April 28, 2014

End of the Year Blahs

The end of the year burnout.  Familiar across the board to any and all in the world of schooling.  The weather begins to warm up (we still aren't quite there).  Singing birds and flowers blooming, who feels like doing math? 

It's not only the kids who are ready to be outside.  My toes get itching for some dirt.  I find myself staring outside at my bare garden as one of my children recites their lessons to me.  Half paying attention, both of us yearn to be somewhere else.

No matter the call of the yard, a good mom presses on.  Or she feels a need to press on so as to avoid the neighbors calling the authorities and turning her in for calling it quits in April.  She has to get creative.  It's the end of the year.  My bargaining power has decreased to nothing.  Enticements like, "You can do spelling on the computer!" are met with eye rolling.   

Enter The Mathmallow. 

This would be a huge marshmallow.  It's about the size of a 6 year old's fist.  You probably have some in an opened bag in the far reaches of your cabinet.  That's where I discovered ours.  Remnants from our last fall night of s'mores, long forgotten and getting hard.  These marshmallows have a hard outer shell, and a pretty firm inside too.  In a house where sugar has become forbidden, this rock solid block of sugar is sheer temptation.  Dangling it in front of any child will encourage them to complete their math in record breaking time.  Thus, these sugar boulders are named, "The Mathmallow."  They will make your days much easier.

Also, introduce your youngest students to the rolls of art paper that we never have time to use.  Math drills aren't fun (which is why we need Mathmallows).  If the aforementioned Mathmallow has already been consumed, then doing a math drill on super huge paper with crayons might work.  It does for us.

We have also created an "End of the Year" paper chain.  Instead of the green and reds that accompany such a chain during the Christmas season, this one is made with any old paper that you have around the house.  The kids don't care what it looks like, they just want to rip it apart, piece by piece.  You don't need to care what it looks like, because you want it to be ripped to shreds too.  The daily delight of tearing one chain off is enough to get some of the kids to finish their schoolwork.  Watching the chain shrink each day will help you make it through the rest of the year.  

We press on toward our summer vacation which starts in 27 days. 

But, who's counting?

April 21, 2014

Why isn't Jesus enough?

My sister posed this question over the phone last week.  Our conversation had been punctuated with to-do lists and Easter plans.  In an effort to make an incredible holiday memorable for our children, we were putting unneeded pressure on ourselves.  We finally agreed that our plans and purchases were attempts to battle what has become a worldly holiday.  As a parent, I often feel like I am in competition with an attractive, fun opponent--The World. 

During schooling, holidays, even a mundane Sunday, I feel as if I must make our decisions equally attractive.  Santa doesn't visit our house, but we give you amazing gifts.  No Easter Bunny?  That means more pressure on us parents to create incredible replacement Christian based traditions.  Every fall, I must make our lives seem so amazing, as to avoid the jealous tendencies that might pop up when the yellow bus makes it first trip down our road in August.  The constant competition with an undefeated rival taunts me.

This is when Danica asked, "Why isn't Jesus enough?"  Oh yes.  Why not? 

Must I add an Easter bonnet to the girls' wardrobe?  And a $25 ham followed by a chaotic hunt for colorful plastic eggs?  How does a candy filled egg compare to the Resurrection of Christ?  His sacrifice and triumphant resurrection are enough.  This Holy Day should be about Jesus Christ.  No bunnies nor plastic eggs needed.  Christ's love is enough for us...and our children.

But, how do we show them?  How do I make it okay that in our house it isn't about a basket of junk or a hunt for eggs.  It's a special time of celebration because we know our Savior lives.  Even when our neighbors and friends are cheering about the size of their chocolate bunny and the extra gifts they received this morning, will our children be confident in the choice we have made? 

I'm not sure they will, so I overspend at the Christian book store.  Seth and I chose something special for each of the children, something that won't disappear in an hour long sugar gorge.  Sadly, I'm angst filled as I throw a bag of pastel Hershey bars into my cart later that day.  Just in case.

Maybe next year I will let Jesus be enough.