A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
A dear sweet friend passed away today. Samah worked as a switchboard operator at the US Embassy here in Amman. She was a local hire, and Devin supervised her. Samah has become a special friend to us while we've been here. She is blind, but very funny and loving. We shared our audio books with her, and discussed books that we've read. The kids loved playing with her and bringing her chocolate. We always stopped by when we were picking up our mail just to say hi.
One special day, we took her to the embassy park to have a picnic and play on the swings and slide! She had NEVER been on the swings or the slide!!!!!
Another special day, she came to our house for the day. We went to Jingo's Jungle with the kids at the end of their school year and took Samah with us--where she experienced her very first roller coaster ride! We all got on the roller coaster with her, and we all closed our eyes so we could feel what she would feel. It was a special day for all of us.
She was always full of smiles and laughs and funny things to say. She often told us she didn't know what she would do when we left next year. It never once occurred to me that she would leave first.
Samah, we will miss you. My happy thought, though, is that now, for the first time, you can see. That makes me smile. I hope you can see it.
And another weekend has come to an end. I often come to Sunday morning (which is our 'Monday') and wonder: What happened to my relaxing weekend? It's so full and busy, but very fun! We got to have all sorts of friends over for meals and fun. We made new friends and enjoyed old friends. Devin and I rearranged our house yesterday, so that was fun. I like to do that from time to time. We moved some beds around and some dressers, so now the little boys have bunk beds again, and the big boy has a big bed. :) It was fun to do and makes things feel a little more refreshed in our small cramped quarters.
Today, we'll be doing our usual swim lessons, and this afternoon, we get to welcome a new family! Should be fun! Our primary in church will be at close to 40 kids by the time everyone moves in. Wow. It's big and crazy and fun for the kids! :)
Oh, and don't forget: Today begins the Perseids Meteor shower! Go and see the 'falling stars'!
Tonight, Devin and I have been looking over our newest edition of our blog book saga. For Christmas last year (or the year before), Devin put my entire section of blog posts from Cameroon onto a book. Now he's working on Finland. It's almost done. I'm reading through the posts and looking at the pictures and it brings back such fun memories! I'm so glad I was so good at blogging! I realized that I haven't been quite so good here. I need to do better. Part of that is that I'm homeschooling and MUCH busier than I used to be, but really, that's not quite it. In all honestly, part of the problem is that every evening for the past year or two, Devin and I have sat down and watched tv together. We watched all of the Cosby show (8 seasons), the first 7 seasons of Psych, and we recently finished watching Monk. While they're very fun, and it's nice to 'unwind', there are quite a few other VERY good things we could be doing with our time. Like I could spend a few minutes writing about my day...or week... So, that's our new goal. Movies/tv only once a week or so, and instead, so good things, like read, study, write in my blog, or play games. I have no idea how we got pulled into tv in the first place. Neither one of us are people I would consider media addicts...
Anyway, today was our first day back at church here in Jordan after our vacation. It was so fun to see everyone again. I loved playing the organ again. I enjoyed being in primary--I just wish my kids would be a little more respectful. I got to go to relief society! I enjoyed all the talks and lessons today, as they really answered some questions that I've had.
For a few years now, I've felt this anxious little itch deep down that I've really wanted to go back to school. I've even sat down and started filling out applications to do degrees online!! However, after starting, I would start to feel very frustrated and than I'd stop. No one ever had what I REALLY wanted to study. I didn't want to have to reapply to colleges I've already attended or have to go scouting around for my transcripts. It just wasn't right yet. Besides, I can't really do deadlines right now, since I have ALL of my kids at home and I'm committed as their full time teacher. I LOVE doing that, but I've just felt like I need to do something that empowers me and pursue something that will be beneficial for the future.
When we were in the states, I started chatting with my mom about essential oils. She sells them for a company and I started looking through some of her books and things and realized how much I could learn from this and enjoy it! So I decided to join up and sell them, too. I don't do it actively--I don't go door to door, or even solicit people to buy from me, but I think essential oils are good and useful and I'd like to get the word out.
So that was one thing that started me thinking...
Another was, this summer I decided to do a little unit on edible and medicinal plants for the kids. We did an herb walk with my mom, and played some herb games and I read some books... In one of the books, an herbal book for kids, the appendix mentioned taking continuing ed courses on herbs. That really struck my fancy!! So I looked it up!
