian” pre-schools by Christmas time by the age of four. It was about this time that he was diagnosed with ADHD. He was impulsive, disruptive, and combative mainly because he was bored in those pre-school programs. We were advised to place him in the early childhood program in the public school because they were equipped to handle some behavioral problems better than the private schools. There went my ideas of a private school education. Not to mention learning what ADHD was. A journey in itself.
What God had planned was far more than I could ever imagine. Parker was placed in the Gifted and Talented classes by the end of his first grade year. He went on to complete his elementary school years there without getting expelled once.  God brought many blessings my way when I met my prayer warriors through the Moms In Touch prayer group at the school which I was blessed to lead for five years. The impact that ministry had on the campus was truly amazing. As September 11, 2001, was occurring, I had went up to the school that day, and several of the faculty met me in the parking lot concerned about what was going on. God gave me several opportunities to minister to them all because of the prayer ministry we had there. To have 75 of the faculty join us at See You at the Pole praying for the school was a blessing I will never forget. Many testimonies came out of the prayer ministry there that still has an impact today. After 14 years, my prayer warriors and I still meet occasionally to pray for our children through the college years and as they are meeting their mates for life.
God started dealing with me about home schooling when Parker was in the 5th grade. It took a year of prayer and research for God to convince me and for me to be obedient to what He was calling me to do. After nine years of home schooling, I have learned to be totally dependent on the Holy Spirit’s leading year by year. Each year would be different from the year before as the kids moved into the high school years. I was always amazed at how God would provide the curriculum, the right classes and teachers at the right time when I would feel like I could not teach a certain subject or subjects. He has been faithful until the end.
God continues to be faithful to place my children where they need to be for college and has given me a total peace. Parker will be Junior at LaTourneau University in Longview, and Karlee has graduated a year early, completed her first year of college and will be attending The University of North Texas in the fall.  I give God all the Glory because I know that He took this little mom, who did not think she could accomplish a task as big as home schooling her children, and helped her complete His will for her children’s lives.

The journeys God takes us down may not be anything we could ever imagine. I think of the verse Romans 8:28 that is often quoted by many, “ … He works all things out for our good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” When I would become overwhelmed and the enemy would remind me of my inadequacies I would stand on the verse Philippians 4:13, “ I CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” That verse has carried me through. I may not know why God had me Home School our children or how His plan will unfold in their lives for some time, but I do know that because of Home Schooling, I have a close relationship with my children and with my Lord. That was a journey worth taking.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Excuses for NOT Homeschooling by Jamie Hausgen

