Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

It’s like I want the whole world to stop. Why hasn’t it? At least for longer than a weekend. People are picking up the pieces too soon. Don’t they see? It’s shattered. Our hearts aren’t simply broken. They are shattered. And they need to be left there, in a million pieces, for longer than a short weekend in the winter. We’re still in the “nobody move!” phase of the shattered glass. Each potential step carries the risk of deeper cuts. Nothing has been assessed enough to pick up and start moving on yet.

Hold still!

If nothing else, this tragedy is crying out for us to TAKE PAUSE.

And then, if need be, take an even longer pause.

Sure, you need to carry on and live life and embrace normalcy. But not yet. It’s too soon. If this doesn’t wake us up to STOP. And slow down. And refocus our priorities. What will?

Create some SPACE for God. Make some ROOM at the INN. There’s no better time, and no time more dire.

I read in one news piece that there were folks down in Newtown who were trying to figure out temporary school arrangements for the surviving kids of Sandy Hook Elementary for this upcoming week. Really? There is no sense in trying to display to those kids this soon that schedules should pick up where they left off. Switch buildings and it’s back to business as usual? Trauma like this needs time. You can’t swallow it and move on within the space of a weekend. You can’t.

There are people who will argue that keeping them out of their routine will draw out the process, or scare them more. That's nonsense to me. They are scared and sad, we all are. And it's okay to be. It doesn't mean we base our choices on fear or sadness, it means we take the time to process that fear, cope with the trauma and acknowledge that there is nothing normal in what happened. Kids find comfort when adults give value and rights to what they are feeling. And how can we do that if we're rushing to the next swim meet?

Our culture is so misguided that it hurts.

It’s evident many don’t know where to place their pain. We see both sides of the political spectrum and the media volleying back and forth with the blame game. Guns! Medicine! Religion! Security!

None of that heals the hearts and minds of the children at Sandy Hook. They are hurting and confused… and we’re too busy throwing around our own pain and confusion to comfort them.

The pace of our culture does not leave room for connection, with each other or with God. Everyone, everywhere is saying, “Hold your children extra close, give them longer hugs.” Yay! That’s true!! Do that!! What makes my heart sink is the invisible addendum trailing behind of, “…until Monday.”

The paradigm of our culture needs to shift.

If 20 dead six and seven year olds isn’t enough to do it, I fear nothing will. What is the worst that can happen if people pause for longer? If nothing else, they’ll at least be able to someday tell their kids as adults, “When this horrible thing happened in our country, we took some time to collect ourselves. We paused long enough to re-evaluate our choices before moving forward.”
If they stay the same choices, then so be it. But at least you took the space needed to reflect on them.
Yesterday in church the pastor shared, “these people [of Newtown] are no longer planning for Christmas, they are planning funerals….” He urged us to consider that God doesn’t want us to celebrate the holiday this year, but to celebrate His birth.

Can we slow down enough as a society to put that into context?

Can we stop moving long enough to listen and heal?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gone Batty!

We like bats over here. Batman, bat houses, bats + baseballs, etc. My mom actually makes bat houses, so we talk with the kids quite often about the many benefits of bats. And here is some of our summer fun with bats.
The Library hosted a special bat day with visitors from our state's bat conservatory. The kids got to see live bats from all over the world! Very cool! We ran into a ton of our homeschool friends there. Also this summer we happened across a couple of drowned bats, which we showed off (look, don't touch) to the group of kids we had for a backyard bbq. (Pass the potato salad, oh, and did you see our dead bats?) Ewwww!!! But the kids LOVED it. :)

Some great books on bats. Also, check out this free unit study on Stellaluna from the Homeschool Share! :)

Unlocking Math Moments

I'm often asked how I meet the needs of my kids during the school day when they are at different levels/grades. There is a kind of art to it, and it's not always smooth and easy. But there are several ways you can incorporate the same activity for various skill sets. For instance, this morning, we were using a box of keys for our math manipulatives. After we completed our lesson, I had the kids use the keys for extras. My preschool son simply counted the keys and matched the number of keys to little number cards. Perfect practice for his age! My first grader solved simple addition equations by filling in the blank with the number of keys needed to meet the solution. Don't you just love fun ways to unlock problems?

Friday, August 31, 2012

An awesome world = our classroom! Nature Days with our Homeschool Friends: LOVE

One of our co-op moms led an awesome two-day nature adventure for our homeschool group this summer. We started with a nature show and tell, exploring items brought in by students, everything from turtle skeletons to wood duck nests. Followed by a hike to explore various plants, trees and foliage, and some rules of thumb to identifying what you find in nature- and what is safe to eat or not. The kids took notes in nature journals and also colored pictures of how nature made them feel. It was great!
The subsequent day was even better. We headed to Jackson's Landing, a shallow portion of the large river that runs through our town. The kids got to wade in and find all sorts of life- from beetles and water spiders to crayfish and minnows- even down to microscopic creatures- and categorize what they scooped up and discovered. It was a fantastic day of educational fun! What an awesome world we live in, and it's all our classroom for the taking!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Homeschool Show and Tell Showcase

As home learners, it's important we foster opportunities for our kids to experience show and tell moments, to present projects they've worked on, demonstrate pride in their work, share the excitement of what they have learned with their peers, etc.
Here are some highlights to our most recent showcase, the kids shared their favorite projects from the year with their friends, and got to see the cool stuff built by their buddies. One awesome family displayed an amazing medieval castle they built with their dad--it was the size of an entire room!! It had a draw-bridge that worked, with a courtyard, several buildings and towers, along with a moat and a board report all about knights and castles. Totally great!! Home education rules!

Lighthouse Learning

At the start of the summer, our family enjoyed a fantastic vacation to the upper peninsula, and among other units of study, we touched on the beauty and history of the beloved Lighthouse. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, on Lake Superior, has a truly amazing restored lighthouse museum, and because we were the only ones there, and my children were sincerely eager to learn, the staff woman took the time to go above and beyond, giving us a small guided tour about the rooms and what the items were used for and what life was like for a lighthouse keeper's family. Adventures through history!

We were also, coincidentally, at home, just completing #8 in our Boxcar Children series, "The Lighthouse Mystery." Great timing!

Here are some excellent links and resources for building your own unit studies on Lighthouses.,1,5,62,63

Lighthouse Crafts for kids

Lighthouses! from The Homeschool Mom