For You, Daniel

Today we are here to feature a few of Daniel’s Favorite Things

Cause we’re thinking of you, and we miss you, Daniel!!


Friends – Daniel’s good friend, James, came over to visit David today

Games – David and James played DC Comics Deck Building, pretty much Daniel’s favorite board game.

Food – and they all ate homemade mac n’ cheese. Definitely Daniel’s favorite side dish of all time. He once got a huge pan of it as a Christmas present (top gift of the year).

Sport – not just any Frisbee for Ultimate, but a Worldview Frisbee.

This blog post is for you, Danny Boy! We miss you. The only thing we forgot was a can of ReddiWhip and some Minecraft. LOL!

Hope you’re having a great time at school!

Project 365 – Day 253

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Second First Week of School

Homeschooling is so odd when it comes to a few things – dress code, extra-curricular activities, and scheduling to name a few. I guess odd isn’t the right word. Maybe ‘flexible’ is better. School sports, fun lunch breaks and main art events are aspects that home cannot offer, which I feel are crucial in the growing days.

Dress Code – really, do people think we do school in our pajamas? My kids are asked that all the time, usually in a jealous tone. Sorry, but no, we don’t stay in our pjs all day. Although on really grey, gloomy days, we’ve been known to snuggle on the couch with hot cocoa during our history lessons.

Or go to the beach.

Let's go to the BEACH for school - 2011

Let’s go to the BEACH for school – 2011

One of my friends actually bought school uniforms for her children during one of their homeschooling years.

“It did simplify things,” she says with a shrug, “but it didn’t last long.”

Probably went back to pjs. ;)

Extra-Curricular Activities – again, this is a very curious aspect of homeschooling. And one we’re occasionally still confronted with. As in, “Your poor kids, they must be so sad to be home all day without anything to do but school work.”

Sigh. Sometimes I think homeschoolers WISH they could actually be home more. Instead our time is often filled with:

1) Sports – our family has participated in swim team, wrestling and cross-country over the years
2) Homeschool specific activities – PE classes, drama programs, science and computer clubs
3) Weekly homeschool co-op – where the kids have the opportunity to take classes on DOZENS of topics including art, music, science, cooking, dissection, theater, foreign language, history, crafts and more
4) Ministry opportunities – helping with the local food bank, babysitting young children for church functions, AWANA, service projects
5) Work – lawn mowing jobs, watering job, pet sitting and walking, babysitting, cleaning
6) Programs in the local high school – JROTC for all three of our boys

Again, the opportunities are as many and as varied as there are families who homeschool. If we wanted to focus heavily on sports, we could. If we wanted to be involved in the local theater playhouse, we could. If we wanted to go deep into academics and eschew the “fluff,” we could. If were were a musical family, that could be our focus.

Or not. Or something totally different.

Unique, varied, flexible.

Which brings me to our “Second First Week of School.” Washington state grants a great deal of flexibility to homeschooling parents. We have only a few requirements that govern our homeschool. There are 5 basic statutes to follow: meet the teacher qualification, file a notice of intent, teach for the required number of days, teach the required subjects, and conduct an annual assessment.

Since many of our close friends are in private or public schools, over the past few years we have decided (or rather, I decided) to keep our schedule on nearly the same track as our district school. Meaning, we take our spring break when they do, start and end around the same time.

Again, this is only a guide line as we have some things in our schooling that make us unique.

This year David is taking JROTC at one of the high schools in the area. All last week he was in orientation from 8 am to 2 pm. Some of his public school friends started school at the same time, some of his homeschool friends had started the week before, some hadn’t started at all. Our online classes (where we take math, English and foreign language) don’t start until NEXT week. Last week was a “soft school start.”

It seems like only yesterday Joshua and Tim were cadets, and now David is in the program.

It seems like only yesterday Joshua and Tim were cadets, and now David is in the program.

Sarah did health, reading, IXL math drills, and Bible while David was at JROTC orientation. David did reading, IXL and Bible when he came home. That was our Week One School Start.

This week David began the regular JROTC class (one period, at the high school). We added in history and our Bible devotions (reading together), and David began his health and science books.

Next week The Potter’s School online classes will begin as well as our evening BSF study and homeschool co-op.

Not to mention AWANA, small groups and my women’s mentoring program.

David - freshman!!!

David – freshman!!!

Sarah - 8th grader!!

Sarah – 8th grader!!

So, when I see all the sweet First Day of School pictures posted on Facebook, and I look at our calendar, I feel just a wee bit conflicted. Do I take a picture the morning David went to the first day of JROTC orientation? Or when the online classes begin? Or the first day of homeschool co-op?

