faith · friendship · homeschooling · kids · motherhood · parenting

Sidetracked by Loneliness

Homeschooling can be a lonely business.  At times we home school mothers experience isolation so acutely that we feel derailed, lost, sidetracked.  This is a weird phenomenon given the fact that we are with our children all day each and every day- well, most days.

Many factors contribute to loneliness, and each mother has a different set of circumstances and a different list of needs.  What we do share is the need for true connection and friendship.  If we perceive that this need is not being met, our days can take on a sort of depressive gloom that trips us up -the heart occupied with a nagging sadness is heavy, and this contributes to an overall sense of loneliness.

I cannot say that I have found the answer to this problem.  Maybe its not a problem that must be solved, but a reality that must be understood. It’s strange how we can have wonderful friends, and still feel lonely- disconnected.  We may have a Church family, a great mother, a spiritual father, an attentive and sweet husband- and yet, there is this disconnect.  This makes me wonder about the monastic nature of homeschooling- how spending my days away from the madding crowd is a much bigger spiritual struggle than I give credit.  Whether I understand why or how, the fact remains that I deal with loneliness.

We are very afraid of loneliness…we are especially afraid when our children experience loneliness.  It’s hard-the hardest thing I do as a homeschool mother of five, and some days I give into the schemes, the plans, the frenzy of a mind panicked.

I will it not to be so.

I am not very good at manufacturing happiness.  I’ve tried-boy, have I tried.  I’ve tried so hard that there was no space left on the calendar, no wiggle room, no chance for loneliness to sidetrack our happiness.  In the end this happiness was about as one dimensional as the wall calendar it was written on. It took mom and children to the brink…and we dangled there for awhile until finally- I came undone.

Because facing fear is about coming undone…it’s about unclinching the fist and opening up to the possibility that even if everything I fear comes upon me I am still held, I am still loved, I remain, we remain.

Deep and abiding fulfillment takes courage.

The courage to live it.

And homeschooling will stretch this courage very thin. I imagine that many of life’s circumstances stretch our courage thin.  We all fear being alone.

We praise thee, the Mediatress for the salvation of our race, O Virgin Theotokos; for in the flesh taken from thee, thy Son and our God hath deigned to endure the Passion through the Cross, and hath redeemed us from corruption, since He is the Friend of man.
~ Hymns of the Resurrection

jesus

Mediatress teach us your self giving love.  Make us worthy to receive your gifts and to know your abiding friendship. O Friend of man, make us worthy of your friendship and worthy of the friendship you give us in those precious souls here and now.  Help us endure the loneliness that comes from our own sin, and help us to know your mercy.  For Thou art good and lovest mankind.

books · faith · homeschooling · Uncategorized

Orthodox Education

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An excerpt from the description of Sakharov‘s  I Love, Therefore I Am: The Theological Legacy of Archimandrite Sophrony.

Because Fr Sophrony traversed the major religious and intellectual movements of our time, his spiritual make-up is enriched by various currents of thought. Notwithstanding this diversity, never does his theology transcend the boundaries set out by the Orthodox tradition. The patristic heritage has for him indubitable authority. He absorbed the legacy of the Fathers in its living depth. This came not by way of an academic research, but through his ascetic strivings on Mount Athos. His wide spiritual and intellectual background elevates the Orthodox tradition to an authentic level where it opens up to universal dimensions.

This came not by way of academic research…
What came?
The patristic heritage.
What is the patristic heritage?
It is The Way.
It is Christ as ultimate reality.
But through his ascetic strivings…
To follow The Way we must abandon ideas and pray.

Orthodox education is at it’s best when prayer is at the center.  If we as educators labor, let us labor to pray.  Let us strive to unite the mind in the heart.  Let this be the heritage we seek.  And trust that Christ is ultimate reality, and all good things come from Him.

faith · family · homeschooling · kids · motherhood · parenting · teenagers

What Teens Really Need

Yesterday, I was told a story about two very great kids we know, a young man and woman, who were caught in the library making out. I chuckled at the story…who knows if it is even true.  Both, age 16, come form great homes and are homeschooled.  Again I just chuckle…not because I am laughing at the indiscretion or making fun in the least, it’s just funny how we homeschool moms think that homeschooling will somehow insulate our teens from the normal processes of growing up.  I was kind of laughing at myself, knowing that in some sense the way I have chosen to parent could leave me vulnerable to such gossip.  It could happen to any of us.

