A Father’s Rules for Discernment

Happy Father’s Day! Here’s a post my husband wrote for the Dads:

Do you ever wonder how God intends for us to cope with, or better yet master, the daily demands of life?  I do.  If you’ve read any of Mary’s blog posts, I imagine that you’ve found her to be inspiring – as do I.  How does she do it all?  Our house is always impeccable, the children are excelling in their studies, the bills get paid on time, she has a large and growing number of friends, she’s written three (or is it four now) books, and she seems to always have time for the essentials. Then, there’s me… So, I couldn’t help but wonder, how does she do it? 

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Super Special Fathers

They come to church on Sunday mornings, a father and his son. Although we try not to stare, we can’t help but notice because there is something so beautifully edifying about this pair. The father, large and strong, carries his son, thin and frail, into the church. He places him on the pew and gently props the limp boy, whose arms and legs dangle uselessly, against his own muscular build. The boy is about twelve. We don’t know their names or their story. We don’t know the medical condition that renders the boy so helpless. Yet my husband and I both agree that no music is as moving and no homily as uplifting as the sight of this father and the love he bears for his son.

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The Handy Dandy Homeschool Shopping List

Last year I put this list up in the Homeschooling Help menu during the spring. With so many kids to plan and buy books for, I made this list to keep track of what I needed to buy, what I ordered , and what arrived. I also like to compare prices of new and used books, so I made columns for that.  I made a  division between Books I Need and Books I Want, because don’t we all get excited about new curricula? Now with this list, I buy the books I absolutely need first, and then if I haven’t spent too much, I go for the books I want. For those of you who sometimes discover you have bought two of the same book (oops!), here’s the handy-dandy list:

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Motivating your kids to READ!

There is no question that one of the single most important skills to teach our kids is to read.  I would argue that it is not only our job to teach them HOW to read, but more importantly to LOVE to read. The amount kids read has a direct relationship to better scores on standardized tests and an easier time with grammar, spelling, and writing.  As we approach the summer months, how can we motivate them to spend part of their days reading and not lose all of those skills we have worked so hard on during the school year?

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To Test or Not to Test? Homeschooling and Standardized Testing

With the advent of Spring, our school year is beginning to wind down. I begin to think about books we want to read this summer and next year’s curriculum. But first I remind myself, “It’s time to order those tests.”

Standardized testing. Some states require testing, and others don’t. For those of us who are privileged enough to be given the choice, the decision is worth consideration. If not required, should we make our homeschooled children take standardized tests? What are the pros and cons?

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Hey Tiger Mom, Tired of Being Tough?

Have you ever heard of The Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua? A controversial New York Times best-seller, it tells the story of a Chinese Yale professor who raises her children “the Chinese way”. I have not read the book, but I am well acquainted with this Chinese way. When I taught piano back in the days when I was single, I had several Chinese students who were being raised by Tiger Mothers. These kids were amazing. They were respectful and hard working.  They listened carefully to everything I  told them and were very diligent about practicing exactly the way I instructed them to, every day, seven days a week. No wonder they made rapid progress and performed beautifully. I loved teaching the children of Tiger moms. They were dream students.

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Practice Makes Perfect

When my oldest daughter, The Musician, was 4 years old, she came to me and said, “I am going to need a little violin and a little stick.”  She wanted to take violin lessons so badly that it was all she talked about for weeks on end.  Seeing visions of the New York Philharmonic in my mind, I dutifully signed her up for lessons.  Everything went very smoothly for about 6 months.  She willingly practiced every day, sometimes even twice. Getting her instrument out of its case brought joy and happiness.  After her first concert, she came home beaming and even more excited.

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The Parable of the Good Shepherd According to Calvin and Hobbes

I just had to share this one with you. My kids really enjoy reading Calvin and Hobbes. I think they relate to Calvin’s over-blown imagination and boundless energy. Inspired by this wacky and lovable cartoon character, Big-Sis and my niece drew this for a church youth group project:

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Loving the Difficult Child

Once in a while, one of my kids fall into a funk – a period of negativity and difficult behavior which makes parenting, especially homeschooling, a real challenge. When this happens, not only do I feel sorrow for my child, but I also feel discouraged and inadequate. And yet, I know that this is a common experience among parents.

Perhaps it’s a hyper-sensitive  child who  whines and cries over the smallest vexations. Perhaps it’s a strong-willed child who fights you tooth and nail whenever you tell him to do something. Perhaps it’s that hormonal middle schooler, who has suddenly become moody, disrespectful, and ultra-critical. Or perhaps it’s a child whose health issues makes her irritable and crabby.

Whatever the situation, although you know deep-down that you love this child, there are times when it can be a real challenge to be patient and loving. So what can we do?

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