The Accidental Homeschooler

The Accidental Homeschooler

“Mom, you can just homeschool me!”  My 8-year-old daughter begged. Her excitement and hope confused me.

What?!

Why?!

She did great in school, had so many friends, and wasn’t struggling academically at all.  It was at home the meltdowns occurred.  Her frustration would reach a boiling point that would bubble over and leave tears streaming down her beautiful cheeks.  Her wide blue eyes would spill over with tears, and the sparkle was becoming rarer.  It was at home, not at school, that the temper tantrums would occur.

I laughed.  There is no way I could homeschool her.  We fought with each other all the time.  Our frustration would reach points where I am not sure we liked each other at all.  Oh sure, we loved each other…but we really didn’t enjoy spending time together.  Homeschool her?  Why would I?  We would kill each other.  I DID NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE TO HOMESCHOOL THIS CHILD.

God Had Other Plans

I prayed, “God if you want me to homeschool my children, I need you to change my heart.”  I was sure the answer would be to leave them in the amazing school they were in!  They were doing so well.  All three of my girls had great friends. They had teachers I loved!  GREAT teachers.  A community that involved parents and families.

Also, I Do Not Own Any Denim Jumpers!

Bright Pink sneakers at a starting line.And then I had an epiphany. I realized I missed my children.  I could tell my youngest was a struggling learner, and my oldest was growing up so fast.  That middle child, the one that just wanted her mommy to see her, she just needed to not be overwhelmed by the end of the day.  Our days consisted of getting up early, loading up to drive to school, being at school all day, activities at night, go home, fast supper, clean-up, do homework, get ready for the next day, and repeat.  This is what everyone does!  I was a substitute teacher in my children’s school, and I got to see them every day…but they could never be my focus.

I will never forget trying to work through a math lesson while teaching my daughter’s class.  She was so frustrated, but I couldn’t help her.  I knew I could help her at home, and my job was to work with the other students.  I then figured out she was copying her neighbors’ work in order to just get it done.  I sat her down that night to talk with her and realized that she was hurting by the end of each day.  She was exhausted.  She needed more.  More time to work at her own pace, more time outside, more sleep, more mom, and more family.  How on earth could we handle more?

I Guess I am Homeschooling

I decided that I would pull her out for a year.  I wasn’t committing to more than that.  My original plan was to take her out for a year and leave her sisters in school.  This wasn’t just any school.  This school required parent involvement.  4 hours per week, per child.  It was small, and there was a waiting list!

Wading In With One

OK God.  I can do this. One foot in, one foot out.  Let’s compromise?  I will homeschool this one, for now.

My youngest child just wasn’t getting it though.  She never had.  Reading was really tough for her, number sense just wasn’t there.  She was sweet, sensitive, and an amazing friend to everyone.  Everyone told me, “Don’t worry.  Developmentally she’s on track!”   But I knew.  Something wasn’t clicking for her.  Once she found out I was going to be home with her sister, it became a non-issue.  She had always wanted to just stay with me.  At the end of her first day of kindergarten, she said to me, “I don’t know how to read, naptime is too short, I don’t think I need to do that anymore.”

I Can Homeschool Two

Ok God.  These 2.  I can homeschool these two.  They are both young enough.  I can teach them at home.  My oldest however, I can’t teach her.  She is so smart!  I could never challenge her enough!

My oldest came to me shortly before the school year was up.  “Mom, I don’t know, but I think I want to be at home too.”  Ok. Don’t panic.  I can talk her out of this.

And here I am finishing my fourth year of homeschooling, and I am probably doing it wrong.  I am definitely not doing what I envisioned.  I don’t have more patience, I still fight with my middle daughter about her math lessons.

God Will Fill in the Gaps

We don’t have only great days, and I never feel like I am doing enough.  So many nights I lay in bed.  “God, I did my best but we both know it wasn’t enough.  I need you to fill in the gaps.”  I have faith He will.

What we do have?  Laughter when we trip up.  Together we learn, we play, we explore,  we grow.

