Tag: homeschooling

True Confessions of a Foreign Service Homeschool Mom

Prior to our packout from Ukraine more than two years ago, I organized and labeled plastic bins with all the books we were keeping.

I asked the movers to keep them organized how I had them and fill the extra space with packing paper or pillows. I requested that they be wrapped in packing paper and then taped, to further protect the contents and not have nasty sticky residue on the storage boxes when we unpacked.

When we moved, I saw the boxes wrapped and taped as I requested.

Unpacking in Nassau, I discovered that actually everything I so carefully organized had been dumped in to cardboard boxes. Miscellaneous stuff had been instead packed in the plastic containers.

My careful organizing and sorting was all for naught.

Our new post had zero bookshelves.  When we finally were able to find bookshelves to purchase, we unboxed only the most vital books.

The rest have been on the landing by the stairs for the past two years…

Two years.

They have been a resentful reminder that sometimes my efforts are so easily undone.

I’m tackling it today…  I’m under no illusion that I’ll finish it any time soon.  My goal is to uncover enough of my special books to start Kindergarten (!) With A5 after Labor Day.

And hopefully, I’ll have them sorted and labelled again before our move next summer.

 

#ItsTheFSLifeForMe

What is Your Family Theme Song?

Music is as integral to me as my own DNA. My life has become a continual soundtrack, with music underscoring the most powerful and even the most banal moments of my life.

 

The soundtrack of our lives, the music in our DNA. . .  I believe music woven through our lives rings true to the human experience.

 

The truth of this has meant we identified family “theme songs” which characterized different eras of our family’s life.

 

As a young couple with little kids scratching out a living in the middle of nowhere West Texas, we really felt we were “you and me against the world.”  Simple life, lots of work, so much love. The best Valentine’s Day ever was indulging in ordering pizza with the kids. Then the radio played  I’ll Stop the World and Melt with You and we danced in each other’s arms on the back porch.

 

When we were in Ukraine with a church-planting team, we had a houseful of preschool/kindergarten boys who militantly sang Lead On O King Eternal. My daily life seemed like I was “rallying the troops” for homeschooling, meals, outings, clean up. The hymn fit our life.

 

The boys got older, we moved to the US, and they had their first year in a traditional school. It wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t for us. The next year, Hubby was in grad school, homeschooling the kids, and talking to them about Foucault while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I was working.  We felt like we were bucking the system again, and weren’t going to be Another Brick in the Wall.

 

And truthfully, hasn’t that been the anthem of every homeschool family at some time?

 

Now as we are entering our last year in Nassau, and the crazy process of bidding on our next post is looming, our Foreign Service family theme song has been playing in my head a lot.  We dance around the kitchen, dream about the next place we’ll live, and prepare our hearts for the good-byes here.

 

“Roam,” the B52s

 

Fly the great big sky see the great big sea
Kick through continents bustin’ boundaries
Take it hip to hip rock it through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss

Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, without wings without wheels
Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, without anything but the love we feel

 

 

I’d love to know what your family theme songs have been through the years!  Or, talk to the kids — is there a song they thing “fits” the family best right now?

 

Kindergarten: Better Late than Early?

“Look, I did school!”

A5 just came up to me, showing me some papers which he cut, pasted, and wrote letters.

I tend to be a “Better Late Than Early” (aff) sort of homeschool mom. . . but I think he’s a “Better Now Than Later” sort of kid.

His birthday was last week. He kept telling me, “When I turn five, I’m going to start Kindergarten!” It took me awhile to realize that he thought that as soon as his birthday came, he’d get a uniform and go to the school his brothers attend and join the class his little friend from Sunday School is in.

He was sad when I told him he wouldn’t be joining Ellie’s class. But now, I think we need to start our Kindergarten rhythms in earnest.

Review: “Love, Honor, and Virtue”

Hal and Melanie Young’s most recent book, “Love, Honor, and Virtue” is a great primer on puberty and purity for parents and sons to use together. (Come back later for a mom-to-mom interview with Melanie!)

 

Mom and boys standing near a loch in Scotland.

