January 25, 2016

You Might Be a Home Schooler If...(A Guest Post By Someone Who Knows)


When my oldest was a preschooler, she was working on her counting at home one day, trying to get over the hump from 29 to 30. 

She was getting hung up, though, because she kept saying "twenty-nine, twenty-ten." 

At which point I stepped in to "help." 

Five minutes later, she was sobbing and saying "tweh-, tweh-, tweh-, twenty-nine, thir-, thir-, thir-, thirty." Because I was so mean and horrible and impatient with her that I made her cry. Made. Her. Cry. When all she was doing was learning to count.

And this, my friends, is Exhibit A in our case for "Why We Don't Home School." Because I made my child cry (sob, actually) just trying to teach her to get from 29 to 30. Imagine if I'd been trying to instruct her in advanced trigonometry or quantum physics or how to figure out the volume of a cube. I'm starting to sob myself just thinking about it.

So we don't home school. Actually, my husband and I very deliberately and intentionally determined, upon "inquiring of the Lord" (see Joshua 9:14), that we would be a Christian public school family. And on the cusp of our aforementioned older daughter's senior year, it is a decision we've never once regretted. (For the record, she can count just fine.)

But, because of that decision, I cannot write about home schooling. So I'm thrilled to be able to introduce you to someone who can: my friend Julie.

Julie home schools her two boys and, I'm guessing, has never made them sob. We share, shall we say, a "distaste" for math (genius hashtag by Julie: #‎algebrasuckstheliferightoutofme‬but also a love of chocolate, which everyone knows binds people of all nations, personalities, and schooling choices together in perfect harmony.

Julie says you might be a home schooler if...

Your teacher makes you stop in the middle of math class to pray about your attitude.
Grocery shopping or lunch with the grandparents is a "field trip."
Walking the dog or riding your bike is "gym class."

You do math and language with a cat on your lap.

There's only one other person in your class.

You've made your teacher cry.

You make fun of the kids on the school bus when it goes by.

Part of your curriculum is chores.

You get your birthday off school.

You get the day off school if you just got back from vacation.

You get to sleep in on Mondays.

You get to wrestle with your brother in between classes.

You get to do school outside in the spring.

You're doing math and realize you're still in your pj's.

You get to have a sleepover on a weeknight.

You get to have friends over for lunch.

Watching Little House on the Prairie is "history class."

You do all of your subjects in one room.

You don’t have a backpack or a lunch box.

You only have one pair of jeans.

You get to go to work with your dad.

Your mom brings lunch to your desk.

Detention is being sent to your room.

You have to mow the lawn during your lunch break.

You still have to do school when you’re sick.

You don’t get snow days.

You ask how gum is made and have to write a paper about it.

Your mom corrects your grammar all day long.

Your pet is your mascot.

Your best friend and the school bully are the same person.

Thank you, Julie, for this fabulous list! Home schooling mamas, what would you (or your pupils) add to it? Leave your wit and wisdom in a comment or over on Facebook. And if you've got a math class to teach in the near future, may I first suggest some fortifying chocolate?

Julie Taylor is wife to a great guy, mom to two teenage boys, and a home schooler. She starts her day with Jesus and coffee and ends her day with a hot bubble bath. In between, she feeds people constantly and tries to get a nap. She enjoys reading articles on health and nutrition, taking walks outside, finding ways to save money on groceries, having family time, cooking, baking chocolate-chip cookies, and staying home. She does not enjoy jogging; algebra makes her brain hurt; and putting laundry away is her least favorite chore. But life is good, and she tries to count her many blessings daily.

Previous posts that might have something to do with this one:
My 10 Favorite Mom Jobs
Why I Still Stay Home
What Good Students Do

January 18, 2016

My Ten Favorite Mom Jobs

Mama, what you "just" do matters. 

That was the whole point of my last post, which I was honored to have up over on Her View From Home. (In fact, I'm thrilled that HVFH has let me in as a monthly contributor. In the works for February: "Chocolate Cream Pie: A Love Story." Oh, the research.)

