Posts Tagged ‘homeschool mom’

May 21st! The END…. sort of…

May 21, 2016

School is kind of “out for the summer” but in a different way than with my usual end-of-May homeschool mama joy and celebration. There was no counting down the days this year.

We have learned that some of the Colombian Princess’s challenges with memory are due to vast breaks in education… you know, like summer. So in a much diminished fashion, we are schooling a few days a week while home this summer, just to keep the pump primed. She was not real thrilled about this news, and I couldn’t let her know that I was not real thrilled about it either. Someone has to be excited about education… and it SHOULD be the teacher in most cases.

So now the home front needs some love and attention. In case anyone wonders what the Crosbys are doing for the next three months, get out your notepads and pencils… here you go:

  1. We bought a stand up deep freeze to put in the garage.
  2. Cleaning out the garage so we can fit in the stand up deep freeze.
  3. Buying a shed to put the stuff that doesn’t need to be in the garage somewhere else. (Does the cost of the shed and deep freeze justify the savings on large quantities of meat? I’m not sure.)
  4. Hauling junk from the side yard to the dump so we can put a shed in the side yard. (Is anyone besides me thinking of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?”)
  5. Switching Austin’s and Nora’s bedrooms. (Austin gets the yellow room with the flowers and butterflies around the top of the walls! Oh goody!) This is happening because my niece from Maui is coming to live with us on the mainland for a bit… sharing the BIG room with Nora.
  6. Picking up a room divider from a generous friend for the BIG room.
  7. Gathering and selling an enormous amount of American Girl doll paraphernalia that is no longer played with. (She will be 13 years old in two months…. I feel there are a few more years to play with dolls…. because she is my baby girl after all.)
  8. Selling the cute white dresser from the yellow room. (Wide is no longer cool when you share a room. Tall is where it’s at.)
  9. Selling all the cutesy little girl purple and lime green room decor. (Awwwww.)
  10. Borrowing a single bed from my brother’s house. The BIG room is only so BIG.
  11. Cleaning out the master closet. (I am going to start this today as soon as this blog is finished.  Blogcrastination is what that is called.) I mean TOTALLY cleaning it out. It’s been 12 years since we’ve seen the walls and back carpet in there. Don’t judge. If there is dust lining the shoulders on top of the hanger marks, Rickey, it’s leaving.
  12. Buying #2 new door handle and bolt lock for the front door. My first attempt was feeble even though the lame wrong size handle is on the door right now. It looks like Billy-Bob came by and changed it for us. Wrong size… with a screw hole two inches below the handle. Dumb.

I’m hoping to have this all done by next week. I know that will not happen, but I am a positive thinker! Where are my minions?

Enjoy your summer, peeps!  Let me know what projects you have going on! I need some company.

Today’s Divine Appointment

March 23, 2016

I love it when that happens!

Early in the morning at 9:00, (for a homeschool mom anyway!) I was sitting in my van outside the house where Nora has a class for an hour. My computer was open and I was proofreading a PowerPoint for a seminar I give on choosing homeschool curriculum. I came to a slide where I have photos of different unit studies for comparison. One photo was the sole example I could find online of the contents of a unit study on Obedience by my all time favorite curriculum, Konos. The photo was blurry and pathetic, however I justified it by noting how many different colored blurry indistinguishable items there were… showing volume…. not detail… AT ALL. I recalled scouring the web for a better picture to no avail. Small size it is almost clear, but blown up on a big screen, it’s horrid. That’s the gospel truth. Here it is:

M4034S-4211

When Nora was done, we drove downtown and visited my friend, Ana, who is the kind soul who processes all the homeschool affidavits for Maricopa County. (Can I just say that the view from her 12th story office facing north was FANTASTIC including a community garden, three beautiful brick Catholic schools and Camelback Mountain! WOW!) As we were chatting I noticed a brochure on her desk for the Covenant Homeschool Resource Center, which I knew was also downtown. Mentioning that I had never been there (not mentioning that this is my 15th year homeschooling) she drew me a map and insisted that I go, as it was only three blocks away. Perfect!

