A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
We feel really blessed to be a part of a homeschool group PE class at a local gym. There, the boys do gymnastics, Claire does ballet, and I even get to do aerobics with the moms! It's a great hour and worth the time it takes to get there. Claire is really loving the ballet time. This past week, the younger girls weren't in the class, so the teacher and the older girls (yes, Claire is an older girl!!!) made up an impromptu recital! Thankfully, I had put my camera into my bag, so I got it all on film! :) Claire looked so happy flitting across the mat!
Andrew is 6. It's hard to imagine my little boy is 6 already. To celebrate, we had a bonefide Medieval Feast! We invited some friends, showcased our hard work on our unit on Medieval times, and ate a LOT of food!! :) The kids put all their artwork up on the walls and around the room, we set up castles, had performances during each course, and had a lovely time! Andrew was quite literally the king for the day. We even had Grandma and Papa Edwards on Skype for a few moments during our presentations. Our theme was the Michaelmas Feast, which is the Medieval feast of September. A good time was had by all...and we all went to bed very full!! (I also appreciate the fact that the nobility, when called upon to do these feasts, had a huge HOARDE of servants to help with preparation, serving, and clean up. Feasts weren't meant to be ma
Coming into homeschooling, I knew there would be hardships and blessings. I've read lots and lots of books about other people's experiences and ways of doing this and it was always so interesting to see their ideas of success and, well, otherwise. Thus far, I've also experienced both. There are days that I just throw my hands up and say, "I'm DONE!" The house is a mess, Peter is bored, the kids don't want to do anything (and do anything BUT what I've asked), I'm not even sure I'm teaching them what they're 'supposed' to know (as if that one person or small group of people who designed educational standards knows exactly what my specific child should or shouldn't know at this point). Yes, most of the time, I feel like my kids are going to come out of this knowing LESS than they did when we started! GAH!
But then, there are the benefits. I know EXACTLY what my kids are learning. And in all honesty, yes, they may not be doing the same thing their school-bound counterparts are doing, we're learning all sorts of things! I get to WATCH them learn--and that's pretty cool! I LOVE that little lightbulb that turns on when something clicks and they turn to me with wide eyes--"I get it, Mom!!" SO COOOOL!! I know my kids on such a personal level now. Yes, it's only been a few months, but I've been able to be with them almost 24-7 and man, I have some good kids! I get to see their real strengths and weaknesses--not have some third party tell me what they've observed.
Here is another benefit, though: The other day, we had a loooong day. We stuffed in some subjects in the morning, had 2 hours of Arabic tutoring, had a quick lunch, then grabbed a taxi to get to group PE (Gymnastics and Ballet across town), and when we got home in the afternoon, I was tired. I almost suggested an afternoon movie, but I didn't (I've told the kids they can't watch movies during the week unless they're documentaries related to our unit study), because I wanted to see what they'd do. I was honestly ready to cave if they asked...but no one did!! They all went off to play! Andrew and Peter pulled out some cars; Josh went to his bed with a book and sat down to read; Claire pulled out some barbies and ponies... Wow! Then, a little while later, Josh asked if they could go work on building castles out of our UAB boxes for our Medieval unit that we're currently doing. They all spent the rest of the afternoon designing castles and painted and cutting and having a marvelous time. Wow. I was impressed. I think that's a benefit right there!
Another benefit: Josh has always had some issues in school. He tends to get frustrated and angry quickly and have these what we call 'Mr. Furious' outbursts. He was always the one to come home with the 'incident' note, or I'd get the dreaded phone call from the teacher or principal--I felt like I was always in meetings with principals, teachers, specialists and guidance counselors on how to help him overcome his anger and to interact properly with other kids. Since we've been homeschooling, I can count on one hand the number of times he has had an inappropriate anger outburst!!!! He is kind, loving, generous, always thinking of his siblings before himself... When we're at co-op or group classes, he is thoughtful, respectful and friendly. He gets along with the other kids and has made some great friends. I can't help tearing up as I write this as, to me, this is the greatest blessing I could have hoped for. Josh's teachers wanted me to have him tested for all sorts of things (Asbergers, Autism, even Schizophrenia!!!!)--but having him home, every single one of those symptoms has 'mysteriously' disappeared. He jumps right in to his lessons and works hard. He helps others around him to do well. He's had a mighty change and I am SO grateful! How could homeschooling be bad and have this horrible stigma about it when it brings such wonderful blessing to pass????
