Home School Help for Me!

I’m enjoying a book called  The Rhythm of Family by Amanda and Stephen Soule.  As I was reading Amanda’s writings about canning and crafting and all sort of creative and beautiful activities, I was comparing my efforts of past years, when my kids were young.

And I found myself weighed in the balance and found wanting – can you relate? Could we all just stop doing that?  I stopped myself with a positive “yeah, but . . .”

Yeah, but my kids made a hammock in the top of a tall oak tree, forts in the woods, ships on the creek, trains in the garage. They made up and wrote stories about the local rabbit family and buried and hunted treasure, caught and lost crawdads and lizards, and slew as well as drew great dragons.

They loved and were loved by an oddity of a dog. He seemed odd to us, that is, but to him his behavior was absolutely normal.  I’ll share more about this dog in a moment, but back to my kids’ having a childhood – maybe they didn’t live on the ocean in Maine and maybe their mom wasn’t the craft queen of the universe.  But she made them homemade fingerpaints when it was raining, and turned grape juice into popsicles when it was hot, and they know how to make artisan breads, and what a snake smells like when you get too close while you’re picking blackberries.

They still remember reading Timothy Tattercoat on a quilt in the shade with a thermos of iced tea and peanut butter on saltines. And through Timothy, a desire was instilled in their hearts to live where he lived, in the mountains of Colorado.

I mentioned our old dog, Buster, who died by the way, chasing a car, and as we told the kids – he died instantly as his head connected with a fast-moving fender, and it was probably painless.

Buster was better at chasing cows – they and he knew who and what he was.

We were walking in the country a long way from home one day and we came upon a pasture full of cows, in the corner farthest fro m the road. Buster went across the pasture, herded those cows to the opposite end of the field and they did exactly as he bade them. He was the boss of these big and theretofore unknown cows.

Not so Chihuahuas. There was a lady who walked her three chihuahuas past our house every day.  Benjamin, age 7 then, called her Mrs. Chawalla.  I guess Buster thought her dogs were giant rabies-infested rats – he was terrified and hid under the back porch and cried every day when they went by.

As for snakes, he would step on or over them and not even see them. Amazing.  But when it came to doing what he was created to do, he meant business.  He knew who he was.  He was a cowdog.  An Australian Shepherd.

We come to know who we are when we grasp that great truth that we are created in the image of God, who is Love, and we are therefore, when being our true selves, LOVE.

Which means – aha! – that I can rejoice in and admire the strengths and successes of other moms, and perhaps even emulate them in some areas; I can look back with appreciation for what I did right and ABSOLUTELY forget about what I might have done differently; and I can do a great service to my kids now, whatever their ages, by modeling the rest and contentment that comes from knowing who and Whose I am.

What a way to live!

It’s a New Day in the Good Ol’ USA

Today on the Home Front Show we’re gonna rant happy, give God glory, get in the face (gently) of those “Christian” conservatives who can only see the negative, who give what Satan’s up to way more facetime than the new mercies of God in this new day!

We’ll begin with Helen Keller’s assertion that, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” then discuss the adventure of home schooling, and end with John Parker’s thoughts on the adventure of turning what Satan intends for evil to good via instantaneous, weapons-grade forgiveness. 

And of course, much more, like the Domestic Bliss of becoming a Fermentista, and the Three P’s of Power, and a really tough Challenge of the Week for us all.

Make a plan and call a friend – and be blessed. 

Go to:  1360am.co and click on “Live Radio”

2:00 PM Mountain Time, Friday, May 19!

 

I Did Not Need My Economics Degree to Figure this One Out

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Just as I predicted, with the election of Donald Trump, the American economy is exploding.  And I believe that will mean fewer marriages ravaged by financial stress, more opportunities on all fronts, and most of all, I hope it means more moms will be able to be at home.  Homemakers, homekeepers, hearthtenders.

I not only hope, I earnestly and diligently pray that we are about to, once again, become a society where people are nurtured in the most excellent place of all – home.  And by the most blessed and privileged of all people – homemakers.

I wasn’t so privileged when I got the “education”, bought the Italian pumps and sported the chic haircut.  I had a fancy office all my own and a degree – a piece of paper – to prove I was somebody.

But now I have “medals”.  “You and John have medals,” a lady at church recently said to me after we stood together as a family before the congregation.  The pastor had asked our oldest son to come forward for prayer, along with John and me, before leaving for officer training in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Our other three joined us as well.  The pastor prayed, John prayed, and I managed to pray through the tears of an utterly full heart.