Nora and I found the little hole-in-a-wall resource center and ventured inside. To say that it is crammed to capacity of curriculum and books and resources is the understatement of the century. Fuller than a centipede’s sock drawer.

Right away we found Nora’s science books for next year and then I started chatting with my friend, Janet, who runs the place. (She’s probably the one who crams all the books on those sagging shelves!) I inquired about her married daughter and come to find out, her and her new husband are living in Lynden, WA. Being very familiar with Lynden as we used to live right across the border in Canada, I remarked about how beautiful it is there. But that’s not all, Janet’s son-in-law is working at Trinity Western University… where Rick and I met and went to college. What a small world. (Sing with me, “It’s a small world after all… It’s a small world after all…)

Oh, it even gets better. As we were commenting about the coincidence of that, over her shoulder I spied the curriculum box for Obedience… the one in my blurry photo from earlier that morning! I promise you, I heard angels singing. She let me take it down and set it all up pretty and she even took the photo with her camera and emailed it to me. Here it is:

konos box2

I love it when that happens! Thank you, God, for answering a prayer that was a desire of my heart, that I didn’t even pray. Amen and amen.

Go to the River!

March 6, 2016

the river

(Photo courtesy of Simona, the mom with the phone.)

If you have been to any of my seminars for homeschooling, you are well aware that the river is my escape from schooling when it isn’t exactly working out as planned… and my fill-in for science. Look, plants! Look, frogs!

Homeschooling is hard, friends. But God made rivers and saw that they were good.

When kids can’t read when they “should”… go to the river.

When kids can’t remember the math operations you taught them yesterday… go to the river.

When children born in America who only have one language can’t seem to speak or spell their native tongue… go to the river.

See? It works wonders in multiple situations. We have been going to the Verde River in north east Scottsdale for 15 or 16 years. When we discovered it, it was an undeveloped reedy wonderland of huge stones, polliwogs and secret tunnels in the cattails. My kids LOVED it. I loved it, who are we kidding here?

Our minivan braved the rocky banks many times before the Tonto National Forest folks paved most of the road, cleared the rocks for a parking lot, put up barriers so you can’t accidentally drive into the river, and placed porta-potties for our general convenience. It is still just as grand and adventurous as the days of old… minus the standing water filled with frogs eggs. I miss that.

Phoenix has met or broken more heat records this year in the last month than I remember in all 19 years that we have lived here. It was 91 on Friday, MARCH 4th so I summoned some homeschool peeps and we went to the river. In the shade of the buzzing trees (Bees were very busy collecting pollen!  Science… check!) it was ideal for us moms to sit and relax in our camping chairs.

The water, however, was straight from high country snow melt and had the 17-year-old almost-men screaming like little girls because of the chill. My brave little Colombian princess was the first one all the way under… which is a BIG deal because she only went in up to her ankles for the first hour. I think her feet went numb and her brain froze and then she went all the way in.

As usual science naturally occurred. The kids gathered flowers for me when they saw my nature journal. The boys picked cattails and had sword fights. Several kids discovered a dead possum and examined its claws and teeth. Most importantly, they enjoyed being out in God’s creation and so did every one of the moms.

Please, go to the river. You need it. Your kids need it. Consider it Spring Break.

 

Just Another Bump in the Road

October 14, 2015

Mother's Day 2015 014

I have been noticeably missing from My Sister’s Jar for two months….well, at least I noticed I was missing. We have had another bump in the ever bumpy road of our lives, but we carry on, get back in the driver’s seat and plead for God’s help once again.

It was May when our little Colombian princess was tested at a reading specialist and several (meaning more than 5!) different learning differences were detected. This was an AHA! moment for me as well as a WELL- DUH! moment mixed together. I assumed some of the difficulties were because Nora has only been speaking English for four years. This didn’t seem to apply at all once the road blocks to learning were identified.

