Posted in Family

Bite the Bullet…

I signed my kids up (and attended) a free event put on by Friends of the NRA and other local shooting organizations at one of our largest outdoor gun range. I’m always up for an opportunity to get my kids around guns and handling them under the safety and supervision of professionals such as law enforcement, our local SWAT team, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It’s very common in Alaska; most of our high schools have indoor ranges and offer competitive shooting as a PE elective. There are more guns than people in this state, most homes own more than one! (And by the grace of God, every school shooting attempt or threat has been thwarted by our hard working law enforcement who assigns police officers to each school and does not delay in addressing social media comments as serious.)

However we moved to Alaska in 2009, so we weren’t raised that way. My husband and I grew up in families that consider guns to be evil and would never own one. The first time I went to the range, I was 30 years old. So this isn’t something that brings warm childhood memories for us.

In fact, If I google search my brain so to speak on the words “gun” and “school”, the first thing that comes to mind was the incident at Columbine – and the avalanche of copy cat threats and evacuations at the schools I attended. I also recall a lot of tragedies where a child found a gun and killed himself or a sibling – sometimes these children who pulled the trigger were barely 4 years old, not even old enough to be safe in Kindergarten during the school day.

Aside from all the personal reasons my husband and I have changed our minds and choose to conceal carry ourselves, I want my kids to fire a gun (safely, at the gun range, with adult supervision) as often as possible because:

  • Video game and TV violence has snuck in gun usage to younger and younger ages. My kids have seen people shoot at Captain America and he lived to defeat the bad guys with nothing more than his shield. But hearing the gun go off on the TV or playing a game where a gun is fired doesn’t have the child register just how powerful these weapons are. The moment my children felt the recoil of the gun in their hands, and heard the deafening noise of it discharging (which reminded them to put on their ear protection and leave it on all day!), their perspective on them changed. They can easily separate fact from fiction now.
  • Curiosity has killed the child tragically ONE too many times. Kids are naturally drawn to risk and adventure; a gun is not one of those things I’m letting my children have ANY curiosity about. There’s no mystery in it. They’ve taken law enforcement led classes where they disassembled and reassembled guns to clean them, they’ve been able to look down the empty (unattached) barrel of a gun and hold bullets in their hand.
  • All of our homeschooling or parenting purpose boils down to building a relationship with our children where they feel comfortable coming to us FIRST as a reliable and honest source of information. One day, when they’re older, we’ll have to bite the bullet and have honest discussions about sex and dating that we aren’t exactly having right now. But it would be very dangerous for me to assume that they’re too young to encounter a gun in this day and age, so we are going to beat everyone else to it.

Conclusively, there’s something taught with gun usage that is drilled into their minds and I believe it’s life-saving: Because you have to assume every gun is loaded and lethal, NEVER point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy. Target practice is appropriate. Waving a gun while recording yourself in selfie mode to try to look cool is NOT.

If nothing else, regardless of your stance on gun control rights or the second ammendment, I’m going to recommend you teach your child something about guns – no, I’m going to beg you to do so. I’m going to step on your parenting toes and implore you to drill this into your child the way you know “Stop, Drop, and …” (Roll, that’s right.)

If you see a gun anywhere at any time: STOP, Don't Touch, Run Away, Tell a Grown Up.  Never, ever try to transport the gun to an adult.  And don't try to argue with a friend who is holding one or convince them to put it down.  The moment you see a gun, run out of that building or area to another place immediately and ask a grown up for help calling the police.  This response saves lives!
Posted in Faith, Family

A Long-Awaited Open Door

I don’t think this blog post will have any context without knowing all that we’ve been through since I started this blog. So for a point of reference, I’ll summarize and link to previous blog posts before I start.

I married my husband “For Richer or For Poor“. And we’ve had our fair share of “poor”. As I mentioned before, “… we’ve been homeless more than once, tried to make ends meet in Oklahoma, Florida, and now Alaska. We’ve changed careers and jobs at least four times; from military, to Subway (making sandwiches), to the FAA, to selling cell phones, to now working in the medical field where he’s finally growing and doing great.” But I would not trade any of it for all the money in the world, because our marriage has been reinforced like gold by a blacksmith.

