Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teaching from a State of Rest

 Four years of homeschooling and I am burnt out.  I am tired of the planning, the workbooks, the memorized lists, the lack of motivation, the cheerleading to overcome the lack of motivation, the weight of the responsibility, the guilt when I know it hasn't been a great learning day, the comparison to others, the panic of the future, the test score freak-out, and did I mention the planning?  

Why did I let myself fall into this disastrous and hopeless state? I could say that I got caught up in performance - by me, by the kids. Meaning, my eyes focused on the achievement and result. 

Or, that I didn't have enough down time away from the kids to refuel. Meaning, my eyes focused only on my kids. 

Or, maybe that this trip down homeschooling lane has simply out run its course and is over.  Meaning, my eyes were weary from too much strain and carrying the load alone.

I attended the NC Home Educator's conference this week.  There were so many fascinating and engaging speakers during this conference, it was difficult to choose which sessions to attend.  However, one speaker had the title, "Teaching from a State of Rest."  That was an easy decision.  Checked and circled.  And, this is what I heard:

Exodus 3
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush,“Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”

What does this possibly have to do with homeschooling from a state of rest?  All I see is Moses working and becoming distracted!

Note the following:
Moses is tending a flock.  Not just any flock, but the flock of his father-in-law.  And, his father-in-law was also the priest of Midian, so most likely the sheep were earmarked for sacrifice.  Obviously, Moses's job was hefty with a load of responsibility.  The entire tribe rested on his ability to keep the sheep safe.  I can imagine the amount of stress Moses must have had from knowing this.  All the success was on his shoulders.

And then, Moses turns away from the flock, doesn't he?  He goes over to look at something else.  Wait!  What?!?!  Moses, you are neglecting your duties, you are not keeping the sheep safe.  You are letting everyone in the tribe down!

Now notice that when the LORD saw Moses had turned to look at Him (the burning bush), God called him.  Why did God decide , at that moment, to call on Moses?  The answer is because Moses had turned his eyes to God.  Who was tending the sheep then?  God.  Who was keeping them safe?  God.  Who was ensuring a level of success for the sheep that was completely acceptable no matter what the level?  God.

My vision has been off.  I have not held the correct purpose of home educating my kids for quite some time.  For at least the past year, if not longer, homeschooling has been about performance, production, and protection.  I put all the weight of achieving my self-created goals on my own effort and strength.  I lost sight of when I have been my most successful at this endeavor and it certainly wasn't this past year.  Sure, I desire to see my kids get into the college of their choice, but is that really up to me? No, it is up to God. And if I am really honest with myself, how their college journey looks is not important to the health of their souls.

If my focus is on God, then He will take care of my sheep.  He will protect them, guide, them and give them the right type of success that will be completely acceptable to them and most importantly, acceptable to God.

By shifting my gaze, I am no longer be operating from a state of anxiety and abstractness.  By shifting my gaze, I replace statistics and performance with wisdom.  I replace rules and expectations with virtue.  And, I replace control with faith.   

I will focus on training these three souls in my care that they may discover and perceive God's truth because the very well-being of their souls depends on it.  I will do that by having my eyes fixed firmly on God and thus, showing them Jesus.  Lord, forgive me for straying from you and taking this burden on my own shoulders.

Note:  A thank you to Andrew Kern, author of The Lost Tools of Writing, and founder of the Circe Institute for inspiring these thoughts.

Monday, September 16, 2013


I am in the middle of re-reading portions of the book, 7.  Rocking my world with every word.  Lest you be confused, this is not related to the Brad Pitt - dark and rainy during the entire thing - seven deadly sins - scarred me for life - wish I had never seen it movie by the same name.  This book by Jan Hatmaker reads like every battle I have waged over the past year with where and how I am in my life.  Whew!  Now I am trying to view and morph some of her revelations into my own life.

Just off the surface I thought about how freeing it would be to get rid of all of my scrapbooking materials.  I mean, I love doing that cutting paper and preserving memories stuff, but I just don't have time to do it anymore.  I need simplicity, not the guilt of money spent and wasting away in my basement.  I need an easier way to have memories on display to enjoy not holed up in books that are forgotten on a shelf.   Thinking very, very hard about this one because a few times a year this stuff comes in quite handy, but wouldn't it bring in a lot more joy to not have it at all?

A book I highly recommend...though it is not for the faint of heart.

Da da da da da da da....feeling lousy

I received a text this week.  It said, "Blog, please." I have been engrossed in too many things lately, none of which involved anything remotely with exercising one of my personal delights - writing.  In fact, I had just about given it up to be honest.  At one time, I felt stressed and burdened about continuing this thread of musings and memory documentation.  Stress and burdened about something that I find personal enjoyment in....what is wrong here?

