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With a smile and a kiss: meeting your husband at the door.

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I fail at many things. But one thing I'm consistently bad at is greeting my husband at the door with a smile and a kiss. In my defense, I could cling to the fact that I never know when my husband is coming home any given day. And I could also cling to the fact that I'm usually run ragged by the time he walks in...and maybe could be looking for a sympathetic look and hug. Maybe even a "tag-me-out" gesture or a handing off of the car keys,etc. And I suppose I could also cling to any and every "I'm a SAHM to many small children" excuse in the book and therefore I get a free pass to appear completely spent and disheveled at my husbands arrival.

Truth is, I have a whole bag worth of excuses I can and regularly do employ. But....it doesn't make it right. It doesn't make my excuses excuseable. It doesn't make my husband feel welcomed back into the kingdom he works so hard for.

I really want to challenge all of the moms that so graciously read the words on this blog: make it a point, for one week straight, to greet your husband at the door with a smile and a kiss.

Even if the kids are screaming. Even if you are in the middle of a diaper change/making a meal/separating feuding brother/sister duos. Even if you are too tired. Even if you have zero desire to stop and step away from what you've just suddenly squeezed in time for.

If your husband is anything like mine, he gives his all at work. He works with his family at the forefront of his mind. He may miss another family dinner that he would've rather been there for, he may have been stretched super thin that day, or has been discouraged by the way others words beat him up.

We have to make, as much as is possible, our homes a welcome retreat for our husbands. They deserve to come home to a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere. They deserve to see home as a haven, not somewhere they want to avoid. And what makes a better haven than to see their wife smiling having happily anticipated their return.

It won't be easy to succeed in this challenge, but we must make it a healthy habit to be the leader of the welcome committee when daddy comes home. Here's to overcoming this challenge and making our husbands excited to come home.

Love, Alicia

What I thought homeschooling should be...[but its not.]

The first year of homeschooling was comparable to feeling around in a completely dark room. You run into a few things unexpectedly. You may knock a few things down. You stumble, you fall, you get hurt....but eventually, you find the lightswitch you've been searching for. I'm thankful I've found that lightswitch. {But it wasn't easily found} It turns out that this particular lightswitch has a dimmer feature, and as I increase the brightness in the room, I am further enlightened on how I may have just gone about that first year all wrong.

Here is what I thought homeschooling should be...[but its not.]

a Xerox copy of public school.If it was supposed to be, you might as well send your child to public/traditional school. Just go ahead and file this one away into your personal recycle bin.

a lot of sitting down, and a lot of worksheets.Turns out, worksheets don't work and sitting down all the time is just dumb. And when you have little boys doing the lots of sitting and lots of worksheets, prepare yourself for battle. Instead, keep seat work and worksheets to a minimum and do some real learning! Get out of the house, into nature, discover, explore, inquire, go on field trips....lots of them!  Give breaks as needed, go for nature walks, be spontaneous and encourage movement from the little ones as they are learning. Kids having fun AND learning??? That's priceless. And I guarantee they will retain more information this way than from any colorful worksheet.

very scheduled.I quickly found out that with having ONLY {four} little ones, this schedule you made with the BEST of intentions, will NEVER be followed like it should. Homeschooling should give freedom, not restrict it. One must be willing to account for major/minor mishaps, toddler tantrums, nursing babies, sick mamas, cranky "students", and just any other wrench that might get thrown into the mix. Relax. Throw out that rigid schedule, and decrease your blood pressure all at once! If you cant get everything done that you meant to that day, thats OKAY! And if you arent on the same number lesson for phonics and math, thats OKAY too!! [this one I've had to work on A LOT] And did I mention, relax?!?

a necessary burden.  We were excited, but very nervous at first thought of homeschooling our kids. We weighed our options and almost felt sometimes that we really had no other choice. I have an uneasiness about public school that I've never been able to shake off and private school, whether Christian or not, is just not financially feasible. We even looked into charter schools as a sort of last resort before taking the homeschooling plunge, but that was a HUGE bust. What I knew more than anything was that God called us gently to this, He's given me a love for teaching since I was a young child, and I knew that with His help, I can and will be an effective teacher for my children. It only took the summer before my oldest sons' Kindergarten year for me to see how amazing it is to be my child's teacher. Teaching my son how to read was hard work, but when I sat with him each day and saw visible progress, lightbulbs going off in his head, and in just a few short weeks going from a non-reader to second grade level, I was hooked. I cried even. What a PRIVILEGE to walk with him through that journey. We did it! Together! I couldn't wait to jump in to a school year filled with new discoveries and concepts.

like everyone else'shomeschool. It's so hard to not be that mom that compares what her kids are doing to what others are doing in their homeschool. There's countless opportunities to compare curriculums, schedules, activities, learning tips, progress, and goals with other homeschooling parents. What great opportunities these are as long as you stay guarded and protect the homeschool you have. Take any information you receive during these conversations and weigh them heavily against your personal homeschool philosophy, your child's specific learning style, and consider your entire home situation {number of kids you have, naptimes, working around a work/volunteer schedule, etc} before feeling the need to add this or that to what you already do. What works for them may not work for you....and that's OKAY!

Although last year was hard and so stretching, I am so thankful for what lessons I learned along the way. I'm thankful for the mentors God gave me in veteran homeschoolers. I'm thankful for an extremely supportive husband who loved to praise me and encourage me along...especially on the rough days. I am thankful for friends that God allowed to choose homeschooling the same time we did so I had a friend to walk with in that dark room. I am also thankful that I get the GIFT of educating my own children for the glory of Christ because it is indeed a GIFT! I am committed to home education for as long as God wills and am very humbled by His grace. I am so proud of my children and I am so loving this second year so far of our homeschooling adventures! I will always look back on that first trying year with such fond memories....but boy, am I glad it's over!:)

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-Alicia