Nothing like a good foundation.

“As a parent you must live out your faith in your own life.
It is impossible to give away something you don’t have.
Kids can spot a phony from a mile away. They’re looking for the real deal from their parents.

Living your faith can start with simple things, like showing love, kindness, and generosity.
If your kids see you finding ways to “be a blessing,” it will become a natural and normal way of life for them too.”
-Mary Fairchild

A super sweet e-mail hit my inbox the other morning … it was from a dear friend of mine congratulating me on completing our first half year of homeschooling.


I never thought about it until then, but yes …

… we’ve been officially homeschooling for half of the school year … and so far, it’s working!!!   I’m so happy (and relieved) to know we can actually *DO* this and not go crazy.  [Not every day is easy or fun but it’s still absolutely amazing!] I kind of see homeschooling like a great diet plan – it’s awesome,  it’s soooo good for me (and my family), but it’s a lot of work and some days you just don’t want to work out … you just want to eat cake and skip the treadmill, but you KNOW how amazing you feel after you work out and you can see the results happening  … so you stick with it … it’s also shown me where I need to improve in my parenting and where I can ease back.

This week, we’ve been taking it a bit easier and enjoying all the awesomeness Christmas has to offer. (Okay, so I know ‘awesomeness’ is not a word, but just give that one to me … k?)

Like decorating gingerbread houses.

This photo was taken right as we started. Little did I know the work cut out for me in that next hour (or four)… four kids, two who can’t actually decorate yet and one who is a perfectionist and one wee baby who decided it was time to be held the entire decorating session … made for a tricky-icing-covered-house-afternoon. The joy (ignorance) on my face was soon replaced with “Okay, we can DO this!! We CAN decorate THREE gingerbread houses, bounce a baby in in the sling and keep everyone from eating so much candy that they will be throwing it all up this afternoon …” oh yeah …..

I’m nuts like that.
Oh, and did I mention all the walls caved in on all three gingerbread houses? Thanks to some super glue and crafty-thinking, I managed to get the houses to stand … and decorated (using the term loosely).

But we had fun.

I think.

… even though the perfectionist-child had to wait 1/2 an hour for me to actually assist her …

And today, we went caroling at a local nursing home. Guys, I almost cried …. looking around the room at the group of about 20 or more senior citizens, listening to our small group of {home schooled} kids sing Christmas carols, read poems, play games with them and hand out homemade chocolate cookies and Christmas ornaments. One sweet resident, who was sitting amongst the rows of elderly, leaned down from her wheelchair and grasped at my two year old, Lucia’s hand, smiled a huge smile and I said, “I love you, I love you, I love ….” and Lucia just smiled back, in that impish way that she does, with her chin leaning down towards her shoulder in a shy, cute way … Lucia didn’t pull away … she just smiled and let the woman hold her hand … I wish I had my camera, but I didn’t want to be invasive.

But it was beautiful.

And I knew in that moment that my girls were indeed learning so much about compassion. And love. And sharing the Christmas cheer with others.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity to school my girls in this way … let’s see where it takes us.

December 17, 2010 - 2:00 pm

Amanda Oh… and LOVE the aprons!

December 17, 2010 - 1:58 pm

Amanda Lovely post! I’d love to hear more about your home schooling experience. My daughter is only two and I have another on the way but it’s definitely an idea in my mind. It’s go great you can share these experiences with your beautiful girls!

December 17, 2010 - 12:25 pm

Janine I have enjoyed watching your little family in pics! That was me with my 4 little ones and homeschooling them…just yesterday… This fall I ‘hung up the pencil’ as my youngest has started grade 9 at a public school. It’s bitter and sweet all in one. I LOVED the incredible blessing that the Lord gave me to be home with them each day. I could never trade it for anything. It was hard…the hardest thing I’ve ever done..but that’s why it was so wonderful. The Lord taught me so much in those years too. Your comments about visiting the old age home was something that we did every month. One of my favorite memories was when we had the seniors play ‘hockey’ in their wheel chairs and the kids pushed them around!! They used a beach ball for the ‘puck’ and foam pool noodles for the ‘sticks’. It was a riot! The seniors got right into it – you could see the competition coming out in them. They hadn’t moved so fast in a long time and they were being children again. Some where getting aggressive with one another and whacking with their noodles! (Not playing nice! ~ just like kids!) Some where slumped over and drooling and could barely hold the noodle but the kids where whisking them around in their wheel chairs…it was a wonderful sight. So much fun and so much emotion too as we watched from the sidelines. Seeing the generations working together for a common goal. How fast life passes us by. It was all overwhelming but a beautiful thing non-the-less. We were all blessed by the interaction.
One of my goals for 2011 is to meet you! Maybe God will land us in the same grocery aisle for a brief moment so I may introduce myself!
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you…and your family… as He writes His Name on your lives.

December 17, 2010 - 7:42 am

Ellen I think you had an amazing home school day! You found the teachable moments that your girls will never forget, and one day they will share that with you and tell you about all the “remember when we…” with you. Besides…you managed to squish in physics, geometry, architecture and art all in one day, and they didn’t even know it! I love sneaky learning! And that is not even mentioning all they learned (and taught!) at the nursing home.

My kids are 18, 16 adn 8 and we have homeschooled since I pulled our oldest, Robyn, out of kindergarten. There have been no regrets ever, though some days ( weeks sometimes!)are much more challenging than others. But I have found out that the best times of learning have never come from our bookwork really, but from our living life and exploring and doing things as a family. The rest just seems to fall into place. The rewards really come when they start saying the “Remember when..” or “Can we do that again?” or “That was so much fun, I bet they didn’t get to do THAT in school”, and in the treasures they collect and save.

I am so glad that you are enjoying and being blessed in the journey! On the days that are never hurts to just let go and do something fun with your girlies, because I think that those are the best learning times of all.


December 17, 2010 - 6:37 am

Brenda (Gillian’s Mom) Oh my goodness Gillian, these are fantastic pictures along with a wonderful story! I hope that you can make the Seniors Home an annual event. It is such a great way to teach the girls what the true meaning of Christmas is. You are such a great mommy and person! Love the last picture – Lovelyn sure does look like her daddy!! xo

December 17, 2010 - 6:32 am

Brenda (Gillian’s Mom) Oh my, Gillian, this is beautiful! Made me cry!! You are such a good mommy and good person! Thank you for taking the girls to the Seniors Home – that is what Christmas really is about! Hopefully this can be one of your yearly traditions. 🙂 I love the pictures, the girls are such posers!! LOL That last picture is precious …. and my goodness, Lovelyn looks just LIKE Abby!! Love you, xo

December 17, 2010 - 2:35 am

Michelle I homeschool too and love it!!! You will cherish all those memories with your kids. Looks like you are having fun!
Michelle Jones