And what if it does?!
Will the world come to an end?
Will all our efforts have been for nothing?

These fears reflect a very deep rooted heart condition, a condition that is hard to admit and face.  To face these fears is not simple, it requires true inquiry and reflection, and a willingness to be undone.

It’s crazy that we even wrestle with these fears…the very fact that I am alive and well and striving to live a life before God is proof that indiscretions do not ruin teenagers…I had plenty, and I survived. I was a good girl, but I made out with my husband before I married him.  My teenage girls know this, we have talked about love and sexuality and attraction and marriage…I have shared my heart with them and also my experiences, letting modesty and discretion be my guide. I do not glorify sin…but I do not see sin in everything.

Teens need real.
Teens need mercy.
Teens need relationship.
Teens need lots of conversation.
Teens need fun.
Teens need trust.
Teens need firm convictions.
Teens need unconditional love.
Teens need prayer.

Parenting with fear seems to be the norm these days, and I am guilty at times.  This culture has turned structures upside down, and it is scary…very scary.  Sometimes I watch my teens and I think; this is all they know, this culture is all they know.  Reality is that we are a part of this culture, and we will either cower in fear or face it head on, and the struggle will not leave us unscathed whichever path we choose.  There will be indiscretions…every generation has had indiscretions.

Parenting teens brings me to my knees.  In prayer I know that I must resist the urge to bolt from my heart and rule with an iron fist of fear.  In His hands, and living in His presence will see us through, for Love conquers all.  Love is the opposite of fear.

Perfect love casts out fear.  1 John 4:18    
faith · family · homemaking · homeschooling · kids · learning · marriage · motherhood · parenting · teenagers

How to Not Be Empty

Beware of the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

I really don’t know when I got it in my head that I desperately needed to outsource in our homeschool to be successful.  After Samuel was born I think I was determined not to let another baby hold my older children back from their goals (my goals is more like it). It was a great plan, so I thought… just let someone else teach them, hold them accountable.

What followed was a year of schooling outside the home, in co-ops and online.  How I reasoned that packing this gang of five up in a car and traveling an hour one way was an easier way to educate my upper level students is kinda foggy…but I do vaguely remember my husband warning me, counseling me, shaking his head at me.

At first we were cooking with gas…getting lots of educational stuff done, making friends, going to fun activities, and in general just enjoying the new day to day.  We were busy, and in the beginning that felt as if we were thriving.  However, after a little while I noticed that our lives were becoming less and less centered at home. My cooking became weird, our prayers too sparse, everyone was going in different directions, the littles were being cared for but not cared for, I was growing more and more discontent, and in general just feeling disconnected with myself and my family, especially my husband.

And then a few weeks ago I hit a wall, circumstances collided and my choices became clear…all that is left now is to correct course.  My mom commented, “Mandy, thank goodness you have things you can cut without hurting anyone…the activity and busyness of your life can be easily remedied.”  Her comments are those of a woman who knows what it is like to have responsibilities that cannot be remedied.

The ability to correct busyness is a blessing, almost like a gift, and I am very grateful for the freedom to choose the life I desire and need.

I see now that my outsourcing was about fear and pride…it was me believing that our home life was not enough…that I was not enough.  Ironically, it is the outsourcing that is causing a true emptiness, an exhaustion and distraction that makes me unavailable. It also refocuses our life on things that are not bad in themselves, but result in a deep and true distraction nonetheless.

So, here is my remedy for emptiness…how to not be empty…Go Home!