This is not my typical entry in that it has nothing to do with my kids or homeschooling.  It has everything to do with me.  It is a completely self-focused and whiny post and I will apologize for that up front. Go ahead and move your mouse up to the right side of your screen and click on the "X" located now as I don't need any judgement after you read.

I feel lousy.  I have been feeling lousy for several weeks.  In fact, I would dare say that I have been feeling on and off like k-rap for over a year now.  It is such a ridiculous set of symptoms that I figure they cannot all be related and add up to nothing.  I have these ridiculous headaches that come and go for no apparent reason.  Not up to the pain of migraines, they land in both my eyes, or rather right behind my eyes.  It makes me want to claw my eyes out from the pressure.  Sometimes I feel the pain in the upper part of my cheek bones and occasionally, it is in the bones above my eyes.  I have had a CT done of my sinus cavity - nothing.  I have been to the eye doctor after which I spent as much as I did on rent for my first apartment for new glasses (progressives, no doubt).  I still have the headaches, but at least I can see.  I have tracked weather patterns, I have tried watching my blood sugar and eating more protein.  I have not tried B vitamins, but have heard that helps.  I just want them to end their random hauntings in my head.

Next, I have lower abdominal pain as in way low in the abdomen.  This can feel like cramping, and is often associated with lower back pain. Occasionally, it is really really painful (let's make it a 7 with child labor a 10) and it makes me so irritable that it is an automatic response from my kids to ask, "Are you having stomach pain."  No one wants to be around me....I don't want to be around me. I feel like I have to urinate almost all the time - no burning, just tingle tingle tingle.  I cannot sneeze or cough without clinching as to not let anything "escape" and then end with a trip to my closet to "change clothing" which I know has more to do with birthing 3 large headed children, but golly that is getting worse.  I have had a CT done, a pelvic ultrasound, met with my primary doctor and urologist.  Nothing - no kidney stones or blockage, although I do believe in an early diagnosis of urinary retention.  Possibly ovarian cysts, possibly urinary spams (which I am too young for), but nothing to help.  As I sit here and type the excessive pressure and heavy feeling is very uncomfortable and I have random cramps in very pinpointed areas on both sides of my abdomen.

I have an huge uptick of indigestion - belch city.  Seriously, I never used to it is a constant. I also have mid-abdominal pain creeping up  along with this burping and belching.  What is up with that?! I am EXHAUSTED all the time.  At least once a month I have several days of a sore throat and body aches that would lend itself to some sort of virus, but I never develop a fever.

So what am I to do?  When you feel like poop and you are exhausted, the last thing you want to think about is the effort to change your diet.  I know that is part of the answer.  I have been off the band wagon of healthy eating for a while.  Although I haven't ballooned up weight-wise, I know that counting coffee as my breakfast is not smart.  However, I do love homemade chocolate chip cookies with a cup of coffee in the morning - such bliss.

There is a point in time where you believe that your only choice is to "will" yourself to be better. That is where I am. Time to kick this pseudo-hypochondriac to the curb. I refuse to give in to it and will fight this with the only things I kitchen (food) and my bed (sleep).  With that, I am going to bed.  May tomorrow bring a healthier me.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Snipit of a Year

Hello old friend.  You know when it has been a long time since you visited your blog?  When you have to go through the steps to reset the login and password because you have completely forgotten them.  I have a couple of standard logins and passwords, but since some merger of blogger a year or so ago I had to reset some things about the time I abandoned this blog.  Anything I don't use on a regular basis gets completely forgotten, as that is what happens when you get old.

I had lunch with one of the encouragers of my blog writing this past week.  I have been pondering my (noted-by-her) absence and thought I would open it up again and see what happens.  It has been over a year.  Wow.

What went on over the past year that did not lead me to capturing it with words on a screen?  One big reason?  Homeschooling three children.  Last fall was the most challenging and overwhelming season. Period.  I often said that it possibly eclipsed losing my sister to breast cancer.  I know. That is a pretty heavy statement.  However, her death was shrouded in HOPE.  There appeared to be no hope in my homeschooling. Several factors played into this spiraling of despair, the daily doom, the Krazy Town that existed up in the bonus room at Johnson Road, but listing them here sounds whining and pathetic. Admittedly, most were due to my own overscheduling, launching into a new program with out much understanding of it, and frankly, issues with controlling the behavioral chaos of my children.