There was a whole year where we were technically “homeless”, living with our friends (9 people in a three bedroom condo) while we did some major credit repair (no thanks to a military leak) and tried to buy a home. It was a trying time that would have been disastrous for our friendship had God not intervened. But, as I shared in “Unanswered Prayers“, He didn’t answer by getting us into a new home. He answered by saying a hard NO and we moved into a small rental to nurse our wounds like dogs in a corner. My heart and my faith had nearly been destroyed through these “Hard Times” and it took some isolation to heal. Really heal. But as we healed, our friendships and our church relationships were like… lavender essential oil to a burn wound. Or an IV to a dehydrated patient. It brought our family back to life.

Through this experience over the span of 18 months I learned to dance with God in this “Cha-cha of Life“, and I saw God work in miraculous provision, and miraculous healing. Not because we got the house but because of everything He did after the “no”. I saw my mom beat breast cancer, and a lawsuit dropped. I saw the will of a church family in an envelope with $5,000 cash to go take care of my mom and reunite with my family.

And then the dust settled. And we all sang joyfully, “It is well with my soul.” And we took on new adventures, more manageable ones. We paid off our vehicle AND flew to Hawaii. We were making it work.

So this is where I give the glory to God and to God only: We have been pre-approved for a home loan and are in negotiations for our dream house. To be even at this step makes me terrified to share for fear that something goes wrong! But I can’t say it was our great budgeting skills (because mistakes were made) or our amazing credit score (which actually went down after paying off debt) or a real impressive mortgage application. It was God and He alone. It was a night where I was praying instead of sleeping and I asked God, “What am I supposed to teach my children from that rejection? God I want them to have faith in You. I want them to build their lives on prayer and yet we prayed really hard and our prayers were not answered. How do I make sense of that for the sake of THEIR faith?” And then meeting a new friend at a wedding who became our realtor… and who had a good friend at a mortgage company who took all of our stuff… and here we are. Hoping to buy a house.

We are a family of 5 in a 1,000 sq ft, 2 bedroom apartment and a beautiful, blue, sun lit open door has been placed in our path and all I can think is “Thank God for His mercy and grace” because I don’t know how we got here, I’m just thankful we are here now.

Even if this home doesn’t work out, our hope has been revived. And there’s no price I can put on that. Hope that God has always heard and kept in mind every tear we shed. Hope that His “no” at that time wasn’t because of His inability or our unworthiness. Hope because we don’t know and may never know why He said “no” then and seems to be saying “yes” now. But I worship a God who is so far greater than my understanding, I can’t calculate and manipulate His responses or bribe Him to give me my way.

Posted in Family, Homeschooling

The Strength to Educate Bravely

This is not a sponsored post, I did not get paid to read this book or review it, and if you go buy this book I will not see a dime of it.

My current “I’m going to start a book club!” Inspiration

But I strongly recommend all homeschoolers to read Julie Bogart’s “The Brave Learner”.

Spoiler – The Brave Learner is not the homeschooled child. It is you. The parent. But now that all disclaimers are out of the way, I’ll proceed.

In my last post I shared how I learned this school year that I needed to let go of my kid’s education. And how they actually did BETTER being educated by others than in my homeschool environment.

In all transparency, this was a huge blow to my ego! I mean, I had homeschooled them for 6 years! How could they turn on me like that? And what would that say to the other 60 students I’m offering classes to!? I felt like a failure all school year – doomed because my kids weren’t progressing the first semester now that Mom was distracted with “part-time” work, doomed because I had to outsource and pay for their education at the hands of other teachers who were clearly better at this than me.

A Happy Curriculum Fair Goer

That’s probably the Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria aspect of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder speaking. But it was still there.

The turn around point from defeat to surrender was at the IDEA Curriculum Fair when I listened to Julie Bogart. She shared how her kids loved playing video games (and I felt a little less guilty) and how she played Yu-Gi-Oh cards with her sons for years (and I felt a little more validated). By all accounts I felt like we were in the same boat – so why did I feel like a failure while she is a renowned author and speaker?

But she encouraged me with a monumental truth I can’t help but share with everyone I know – a truth I’m not plagiarizing but making my own:

If I want my kids to be sincerely happy with this very different (and valuable) form of education, I need to let go of the type of education that makes ME happy and surrender to the life that makes THEM happy.

Today’s Brave Learning involved meeting up to play Dungeons and Dragons with other kids….