Other benefits I've found: I learn TONS right along with my kids! We get to do super cool presentations and show off all the things we've done and learned! So fun! And I'm sure there will be more benefits as we go!
I also get to have awesome conversations with my kids. One that stands out...yesterday, I was having lunch with the kids, and Andrew piped up with something about his birthday and then announced that Satan HATES birthdays! I asked him why, and he told me that it was because he never gets any birthdays or any presents from anyone, so he hates birthdays! I love that kid SO MUCH!!
To me, these benefits outweigh the 'cons'. I don't mind being with my kids all day long. I don't mind the INCREDIBLE amount of time and effort it takes to do this. I don't mind not having the 'free time' that comes with having all your kids in school (really, though, how much free time do you get when you have to volunteer for all your kids' classes and go to meetings for discipline and spend all night doing homework with them and taking them to after school stuff?? but that's just me). For now, we're doing exactly what is right for our children and I take so much comfort in that knowledge.
Yes, you heard me right. Christmas. I know, I know, it's still early, but when the mail is not very consistent, you have to think far ahead. AND, since getting our shipment, our house is just too full, so we're trying to think of alternate Christmas presents. Instead of more STUFF, we're thinking of new age ideas. Maybe crafts...but then, that's stuff, too. I'd like the kids to get really creative and make things for each other, but I don't know what. I'd love to think of some REALLY cool Christmas gifts that are either anti-clutter, or just take up no space. Any ideas out there? I'd love to hear them!!
We finally got our HHE this week. For those of you who don't know our lovely acronyms, that's our House Hold Effects shipment--in other words, pretty much everything we own. Man, we lived in a MUCH bigger house in Finland! I thought I had pared down our stuff quite a bit--and I did!! But it's still just too much for this little house. Perhaps it's because when the shipping guys came, they emptied out most of my boxes for me and just threw everything against the walls. Now, yes, it was nice not to have all the boxes still cluttering up the house, but now all my stuff is in disarray all over the place! And for some reason, when it's like that, I tend to sort of shut down and lose my ability to function. I don't like seeing giant piles of stuff that have to be carefully sorted. I don't know why. I'd rather stuff it all in the garbage can and be done with it. Bleh. But, we've been working diligently, and now have 3 rooms that are mostly presentable. The rest has been attacked by hurricane Andrew (literally) and Peter, and stuff and pictures-to-be-hung line the hallways and walls. *sigh* But, at least I mostly have my living room, library and classroom. At some point, I will take pictures and post the 'after' (since I've already posted the 'before') so you can see...but I won't do it until I'm a little more organized. Admittedly, it's MUCH harder to organize your house when you homeschool. The kids can only focus on organizing for so long (about 10 minutes, maybe), and then they need some other direction. I was tempted to call last week a holiday and just let them watch movies all day. I did on Monday and Tuesday (when the shipping guys were here and when Devin was home to help me), but I just couldn't do it on Wednesday and Thursday, so everything mostly sat in the same spot without much difference. We made fun foods, did more with our Unit Study (which is supposed to end next week...), and played around. Today is now Friday--the Sabbath day for us. So, I can't really do more organizing today, either. Well, I suppose I could, but it would take away from my day. Since I'm always home doing things with my kids, the Sabbath HAS to be different. I'm not 'allowed' to do any school work/planning on Fridays, nor am I allowed to do deep cleaning. I need a day off once in awhile, right? And since this is the day of Rest, I should really make it that way! So, it's a good day to do a little catchup on the blog, write some letters, knit with my kids, and generally make more of a mess--while trying not to stress about it. :) I have to admit, though, that I AM happy to have my wheat grinder, crock pot, ice cream maker, Bosch and bread maker now. We've made homemade bread, rolls, soups and ice cream. The last batch of ice cream I made was DIVINE!!! Oh my. I found some fresh, locally grown cherries (who woulda thunk?) at the grocery store last week, so I made black cherry ice cream. Oh. My. Goodness. It's the same as my strawberry ice cream recipe, except that I put in cherries...and I ran out of fresh eggs, so I used egg powder. I suppose I could call is Food Storage Ice Cream... It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO stinkin' good! Have I mentioned it was good? I'm perfecting the art of dairy-free/sugar free ice cream. My kids love it, I love it...everyone needs a special treat once in awhile--even for those of us who have sworn off sugar! :)
