Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday TRUTH: Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe- Lie #2

The image to the left was a mobile upload I posted last year, with this caption:
"Up early this morning, sipping coffee, reflecting on God's faithfulness, feeling BLESSED and singing Kum Ba Yah about how much I love being a mom. Rounded the corner and saw this on the stairs. Yes, motherhood is being thankful for this!! And I am!! #keepinitreal"

I thought of it when I got to this week's "truth." As I mentioned last week, I'm going to spend the next few Tuesdays "tackling truth" by reposting a series I wrote a few years ago based on Todd Wilson's book, Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe. Why, oh why, do I continue to lapse into believing lies, even when I've reminded myself of the truth repeatedly? Since I need it, I'm posting a refresher!

So, here is Lie #2. See if you can relate!


What would you do if your doorbell rang right now? (Go have one of your kids ring it, just for effect...) What if one of your kids looked out the front window and said, "Hey Mom, Mrs. So-and-so just pulled up in front of our house!" (Have one of them do this right now, just for kicks...)
OR- what if I called you from my car and said I was in the neighborhood and I'd be stopping by in the next 5 minutes, because I have this great book I wanted to drop off for you to take a look at. Don't worry, I'm just popping in for a second! See you in a few!

Did your chest get a little tighter just thinking about it? Did your eyes just dart around the room noticing the piles? Did your mind's eye just venture to the entryway, leading into the living room and visualize what a visitor would see... and cringe?

If you're like me, you'd dash around the house while calling out commands to the kids:

"Pick your stuff up off of the stairs!"
"Quick, put the dogs outside!"
"WHO left this on the couch??"
"Someone go make sure the downstairs toilet is flushed!"
"Oh, my GOSH, look at the living room floor!"
"Hoist the mainstay!"
"Swap the poopdeck!"
"This isn't a museum, people, let's MOVE!" (:::channeling "E.R."::::)

And why is that? Because, you may believe...

Lie #2: Everyone Else's House is Cleaner Than Yours

Why do we think that? We've been to friends' houses and to us, it looks perfect. Or maybe it was perfect. Nevermind that she was still breathing hard when you got there, from hurriedly getting it cleaned up before you arrived...

I remember a couple of years ago my dear father-in-law stopped by for a visit. He was sitting in our living room enjoying a nice glass of iced tea, contentedly looking around. Finally he said, "Cyndi, you have such a nice home. It is really beautiful." I was in the midst of smiling modestly and graciously when my sweet son piped up and said, "You should have seen her when you called and said you were coming! She said, 'Kids! Quick! Clean up the house! Grandpa's coming!' She was freaking out! "


The truth is, we live in a home... with kids. Not only that, but our kids go to school here as well. When I first started homeschooling, I thought about how when I had taught public school, we all left the building by 4:00-ish and then the cleaning staff came. The next morning the restrooms were alway nice, fresh-smelling and scrubbed. My boards were clean, the trashcans were empty, the cafeteria tables and kitchen were clean and ready. The hallways were shiny and polished each morning. How does this happen in schools across America? Besides the fact that there's a whole separate STAFF assigned to that job, it happens because for a few hours every single day, everyone vacates the premises and the staff restores things to their original, upright positions. While the kids are creating disorder in another environment (home) the environment in which they created disorder all day (school) is being set back in order! But for homeschoolers, it all happens here. And it doesn't have to look like it doesn't.

I don't know about you, but I don't have a cleaning staff. We don't leave while the cleaning staff sets things back in order. We are here creating the messes, and then somewhere built into our life we set about cleaning up the messes. There's almost never a time in our day-to-day life when it's all done and perfect. We are always somewhere in the creating messes-cleaning up cycle when the doorbell rings. We just are. And so are you. So are all of us.