This next school year, my kids didn’t ask me to enroll them in public school or a charter school. And they didn’t ask me to enroll them in the same classes where I work. But they did ask me for real opportunities to work independently.

They want to do math online, specifically with Time 4 Learning. They loved their preview videos and felt like they would enjoy their time doing math in this manner. I wanted to enroll them with the fabulous math teachers I work with.

They want to do Oak Meadow textbooks for middle school, working at their own pace off one book (primarily) because Sonlight was “killing their love for reading”. I have mostly happy memories of teaching with Sonlight, and they loved the books! But they resented me for pressuring them to read the books as a part of their curriculum instead of allowing them to read it out of curiosity and enjoyment.

They have no choice with band. I paid $1700 for their instruments. They are stuck doing band till they get married!

My older two won’t even be in the classes I teach. They were more interested in the Oak Meadow materials than the subjects I would’ve covered next school year. I did not take this personally at all because at this point of the conversation, I saw the sparkle in their eyes as they ‘Ooohed’ and ‘aaaaahed’ over the textbooks that Oak Meadow brought to the convention. They are excited for next school year… I’ve homeschooled the past 6 years waiting for this moment of independent learning.

The time has come. I’m no longer the leader in my kid’s education.

Now my job is to be strong enough in my love for them to support them no matter what they choose, and to be brave enough to go on this journey being led by them (and not the other way around).

Posted in Family, Homeschooling

The Courage to Let Go

I’m super thankful to the charter school I homeschool my children through, Interior Distance Education of Alaska, which is different than the program I normally teach for.

Why aren’t my children students with the program I mostly work for? Because we started our homeschooling journey with IDEA long before I even thought of AK Exploring Studies. They are family!

My youngest LOVES WORKBOOKS and his pets.

IDEA puts on a curriculum fair every year for all homeschoolers in the area (more than one, across different cities, to be precise). It’s an opportunity to hear good speakers, and browse a whole convention’s worth of curriculum vendors. I love looking at stuff with my own eyes before considering what we are going to do next school year! There are also “fun” vendors like the Anchorage Museum, Barnes and Noble, or Classic Toys, which are a must-stop-at for my kids.

As a bonus, because I’m an IDEA family I can complete purchase orders at this fair for ALL THE SUPPLIES I WANT for the following school year. Some vendors will ship it to me in July (and most of them had free shipping as part of their deal), and some vendors give you a bag of stuff (like the vendors I bought Legos, or microscopes from). That means IDEA pays for it, I make a purchasing choice, I don’t spend any money out of pocket. We even walked out with three new iPads!

But for as long as I’ve homeschooled my kids it’s all been about ME. How I was going to teach. What I was going to use. I took into consideration my kid’s learning style, but I went with what I thought was fun or interesting.

He actually won money at his science fair project… Which to this day I do not understand.

Imagine my shock when my kids asked me – no, begged me – for text books. WHAT?! You mean you don’t love my Charlotte Mason/Classical/Unschooling approach?!? You didn’t enjoy all the wonderful readers I got from Sonlight?!? And all the projects from Moving Beyond The Page?!?!

And I guess this was the lesson for the school year: It’s time for me to let go. When I felt like I was hitting a wall with my kids and sacrificing their education at the altar of my new business venture teaching OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS, I had to enroll them with teachers and place them in a classroom (GASP!) where they had to do homework (GAG!) and even work out of textbooks (DEATH!).

But you know what? They thrived. More so than they had with me.

My daughter is my Pokemon Go buddy.

My youngest went from refusing to read or write to reading Robinson Crusoe, memorizing poetry and Latin, and diagramming sentences. My middle child went from refusing to learn her time tables at 5th grade to passing her math class at the very top, doing division and fractions like a boss and teaching others! My oldest wrote more essays (and learned to write better) the second half of the year than all the fussing and nagging I did would’ve ever accomplished.

So the first thing I learned at this year’s fair is that if I want my kids to enjoy their educational experience, it HAS TO BE THEIR educational experience. It is time for me to let go. And I did…

Posted in Family

Aloooooha!

We used our Spring Break to go to Oahu, Hawai’i.

Oahu, Hawai’i

This was such a big deal for our family. We had NEVER experienced a family vacation before. We had some memorable camping trips, but never traveled out of state all five of us for FUN.