My teen boys tower over me… Obviously, they’ve hit puberty!

We have five sons, half of whom are now legal adults. In all honesty, I expected to navigate the muddy waters of adolescence with a little more clarity than I have. Instead, I often punted the ball to my husband who is a bit more direct, rather than addressing things head-on myself.

 

I used to joke that the best way to teach about puberty and reproduction is through mom being pregnant. And while that isn’t the reason WHY we had child #5, it sure was convenient that I was pregnant when the older boys were 12yo – 16yo. It was easy to talk about reproduction, hormones, and birth while living through it. But let’s be honest — we can’t all keep having babies just to make talking about puberty and reproduction easier.

 

Let’s be honest — we can’t all keep having babies just to make talking about reproduction easier.

“Love, Honor, and Virtue” would have been a welcome resource to have when our older boys were first entering adolescence. While there are topics in the book which I wish didn’t need to be addressed in early adolescence (sexting, porn, masturbation), they do need to be brought up at a younger rather than older age. This book would be handy to open the conversation with them about these more challenging issues.

 

Life, love, sex, and development are all connected and part of God’s design. That is the foundational premise of “Love, Honor, and Virtue,” and that is a great starting point.

 

Written directly to the young teens themselves, the book gives a good overview of the biology of puberty and reproduction. The information is specific and accurate. It’s just a primer, though, and eventually I’d want to use biology textbooks and further health resources to for more detail. The biology section addresses some areas especially well, including a summary of the birth process aimed at future fathers and the impact of hormones on male emotions.

 

Life, love, sex, and development are all connected and part of God’s design.

Our culture assumes hormones will impact young women’s emotions, and ignore that those become cyclically predictable and therefore somewhat easier to handle. I find that young men are surprised at how hormonal changes lead to mood changes — and at how confusing it can be when these emotion swings seem to come out of nowhere. (This was one of our topics of conversation as we drove to church just yesterday!)

 

As I expected, this book communicates a Biblical sexual ethic clearly. I appreciated the discussion on how we tend rationalize our sin, including sexual sin. Some materials in the Christian market err either in making light of sexual sin, or presenting it in doom and gloom morass that will ensnare everyone. The Youngs are frank about sexual temptation and the seriousness of sexual sin, without presenting fighting sin as a hopeless cause. In addition to Scriptural encouragement, they address some very practical ways to fight temptation, as well as some of the biological factors (dopamine!) which make it harder to resist temptation.

 

“Love, Honor, and Virtue” is a great primer on puberty and purity.

What I didn’t expect was the depths of discussion on boy/girl relationships — friendships as well as relationships leading to marriage. I think we’ve learned over the past few decades that it is not healthy to cling closely to idealistic relational models(courtship! betrothal! dating!) I found that the Youngs provided young men with very helpful insights into relationships, without being prescriptive. Rather than a “don’t do this” list of rules, they offered counsel on practical ways to build good friendships with young women which may (or may not) lead to marriage.

 

In discussing the book with one of my sons, I was surprised at the area where he and I disagreed. I liked the rule of thumb, “Are you finding your desire rising in a situation or activity? Then it’s time to back down. . .” (page 42.) That seemed sensible to me, especially as a mom, and remembering my own desires. My son, on the other hand, didn’t like that — he expressed wanting more “rules” of what to do and not to do. Similarly, I liked the idea that young men treat women in their lives as mothers or sisters — another son didn’t. While he wants to respect a girlfriend like a sister, he felt weird considering a girl he likes as a “sister or mother.”

I even appreciate areas in which I disagree with the book, as it opens the doors for conversation.

 
A few areas I would approach differently — yet I even appreciate areas in which I disagree with the book, as it opens the doors for conversation in our family. Really, though, what mom wants to talk about masturbation with boys? That’s a conversation I leave for my husband.

 

 

As a holistic introduction to puberty — biological, spiritual, social — I highly recommend “Love, Honor, and Virtue” for parents and young teen boys.

 

 

 

When I saw that the Young’s were working on this book, I (selfishly!) requested a review copy. The above is my personal opinion and does not contain affiliate links. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview (also selfishly requested) with Melanie Young!

