42/366 :: boy fish

Today (sorry, yesterday at the time the post is published) I was able to sit back and really watch the kids for a few minutes. They were playing at Chick-fil-A. We stayed for about an hour, and there was a steady stream of other kids in and out of the room. It hit me, hard, that Annie is my most competitive child. 

This is strange to me, because I would not call any of the other three competitive, exactly. Competing, yes. Competitive, no. I hesitate to brush it off as a youngest-of-four thing.

After CfA, we had an adventure.

   
    
  

 

40,41/366 :: maps

Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. […] Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

39/366 :: break down this tower

I have to pick my battles. This is one I picked: refusing to allow the toddler to climb tall furniture. 

 
It’s easy to get discouraged. There are four kids and a husband with me in this house, and many days I feel like I can’t keep myself afloat – much less actually help anybody else. But I feel that way because I choose to allow every duty/task/project/possibility/responsibility/eventuality piled up on my Should Be Doing list. I have fought for a long time to find a good way to remind myself that what should keep WILL keep and God doesn’t expect from me my ideal self. He wants hands that choose to serve and a heart that chooses to love. 

Today I have been reading in Judges. I’m three weeks behind my “Hey! I could finish my Bible read-through in February if I would do it this way!” plan. (I started in January of 2014 and I am just.so.close to being able to say I’ve done it…) Whatever. Anyway, I was reading Gideon – a story I know fairly well because of Larry the Cucumber Gideon and Pa Grape Angel of the Lord – and I got to chapter 8. Gideon and the 300 are tired and still chasing through the land and they need food. They get told off. So he tells THEM off.

Gideon says, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.” Judges 8:9

He doesn’t stop what he’s doing to deal with the antagonism. He pushes it to an appropriate time in the future and keeps on with his current task. 

I run across lots of antagonistic towers, so to speak. Sometimes I lay seige (fruitlessly) and sometimes I just want to fall over and give up. It’s not often that I deliberately make a note to deal with it later and purposefully move along. 

But I think I’m going to make a Towers to Topple Later list, and give myself permission to limit the battlefield.

 

36/366 :: flowers

Last week we planted some flower seeds. We just set up a marker and dumped them in some grass I want to overun with flowers. Because DONE beats waiting to do a perfect job. Aanndd all of these seeds are from last year (I put them somewhere “safe.”) and I’m not sure how well they’re going to do. And we’ll have three below-freezing nights this week so I may have just dumped those seeds to a total non-life.

We’ll see how it goes!

     

Then we went for a walk in the woods. Because that’s what we do.
  

    
 

33/366 :: four girl

Brennan turned four today. Gah. 

   
    
We had a pizza picnic on the deck – it turned into pretend restaurant where the service was so slow because the kitchen was ten hours from the table. We laughed a lot. 

 

32/366 :: rant alert – quit wasting time complaining

I typed up a great intro and then had to rescue Brennan’s stickers from Annie and apparently I shook the phone enough that it jumped back and back and back with updates. What a mess. 

Oh well.

I’m ranting today because I keep seeing posts blasting Common Core – and I feel like people completely miss the point when they waste time blasting the standards. Today it was a “new math” rant. 

Let me encourage you to dig deep and see what the actual trouble is when you find yourself in a position that makes you want to rant about Common Core or Schools These Days. We’re wasting energy and time that we need to devote to guiding the kids in our lives when we rant like that. 

Honestly, “common core” is not new math. It’s a list of standards that tell us what kids should know, in what order, and along what schedule, if they learn at an even pace across 13 years of schooling. 

It’s a list. it’s a list. It’s a LIST. 

It’s a list that is so list-ish that when I looked through the math standards, I could see they lined up fine with Singapore math, which is what is used in Math in Focus (our formal instruction curriculum), and Khan Academy (although KA’s whole point is that you learn at your own pace, they do have a map that shows how their lessons line up with the standards and how those lessons/standards interact with each other). I stopped caring about it being A Thing, because whatevs – the list is a list and yay for lists. We use the aforementioned resources at our house because turns out Singapore math is how I had to teach myself math (and had lots of exasperated math teachers) because I struggled so much with “normal” “old way” “common sense” math. 

But that’s not my point. Common core is a list of math topics. 

THE REAL PROBLEM HERE is that there is a series of disconnects/ball-drops – the biggest seems to be between consulting The Standard while facilitating true learning for each individual. 

AT THIS POINT, there is not anywhere to point the finger and be satisfied with placing blame there. We have got to say “Something is wrong.” and we have got to work together big-time to help each other and everyone around us. 

Here is where we are: Lots and lots and lots of people simply don’t understand the ins and outs of math, even when they are capable of solving many types of math problems. Lots and lots and lots of people are mad about what goes on at school – no matter what goes on at school. Lots and lots and lots of people would rather be angry about how awful “this [not] new math” is than to print off the confounded list and see where the trouble starts, so that we can address the trouble spots and keep moving forward. 

I’ve got it that it’s not as easy as printing the list and checking off the lines – I’ve got four kids and I have a vague idea of where they “should be” versus where they are, because my top priorities within the relationship dynamic at our house just don’t include marking off development checklists. 

BUT. It’s important to me to know what my kids are learning. It’s important to me to encourage their strengths and guide development in their weaknesses. I have to spend solid time with them to be able to do that. 

So. 

Rant energy has fizzled, and now I’m feeling determined. 

HELP ME not waste the time and energy I’ve poured into this blog post. Sometimes I read about education topics and I just want to crawl in a hole and stay there forever. But I know God has a plan for us – one that doesn’t leave us ignorant or incapable of learning – and that even if we can’t totally fix what’s broken in The System (or even closer to or at home), we can make beautiful steps toward redemption. 

Learning and growing are worth the work. Does it seem like maybe it’s not? Then let’s work together.

I actively enjoy making plans (especially plans I don’t have to follow) and I LOVE to evaluate plans (especially when it’s not a thing where somebody is considered at fault for not sticking with the plan). Do you need help making a make-learning-happen game plan? Are you stuck somewhere? Does this bring up an issue you want to discuss? Then let’s talk about it! You can use the comment section here or message me directly. 

30, 31 /366 :: oh, january

Goodbye, January. We’ll catch you next year, dude. 

——

   
    
We had Phase One birthday celebration on Saturday. Brennan was over the moon. We started decorating today at our house but I didn’t get any pictures. We made some paper lanterns and added them to the lights and pinecone garland. 

I realized today that I haven’t been journaling or reading my Bible. I have been struggling and floundering the past week or so and my brain is fried. I think “Oh! I still haven’t…” and then it’s gone. Everything is in phrases and stages and good intentions. I’m hoping that a good (deliberate) start tomorrow morning will help with a lot.

Jonathan’s feeling a lot better today. He’s still in pain and he’ll have to be careful for a while, but he’s figuring out what he can do and what he shouldn’t even try. One kid totally bashed his hand with a kid-knee and that was super horrible, but we were all more careful with DadDad after that. He has a check-up in the morning and we’ll see what happens next. 

 

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