My family just finished up our seventh year of homeschooling.  That seems like a long time! 
There were several reasons why we decided to try homeschooling.  But, I had a ton of reasons swirling around in my head as to why I couldn’t do it.  I have heard so many reasons over the years from other people telling me why they couldn’t homeschool, as well.  Here is a small list of some of the fears I had and some of the fears I hear from others:
1.        I’m not patient enough – I am not patient enough either, my kids can attest to this.  I have to PRAY for patience every day, not just school days. 
2.       I could not stand spending all day with my kids – This statement actually makes me sad.  There are so many times when I think to myself (and try to say to my kids), “I am SO glad you are home with me.” 
3.       I’m not smart enough – I have been asked a million times if I was a teacher.  I used to be quick to say, “I do have a degree, but it isn’t in education.”  Although I do have a “degree”, I felt totally inadequate to “teach” my kids.  However, most of the curriculum I have used so far has had excellent teacher books and if there has been something I couldn’t figure out, there is always the internet!  Back to the “degree” thing – I definitely DO NOT think a degree is necessary to be a homeschool mom! 
4.       My children wouldn’t listen to me – This was a big concern for me.  We had already had problems with pre-school “homework”.  Also, one of my children is pretty strong-willed.  My kids do complain about their schoolwork sometimes, but for the most part, they have come to understand that just like in other areas of their life, they have to obey and honor mama during school time.
5.       What about socialization? – This one makes me laugh.  I have never been that concerned with this one, but other people sure seem to be.  One time, I was working on some of my homeschool papers at baseball practice when a mom asked me, “What about socialization?”  I was thinking, “Really?  He’s out there with all those other kids, and he’s doing fine.  And he didn’t just get in trouble for spitting on his teammates like your child did.”  We have had no trouble finding social activities.  My kids have played sports and taken dance for years.  We also belong to a local homeschool group and have a ton of homeschooling friends.  In addition to all that, we also have a wonderful church family.   
6.       My family and friends are against us homeschooling – Our family and friends were against our decision, but none of them were overly tacky to our faces.  It has been years since anyone close to us has said anything negative to us about homeschooling.  But it was shaky at first.  Despite the lack of excitement from those around us, we had prayed and knew that homeschooling was the best choice for our family.  Ultimately, it was our decision to make, not others. 
7.       I’m not organized – I am a fairly organized person, and that is helpful, but if for some reason we have gone through a season of disorganization, my kids have been able to go with the flow.
8.       I won’t be able to get anything done around the house – This caused me quite a bit of anxiety.  I didn’t see how I would be able to cook, clean, keep up with laundry, AND homeschool 3 kids.  There are times when it looks like I don’t cook, clean, and keep up with the laundry, but most of the time we get it all done.  Now that my kids are bigger, they have chores to do when they are finished with school for the day; this is a big help.  Also, you can be flexible with homeschooling.  Since we began homeschooling, we sold a house, moved in with my parents, built a house, and then moved again – all during the “school year” – it can be done!
I have never wanted to be a “homeschooling bully.”  I love homeschooling, but I don’t think my family is any better than another family that doesn’t homeschool.  I have heard people say that homeschooling is not for everyone, and I guess that’s true, but I do feel like if I can do it, ANYONE can.  Homeschooling is not easy!  It does not work well when I try to do it in my own strength.  But, with God’s grace, we have persevered.  Whether your child is about to start kindergarten or God is leading you to pull your child out of school for a season or for good, I encourage anyone who feels that God may be leading their family to homeschool to give it a try and do it NOW. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

North, South, East, West by Sandra Timmons

NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST
One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 139:13b-14—For Thou [God] hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise Thee [God];  for I [and my children!] am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy [God’s] works; and my soul knows that very well. 

This is a passage that all moms (and dads!) need to memorize.  My husband and I reared two daughters who are now adults—hallelujah; thank you, Jesus; praise the Lord!—and, if I do say so myself, they are wonderful Christian leaders, wives, moms, etc.  However, when they were growing up (21 months apart) and I was a stay-at-home mom, there were times that I needed to be reminded that they were “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that they were the “marvelous works” of my God!!  Cute?  Of course!  Saints?  Not so much, and part of that, I am sure, was my fault because I didn’t know anything about how to handle two very different children in two different ways!  How I wish that along the way someone would have explained to me why our daughters were “daylight” and “dark.”  No one explained to me that when God created them, He “wired” them differently; therefore, they handled life completely differently and, of course, in a manner that was totally opposite from each other. I made a lot of mistakes, I’m sure, because I thought that discipline and rearing children was a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. 
Not until they were in upper elementary school did I start hearing about and studying the different temperaments and discovering why they each handled the same kind of situation so differently.  (If I had known about the various temperaments, I would have also understood my husband better, and the first ten years of our married life would not have been the challenge that could have easily ended in divorce.  But that’s a different blog!)
There are basically four different temperaments—Melancholy, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Choleric.  Most people have many of the traits of one main temperament, and most of us also have a few traits of one or two of the other temperaments.  Just to make life really interesting, just as we have the opposites of north and south as well as east and west, the temperaments are basically opposites:  melancholy and sanguine as well as phlegmatic and choleric.  Are you starting to get the picture of why life can be so “interesting” when you and your spouse (who is probably your opposite!) decide to have that first darling little baby?  From the moment that infant exits the birth canal, he/she has an opinion—no real problem; but then the nurse hands you that sweet little thing to take home, and that opinion becomes louder, angrier, and you don’t have a clue what to do!  Even at that point in life, one infant may not be really bothered too much by a wet diaper.  But another infant has one little damp spot in the diaper, and he/she wants it changed—an hour ago!  And the challenge of learning your child has just begun!     
(And, as I think I mentioned in a previous blog, don’t think that just because you skipped those two known gene pools and adopted your children that none of this applies to you.  God has such a sense of humor!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