Many people have been asking how we are doing right now with all the protests, demonstrations, storming of embassies and deaths that are occurring in the areas around us. So, I feel like an update is in order so no one will worry TOO much about us personally (while still worrying and praying for those in the more 'explosive' areas--please!):
There were some planned demonstrations/protests for yesterday and the day before--but apparently it was mostly hearsay. However, I was told that yesterday there was quite the beef-up of security at the embassy (lots of tanks and hundreds of military guys). Personally, I don't feel afraid. I haven't seen anything that's really threatening here. Luckily, our embassy here is the hub of the middle east. If things get worse, we'll be the first to know and we'll be evacuated first. The places where there has been the most damage have been the places that, historically, are always rioting and looking for a reason to fight anyway. There have been demonstrations and protests all over, but for the most part, it has been ok. We have radios, and all the embassy has an SMS system where they sent out security threats on our cell phones, and we've only had one, which was the other day telling us of a few planned/anticipated demonstrations that mostly didn't pan out. Everything's scary if you let the news media tell you what's going on. They WANT you to be fired up by their portrayal of events--otherwise they're not doing their job. And besides, they're looking at the really big picture and making it look small (if that makes any sense). We're looking at it from the inside out. It doesn't look so grim this way. We're not sitting back and saying 'all is well', but we can't live like scared cats, either. So, we pray and we keep moving on and we pay attention to what's going on. That's all we can do, right?
What that person did with their movie makes me furious. Practicing your 'freedom of speech' is all fine and good, but he spared absolutely no thought whatsoever to what that would honestly mean when he pressed the upload button. Ridiculous. While he sits in his nice little house in California, lives are threatened all over the world. But in all honesty, I think most of these places were just looking for a reason to start in on us. It would be nice if our government wouldn't sit upon their thrones in a thoughtless stupor, but from what I've seen and read lately of their response to what's going down, I don't think we can hope for too much from that end.
I have to admit, my 'favorite' protest was in Lebanon. They burned a KFC/Hardees in protest of the movie and the visit of the Pope. Now really, what kind of sense does that make? Ha! "Would you like your chicken extra crispy or burned?" Ok, so it's really NOT funny, but one must deal with it as they can to not get too worried, right?
But, we're ok. I think we're going swimming today. And we'll probably walk instead of take a taxi. :)
I just got THE PHONE CALL!!! Our UAB is coming this afternoon!!!! HOORAY!!! Now we'll have paper and clothes and pillows and blankets and our popcorn popper and plates and sauce pans and cups and art supplies!! I'm so excited!! Woohoo!!!
I love my little phone. It's so cute. It's an 'old school' flipping one and it's pink. Devin picked it out for me when we arrived in Finland. Yesterday, I had girl time with Claire. We went to the mall near our house so we could find her some ballet shoes, and we did some shopping around as well. We enjoyed a little sojourn at the 70%off rack at the Gap and Claire got a new dress and some shirts. As we were shopping, I was getting ideas for upcoming birthdays/Christmas. I took out my phone to type things into my calender to remind me to tell Devin. I noticed that it was almost dead. When we got home from the mall, I plugged in the recharger and went to get my phone. No phone. What??!? I poured out my purse (which isn't hard, since it's TINY), and had Devin call my phone. It was nowhere. I went back to the mall to the Gap and asked if it was there. No luck. One of the employees let me use their phone, but my phone wasn't even ringing anymore, which means it's dead. It's a Nokia, and they don't really use those around here. I probably left it on the seat of the taxi that I took home from the mall. It is gone. If someone manages to charge my phone somehow...and you were in my contact list and get a phone call from someone speaking Arabic, ask them to return my phone, please.