Holy cow. It is AMAZING! And EXACTLY what I've been looking for! I can take courses to become a professional herbalist! I can become a certified, registered aromatherapist! These are vocational, online schools that offer these classes that you can do on your own time and gain some serious, focused knowledge on things that completely fascinate me! I'm SOOOOO excited! I'm excited to further my knowledge on these things and use them for the benefit of my family and friends! Hopefully, someday, my kids will call me what I called my mom: "Dr. Mom, Medicine Woman"! :) I'm really looking forward to this process and the opportunity to study alternative, holistic medicine. Who knew that one day I'd be excited to study chemistry, botany, and anatomy and physiology???? I know, though, that I've been led to this point and to this decision, and I'm very grateful for that.
So, we're home now. It wasn't so bad, really... Our first flight from SLC to Paris was pretty fun since we all just sat and watched movies, however, we all paid for it! We got to Paris at 11am our time, and had stayed up for like 30 hours. DOH! The layover in Paris wasn't so bad, since they have playstations set up for the kids to play video games, and a little play area for the smaller kids to play in...but the flight from Paris to Amman was pretty grueling. Claire slept the ENTIRE time, and I could not get her to wake up. So did Andrew...until he woke up SCREAMING because he had to go to the bathroom. Funny thing, though--apparently, I had fallen asleep, too, because I remember dreaming that I was looking around, wondering whose poor kid was crying and if I could help, only to find out it was mine. :/ Devin had gone to the bathroom with Peter, so Andrew was all by his lonesome (I was sitting between Josh and Claire). He was still mostly asleep, so he couldn't get his seat belt off to get out of his chair. I finally woke up and realized it was Andrew, jumped up over Josh (who was sleeping), and dragged him out of his seat. Sadly, there was quite the line and the people in the bathrooms took a loooooong time (Devin and Peter being one of them). I finally got Andrew in, and he was in there forever. I kept peeking in, and he was just standing there, saying he was ok. Then, I finally poked my head in and asked if I could help, and found out that he had messed his pants while waiting in line. *sigh* So, now WE were one of THOSE people who take a really looooong time in the bathroom. :/ I helped him our of his pants and just chucked the underwear in the trashcan (sorry airplane people) and wiped him off as best I could with wet paper towels. Ah, well. Another bad thing about the last flight--the food was TERRIBLE. We're talking BAD. Ugh. AND there was no inflight movie! What?? It's a 5 hour flight, people! They would sometimes put some random tv show on. But good grief, even the scrolling map of where you are is better than a blank screen.
Even with all of that, it was a good trip. No other incidents. And it could have been much worse. The lady behind me had an 18 month old, a 7 month old, and she was 5 months pregnant. The 7 month old baby screamed the entire 5 hours. My heart ached for her. She was very nice. I'm glad for all the horrible kid experiences I've had on airplane trips, as it makes me not annoyed at all when kids are loud or screaming on airplanes. I empathize and remember and shiver at the memory, so I never want to be those horrible ignorant people who made my life more miserable than it already was when I was having those problems. :/
But, we made it. It's nice to be home, be mom again, and to get into a regular routine. The kids are doing 'homeschool lite' (meaning we're reviewing and drilling in the mornings), we're spending lots of time at the pool, and we're just enjoying playing. It's nice and warm again, and I'm actually turning on the A/C, so for those of you who know how cold I get, this is a big step for me! :) I'm looking forward to getting some more groups started and getting the kids back into music lessons and easing us back into our rigorous school schedule. Schedules are just better for us all around. The kids function better and I can think better. It's funny how even as a homeschool mom, I can't wait for school to start again! :)
Little Claire was such a trooper today as she went in to get 7 teeth pulled! whew! Lots of meds later, she's finally speaking coherently... ;-)
We've been waiting and waiting and WAITING for our new church Center to be ready for us to meet in--and finally, we were there! It's not QUITE finished, but enough that we can go and have chairs to sit in and walls and lights. :) The whole place is lovely, peaceful and happy. I LOVED playing the 'organ' again! Yes, it's just an electric piano (a Kuwai, if anyone's interested) on the organ setting, but it made a HUGE difference! I had lots and lots of people tell me how wonderful it was to come into the sacrament room and hear the quiet organ playing--that it was so beautiful and made them feel like they were coming into the chapel of the temple! :) That was my intention! I feel it's so important for the music to really add to the meetings, so I work really hard at it.
The kids were SO happy to have primary again! They were all so well behaved! Nadine gave a great lesson and the kids all listened and participated and ALL of our primary kids were there! Every single one on the rolls! SO COOL!!! They're great kids and I love them all. (And it's SO nice to have a good electric piano in there instead of an electric keyboard!) We even had a fantastic performance of a super cool rendition of 'Popcorn Popping'--which was NOT made better by the poor pathetic accompanist... :/ I got the intro and the last measure right, though. So that's good.