My absence can also be contributed to this fact: As your children grow older there are less "cute and endearing" tidbits to capture and more "I want to lock my children in a closet and throw away the key" moments.  Hormones unleashed their ugliness in full effect in the Dumoulin house this year.  Had I written, I would have had entry after entry entitled, "Epic Eye-rolling" or "Why I Want to Run Away" or "Can I Find Something to Love About Them Today."  Lest I forget the day when Jay came home for lunch and found me one step away from lying in a fetal position on the floor in a pool of my own drool.  He dragged me into the bedroom and said, "You have GOT to pull yourself together! You are stronger and wiser than them.  What have they turned you into?" A hot mess, I tell ya.

Despite all of this, we did have some successes this year on the schooling front.  I can't write the entire year off to my own "personal growth."  Ultimately, Ethan's foray into homeschooling led him to say in April, "I love homeschooling.  I love my friends and where I am.  I want to homeschool all the way through high school."  I may have died a little inside at that moment, but hopefully, God will restore that part when I need it.  He made tremendous strides in expository writing and has a solid basic understanding of Latin, World Geography, and finished Pre-Algebra, among other subjects.  End of year test scores were their highest ever, so God-willing, we will continue down this track.  Someone told me that when hormones arrive that brain cells decline.  A story to illustrate this point:  One of the kids' swim coaches was suppose to leave around the first of the year.  The kids were all very sad because he was and still is a favorite.  It was about the time of his departure and Ethan asked me one morning, "Is this Morgan's last day? It is so sad he is leaving"  I wasn't so sure so I sent the coach a message.  The reply was that he would continue on through at least the remaining school year.  So relieved Ethan was.  Around lunch time Ethan made the statement, "Mom, it is such a shame Morgan is leaving."  I looked at him blankly and said, "Ethan. Remember?"  With a sheepish grin, Ethan replied, "Oh yeah."  Later that afternoon on the SAME DAY, when I DROPPED THE GIRLS OFF AT THE POOL, Ethan looked over from the front seat of the car and I KID YOU NOT said, "I hate that Morgan is leaving."  At this point, I threw my hands up in the air and just said, "Son!"  Ethan replied, "What?"  Honestly.

Lily Lou continues to extol the virtues of a math-driven life.  She has decided she wants to be a math teacher. That statement is so completely confounding to me it sounds like she is speaking a foreign language.  This is an interesting note to put in your back pocket in case this happens to anyone you know in the future:  Lily's first round of testing showed a 30-40% drop across the board in her scores.  Yes, I had a meltdown when they arrived.  I spoke with another testing source and she told me that the most common reason for this was that a child needed glasses.  DING! DING! DING!  Lily lost her glasses the week of our testing.  I know it seems so obvious and as my mom said, 'Well, I wouldn't have even let her take the test if she didn't have her glasses."  However, at the end of April, testing meant the year was basically over and nothing was going to stop me from reaching that milestone. Frankly, just getting them to the test on time for three days was heroic; I didn't have time to think about missing glasses.  Regardless, I had her retested a couple of weeks ago and we are back up to speed.  Whew! We often say that Lily just sort of floats through life, seemingly unaware of all that goes on around her.  I now know that word "seemingly" is false.  Her proctor explained that Lily is acutely cognizant of her environment. Basically, she picks up on everything we say and do which is a little frightening.  My never-ending concerns about her auditory processing, her inability to flourish in creative writing, and her apathy to reading anything without pictures will be my driving concerns, but comparatively speaking, she is ahead of the game.

It was a year of many new things for Sadie, including a new Essentials class for writing and grammar, decreasing extra-curricular classes, and trying medication.  That last mention is a weighty weight issue with so much history and wrestling and struggling.  I could write volumes about it, but in the end when your child cries, begs, and says, "Why did God make me this way?" and you know there is something out there that would drastically change their existence in this world and you have tried every. single. other. option. and denied them this something based on fear, parental snobbery, and inaccurate biblical interpretation...I realized I WAS WRONG.  Life did change drastically halfway through the year because of this change.  We still struggle and still wrestle, but not quite to the level we did before.  The Himalayan Mountains and the Grand Canyon valleys of behaviors have transformed themselves to become the speed bumps and street side ditches.  It is a much smoother ride with such breaks in between the madness of it all that we, Sadie and I, have a bit more energy to tackle those peaks and valleys.  She moves through her school work with relatively ease, only protesting when it actually takes her time to complete it because it challenges her or  appears to be busy work.. Her latest scheme is to become a heart surgeon, because she wants to have enough money to have all the animals she wants.  No surprises there.  Although one wonders why she doesn't just desire to be a vet.

As far as me...well, I continue to play on a tennis team which didn't really work schedule-wise with homeschooling, but I insisted on making it happen. Some days the stress nearly pushed me over the edge, yet the work-out lowered the stress, so maybe it evened out in the end.  What I lost in days/weeks/years from the stress of this year was offset by the benefits of the exercise from tennis playing.  No gains - no losses.  I will take that as a win.

