Joyful September ~ Day 16

I have been struggling with Day 16.  I was irritable and grumpy most of the day. Carole would say that I was in my “funk”. I have been racking my brain for a moment I felt joyful.

And now, a full day later I am still coming up empty.

It kind of bothers me. I have nothing in life to complain about. We are healthy and safe. We have money in the bank. We have food and clothes. We live in a loving and supportive family. We WANT for nothing.

Some days nothing amazing or special happens….

It bothers me that when I think over my day I cannot identify a single moment of joy….or at least a moment that caught my attention.

And maybe that is the big moment of learning here. Joy isn’t only in the moments that catch our attention. Even in the dullest of days there is joy. Joy that I have enough to give to others….whether they need someone to listen or to meet a physical need. Joy that I and my children, husband, and family are healthy. Joy that when I kissed my boys goodnight they fell asleep feeling safe and loved.

There are so many thing in life that bring joy even if you don’t acknowledge them.  And maybe….those things are the ones that need to be acknowledged most. Maybe that is why there are some days when nothing in particular stands out as amazing or even good. Maybe those are the days when we need to acknowledge those things that we usually only think about when something goes horribly wrong….when something tragic happens.

So….I take back what I said at the beginning of this post. I do have something to be joyful about….my life! It may not always be perfect. It may not be exactly what I thought it always would be. But it is here and important and that is something that I am very joyful about!

Joyful September ~ Day 15

I spent several hours at my sister-friend’s house last night.  Several years ago now we decided to get together one night a month…our friend date night.  We found ourselves living in the same city again and we weren’t making the effort to spend time together.  It bothered us both so we came up with our Monday date night.  Nathan usually doesn’t have any sporting events on Monday night (although that has changed this year) so I am free to go.

In the beginning we had grand ideas of doing crafts together or working on our own projects as we chatted.  We have given that up for the most part and just sit at her table or on her sofa and talk for the hours I am there.  We catch up.  We elaborate on the daily emails we send.  We share life.

Some months it doesn’t work out because of our different schedules.  But each month we make the effort to plan our night.

I am so glad that we do because you never know where life will take you.  Her husband is a lawyer and there are no guarantees that they will always live in the Dallas area.  They will for now because they like the schools their girls are in.  I don’t see Nathan and I moving far away because I am tied to the family business and he to his job….but life has a funny way of changing in the ways you least expect.  So for now we have the opportunity and we take it.  Spending my evening away is always the highlight of my month.  It is a chance to refill my own bucket a bit.  We both deserve the time spent and the lives shared.


Joyful September ~ Day 14

I had two huge moments of joy today.

One is still not for sharing….soon though….

The other one was this morning at church.  Our Sunday School class has been together almost for a year now.  We have a great group of people.  We are all parents of young children and so we are experiencing many of the same life experiences.  This is the first time in my life I have every been a part of a group like this.  Today, all of these wonderful people, showered Nathan and I with support (relating to the other moment of joy).  I was overwhelmed…and even now when I think about it I am STILL overwhelmed.

Nathan and I are usually the helpers.  We don’t usually ask for help.  It is not something that either of us are very good at.  I think there are lots of reasons for this.

These people…OUR FRIENDS….their support and genuine care for us….true joy!

Joyful September ~ Day 12

It was a perfect evening for watching some high school football.

If you don’t live in a state where high school football rules the fall then you probably don’t understand.  Texas is known for its Friday Night Football.  It was a huge part of my life growing up and now I get to share that with the boys.

IMG_3379We went to the game.  Our team lost…but there was football food (popcorn and hot dogs and nachos) and dancing to the band and half time shows and running on the field after the game was over.  I loved every minute!






Joyful September ~ Day 11

When I sat down to write this I was struggling to think of what my joy was today.  All I could really remember from the day was my dinner.  I cooked my current fave tonight and it was certainly a highlight of my day.

But when I pulled up iPhoto and waited for my stream to load so I could post a photo of my dinner a different photo popped up first….


This was their volcano they made this morning.  School started with science today.  They have both been asking to make a volcano and I was happy when I prepped this week to discover we were learning about volcanoes this week!  We actually covered several Earth science topics.  (The orange on the photo above is lava going down the mountain.  They can both now tell you this is a cone volcano, and that despite what happens in the experiment, the lava from this volcano would be sticky and thick.)

