I Don’t Deserve This

Ryan is far nicer to me than he ought to be.  When he got home from a long day at work on Friday, I hit him with a big (and possibly unreasonable) request.  I wanted to go visit my mom in suburban Chicago Saturday.  A day trip. But I didn’t want to go alone–I didn’t want to be alone, and I really didn’t want to drive for five hours, with the upsetting news that my mom’s memory had come completely unglued on Friday fresh on my mind.

So, I wanted him to go with me.  Which meant that all four children would also have to come.  We would have to get up at five in the morning, to drive five hours, so I could spend a few hours with my mom, while Ryan basically remained trapped in the car with all four children (except for his own brief visit to see her while I ate lunch in the car).  And then we would have to drive another five hours home, with increasingly impatient children.

He didn’t blink; didn’t even stop to consider.  He just said we’d go, and helped me get stuff ready so we could leave early the next morning.  Heck, he even (with the help of a friend) hung a new light fixture in our den for me that night.  I really don’t deserve to be treated this well.

I know the Bible instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, so this shouldn’t surprise me. Ryan was doing his job.  But I don’t know many husbands, even Christian ones, who would be willing to give up their whole Saturday for such a thing, at least not without thinking it over first.

And, really, I shouldn’t be surprised, because after knowing him for so long, I pretty much knew what his response would be before I even asked.  But for some reason, I’m still always surprised when people, even my own husband, go above and beyond the call of duty for me.  I don’t know why that is, but there you have it.  A part of me just doesn’t assume people will do the nice, or even the right, thing.

The children were even extraordinarily patient on the trip.  There was some complaining, but given their ages and the amount of time we had to spend in the car, not nearly as much as there could have been.

And right there is the beauty of family, as God designed it to be.  People coming together when the going gets tough, even the little ones. Much more than I deserve.

Now tohim who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

I Have a Plan!

So, after spending the last several weeks going through homeschooling catalogs and websites of all kinds, as well as talking to people online, I think I have a plan for this year!

We’re going to start with Sonlight K, but not the newcomer package, because I decided to use A Reason for Handwriting instead of Handwriting Without Tears, which is what comes with the newcomer set. (And how much does all this agonizing I’ve done over handwriting curriculum even matter? Everybody is typing nowadays. But they still need to learn to write properly!) I realize that most people who have tried Handwriting Without Tears have loved it, but I really prefer the more traditional look that is taught in A Reason for Handwriting, and I also like that the practice is done with Bible verses (even it is selections from the Living Bible. *sigh* I’ll have to see how the lessons are presented, and how easy it would be to substitute with the ESV). So, my big challenge is going to be making sure I order everything else that would have come in the newcomer package, just switching out the handwriting materials, and also adding Ready, Set, Go for the Code for additional learning to read help.

I know some people would probably recommend starting with the P 4/5 curriculum, since I’m going to be working with a four and five year old. But I’ve been over both the K and the P 4/5 materials many times, and I really think they would both be bored with the 4/5 stuff. I don’t want to sound like the typical bragging parent, but both of my older children are pretty advanced, which was partly the reason we decided to homeschool, so they could be more challenged, and I think they know most of the stuff from the 4/5 curriculum. I guess at worst we end up stretching out or repeating the K curriculum, but I really don’t think it’s going to be an issue.

As long as homeschooling goes well this year, and I feel comfortable with what I’m doing, I may look into switching out other parts of the curriculum. Not the core, obviously, because that’s the best part of Sonlight–all of the reading, and the natural learning method as far as history, geography, etc., goes. In the future, though, especially if I actually get to a curriculum fair, I think I may want to try Apologia for science (maybe starting at grade two, so I can do the astronomy, botany, and three zoology texts before general science hits in seventh grade), because I always loved science in grade school (and high school and college for that matter, except for physics, but that’s a whole other story!) and the Apologia curriculum looks really cool!

I’m also hoping to get a chance to compare Saxon math to the Horizons curriculum that Sonlight recommends, because I know it’s a tried and true method, and a lot of homeschoolers use it, so I figure I should at least check it out. Hopefully I can make that decision before we start grade one next year–that way I won’t end up doubling up on manipulatives sets (I know I could put together my own, but that idea is still intimidating to a new homeschooler like me!).