There were other words spoken and joys shared and then those words from a lady I didn’t know.  “You and John have medals.”  She paused and I waited as she gazed at our children.  “Your children are medals.”

Indeed.  And we fought for them.  We fought financial fears when I chucked that fancy job to stay home with Benjamin.  “It’s an opportunity to trust,” I said to John when the doctor said if I didn’t abort Hannah I would not survive.  Told I would miscarry Rebekah, again we donned the full armor of God and we fought.  Recovering from the C-section that brought us Seth, I battled for my health and vitality, and John prayed me through those wearying days.

Attempting to hear God and not our own insecurities or preferences, or the opinions of others, we stood our ground when we decided to home school.  John prayed as I sought self-discipline, self-control and patience.

Always, we suited up for battle with the Word of God in our mouths, saying what He said about our children, rather than what we wanted to spew out of our mouths.  This child is impossibly strong-willed, stubborn, willful, and I am at my wit’s end with her!  was the thought.  The words were prayers and positive scriptural confessions:  “This child is my great and glorious gift, fearfully and wonderfully made for God’s purposes and she will live in the light and bring blessings all the days of her life.”

And so on.  Through the years I have made the most powerful and eternally profitable investment a woman ever has the privilege to make:  I have raised my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  I have been a homemaker.

For John, the husband who supported my determination to do whatever it took to raise my children (for a time we took all four of them with us on our trim and tile jobs) I am grateful beyond all measure.

Because I raised my older children as a single mother, or rather they were raised by the daycare center and the public school system, I know the immeasurably high cost of a “real” job, of a society-sanctioned career.  I know the ever-diminishing returns on that kind of investment – investment in the world’s ways.

“I simply can’t go through that again,” I said to John when we talked about my returning to work and finding childcare for Benjamin.  It wasn’t just about my baby, it was about me, and my peace of mind.  It was about that deepest of needs in my heart, the need to make a home for my family, to be a homemaker.

A homemaker who is also a homeschooler has it made in the shade, especially if she has a strong and good husband.  Her life in no way resembles the stereotype of the harried and frantic chicken-with-her-head-cut-off mommy.  Rather, if she seeks the impartation of wisdom freely given via simply asking the Holy Spirit and reading God’s Word each and every single morning, she grows ever more skillful in battle, ever more confident and in full receipt of her rewards.  Her life is lived in rhythms of grace, rather than in sorrow and regret.

If I had it to do over in what I call my “first life” I would have cleaned houses and taken my babies with me, or lived in a tent by the river, or moved in with family.  But I would not have sacrificed my children on the altar of career, I would not have bought the line that I “couldn’t afford” to do otherwise.

I would have said, “What I can’t afford is the breaking of the little hearts and spirits of my children by leaving them in the care of, at best, indifferent workers while I go and chase the almighty dollar.

I am eternally grateful for this second chance, but regarding my older children, there are no overs.  I urge and exhort you, if you have young children being raised by others as your heart yearns for them, pray and believe God for the highest of callings and privileges, that He will make the way, that He will be the author and the finisher of your parenting, your marriage, your family.  Your home.

Then say joyously to all who ask who you are and what you do:  I AM A HOMEMAKER.

Seriously! Me Read The Lord of the Rings?!!!

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I’ve stopped the lament about the dearth of edifying, smut-free, uplifting and thought-provoking books being published recently.  I’ve even taken a further step and am reading well-known classics (some are awful, by the way, and don’t deserve finishing) and lesser known but quite excellent books, such as Beverly of Graustark, and Elizabeth Goudge’s ever-so-marvelous Pilgrim’s Inn.

But today I have made up my mind to read books recommended by my family, books I’ve resisted for a number of years, throughout our home school journey.

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Experience says this is a good idea.  Case in point:  The HobbitSince high school when my girlfriend urged me repeatedly to read it, I have said, “It’s not my thing.  I know I won’t like it.”

My kids have also relentlessly pestered and badgered me to read The Hobbit, and finally, after years of resistance, I relented and read it.  And loved it!  And over the past three weekends, the three Hobbit movies have been our excellent viewing entertainment (greatly enhanced and understood because of first reading the book).