The kids had been asking me to go to Hawai’i for a while, since we learned about the 50 States. I had told them they needed to learn how to swim. And they did. I was overdue in keeping my word!

We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the income that AK Exploring Studies provides. Through it we paid for everything and took this vacation DEBT FREE. No worries on the way there, no worries on the way back. This truly helped it to be a family vacation we’ll never forget because my husband and I were so relaxed, I think the kids got to enjoy a different version of us than the ones they get at home.

Teaching the kids what waves are good for!

We stayed in Waikiki, near the beach. We had plenty of days just walking to the shoreline to get all salty and sandy. We discovered a beach we liked just a little south, called Kapi’olani Regional Park and did some boogie boarding there.

But the home educator mom in me couldn’t just … beach lounge… so we did a lot of learning activities too. Like the Waikiki Aquarium, on a “rest day”.

Caleb was fascinated with their resident Monk Seal.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is the highlight of our entire trip there. A must go. We pulled out all the stops and paid for an “Ambassador Prime Rib Buffet” deal. Every show and attraction was phenomenal and my kids loved every “island” we visited (well, it didn’t look like Caleb enjoyed it, but that’s only because of sensory issues. Nothing the Center could’ve done; it was hot, and he’s Alaskan, he didn’t like it. He recalls only wonderful things from there!). The event that made the price totally worth it (more than half a crab and prime rib buffet dinner) was the Ha’ Breath of Life show. It moved me to tears. Like, I know you don’t want to fall into tourist traps where you wonder “Is this really worth the money?” so I’m here to tell you: YES! For two reasons: 1) You will never be able to “island hop” and get to know so many DIFFERENT Polynesian cultures for this price and 2) Every performer and employee is a foreign exchange student from the Island they represent. Your admission helps house and feed them while they attend school in Hawai’i in hopes of bettering their home.

We also did a whale watching and snorkeling tour. Go figure it was the only day that it was windy and rainy. The choppy waves led to some serious nausea and had I not been so sea sick I probably would’ve totally enjoyed their kalua pig buffet style lunch and four complimentary alcoholic drinks. They did, however, let us take home left overs and their food, microwaved a day later, was amazing.

The whales we got to see and the snorkeling experience made the experience worth it. Take it from someone who grew up snorkeling off the coast of Florida… It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

And it gave me the bug to snorkel some more (and take my poor husband on an enjoyable, definitely shark free trip) so we went on a date (that’s right! Kids stayed in the hotel!) to Hanauma Bay. This is the place to see fish if you are afraid to swim. You can literally see the fish from the sand. Find a spot that is knee deep and put on your snorkel – you will see very colorful fish and it will make it all worth your while.

More importantly, it was 9 days of no nagging, chores, homework, or grading. Literally no worries. A lot of snuggling, Pokemon Go, and sun burning. We met up with a church that meets at the beach called the Waikiki Beach Gathering thanks to Instagram and Hashtags and we worshiped together at the park that Sunday.

And I realize now that we need a God-ordained “Family Retreat” more often than we’ve done. Certainly can’t wait another 14 years of marriage to do that again. Probably won’t be able to go annually like my kids are asking. To be honest, I can’t wait to go back!

Posted in Family

My Hero Academia

Confession: I grew up with Anime (dubbed into Spanish. Yikes) and with few exceptions, I wasn’t really a fan. 

** Disclaimer: None of these images are mine.  I don’t draw that well. I don’t own them nor do I have the copyrights to them.**

heidiI was four years old when I watched my first anime, “Heidi” – yes, based on the novel of the Swedish orphan?  That was like my soap opera.  And I grew up with cousins that were really into Dragonball Z, and Sailor Moon, and I preferred Dragonball.  And then there was the Pokemon craze which I lost interest in after Pokemon #152.

My husband and kids are more into it than I am.  Once Dragonball Super finished my kids were looking into all the wonderful possibilities (and some of them were even dubbed in English!). I got involved to step up my parental controls.

Out of left field comes an anime that inspires us, makes us laugh, keeps us hanging at the edge of our seat!  I geek out over My Hero Academia, but I’m going to give you the parental review and not from a fandom perspective.