What you "just" do matters because small things make a big difference to the souls of the people who live in your house.

But since we're all about reality motherhood here at Guilty Chocoholic Mama, I'm going on the record and saying that a lot of the jobs we "just" do are jobs we would be happy to "just" not do

Dusting comes to mind. 

Still, there are some mom jobs* I wouldn't trade for any 401k or travel expense account or over-the-top performance review. Namely...

1. Waking my girls up on a snow day to tell them they get to go back to sleep. (Re: #4 on this winter to-do list.) If you're wondering why I don't just let my girls sleep in and deliver the happy news when they get up, I'll tell you. (Actually--clearly--I'm going to tell you whether you're wondering or not.) My daughters want it this way. If there's any chance they might have a snow day (but we don't get the news the night before), they set their alarms as usual and hope I'll come in ahead of those alarms to tell them their prayers have been answered with a "yes." Their reasoning--which I cannot argue with--is that they'd rather set an alarm they might not end up needing and have me wake them up to tell them good news rather than not set an alarm and have me wake them up to tell them school is on and please don't cry about it.

2. Being the privileged sole member of the audience when my daughter plays her clarinet in competition. My high-school junior clarinetist has taken part in Solo & Ensemble every year since 7th grade. When she performs her solo, she allows a viewing gallery of just one: me. Last year, I told the crowd of supporters clustered around her performance room, "Sorry, but other than the judge, you only get to be in this room if you've given birth to Lydia." Which, on account of her birth being facilitated by The Supreme Evil of All Evils (a.k.a., Pitocin), seems only fair.

3. Feeding my family. I could do without making school lunches every day, and I absolutely can identify with my own mom, who got to the point where she said if she never had to come up with another family dinner idea the rest of her natural life, that would be just fine with her. But in general, cooking--fine, BAKING--for my family feeds my soul because I know it feeds theirs. When my girls get home from school after a tough day, and I have homemade secret-recipe chocolate-chip cookies waiting for them, it makes things better. It just does. I know the "experts" say you're not supposed to use food for comfort. But I'm going with THE Expert on this one: "Then she ate something, and her face was no longer downcast." (See 1 Samuel 1:18.)

4. Vacuuming. The instant-gratification queen of household chores. Plus, I just like sucking stuff up and seeing it disappear. Although, note to self: when the current vacuum cleaner bag needs emptying, don't forget to pick through it for whatever shiny thing that was that was hiding in the rag rug upstairs, which may or may not have been a piece of heirloom jewelry.

5. Taking care of my girls when they're sick. Of course I don't want them to be sick. And I'm not talking about the, er, yuck-type stuff here. But I love the chance to hold my girls, smooth their hair, comfort them, say "poor baby," and know that, like most kids, what they want most when they're sick is their mama.

6. Going to parent-teacher conferences. I am beyond grateful that my girls have healthy minds and that they are capable of doing well in school if they work hard. I well understand that going to conferences is a torment for some parents, and my heart goes out to them. I do not take for granted that generally speaking, my girls like their teachers, and their teachers like them, and so conferences are usually a mutual exchange of pleasantries. I tell my girls' teachers the nice things my daughters have said about them, and their teachers tell me nice things about my daughters, and it's all quite enjoyable. 

7. Counseling. I've written in bios for guest posts on other blogs that I'd be able to afford the farmhouse sink I want for my kitchen if I got paid psychotherapists' fees for the emotional support services I provide for my children most days. But from after-school updates to bedtime chats, I have the honor and privilege of hearing the deepest parts of my girls' souls. This means I get first crack at the bad and the ugly...but also the good.

8. Brainstorming and buying gifts. Whenever I wait in anticipation for Lydia and Anna to open a gift I know they'll love, I'm hit again by this truth: "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11, Holman Christian Standard).