So where does all this go?  To the classic literature they have all read, the books they pity me in my ignorance of, and stubborn resistance about – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

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There seems to be a sort of secret affinity and understanding, a club of higher thinkers if you will, that those of us who haven’t read The LOTR books simply cannot fathom.  Therefore, it would behoove me, methinks, to read these literary masterpieces and make everyone in my house believe there is hope after all, that miracles do indeed happen, and that Mom is redeemable – perhaps even interesting – now that she is learning the difference between an orc and a ring wraith, and can even speak a bit of Gollum.

Here’s the Challenge:  Read things you don’t think you’ll like, just to make someone else happy.  Who knows what could happen?  Maybe the next time I want them to read something marvelous about which they have reservations, they’ll just read it!

What a concept – reading something new and different just because it will make someone else happy, just because it’ll give you insights into their strange conversations, just because it’s the way into “The LOTR Club” of higher thinking individuals.  This sounds like a no-lose deal.

And who knows, I might even like it, orcs and all.

 

A Different Kind of January on the Home Front Radio Show

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Tomorrow on the Home Front Show (1360 am radio in Johnstown, Colorado) I have about three hours of material to fit into one.

I’m going to share from The Founder’s Bible excerpts entitled Saturate Yourself in God’s Word and A Most Interesting Act of Kindness.  I’ll be discussing how the Bible doesn’t talk about New Year’s Resolutions – rather, we are shown by example to make New Day’s Resolutions.

Resolutions in January?  January, rather than being fit for get-up-and-go activities, is much more suited to hibernation, fireside chats, and thick socks and sweaters.  And even if you live where it’s 80 degrees, just think of January as a lovely time for recovering from the holidays, for thoughtfully and prayerfully and gently easing yourself into the new year.

But back to the Home Front Show (Friday, Jan 6 at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time):  I’m going to call on the written words of wise women tomorrow, regarding marriage and homemaking.  I’ll be sharing marriage thoughts from my own book, The Maker’s Marriage, as well as choice words from Dr. Laura’s The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.  Time permitting Edith Schaeffer will be quoted, and I’m going to rock a few boats with thoughts from Bringing up Bebe.

As almost always there will be a plug for Home Schooling.  Bringing Up Bebe is actually a book I recommend for moms who can’t wait until their kids are old enough to send to school, and another author who probably never thought she’d be used for this purpose is Jane Brocket.  I’ll be suggesting that Jane’s books might be almost all you need for a fabulously fun and productive home school curriculum for girls.

The show will go on – to other topics, in particular that of personal identity, and protection from “identity theft.”  In December I started talking about identity theft in our society, but didn’t get very far due to time constraints.  So, January’s shows (every Friday at 2:00 p.m. MT) will all at least touch on this, with a special and eloquent speaker on the subject joining us for the final January show.

The Home Front Show is all about building your home through building your faith.  So, as I always say on the broadcast (or something to this effect), “Do you have a friend who could use a boost?  Call her or him and say,Tune in to the Home Front Show!'”

THE INESTIMABLE POWER OF GOOD BOOKS, AND SOME FAVORITES FOR ALL AGES

A child in the direst of circumstances, experiencing the darkest of childhood horrors, can learn of, and be programmed to seek, better worlds via the reading of good books.

But what is a good book?  One of sacrificial love, heroic acts, and a victorious ending.  One reflecting what and who we are – created in the very image of God to create new worlds, to overcome old evils, and most of all, to love forevermore.  Such a book, if we’re very lucky as adults, will be full of beautiful description, and if we’re children or reading along with children (yay!) will grant us the privilege of gazing upon anointed artwork.

Escape from “reality”?  Not so much as adventurous travel to a higher and more honest “reality.”  That’s because a good book, perhaps especially the most amazingly fantastical of them (think Tolkein, Lewis, Rowling) draws us into and takes us along with people becoming more than they ever dreamed or imagined they could be.  And that is what we really want in a book – humans being who we truly are, doing what we’re truly capable of doing.  More than conquerors.

Enough of such reading and a child will decide that the paltry, dingy, and the defeated is the fantasy, and that he/she is going to live on a higher plane, just like that hero and that heroine in that most excellent of gifts – a good book.

Toward the end of promoting your and your child’s literary delights, I have, with the assistance of my children (now more or less grown-ups) compiled an abbreviated list of excellent reading.  Many of these books are endorsed by not only all four of our (my and husband John’s) children, but by John and me as well.

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So, here goes, more or less ordered from early read-aloud picture books, to adult literature.