We Remember: Lydia

We remember Lydia Schatz today, February 6, 2017.

Seven years ago today, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz died after her adoptive parents disciplined her to the point of death.

Lydia was a vivacious little girl, adopted from Liberia.  In the photo below, her smile shows a missing upper tooth — in the same place where my 5-year-old-son is missing a tooth.

Lydia Schatz

Lydia Schatz

 

February tends to be a hard month for me.  I don’t know why it is, but it seems some of the biggest emotional challenges come around in February. A big part of it is remembering and mourning Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock, and facing the reality of abuse within the church and Christian families.

Lydia’s adoptive parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were convicted by the courts. Kevin was sentenced to two life terms for second-degree murder and torture and will serve a minimum of 22 years. Elizabeth Schatz sentence is for over 13 years for voluntary manslaughter and infliction of unlawful corporal punishment. These sentences were the result of a plea bargin — originally they were charged with murder related to Lydia’s death, torture related to her sister (also adopted) who was hospitalized but recovered, and cruelty related to a biological son’s injuries.

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
Psalm 10:18-19

Lydia’s autopsy revealed that she died from rhabdomyolsis, a condition related to kidney and heart failure from toxins released when muscle tissue breaks down. Lydia’s muscles broke down as a result of repeated beatings over time, though her death was proceeded by an especially long “discipline” session.

Lydia’s parents used a plumbing supply line, which is recommended by Michael and Debi Pearl in their book “To Train Up A Child.” Both plumbing supply line and TTUAC were found in the Schatz home and the older children have attested to those methods being used in their home.

While death is not a common result from the implementation of TTUAC, this is not the first time that a child has died when parents have carefully and consistently applied the so-called “child training methods” espoused by the Pearls. In February 2006, 4-year-old Sean Paddock was killed. How many other unreported cases of quiet abuse are happening under the influenced of these harmful, unBiblical teachings?

Compounding the tragedy is the professed love of these parents for their children, the desire to nurture their children through homeschooling, the commitment to seek out help in parenting.

Further compounding the tragedy is that Lydia and her sister Zaraiah were adopted. Her parents needed to provide love, security, attachment. . . and instead beat them with a plumbing supply line. Sean was a foster son in the process of being adopted.

We need to remember Lydia. We need to remember Sean. We need to remember Hana Williams.

We need to remember the children who need families, who are in families.

We need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

We need to open our eyes to the abuse within our own communities.

May God have mercy on us all.

 

Lydia Schatz Memorial

Reminders to Myself, When Struggling

A friend who homeschools her  kids was sharing her struggles the other day.  I heard in her words such self-condemnation, such self-blame.

When I read it, it reminded me of the downward spiral of thoughts I’ve had at times. . .  “I’m a terrible mother… I’m a terrible wife… I’m a terrible Christian…” These thoughts take hold and have such sway over me, because they are key elements of my calling in life.  Feeling like a failure in areas that are so important to me go swirling in my head.

More often than not, when these feelings take hold in my heart, they have been amplified by hormones.  My post-partum depression felt like PMS on steroids.  Identifying that connection has helped me observe these thoughts and feelings for what they are — thoughts and feelings that are not the full sum of reality.

Do you ever feel that way?  Like the things you value most as a mother are the things you struggle in the most?

Remember, YOU are just the right mother for your children.  God has chosen YOUR children to be nurtured by you.  Regardless of what you are or aren’t doing, YOU are JUST the right mother for your children. THEY are the children God has given to you.

Your strengths and weaknesses are being used by God, in His sovereignty, as they grow in to the people God has created them to be.

I heard my friend share words of frustration — and wanting encouragement to really press in to the effort needed each day.

And I heard her say words  of condemnation — which is not what needs to be taking hold in our hearts.

In the context of struggling to do what we want to do, and the struggle not to sin, Romans 8 reminds me, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 ESV)

Jesus calls us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

And for me, with all the failures (and good things) through the years, I keep meditating upon the the comfort,

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV)

This is the encouragement I need to hear each day.

Please be gentle on yourself, as you accept God’s gentleness. . .