Friday, September 25, 2009

have i mentioned it is hunting season?

On the very morning my beloved and I were leaving for our trip to Ireland this past spring, the very first words he said to me when he awoke were:

"I drew a mountain goat tag!"

What?  No, "Darling, I can't wait to go on this once-in-a-lifetime vacation with you!"

His focus was completely on this once-in-a-lifetime tag for a mountain goat that he received an email about late the night before.  You see, Utah has a lottery system for the hunters who would like to hunt some of the more rare big game such as moose, bison, big horn sheep, and mountain goats.

These are true once in a lifetime tags, for each hunter can only pull the tag once.  Unless, say, perhaps, that said hunter puts a wife's son's name in the lottery at a later date!

So, after a successful deer hunt and an intermittent and often revisited 102_1724pursuit of an elk, the day of the big goat hunt arrived and my husband and eldest son were off to the mountain tops where these placid white goats dwell.

And a quick look from me that shouts, "Really?  You're going hunting again?"


My Beloved often reminds me that we are raising men, and not girls.  So, the "man time" that these hunting trips provides just can't be replicated by all the time and attention in the world from Mom.

Exhibit A:

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So these goats were given the first name "mountain" for a reason.  Check out where my men went to find them.

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And at the end of four long days of stalking these herds of billy goats,
TA-DA!!:

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You can see above that my man is elated and looks ten years younger than his age.  His little hunting buddy, however, is exhausted and can't muster a smile.  Only a "number one" for that once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

He wasn't flipping us off.

Anyone have any yummy goat stew recipes out there?  Kenyon will make room of his office wall for this guy in a few months, but he will be in our tummies in just a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

that's why it isn't called "harvesting"

Hunting hard.

Early mornings and lots of hiking on tough terrain.

No mountain goat yet.

But a cute picture of a mid-day nap on the mountain (notice one hand on the bow at all times?).

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

summer is ending

Here are a couple of reasons I know autumn is here.

I look out my back door and see this:

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And I look out my front door and see this:

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Two of my men and a good friend (and fellow obsessed hunter), packed up and leaving for the once in a lifetime mountain goat hunt.

Hopefully pictures of a productive hunt to follow soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

one day at a time - homeschooling part 3

All that and that being said, homeschooling is still a lot of work.

e.v.e.r.y. d.a.y.

This fall I have been bombarded by "first day of school" photos and stories from many people that I know and love either through blogging, facebook, or right here in our own little home town.

There are pictures of cute outfits, school buses, and sentiments of tears and relief that school has arrived.

There are moments that I honestly struggle with jealousy over the freedom that my friends are afforded by sending their children to school.

What would I do with that time?  Walk the dog?  Clean the house?  Read a book?  Meal plan?  Grocery shop with only one child?

If I dwell on it too long, I feel the envy seeping from my pores.

My day looks quite different.  I try to get to bed at a reasonable hour at night so that it isn't too painful when I get up before the children at 6:30 in the morning.

I tippy-toe down to the kitchen and start the hot water for my tea and spend a little time reading and spending some moments in silence, just me and my creator.  It's really the only time in the day that I hear the sweet sound of silence.

At 7:15, I creep back up to get in the shower and get dressed and ready for the day.  If I do the above in the reverse order, the boys inevitably wake up and I don't enjoy my "me time."

Nobody, including my men, enjoys a day when mommy hasn't had 
that "me time."

I try to be back downstairs between 7:35 and 7:45 and I can count on my boys meeting me in the kitchen, probably starting breakfast without me.

We They eat and get their morning "Helping Hand" (dressed, hair, teeth, room) done, but not without much rukus and rough housing.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Rufus enjoys his morning at a local co-op preschool from 8:45 to 12:45.  It is fun for him and allows me to stack our homeschooling schedule on those days so that Tuesdays and Thursdays are lighter days that allow more time for brotherly play time.

The Hunter, Sauce, and I are usually started on their school no later than 9 a.m. and sometimes a bit earlier.  We start with the core subjects and try to get those out of the way because they follow the most routine in the work that is expected from them.

I try to encourage independence through as much as possible, but I alternate my time with who might need individual attention.  If needed, I give breaks and they like to alternate who is playing with Squirt as well.

Our day is usually done by early afternoon and sometimes we save literature and reading for the evening.

Most days, it goes quite well and I even surprise myself sometimes with the efficiency and success we achieve.

Then there are days like today.

