Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday's Teachable Tidbit: True Confessions

But, I don't wanna.” [said in the world's most whiniest voice.]

No, this is not a quote from any of my kids. This lovely example of “do not complain or argue about anything” (Phil. 2:14) is straight from my lips. Me. The homeschool mom.

It has been one of those weeks (and yes, I am aware that it is only Tuesday) in which I haven't wanted to homeschool. I haven't wanted the responsibility of teaching my children. I want to send them to school and let someone else teach them. If they succeed, I will take credit for raising great kids. If they fail, I can blame it on someone else. I don't know how to explain that “ have been and have seen” are pronounced differently...not to mention all the silent letters...actually, don't even get me started!!! Teaching(ie. making) my kids to write and learn the rules of grammar is too hard. [insert whiney voice again].

I know. I know!! Wasn't I the one who wrote about all the wonderful aspects of homeschooling a few weeks ago? Yes, but that was a few weeks ago and today this is how I feel. However, it is merely how I feel. I am sure that for this school year—homeschooling is the right choice per God's prompting. We do take it year to year. Admittedly, I am wishing that the year was up. I am praying for renewal and strength to carry on with what God has asked me to do. I will be thankful for the sweet moments of snuggling on the sofa while I explain how English phonetics contradicts itself constantly. I will enjoy having my chicks in my nest and watching them grow. I will remind myself of the persistence in learning to read that Noah has exhibited and persevere in my pursuit of educating my children.

But right now in this moment, I still don't wanna! Just keepin' it real this Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Window Wednesday meets Tuesday's Teachable Tidbit

As many of you know, Noah lives with dyslexia (among other learning disabilities). It is both an asset and a difficulty.  It is what allows him to see outside the box and be creative; it is also what has significantly delayed his academic learning.

However, Noah is a learner. He perseveres. He is determined. This week, he found a chapter book (one of the Magic Tree House books) in the stack of books we received from a friend. He made it his goal to read this book this week.  I will admit--I didn't have the faith needed to think he could. (Go ahead, judge me. I know. Shameful.) I wanted him to pick an easier book so he would 'feel good' about being able to read it. But no, he said--"I am going to read this book."

His ability to persevere is a lesson to me in my own life.  He has steadfastly worked on reading this book over the last two days. He has read seven chapters so far. He expresses understanding of the story. I stand amazed, humbled and corrected. He IS reading this book.  May I remember this week when I am tempted to consider a lesser goal because the greater goal seems too hard.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Acclimation: From Task to Reality

In the beginning, it was a task, a project. Acclimation. It was the goal—to acclimate to our new culture, language, environment. For three years I made acclimation my goal. It was easy to find humor in the things that seemed so different. I blogged about these things. I was able to see the differences through the lens of 'acclimation.' Then, I hit a wall. My kids had settled down into the rhythm of life in all its dissonance. My husband, more or less, morphs to his environment and goes with the flow. I roll like a wooden block. I fight to change my environment to work for me. I am task oriented and enjoy a project. However, when acclimating ceased to be a task and became an upleasant reality of “this is life”--I crumbled.

So for a year (and intensely for 5 months), I have struggled with the reality of my new life in a culture and environment that smacks hard against my boundaries of comfort, ability, tolerance and functionality. I have OCD (not the cute kind that people refer to when they like things in order, but the kind that interrupts your daily life in a drastic way... I will blog about it more in the future). I have come to believe that while I experience an extra measure of God's grace and mercy on a daily basis, I still struggle with living in a chaotic and unpredictable environment. Ambiguity and I mix like oil and water. And my new culture seems to be the definition of ambiguity.

Cross-cultural living is challening at best, but it seems more-so for certain personality types...like mine apparently. We did our cross-cultural training, we had our pre-field psychological evaluations, we did our due-diligence before moving cross-culturally. However, the apparent fact is: this lifestyle costs something. And for some, the price-tag is far higher than it is for others. (I knew I had expensive taste!).