We are so blessed!
Yes, this will be another rambling sampler of a day. I suppose this is what I've always done, up until I started homeschooling when I felt like I just didn't seem to have the time to just sit around and 'ramble' anymore. Well, I think I should make more time to just ramble. It's pretty relieving to just put things down and look at things from another point of view. Besides, I don't have anyone sitting by me all evening listening to me ramble on and on and on and on and on and on and...well, you get it. Poor Devin. He's either REALLY enjoying his solitude and silence now, or he's going crazy with it. Ha!
This morning, the kids and I had the coolest discussion about things of the spirit. We're reading right now about Abraham and Isaac in the Bible. We had finished reading the account and were discussing things. Claire asked how Abraham heard God. The launched us into this fairly indepth discussion on how we hear the Voice of God--the Holy Ghost--and all the different ways He speaks to us! It was pretty cool and I saw quite a few 'lightbulbs' go off. I've been studying about hearing the Voice of the Spirit and personal revelation this week, so it was fun to share some of the things that I'd been studying. We talked about some of the things we have experienced and things we are experiencing and how we hear His voice every single day in so many different ways. Pretty cool.
Another thing we were talking about this morning was right after History. Right now, I'm reading 'Famous Men of Greece' out loud to the kids, and I have it on my Kindle. Well, funny thing: A few weeks ago, I was just goofing off on the computer and found this site that sends you a notice with some of the free books on Amazon. At first I thought it would be all classics (I already have most of them), but it's not. Not at ALL. Every day, it appears, Amazon (and others) put tons of books out for free! These guys surf around and list a few and you can go nab 'em! After finding the first site, I found 3-4 more. So every day I get emails from many different places showing me all sorts of books for free (or .99)!! I've had WAY too much fun. At one point last week, while I was still only on one mailing list, I found that I now had 118 books on my Kindle. Wow! Then, today as I was reading the history book, I noticed that I now had 163! Ha! So I made Claire do the 'word problem' to find out how many books I had downloaded in the past week since I had found the other 3-4 sites: 45! Ha! That's pretty funny. I think so, anyway.
In other news, some people know that I've suffered from some somewhat minor back issues for years now. It comes and goes, really. Ever since I had Josh. The past few weeks, it's bordered on the excruciating. Just thinking about bending over to pick up a paper would bring tears to my eyes. Sneezing would leave me in the fetal position, sobbing. I don't know why I have this problem. I'm active, I'm not overweight... Just my lot in life, I guess. It's been so bad that I've considered actually going to a chiropractor. That must mean it's pretty bad, because I don't go to doctors.
Well, being true to myself, I did a little research. I found a bunch of exercise dvds expressly for low back pain, a few different sizes of those big exercise balls, and a book. I have been reading the book a little, and am super impressed thus far. He says that part of the low-back issues are from sitting in chairs a lot. It's better for people to sit cross-legged. Interesting. He gave some tips for better sleeping. Plus, he said when you sneeze, instead of bending forward (as EVERYONE does), you should lean back. Weird, eh? But I can tell you, today, I tried it and I LAUGHED!!! I CRIED! Why? Well, it was because it DIDN'T HURT!! I couldn't believe it! Who knew??? I've dreaded sneezing for years--I curl myself into a ball and hold tight to a counter or something solid when I sneeze so I don't have as much pain. But today? I just leaned back a little and Voila! Nothing!!!!!! The book is called Back RX, by the way. I forget the author--it's on my Kindle, of course. I'm only on chapter 4, but I like what he says so far. Yesterday, I sat cross-legged on the tennis court while the kids played tennis for 2 hours. I slept with pillows in various strategic places. This morning, I woke up with almost no pain in my back. I'm impressed. I did pilates this morning without cringing. I'm happy. Here's to hoping that it continues to improve.
In other news: Josh played his first concert yesterday. It was so fun to watch that boy play! Good kid. I got a video of it, but sadly missed his introduction of, "This is Joshua Hendriksen....From America." Ha! Hooray! Sadly, the concert was in true Jordanian style. They don't teach concert etiquette here. Everyone was talking to their neighbors and chatting on their phones and walking around all through the performances of the many students. You always knew who the parents were, because during their child's performance, they'd stand and video it on their iPhone or iPad, then when the kid was done, they'd talk to each other (still standing), and pick up all their coats and kids and belongings and chat with people as they made their way out...during the next 2-3 kids' performances. There was pretty much constant leaving throughout the concert. Disconcerting. (ha ha) By the time Josh played, the room was only 1/3 full. That was fine by me. To me, it was all beyond rude. To them, that's how they do things. Welcome to Jordan.