9. Dishwashing. I have and use a dishwasher, but I still do plenty of dishes by hand because this is how I get my reading in. Give me a novel on audiobook and a sinkful of suds, and I'm pretty relaxed. Really, I am. A study in the journal Mindfulness says so: do dishes by hand and reduce your stress level by 27%, apparently. Mercy. Think what more of a mess I'd be if I let the dishwasher do everything.

10. Chauffeuring. Now that I have a responsible teenage driver (see "7 Reasons I Love Being the Mom of a Teenager), I don't do this as much as I used to, which is probably why I like it more than I used to. Car conversation is a thing, plus Lydia and I learn most of the duets we sing together in church while we're en route somewhere. Multitasking, music, and movement, mama.

So these are the mom jobs I most love to do. Of course, there are plenty of mom jobs I'm not crazy about and, in fact, do not do. For a list of those, head over to Lose the Cape (which had me at their name...love it). Thank you, oh capeless moms...I feel right at home among you.

Boxes of dark chocolates with none of those weird jelly centers to my fellow Facebook moms who shared the jobs they wouldn't hand off...besides showing me I'm not alone in my favorites, you added some I hadn't thought of: spiritual life-coaching; boo-boo kissing; and being your kids' biggest cheerleader. Yes to all!

This post may have been shared at some of these blog bashes.

*I know: these don't have to be mom jobs. Someone living in this house other than me could do most of these. But I do them here, and I'm the mom, so in our family, these are mom jobs.

January 13, 2016

Mama, What You "Just" Do Matters

The missing Dora the Explorer miniature doll "incident" was not one of my prouder mom moments. (See "With Apologies to My First-Born" on the Lists and Laughs page of this blog.)

While I was searching for the MIA doll and acting like a lunatic, I ranted, "I spend ALL MY TIME looking for lost stuff!"

I still rant and rave as an older mom (see "I Don't Deserve to be Treated This Way"), but at least now I understand something I didn't on Dora Day: as mothers, we are shaping eternal souls. But what that looks like a lot of the time is trying to find the lost something or driving someone somewhere or figuring out what to make for dinner. 

I love, love, love this quote from American psychotherapist and spiritual writer Thomas Moore: “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest”
(Care of the Soul).

As moms, we might feel like we're "just" doing this trivial task or that mundane thing, but what we're really doing is something that's important to someone's soul. 

Even as I write this, I can almost hear the moans. "Good grief, not another mom blogger telling me every little thing I do is supposed to fulfill me and that I should feel exalted while I clean the toilet." No, dear mama, that is not what I'm trying to tell you at all. 

What I am trying to tell you, in fact, is over on Her View From Home. I know! This is either sneaky of me or annoying of me or both, but I hope you'll forgive me and click on over anyway. Then, if you're really feeling patient, come back here and let me know what you've "just" done today. Which, by that point, I hope you'll know really does matter.

January 5, 2016

Why I Love Winter (& What I'm Hoping to Do During This One)

Several posts ago, I made the following rather shocking admission, which I know puts me on the fringe of decent society:

I am not a summer person.

And then, I plunged ahead with this personal bombshell, which I understand by most people's standards launches me squarely into the category of "weird to the point of being socially scary":

I love winter.

Yes, really. No, I am not kidding.

At the time, the reason I love winter was a subject for another post with a working title of "Why I Love Winter."

Now that everyone is putting up their "this many days till spring" countdowns, let's get on with it.

First I must clarify that I am not writing this while I sit on my Hawaiian lanai and sip a pina colada. I am writing this from my Midwest sitting room. We do get some snow here, although not nearly as much as I'd like or as much as most people who live here seem to think we do.

When I say "I love winter," I am absolutely saying "I love snow." As much as possible.

(Note that I am not saying I love driving in snow. If you're thinking, "Listen, honey, I'd love winter too if I didn't have to drive in it," I readily concede your legitimate point.)

If you're still reading this far in, I suspect it's for one of three possible reasons: 1)you are my mother (thanks, Mom); 2)you are one of the, what, three other adults in existence who also likes winter and lives in a state that gets it; 3)you are horrified and/or perplexed by my views on this subject but are sticking around to confirm your suspicion that I am, in fact, insane.

