I'm not who I was.
J participated in her 2nd swim meet this past weekend. I have to say, I am super proud of my not-naturally-athletic-but-tries-hard-&-loves-sports-anyway kid. When compared with the times of others in her age bracket, she is still toward the slower end of the pack. But when compared to herself, boy can you tell an improvement from two months ago! She shaved almost 10 seconds off of her freestyle time & almost 8 seconds off of her backstroke time. The above picture was taken during freestyle warm ups at the most recent meet. The picture below was taken during freestyle warm-ups in November. Big difference!
I’m going to tuck these images away in my mind. They are a good reminder of how not to let the comparison game lie to you. (I’m not talking about sports. I’m not an “everybody is 1st place” kind of person. There’s a first place and a last place and sometimes you’re it and either one builds character.) I’m talking about life. Spiritual growth. So often we are so caught up in looking at our self-imposed rankings that we feel as though we’ve tried hard for nothing. We’re nearly drowning in our good intentions. Sister so-and-so seems to be lapping us in the area of Christ-likeness and we look at ourselves and all we see is the bottom of the pack. It feels as though the hard work wasn’t worth it. Don’t negate personal progress on the basis of someone else’s perceived position!
Here is an example of what comes more naturally to J.
But buddy, when something academic doesn’t come naturally and she actually has to work hard to understand something, she sure gets frustrated! (She also certainly comes by it honestly on both sides.) We aren’t entitled to easiness, and difficulty doesn’t equate to worthlessness, failure, or an excuse to pass the blame. It just means that we have the opportunity to do hard things. Quite honestly, I’m glad everything isn’t easy. I’m not saying that I particularly love difficulty, but we need something to un-spoil our driftings toward laziness and entitlement.
Back to the bubbles…
Wonder of wonders, J’s school got a snow day! They hardly ever give snow days. Really, it wasn’t a snow day so much as it was an “It’s so cold we don’t want ill-prepared children walking to school and we aren’t sure if our heating system can keep up with the demand” day. Although the ground did get some snow that stuck, it was so minuscule that it appeared as little more than a heavy frost.
Enter the freezing weather experiments.
Did you know that you can get your kids to happily wash your kitchen floor if you let them blow overflowing bubbles of water mixed with dish soap?
Did you know that it’s also possible to make square bubbles if the surrounding bubbles squish in just right?
When our bubble-shakes popped, the beautifully delicate frosted contours were left behind.
Next we moved onto balloon marbles.
Except that I didn’t have any balloons, so we used tied up vinyl gloves.
We also used non-tied up gloves just because, well, nothing says fun like a frozen hand. (I guess.)
We did an experiment with hot and cold water. I really would have liked to use boiling hot water, but our stove-top was out of commission, so it was just warmer-than-cold water. J enthusiastically recorded her observations in the freezing weather.
Even though we could tell that Cheeks’ was only frozen on the outside, he didn’t want to wait any longer, so we took off the vinyl. It resulted in a beautiful floating ice shell, and Cheeks particularly enjoyed mixing… and tasting. We found it interesting that even though the color was evenly dispersed at the beginning, it primarily sunk to the middle during the freezing process.
J on the other hand wanted to wait hers out like a good little scientist. Here are her ice marbles!
We found it interesting that once melted (but still cold), the colors made an oil-spill effect. But once it warmed up entirely to room temperature, the color evenly dispersed again.
Not long after our fun family experimenting, a big decision became FB official.
Although I probably should have known sooner that the decision would be officially eminent by my purchase of the rolling drawer cart.
The decision is *drumroll*…. after a 3 year hiatus we intend on returning to homeschooling J next school year for the 4th grade. Woo-hoo!
We have been asked a lot about the “why’s” of this decision. Here is my mini-novel of explanation, adapted from a message I already sent, for simplicity’s sake. (If you don’t care or you already know, there is nothing more to the blog post beyond this. You can gracefully sneak out the back door and return to your daily duties. 🙂 )
“When we first home schooled in kindergarten, there were several reasons behind it. However, the primary reasons then are not the primary reasons now, interestingly enough. We have always said that how we choose to educate our children would be a year-by-year decision, and we still hold to that.
First and foremost it has nothing to do with unhappiness at J’s present public school or the teachers there. I am very pleased with the school and have felt immensely blessed with all of the teachers that she has had so far. We are proud to be a part of the school system at this time, and especially J’s school family. As far as public school in general goes, well, Common Core doesn’t exactly work in its favor. It is most definitely A factor, but it is not THE factor.
I have been getting the home schooling bug (kind of like people get the baby bug) for awhile, but I have shoved the thought back in part due to trying to figure out health stuff & in part because I didn’t think J would be interested as she likes public school a lot. Although I was feeling compelled to home school, it wasn’t anything I was willing to put up a fight over at that point. I knew that if it were to be God’s will, God would make it clear. Until then, I wasn’t going to “plan” on it. But when I referenced an observation about HSing over Christmas break, just thinking out loud about something really and it wasn’t even directed at Juliana (also my first time saying anything out loud about it to my knowledge), to my surprise J asked if she could home school 4th grade. I told her we would pray about it. The more prayer and research I have done, the more HSing 4th grade appears to be the right choice.
A big factor in the home-schooling decision has to do with how little free time J has. With church 3 times a week, swimming 2 times a week and other activities, she often comes straight home from school immediately to do homework, then straight to whatever activity is on the schedule, then to bed (if she doesn’t have more homework to finish). She enjoys being very active & I either don’t want to or can’t cut most of what we are involved in. (Ex: we don’t want to cut church of course, but being that my husband is employed at church, it falls in the “can’t cut” category. Swimming has been one of the best things for J as far as fitness, getting her energy out so she isn’t such a squirrel, helping her mind stay on task, working through hard things, etc.) Home schooling would help us to create some margin in our lives and afford us more quality time as a family. We don’t lead conventional lives & it is becoming increasingly difficult to make life work well in trying to coordinate how much we travel & Brett’s ever-changing ministry schedule with the public school calendar.
There are a few little things here & there that I have wanted to supplement at home, education-wise.(For example, they don’t teach cursive anymore to speak of, & I like to relate educational stuff Biblically). Initially I didn’t think it would be a big deal to tackle these things at home on the side, but with Juliana having such little free time, it’s a lot more difficult than I thought… not to mention that if she does have the time I don’t want to fill it with more work. With HSing I can pick a curriculum that rolls Biblical history and principles into the regular educational materials, & I can go at J’s pace. It just has the potential to simultaneously enrich & simplify life, as well as affording a greater quality for us at this point in time. I believe it’s the right thing for this coming season.
We are blessed that this is not a decision primarily based out of something ugly, but rather it is choosing the best for us out of 2 good options.”