Saturday, December 26, 2009

We Had Ourselves a Merry LITTLE Christmas

Kepler was delighted with his festive noisemakers, just like I thought he would be!

This Christmas was a little different than some Christmases past. Our two main sources of Christmas money had either dried up completely or dried out significantly. Indeed, the only source still producing didn't show up until December 19. Until that point, I had no idea how we were going to do Christmas this year. Being that uncertain was very weird. It has been years since we've had any trouble buying Christmas gifts. Work bonuses have been given every year on the first Friday of December, just in time for a jolly Christmas, but the economy saw to it that the bonuses disappeared this year.

I tried to prepare the kids that things would be a little different this year, and I worried about it day and night. At best, Christmas is always a source of stress for me as I try to balance all the juggling balls called "materialism," "clutter," "buying for someone who has everything and can buy anything they don't already have," and, of course, the one I am best at, "GUILT."

I have one child whose love language must surely be receiving gifts, and he dearly loves the Christmas bonanza. So, for him, after we had opened all the gifts, I needed to snuggle with him on the love seat and help him process his disappointment. He was so sad, but he remembered all the things I had told him ahead of time about fewer gifts, but no less love, and about how to be grateful in the face of some disappointment. He felt better after we talked, and then he enjoyed his new Scrubs DVD while I went back to bed for awhile.

The second round of disappointment for him came when everyone else started posting their Christmas gifts on Facebook. Wow, iMacs, iphones, ipods, expensive cameras; some of his friends received even more than one from that list. I was very proud of him though as he acknowledged his disappointment but again remembered to focus on being thankful for what he has been given, and to acknowledge that the love of his family is pretty wonderful.

It made my day to hear this particular boy tell me that he thinks this is our best Christmas ever. I agreed, and I'm not sure why. But, even though it was small, it really was one of the best ever. I hope yours was, too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Just to clarify, this post has nothing to do with the value and/or benefits of public school, or really anything about the pros and cons.

I met with a local high school guidance counselor this morning just to explore what it would take for Joel to take a class or classes at the high school during second semester. She gave me great information and I came home armed with everything I need to be able to make a decision.

I asked about homeschool classes, and what kind of documentation is required for the credits to transfer to a public high school. Here is her answer:

"The homeschool student must take and pass the public school final exam for the same course in order to show that they have mastered the material in the public school course."

Wowza. Presumably, and she confirmed this, not too many students are able to do this.

This means, in Joel's case, that for him to receive credit for Physics, Chemistry, Algebra 1, Geometry, Spanish 2 and 3, and American History, he would have to take SEVEN public school finals to receive credit for those classes. What student do you know that could do that, even if they did well in the class? Seems like the nature of the beast is that kids learn it and then forget it.

Hey, I get it that this is the public school's policy and I'm fine with that. Just felt a little bit like some Seattle fishmonger slapped me in the face with a halibut and then tweaked my nose with a lobster claw. Seems like it's easier to get into college after homeschooling than it is to get into high school! I found out this morning that once you get to high school, the chasm between homeschooling and public school has widened considerably. Interesting. Certainly makes a case for staying the current course.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Thinking about Christmas

I've heard quite a few sermons and messages about Christmas over the years. This morning at Crossroads, Brian talked about the value that each of us have based on what someone was willing to pay for us -- we are so valuable to God. Christmas is about him sending Jesus to us to demonstrate his care.

At the end of the service we sang O, Holy Night. Verse 3 follows.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

At the end of the service, Brian spoke of the light that came into the world. He took a candle and lit the candles of several others. Each person lit the candle of a person next to them. And it occurred to me. THAT'S the way the gospel of Christ is spread -- sharing the light with another person.

And when the light is received, we are ready to learn to love one another, and to share his gospel of peace. What a beautiful message. Greg and the kids and I were in the top balcony this morning so we had a high vantage point to see the light spreading through the auditorium. A little candle isn't flashy and doesn't give off a lot of light, but 300 candles make it quite possible to see in the dark. But each candle was necessary, even mine.

Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

This Week in the Life of Siouxsie

Charlie Brown Christmas is playing in the background and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here. All we need is some snow. In the meantime, the kids put the Christmas tree up last night and there was only one bitter fight when three kids asked one kid for the Christmas lights that one kid had used to decorate his/her own space. Father Christmas came to the rescue once again, sending them off with a fistful of cash to buy new lights.

I am now the proud owner of a personal library database, thanks to my computer-generated, er, computer-savvy son, Joel. I've always dreamed of cataloguing and shelving my books similar to the way the library does it. And now I can. The books have been in the basement for several years and I am getting ready to bring them back upstairs so that we can be surrounded by their wonderfulness and pluck books off the shelf whenever we feel like it. This is also an opportunity to cull out any that have been taking up space that would be better used by other books or magazines. The library will open for business very soon.

I asked the kids to give me writing prompts this week. Joel's was: I hear music in my head. I wrote two pages. I want to write two pages of creative writing every day. During that piece, and several others, I have realized how much music means to me. As an outgrowth of that realization, I spent a few minutes at the library the other night just picking up cds that looked interesting, whether or not I had ever heard of the artist or heard their music. Music is just magical to me, and I am excited about the new artists I have found and am enjoying.

The tutoring session I had this week with my "Whiz Kid," a second-grade student I work with every Monday, was exceptionally rewarding. I had picked up the book, Click, Clack, Moo (highly recommended to every human regardless of age, gender, or religious beliefs), and put together several activities for her to do. For this little girl who usually doesn't like to read the assigned book, I saw a huge hunger in her to read. She read the book once, then asked to read it again, and then asked to read it to another student. We laughed and laughed at the antics of the cows and chickens and poor Farmer Brown.

I also enjoyed my meal of crow this week as I discovered that Joel's missing library book was carefully tucked into a box BY ME that I put into the BACK GARAGE.

And my last news item is that I resumed the practice of writing Morning Pages, a la Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist's Way. What a wonderful way to start each day!

Happy Saturday to you!