If #3 applies to you, I imagine you would give me a little leeway if I said the reason for my frozen devotion is that I am an avid skier or snowboarder (as if...girls, quit laughing at your mother) or snowshoer. While it is true that I tried skiing once and enjoyed it, I have a daughter with orthodontia and the bills to prove it, and thus I do not ski or take part in any number of other expensive hobbies. I do like to ice skate, and I exercise outside every morning even in a blizzard, but outdoor enjoyment is not the reason I love winter.

I love winter because I am a homebody introvert and few things thrill me more than when something I am supposed to leave the house to do gets cancelled and so I am required to stay home. (Maybe the weather will get so bad the governor of our state will actually ORDER me to stay home!)

This does not happen in the summer. There is no hope of my being able to spend an unexpected evening by a roaring fire in July. There is no chance in May or August or even October that the school event we have to attend will suddenly appear at the bottom of our TV screen on a list of cancellations due to weather and my little family will instead spend the evening playing "Beat the Parents" while we watch a movie and eat chocolate-chip cookies. 

I love winter because I am all about cozy, and I am all about comfort. Just let me put on a sweater and eat a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. I am not the slightest bit comforted by shorts and salads.

I love winter because if you are curled up under a blanket on the couch on a Sunday afternoon in, say, February, and someone finds out about it, they think you are just being seasonally appropriate. Whereas if you do the same thing in the spring and someone finds out about it, they frown disapprovingly and suggest that perhaps you should be outside gardening.

And so, dear winter, I remain your faithful (if rather lonely) fan. And while you are here, will you please allow me to at least hope that I might...

1. Wear fleece. And hoodies. And fleece hoodies.

2. Drink many cups of hot chocolate. My favorite quick-mix version is 1/2 a packet of Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate with 1/2 a packet of Swiss Miss No-Sugar Added.

3. Watch for the National Weather Service to issue a Winter Storm Warning for our county.

4. Get a school-cancellation text message and have the unparalleled joy of waking my girls up to tell them they get to go back to sleep.

5. Get a night-before school-cancellation text message and have the thrill of staying up late drinking hot chocolate (see #2) and watching movies with my daughters. (Their father, alas, almost never gets a snow day. So we put him to bed and then watch girly flicks while we feel a little guilyy. But only a little.)

6. Watch the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series episode where the entire extended Ingalls family gets snowed in at Pa's place on Christmas Eve. Here, I will make an exception and watch a Christmas-something after Christmas.

7. Watch/listen to The Piano Guys' "Let It Go," which they intertwine with, appropriately enough, Vivaldi's "Winter."

8. Wear fuzzy socks. If they have those gripper dots on the bottom, so much the better.

9. Sit by a fire in the fireplace and watch snow fall gently outside the picture window. 

10. Ice skate on my parents' pond. Were I to use this pond in the summer, I would have to wear a bathing suit and, afterwards, drink a root beer float, neither of which I like. In my beloved winter, I get to wear many layers and, afterwards, drink hot chocolate (a recurring theme). 

11. Put fuzzy sheets on the bed.

12. Burn possibly five more calories per hour exercising outside in the cold weather than I do any other time of year.

13. Not have to paint my toes.

14. Make pot roast. This recipe is comfort in a Dutch oven, mama.

15. Respect the wisdom of the Creator. "God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things. He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth' " (Job 37:5-7). Say what you will about winter, but I, for one, am not arguing with the Almighty.

If you've read this far and you're not my mom and you're not convinced I'm crazy and you do happen to at least appreciate winter, I'd love to hear from you! Even better, add something to this list. I'll be drinking my hot chocolate and waiting to see what you come up with.

Previous posts that have something to do with this one:
What I'm Hoping To Do This Summer
Grumpy Gardener Girl
31 Things I Love (That You Might Love, Too)

This post may have been shared at some of these blog link parties...