The truth is we are involved in each other’s lives.  WE LIKE EACH OTHER!  Love has always been a given, but now, most days, we want to spend time together.

We want to make our home a culture of learning.  Do I ever see that school bus go by and think, “Hmmm…I would have so much time if….”?

ABSOLUTELY.

Would I change the decision to follow the calling God put on me to homeschool my children?

NEVER!

Rebecca Lundgren

Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals.  While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.  Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University.  Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program.  In addition to homeschooling, she is a well-loved teacher at True North Homeschool Academy where she teaches Jr High Classes.  She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.

For more of this type of you-can-do-it encouragement read Managing My Home and Time, Using teamwork in Your Homeschool, or Homeschool While I Work? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

 

Butterfly Box Review & Give-Away

Butterfly Box Review & Give-Away

I love subscription boxes! I’ve subscribed to a few and its’ always a lot of fun- it’s like getting a present in the mail and it’s fun to explore new products.

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review the Butterfly Box. Like many busy homeschooling Moms, who are working, running a house, participating in ministry, AND homeschooling, sometimes the most important things get pushed aside.

The Butterfly Box is a wonderful way to reconnect to the most important part of life- your faith!

Each month a thoughtfully curated and themed box arrives to help you reclaim those quiet moments with God, build your intimacy with Christ, and live out your faith in the world around you!

What can you expect from your Butterfly Box Subscription?

  • A monthly theme to encourage and equip your spiritual growth
  • 5-6 specially curated and high-quality items that might include artwork, jewelry, books, décor, personal pampering items, cards, and other specialty items,
  • The knowledge that you are supporting a faith-based or small Christian business
  • The assurance that each carefully curated and crafted box will be themed and color-coordinated. I love how all of the items in my box were so beautifully color-coordinated!
  • A sweet and simple newsletter that explains each item in the box and words of encouragement.

What was in my Butterfly Box?

Included in my Butterfly box were two tea drops. I am an avid tea drinker (I’m drinking my daily green tea right now) and I’ve never heard of a tea drop; I received Sweet Peppermint and White Vanilla- shaped loose leaf tea that dissolved in hot water! Tea is such a simple comfort and goes perfectly with one’s daily devotions! One for you and for a friend!

Next up, a prayer bracelet. Mine was a lovely silver toned butterfly to wear as a reminder to pray.

Also included was a laminated prayer guide that suggests circles of influence to pray for throughout the week. The card is beautiful and could easily slip into a 5 x 8-inch frame to put on one’s desk, or into your Bible cover, as a regular reminder to pray.

Then a beautifully bound book: The Power of the Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian. I’ve loved Stormie’s books for years and this one is no different. It includes 31 chapters covering specific prayers, such as, “Keep Me in the Center of Your Will,” and “Comfort Me in Times of Trouble.” Each short but powerful chapter includes encouragement, Scripture references, and Stormie’s blessed brand of exhortation! Published by Harvest House, the book is a visual treat, with a soft stamped turquoise cover and a ribbon bookmark. Each chapter includes a brief introduction, a page titled, “My Prayer to God,” and then a page titled, “God’s Promise to Me.” Sweet, thought-provoking, and do-able, even for super busy, swamped Mommas like you and me!

And even more fun, these would be totally appropriate to read with your kids!

Last but not least, included in this month’s Butterfly Box, a prayer journal, in the same beautiful turquoise as the book, with a title of, “Be Still and Know” on the front cover. Did I mention how I love the color-coordinated theme of this box? It’s a visual treat!

Self-care or the perfect gift!

A subscription to the Butterfly Box would be a perfect holiday present for a teen or adult daughter, an older relative, or a new momma. We can all use an extra dose of goodness in our lives and this little gift box delivers! And honestly, with all of the talk of the value of “self-care”, this is the real deal. If you really want to take care of yourself, the best place to start is with your relationship with the Living God!

Special Offer & Enter to Win

Join the Butterfly Box and use code WELCOME10 for 10% off!

Enter to win 6 months of the Butterfly Box. You have until October 30 to enter! 

