Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homeschool Diaries: Moving Along

I think it's best I wait for a good homeschooling day to write a post on homeschooling.

Not to say countless weeks have gone by that weren't worthy of good homeschool days. But, there were some that, well, flopped.

But, my heart has not changed. We press on. Press on with the good days and the bad.

Two weeks ago, I just about lost it. As Hannah and I worked on The Writing Road to Reading I realized she regressed. Majorly. Her letters were being formed incorrectly time and again. She was writing backwards. Her attitude stunk (perhaps because my attitude stunk). She cried. I seethed with frustration. It was bad. And I questioned all that I had worked on with her.

I questioned myself. Never was I ever so hard on a student in my classroom when I taught. I was pretty patient. I didn't feel that tightness squeeze across my body when a student struggled to listen or apply the rules. But with Hannah, frustration wrapped around my body like a boa constrictor seeking to squeeze out my last breath.

Funny how homeschooling is just another way the Lord reveals my sin to me and uses it to pull me toward Him. It's another way I realize, I can't do this on my own. And I remember the quote, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." Thank you Lord.

Today, was a positive day. We reviewed the letters Hannah has struggled with. And lo and behold, she wrote them almost all without a hitch. She and I were thrilled. Here's our conversation:

Me: Hannah I'm so proud of you!
Hannah: Yeah, I didn't cry. And you didn't have to leave!

Yes, I had to leave the room one day so we both could calm down. I had to leave Hannah screaming at her table. While I had to go to another room to prevent myself from saying something hurtful.

Let's be real. Teaching your own kids is hard.

But worth it.

Again, being the sap I have become since giving birth to three kids, I got teary eyed as I saw her successfully and proudly writing thirteen letters. 

So, we are moving along. I am still a strong advocate of Classical Conversations. Both Hannah and Grant will be enrolling again. I will be taking the director's position for our area. This was a big shock for me, a one year veteran of homeschooling. But again I am reminded of how the Lord equips the called. There is an awesome group of women to support me in this role. So next year will provide another adventure in this homeschool journey.

I will leave you with some pictures of our homeschool days the past few months. We're all learning together. And, it's pretty awesome.

I realized as I went to upload pictures that my homeschool pictures are few and far between these days. The two activities above are both ideas I got off of Pinterest. I'm loving that site!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's So Funny?

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Laugh when you have crazy wild hair.

Laugh when you wear two shoes that don't match or are two sizes too big.

Laugh when you see your favorite brother and sister.

Laugh when you get tickled just in that right spot.

Laugh when you drop your food on the floor.

Laugh when Mommy plays Peek-a-Boo.

Laugh when Daddy swings you high in the air.

Laugh when you manage to escape while Mommy is changing your diaper.

Laugh when you swing in a swing or sneak onto a bike and race down the hill.

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Because you never know who's just waiting or needing to laugh along with you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lessons Learned...from Hannah

I think I may add a new category to my blog..

Lessons Learned

It may or may not be successful. This may be the only post. Life moves so quickly I hardly can keep up anymore. My blog reflects that.

But today, today I will write about lessons learned.

Those lessons come from my children.

Yesterday, I threw the housework list out the window. Instead, I gathered the kids and we took a walk. It was a great day.

Hannah rode her bike. Kate, of course, had dibs on the stroller. And Grant, well, he had to walk. We are no longer the owners of the double stroller much to Grant's dismay. And a bit to my own. I want Grant to walk but walking may be an under statement. Grant moseys. He'll attest to it. It makes for some frustrating moments.

So, there we were, Hannah riding ahead on her bike (what she always wants to do now when we go for a walk), Kate attempting to ride the stroller while standing (she will most definitely be the dare devil of the three), and me standing still while waiting for Grant to catch up.

But, he found a pep in his step when we came up to a trail. He always wants to go up this STEEP trail. My first response, no. No, because Hannah had her bike. No because I had the stroller. No because my shoes were not trail worthy. And no because I knew they had no clue just how steep this trail was. I didn't want to do it.

Then, came a voice of compassion and consideration.

From Hannah.

"We can go up the trail. I don't mind pushing my bike. Grant wants to go up it."

I was pleased. Pleased to hear Hannah think for Grant. Pleased that she was willing to get off of her bike and push it up a steep hill. For Grant.