Awhile back my daughter said, "Mom, I'm so glad we don't have the kind of house where there are certain towels we can't use." I knew what she meant- guest towels. We certainly don't have any of those! But in my mind I thought, "Oh, honey, there certainly are towels you shouldn't use! If it's so stiff and dirty you can't dry your hands on it... don't use it!" (Sometimes we forget to change out the towels in the downstairs half-bath. Ick.) But I loved what she was saying... that she's comfortable. And that's what I want for my kids. I don't know anyone who grew up in a perfect, neat-as-a-pin-all-the-time house and really has fond memories of it. Or really has fond memories of their mother! I want my kids to enjoy living here, feel comfortable in our home, and enjoy their mom in the process. I've been looking for balance in this area for years, because having the perfectly set-in-order house can become an area of bondage for me if I let it.

SO, if you are reading this completely aware of the messes in your house, but picturing mine being serene, orderly, perfectly-decorated and smelling like Pine-sol, stop believing the lie! And if you are sitting there serenely, in your orderly house which does smell like Pine-sol, enjoy it. It may not last long... ;)

Friday, February 24, 2012


"The Three Little Pigs" in Shakespearean English! I'm thinking of making this a writing assignment...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday TRUTH: Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe- Lie #1

I'd like to get back to more regular blogging. I miss it! In thinking through the various "blog memes" out there (those are good "writing prompts" for me) I wasn't sure I could do the "Tackle it Tuesday" one. Maybe someday. But for a homeschooling mom, every day is "Tackle It" day and I'm patting myself on the back if we get all the vocabulary done, muchless whether I organized the linen closet. So, I decided to do my own "Truth Tuesdays" for awhile. TRUTH. And what better place to start than tackling the LIES?

I originally posted this series in January 2007, but it is just as true today. The lies have not changed. As my kids have gotten older and started graduating, I am finding the lies are still there, just repackaged and upgraded into version Lie.10.5.1 and recommended for me to download. Um, NO!

So, here we go again. Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe. Let's take hold of some TRUTH today!


Has it really been a week since I posted on this blog? My, how time flies. All week I've wanted to write about what's been on my heart for the past few months. Back in August, I stumbled upon Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe, by Todd Wilson, a homeschooling Dad. This book did for me what Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, Lies Women Believe did. It revealed some erroneous thoughts (which are actually lies that I had begun to believe over the years, maybe not even consciously) which had become beliefs and were shaping the way I felt and acted. I highly recommend both of these books, and am thinking of buying a bunch of Wilson's books to give some of my homeschooling friends this year for their birthdays. It has been so freeing to recognize some of these thoughts as "lies" and "take them captive" to Christ.

I thought I would start the new year by writing a post each week about one of the lies that he highlights in his book, and posting my thoughts about that particular lie. He has some excellent insights in the book, and as a former pastor and a writer, his thoughts and writing are much more eloquent than mine, so I in no way intend to replicate the book here on my lil' ole blog. But, I thought it would be good for those who read here (me incuded!) to think through each of the lies. I'd also love to know what you think!

Lie #1: Everyone else’s kids are better than yours.

I know I have struggled with this particular lie before. How about you? I’ll be rocking along in my school year, thinking we’re doing pretty well, until I sit at gymnastics with another homeschool mom. We make casual conversation and she tells me how their school year’s going and what her kids are learning. Her toddler is sitting beside her, eating a healthy snack of carrots and water while playing with math flashcards. She just dropped another child off at strings ensemble. Her older child is nearby on his laptop writing a paper on the latest classic novel he’s read. Instantly, I’m dead in the water. “I haven't taught my kids that.” “My child can’t play that instrument.” “My kids could never learn that language.” “We haven’t fed the homeless yet this week, either!” Ack!!

Ironically, as you are reading this thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve met her… I’ve felt that way before… Whew! I could never be that mom. My kids could never be those kids,” chances are, in someone else’s eyes, your family IS that family! Isn’t that funny how that works? I think on some level we are always looking sideways at each other, imagining that each other’s kids are somehow “better” than our own.