I believe I have mentioned on here before some of my frustration teaching my own children who can’t seem to remember what I’ve taught them, and don’t really care that they can’t remember, and just want to go outside and look at clouds and dig in the dirt. I handed over Nora’s math teaching to her two older brothers for several months at the suggestion of our principal, my husband. It saved me from the desire to bang my head on the kitchen table when there was no recall of ANYTHING she could do yesterday.The boys didn’t seem to mind re-teaching carrying, borrowing, multiplying with zeroes over and over and over and over and over again. I did mind. It is a weakness of mine, as a homeschool mom, to want my children to learn and retain and move ahead, especially in phonics, reading and math.

With Austin, now 19, he was shown the letter F for 63 straight days of my ever-loving-homeschool-teaching-journey. He finally read the blinkin’ English language when he was NINE. That’s almost TEN. You know, three years before being a teenager. There weren’t any learning differences. He was just a late reader. (Insert mother justification….) He designed and installed our backyard sprinkler and drip system when he was also nine. He’s a smart kid. I kept the faith that God would touch the brain inside that hard, blonde head… and He did! Thank you, Jesus. It still brings me to tears when I relay the story of the first time in his life when Aus read… anything…it was a sign at Sequoia National Park, “Do not feed the deer!”

Back to the Colombian princess. When I heard the phrase “auditory processing” I wasn’t sure what it meant, so of course I googled it. Lo and behold, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, and good golly why didn’t I remember this… a website popped up of a lady WHOM I KNOW!  Oh yeah, she teaches on learning differences. She gave me great suggestions ten years ago when I was trying to get Austin to read C-A-T without the far-and-away look in his big blue eyes. Here is what I discovered: MAGIC! There were 16 symptoms listed for people who have learning differences in the area of auditory processing. Nora has all 16! WHAT? (I pride myself of being an overachiever too!)

Nora is attending reading classes with a specialist who understands left brain/right brain connections that need to be established. The “reading class” consists of physical activities outside to help cross the mid-line of the brain. School has taken a decidedly different look this year, with WAY more focus on my part, which has introduced me to a new level of exhausted. From 9:00 p.m. to midnight was MY time to get my work done. Now I’m dragging through dinner and looking at the clock longingly at 7:30 p.m. without the energy to get anything done. But God knows what He is doing. None of Nora’s challenges were made apparent until Austin was graduated from high school. The Lord knows what we can handle and what would throw us head over heels into the loony bin, and obviously teaching Austin and Nora (the new way) together was beyond my capabilities. And I am thankful we learned about all this when we did!

So as I start each new day, as a homeschool mom, around 8:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m., I remind God that these are really His kids, and I need His help once again to leave my bedroom and teach them how to learn, how to love God and how to succeed in life! I could not do this on my own! And that’s a fact, Jack!

A Little Reminder from God

October 16, 2014

Several months ago our family found out about friends who were in need of some help. Sickness had struck their home with a vengeance and last but not least, the mama was down. RED ALERT! Mama Down! This is not your ordinary mama either. Buckle up. God, the father to the fatherless, called this beautiful lady to foster/adopt six kiddos… and homeschool them….. as a single mama. She takes my breath away.

I met her at homeschool park day when her last two littles were two-month-old twins. It didn’t take much persuading for me to help hold one of those little darling girls. This mama has been on my heart ever since that day. How can we help her?  What can we do to support her in this call from God? We need to be God’s hands and feet for her!

Back to the RED ALERT!, we stepped in for two days and did what we saw needed to be done…. babies bathed, bathrooms cleaned, dishes washed, dirty clothes laundered, meals prepared, games played and stories read. Her children truly are blessings, well behaved, loving and helpful. (Isn’t it every mother’s prayer that her own children are seen in this light!?)