There are two things that I'm really loving about Jordan. The first: The sun ALWAYS shines! Yes, I miss the rain sometimes, and it's dusty everywhere all the time, and I could use a good thunderstorm once in awhile, but, oh how I love LOVE LOVE the sun! I love the brightness, the warmth, the knowledge that I'm not going to freeze when I go outside, and the energy it gives to my mind and body. The sun is sheer awesomeness!
The other thing I love about Jordan: The call to prayer. Ok, so that sounds weird, but I love it. I love the sound, I love the fact that these people love to pray, I love that it reminds me of where I am... It's a beautiful, almost ethereal sound. I love it.
In other news, we are STILL waiting for our shipments. So frustrating. Our air freight (UAB) arrived here in Jordan on the 20th of August, and it is still not released to us yet. I suppose I can continue to do without it--I've done without it for months now--but since I know that it's here, I just want it in my house now. I want to know that it's safe and that it isn't lost or being looted. That is my concern. Our HHE and our car....who knows? Devin's gone in a couple of times to the shipping office and politely asked about where it is and they tend to brush him off: "Oh, everything is on schedule. No problem." And the UAB? "We are waiting for the Jordanian ministry to return the papers, and then it will be the next day!" But they can't keep bugging the ministry because they want to 'keep good relations'. Hmmm...I'll show YOU good relations.... Regardless, I would just like to be able to move completely into my house so Peter will stop asking me when we're going to our real house. Any time would be good. We were spoiled in Finland, as our stuff all arrived 2 DAYS after we arrived! In Africa, it was 3 MONTHS before we got our stuff. A happy medium would be nice.
Look at me and my bad self!!
I thought I was in shape. Apparently, I was wrong. I had this sudden desire to learn Tae Kwon Do. It couldn't have been from my recent self defense classes I've been taking at the embassy... Gotta love those grips and sweeps and...wow...just fun times. Bruises notwithstanding, it's super fun!!!
It couldn't have been from a friend of mine who's been taking it now for a few years and loves it and has been talking it up to me...
It couldn't have been from my desire to learn something new...
Funnily enough, it started out just being me. Then Josh wanted to join in. There just happens to be a Tae Kwon Do center right up the hill from our house, so I was going to go check it out with Josh and find out hours and how much and if adults were allowed... It was never open when I went, though! Eventually, Devin came home and I couldn't go, so I asked him to go check it out. When he came back, he decided HE wanted to take the classes, too!! So, we arranged for our housekeeper to be here in the evenings 3 times a week to hang out with the littles, and Devin, Josh and me are going off to a martial arts center to learn Tae Kwon Do! And I can tell you--Honestly--I really thought I was in pretty good shape. After our first lesson there, I could hardly walk! Ha!! The second lesson seemed a little easier and even more fun (possible? yes!), but I'm still sore! I love it! It's great fun! And once we get our super cool outfits, We'll take a cool family photo! :)
Other than that, things are going full blast for us! We have gymnastics and ballet and aerobics as a group 'class' for school for the kids (and me), we have co-op classes, outings to the park, swimming, piano lessons, and regular school time fun... Our days are FULL and there's hardly a minute to sit down and do anything! I am LOVING it, though! I love spending so much quality time with my kids. I love watching them learn things and play together. I love eating with them and chatting. I love exploring with them. We are having so much fun! Yes, there are things that I have to give up, but it is totally and completely worth it.
Here's a funny "Living in Jordan" moment: Many times during the day, you'll hear what sounds like an ice cream truck going up and down the roads. You know what I mean: A tinny music playing alerting everyone that you should come out of your house and buy a Fat Boy. However, the other day as we were making our regular pilgrimage to the embassy, we heard the music and looked around, curious to see what their ice cream trucks look like. It wasn't ice cream. It was an old beat up pick up truck full of propane tanks! Ha! So, if you hear the ice cream truck music, it's no use salivating over that Dreamcicle, it's just your propane tank ready for pick up! :)
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
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