IF I HAD A LITTLE TRAIN by Larry DiFiori

GOODNIGHT GORILLA by Peggy Rathmann

BARNYARD DANCE by Sandra Boynton

GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU by Sam McBratney

TIMOTHY TATTERCOAT by Maryel Cheney THIS IF ONE OF MY FAVORITE READALOUDS

HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson

FROG AND TOAD (ALL OF THEM!) by Arnold Lobel ANOTHER FAVORITE READALOUD FOR MOM

LITTLE CRITTER (ALL OF THEM) JOHN’S FAVORITE READALOUDS

THE COMPLETE PETER RABBIT by Beatrix Potter

STELLA LUNA by Janell Canon

THE LADY AND THE LION by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and Laurel Long (marvelous illustrator)

FIVE DOLLS AND THEIR FRIENDS by Helen Clare

THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE by Elizabeth Goudge

BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild

PIPPI LONGSTOCKING by Astrid Lindgren

MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE by Betty MacDonald

THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by Kate DiCamillo

MARY POPPINS by P. L. Travers

HANK THE COWDOG and all other books by John R. Erickson

BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C. S. Lewis

THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain

A LITTLE PRINCESS and THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS, ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, and THE LONG WINTER by Laura Ingalls Wilder

LITTLE WOMEN and LITTLE MEN by Louisa May Alcott

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle

TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L. M. Montgomery

KIDNAPPED and TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson

THE GOOSE GIRL TRILOGY by Shannon Hale

HANS BRINKER AND THE SILVER SKATES by Mary Mapes Dodge

THE LEGEND OF HOLLY CLAUS by Brittney Ryan and Laurel Long

THE BLACK STALLION by Walter Farley

UNDERSTOOD BETSY by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST by Richard Henry Dana

LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER by Deborah Wiles

THE NICKEL PLATED BEAUTY by Patricia Beatty

THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON by Johann David Wyss

PRINCE ACROSS THE WATER and THE ROGUES by Jane Yolen

THE PERILOUS GARD and THE SHERWOOD RING by Elizabeth Marie Pope

RASCAL by Sterling North

THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND by Elizabeth George Speare

MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Jean Craighead George

CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith

THE STORY OF KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS by Howard Pyle

CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E. B. White and Garth Williams

ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe

OLD YELLER by Fred Gipson

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart

BEAUTY by Robin McKinley

BY THE GREAT HORN SPOON and anything else by Sid Fleischman

THE MUSHROOM PLANET SERIES by Eleanor Cameron

A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST and FRECKLES by Jean Stratton Porter

RIFLES FOR WATIE by Harold Keith

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O’dell

DRAGON CODEX SERIES by R. D. Henham

THE HARRY POTTER SERIES by J. K. Rowling

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

JUBAL SACKETT and THE LAST OF THE BREED by Louis L’Amour

THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY by J. R. R. Tolkein

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

DADDY LONGLEGS and DEAR ENEMY by Jean Webster – ALL TIME BEV FAVORITES

BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens

STRANGER AT WILDINGS by Madeleine Brent (ANYTHING BY MADELEINE BRENT!!!)

THE P. G. WODEHOUSE COLLECTION by P. G. Wodehouse

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL by James Herriot

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

 

These are a few books that at least two of us agree to be exceptional books.  Obviously this list could be much, much longer and include more of your favorites as well.  But I hope that you find something there you’d forgotten about and want to read again, as well as something you always meant to read, and something you never even heard of, such as Daddy Longlegs, or By the Great Horn Spoon.  Happy Reading Adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

The Stupid Question: What About Socialization?

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“Precisely.”

That’s what to say when you’re asked this most aggravating and ignorant of questions about why your child isn’t being institutionalized.

“But aren’t you concerned about socialization?”

“Yes.  That’s one of the reasons we homeschool.”

Total confusion on their part.

Patient sigh on yours.

“First of all, we aren’t socialists.  We don’t believe the state knows best.  We don’t believe the state owns us or our children.”

“Secondly, we don’t think hanging out all day long (mostly sitting) with ignorant little kids who look, talk, dress, and are in more ways than not, exactly alike, is proper socialization. ”

“In fact, we think it’s extremely unnatural, unhealthy, and stifling.”

Oh, and we’re too nice to say so, but it’s your kids and grandkids (it’s mostly old fools who come after us on this)  who won’t look us in the eyes when we attempt to converse with them, who mutter or don’t answer at all, who display an alarming dearth of original thought and logic if they do venture an opinion, not our poor little homeschooled “hicks.”

We have always gotten compliments on our kids – on their ability to converse with people of all ages, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and races; on their friendliness, kindness, respect, and their obvious enjoyment of life and each other.