I was convicted. Convicted that I myself wasn't willing to sacrifice a bit to let Grant go up this trail, a trail he ALWAYS asks to go up when we pass it. And a trail I always deny him.

This time, Hannah's compassion softened my heart.

As we treked up the hill I'm sure we were a sight to see. Me, jerking the stroller back and forth over every lose piece of bark and uncovered tree root. Hannah, all 32 lbs of her, pushing a princess bike that likely weighs more than she does, over uneven terrain and Grant, grinning from ear to ear while moseying along his longawaited trail.

And in the middle of the stop and go jerks
kindness exuded Hannah's mouth toward Grant.I wish I could remember all she said. Sweetness. It was sweetness. Not once did she complain as her bike got stuck time and again. Or when Grant's attempts at helping proved less than adequate.

She was genuninely pleased to allow Grant to walk on his trail.

Hannah taught me a bit about sacrifice and the joy that comes with it. When I was tempted to have a complaining spirit,she exuded the opposite. She showed me patience as she pushed that bike up the difficult hill while not once letting an unkind word leave her mouth. And she showed me love. Love for someone other than herself. A love that cost her a bike ride she wanted to take all day. Then I'm reminded how love and sacrifice often go hand in hand.

And my Hannah reminded me of that yesterday while pushing a bike up a trail. It's a lesson worthy of being reminded of again and again.

Lesson Learned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Passion

You think, you're three or "free", what can such a young buck like you be passionate about?


Super Mario Brothers.

How great is my passion, you ask?

Well, if the size of your slippers are any indication of the size of your passion, well, my passion is pretty huge.

How intense is my passion?

Well, if the intensity of your face is any indication of the intesity of your passion,I win intensity is, let's say, intense.

If I had it my way, I'd play Super Mario Brothers from sun up to sun down. But, I'm "free." I don't get my way too often. And maybe that's when my passion would turn into an addiction.

So, for now, I'll be content to wear my passion on my feet and on my face. And try to stay clear of any support groups to help recovering Mario addicts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Big Girl You are Beautiful

We'd like to thank Papa, our picture contributor the past two posts. He's got quite an eye for beauty doesn't he?

I'd like to tell the world a little bit more about myself. The days are passing quickly and I'm developing into quite a complex character.

Gone are the days of mindless babble, army crawling, and a taste for all things food.

I'm more mature.

I'm walking with attempts to run in between. In fact, I'm working on jumping with the help of Grant's hand. I need a manly hand to hold onto. So far my feet have yet to leave the floor but surely, with the force of my upward arm thrusts, they will soon catch some air.

I'm a diva. I love hats. I love shoes. Or as I say "juse." I love them so much so I refuse to take them off in my crib when napping. I prefer to not let my bare feet grace the floors without shoes. It seems, however, that there are shoe sizes and some shoes that aren't quite ready for my nimble feet.

I'm a consoler. I find often that Hannah and Grant disobey. And with disobedience comes consequences. With consequences comes tears. Sometimes lots. I find that I can best be used by consoling the heart broken by laying my head on their shoulders while gently patting their backs. I think they appreciate it.

I'm a hitter. To me it's just good fun, but those tears I was talking about, well they come out also when I whack them on the head with my sippy cup or when I grab a fistful of hair. Hey, I'm just envious of their long locks..okay, of Hannah's long locks. Grant looks like he's ready for the military. I'm just trying to pull hard enough so as to make his a bit longer.

I like to say no. It's helpful. Do you want some broccoli, "no." Okay, bad example, I LOVE broccoli. How about, do you want to go to bed, "no," and I find with a animated shake of the head I can get a few smiles. I have a feeling that won't last for long so I'll play it as long as I can. Or if someone tries to take something from me I can say, "no" and it's supposed to help alleviate the situation. I can honestly say, it doesn't always work.

Mommy thinks I'm a dare devil. I will reassure you all, I am. I like to swing fast, which happens from time to time when Hannah is with me. I like to ride the new jeep. I like to slide down the stairs on my tummy, just like Hannah and Grant. It works best when you are properly attired...meaning footie pjs. And I've been known to take some nose dives in the bathtub only to reemmerge with a beaming grin from ear to ear. The pool is going to be AWESOME this summer.

And while I can write on and on, I'm tiring of this and am ready to go seek some adventure somewhere else.