The fact is, the perfect kids don’t exist, in anyone’s home. Each marriage is composed of two sinners, and the number of kids they have is the number of sinners in their homeschool each day. Period. We are all struggling, we are all imperfect. On any given day, we are comparing our known worst (because we live with ourselves and our children and we KNOW what goes on) to their perceived best (because we can only perceive momentarily, then our tendency is to project the perfect “snapshot” we saw at that moment into what must be every minute of every day at their house.) It’s just not the truth. And we are to think on truth.

So, first of all we must confront that particular lie with the truth: no family is perfect.
But, that doesn’t get to the heart of the lie in my opinion. So what if we know that everyone else’s kids are NOT better than ours. What if everyone else’s kids were functioning at exactly the same level, or even lower, as your kids? What if they had the same number, or fewer, talents? What if they [gasp!] weren’t as cute as your kids, either? Would that make you feel better? Then, you’ve still got a problem. The problem is… comparison. The truth is, their kids, and yours and mine, are exactly the kids that God created them to be. No more, no less. No amount of what I do at home makes my kids any more than God created them to be. We are not powerful enough to diminish them into less than God means them to be, either, for that matter. We are to nurture them according to their particular, God-given “bent.” To think that other kids are “better,” or that if I just worked harder my kids could be “better” is to foster the lie that I have that much power, or to believe the lie that it reflects on me instead of Him. Besides, better at what? Better than whom? What is better? And who measures “better” anyway?? If my kid was standing there speaking French and her kid was picking his nose, would that make me feel better? Can you say… “pride?”

I’m wondering if part of our comparison is a product of growing up in traditional school, where there seems to be constant comparison. Maybe if enough generations are free from such a system, the mindset of constant comparison will diminish. I don’t know.

If we need to believe that they are imperfect in order to feel better about ourselves and our own children, we have still not dealt with the comparison issue, we’ve simply reduced the gap to something we can live with. But the root of the lie is still there: that the condition of someone else’s family has some degree of bearing on the standing of my family. That’s simply not true. For example, I sent out some nice Christmas cards this year, a nice family portrait with a nice border. I was pleased with them, and I sent them. The same week, I received two cards from two of my crafty friends who had handmade their cards with the embossed ink, beautiful ribbons and gorgeous cardstock. Did that diminish what I had sent? Not at all. I could’ve instantly wished I would’ve created handmade cards and been ashamed of my 1-hour Walmart photo cards, but what a wasted emotion that would’ve been. And if their cards somehow motivate me to spend hours next year stamping and heat-drying cards for hours and hours when that’s not even something I enjoy or have a talent for, then there’s wasted time and energy involved as well. The time they spent doing that, I was doing something else.

God gave your children to you, not me. He gave my children to me, not you. They have exactly the mom, family, home, and homeschool teacher they were divinely meant to have. What’s “better” is to be free from comparison at all, on any level. At best it encourages insecurity and at worst it fosters pride. I’m not sure it will be possible to be completely free from it as long as we live on this planet in our fallen human skin and in our current comparison-driven culture, but it should be our goal. We should compare ourselves with Christ, see the gap, and work our whole lives in the power of the Holy Spirit to close that gap until we see Jesus face-to-face in our finally-perfected faith. The same goes for our kids.

If we would all do a little less looking side-to-side and spend more time looking up, we wouldn’t need to worry about who’s “better” at all. How we stand before others is NOT what matters. How we stand before Christ does. We are who He says we are, by His grace.

So, keep looking up... and don't believe the lie!

Next week, we'll confront Lie #2. Until then, I'd love to know your thoughts...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents Day Fun

I put this together yesterday using a free download here. It has 20 fun task cards to use before Presidents Day (or any time you are studying the presidents). Each card includes an interesting presidential fact along with a higher-level thinking task.

An example: "Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electric lights installed in the White House. In what ways would your life be different if there was no electricity?" This wasn't a bit difficult for my Ethiopian son to imagine. He quickly responded, "If I come here and you didn't have electricity, I wouldn't even know!"

There are also printable president booklets, cloze and vocabulary activities for Presidents Day at enchantedlearning.com. I utilize that site weekly. It's got great, quick, printable activities that are perfect for ELL students. Well, for mine anyway. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012


Especially funny for those of us teaching English Language Learners!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Quick Idea for Focus and Reference Charts

Okay, so I'm not such a regular blogger anymore... OH how I WISH posts could go straight from my brain to my blog! I would post all day!