What a Man! What a Man! What a Mighty Good Man! by Tammy Jones

     When asked to write for this blog, I became overwhelmed. The door was left wide-open concerning the topic, which caused me to really wonder what direction I should take.  I, by no means, claim to be a voice of wisdom; but, one thing’s for sure, being the mom of six kids, ages four to seventeen, I can be a voice of experience.  Combine that voice of experience with an innate sense of twisted humor and lack of self-dignity, and you just may have an article that could offend, entertain, or encourage.  It is my hope that the few thoughts I share will do the latter, encourage. 

     It took five years of walking the road of infertility before I arrived at my destination of motherhood; and, boy, when I arrived I “moved in” and settled myself for a long stay!  Sometimes I wonder what God must have been thinking when he gave six souls the task of calling me mom.  Either, he is really trying to teach me some profound life lessons (it’s obvious I am a very slow learner), OR he has a huge sense of humor and said, “Here is this na├»ve child of mine, Tammy Jones, who just so happens to believe the ‘blessed is the full quiver’ part!”  Well-meaning people tried to stop me from having (birthing and/or adopting) so many children; but, being “spiritually stubborn,” I marched onward.
     I know I seem to be taking a lot of the credit for the growth of our family, but rest assured that my husband is very much in the picture.  It’s just that he did not hear the “drum” as loudly as I did.  You know…the drum that caused me to march to a different beat.  He says he’s glad he answered the call of my “heart beat”, but there are days we are both so tired I wonder what I’ve gotten this wonderful man into and why he, originally a two-kids-are-enough kind of guy, would agree to take such a crazy journey with me?  The sacrifices he has made, and will continue to make, financially, physically and spiritually to support six children is out of the world.  Speaking of out of this world, I recognize that the love my hubby has, is absolutely from another world.  This other world is, of course, Heaven, The Kingdom of God, the place where God dwells.  It’s surely not from this old world.  This present-day world would not promote such self-sacrifice.  It seems that almost everyday I hear of fathers walking out on their wives and families, trading in the chaos of a worn-out wife and demanding children for the peace found in drugs, another’s arms, work,…well, you just fill in the blank.  In all honesty, I couldn’t blame my hubby for hitting the road, but he hasn’t.  He, for certain, is NOT staying around for my cooking, my cleaning or my sexiness because, in case you missed it, I HAVE SIX KIDS! I have failed in all those areas.  Lord knows he isn’t sticking around because I am such a gentle spirit, either.  Truthfully, I’ve really tried to talk and act like Mrs. Duggar on the TV show, 19 Kids and Counting, but even hubby couldn’t deny that the sweet, high-pitched voice thing she’s got going on (and that I envy so much) wouldn’t work for me.  
     To add to the list of disappointments my husband could hold against me are my personal, failed business and career attempts, the estrangement of a couple of his relatives that I have personally managed to offend so thoroughly that they no longer speak to us, and the serious issue I have with buying puppies, which I “re-home” when they start driving me crazy.  Ok, ok, I think you get the picture.  My hubby is a saint, and we are all wondering why he sticks around.  (Maybe a side benefit of this entry could be that you share it with your husbands, and they become more thankful for you.) 

