Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Mean Mom

The Mean Mom.  I wear the title proudly.  Prouder than Superman wears his "S."  I think I may even have a T-shirt made with that on the front.  It didn't happen overnight, but there have been glimmers of it as long as I have been a mom.  My husband and I agreed early on that our daughters wouldn't wear things as toddlers that we would say no to when they were older.  No tops that show your belly, one-piece swimsuits only, no short shorts, and on and on.  So far it has worked.  We have been consistent with our expectations and the girls have made responsible choices.  Our daughters have chosen to wear shorts over their swimsuits because just a swimsuit wasn't enough for their taste.

The Mean Mom doesn't stop at clothing choices.  Television, movies, activities, how they spend their allowance, and now even friends are subject to scrutiny.  We don't usually just say no.  We ask questions and encourage our children to make choices.  Is that (show/movie/activity/friend) building your character?  Are the characters in that show demonstrating the values you want to have?  Is this really how you want to spend your money knowing that it will take you time to earn more?  Is that friend encouraging you to make good choices or influencing you to make bad choices?  Is this a place where people will be making choices that you want to make or a place that would be better to avoid.  I am happy to say that most of the time, our girls make choices that we are happy with.  Sometimes, we discuss their choices and guide them to a better choice.  This often happens with activities they share with friends.  Occasionally, we let them go down a wrong path and experience the consequences.  Once when we were driving, the girls didn't want to drink the water we had in the car.  Instead they bought sodas at the gas station.  Later, we stopped for ice cream and the girls didn't have money to buy any.  Cruel?  Not really.  Did they drink the free water next time?  Yes, and they had money for ice cream at the end of the trip.  Lesson learned.  You must live within a budget and that means making choices.  I didn't care if they used their money to buy the soda or the ice cream, I just don't want them blindly spending money as if there is no limit.

I recently overheard my oldest daughter telling the younger two that I'm not really a mean mommy.  I love them and I'm teaching them to make good choices.  She also said, "the neighbor's mom is nice, but those girls don't make very good choices because she lets them do things they shouldn't do."  Occasionally, my daughter even tells me that she is glad that I take the time to help her make good choices.  Once she asked me to help her find the perfect husband when she is ready to get married.  I think by then she won't need my help as much as she thinks she does now.  I also think that one day she will earn a T-shirt with "Mean Mom" written across the front.

**For the record, we have amended the dress code.  Who knew that our 10-year-old would have legs so long that the only thing long enough to be modest would be Bermuda shorts?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our New Curriculum

When we started homeschooling, it was simpler.  I only taught one of our children and we used a program through the local school district so everything was provided.  By year three, we chose to homeschool all three of our girls and new challenges came up.  I chose a thematic curriculum based on the recommendation of friends.  I loved the idea of teaching the same lesson to all of my children and having the science, social studies, Bible, music, and art all connected.  It wasn't until I was knee-deep into this particular curriculum that I realized what I didn't like about it.  My younger girls struggled when I pulled out the main science book which was written over their heads.  Conversely, my older daughter groaned when we did social studies because she knew that she would be receiving a pile of worksheets to complete in addition to what we did as a group.  I knew there had to be something better for us.  In preparing for next year, I came across a curriculum offered by the publishers whom we use for math and language arts.  From the sample I received, it seemed that someone took great pains to make the each lesson appropriate for each grade level.  I just wanted to look at it in a little more depth before committing.  When I arrived at the homeschool conference, I was disappointed that the publisher chose not to bring this program with them.  I wasn't disappointed for long.  Only a couple of booths over, we found something that I ended up liking so much more.  At first I was overwhelmed by Tapestry of Grace.  I thought it would be too much for my young children.  However, the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.  It is based in history, beginning at creation.  The main thread is God's story and the history of the church.  Social studies, history, art, music, and language arts are woven through the curriculum that is taught primarily using literature.  The CDs I mentioned in a prior post, are for the dads to listen to so they can be a part of discussions about lessons and know what is being taught each week.  I liked the idea of an intelligent curriculum that teaches kids to think things through.  I took home a sample of the curriculum and it didn't take long for me to be sold on it.  If you'd like to find out more about Tapestry of Grace, take a look here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our First Homeschool Conference

My husband and I recently attended our first homeschool conference. I don't know what I expected, but this was more than I bargained for.  I planned ahead by preparing a shopping list and marking the schedule with the sessions I wanted to attend.  We did OK the first day with the schedule, but the shopping list didn't fare as well. My husband found many books that he wanted to share with the kids, so we got them.  The curriculum that I was eagerly looking forward to perusing was not available at the conference to my dismay (I could write a whole entry about that disappointment).  The second day was a big day for us.  One of the speakers we listened to on Day 1 spoke of CDs he created for dads.  We went to his booth so we could check out these CDs for my husband who is always looking for something good to listen to while driving. We had no idea what we were in for.  While talking to one of the ladies at the booth, she asked if we had looked at their curriculum.  Not only had we not looked at their curriculum, I crossed all of their sessions off on my schedule.  I had chosen my curriculum, or so I thought.  Since my #1 choice let me down, I decided to take a look at what this program had to offer.  My husband and I spent three hours at this booth, looking through their materials and talking to the people who have used it with their families.  We brought friends over who looked at it with us so we could discuss it with them later. You'll have to read tomorrow about our curriculum choice. Then we encountered surprise #2 of the weekend.  As I walked away from the booth, a woman came over to me.  As soon as I saw her, I realized that she was a friend we hadn't seen for ten years.  She was at the conference with her husband and four children.  It was such a blessing to see this family whom we were so disappointed to lose contact with.  All in all, we were so glad that we attended the conference.  My husband felt reassured about homeschooling, we found an excellent curriculum and our family reunited with old friends.  Who could ask for more?