A day when there doesn't seem to be two brain cells between the ears of one child in particular.  Getting him to pay attention or actually produce a correct answer in a subject that doesn't come naturally to him is nearly impossible and it takes the full power of God to keep me from blowing
my top.

We spend more time on school than usual and get half the work done and I come away feeling frustrated and wondering how he will ever make it to the next unit, the next grade, and college - ugh, impossible.

I won't even mention the attitude issues and inappropriate bodily functions I had to address today.

And where is the number for the yellow school bus?

But then I take a step back and remember our reasons for choosing this route to begin with.

I try to imagine what it would be like for my son to sit in a classroom of 25+ other kids and one teacher - and pay attention, think, process, and produce correct answers.

Oh, and sit still and behave appropriately.

I realize that what he needs right now is NOT to follow a strict timeline, but to work within his mind's timeline.  How much will he benefit if he spends the rest of third grade reviewing the concept of calculating change ($) and playing store?

If we take the time to go over things like - naming every number between 2000 and 3000 that have seven tens and two ones - several times a week for the next six months, how much easier will future math challenges be?

I agreed to do this, not because I thought this would be easy, but because it is the best option for my boys right now.  They obviously needs the individual attention that homeschooling offers and will ultimately benefit from working at their own paces.

At the end of the day, we have more time for things like soccer and dinner as a family.  And hopefully, I'm equipping them to succeed in what lies ahead for them.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

full minds, full hearts - homeschooling part two

Once we decided to give homeschooling a try, I soaked up as much information as I could and joined the local support group.

Luckily, I had a very experienced homeschooling friend in my life who encouraged me to, "CHILL OUT, " that first year.  She reminded me not to get too stressed about kindergarten, and that The Hunter was only five years old and kindergarten is supposed to be fun.

Looking back, I now know her goal was to keep me from burning out before I even really got started.

It worked.  We had fun the first year.  I didn't push too much of the obvious academics for my active little boy.  We read a lot of books, played games and did a few school-like activities.

Then we added a little more the second year.  I tried an "all in one" faith-based curriculum and found it didn't work for my boy was at - for a number of reasons, so I started choosing teaching materials "al-a carte."

Last year, when The Hunter was starting second grade and Sauce was starting Kindergarten our state started its first virtual charter school.  The school was using the same curriculum that I wanted to buy for that year and frankly, saving $1,000+ on curriculum costs was motivation enough for me.

There was quite a bit of interest in this new school in our state.  There was only funding for 500 spots, and over 1200 families had applied to join.  The school decided to hold a random lottery for the open spots.

Our number was picked and we started our journey with virtual schooling.

And now we are starting our second year.

It is considered a public school so we have a teacher that we touch base with monthly on the phone and via email.  We send monthly work samples to her as well.  Taxpayer dollars pay for our curriculum that is all sent to us, and our lesson plans are all online.

I have the flexibility to do as I please at home, but I have the help of the teacher when I need it (i.e., what SHOULD I expect from a 2nd grade boy's handwriting?). They also keep all the school records - grades and attendance, and my kids participate in the state testing, etc.

Some home schoolers don't like the idea of state testing, but frankly, I like knowing where my kids stand among their peers.

This is all helpful if we ever choose to put our children in a brick and mortar school, not to mention college applications if we choose to stick with virtual schooling.

I have appreciated academic freedom - the ability to work at each child's own pace and really learn - not just coast through stuff.

The Hunter tested above grade level for language arts because of his above average reading, but is on grade level for math, etc.

Our curriculum works on unit mastery, so if they don't master the assessments, they don't move on. Also, if I see a unit/lesson that they already know or grasp quickly, I don't have to waste their time with busy work. They take the assessment and move on.

I don't hold much stock in the "socialization" arguments.  The definition for the word "socialized" is, "make fit for life in companionship with others."

Right now the best way to make our children fit is with training from home.

My children are not living in a bubble. They are busy with many sports and activities and have lots of friends.

My short term goals right now are to give my boys the best learning experience I can, while steering them toward independence and a strong work ethic.  I want them to have the time and ability explore their individual areas of interest, both in academics and recreation.

At the same time, I want them to learn about the God of the universe who loves them and wants to know them personally. 

I want them to see the value of serving others and avoid the materialism and attitude of entitlement that has become so prevalent in today's day and age.

Homeschooling is the best choice for our family for right now.  People ask me all the time how long I will continue to homeschool, but we have made one decision for sure.

We will take one year at a time and one child at a time.

About Me

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Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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