This little box is chock full of truth, beauty, and goodness and will offer encouragement to any recipient.

Image of the items in the Butterfly Box

 

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Pandemic, quarantine, birthday, and party.? Should any of those words even be used together in the same sentence? They were in my mind and haunting me from the time our state was shut down. How was I going to survive, let alone celebrate a birthday and create a special memory for not one, but two kids during the Corona Virus outbreak?

Well, just like the rest of the world; I had to go virtual! Here are ideas for how to make a fun and safe birthday happen- online!

I wish this was an original idea on my part, but I stole it from all those people out there having happy-hour parties and splashing them all over social media. I just knew I could make a virtual birthday party work!  Soo, I went straight to planning mode, which for me meant calling our youth pastor for game ideas. (working smarter not harder, I mean why reinvent the wheel?). After our conversation, I got straight to work.

First, I decided on my agenda. Any good virtual meeting party has one, right?

My rule for in-person parties has always been 1.5 hours to 2 hours max….. What would my time frame be for an online party? What games would I play? How would we start? How would we end? What virtual platform would I use?

After much thought, this is what we landed on:

  • 45 minutes
  • Open with introductions and Ice breaker (How do you know the Birthday Kid?)
  • Games: Joel and Levi Trivia (I made-up questions about my boys that would be fun, easy, and sometimes hard) & Scavenger Hunt (This was a big hit!) I picked easy “around the house” items.  Sometimes they had to figure out a clue. Some examples: Matching pair of socks, an item that turns on the T.V.  You get the idea, right?
  • We sang Happy Birthday and all participated in blowing out the candles, virtual style of course.
  • Food: This is where I did work a bit harder and maybe not smarter. The night before the party I drove around to our guest’s house and did porch drop-offs of store-bought and sealed cupcakes for each family, along with goodie bags. What can I say, I am the “go big or go home” type of mom! This took a total of 7 hours, as some of our guests lived over an hour away. Talk about making memories for Dad and me!
  • I wrapped up the party with a Dance-Off Competition. This was super fun! They danced the Cupid Shuffle.

For extra fun, I scored both games with points. For “Joel and Levi Trivia: the first person who raised their hand with correct answer earned 3 points, the second person 2 points and the third person 1 point. Same system for the Scavenger Hunt. The first person to return to the screen with the item earned three points, the 2nd person 2 points and the third person 1 point.  I sent Target and Amazon gift cards to the winners- virtually of course!

 

 

 

And BOOM!

45 minutes later the party was a wrap! I used ZOOM as our platform but I have heard that there are several other great mediums in the virtual world to hold a great party.  I did let any kids that wanted to, hang out for a bit longer in the zoom room to chat and catch up with each other.  By ALL party definitions, this was a HUGE FUN success!

If you are going to take a stab at a “virtual” party I would just read up on how to keep your party safe. There have been lots of “party crashers” out there recently.

From our family to yours, we wish you great joy as you celebrate your loved ones- be that online or in person!!

 

About the Author

Erin Garcia is a frontline, boots on the ground, homeschooling warrior momma of 11 kids.  She has 13 years of Educational experience. Erin has been married to her husband George for 20 years.  They have a beautiful, messy, blended family. George came into the marriage with 3 children and a stepdaughter, and Erin entering their covenant with 3 children, the Lord then blessing them with 4 more children together. Their children range in ages from 35 to 10.  While still enjoying their three youngest at home they are also loving the newest season of grandparenting.  

 

 

Sunday’s Coming!

Sunday’s Coming!

Life is Uncertain

The cross in the distance with the sunrise and the graveclothes folded Sunday is here - He is risenI originally wrote this ten years ago and wanted to share my testimony again at this uncertain time.

Ten years ago, our house had burned, my 47-year-old sister had died unexpectedly, my oldest ended up in an E.R. several states away with Bird Flu, our contractor was crooked, we moved three times in ten months and threw away 90% of our possessions. We moved back into our partially finished house during the worst flooding in our region’s history (though last year topped that). My dad died a few months later.

