Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Storing Up Treasures in Heaven

     For a long time I struggled with my significance as a stay-at-home mom.  When I left the corporate world almost 11 years ago to stay home with my first born I had no doubt that it was what I wanted to do.  Being a wife and a mother was what I had wanted from a very young age. But, in a culture that places so much emphasis on career and money, my decision to stay home wasn't always well received during the transition from that world to this one.  People didn't understand why I would want to give up my life or the money (not that either were that glamorous in the first place).  And after coming home I felt very insignificant most days because I didn't feel I was leaving my "mark" on the world.  But Michael and I knew that it was what God wanted for our family and whatever sacrifices we had to make for me to stay home were worth it.
     Fast forward to today.  Almost 11 years and 4 children later, I have had many instances that make me so glad that I have chosen this life.  The other day the kids were talking about jobs and money, and they said to me, "Momma, you don't work."
     I replied to them, "Oh yes I do.  I work very hard, everyday, taking care of your daddy and all of you and this house."
     "But, you don't make any money, "  Bella said.  At which point the other children responded in agreement.
     So my response was, "You're right, I don't make any money.  But, I have decided to store up my treasures in Heaven.  The bible says that we should not store up our treasures here on earth where moths and rust can destroy or where thieves can break in and steal, but to store up our treasures in heaven.  So that is what Mommy is doing."
     After that there wasn't another response until yesterday morning.  I had taken two of the children to the doctor and was waiting at Wal-greens for their prescriptions to be ready.  Micah had made his way to the toy aisle where he had found his favorite thing that he plays with, Pokemon cards (and btw, if you can explain the fascination of trading cards to me I would love to hear it).  He asked me if he could by them.  After a lengthy conversation that involved questions like, "don't you have enough?" and "is that REALLY what you want to spend your money on?"  I conceded to allow him to spend his money on them.  We got the cards, the medicine, and we were on our way.
      Then it happened, one of those moments that I store in my mental Rolodex as a small win in this life of mine.  As we are driving back to the house Micah says to me, "Mom, I really need to pray about something tonight."
     I say, "what about, buddy?"
     Then he says, "well, I really need for God to help me learn how to store my treasures up in Heaven.  I mean, I really like Pokemon cards but I need to be storing up my treasures in Heaven."
     My heart swelled up so big and I felt so thankful.  I agreed with him that we would pray about that together.  Of course, then he followed up with, "Does that mean that when I die I get to take my Pokemon cards with me?"  That's my boy!  He was sort of serious and sort of joking, like he does so often.
     I just said to him, "No, buddy, the Pokemon cards will not go with you.  But, when you get to Heaven you will never look back and think, 'man I sure wish I had those Pokemon cards'.  The treasures in Heaven will be SO much better than our favorite things here on earth that we will never look back and wish we could go back and get our stuff."  At that, he was satisfied...for now.
     It was such a wonderful reminder of several things.  One, they ARE listening, even when I feel like I am talking to a brick wall.  Two, I AM making a mark on the world.  Four marks to be exact.  And three, this earth is not our home.  Christ has prepared a place for us where our treasures will be far beyond what we can even fathom while here one earth, where moths and rust can not destroy and thieves can not break in and steal.  Praise God!  Amen.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Homeschooling-First week down

     So, we had a good first week of homeschooling.  The kids were very excited about it and wanted to get started right away first thing Tuesday morning (Monday was a holiday).   Bella, especially, wanted to get started right at 8am like she did in public school.  The only difference is that her teacher in public school didn't have a 19 month old following her around all day, laundry that needs to be washed, breakfast dishes to be cleaned, or any of the other 20 things that I do on any given day.  Needless to say, she wasn't thrilled at first with the lack of "schedule" on our first day.  If I am allowed to be honest, I was pretty stressed at times, feeling that I was failing.  One time Bella said, "Mom, this doesn't feel like school at all."  Another time she said, "I don't think this is going to work."  And yet another time she said, "I am so afraid I am not going to learn anything."  All of these statements did not help my feelings that I was somehow failing my children.
     On Wednesday, it was another somewhat stressful day because Micah had a relapse of his stomach bug, so we did school very unconventionally, as we spent most of the day in the bed or on the bedroom floor while we did most of our work.
     After Wednesday, Michael and I decided that we were definitely going to use Time4learning for Math and Language Arts supplements and so on Thursday the kids were signed up for that and it helped A LOT!  They are able to log themselves on and do their work for a designated amount of time and for the most part they are pretty self-sufficient.  It is during that time that I will work one-on-one with one of the other children.
     By Friday the kids were getting used to the new schedule that we are forming.  We get up and begin to get reading around 7am.  (Aria and Victoria sleep until 7:30 since they are younger and require a little more sleep.)  Once the children are dressed, fed, and ready for the day then we sit in the living room to read our Bible lesson, discuss it, and pray.  Can I just say that this is my favorite thing so far about homeschooling the children?  We have ended their day for a long time now with reading the Bible but to begin the day with that and actually have an open-ended time to sit and talk about what we are learning is absolutely wonderful.
     After Bible, we straighten the house.  The kids help me clean the kitchen from breakfast and then they straighten their room and the living room.  Micah even washed his first load of laundry the other day, I was so proud.  This has been a big adjustment for the children because since we now have more time to get things like this done my expectations are higher for them.  It may take some time but eventually they will get it.
     Around mid-morning the kids do things that they can do pretty independently, like handwriting, reading, P.E. (they play Just Dance or they play outside) and math on the computer.  Then after lunch when the baby goes down for her nap we do Science, Geography, and Language Arts.
     A few things that I have noticed after this week is that I am SO much more tired at the end of the day and getting the laundry folded is impossible.  The children seem to be getting along MUCH better than they did when they were in school, probably because they are no longer so tired all the time.
     For the most part, I am very pleased with how things are getting started and look forward to seeing how things fall into place over the next days and weeks.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Homeschooling and Time4Learning.com

Two days from now our family will embark on a fabulous and terrifying journey into a whole new world.  The world is called "Homeschooling".  For all of reasons for homeschooling you can refer to my earlier post, that was the WHY?, this is the HOW?  I have read up on many, actually too many, curriculums for homeschooling.  There are WAY too many options out there, like deodorants and scrapbooking materials, the options are endless and daunting.  After years of research I finally settled on a curriculum, My Father's World.  I bought the curriculum and then something happened.  I began to think that maybe we needed to take a hiatus from "traditional" learning and try something a little more laid back and child directed.  A fellow homeschooling friend who has three boys turned me onto www.time4learning.com.  It is a computer based curriculum that is based on grade and/or level.  The children log into their own personal account and then follow the path through different topics.  After all the assignments on a particular lesson are completed, they are then tested on everything they have learned.  The website keeps track of all their assignments and grades which I can print out at report card time and turn into my cover school.  It will be used mainly for math assignments and also used as a supplement for Language Arts, History, and Science.  I haven't changed my mind about My Father's World, I plan to begin that in the fall when the new school year begins.  But, for now, I think this will be the easiest for all of us.  The transition from public school to homeschooling is a BIG one for everyone, so if we can do things that are fun and uncomplicated that will be best for all of us.  Also, another plus to using computer based learning is that it is VERY portable.  If we decide to go out of town, we just take the computer and some library books rather than a whole suitcase full of curriculum.  And they can move as fast or slow as they want/need to.  We are very excited about this and look forward to letting you know how the next 6 months go.

My Little Blessings