While we were on duty, mama fainted and thankfully I was right next to her. Not that I helped with the descent or the crash landing, but I made sure we went down NOT on hard surfaces or pokey things or gooey stuff. See?  I’m helpful! In directing her away from a wooden shelf, the back of my hand came in contact with a corner of said hard, wooden shelf. My hand was bruised, but the skin was not broken. No big deal.

???????????????????????????????

(Gosh, my hands look old. When did that happen?)

It’s been three months, maybe four, since that fateful day and the little mark on the back of my hand has not gone away AT ALL. It doesn’t appear to be on it’s way out of my life. It has scarred into a cute, little silvery-pink line. It winks at me every day and whispers to me that I need to pray for that mama. It’s God’s little reminder to me that we all need prayer. He will do what He needs to do to remind us daily to lift up each other to His throne of grace.

Who do you need to pray for today? Just do it! (I stole that from a shoe company.)

Happy Basha’s Memories

October 24, 2013

bashas

Basha’s is a local grocery store chain here in Arizona that I used to frequent a LOT due to its proximity to our house at that time.  We moved near Basha’s when I was pregnant with our third child and lived in that wonderful house for six years.

As you can imagine, I visited the store OFTEN with all three children.  The three children that God blessed us with who don’t really look that much like their mother or father.  We have two blond-haired, blue-eyed kids and one with dark brown eyes and hair.  My husband has black hair and light brown eyes.  I have light brown hair and green eyes. Genetics are a weird deal.  I tell you all this frivolity to set up the first happy memory.

Happy (sort of) Memory #1:  I was casually strolling the aisles at Basha’s with my three offspring, when a lady in her mid-twenties came up and inquired, “Are these all your children?” “Yes, they are,” I replied proudly.  Then she had the audacity to ask, “Do they all have different dads?”  What in the blue blazes was she thinking???  I glanced down at my attire, wondering if I left home with only wearing my underwear … nope, fully clothed, not looking like a hoochie-mama.  I assured her that indeed, these three angels did have the same father, but I didn’t go into the fact that none of them look like him.  Good gravy, lady!

Happy Memory #2:  In our homeschool we studied a unit in science about the motion of falling objects.  One of the examples was Galileo dropping a cannonball and a musketball off the Leaning Tower of Pisa to determine that falling objects fall at the same rate.  Of course we climbed up in the play house and dropped all sorts of items into the dirt below to test this ourselves.  Back to Basha’s…. months later we were in the pasta aisle and my middle child was closely examining the spaghetti sauce jars.  (Not sure why???)  When all of a sudden he yelled (because he never spoke quietly until he was 12) “Mom! Here is the crooked building that the guy threw the rocks off of!”  (Insert song from the Sound of Music as I mentally skip through the hills of happiness!)

Happy Memory #3:  Yet another trip to Basha’s with my two little boys in the seats of the cart and my personal shopper (7 year old daughter) walking beside me.  A kind, elderly lady with fluffy white hair shuffled by and stopped to look at my children.  She smiled so sweetly.  (I braced myself to explain that I only had one husband.) Finally she remarked, “You have beautiful children!”  I whole-heartily agreed, but merely said, “Thank you!”  As she slowly made her way down the aisle, my loud, middle child yelled to the grandma, “My daddy drives a fancy Cadillac!”  It was true, albeit a hand-me-down from my parents, but his statement shocked me, nonetheless.  The sweet little lady threw her head back and belly laughed, as did I.

Happy Memory #4:  This same store had a very generous produce manager who allowed our daughter to go behind the black swinging doors each week to get free “rotten” food for her bunny rabbit, Blackie Honey Bunny Crosby.

I miss Basha’s.

It Has Come to THIS

June 1, 2013

Sorry, another post-accident report but thankfully not from the couch!  I lived on the couch for six long weeks.  At first it was because of the damage to my legs from the airbag UNDER the steering wheel. (You might want to check if you have an air bag down there and wear shin guards while driving, if you do.)  On day #4 post-accident, I realized my shoulder was hurt and that I couldn’t lie on either side on the couch OR in bed.  I am still in that state… flat on my back in bed with my legs elevated…. with a pile of pillows crammed against the back of my reading chair so as not to fall off the bed.  But I digress.