So if you see me, be aware, I'm not that little baby anymore. Nope, I'm a big girl. And I'll make sure you know it!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mommy's Moment: 12 Years Ago

Yes, we are the proud owners of the bright pink/purple Barbie jeep.

Poor Grant.

Thanks to my parents and their neighbors, we inherited these wheels.

I have to admit, I'm surprised my parents passed it along to my kids. Off road vehicles have a bad wrap in our family.

Thanks to me.

You see, before my parents gave Hannah and Kate these wheels; twelve years ago they graciously gave me my own set of wheels in the form of a Honda Passport, my dream car.

How Hannah and Kate (and Grant) feel about their new wheels, I felt about mine.

And 7 months later, my wonderful college roommate and I decided to break those wheels in.

Sit back, have a drink, and enjoy a story that, wasn't so enjoyable twelve years ago.

It was a rainy, cold day. It was finals week. Needing a break, Maureen and I hopped in Hank (my car) to pick up some milk at Walmart. Little did we know this would be the LONGEST milk errand ever run because

We got sidetracked.

Instead of turning into the Walmart parking lot, Hank found himself turning into a remote wooded area that promised for a good mud bath.

I'll admit, between myself and Maureen, I was the hesitant, anxious, "not so sure about this" one. I loved Maureen's spontaneity and figured just this once, I'd go with it.

And I did.

After a few good spins in the mud, I checked the clock. I had to be back at the dorms for a cross country Christmas party. And with the rain picking up and the sun setting we put our "city girl" hats back on and made our exit from the muddy forest.

Or so we thought.

There was a slight problem: A muddy puddle keeping us from the way in which we came. A few attempts to cross it proved futile. Hank's tires were stuck. Maureen and I, being the resourceful gals we were, gathered sticks to push under the tires. It made sense to us. But, making sense and actually working are two very different things.

Hank sat. stuck.

Like I said, the sun was setting, we had no contact with the world, except for the trees and mud (this was before everyone had a cell phone). I did have a cell phone. It was called a car phone. Only to be used in case of an emergency...while in the car. Well, right about now we figured this was an emergency.

I clicked it on. Roaming.

And, I can't remember the details, but I was able to make a call using a credit parents' credit card (I'm beginning to sound rather spoiled as I write parents were gracious to me).

Not thinking of the consequences, I dialed our dorm. Several times. Maureen and I dialed every room along our hall until someone picked up. Finally someone did.

By this point that cross country Christmas party had commenced and we had our hallmate find a friend of our's, Tanya, to get her to come find us. Our directions were vague. We just said we'd honk and then she'd honk when she heard our honk. It's the best we could do.

By this time, hours had passed and as Maureen and I sat in the dark, in the rain, in Hank while listening to Waterdeep and playing cards, my phone rang. This is when it got bad.

It was my dad.

"Are you charging calls to the cell phone?" he asked.

The credit card company called him since these were unusual charges.

"Yes," I timidly replied.

"Why?" he asked.

This was about when my heart sank...real deep.

"Maureen and I are stuck," I shared only minimal details as if that would be sufficient and the details wouldn't be necessary.

I was wrong.

"Why are you stuck?"

"Well, um, we, uh, went mudding and are stuck in the mud."

Obviously, my dad was more than NOT thrilled by this idea. He was, well, angry, as most parents would be who just bought their daughter a really nice gift only to see them wrecklessly misuse it.

I reassured him help was on the way, though when I said that I wasn't sure who exactly was coming nor when. I assured him, they would be there.

"Call me as soon as you get out of there."

My heart beating fast, I hung up the phone praying help would arrive quickly.

And, it did, finally, in the form of a huge white suburban a couple of guys and faithful Tanya.

They were here to rescue us and Hank.

Easier said than done.

One wise guy informed me to "floor it" and Hank would sail across the now, much deeper and muddier "puddle." Deep in my heart I knew it was a stupid idea.

I tried it, to no avail.

Then, thinking he could do it, wise guy took control and got in the driver's seat while I sat in the passenger's seat. His attempt proved much more disasterous than any attempt we had made before.

He did floor it, it did fact Hank took a nose dive into the deep, muddy, pit. The headlights went out and mud, thick, brown mud poured, POURED into the front of Hank soaking the floorboards, flooding the engine and ruining any attempt to salvage what was left of this nightmare.

