Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


She is thirteen.
What an amazing journey our family has been on since my last post.  Someday we will share but     for now we are relishing in what is happening TODAY.

And TODAY she is thirteen.

Gifts were given today that are meant to last her for years and years.  This is the beginning of something new... what a privilege to be with her in the first moments.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yesterday afternoon the kids and I were coming home from having lunch with Grandpa and Grandma Schei. Grandpa and Grandma had been gone for 5 weeks in Europe and we couldn't wait to walk in their house, see their faces and feel immediately like things were 'back to normal' - we really missed having them be a part of our daily life. As we drove down our street towards home we saw in the distance the school bus slowing to a stop, red STOP SIGN flipping out and the bus driver reaching for the lever. A little boy stepped off the school bus, waited for the bus driver to wave him safely across the street and he disappeared into the lane beyond our house. I looked in the rear view mirror at my three children who, were I to choose, would be on that exact same bus home everyday. It was 2:30pm. It used to be that the concept of homeschooling my children was foreign, nowadays it is the other way around. How different our family would be if I waved goodbye to them at 7:31am, spent the next 7 hours doing what I could accomplish without kids, then reintroducing ourselves to each other mid-afternoon. There is NO JUDGMENT here. It is simply unfathomable to me at this point - my life would be worlds different.

At 6:25am my alarm goes off and I hit snooze... it goes off again at 6:34 (those 9 minutes are luxurious! who gets 9 extra minutes to sleep?! NO ONE!) I walk down the hallway and make a beeline for the coffee pot... fill a mug with coffee and a touch of half n half, cup it in all its warmth and sip away - often it's 1/2 cup down before Benjamin strolls out in his shirt and underoos with his doggie hanging limp from his fist, dragging on the ground. We make peanut butter, honey & cinnamon toast and talk through his upcoming day at school - his SCHOOL AWAY FROM HOME school... he goes for 4 hours each day to Kindergarten because he and I both needed it. The thing is, my desire to put Benjamin in Kindergarten is, what I imagine, the small-scale version of why many parents have their kids in school for most of their growing up years. It creates a safe place for the kid to grow a set of, uh, wings... a guaranteed set of hours for Mom to gain back her, uh, self... and then the joyous reunion at midday seems a wonderful spark to keep the relationship satisfactory, if not exemplary. And for Benjamin and I, it has worked out splendidly - but he gets home at 11:20am for 1/2 day Kindergarten. I cannot imagine him being absent for an entire school day.

Once Ben is on the bus, I exercise while the older kids get dressed and prepped for their school day. We sit quietly in the living room from 8:00 - 8:30am while I do my bible study and they do their 30 minutes of SSR. We all meet in the school room (with more coffee and snacks galore) and begin... 100 days of school countdown, spelling, bible study, language, reading, writing, math, art, electives and more, depending on the day. At first, with homeschooling, it's as though you're trying to steer a ship and then it becomes like sailing the more you experience it. And not unlike sailing, you see an entirely NEW WAY of discovering something be it education or the open water. You are always aware of the factors at play, you're intentional and precise but, oddly enough, much more free to go where the wind takes you. And when the sun sets, where else do I want to be? I've set my anchor for the day and smile broadly at what God has done in and through me. The rewards are oh so sweet after a grueling day of calculating, disciplining, talking, laughing, discerning and educating... my kids are becoming like Christ. And I SEE IT. All day and first hand. No, I don't believe this is the ONLY way to educate children, it is simply the best way for our family, for now.


WILLIAM says, 'Mom, the Avengers couldn't be real because it would break a LOT of laws of physics.'

KATIE says after a wonderful discussion about a story in our reading curriculum, 'It is YOUR choice how big your 'Monsters' are in your life.  If you get closer, they'll get smaller... but if you're afraid and you run, they'll look REALLY big.'  Beautiful!  I was almost in tears!

BENJAMIN comes in off the bus and says, 'Mom, in homeschool we talk about God, at church school we talk about God but at regular school we do not talk about God.'  Very matter of fact.  No inflection, just observation. 