 Jay had another heart issue this February which landed him back in the hospital for another stent.  I write that like it was no big deal, which I guess it really wasn't since they did the procedure that morning and he came home the SAME DAY.  However, at the time, he couldn't walk up the stairs with out feeling chest pains. It took three days to see the doctor and schedule the procedure all the while I constantly was ready to spring into 911 action with my phone.  Just a little edgy week there. 

Many, many days I questioned why in the world was I homeschooling. Just like I am sure you are while reading this.  When I think back over this year and remember those Mondays when I would drop the kids off at LIFE classes and meet some friends for lunch it comes with such heaviness.  I would arrive at the restaurant beaten up, broken down, emotionally spent with a sprinkling of depression.  Yet, there was never a time when I doubted that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Strange, I know.  I shored myself up over Christmas, lightened our extra-activities load, revised our school schedule and marched forward.  I began to see more light-hearted moments and classic learning AHAs! that I now cherish from this year.  Holding closely to those memories and knowing without a doubt that THIS is where God has put me, I will plow forward next year,  prodding along my 8th, 6th, and 4th grader with me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The truth...

We have spent the past week doing test preparation. Our test is not until May and our preparation is not driven by it. However, I have found that the test prep books are a good way to see where I might have dropped the ball on subjects covered. So far, I can say we are in great shape. I did notice Lily needs to learn the difference between fiction, non-fiction, and biography. She also needs to be taught where to find certain information - an encyclopedia, atlas, almanac, newspaper. Although I think using encyclopedia is a little dated considering Brittanica is no longer publishing theirs. Lily promptly answered, "The Internet," when I asked her where she would look to write a report about turtles.  Can I really argue with that?


Lily came into the bathroom where I was getting ready for the day.  She had chosen an outfit that looked good and shoes that were cute, just not together.  I tried to explain to her that they didn't exactly match and why.  Visualize large purple and light blue dotted outfit and hot pink small polka dotted shoes.  Her response, "Mom, its not about the shoes, its about the attitude."  I let her wear what she wanted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Odds & Ends

Two times in as many days someone has referred to my Sadie as having a Tatum O'Neal look going.  I believe one said the Paper Moon/Bad News Bears time period, not her adult cocaine days (whew!).  I think it must be the reemergence of freckles on her face from being in the spring sun.  I checked it out on google images and well, maybe it is her Doppelganger? 

Lily is obsessed with caterpillars.  Always finding them, naming them, and trying to keep them alive while they inch along her arm, or leg, or even along her glasses.  They are her friends and anytime she finds one, she doesn't stop smiling.

I took the girls to an Anatomy seminar this morning.  It was very well done class conducted by a group of high school homeschoolers who had recently completed their Anatomy class.  I was quite impressed by their communication and presentation skills (just another notch in the homeschools are not anti-social column).  Sadie would not relent on her request to take a certain item home with her.  No one else in attendance requested anything, nor went home with any of the "props."  Actually, I should go ask her right now where the said item is...a pig's heart in a ziploc bag.  That is definitely one thing I don't want left in my car.  I have no idea what she is going to do with it.  Scary.

On a recent trip to Pawley's Island with friends, Ethan chose to dive into a hammock resting above a deck.  Not knowing the full measure of his strength, he overshot the entire hammock, landing full-force on his face.  Ouch!  Lovely scrape-type burn running form his forehead to below his mouth.  Other than that, it was a really delightful trip.  Well, Lily did run a fever for a couple of days.  I chalk that one up to my ridiculous kids who at 9 AM were chest-deep in the ocean. In the mid-Atlantic. In April.  Very cold.

Ethan is trying very hard to learn how to whistle.  Trying to teach someone to whistle ranks up there with teaching Passive English or Singing/Voice to those tone-deaf.  I keep trying to tell him where to place his tongue, where to position his teeth, cheeks, how to blow...and then, we heard it.  It was the slightest, faintest of chirps, but he did it.  His eyes grew about ten times, but he did not break the his mouth position.  Unfortunately, we did not hear it again on our ride home, but I am sure the practice has not ended.  He has wet his whistle!

Lily has been very funny with the one-liners lately.  For example, Ethan ended a little school relationship a couple of weeks ago.  When he announced it in the car, Lily piped up and went, "Womp, womp, womp.  Game over."  She is also getting very screechy and a little sassy, but that is for another blog entry.  She also loves playing with younger kids.  She does seem younger than her 7 years sometimes.  Academically, she is ahead of the game, but socially, she does not necessarily have street-smarts.  Of course, I shouldn't worry as she does have Sadie to teach her the ways.