Women leave home for many reasons, and I only judge myself, we all have stories.   Sometimes home seems the most empty place on earth and outsourcing presents itself as a remedy, and for some this may be true.  However, for me my home is a fountain of grace, a constant outlet of energy, and a nourishing refuge.  Home is my remedy for emptiness, my journey has taught me this.

fun · homeschooling · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · learning · parenting

Homeschool Convention

I am going to the Texas Homeschool Convention with my sweet sister-in -law.  I have not gone to one in a couple of years, but this convention has a lineup of seminars that interest me…they are practical and informative.  I am especially interested in the seminars on high school transcripts/portfolios/scholarship applications.  I am also looking forward to introducing my SIL to the wonderful world of homeschool books and curriculum.  She and my brother are planning to homeschool their children.  Emmelia, their daughter, is my godchild. They are expecting baby number two, and I am super excited! 

homeschooling · kids · learning · math

Math Facts Boot Camp

The strategies I learned as an assistant in a math rehabilitation classroom in an alternative school years ago are strategies that I use to this day.
I believe wholeheartedly in learning the basic math facts.  I believe in drill!  Drill for the skill!
My third grade student is in my math boot camp this year.  If all we accomplish this year is learning the basic math facts and learning them with speed and confidence, I am very confident that this foundation will ensure success for future abstract skills.  
If your student is struggling with math, if they falsely believe that they are “bad” at math, it could be that math facts drill is just what they need to regain a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
Below is a list of where to start…this is how I progress through the basic facts of addition and subtraction.  In a later post I will share some great tricks to learn the multiplication and division facts quickly and with a bit of fun!  
  •  doubles ( 1+1, 2+ 2, 3 + 3, 4+ 4, 5 + 5, 6 + 6, 7 + 7, 8 + 8, 9 + 9)
  • doubles plus 1: Child uses what they know about doubles and adds 1… sounds like 8 + 9 is the same as 8 + 8 +1 which is 9
  • doubles minus 1: Child uses what they know about doubles and subtracts 1…sounds like 8 + 7 is the same as 8 + 8 -1
  • number plus 1 or plus two ( 5 + 1, 4 + 2)
  • number plus or minus zero (5 + 0, 6 + 0)
  • commutative property (3 + 2 = 2 + 3) 
  • ten combinations ( 5 + 5, 6 + 4, 7 + 3, 8 + 2, 9 + 1)
  • ten plus a number (10 + 4, 10 + 7)
Subtraction
One great way to teach mastery in subtraction is to teach it in relation to addition.  For example, once the student knows (or maybe you are using this method to teach addition as well) that 8+2=10 you can easily introduce fact families.  You might say, “We will use these same numbers (10, 8, and 2) to memorize 10-8 and 10-2. 10, 8, and 2 are a fact family…and they stick together.  10-8…who is missing?  Well, it’s two of course!  10-8 is 2!”  
Most fact families of 3 make 4 facts. Example:
  
8+2=10
2+8=10
10-2=8
10-8=2
0’s can be tricky. Example:
7+0=7
0+7=7
7-0=7
7-7=0
Doubles make 2. Example:
2+2=4
4-2=2
A creative way to make your own set of fact family flash cards is to pick up the paint sample cards at a home improvement store that have four colors.  Write each fact from the fact family on the 4 different colors.  If you were to make all the fact families from 1 to 18 in this way that would mean you would need about 100 paint samples.
Fact family paint sample flash cards can also be used for multiplication and division facts.
No time spent learning these basic skills is ever wasted.  It can be fun, and it definitely improves a child’s attitude when they know their stuff! 
Here are  a few helpful resources I have found.
    
books · homeschooling · kids · learning · play · winter

January Preschool

Make coffee filter snowflakes.
Learn the snowflake song by Jean Warren.
Cotton-Ball counting.
Have a tea party and serve Blueberry muffins and Ceylon tea.
Make bird feeder pine cones.
Learn the Seven Continents song.
Make a paper patch quilt and practice shape recognition.
Learn the meanings of the words: greedy and generosity.


Cut and glue vegetables from magazines onto a cut out soup pot.  
Practice the names of vegetables.  
Help make a pot of soup with mommy.  
Play which onion is bigger.  
Practice setting the table properly.
Field Trip Ideas: Ice Skating, Quilt Shop, Kitchen Store
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