     Ultimately, my main purpose is to share from the experience of my life, so here it goes.  (Drum roll, please!)  If you have a God-fearing family man for a husband, thank the Lord above, and then make your hubby your life-long project of love.  The best thing we can do for our children, whether we have one or 19 kids, is to put our marriage first.  Do I do this all the time?  Heck no!  But a funny thing happened as I was writing this article for YOU.  I suddenly realized I was writing it for ME!!! With Father’s Day right around the corner, let us, the women blessed with amazing husbands, be more than just mindful of our children’s fathers.  I invite you to join me in renewing your love and dedication to the best gift on earth, a godly soul mate.  This world has many alluring things to offer our men.  If our husbands decide to be man enough to resist temptation and stay in the sometimes chaotic and thankless position of husband and father, we ought to be more than a blessing to them in every area that we can. 
     Ladies, please hear this squeaky voice of experience.  In the long run, putting your marriage first is the best gift you can give your husband, your children, yourself and, ultimately, this world.  This is not the most popular message of the day; and, to be honest, I bucked it in my “more-power-to-the-woman” days.  Listen…let them (whoever they are) keep their power.  I prefer to keep my man.  If you have a good one and you are a smart woman, you will too.  Talk about power, the ability to stay married and in love requires a powerful amount of strength and determination.  It’s an uphill battle, but it’s worth the fight.  Let’s go for it, women of God! 
     This is not to suggest that women, alone, can keep a marriage together.  Some of us may have lost marriages through no fault of our own, but many of us may recognize that we have given our men more reasons to leave than to stay. So, if you have found yourself in the same place as I, scratching your head as to why he stays, then let’s make a change for the better.  If you’re not quite sure how to do this, take advantage of the many helpful Christian resources out there.  One secular resource I would recommend is the book, “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands,” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Ladies, be blessed; and, in turn, be a blessing.

Sincerely,
Tammy Jones

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homeschooling Despite Reservations by Jamie Hausgen

A few days ago, I read my 8-year-old a story while cuddled up in my bed both of us in our pajamas at around 9:30 a.m. on a week day.  The story was from her school reader.  She normally reads her reader by herself, but this particular story had been hard to understand, so I re-read it to her.  I was actually thinking about how great our day was going and that surely that day would be a good day to work on my blog post.  A little later that same day that same child deleted all the pictures off my memory card while using my camera to take a picture of her Lego creation.  I decided that if I was waiting for the perfect day, I would never get my post written.
When I was asked to write a post about homeschooling, I knew immediately that I wanted to do it, but I also knew that it would be something that would be challenging.  I have rewritten this post 3 times now.  I have a lot to say, but I feel like there are SO many homeschooling moms out there who are much smarter and much more articulate than I am who have written much more compelling posts about homeschooling than I can.  My hesitation and uncertainty remind me of how I felt when we started homeschooling – 7 full years ago.
About halfway through 4-year-old preschool with my oldest children – twins, it was evident that they would not be ready to move on to kindergarten mostly due to their late birthday.  My husband had really wanted to homeschool for as long as I can remember, but I had never been on board – until this point.  I wish I could say that I wasn’t ready to send them off to school full time and I just wanted them home with me all the time.  This, however, was not true.  I also had a 1-year-old at the time, and I was a very over-whelmed, young mother.  The fact that my twins weren’t ready for kindergarten coupled with my daughter’s severe peanut allergy almost made me feel as though I had no other choice than to homeschool, so I agreed to try it.  We did pray about homeschooling a lot, and despite my reservations, we did feel that this was the schooling path the Lord wanted us on.
We were ready to try homeschooling, but most of our family and friends were NOT on board with the idea.  My sweet niece who was about 13 years old at the time even told me that all the kids she knew who were homeschooled smelled funny!  I’m pretty sure my parents and my in-laws thought we were crazy and were hoping this was just a phase we would soon out grow.  Also, I hardly knew anyone who homeschooled their children.  I felt very alone and isolated.  I did ask some questions of a few of the homeschooling moms I knew, but I was so clueless that I didn’t even know what questions to ask.
I would like to say that I did extensive research to figure out my homeschooling philosophy and what homeschooling curriculum would best fit our family, but I didn’t.  I read one book, and I decided on our curriculum based on the fact that my twins had used Abeka at their pre-school, and the church we were attending used Abeka at their academy. 
Our first year was a learning experience for everyone.  It was so hard at times that I just wanted to quit – this has not changed, sometimes it is still so hard that I want to quit.  But we have leaned on the Lord, and he has sustained us.  And I have had the privilege of teaching my kids to read and write,  to add and subtract, and to do many other things.  I get to talk to them about Jesus all the time.  Homeschooling is not that different than parenting in general.   Sure, it’s a big deal to be responsible for your child’s education – but in reality, a child’s education is always the responsibility of the parents. 
As we finish up another year of homeschooling and as my oldest two finish up elementary school, I am so thankful that God has called our family to be a homeschooling family.  I really do like having my kids
around all the time (most of the time).  I am glad we get to learn together and that we can stay in our pajamas sometimes if we want to.  I am glad that my kids can sleep in a little bit if they don’t feel well.  And I am so thankful for the many friends that my kids and I have made. It turns out there are tons of homeschooling families in our area, and we are so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Love Is a Choice by Jenna Lorick