While we were there at the concert, Peter had to go to the bathroom. He managed to find them on his own (oh, it's so nice to have independent kids!!!), and ran back to me with the news: "Mom! I found the bathrooms! There's a boys' one and a girls' one, but there are no mommy ones." Guess I'll have to hold it.
Devin made it to D.C. safe and sound. Day 1 is now behind me. Day 2 started fairly auspiciously by my little boys waking up before my alarm (not nice, since my alarm goes off at 5:40am) because Andrew wanted his iPad under his pillow and Peter wet the bed. However, I got some really good scripture study/prayer/meditation time in this morning and even took time to exercise. As I sit here writing this, all my children are cooking breakfast! And just so you all don't think this is impossibly perfect, my kids are FIGHTING like cats and dogs while making breakfast. Not the most relaxing thing and I have a feeling I should probably intervene soon before the pancake batter ends up all over the floor and Claire cries harder and Josh eats one of his siblings and Peter beats Andrew up and Andrew cries like a roman candle... Oh. Too late.
Later: We had a nice day, really. It was pretty laid back. We did our normal math and spelling and stuff, but we added writing stories about Leprechauns (the kids REALLY loved that one--and I think I'll have to do more writing in the future!), eating green pancakes, drinking green milk (not me! Gross!!), drawing rainbow pictures that had Leprechaun gold and shamrocks attached to them...(Andrew was the most simplistic of all of us...even Peter really got into the spirit of it! I used the project to talk about the order of colors and had the kids use oil pastels and smear them all together. They had a good time.) Josh had another practice today with his accompanist for his first concert tomorrow. He's so excited--as he should be! :) We got to talk to Devin for a few minutes in the middle of the day.
It's funny. We really do get quite a bit done during the day. However, I feel like we're hardly doing anything. I'm hoping that this sad little funk I'm in from having Devin gone goes away soon so I can get a grip and take control of my schedule again. I don't know why it has to affect my whole day. I usually only see him in the morning/evening anyway, so why is my whole entire day thrown off? Guess that means I love him. :) That's true, anyway. :)
Today Claire and I finally finished going through a box of a bunch of my old stuff from when I was younger. My mom sent it to me with a shipment because the shipment needed more weight. Thanks mom. But I had put off going through it for years! Sheesh! And I found at the bottom of this box a whole tone of sheet music! Sweet! Beethoven, Chopin, Shubert... Plus one song that was the one that made me decide to start playing the piano: Child of the Universe. I sang it in the 4th grade choir and thought the music was so pretty that I just had to learn to play the piano so I could play it! I couldn't believe I still had the music! I was actually thinking about it a few months ago and started looking around to see if I could find the sheet music (I couldn't). I'm pretty impressed that it was in there. It was missing the front page, but I know what the intro sounds like, so it wasn't too hard to pop it in. I played through it today and it brought back lots of memories. Thankfully, I play better now than I did in 4th grade when I started goofing around with it. :) Hooray for surprise music in the bottom of unpacked boxes! Thanks, mom! :)
I sat down 15 minutes ago thinking that the post dinner play time would give me about 1/2 hour to type up a nice blog post for the day. No such luck. Instead, I sat at the other laptop while it rebooted itself; whirring and whizzing and sputtering like the old computer it is. *sigh* Then I gave up and came to my other computer. I can also never escape the 'MOMMY!!' of someone who desperately needs me right at that moment. If I ever get to have another laptop, I will hide it away so no one else can use it so that it doesn't turn into the 'laptops' we have now. Both of our laptops are 'grounded'. One is grounded because it has no working battery, so it must always be plugged in. (That is the OLD one that turned itself off earlier today because it overheated.) The other is grounded because the cable connection is loose and Devin is afraid that if we continue to unplug and carry it around that it won't be usable anymore. So, our laptops have turned into old desktops. I'm not complaining (much), since they DO function (most of the time). I'm just saying that sometime it would be nice to hide in the bathroom and type a blogpost.