After my 6th week of “no significant improvement” at therapy, I was sent for nerve testing.  Nerve testing = acupuncture.  Or more appropriately, you are now a voodoo doll.  The good news out of that supremely stressful doctor visit was that I was sent to pain management, who promptly put me on medication #27. (Do not fear, I have stopped taking the first 23.)  Med27 plays some sort of hokus-pokus on my nerves and I have had a VAST improvement in range of motion for my right arm.  Read: I still can’t lift the milk jug, but the therapist did a happy dance that I can now scratch a giraffe’s neck.  Side effects of Med27 include, but are not limited to: drowsiness, lack of short term memory, general lethargy and an overwhelming desire to do nothing.

Grand-Canyon-Camping

All that said, the eight day camping trip to the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelley, Four Corners, the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest that didn’t happen in April has been reduced to a five day camping trip to the Grand Canyon.  Commencing on Monday, June 3rd.  Two days from right now.  Thankfully, the other crazy homeschool mom, CJ, whom we have been studying National Parks with all year, has picked up my slack and we are venturing forth in two days from right now.  CJ went so far as to purchase a Sprinter van seating 14 that her 6’4″ husband can stand up inside.  Read:  I don’t have to drive at all OR pack a car.  As per usual, the week before departure, we went through our lists of what to take.  The division of camping equipment went something like this: CJ CJ CJ CJ CJ me CJ CJ CJ CJ CJ me. And that might be an exaggeration for “me’s”.  Thank you, CJ!

Today about 4:12 pm, I realized what my life has come down to.  Normally when embarking on a road trip, I print packing lists for my kids.  (Remember, I am a list maker.  I thrive on lists.  I make detailed lists.  I am an overachiever at making lists.) But never in my 20 years of parenting have I printed an extra “kid packing list” for myself.  This is what it has come to… and I’m O.K. with it.  Except I added to the bottom of mine: Med27.

Happy Camping this summer!

A Homeschooling Mom’s Nightmare

May 14, 2013

First let me add the back story.  Our daughter was coming home from college and we had to get her little brother moved out of her room and back in the big bedroom he shares with his brother.  They are 14 and 16. After the 14-year-old’s paraphernalia was removed, I dusted, vacuumed and made her bed for her.

As I was working I heard my eldest son trying to talk his brother into moving into the loft for the summer.  It went something like this: “It will be so cool!”  “You will love it!”  “We’ll move the bookshelves and it will be private!”  “I will help you!”  “Let’s go ask mom.”  The 14 year-old wasn’t saying much as he moved his stuff back down the hall.  They came.  They begged.  I am still on narcotics from the car accident two months ago.  I am in no state of mind to be making life-altering decisions…. like giving up the homeschool/sewing loft at 11 p.m. thankyouverymuch.  I told them I didn’t care.  And I didn’t. And I went to bed.

Fast forward two and a half hours to a metal wheel sound waking me up in the dark of the night.  Yes, it was 1:30 a.m.  I stared at the ceiling and told my husband, “This is all my fault.  That noise…. it’s a pulley.  I taught him how to use pulleys about 7 years ago.”  We got out of bed to witness THIS:

austins castle

Our 16-year-old son had made himself a castle… in the loft…. way past midnight… with a drawbridge (run with a pulley that hung from a bike hook screwed into the ceiling) …. and crenals and merlons cut from cardboard.  It WAS SO COOL that he decided to move in himself.  I shook my head in dismay and confessed to my husband that I also taught him about castles…. and crenals and merlons.  I asked my creative son what we should call him now.  Obviously he replied, “King Austin!”  Of course.  Silly me.