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The premise is that humanity has evolved where 80% of the population has meta-powers or “quirks” (not all that different from Marvel or DC comics).  This has changed regulations and laws as villains arose that could do things which had never been done before.  Because the police is maintaining it’s integrity in handling suspects, “Heroes” have stepped in and used their quirk to help apprehend (and that’s the key) villains and save mankind from the catastrophes that this ensues.

kachanEnter Izuku Midoria, a young boy in middle school.  In a world where he is bullied by kids with amazing superhuman abilities, he has none.  Completely quirkless.  But all he has ever dreamed of being is a hero like All-Might, the man he looks up to.

In a chance encounter Izuku meets All-Might and impresses him with his hero potential, not in his physical ability but in the condition of his heart, which gets Izuku a quirk and the best mentor in the hero world – and admission to the elite high school where super heroes are trained.  Here Izuku needs to learn not only how to use his quirk power but also the power in himself to be a hero by doing the right thing.

all mightThree seasons into it we are waiting for every episode.  I love and have had MULTIPLE devotions where we parallel Scripture to what we see!  As we see qualities in Izuku that Christ Himself has shown us to be the supreme example of (sacrifice, love, and compassion) we can’t help but cheer him on.  Along him come a whole crew of characters who are also navigating this personal growth and you can’t help but fall in love with them.  It is very well written!

studentsI personally LOVE how male to female relationships among high-schoolers are portrayed.  There’s a lot of respect, it’s innocent, and not dating centered –  as it should be.  There is the exception in one of the characters but it’s painfully obvious how this one dude is not with the program and when he’s inappropriate, it’s not funny.  It’s frowned upon.  Overall you see a crowd of peers that learn to work together the way I would hope my kids work with other kids at that age.  In the midst of teenagers, hormones, and crushes it’s very refreshing to see a series where boys and girls develop healthy, normal friendships.

That being said, there are some themes that may cause you to pass on this or watch episodes ahead and see if it’s for your child.  Although in my opinion, it’s not all that different than watching The Flash on the CW and definitely WORLDS better than anything on Cartoon Network, so here we go:
– Some females are overly sexualized in their costumes.  It was a character development decision that was thought through and justified (the way you would justify a woman in a bathing suit because she swims, but really wouldn’t expect her in a bikini top at school).
– In season 2, they get into the back story of one character that features an abusive father and the trauma that it brings about in his mother, which may be a bit too dark for younger kids.
– The villains are scary.  Scary the way Killgrave was scary in Jessica Jones; not because they’re monsters but because they are psychopaths.
– Season 3 episode 2 is not for kids.

Overall, I would say it’s for kids 10 and up with some episodes skipped, but with open communication I know of kids as young as 4 watching it with their parents.  And I think that’s what matters the most, to be honest.  What kind of dialogue do you have with your kids on the things they are watching?

Posted in Family

ISO Long Lost Relatives

This is not an affiliate post!  I paid for my own test with AncestryDNA.com and was not compensated or even asked to leave a review in any way.  The opinions on this blog post do not reflect the views of Ancestry.com and are exclusively my own.

Legalities out of the way, my husband and I did our DNA profiles with Ancestry.  Yup, despite the fear that now they will keep our DNA and sell it to third party companies that would track us from now on (no research for this, just my usual paranoia), we spit into the little tubes, shook it up and mailed it in.

And the results are in!

I did mine to try to find more info about my family.  I was hoping to find matches on my dad’s side of the family.  My dad and I don’t have a lot of information there – my grandfather left from Venezuela to Germany sometime around 1966.  My grandmother kept her maiden name, and came from Prussia – whether the polish or the German side of it, who knows?  Enough world wars have changed the landscape of Eastern Europe.

 

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Possibly my grandfather?? Who knows!

I have pictures of my grandma as a nurse, and bike riding through Europe as a young woman fresh out of school.  I also have pictures of her exploring Venezuela, and some colored photographs of her in Bali.  I know she visited a relative in Australia and had a friend in New York City.  I know she had brothers because I remember seeing the sepia-colored photographs of young men in uniform.  But I don’t really know anything about her!

 

So I was hoping to find more on Else Karalus or Hans Heimig, and see if there are any second cousins anywhere?  Any pictures or connections to a “home land”?  And this was probably fueled by the realization that my homeland is destroyed.  I will never, ever be able to take my husband and children to Venezuela and show them my grandmother’s grave, or my childhood neighborhood.  They’ll never know what it’s like to visit the falls, or the Andes, or the Amazonian basin.  And that grieves me.