Eventually I know I’m going to want to move away from the religion that Sonlight provides, as well. I’m already adding the Lutheran Children’s ESV to our materials for this year, to beef up the Bible curriculum that they provide, and maybe some Arch books, too. I’m OK with Sonlight’s offerings (supplemented by CPH material) up through about grade two or three, but then they A.) start using Bible translations I’m not fond of, and 2.) start teaching some stuff that could be contradictory to Lutheran theology, at least from what I can tell so far. I can always fall back on CPH’s dayschool religion curriculum or *gasp* prepare my own–I was a DCE before children, after all, so if there’s anything I should be able to create on my own, that would be it!

The reading, read-alouds and Language Arts all look good to me, so no worries about replacing those. The electives look pretty good, too–certainly more about music and art appreciation than I ever learned in the early elementary years. And while I’m not using Sonlight’s number one recommendation for handwriting, and I may decide on different math and science, all of those materials are still available to order through Sonlight (and I think still eligible for the member discount), so except for the religion materials, it appears I can keep all of my business in one place. Very convenient!

I’m most excited about Sonlight’s core, though–I can’t believe how much we’ll be reading! I think I’ve looked at the book lists for almost every grade, and there are so many familiar books from my childhood that I can’t wait to share with my children. And I love the way they use “real” books to teach history, instead of just dry textbooks. I know I remember much more from the stories I read as a child, whether they were true, or just entertaining fiction, than I do from any textbook I read. I know this isn’t the only way of learning, but it is the one that makes the most sense to me, so I’m especially happy Sonlight has put together such a nice curriculum for me–I wouldn’t even know where to start doing this on my own!

I can’t believe we’ve actually made the decision to homeschool. I certainly never saw myself as a homeschooling parent. Then again, our family has always been a little unorthodox, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that this seems to be such a good fit for us–we’re good at going against the grain! I’m especially grateful to my husband, because he was obviously listening to me, (at times when I didn’t even realize I was talking!), and was open minded enough not only to consider this, but to actually do a complete 180 on his opinions on homeschooling. I never even would have seriously considered homeschooling without his support, but I feel that with God calling me to do this, and Ryan’s encouragement, I’ve been set free to do something I always wanted to do, without even really knowing it at the time.

Seven is the New Ten is the New Sixty!

It used to be that 60 years of marriage was considered the diamond anniversary. Then, the “modern” list of anniversary gifts came out, and all of the sudden, 10 years is a diamond year. That’s quite a jump, from 60 down to 10! Of course, the modern list has diamonds for several anniversaries, and any number of gemstones and luxury items where they didn’t used to be (gone are the days of paper, cotton and leather–now it’s clocks, china and crystal!), but even so, cutting off the wait time by 50 years seems extreme.

It does make one wonder at the change. Is it because our society is so impatient, and so used to instant gratification that we can’t stand to wait until we’ve been married for 60 years? Is it because, even though life expectancies are longer, people are marrying later in life, thus making it less likely that they’ll be married for 60 years or longer? Or is simply that, with the divorce rate what it is, people want to get what they can while the getting is good? Any and/or all of these seems to me to be a viable possibility.

At any rate, even though we’re only celebrating our seventh anniversary this year, my wonderful husband got me a beautiful anniversary ring. Now, I’m a fairly patient sort of person, so it really wasn’t a matter of not being able to wait until our tenth (or sixtieth, I suppose) anniversary. And we got married young enough, so that’s not a problem. I’m also damn sure we won’t be getting a divorce, so it wasn’t a matter of doing the ring thing now, because we might not be together in a few years.

No, it was simple math. Thanks to Uncle Sam, and the economic stimulus package, we had the money now. With four children, we are fully aware that we may not have the money in three, thirteen or even thirty years, but here’s the government, giving us blow money, which is our civic duty to spend to try and help the economy limp along. So, good stewards of our money that we are (most of the time) we rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and did some shopping, not the least of which is my new ring. I am very grateful for my new pretty, and while I would have been willing to wait until whatever anniversary was deemed appropriate to receive diamonds, I’m glad I didn’t have to!