They say that love is a choice.

Never have I experienced the truth of that statement more than when we brought our daughter home this last fall.

I read all of the books and blogs that talked about bonding and attachment.  I read about the struggles that some moms had to connect and really love their new children.  But honestly, I had loved this little girl from that moment we said yes to God’s call to adopt, and I just didn’t think loving her would be a problem.  I loved her before I knew who she was or how old she would be…my heart and home felt incomplete without her.  For 2 ½ years I loved a little girl from afar…surely loving her and feeling connected to her would come easily once I was home.

I will never forget waking up on the morning of October 16th.  We were still completely jet lagged but nothing could keep us from rushing down the stairs of the babies home that day to meet our sweet Kenzi.  It was so surreal to finally have the little girl in our arms we had been praying over for years..  My emotions ran crazy and continued to do so as I remained in country for another 6 weeks to finalize the process.

It wasn’t until I arrived home and all of the craziness settled down that I realized this would be harder than I thought.

Loving my biological kiddos came so easily.  I am certain now that a lot of that stemmed from their desire for me.  As new babies they needed me and wanted me. They would always choose me over anyone else.  I loved them, and they loved me back.
 
With sweet Kenzi it was different.  Even at 11 months she had learned to be so independent.  She didn’t need me to hold her, or rock her, or even to hold her bottle.  She was perfectly happy to go to anyone and most of the time she didn’t even want to come back to me.  There were times when someone would be helping me get all of the kiddos to the car and she would hit and even scream when she had to come back to me.  It crushed my heart and made it so difficult for me to feel those loving mama feelings towards her.  And all the while I was running into people who were praising me for doing “such a great thing”…I just felt like a fraud.

I couldn’t believe it. Here I was struggling with the one part of this whole process that I thought would be the easiest.

I did the only thing I could do…I cried out to God.  I asked Him to help me love her more and more each day and for our bond to grow.  The amazing thing about our God is that He is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.

I tried each day to ask for His help in showing love to my sweet daughter even when I didn’t feel like she really loved me back.  Often times I would say scriptures about loving others out loud before I went to get her up in the morning or after nap time.   
Several weeks later I was putting her to bed one night and God gave me the most amazing moment.  After I gave her a bottle I cradled her in my arms and just looked down at her when she put her little hand up on the back of my neck and pulled me close for a kiss. It was her first ever unsolicited sign of affection towards me and my heart just about leaped out of my chest.  I was reminded of God’s faithfulness and that He is truly the God who sees.  He didn’t have to give me that moment…but He is just so good!

We have been home for almost 7 months now and I know that I have so much more to learn.  I continue to seek His guidance as I raise all of my children and continue to pray that He will strengthen the bond between Kenzi and me.

Sweet adoptive mama out there who may be struggling with this too…be encouraged…He called us to this.  He is faithful to equip those He calls.  Often times He even calls the most unlikely ones to do His work.  He will be faithful to equip you as you seek to love those He has put in your care!