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Yes, you can search and find kids like ours, and they may even be kids who are public-schooled.  Don’t know, haven’t seen that very much.  But why go to the trouble?  Why not just homeschool?

Yes, your kids will miss out if you homeschool.  They’ll miss out on being bullied or becoming bullies, on easy access to drugs, sex, alcohol and porn.  They won’t learn about being one of the “in crowd” or being “cool” and “popular.”  In short, they won’t be social monstrosities, with mountain-tall egos, or “nerds” who hate school.  And if you have even the smallest of success, you will raise individuals who miss out on becoming followers.

You, too, will miss out if you homeschool your children.  You’ll miss them turning into hellions during their teen years.  You’ll miss them losing respect for you and your beliefs, and you’ll miss becoming an embarrassment to their social little arses.

If you homeschool, you’ll miss out on being politically correct and socially acceptable.  And yes, you’ll have to deal with the stupid question.  I’ve given you a few answers, and here are a couple more:  “Who and what successes qualify you to judge me?”, and, “So, what hole do you live in (speaking of socialization) so that you don’t know the abysmal failure public education in America has been proven to be, no matter how you measure it.”

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “no matter how you measure it.”  Because if your goal is turning out good little robots who lose their sense of personal worth, individual creative prowess, and dare I say, common sense and kindness, then maybe public school is a roaring success.

Go ahead, in the name of socialization, steal your child’s childhood.  Take away his time to play, invent, create, read, read, read, commune with God and nature, and grow into the person God intended, so that he can change the world.

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Look around you.  Do we need even one more just-like-everybody-else person?  Your child is unique in all the world, in all the history of the world.  It will take a huge and concerted effort to make her just like everyone else – socialized.  In fact, you can’t do it alone.  You’ll need all the help you can get to stamp out all that originality and wonder.  Hooray, there’s public education in America!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just say “Yes” to the Idea of Home Schooling Your Child

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          People worry about bad things that might happen to their kids in public school – kids getting fat due to unhealthy food, kids being bullied, kids getting shot.  But they don’t seem to worry about the certainties:  Their kids will be institutionalized, and taught that they are nothing, less than nothing, in fact. 
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          A few years back we took a trip to visit a famous museum, where I was appalled at the exhibit “proving” that we are all products of nothing more than “oxygen pollution.”  Yes, there are worse things than being highly developed apes.  One can have affection and regard for an ape.  But to be nothing more than pollution?  You can try all the self-esteem training in the world, but it won’t take over deeply-embedded programming such as this.
          The truth is that every one of us is unique in all the world, uniquely qualified to do something marvelous for God and man.  This is the goal of education:  the love and adventure of learning of who our Maker is, why He made us, and the equipping for the task.
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          Pastor Keith Moore recently said, “We need to be delivered from this desperate need for others’ approval.”  I submit to you that we got that mentality in public school.  We learned to follow the crowd, to strive for the grade, to fit in and be “cool” in public school. 
          Yes, of course all this happens in most private schools as well, but many private schools are Christian, and therefore do not denigrate the child with anti-Creation messages.  However, there is one way to be certain your child is taught the intrinsic value of every human, and that is to believe it yourself and teach it at home. 
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          Oh, you’re doing that?  Once in a while. And you think you can counter that pervasive message from “educators” just fine.  And how about the influences of children whose parents have failed to teach them kindness and respect?
          We recently visited friends whose pre-schooled child talked back to her mom and it was like listening to a rebelling teenager.  I was so grieved.  A child that age should be over the moon in love with her mommy.
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          So what do I suggest?  Home schooing.  Of course. 
          Before you start your tired mantra:  I can’t, I couldn’t, I’m not qualified, I have to work, I’m a single parent, my kids drive me nuts . . . Just stop for a second.  Consider the idea.  What if you could?  What if you at least prayed about it?  What if it’s true that where there’s a will there’s a way? 
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          You may not be qualified, but it’s probably not for the reasons you think.  I once read about a woman who decided against home schooling and was glad she did when she saw her kindergartner standing in line.  She knew that had she home schooled ,her daughter would never have learned this “skill.”
          When our kids were young teens we enrolled them in Karate.  When the instructor told the class to line up our kids just stood there.  John laughed and I rolled my eyes.  Hannah later said she knew what a line was, but she just thought she should be first and everyone should get behind her.  How’s that for a different perspective?
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          Back to the woman who thinks standing in line is an important life skill.  This woman is not smart enough to home school.  But you are, or you wouldn’t be reading my blog.  If you potty trained that child and taught her to talk and how to tie her shoes, you can teach her to love learning and be a life-long performer in the dance of life. 
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Real Men

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I nominate my dad for sweetest and handsomest dad and my kids nominate him for best grandpa ever.