... I want to be a part of these thought processes and watch them mature into what they are becoming.  I'm so glad it is what I'm supposed to do right now.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

more kids.

love me some more kids.

got to care for these lovely girls this afternoon & evening... cannot wait to have them here again tomorrow!  (and either can my kids...)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

there's so little time and so much to achieve...

... I've been lying here holding the grass in its place,
Pressing a leaf with the side of my face,
Tasting the apples to see if they're sweet,
Counting the toes on a centipede's feet.

... I've been memorizing the shape of that cloud,
Warning the robins to not chirp so loud,
Shooing the butterflies off the tomatoes,
Keeping an eye out for floods and tornadoes.

... I've been supervising the work of the ants
And thinking of pruning the cantaloupe plants,
Calling the fish to swim into my nets,
And I've taken twelve thousand and forty-one breaths,

And I'm TIRED!

- Shel Silverstein

As I read this poem, I saw myself literally holding the grass in its place and pressing my face to the nearest leaf... I was wearing an apron with my hair tied back and, per the weather lately, wearing my white and black striped slippers tucked neatly under my bum as I sat on my knees.  I was not smiling but I was not grumbling either -- I was determined as though IT WAS ALL DEPENDENT ON ME. 

If I was a psychotherapist I'd likely have some wonderful explanations for the apron and the determined aforementioned look; the slippers and the hair-not-flowing... unfortunately, I come lacking in expertise on anything aside from home, children, budgeting and bathing; schooling, driving, cooking and cleaning.  I come as a freakishly tired-to-the-point-of-numb homeschooling Mom to three children and the wife of a CEO of a new start up in Seattle.

I think I just therapized myself. 

I have not much more to say this evening... but here are some photos of our day today. 

Katie bug working on her Writing Strands in school...

William taking a break and searching for Waldo... while the dog sleeps beyond.

and Benjamin creating some sort of something out of what the RECYCLE bin offers.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Iron-Hearted Violet

The walls were filled with color and the room smelled like school.

Book boxes lined the window which looked out at the bus lane and beyond - brand new, color-coded and uniformly filled with a Composition book and some other tidy little Kindergarten writing prep text.  It's like all the boxes were smiling and in chorus saying, 'we have so much to teach you!  you are going to learn so much and we cannot wait to be filled with your emerging thoughts, dreams and ideas!' 

In other words, Benjamin was in good hands and he would surely succeed in his 1/2 day Kindergarten classroom.  I had nothing to worry about - it was my other kids, the home schooled kids, I was now worrying about.

The tables were little, round and clean - each stamped with a tidy collection of pencils, glue sticks, scissors, etc. inside a craft tote.  Oh, you know, EXACTLY what a child might need at any moment during a daily math lesson or craft project -- efficient.  Efficient keeps eluding me with her quick ways and fair weather friendship - she's only here when I have time for her and goes away whenever I turn my back to help with a lesson, walk a dog, do laundry, make lunch, scrub dishes, handle arguments.  In the moment I feel as though Efficient is just one in a long line of folk who think I should probably take a lesson and send the kids to school... NORMAL school.

Normal school: where the Common Core has been mapped out and neatly organized into a 170 lessons and 10 exams -- each with their own software program to chart the child's progress which is then saved somewhere in space and uploaded to every university in the world.  A software program that pinpoints every struggle of each child in each subject and spins you off onto a supplementary track so that your child still meets standards on June 12, 2014.  Ready for the upcoming year.

There's a blog about it.

In this little world in my brain, the kids are smiling while they read... whizzing through math whilst giggling with the girls next to them and walking up front to have the teacher take a quick look:

100% BAM!

They show up proud and confident although not all of them get chosen for kickball because where does that actually happen?  For real.  The kids learn how to be kids but kick ass academically.

Because they're in a school.  A NORMAL school.