We are smack in the middle of a great year of 7th grade ESL, 10th grade and now I have one in college! I can't believe it! Even with older ones, I still look for great ways to organize and energize our school area. Someone "pinned" an idea awhile back using a paper towel holder, binder rings and page protectors to store scrapbook paper and stickers, and I immediately thought of using it for focus charts and reference pages. It's a great individual-sized "chart stand" for the school table.

So, I stuck one together today, and simply used the pages I already had in the front of my 7th grader's weekly binder. Now they aren't cluttering up his binder and are always accessible.

(These particular charts are available here.)

Maybe this will work for you! If so, pin it and let me know! I love sharing ideas. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What We're Up To This Year... 5th Grade ESL

Okay, I've been w-a-a-a-y too busy homeschooling this year to post about homeschooling! With a high schooler still doing most of her work at home, a middle schooler preparing for high school work, and a 5th grader who has only been in America just over a year, school can get pretty interesting around here!

I recently answered a post on an adoption Yahoo group (CAFE Kids, if you're looking for an awesome group of Christian adoptive families who have adopted kids from Ethiopia), and I linked my blog. I realized how much I would love to say what's working for us in case that would help anyone at all (NOT because I'm any sort of expert!!!) but how I have neglected to do so.

SO. While the boys are getting started on their morning independent work, I am going to take a few moments to link what is working for Minte so far this year. And add what we're changing this semester.

The above photo is Minte playing a sight word BINGO game from our Sonlight 1. (We use change from the change jar for BINGO markers, and once he BINGO's, if he can read me the words on the row, he gets to keep the money. Fun!) I have LOVED using Sonlight with him this year. It is World History, which he can completely comprehend and is a body of knowledge to which he has had no exposure. It's so interesting to me that he has come from one of the most ancient lands on the globe, but has no idea what has happened there (not to mention all over the world.) It has been fun to study this together using Sonlight's literature-rich approach. However, since he is an English Language Learner, we are using the Level 1 Readers and Read-Alouds. I have accelerated the schedule a bit and I feel like we might be ready to order the level 2 books soon.

For math, he originally started in a co-op class using Right Start Math. It was a great class, and he enjoyed the interaction and the teacher, but it was not a good fit for him. We have since switched to something more consistent for him and with which I am more familiar: Math U See. I have used that program for years with my other two and I. Love. It. It is thorough, hands-on, and visual. He is currently working throught the Gamma level. Due to his prior schooling in Ethiopia, he is zipping through portions of it, but I am getting a measure of assurance that he is getting a solid foundation. He will also complete the Delta level this year. He was in school in Ethiopia before he came home, but we have been on a year-long quest to solidify his knowledge of basic facts, as well as learn to tell time and do measurements in English. I love how it is taught in a hands-on way through Math U See. Also, the pages are plain and not too distracting. A good fit for us.

In addition to his Sonlight readers, he has loved going through the Explode the Code books for phonics. This semester we will begin slowly working through Wordly Wise A for sequential vocabulary-building. He has been "real life" vocabulary building for a year now, but I think it's time for a more systematic, academic approach. I like the format of the early Wordly Wise books, so we will begin doing exercises a couple of times a week through book A and possibly get through book B before summer.