My mom and I spent some time researching her side of the family and found out that her paternal grandparents were European Jews that came to Venezuela seeking refuge.  News to both of us!  And I’m thankful I met my great grandmother, and have pictures with her, and she walked me to school, because there isn’t much in the way of documents on an orphan ex-slave.  But it’s ok, cuz I knew her.  Till her dying day.

Anyhow, it’s a very difficult feeling to explain; you are always an immigrant, but you never have a country to go back to.  And you are adapted to the United States, well versed in politics, geography, and history – but it’s never “home”.  It always feels like you know this information as an outsider looking in.  Somehow I went on the search for a “home country”, one maybe in Eastern Europe I could hope to visit and learn about one day in replacement of the one I lost.

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I’m such a mutt I’m a child of the world!!

East Europe – my paternal side,  Prussia, explains this perfectly.  Native Americans – I’m sure that’s indigenous to Venezuela, like the Yanomami.  These two things make up half of the genetic pool that is me.

Then it’s a smorgasbord of ancient history and migration patterns.  Vikings that sailed all over the Baltic sea and established themselves in parts of Russia and the Iberian peninsula.  Spaniards, conquered by Romans and then Muslims.  Celts that fled from the Roman invasion in Britain.  African slaves from Senegal and Mali, brought on Spanish ships to Venezuela after Columbus’ ill arrival.  Aside from Southern Europe and Ireland, it’s dashes of spice from people that moved and were moved, conquered and were conquered, all somehow ending up in the northernmost part of South America to make me.

And somehow, unexplainably, a pinch of Melanesian (Papa New Guinea/Australian Aboriginal).  I’m sure that one made an interesting story some years back…

But this comforted me because it gave me a lot of places to call “home”.  A lot more history to learn, genealogies to look up, and hopefully once my kids all graduate – places to visit!  I was never meant to belong to any one geographical place here on earth.  I’ve always been a traveler passing through, with my citizenship in Heaven.  Then I’ll feel like I’m truly home.  Until then, I’ll keep searching for family members.

Do you have interesting lineages or family histories?  Share below!

 

 

Posted in Family, Homeschooling

Unquantifiable Benefits of Homeschooling

At the beginning of every year, I start evaluating all things from last year to determine our course of action for this year.  It’s kind of like setting New Year’s Resolutions, except no one keeps those.  I like to go a bit deeper and try to journal out things I wanted to do but didn’t, things I AM doing that I no longer want to do, things that worked out well and things that didn’t.  Then I try to be a bit more intentional moving forward.

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Homeschooling is one of those things that I can slave away and need some coffee in the morning and wine at night to get through.  But then again, that has more to do with parenting and less to do with schooling.  Temper tantrums, disobedience, and eye rolling happens in seasons for every kid (and I have three!) and they would happen here or in public/private school.  They just wear on me more when we are home together.

workout

However, every year I also find very tangible benefits to homeschooling.  Some I can put down on paper or a chart.  Some I just can’t.  More often it’s the unquantifiable benefits that far outweigh them all and has us pursuing the same course.

We are getting ready to do assessments with their contact teacher at their charter school tomorrow.  I needed some quantifiable results from an outside source to see if the kids are doing as well as I think they are.  Even though I’m seeing it with my own eyes, I have a hard time believing my 8 year old with ADHD does multiple digit multiplication in his head.  As much as I watch him do it.  He’s a self proclaimed 3rd grader that is supposed to be in 2nd and I’m not sure he has memorized his time tables.

It also feels like all of the sudden the three of them took leaps forward when it comes to writing, grammar, and penmanship. I would pat myself on the back if I knew how I did it.  I had been frustrated for almost an entire calendar year and all of the sudden – Whoosh! As if by magic – it clicked and it’s happening.baking cookies

But if I’m completely honest, my 5 reasons to continue our homeschooling journey are:

1.- My kids aren’t fussing with each other nearly as much as they were last year!  They have awesome moments of playing together or working together and they have more moments of resolving conflict calmly and respectfully.  If you have a child diagnosed with ADHD, this is HUGE.  As in, knock on wood, walk away and cross your fingers HUGE.