Even though I know Kate is struggling in some core subjects, she'd be in such better hands were she in a system that was closely monitoring her every spelling, her fluency, her WPM and her fast facts for math -- it would just be better.  With where I see things right now, we'd need to choose curriculum here at home that is under her grade level and start building up -- it would be a lot of time wasted from her third grade year and maybe we wouldn't even meet the proper standards by the end of the year... so what am I doing?!  Thinking I can school my kids!  Harumph... it's too much work.  Too much slowing down to repeat basic concepts -- just give her a class and a teacher and I'll supplement at home.  We need to hurry this learning process up!  I'll begin praying about how to transition from what I thought was a good idea into what is a better idea...


... but ohhhhhh how my heart longs to school my kids here at home.  WEIRD and sad... cause I can't.  I feel like I keep going back to square one -- I didn't like the Language Arts that arrived in the mail today so I'll send it back for a refund... I loved the one that just happened to be on the shelf at a curriculum consignment store this afternoon but it doesn't address all the Common Core so that's bogus.  Right?  Back to square one... 

In my concern and self-doubt, I began reading articles on how to assess the proper reading level for your child at home.  

If she reads smoothly, makes no errors or just a couple of errors in reading the words, and can tell you about what she read, then the book is probably at a "just right" level for her. If her reading sounds choppy, she struggles to read words, or she does not understand what she has read, try an easier book. 

This was GREAT for me to read -- I had handles on how to address Katie and how I believed she was trying too hard to read above her reading level.

Katie and I sat on the couch this evening and she read aloud her favorite book -- Iron-Hearted Violet.  She sounded choppy, she struggled to read words and I was certain she wouldn't be able to repeat back to me what had happened.  So then we grabbed a Magic Tree House book and she read very well.  We talked, er, I talked, about needing to find books that would encourage her reading more fluently which would then, in turn, bring greater rewards in the end!  She glared at me and quickly walked away to her room... I called her back and invited her to sit in my lap.  She began to tell me, through tears, that it was embarrassing that EVERYONE can read better than her.  That her friends were reading books at a 4th and 5th grade reading level like Iron-Hearted Violet and she's always in the other group reading Kindergarten books... that she feels dumb and HATES reading Magic Tree House books because it reminds her that she's just not (sniff) that good.  She's frustrated that William was reading chapter books before her and that it just doesn't make sense that she can't pick up Iron-Hearted Violet and start reading...

and that's when I thought... 'and that she has to go back to the basics'.  

As I sat and talked with her gently and lovingly about her reading level, I was careful not to praise her for how good she was in other areas because I didn't want to attribute some intrinsic value to being 'ahead of the game'.  She's already got the idea that the world's perspective matters and I didn't need to feed that fire -- she cried and said pathetically, 'I'll probably be reading at a 4th grade level even after I'm done with 5th grade'.  I wanted to grab her shoulders and exclaim, 'no!  Katie-bug!  You're so smart, Love!  You will be just fine...' attributing, once again, some perverse value on meeting standards that God never laid on her heart.

I kissed her forehead and smiled when she looked me in the eyes... 'maybe you will.  Who cares?  Eternally speaking, Katie-bug, NONE of this matters... NONE.  None.  When we get to Heaven and we're worshiping at the throne of God, He is not going to care about your reading level... 

and THAT is why we chose that I would be your teacher this year.'

THERE IT WAS.  I had said it... and God has whispered it to me.  

Krista, stop reading Iron-Hearted Violet, if you will, and throttle back -- teach them as I'm leading you and trust that it will be the best education they receive this year... go slow and don't try to meet a standard that I haven't put in front of you.  Don't teach your child through your actions that there's some reason for feeling less than who I've created you to be... where you are is just fine and with discipline and excellence IN YOUR OBEDIENCE you will succeed.

So here I am this evening... looking back at the beautiful little book I bought off the consignment store shelf tonight and getting jazzed.  It is simple and beautiful and mixed with the spelling curriculum created for this year it just might work as I'd fleetingly imagined it working...