If I had to describe my dad in one word it would be “kind.”

I said to my kids (not telling them my word), “I want you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind to describe your grandpa.”

“Stalwart,” Rebekah answered.

“Kind,” said Seth.  “That’s the first word I thought,” Hannah agreed.

I think those two words are what every dad and grandpa should be:  kind and stalwart. 

And if he has giant dimples and an ever-present grin, well that’s just gravy.

The “Art” of Home Education

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“What should I do with him today?” Hannah asked this morning, regarding her babysitting charge.  “I’ll think on that,” I said, knowing Hannah was talking as much to herself as to me, and would as usual come up with something on her own.

Still, I pondered her question because I said I would, and then later called her.  “I know what you can do.  Google a recipe for finger paints, then let him do something like the horse Seth did with finger paints when he was about that age.”

“Oh, God,” Seth moaned in the background (he now thinks that marvelous painting is awful).  “Thanks, Mom, that’s what I’ll do!” was Hannah’s more gratifying response.

It doesn’t matter what Seth thinks about that painting, or that he doesn’t understand why his dragon water color has a place of honor (more on that place later) or that Benjamin wishes heartily that I take down his crayon drawing of his battle horse, “Ready”, or that Hannah disagrees entirely with my assessment that her quilt horse pencil drawing is pure joy (I even have candles to match it).  Rebekah’s most prized artwork (in my view) is her picture of me (I have a crown on my head and a hugely smiling, bright red mouth and am wearing a low-necked turquoise dress), and she’s the only child who never complains about it being on the wall for all the world to see.

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Yes, there was plenty of art that never made the frame, never graced our walls, some of it long gone, others in folders stored away.  And I do have artwork that was done by “professionals”.  But none of it has ever elicited the interest, the smiles, even the joy brought by the works of my children.  ‘Real” art has never made John say, as he did about Seth’s 4-year-old finger-painted horse, “Don’t ever take that down.  It makes me smile every time I look at it.”  Me, too.  Even now.

Hannah, in entertaining her charge last week, sculpted a cat for me, as he created for his mom.  Hannah wrapped her creation carefully in toilet paper, sat down beside me on the couch when she got home, and said, “I know you are the one person who will appreciate this.”  She unwrapped the cat, and just as she knew I would be, I was delighted.  The cat (not named yet, am waiting to get to know him/her) sits in a place of honor on my dresser.

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As to Seth’s dragon painting’s place of honor, it sits in front of the TV, effectively hiding the hideous thing from view.  TV can be the greatest enemy of creativity, of family life, of art appreciation.

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In all our travels the kids have never been allowed to watch movies or play video games rather than enjoying the scenery (they can read if they like).  Nature’s art speaks to our hearts whether we’re on the Oregon coast or at the highest spot we can climb to in Rocky Mountain National Park, or amid the Sugar Maples during Fall in the Ozarks, or on a desolate stretch of desert highway.  Appreciation and understanding of God, that’s what art can give us.  Real art.  Art from the heart.

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Exhortation of creativity is one of the hallmarks of good home education.  Good home education produces children who are highly individual, and yet uniquely qualified to contribute to the greater good. Such as in creating artworks that are also mementos.  Such as taking the time to ponder what will bring joy to the heart of a child when babysitting.

A little child will lead you.  When Seth first tried to draw dragons, I bought a little book entitled, “How to Draw a Dragon” (or something like that).  When Rebekah wasn’t all that keen on drawing, I bought books on how to draw horses (she was very keen on horses).  Hannah’s interest in water colors was fueled by a local water color class.  For Benjamin, I simply kept plenty of pencils, pens, and paper on hand, as his art was mostly props for his writing.  If he was creating a battle scene, he would go outside, build a city, enact the battle with the wooden sword and shield John made one year for his birthday, come back inside and sketch out further details, and return to his writing (fantastic writing by the way).  My small contribution was making a hauberk, helping John with the finishing touches on the shield, and saying, “Absolutely!!!” when John asked if I thought he should add a battle axe to the weaponry.

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Home education, done in love’s rhythms and graces, can make learning an enchantment of  color and light and joy.  An art, in other words.