On to bigger and better things: It's the first day of a new week. Oh, hooray. Devin left this morning for his three week training. I'm oh so sad. I can't help being a little freaked out every time we're separated, but we were just reading and discussing the 'lost' airline and it makes it way worse. On top of the fact that I am just not a good 'single' mom. :/
The kids and I had a nice day, though. We did lots of school projects. We made a rocket and shot it off a few times (until the construction paper disintegrated from all the water and alkaseltzer). Claire went to activity day with her little friends. I couldn't help but sit and muse about what a blessing that is. This is the first time she's lived at a place with a group of girls about her own age that have really accepted her and loved her. I love watching it. I'm so grateful we get to bask in it for another year and a half!! As we've been researching all the different posts, I keep wondering about the most important aspect of a new place: friends. Will there be good friends for my kids? That's not something you can find out from Wikipedia or post reports (no matter how detailed those reports are)! It's all a matter of prayer, then following where the spirit leads, and hoping for the best. I guess it's always that way, whether you're moving to a new neighborhood across town or a new continent. It's all the same, really. People are people, and you just hope you find some kindred spirits along the way to make the way easy.
Last month we had some major issues with our internet. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that once or twice (or more) in my last post or two. During that time, I felt so frustrated with the slowness of the internet, that I just didn't do any blogging at all. It wasn't worth the frustration. A few weeks ago, our new router finally got here, and our internet has been working like a charm. Unfortunately, I've gotten out of the habit of writing! I think of blog posts in my head every day, but by the end of the day, when I have a few minutes to write, I'm so exhausted I can't imagine trying to type anything at all! :/
Sadly, I've missed a month of my life! And what a month it's been. I've always found that when I'm SUPER busy and have so much to do and so much to tell about, I don't have the time to tell about it. And yet, when I have nothing going on, and nothing to tell about, I have oodles of time to write all the boring details. Ah well. Such is life.
So, I may be able to do some 'back blogging' and add in some things we've done with some pictures on my camera, but I've always found it's just better to start where you are and go from there. Otherwise it's too overwhelming, and you just don't do it at all.
Life never stands still for us. We actually took a 'spring break' this week. I suppose I should call it 'winter break', since many schools with long winters take a week off in Feb for just that, but it's really quite spring-y here, so we called it Spring Break. It was sort of an impromptu break, actually. Sunday was President's Day, so Devin had the day off (don't even remember what we did...so sad...), and Monday was just really difficult, school-wise. I was tired, the kids weren't paying any attention, it was just a difficult day all around.
Then came Monday night. Now, I've been thinking a lot about changing my house around. I LOVE to rearrange things, I love change. I've felt very strongly for more than a month now, that it was time to change the kids' room. Josh is almost as tall as me. Claire is turning more into a young lady every day. They need their own rooms. But I kept telling myself that there were too many things wrong with that. First off, bedtime is so easy with all the kids together. Then if I changed them, I wouldn't have a reading/class room anymore, or a playroom. I'd have to get alarm clocks and fans and all sorts of things.
Finally, Monday night, it came to a head. The feeling was SOO strong, I just couldn't ignore it anymore. So, we had a family council. We talked about what would need to happen and if anyone was game for that. It was unanimous that we make the change, so we started right then and there! We took the top bunks off the beds and moved them into the other rooms. Then we began the 'fun' part of rearranging EVERYTHING.
Here's the funny part: Now that I have the big kids in their own rooms, and I no longer have a classroom or playroom, our house seems bigger. Weird, I know. But now the little boys' room is also the playroom, since 90% of the toys in the playroom were theirs to begin with. Claire has her toys in her room, and finally has room to spread out and make it her own (she was slowly taking over the bedroom anyway). Josh has all of his electronics and inventions and STUFF in his room instead of all over the house, which clears up a ton of space! Who knew?!? Bedtime is actually easier--We all read scriptures and have family prayer together in a central location, then Devin reads to the little boys in their room while I read to Josh and Claire in Claire's room, then all the kids can listen to whatever radio drama/book on tape they want or they can read, or whatever they'd like as they PUT THEMSELVES TO BED. Oh my. It's wonderful and marvelous. I'm SO glad that I didn't listen to my 'rational' brain and wait until our next post to make this change. It's glorious!
I was thinking today and wondering why I hadn't done this before. Why I had put everyone in the same room. I think most of my problem was the fact that I was really trying to live at the same standard we had in Finland. Our house there was wonderful, yes, but it's not this one. I can't treat it in the same way. We have less than half the house we had there. It just isn't going to be the same, and that's ok. Another part of my problem was the fact that I felt like I had to have a classroom for school. I don't. As a matter of fact, without a classroom, we have better school time together. Funny, I know. We just do better without that. I'm happy to have learned this. I'm grateful for the time I had my kid together. Taking them apart like this feels like I'm finally accepting the fact that my kids are growing up--which is hard for me--but it's a step in the right direction for all of us.
So, our Spring Break this week was spent doing some serious organizing. If I can find my 'before pics', maybe I'll do some before and after photos of our house now! :)
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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