Monday, August 31, 2015

A Coffee Shop Chat

I am sitting here in Starbucks waiting for the twins to be finished with robotics and I finally had a bit of time to reflect on the huge changes that have happened in our family in the past summer. Connor had a smooth transition into his dorm, which is the largest dorm room I have ever seen.  Clearly God loves him. The twins have started high school and for the first time in over 13 years, I am not directly involved in their day to day schooling as high school with our curriculum is designed to be student directed.  It's odd.  I did have to add a read aloud because I missed sitting and reading with them.  

I question how I got here and wonder where the time went.  Oh wait, it went into raising and educating 3 kids, maintaining a home, running VBS programs, Christmas programs, making countless meals, planning many Disney trips, and loving my hard working husband. 

It's fun reading posts on Internet forums from new homeschool Moms.  They are so excited, so scared, so anxious, so brave and it makes me smile and remember my beginning years.  I didn't really have anyone who homeschooled older children in my life at the time so I just read, haunted the Well Trained Mind Forums, prayed and stepped out in faith.  

So, for all of you new homeschoolers here's what I would say to you if you were at Starbucks with me.

1.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.  I know every day lasts FOREVER but the years fly by.  Don't miss the moments, as a matter of fact, sit down and play with the play dough.  Push a bench up to the counter and let everyone help make bread, cookies, dinner, whatever.  The mess can be cleaned up when they watch Veggie Tales.  

2.  Make a schedule for everything you need to do.  I know this seems contrary to number one but it really isn't.  Schedule time to play, to read, to go to the park, for quiet time, to go to the library.  But also schedule time to clean, do laundry, make dinner, go shopping and for heaven's sake, schedule time for dates.  

3.  Find people to do life with.  Sometimes it can be your actual family but for many of us, me included, that's just not possible.  I have people in my life who are older than us who have taken the role of my parents and the kids grandparents, people who are our very best friends and we actually do life together.  Sometimes they are hard to find, sometimes they are right in front of you.  Sometimes, you need to be brave and ask that family at church to lunch.  Sometimes, they have to continually ask you because you've decided that you don't want to be friends with anyone, ever again, and all of a sudden you realize that God has finally answered your prayers for a like minded friend.  Be brave, take some chances.  It probably won't happen right away but you only need one or two and when God provides, it's one of life's greatest blessings.  I love the people we do life with,  they have become my family and unfortunately for them, they are stuck with me.

4. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.  Your kids don't need a best friend, they need a Mom.  I tell my sisters to, "Be the Mom!". What I mean by that is to take the reins and be in charge.  God gave us these wonderful little people but these little people don't know enough to be in charge, so that's up to you.  Don't allow them to be disrespectful to you or to anyone else.  When you say, 'no', make sure there is weight to that.  I don't have to yell or repeat my words because my kids knew that I meant what I said the very first time I said it.  Have consequences and rewards in place long before you are in conflict.  Train them in appropriate behaviors and then keep them to it.  Be consistent.  Trust me, do this when they are young and by the time they are teens, it is second nature.

5.  Let them know you love them, no matter what.  Their behavior, grades, rooms, can never change your love for them.  Pray blessing over them daily, do it out loud so they know that you are praying over them.  Even in conflict, let them know you love them and always will.

6.  Train them in excellence, perseverance and diligence.  We don't always get things right the first time but we need to keep going until we get it right.  Failure is okay but staying down is not.  We work hard and keep working hard until we get it right. This has long term consequences.  

7.  Don't get distracted!  Keep the most important thing, the most important thing.  When you are teaching, don't do anything else. When you are playing with your kids, play with them.  Along with that, keep your school as simple as possible and only add things when you know you have extra time and/or bandwidth.

Most importantly, make time to know your kids.  I was just saying today that what I miss most about Connor being in the dorms is the end of the day check in.  I don't regret for one second the time I spend talking, taking my kids out to coffee and just hanging out.  We love to be together and I love that.  I miss it when a member is missing but I love the relationships.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Summer update

It's been a crazy busy summer.  It feels like I have spent most of it preparing or cleaning up after the children/ husband who lead very busy travel lives. I think Connor has spent maybe two weeks home the whole summer.  He has been given a scholarship to go to the Scratch 2015 conference in Amsterdam so we will have him home for a week, then he leaves for a week and then he has three days before he moves into the Engineering Honors Dorms at CU.  It's a good thing he staying close so we didn't have to factor in travel time.

  Caileigh has had an odd summer as we found out at the beginning of the summer that she has an autoimmune disease called Retinal Vasculitis which attacks the blood vessels in the eye and can cause blindness and/or brain damage.  God was faithful and protected Caileigh's eye.  Even though we didn't find it until the infection was at an 8 out of 10, Caileigh has no permanent damage which the Autoimmune Retinal Specialist ( bet you didn't know there was such a thing - me either) called miraculous.  We have been so grateful that God steps in and takes care of us even when we didn't know we needed it.  She will be on medication for the next 2-3 years to put the disease in remission.  She has been a trooper and has been so faithful to take her meds and all the supplements we put in place to help manage the side effects.  She has spent much of the summer reading, when she isn't traveling, taking care of her garden ( and making sure I take care of it when she's gone) and swimming.

Collin finally has hit his growth spurt.  He is getting tall and lean, except for his hair which we tease grows faster by the hour.  He has finally embraced the love of reading and now spends hours in his room just reading.  Every so often though, the lack of movement gets to him and he jumps up, thunders outside and kick the soccer ball around for awhile or convinces Caileigh to go to the pool with him.

It's funny being the Mom of all teenagers.  I always feared the teen years a bit.  I didn't need to, it has been so wonderful.  I can see however, that all the years of training and discipline really start to pay off.  I don't need to repeat things because they know I mean business the first time I say something.  I can just say, "15 min cleanup" and everyone jumps up to make the house presentable because we taught that when they were little.  They get along beautifully and talk respectfully to each other and us, because we never allowed anything else.  They are not perfect, neither am I, by any means but they are pretty great and I am so glad I spent those younger years training and retraining and Rae-retraining.  The fruit is beautiful to behold.