It was a stressful year, to say the least.

One thing we all have in common right now is that life is uncertain.

And with that uncertainty comes anxiety, fear, possibly depression. Stress. Will we get sick? Will we get better? Will we have a job? What will the world look like in 2, 4 or 6 months?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Maybe right now you can relate to these words that I wrote 10 years ago:

I have been tossing and turning for nights. If there were an Olympic event for turning 360’s under the covers- I’d win. Cause while we are home, we are far from settled. The house remains undone and critically demanding from both a time and money standpoint. I feel pulled in a 100-directions at once for a myriad of reasons. Like Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, flurrying around, scurrying in all directions, wondering if she should pack the kitchen sink for their flight from imminent danger, flustered because she’s worried she won’t make a good impression, concerned that Mr. Beaver will fall into the path of danger. Geez, mahn, she’s a worrywart.

Oh, how I relate. Cause I’m faithful and true and a diligent and hard worker and busy and industrious and mindful of things, and thinking of what’s next and on and on. But I’m concerned. Concerned about all that’s not being done and what’s up ahead and how I look and what’s next.

When Mrs. Beaver finally meets Aslan, his comment to her, which sets all things right in her life is, “Peace, Beaver.”

And with those two little words, the High King sets it all straight. He recognizes who she is, calls her by name, dignifies her presence and speaking words of power and might, straightens the crooked places by His ruasch, alive and manifesting His strength and vision for her. The fussing and stressing and striving cease and she can relax in His presence knowing He’s got her back.

I’ve had a hard time getting there for the past many months. I’ve been grief-stricken and weary and flustered. And it’s not that things aren’t better than before, we have been blessed in amazing and profound ways; it’s the process of how they’ve gotten that way. Inventorying time and materials, thoughts and actions, sorting through possessions that were meaningful because of memories or people, profoundly feeling the loss of family, moving yet again in a matter of months.

I look around at all of the projects and consider how we’ll make due this fall and feel, oh so rocked by the waves of the circumstances. The work is something we enjoy, but the amount of it seems ominous, and while Dr. Dh is confident we’ll get it done, it’s all in the context of a day job and homeschooling and the living that will take place around it. And I see how we get tired and sore in a way we haven’t before. Age, stress, the demands of the year, manifesting themselves in practical ways.

This year, in the midst of the chaos and flurry of once in a lifetime circumstances I’ve longed for ritual. For benchmarks that say it’s this season or that. This is what you do when, the words you say now, the posture you take in response. I’ve needed guides, markers, mindless actions to go through that indicate time and life go on in a sensible and pleasing pattern despite disruption and chaos and hurt and fear and unrest and inconclusiveness”- the ritual and meaning and confirmation of faith and death and loss and living.

My youngest came up to me where I was sitting a few days after we moved back home and said, very quietly, “Momma, the fire scared me.” Just so plain and simple and straight forward, but sad and apologetic, like her little 7-year-old self should be braver. The very fact of being home again, I think, finally allowed her to say these simple words. I said, “I know, Baby, of course it did.” And she crawled into my lap and snuggled against me, curled up like when she was two and stayed there for a while. Later she looked up at me and smiled and gave me a big hug and hopped up and went to find kittens to play with. I’m grateful she could be as little as she needed to be and snuggle up with someone older and bigger and stronger and sit and soak in my strength and comfort until she’d absorbed as much as she needed.

God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in trouble. … Come and see the works of the LORD. Psalm 46:1
On so many levels, I’ve felt like my little girl and I’ve wanted to say the same thing; “The fire scared me, Sue’s death rocked me, I feel the loss and lost.” And I want to feel and hear and know Abba is saying, “I know, Baby, of course. Rest in My peace. I’ve got you. Despite the worry and chaos and confusion and disorder and the house undone and work ahead, I’ve got your back.”
And He does.
I know He does for me and I know He does for you!
Sunday’s coming and with it, the Living Christ!
Easter Cross with a gowing sunrise behind it happy Easter