“A mom who is able to learn a new path and then respond. A woman who does things differently because God is growing her up.” — “Becoming,” as defined by Angela Thomas, author & speaker

That pretty much encapsulates the increasing effect of my recent spiritual transformation. Sure, it takes diligent, intentional work on a daily basis, and of course, an understanding that there is still so much more ground to cover on this journey.

But it has already given me a resilience I have never known before. I now feel a growing strength, which has in turn given me a greater flexibility to begin changing some old ways of thinking (being a perfectionist) and patterns of behavior (feeling defeated when perfection doesn’t materialize).

Live “boldly, yet wisely”

That was the message from last Sunday’s sermon from Ecclesiastes 11: 1-6. For those of you who know me well, I have rarely had trouble with the boldly part. I get my mind set on something and there is no stopping me from reaching that goal. Sometimes it’s a blessing, such as my determination to make a long-distance relationship with a guy seven years my junior work or managing to earn a degree from UW-Madison.

Zeke talks Thomas the Train w/ Santa while @ Sugar Plum Farm.

Rubber meets the road 

But my tenacity has many times hindered the wisest execution of a plan (past examples are too numerous to cite). “I will homeschool my kids no matter what … I will never put my kids in public schools … it would be a dereliction of my duty as a parent to do otherwise” were all refrains I have said over the years. But when you have a kid who should be entering elementary school in a matter of months, soliloquies don’t cut it anymore. Pragmatic action is required.

Covering my bases

During my pre-becoming funk earlier this year, I realized (with the help of some much-needed advice) that I may not be able to pull this homeschooling thing off, if I didn’t get my act together. Ever stubborn, I ignored the wisdom at first, but soon realized that I should take the opportunity to check out all my options.

And I have. Houston is on the lottery for a National Heritage charter academy and will also be on the list for a Spanish-immersion magnet school, once I attend its open house next week.

Growing confidence

Thankfully, my maturing spirituality has led the bold-but-wise me to do a lot of homeschooling homework, as well. Point is I have never felt more optimistic about officially taking on the new role of kindergarten educator.

Houston requests a globe & video game from Mr. Claus.

On 2/9, I attended a Classical Conversations open house at Westside Chapel with Christie and her hubby, Logan. We learned a great deal, asked many questions, met other homeschool families, and got Houston and Asher onto the waiting list for the weekly tutorials for this particular CC community. It’s called Abecedarian (Latin for learning the alphabet) and is the first part of the Foundations curriculum for ages 4 to 6.

We also contacted Central Baptist and found out that this CC community has no waiting list for Abecedarian students. So being the proactive gals that we are, Christie and I visited them yesterday. It is an incredible organization: structured enough to get things done in a timely mannerly, but relaxed enough to have a down-home feel.

Case in point, the morning group lesson was about orchestras. The CC tutor who led it — a harpist with a music degree — had the kids conduct concertos with chopsticks, talked to them about what instruments comprise an orchestra, described all the woodwinds (since that was the day’s emphasis), and of course, taught them about classical music in the process. Very hands-on and very cool.

If nothing happens, as Nanny Quate used to say, it looks like the 3 Amigos will begin CC homeschooling next August, and Houston will be attending Abecedarian tutorials at Central Baptist, while the twins have fun in the Little Learners program. And if something (drastic) happens, hopefully the charter or magnet school will pan out.

Santa can hardly contain a wide-eyed Gabriel. (Click to see all the Thanksgiving fun.)

Mommy & Miss Jessie’s Pre-School of Hard Knocks 

The boys finally completed their Amazing Word Wall. So now we’re kicking off Mondays with one letter and concentrating on the chosen letter for the rest of the week. Miss Jessie has been getting extra books from the library and printing out related activity sheets all on her own time, and the boys are showing great progress. Houston even caught me the other night skipping some words in a lengthy bedtime book.

We’re still teaching the calendar, time and the solar system, as well as other science stuff here and there, like nature, the properties of cooking, etc. In early February, Miss Jessie started math with the boys, mostly addition with some subtraction sprinkled in, and I’ve been working on the fundamentals of money, fractions (splitting coins into thirds) and general sorting.

Last week, we began our “lessons in other cultures” with Mexico. Jessie went over some basics about our neighbor to the south and brought in a few fun props. I cooked taquitos and rice and beans for dinner, we listened to Los Tigres del Norte while eating our Mexican feast, and then the boys played Go Fish (with numbers in Español only) with Jessie. Daddy rounded it all out by doing Spanish flashcards with the 3 Amigos over the weekend.

Zeke & Houston are ready to find the perfect Christmas tree.

All work & no play makes Rebecca a dull girl

Despite the grind of it all, we still know how to have a good time. And February has been a fabulous month …

  • 2/6: Miss Christie and her kids (Asher, Jackson and Piper) attended their first play date here at “the zoo.”
  • 2/8: I scored some cheap circus tickets through GMOM and took the boys to opening night. “Whoa, cool!” exclaimed Gabriel and Zeke initially, but soon morphed into “When are we going home?” They were polite and patient, especially considering this was their first circus experience, and we made it through the long first half of the performance. This was Houston’s third year, so he really enjoyed the show, most notably the Shaolin (warrior monks) and the lions and tigers.
  • 2/9-2/10: Gramsey and Papa visit. They also gave the boys walkie talkies, which have since provided tons of entertainment on Liberty Loop.
  • 2/10-2/12: Granny and Grumps visit. That Saturday, we finally rewarded the boys with a jaunt to Chuck E. Cheese. (Remember, they earned 30 marks on the Chuck E. Cheese chart for exhibiting good manners at the kitchen table?) Miss Jessie met up with us for the greatly anticipated celebration and, despite the throng, we all had a blast.

Gabe thinks getting a choose-&-cut tree is the No. 1 Thanksgiving family tradition.

  • 2/16: I had a girls-night out with Miss Lorrie. Too much food and libation were consumed, but good times abound.
  • 2/17: Stephen and I had our first date night in a long, long time. Again, too much food and libation. We hope to mix up our dates a bit and not purely do typical dinner dates. Perhaps an afternoon outing to the gun range?
  • 2/18: It’s a boys-only Saturday, so Daddy took ’em to the Natural Science Center. The kids showed courage in the dinosaur room and even attended a dino-related film. And a diligent Daddy then treated them to lunch at the International Market food court.
  • 2/19: In another show of bravery, Zeke got over his “man on the donkey” fear while dining at Rio Grande, and Gabriel almost fully conquered his trepidation over the longhorn skull. We also ran into Miss Christie and her kiddos while there. Random post-church fun.
  • 2/19-2/20: It snowed for the first time this winter. We only got about 2 inches, but we definitely made the most of it. Sledding, snowball fights, snow angels, a lame-looking snowman … any recreation that derives from snow was done. Gotta love the white stuff.

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