This is a picture of Emma about a year ago.
We had a great Memorial Day today. I didn't plan a thing. Should I admit that? Gary did most of the planning and work. He did the shopping, too. No wonder I thought it was such a great day, huh? Gary and I went out together to buy the drinks and a few condiments and spent some relaxed time talking, and his problems at work didn't come up once!
Then he started grilling the hamburgers and hot dogs. He made french fries – 2 different kinds- and baked beans and had bought potato salad. I cut up strawberries and prepared them for the little dessert shortcake cups. We listened to Adventures in Odyssey while we cooked. The kids cleaned and did chores while we prepared the meal. There was a really good atmosphere while we did these things. We had started discussing how we wanted to remember together the Memorial Day five years ago when we couldn't afford to pay the electric bill and had our electricity cut off. Gary and I were both feeling reflective and grateful before we even started the festivities. We all ate together, and the conversation was interesting and enjoyable without being contrived. The older kids helped serve the younger ones without being told to. I had to nurse the baby right when the food got done, but fortunately I wasn't extremely hungry. Then I was able to sit in Emma's place when she got done. I think we all felt an easy camaraderie. Gary was more relaxed than he has been in a while.
After the meal, we all gathered in the living room and reminisced about that week before Memorial Day of 2004 when we went on a forced fast of electricity. The twins were newborn babies at that time, so we have to tell them about it, so they know what God did for us. And the others were pretty young, so it's good to talk about it with them. They don't remember it, either. We had been living by faith for over 2 years at that point and money had come in fairly regularly. But we had gotten to the point where we were having to pray for every cent to pay every bill. And some things were not getting paid. The week before Memorial Day, we were all sitting in the living room praying for money to pay our bills when the doorbell rang. I went to the door, and it was the guy from the electric company. He said he needed $260, and I told him we didn't have it. I thought he would just go away. But after he left the door, we heard the computer shut off and the music shut off, and the lights went out. We all looked around at each other. We were shocked. We thought it was just an attempt to collect not an actual shut-off. I said I guess they were serious this time. Anna started crying. Gary told us to just keep praying and that God would take care of us. He said we would have to go to bed when the sun went down because we wouldn't be able to see anything after that. We started making plans for life without electricity and electronics. We were all very dependent on electronic media at that time. We didn't know what we were going to do all day without it!
As we prayed, the Lord told Gary that we were to leave the house each day. We were to go to the park and run and play. We were thinking about that when our relatives came and delivered a new cooler to us. It was a nice one with wheels and everything. We were amazed. That was our sign that God had spoken. We gathered up some soccer balls and volleyballs and put a picnic lunch together in the cooler. We went to a park that we had never gone to before. We noticed that there was a waterfall that you could hike to. So we did that. It was really nice. The kids were able to climb up to the top of it, much to my consternation. They had a blast! We pushed a double stroller all the way back there along a very rough trail. Shawn pushed it on the way there, and I pushed it on the way back. That was a workout. We had a great time that day in spite of all the negative things that were happening financially.
The rest of that week, we were taken care of through a friend letting us use his generator. We ran it just enough to keep our food from going bad in the refrigerator and freezer. We didn't cook at all. We had enough money to eat out each night. Somehow God provided for us so that we could have more fun and excitement than we normally did when we had all of our wonderful electronics and conveniences. I had to do dishes by hand and hang laundry on the clothesline. We felt like we were living in the Little House on the Prairie days. It was kind of fun. Lots of little miracles happened during that week. The first generator started leaking and could have blown up, but we discovered the leak in time. Gary's dad had a generator that we didn't even know about, and he let us use it. When we turned the generator on each morning, the water was already hot for baths and washing up. It shouldn't have been hot. The generator was only supposed to run a short time on the amount of gas we had in it, but it ran the whole week without adding gas.
We went to our house church meeting that Friday night, and I shared with our friends what was happening. They had been feeling like they were supposed to give to us, so they wrote us a check that more than covered the electric bill. Our children saw God provide for us in so many ways at that time.
When our electricity was restored, we had a new appreciation for all the conveniences afforded us by electricity. Even though, we enjoyed some aspects of our fast, we were very thankful for baths whenever we wanted to take them and being able to cook meals and being able to stay up after the sun went down. We're a bunch of night owls, so that was big for us.
Today we remembered that time and praised the Lord for what we have now. God has so abundantly blessed us with enough money to provide all of our needs. We have no lack now. We are able to give to others in need. So we praised Him and prayed together for guidance for the next part of our journey. Almost every one of us prayed. It was a really wonderful way to end our Memorial Day festivities.
Before we prayed, I read some stories from our family journal. In it we write things that happen that are funny or meaningful that involve several members of the family. I have told the kids to write in it whenever something memorable happens, but I have written most of what's in there. The few stories I read were interesting to all of us, and the ones involved said they didn't remember the incidents. I said it's a good thing I wrote it down. Some of them were funny. There was such a sense of unity and family closeness during that time. I felt like we had achieved something I've been hoping we could reach for a long time. It was so good to have Gary with us for a three-day weekend. And he and I were in more unity than we have been in some time.
I'm grateful for the family the Lord has given me and for the help He gives us in living together in love and truth and for His presence that we feel that makes life worth living. This has been a truly memorable Memorial Day. Thanks be to God.