Handwriting: I've always used "A Reason For Handwriting" because I love the short daily exercises, only 4 days per week, and copying Scripture. He has done well with this. He is almost through with his first book, so I'm considering switching to Draw Write Now. In his school in Ethiopia he had no drawing/ art experience and actually has a disdain for art. I want him to feel more confident in his drawing. There are short sentences to copy as well, which I think he will be able to read now. I think it is a good fit, even though he has told me he does not want to learn how to draw. We'll see. ;)

Last year we worked our way through Abeka's level 1 science reader. Then we just added in whatever I came up with, like growing butterflies, planting flowers, other science experiments and concoctions. (One of my favorite resources for this is here.) This year he's in a science class that meets once per week. It's one of his favorite things and I don't have to deal with the mess. We still like making concoctions... I just don't want the pressure of a weekly one. ;)

Writing: Here is something I'm toying with. WriteShop Primary. I got it at a book fair last year. Now that he's more fluent in English, he has soaked up enough good English through literature and read-alouds, he is ready to begin writing stories of his own and learning how to write. (Remember, you can't squeeze anything out of a dry sponge! Kids need to spend time absorbing good writing and rich stories in order to compose their own.) I think we'll start some short lessons from this program each week.

So, that's his schoolyear in a nutshell. I realize he is 5th grade age, but he has flourished using the primary levels. He came from a culture that doesn't even use our alphabet. In fact, I just overheard him doing his math and I heard " arat, sost, and, hulet..." (4, 3, 1, 2 in Amharic.) He still does quick calculations in his first language. Plus, even a year later, he's still adjusting. Plus, because of his past, he's still grieving some days. Plus..... There's always a plus. There's always a bigger picture, and it's not always about school. I am seeing him poised to absolutely "snowball" in his progress, once the basics of phonics and vocabulary are in place, along with his increased comfort level with the English language. My goal is to have him on "grade level" by high school. I am seeing great strides!

I hope the above suggestions help someone who may be walking this road, or just starting out homeschooling an English Language Learner. It has taken us a year even to get to this point. To read what we started out doing, go here.) Enjoy this journey! Don't put pressure on yourself, which always has a way of putting pressure on your child. Each day with this precious person is a gift. In many ways, you are making up for lost time... but our great God, the God of time, will do that. He will make up what you lack. I have seen this day after day in our home!

Monday, December 21, 2009

He's Here

Now that my kids are older (read: teenagers) I miss reading "storybook" type books to them. I really do! I don't know if they miss it as much as I do, but that's been something I've mourned as they've gotten older. We read aloud still, but it's chapter books, British Literature, and other selections. One thing I've loved since our adoption, however, is that I can go back through some picture books and story Bibles with all of the kids again, and they'll listen with their new brother. Because, you know, it's for him.

One book we've been reading that came out after my kids were small is the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. The subtitle of the book is "Every story whispers his name" (referring to Jesus). Oh, how true! The Christmas season (if you listen) shouts Jesus' name, and passages like Luke 2 wonderfully depict the birth of Christ. But what I never truly realized until recently, and what this book helps kids to see is how every single other story in the Bible points directly to Christ. I have been captivated by Lloyd-Jones' masterful ability to bring that out.

Just last week, we were reading the story about Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and it said "They climbed the steep stony trail up the mountain. Isaac carried the wood on his back. His father carried the knife and the coals."

At the end of the story, she draws this amazing parallel: "Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn't struggle of run away. Who was he? God's Son, his only Son- the Son he loved. The Lamb of God."

My older son (13) said quietly, "Wow. I never thought of that before. That's so true!"

Here is a wonderful video from the book with the story of the birth of Christ. I love this. I needed to see this, and so did my kids.

I'm so glad He's here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Have I Not Posted Since October???

What on earth?


This has been sort of a nutty school year. And by "nutty" I mean, really trying to do it well, sticking to a schedule, and not blogging as much.

But, alas, it's December and it hasn't been as rigorous a school year as I was aiming for, I'm quite sure I'm not "doing it" as "well" (what does that mean, anyway?) and sticking to a schedule doesn't always work. And I've still not blogged as much!

Well, here's a quick post about something that I've been using this year:


What a helpful site!

It's got loads of links, but I've found the ESL section especially helpful, as well as Shakespeare and Dickens.

I've got so much more to say. Like how much I'm LOVING Sonlight for my 8th grader and 5th grader. Like how homeschooling high school is the toughest job you'll ever love. Stuff like that. But right now I'm behind on grading and I've got to read the next chapter of A Christmas Carol.

Oh, blog. I miss you.


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