2.- My kids are taking a step back and making wiser decisions about their friendships outside the home.  They are realizing that even though they can be friendly to everyone, not everyone is a good influence on them.  I don’t think there’s a curriculum that teaches this.  But I’ll take it.

3.- My kids are the most outward-thinking, compassionate beings I have ever seen.  I am frequently getting reports from other parents who thank me about something very kind and helpful my kids did… of which I had no idea.  And would never had known if the parent had not messaged me.  Not something I can take credit for either, except to say that I’m convinced learning and living from a position of rest helps them to be less self-centered.Bible Quiz

4.- My kids are overcoming bullying a lot more effectively.  Yes, homeschoolers get bullied.  Because homeschoolers are socialized.  They are “weird” and often their kindness gets mistaken for weakness.  While it’s never pleasant, we’ve been able to address and recover from every incident and I am thankful for that opportunity.

5.- My kids have not gotten sick in a long time.  I have missed annual appointments because I forget.  Nothing lasts more than a day.  No fevers.  No runny noses. YAY!

caleb science

I’m a firm believer in that if it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.  I’m seeing homeschooling working on all fronts.  So that’s how we plan to continue until changes need to be made.  With my husband returning to medical school there is a possibility that sometime in the future I will have to work full-time so he can attend school or do rotations full-time.  We will cross that bridge when we get there, but I’m praying for a way to continue on this course that has been  specifically charted out by God for us.

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Posted in Family, Homeschooling

Raising Accountable Kids

I shared on my Instagram that I was super happy to have set up the Accountable Kids system in our home, and my friend Mrs. Lo Tanner challenged me to explain more on my blog, so here it goes.

Disclaimer: I’m not an Accountable Kid representative or affiliate.  Please follow the link to their site for more info!  I will not receive a dime if you click on the link.  I was also not paid to give my opinion.  I purchased this program out of my own pocket and this is just my honest review.  My blog post is not to be considered as a statement from the company.

But if you are like me, you can easily find yourself in this circle of repetition that wears us moms down to the bone.  How much time have you physically spent reminding kids to do what doesn’t come naturally?

If you have a child with ADHD you understand me.  It’s not laziness or unwillingness.  They just sincerely can’t remember a series of instructions over the course of the day.

CalebI read a couple of books on ADHD and, as far as discipline goes, the suggestion was not to “engage in battle” or “lecture” the child (as it just builds frustration and can be ineffective) but instead to develop habits through positive reinforcement and natural consequences.

That is why this program works well for my family! We brought it home and watched the video.  As a family.  My kids were excited to do this!  My youngest (who has ADHD) said, “Mom this is a perfect way for me to remember all the things I have to do in a day!”

In the most basic description I can give, the program sets up chores on tickets they flip once completed.  They get rewards in “tickets” for the chores they do – in my house, they can earn a ticket for completing all their morning chores, day time chores, and evening chores.  I basically go through their flipped tickets and see if they did everything they were supposed to in the time frame alloted.  Tickets are then used in exchange for rewards or privileges.

AnakinOur family decided to use tickets on everything electronic (Family TV time, computers, xbox, pads, etc) and  activities outside the house.  So each ticket is 15 minutes and they need to have 3 tickets before they’re allowed to turn something on.  If they want more time, they can choose not to spend tickets one day (not turn on an electronic device) to use another day.

The chores are very simple.  They have cards that say, “Brush your teeth”, “Take vitamins”, “make your bed”.  They also have chores like, “Dishes”, “Mop”, and “pet care”.  My kinesthetic learners don’t have to rely on memory for EVERYTHING.  They go to their board, read the task, do the task, then flip to the “Finished” peg.  In doing so I have eliminated HOURS of asking them to do things.

BrielleIt’s also effective because it doesn’t take away their volition; they can choose to not make their bed… then they don’t earn the ticket… then they have to go sit in their room while the rest of the family watches “The Flash”.  The natural consequence of the system has lifted discipline off my shoulders too.

Why would you spend money on this instead of setting up a chore chart?

  • Chore charts are visual. My kids are kinesthetic learners.
  • Chore charts show you the day or the week.  That is visually overwhelming and distracting for children with ADHD.  They only need to worry about one task at hand.
  • Chore charts leaves me entirely responsible for providing the consequences of success or failure.  With Accountable Kids, that responsibility falls entirely on THEIR hands!
  • Chore charts don’t provide a tangible and immediate reward for success.  These tickets provide that satisfaction even if they can’t “spend” that reward immediately.
  • Chore charts have to be consistently followed through to be effective.  Accountable Kids makes that easier on the parent.
  •  A Chore Chart is a list of things to do (how much do we like those as adults?), Accountable Kids helps my kids feel successful and in control.

