Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hebrews 13:1

I sat down to read my Bible a few mornings ago. Coffee, pen and paper, Scripture. 

Hebrews 13 was where I started reading - directed there by another book. I read verse 1 and actually Laughed Out Loud. It would depend on which translation of scripture you read as to whether you might see the humor as clearly as I did. I read TNIV and The Message usually. 

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Hebrew 13:1. 

Isn't that wonderfully grace-filled? How many brothers and sisters that you know have a squeaky, shiny, perfectly peace-filled relationship? Yeah, I thought so. And do you suppose 2000 years has changed this all that much? Me either. 

I can't even begin to think about how many times I've read 13:1 and pictured all the perfect things about the perfect family that I am constantly measuring myself against. And as a mom how many times I've used this to measure how peaceably my children are living together (and what that means about my success or failure as a mom). 

Families, being the smallest microcosm of community, are ultra-messy. There are far fewer places to hide our sinfulness in a small ranch home. We bicker. We quarrel. We raise voices and stomp away. But the bottom line is that we are still in the small, ranch home. Committed. And going to work it out, even in the mess. 

And this is how the church is to love one another. Not with the shininess of June Cleaver, but the messiness of small-spaced, laundry-littered commitment. Just as brothers and sisters do. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Test

Homeschooling in Maine offers several options for 'end of year' evaluation. You can choose a variety of 'test' options and 'portfolio' options.

Last year, for the first time, I opted for the 'portfolio' option. This was an AMAZING experience for me and really helped me to see all that we had accomplished. It ended our school year with more of a celebration feeling rather than a dragging myself over the finish line feeling. I hope to wrap up with something similar this year.

But this year, this week in fact, I am back to testing. I put only a little stock in what these tests will report to me. I don't believe they represent what my kids (and I) are learning. I will pull out Caleb's tests from fourth grade (he did public school in fifth grade, and sixth grade was a portfolio review) and compare a few things - mostly out of curiosity.

I choose to test the kids because tests exist. In our homeschool, we rarely test and quiz. I evaluate largely by one on one observation and careful selection of curriculum. When my kids make their decisions about the future, though, it won't work for Mom to show up at the SSAT and say this is what I've observed my child doing. It won't work for the SAT or the GRE.

I see testing as a supplement to our curriculum. A crash course in test taking - that also happens to satisfy the states requirement for annual evaluation. Those bubbles may not show what we're doing, but they are important tools to know how to handle.

This is my son's fourth fifth experience with the tests. He is taking it in stride, but he didn't during his first experience. I remember loving taking the IOWA tests in school - that's just the kind of learner/performer I was - and the system had primed me to do well. Both he and I learned a lot about each other and ourselves during that first year.

My Anna is having a hard time this week. Her need to have perfect and complete work is being completely kicked in the butt. It is not the first time I have seen this in her, but it is heartbreaking to watch. The bonus about this agony is that I can pray for her during the test, and debrief with her SPECIFICALLY after the test. Both she and Caleb are getting a lot of bonus lessons in test taking strategy while the experience is fresh.

Sofia is also taking tests this week. If you have met her you will understand when I say that test taking isn't a problem for her so much as the fact that she isn't the one administering the tests. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

From Sunday

One of the things that I love about where we live is the easy access to this trail network at Colby College. On Sunday, we took our first walk of 2012. When we moved here 7 years ago, I had one on my back, and the other two kids had short little legs. This year it took about fifteen minutes to get to 'The Bridge" because everyone has grown! Time to expand our hiking experiences. 

As I've (casually) studied the Enneagram, I have learned that for my type (9/Peacemaker) it is critical to reconnect with nature. 

I totally agree with the Enneagram (and not just because I am a 9/Peacemaker). My spirit settles and soars at the same time when I am surrounded by nature. It is also the hardest thing for me to prioritize.

So starting in May, instead of swim lessons for our homeschool PE we will be doing some 'intentional hiking. 

Even though they have grown up they haven't lost their love of Pooh Sticks - and a million variations on that theme. I LOVE this picture of all three of them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I lost my voice...

It was good strategy. It made sense. It was the New Year. So I signed up for the free blogging course. In 12 weeks I was going to have a fresh approach and renewed voice on my blog.

I was careful in my choice. I looked at many. I prayed. I thought it was a good fit.

But it wasn't.

There was nothing innately Bad about this course. It just wasn't what I was looking for. And instead of just unsubscribing or throwing out the emails AS SOON as I realized this wasn't helping, I dug in my heels and committed to 'FINISHING THIS THING'. So each time I read (or skimmed) I became less and less clear on what I was going to offer AND if what I had to offer was worth it.

Towards the end of the 12 weeks, I did begin to just throw them out. And unsubscribed from the writer's blog. Because it was becoming clear to me that this wasn't not just not helping, but it was harming my journey in BlogVille.

The phrase 'I lost my voice' came to me when I visited my parents chicken house last week. They keep about a dozen chickens and have off and on since I was in high school. (At the time I wasn't fond of the chores connected to the birds - including shoveling out a winters worth of droppings - Dad was not sexist in doling out chores). But now I often will visit the henhouse when I visit my parents immersing myself in the warm smell accompanied by the noises of birds. They really are beautiful.

Anyhow, on Easter, when I visited the chickens, one bird stood apart and crowed at me with determination. But no noise came from her throat. Again and again she tried to make some noise, and again and again she looked like a baby bird waiting for a worm.

I've never really had a severe case of laryngitis. I don't know what work a patient goes through to get back a voice. Liquids and rest?  (I have even less idea what that dear hen had wrong and how/if it will be righted.)

I'm on Hour 8 of a 30ish Hour Retreat. Marc is with the kids and I am at a hotel not too far away. So the rest is beginning. And with a couple great books and some writing the nourishment is in process as well.