The next morning, I questioned how long he planned to live in his castle.  He looked at me with hopeful eyes and answered with a question, “All summer??????”  Those were his big blue puppy dog eyes staring at me.  Fine.  Whatever.  “You will be patching the hole in the ceiling in August.”  “O.k., thanks, mom.”

This could have been worse, I told myself as I climbed back into bed.  I’ve also taught him about catapults, guillotines, war trenches and fur trappers.  Oh, it could have been WAY worse.

 

“Why I Love Nature” by Linda Ann Crosby

March 6, 2013

With the sun shining and the temperatures in the comfort zone, we have been spending far more time outside in March than in December, January and February combined.  Nature Journals have been forced upon my children and one out of three is loving it.  That’s pretty good odds… and I love it, so we’re even Steven.  I’m trying to teach them about botany, art, relaxing and creating in God’s creation.  You’d think a kid who doesn’t have to sit indoors and do math would jump at the chance to draw in the sunshine.  But no. If my boys ever lie on those long black leather couches and explain how I ruined them, I’m sure the Nature Journals will be mentioned.  But that does not deter me.  :o)

Last week we ventured out the front door to draw a Texas Ebony tree in our yard.  This is a REAL Nature Journal… not a fake Nature Journal… so there are rules to be followed.  AND this has to count for a botany grade for a high school student.  Not like a “draw-a-dumb-tree-and-color-it-green” journal.  NOOOOooooooo.  The requirements include, but are not limited to: draw the shape of the tree, the bark, the leaves, the leaf arrangement, the thorns (we’re in Arizona… all the trees have thorns), the flowers, the seeds, the pods.  And when you have all that drawn with exact measurements beside each, the leaves need to have their shape, venation and margin analyzed and recorded.  SEE?!  Not your average lame Nature Journal.

larisas camera 005

So, after the Texas Ebony had been admired from afar, with a magnifying glass and everything in between, we gathered around the kitchen table and I asked to see the renderings.   Three of four were identifiable.  The fourth tree, however, was ……  …….  interesting.  I questioned said artist, “If I gave your picture to Dad and sent him to the front yard, could he locate the Texas Ebony?” (We only have three trees in the front yard.)  “Probably not.”  “Go try again, son.”

And the nature loving just keeps on rolling here at L.A.K.E. Academy, a homeschool where gifted children thrive…. whether they want to or not.  heh heh heh.

Wonderful Winter Weather

February 16, 2013

Last Friday at homeschool park day the moms FROZE in our chairs!  It was so windy and cold!  Well, for Phoenix, that is.  It wasn’t windy at our house when we left, but 10 minutes later when we pulled into the park we hoped and prayed there were jackets in the back of the van.  Thankfully, I found one for myself… my son’s hockey jacket from 5 years ago… when he was 11.  No, it didn’t exactly fit, but I was able to zip it up and block the blustery cold out.  It fit quite like a wetsuit.  A wetsuit that is too small.

The wind blew and blew for the two hours we were huddled with arms folded tightly in the sunshine.  One of my sons kept asking me, “Mom, do you know what your hair looks like?”  I could see my shadow and knew it was an amusing shape… and ever-changing shape.  “Mom, did you do your hair this morning?”  “Mom, you should really go look at your hair.”  There was nothing I could do, so I didn’t bother.  For some strange reason, my 14-year-old son was extremely concerned about my hair… and my image.  Maybe it was HIS image???

Yesterday was park day again. Imagine that!  Friday just keeps happening over and over.  Prepared for wind gusts of 50+mph, I donned a sweat suit with jacket and LOTS of hairspray.  Lo and behold, winter ended in Phoenix.  It was 74* F with sunny skies and not a trace of a breeze.  Yesterday was also the day the moms play flag football with the kids… and lose miserably, I might add.  I couldn’t even keep my jacket on sitting still because it was so warm.  After playing football for ten minutes I was frying, looking for my water and a shady spot to collapse.

Spring has sprung.  The air is warm, the flowers are blooming.  God, please let spring last more than ten days this year!!!  Please!!!


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