This is how we homeschool:
First, let me tell you that we have routines, not a schedule based on time. We get up and eat breakfast. We pray together, put on our spiritual armor, and say The Lord’s Prayer together. Shawn, the oldest, leads the others in this while I take care of the two babies. Then he supervises the 6 oldest while they do their chores. We use Chorebuster.net to help us make the chore assignments each week. It has been the best chore organizer we’ve used. I put the information in one time, and then each week we print out what Chorebuster puts together and the kids don’t get mad at me; they blame Chorebuster for the chores they get. Each of them gets 2 or 3 chores each day. They set the timer and try to get everything done in an hour. I spend time on the computer during this time sometimes. At other times I help with cleaning. Then we come together, and I read aloud to the oldest 6.
I read from the Bible or from a living book that we’ve been reading. Right now we’re reading the second book in The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black. The boys really like it. The girls like it, too, but Patrick, in particular, really likes it. It reminds me of Pilgrim’s Progress, but it’s easier to understand.
I’m also reading a book about 12th century Korea called A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. It is a well-written book that is making us want to keep reading on and on. We love to read books that get us so involved in the story and so fond of the main character that we just have to find out what happens next.
Some days, we will do a lesson from Heart of Wisdom’s Adam to Messiah. I also have a unit study on Israel that we’ve started. We work on it sometimes. One week I read the assigned readings from the Daily Bible in Chronological Order every day, and it happened to be in Psalms. I really enjoyed reading those comforting words out loud each day.
Every day is the same, but different. I try to be led by the Spirit in what I read and speak to my children each day during our school time. Sometimes we discuss prayer needs that I’ve come across through email and Christian news online and needs of family and friends, and then we pray for them together. We used to make everyone pray, but that took a long time, and we had to really prod some of the younger ones to pray, so we changed our policy, and now we just allow anyone who wants to pray for a certain need to pray for it. Our together school usually lasts about 2 hours. Sometimes we discuss issues that have arisen and caused strife between certain children during this time. At other times, I have praised individual children for character development that I’ve seen in them and things that I’m pleased about in their behavior.
By the time we finish together school, Daddy is home, and we switch gears to welcome him home. He gets a big welcome with lots of little children yelling “Daddy’s home” (usually led by Emma when she hears the garage door start to go up) and running to him and hugging him. Some of us bigger ones run to him, too, if possible. Then he tells us what happened to him that day. This teaches them to honor their father.
Then most of the kids scatter to their separate rooms and activities. On alternating nights, Daddy takes the older kids to the YMCA where they lift weights and run and walk and generally get some good exercise. On the other nights, Shawn and I intend to do Geometry, using Life of Fred, but we haven’t been sticking to that plan very well. I think he’s getting antsy enough that he will press the issue soon and we’ll get cracking, so he can move onto Algebra 2, which we think he will like a lot better than Geometry. The younger kids do Math Mammoth. They do the pages, then bring them to me if they have a question and to check the problems when they’re done. The two next oldest kids use Teaching Textbooks which they can do on the computer, and is self-checking.
Science for us is everywhere. I have lots of books about science topics in our personal library. I also check out science-related books from the library. They like to watch nature shows and are drawn to nature books. They find things outside and study them on their own quite often. I can’t wait until we can move to the country and these kinds of occurrences can happen more frequently. Surprisingly, they did find a snapping turtle on the street in front of our house smack dab in the middle of a manicured-lawn neighborhood the other day. So no matter where you live, I guess nature happens!
We discuss Creation Science versus Evolution quite frequently. I have done some online Science courses through Cindy Rushton’s classes with the younger children this year. We did an online class about water from CurrClick.com with Kelsey and Morgan.
The other areas get covered by copywork and reading on their own and writing on their own. My girls do lots of writing without any direction from me. My boys are another story. I have to look for things to motivate them to write, such as letters to friends, lists of things they want, lists of things to do, etc. I use the Getty-Dubay Italic curriculum to teach them handwriting. I absolutely abhor teaching handwriting. The process turns me into a monster. So I let Italic do it. You can also find these at Rainbow Resource Center.
We also do lots of lapbooks. They are my babies. The kids aren’t as crazy about them as I am, but it’s the best way I’ve found to make them write some information about a topic on a page. My favorite lapbooking sites are lapbooklessons.com, homeschoolshare.com, In the Hands of a Child and knowledgeboxcentral.com. We do some notebooking, too, with the same results. I have to make my kids do them, and they resist, but they do like the results. Don’t ask them, they won’t tell the truth. I know they really do like their notebooks and lapbooks. They just don’t like being told that they have to do something.
That’s about it. They learn a lot about raising young children. They have each learned a lot about the stages of development. They learn a lot from daily things that happen to us and our loved ones. We discuss politics and spiritual ideas openly, and I know that even the younger children are picking up important principles and truths from listening to our discussions.
The older children read to the ones “assigned” to them at bedtime. I didn’t really assign them; it just kind of happened. They have Bible storybooks that they read to them and other books, too. I have to stay in my room to get the babies to sleep each night. Katie usually does late night kitchen clean-up.
We try to have family movies that have a good family theme from time to time. We love to make lots of popcorn and all sit around together watching a good, wholesome movie. Unfortunately, Emma manages to make a big mess of the popcorn every time. One night, when the movie was over and we turned the lights on, I discovered Emma asleep with her feet inside one of the popcorn bowls. Our family movie nights are educational in what they teach about sharing, cooperating, being together as a family and the importance of bonding. Oh yeah, and how movie theater ushers feel when they clean up after a movie.
That’s all I can think of for now. I believe that
Education is a Life
as Charlotte Mason said it. And our life is about getting to know God and learning what He wants us to learn, so we can be ready for whatever He has for us in the future.