And who takes a picture of my three college kids who started in August?

Sept 8_9 017 (Large)

Sept 8_9 019 (Large)

It’s enough to make me either a little crazy or incredibly thankful for the unique flexibility of homeschooling.

I think I’ll stick with thankful.

And then I’ll make sure the kids actually did change out of their pjs.

Project 365 – Day 252

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War Room

For many years, we’ve been big fans of Sherwood Baptist Church, and the Kendrick brothers’ movies. First there was Flywheel, then Facing the Giants, then Fireproof and (breaking the ‘F’ mold) Courageous.

About a week ago, a new movie hit the big screen: War Room

An excellent movie, worth your time and money.

An excellent film, worth your time and money.

Kathy arranged to meet several other couples to see the movie at our nearby theater with reclino-seats, and we settled in to enjoy the show.

I unreservedly endorse this movie. It is a well-made, well-acted film made by people who really know what it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Seeing this movie was significantly encouraging to me, and I expect it to continue to bear fruit in my life over the next weeks and months.

Afterwards, we noticed our Pastor and his wife sitting toward the front, and invited them to come to dinner with us. Eventually, we all ended up at Colin and Julee’s house, spending several hours eating takeout, talking about the movie and about how we handled the question of our children dating, and generally enjoying a very pleasant time of fellowship and ice cream.

Round up the usual suspects ...

Round up the usual suspects …

It is a little strange for Kathy and I to be entering this new phase in which we have relationships with other adults apart from our children. David and Sarah were away, visiting Grandma and Grandpa, and so we just hung out with these dear friends, almost as if we were grown-ups.

Project 365, Day 249

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Special Day Reboot

When the children were little, I can’t remember exactly when, Tim began the exercise of setting apart weekly special time with just one child. We called them Special Days (we’re obviously very creative and brilliant in naming our family traditions). I looked around and found a blog post written in 2004 about our family’s practice of Special Days. Oh my goodness, time has flown!

How CUTE were these kids!

How CUTE were these kids! Not sure why they were all sitting on a couch in the garage. Maybe they were waiting to be picked for a Special Day.

There has been much ebb and flow in the Special Days over the years, and sadly, as the kids got older and life got busier, we weren’t faithful in making Special Days a priority. It’s ironic that, the more you NEED to stop and savor time with your (rapidly) growing teens/adults, the LESS you seem able to do so.

With the age difference between the older children (all three in college) and the younger two (in 8th and 9th grade) spanning four years, we have the opportunity try some new parenting things, return to old favorites, and really focus on this time with David and Sarah.

“I’ve decided to restart Special Days,” Tim told me just before he left to take Daniel to California.
“That’s a GREAT idea,” I said, feeling a bit left out, Special Days were always a Father/Child activity.
“But this time we’re BOTH going to do them – one child each week,” he winked at me. He’s so smart.

So this week Tim met with David. I’m not sure what all they did (maybe Tim will blog about it, hint hint). I know they hid upstairs with a notebook, pen and a book to read. And I know they went out for ice cream afterward, so I guess it was a successful first Special Day.

The week was rapidly coming to a close when Tim asked me if I had anything planned to do with Sarah.

“Uh. Um. No” I’m sure I looked a bit sheepish.
“Did you remember?”
Those are not fair questions to ask.
“Of course. I’m totally on it!” When necessary, fake it!
“You’re empty, aren’t you?” (It always comes back to movie quotes in our family. That one was a classic, Silverado, “You’re empty, Mister” line.) I was obviously not fooling Tim. Thankfully Sarah was no where in sight.

I’m not used to doing Special Days. That’s always been Tim’s father/child thing. If he took all the kids at one time, I happily stayed home and relaxed or worked (which ever was more pressing at the time). If Tim was doing a single outing, I spent time managing/watching/teaching the other 4 children. Not to mention the fact that Sarah and I just completed our Passport2Purity weekend, and I’d exhausted all the usual fun mother/daughter activities.

“Well, how about you take her out for breakfast on Saturday,” he suggested patiently.

Didn’t I say he was smart? “Perfect,” I said with relief.

So, this morning we both slept in and then set off for breakfast at the local cafe. Of course, by the time we got up and got going, it was after 10 am and the place was packed. I guess we don’t have very many good breakfast spots in our town. Now that I think about it, my mom and I had trouble in December when we tried to take a friend out for a birthday breakfast at this same spot. We ended up walking over to Starbucks across the street and enjoying some coffee and a breakfast sandwich instead.