I would say its a great program for any family and any child.  It is definitely worth reading their book on it!  If your parenting heart is like mine, we want to raise children  who are responsible for their actions.  We want them to take ownership of their contributions to our family so that as they mature, they’ll contribute to society! To that end, every family can strive to raise accountable kids.

 

 

Posted in Family, Friends

Boys, Girls, and Scouting


I’m going to weigh in on a very controversial subject, with the disclaimer that the views I’m expressing are entirely my own.

A few weeks ago Facebook was blowing up with commentary from Stacy Dash, Matt Walsh, and all these other conservative pages, about Boy Scout’s decision to include girls.

Most of the feedback ranged from, “Why can’t boys be boys and girls be girls?” to “America is going to hell, the transgender have indoctrinated even something as sacred as scouting.”

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Pumpkin Carving and “Running With The Pack” belt loop work for our Wolf Den.
This bothered me.

Nobody, in those articles about an article, cited the reason behind Boy Scout’s decision or their statement.  But I received their statement first because I am a scout mom.  It actually says, and I quote:

“Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before [1], making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing. Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family. Recent surveys [2] of parents not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts. Education experts also evaluated the curriculum and content and confirmed relevancy of the program for young women.”

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Our Boy Scout troop retired a tattered American Flag ceremoniously.
Regardless of how I feel about the position that they took (and I will share that in a minute), this was never – EVER – a push by the LGBT community.  Because it was never designed to incorporate girls into boy scouting through some vague, androgynous definition of boy or girl.

So food for thought towards those who put their opinions of social media, as entitled to them as you are: you just slandered a massive organization composed of loving, invested parents such as my husband and myself.

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My favorite Pop Corn seller Scout!
The truth is many parents within the BSA had problems with this decision.  Many parents in the very troops I’m involved with threw a fit because they don’t believe scouting should be co-ed.  Likewise, I was also privately messaged by MANY moms not involved in scouting who told me, “My daughter has always wanted to join boy scouts.  She is more into the stuff that they get to do.”

My feelings on the matter?

Thank you!

Thank you, Boy Scouts of America, for realizing how difficult it is on middle-class, working families, to drive one boy to cub scouts, one boy to boy scouts, and one girl to girl scouts.  Thank you for being considerate of our time and not dividing our family up one more evening a week.  Thank you for putting such high value on the family as a unit.  Thank you for not being chauvinistic.  Thank you for being more accessible to everyone else other than white families with a well-paid Dad.  Thank you for turning the hearts of the fathers towards their daughters.  Thank you for not being so sexist that you don’t feel the skills you teach your boys are equally important to girls as well.  Thank you for creating a way for my husband and me to serve with all our children.  Thanks for teaching boys to value and respect girls – because in doing so you are raising better brothers, boyfriends, husbands and dads… and less Brock Turners and Harvey Weinsteins.And mainly, THANK YOU that my daughter doesn’t have to “identify as a boy” or experience a transgender crisis because she’d rather hike and camp with the boys than play dolls with the girls.  Thank you that she can be totally feminine, totally secure in her God-given gender and still reach the rank of Eagle Scout if she so chooses.

Rant over.

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My daughter and her friend working on the Wolf Den Cub Scout activities.
Logistically I don’t know how it will play out.  I know per the Scouting Laws and Regulations that it doesn’t mean boys and girls will go camping together.  For the most part, it seems the plan here in our local troops is to have different dens or patrols for girls and for boys.  It will require a lot more manpower.  It may totally flop! I don’t know.

I’m sticking with our Troop’s Director, who said: What are we telling our girls if we expend more family resources supporting a boy in BSA? All that said, boys do not do well with the distraction of girls, especially before 16. On the flip side, having a wholesome venue for boys and girls of similar values to interact around a common purpose is not bad, and in fact may be a real benefit. As I see it, it all boils down to two questions. 1. To what degree will integration be required. 2. Will traditional views regarding God given gender differences and roles be supported or at least tolerated.”  The rest is really to be continued…