So, what now? Well, I am trying to figure out what God means when He says He is our refuge and hope. That sounds nice when I am sitting on my sofa in the coolness of the morning before I am hit with cultural stress; but what does it look like practically when I am hot, sweating and entertaining visitors that didn't tell us that they were coming over for the afternoon? As I blogged about previously since my return to the world-of-blog, I have surrendered.  This has been huge in giving me freedom and peace (ironic, I know).  I am working on taking things day-by-day and choosing to surrender anew each day.  Is it easy? Yeah, right!  Yet, it is what brings me in step with the Lord.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Window Wednesday

This has been an atypical rainy season.  Rainy season usually starts mid-May and ends mid-November. However, this year the rains didn't come as expected and Nicaragua found itself in a drought.  It was devastating for the farmers who weren't able to plant their first crop of the season. Yet, as of late, the rains are coming steadily....nearly everyday.  As my friend recently pointed out....you either love the rain or hate the rain. At our house, we tend to love the rain. In fact, Andrew said he wished it would rain everyday.  With the rain comes overcast skies and cooler temperatures.  However....with the rain comes MUD! (And wild hair... hair that just loves humidity. For all you Friends fans...Jeff has actually referred to the tropical Monica hair episode when commenting on my hair. I will try to take an accurate photo of this one day and then humble myself by posting it to the blog.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday's Teachable Tidbit

*Disclaimer: those with cats will understand; those without cats might judge; and those with knowledge of the fecal-oral route....don't bother...my husband has schooled us well in this topic....but we (the other four of us) are willing to risk it. And yes, we washed the table. 

Cats have a highly developed sense of finding what you are currently working on or reading and making themselves comfy--smack-dab in the middle of whatever that is.  This morning during Science class (we are studying Marine Life), Suzie decided that she'd join us during our discussion of the eight sea turtles that exist in the oceans.  By the way, did you know that the leatherback sea turtles grow to be 9 feet long and weigh 2000 pounds...AND...eat twice their weight in jellyfish per day!  Anyway....here are some photos of Science class.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Window Wednesday

One of the things we have missed since moving to Nicaragua is 'take-out' Chinese food.  Other than good pizza, Chinese food was our 'go-to' for take-out.  While several Chinese food restaurants exist here in Managua, we were never quite brave enough to try....until recently.  Our neighbors, Charlie and Patricia Chen (who are Taiwanese), opened their own Chinese Restaurant a few kilometers from our house.  It is called Bin Bin...and it is way better than 'take-out.'

P.S. For those of you who heard about my latest stray cat find, Charlie was kind enough to give me a  box to bring the stray kitten home on Saturday.  
P.P.S. It is an interesting thing to use Spanish as your bridge language (Charlie speaks Chinese and Spanish and I speak English and Spanish.  Draw that out in a Venn Diagram and you get Spanish as the common language!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday's Teachable Tidbit: Homeschool Hate-Words

What are homeschool hate-words you may ask? Let me give you some examples:

“Well, instead of me telling you what that means, I suggest that you look that up in the dictionary.”

“I'd like you to write a book report.”

“Good job writing that rough draft, now it is time to edit your draft.”

Today, it was the first example in this list that sparked a character-building discussion. I suppose a charge and challenge to all teachers, whether they teach in a classroom or at the kitchen table, is that of developing a love of learning in our students. If there is anything I want my kids to walk away with, from this season of homeschooling, it would be the love of learning. Can I guarantee that? No, I wish I could. However, while they are under my tutelage, I want to be sure that I am creating an atmosphere where learning is desirous, interesting, even fun at times. However, learning takes work.  I am learning that sometimes I need to take the hard stand and not feed them the answer when they are struggling but rather encouraging my children to discover the answer, search deeply for the answer, or fight through laziness to get the answer.  I am praying that they will each find something that truly sparks their love of learning and moves them far away from merely putting an X in the box labeled “schoolwork."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Window Wednesday: Boys will be Boys

The great outdoors here in our neighborhood is a boy's paradise.  Trees to climb, mud to throw during rainy season, relatively unattended coffee plant patches that make great bike jump obstacle courses...the possibilities are nearly endless (especially if you add a machete to the equation).

Ella's garden-to-be turned mud factory for the mud-throwing event.