They were so excited…and my science teacher heart LOVES their excitement.

That was some GREAT joy from today.

As for my dinner….it is now a distant second….but it was still so good!  AND there will be leftovers for the weekend!  :)


Thoughts about Reading

Much of our home school day is devoted to reading.  We do other things but the big emphasis is on reading.  It is a fundamental and it deserves the amount of time I devote to it.

Before I started schooling the boys my biggest fear was reading.  When I first started my education degree I was a reading specialist.  After two semesters I gave that up to go do something more exciting…be a middle school science teacher!  The idea of being the person responsible for teaching my boys the most very basic skill for all future education was daunting.

I think I am on my 4th reading program and we don’t just do one program exclusively.  I kind of pick and choose from each program and mash them all together.  I am always searching for reading ideas because I have two VERY different readers.

First I have Dean.  Dean just reads.  He has a fantastic and extensive word memory bank.  He learns words by looking at the whole word and memorizing the word.  I have lost track of the number of words he does know and he is always surprising me by reading a new word that I usually think is WAY beyond him.  After months of struggling with phonics, he suddenly gets it.  He understands word chunking and flows through words effortlessly.  He is becoming a fluid reader and I think it won’t be long before he is reading silently and independently.  Reading with him is only a struggle if he is having a bad focus day…meaning he is distracted and not really looking at all the letters in a word.

Then I have Emory.  Oh my sweet baby boy…reading is not easy for him.  Last year, when I first started phonics with him it became immediately obvious that his motor planning issue with speech is really a motor planning problem with language…but spoken and read.  He knows the sounds letters make.  He knows his letters.  But when you start to put those things together….those missing connectors in his brain give him fits.  This isn’t to say that he doesn’t try.  He is very diligent and he works hard to make those groups of letters into words.  He finally gets phonics and is able to sound out words.  He is getting better with chunking.  His sight word knowledge is slowly growing.  But he knows that reading is easier for Dean and it frustrates him greatly.

Sometime last year we started doing reading separately.  Dean was faster and wanted to move ahead so, it just kind of happened.  But it was great because suddenly the competition between them dropped and reading became easier and less of a fight.  Now, we read completely separately…with a door shut, most of the time.  Emory freezes if he thinks Dean is watching him.  Dean also knows all the words and, wanting to help, blurts the word out before Emory.  That pisses Emory off.  Then the frustration builds and the tears start.  Dean on the other hand wants Emory to watch him read.  I always encourage this because I think the more Emory sees reading and hears reading the better he will be for it.


We have been struggling with scheduling so far this year.  We have more to do during the school day this year and life is conspiring against me lately.  We are in week 4 of school and only the 1st week was a full 5 days of learning.  This doesn’t work well when you are supposed to introduce 10 new words on Monday, do activities with those words, then give a spelling test on Thursday.  So this week I gave it up.  The idea of a test is way stressful for both of them at this point and stress kind of diminishes reading.

So….I decided that right now….the goal is word exposure.  Each week we will have our 10 words.  We will do the activities.  We will read each of the words in isolation each day.  They read the words in their readers each day.  We sound out the words as needed.  I help with the words as needed.  I think exposure grows familiarity and familiarity grows brain connections and eventually reading ability increases.  I have already seen benefits from the change this week.  I am less stressed that we are “getting behind” and that seems to help the boys be a bit more calm.

I once worked with an amazing science teacher who had many more years experience than me.  I was in my 3rd year of teaching and she taught me many things.  The thing that was most important was her philosophy of teaching science.  It was her personal goal to expose children to as many different ideas and experiences as possible.  At that time, most kids entered 6th grade with very little science knowledge or experience.  She was determined to provide that.  It shaped how I taught science after that.  And it is now shaping how I teach the boys.


Today when we were reading together Emory was struggling to get a word out.  I sat quietly and patiently…waiting.  He asked me to wait.  He told me that he knew the word and that he could read it.  A few seconds later he read the word and continued on.  He needs wait time.  He needs time for the two sides of his brain to connect.  I can give him that.  By giving him that wait time he grows and becomes more confident.

Just one more reason that I feel so good about our choice to school them at home.