“What are we going to do,” Sarah asked me as we looked at the list of people ahead of us on the sign in sheet.
“I have an idea,” I said, crossing off our name, grabbing her hand and heading out the door.

Well, it wasn’t a cute breakfast place, and we didn’t have a yummy meal served to us at a cozy table, but we did get a tasty sandwich wrap and some delicious coffee for me. Hey, I can’t help it that the Starbucks is right across the street.

Worrying I was rapidly blowing my first Special Day outing, I took Sarah back home, got her some more breakfast (those little wraps are costly but not very filling when it’s nearly 11 am). The sun was shining, the house was quiet, and I was struck with a brilliant idea. I played it off like it was my original plan and not a last minute thought. Heh heh.

“Sarah, we’re going to do this Mother/Daughter journal that Rachel and I started. And let’s read this Mother/Daughter book too.”

Snuggle and read time.

Mother/Daughter Special Day time.

We snuggled on the love seat under a quilt, read through some journal entries, started the first chapter of 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, and laughed together.

Whew, my first Special Day with Sarah wasn’t a total failure. Now to figure out what to do with David next week. I guess I might want to actually put some thought and planning into this.

Game Time!

Game Time!

Later we went for a walk as a family. Stopped by some friends’ house. Bought an adorable pink purse for me and 6 pairs of cute shoes for Sarah. Came home for lunch and an episode of Once Upon a Time. In the evening we sent Tim to church to start the registration for AWANA while we went to David’s best friend Eli’s first football game. Love family time and holiday weekends!

Shoe Score for Sarah!

Shoe Score for Sarah!

Stay tuned for more Special Day posts!

Project 365 – Day 248

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Double Date

I recently resumed the practice of reporting weekly on my goals.

This took quite a bit of gumption, since I’ve not been in the habit of reviewing my goals this year — and as Dee Duke says, a goal that is not reviewed is not much of a goal. There is a strange correlation between reviewing goals and actually pursuing them; you’d think by now I would have caught on to this.

Anyway, I started reporting on my goals, and the first week I earned a rather low (unweighted) score of 38%. This means that I managed to complete only slightly more than one third of the things that I had decided were important for me to do.

(Parenthetically, this is one of the most annoying things about goals. It would be one thing if goals were brutally imposed by oppressive, external forces; but when you set your own goals and still can’t achieve them, it is just sort of pathetic.)

So as soon as I sent the email reporting the abysmal 38% score, I determined to do better. Surely I could improve to at least 50%, I wondered?

One of my goals is to celebrate a date night with my Sweetie each week. It doesn’t seem like a very hard goal, but you would be surprised how quickly a week can go by without remembering to date your Sweetie. So this week I decided in advance that it would be Friday night. Kathy and I usually don’t have anything going on that night, and that would give me all week to plan.

It looked pretty, if I do say so myself.  OK, at least the girls were pretty.

It looked pretty, if I do say so myself. OK, at least the girls were pretty.

Except I forgot to plan. I’m not a big planner, in any case, and it was Friday morning before I knew it. Hurriedly, I rummaged around in my brain for a good idea, like the way you might rummage around in a spilled bag of candy, hoping for one that wasn’t noticed by those who came before you.

And then it hit me — why not a double date with some of our friends? Now that so many of our kids are grown and gone off to college, maybe Kathy and I could pretend to be grown up ourselves, and have a date with another married couple! Kathy has a lot of good girlfriends, and I really like a lot of their husbands, so it seemed like a good idea.

A couple of years ago, we got together with seven other couples and cooked a meal together, with the men divided into two teams and competing for the best entree with randomly assigned ingredients. It took hours for us to actually produce a meal, with some rather interesting results, but as a social event, it was a smashing success.

So I decided to trade on that achievement, and texted my friend Chris.

“How ’bout we double-date with our wives, tonight,” I offered. “We can whip up a meal for them, and then watch a movie or something. My house. Sound good?”

Chris quickly jumped on the band wagon. Did I mention he is an accomplished chef? So we cooked a delicious meal of grilled chicken and brown rice, with peppers and zucchini and onions and a few small tomatoes, all brushed with oil and sizzling on the grill. I set the table complete with tablecloth, cloth napkins, a candlestick, and crystal water goblets.

So delicious!

So delicious!

We sat and talked about our children (what else do old married people talk about?) and then watched a movie — it was a very pleasant evening! I think this whole date night thing might be worth continuing. Stay tuned for next week’s installment.

Project 365, Day 247

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