I was speechless.

So, with no other option, Maureen and I got into the suburban. Hank sat in the dark, muddy beyond recognition. The drive home I didn't say a word. I dreaded calling my dad.

I made the dreaded call as soon as I entered the dorm room. As expected, both of my parents were furious. Dad advised me to call a tow truck first thing in the morning.

The rest of the night I buried my head beneath my pillows, the girls on the hall peeking in to check on me.

Did I mention this was finals week?

Thankfully, I had no finals the next day. God was gracious in that. I called a tow truck. As soon as I got off of the phone my dad called.

"Did you get a tow truck?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Good, you can come pick me up. I'm in the Walmart parking lot."

And just as I thought my heart had sunken as far as it could, it sunk deeper.

My other roommate Jennifer, was kind to ride with me though I advised her it may not be the most exciting ride. She came anyway.

It was a quiet ride out to the muddy forest, which just hours ago promised thrills and fun. Now it promised to me, devestation and humiliation.

We pulled up to that spot. Hank sat, ruined in mud. My dad, silent, only shook his head in disbelief and disappointment. The tow truck came and successfully pulled Hank out. He managed to get the engine to start, while chunks of mud flew from the tail pipe.

Needless to say, it was a quiet ride to the tow truck place...whatever you call it.

Dad and I took it to a local carwash to hose it down. And like any good parent, told me I would lose my priviledge in driving the car after I got home for Christmas break and for the first two months of the next semester (let me tell you, my adventures riding my bike those next two months is a post in and of itself). Then, like any good parent, he reminded me he loved me and sent me back to the dorm with a hug.

Hank's life thankfully didn't end there. After his two month suspension, I was able to get him back. And I drove Hank proudly (never again in the mud) until after John and I got married and more problems arose. We traded him in at Carmax and I'm hoping someone is taking good care of him. John swore he saw it driving around one day. I hope he's right. He deserves countless miles of road before him.

As for me and dad, well I figured after twelve years of letting those "hard feelings" pass, I could now write a blog about it and hopefully he and I can both laugh about it.

Perhaps him giving my kids this "jeep" is his way of preparing me for when they  make those mindless decisions that they will make one day.

Nonetheless, I love you dad and am thankful for you and mom sticking with me through the good and the bad!

Monday, February 06, 2012

A Video For You

In welcoming back the video medium to The Harman Hood, I'd like to give you a taste of what dinner time usually looks like.

Each dinner usually involves tears, often from Grant who apparently has an extremely difficult time swallowing any food that is not a fruit snack, cookie, pb and j, or french fry, or chip, or cracker, or chicken nugget, or cake... 

The first part is not for the faint of heart as you can see first hand his glob of chicken pot pie that is his newest victim. Grant is known to chew on food for 30 minutes at least before it makes its way down the hatch.

Other notes:

Excuse Hannah's talk of boogers.

Excuse Hannah's misuse of her middle finger.

This meal marks Kate's first time eating on her own due to me being consumed with videoing Grant. She manages to grab the bowl and finish off the meal without my help.

Yes, John does go to play Mario Brothers. Who can blame him? It's nice to escape from dinner's reality even if it is to play Mario Brothers.

So, I leave you with reality. Be thankful it's only 2 and 1/2 minutes of your life and not 1 1/2 hours of your life every night.


Who needs mountains of snow, crashing waves, snowboards, or surfboards...

WHEN YOU'VE GOT a dormant grassy hill, a cardboard scrap, and guts?

I'd like to introduce you to backyard grassboarding. It takes the same skill of snowboarding and surfing but the terrain of a grassy backyard on a warm, spring day.

It's sure to become a hit. . .

for those of us with a tight budget and non exotic terrain who still like a thrill.

Trust me, it's for thrill seekers. Not the faint of heart. Like Grant. Bless his soul.

Just think of me like the Jamaican Bobsled team...

So, I hope to see you in the 2028 Olympics, where I'm sure, after having read this post, the officials will make it an official sport. Hey, if rhythmic gymnastics and trampolining (a backyard sport too mind you) made it in...there's no doubt backyard grassboarding will.

And like any rad snowboarder or surfer, I leave you with some of my own grassboarding lingo...