We have a Name

Untangling Elementary School

For Elisha we call it Untangling Preschool.

I’d been trying to decide on a name for our homeschool that both wasn’t cliché and that Jay could agree with.

I wanted to have something I could put on a little ID card for each of the girls, and to back up my request for a teacher’s discount, if they wouldn’t take my word for it–though this latter issue seems less-applicable so far; no one has asked for an ID yet.

So this was fun– being both a name and an image and an action.  Not to mention sort of my trademark (in a small way).

Anyway, it’s fun to have an identity of sorts for this growing project called school.

Elisha’s Trauma, Elisha’s Epiphany

Elisha was stung today: five times.

A group of children were playing outside the church after services today and they ran into a wasp nest. Elisha was stung between fingers on both hands (one each) the thumb and bicep of his right arm.

Natasha was stung too, on her leg under her skirt.  Melody came down with a freaking attack of the I’m-hurt-too-notice-me-mores (she’d scraped her heel somewhere) but Natasha took the wet teabag I gave her and went off out of the way while we worked on Elisha.

The church didn’t have any baking soda (the first thing I was looking for) but I saw a gallon ziplock of Lipton teabags, and wet those to use as poultices on each sting as we found them.

Lots of people hovered (thankfully outside the kitchen), but there weren’t many ways to be useful; we were all a little stuck for “next steps.”

At the beginning of the incident, one child offered me some leaves “to chew up and put on the sting, to draw out the poison.”

I didn’t think about whether or not she knew what she was talking about.

“I have a firm policy of not putting things in my mouth when I don’t know what they are, ” I told her.

I remember trying to be careful with my tone, but feeling disgusted at the idea. Even when an adult confirmed the idea, I couldn’t stand it.  Especially since, by then, the tea had already eliminated the swelling on the first sting we applied it too and the need no longer existed as it had.


I ended up asking one family to bring Melody home behind us so I could sit in the back in between the needy-wounded.  It wasn’t till later it occurred to me I could have just ignored the under-12 rule and gotten us all home in one car, but I’m thankful no one tried to point this out to me at the time.


Once home (and only a cheese-stick’s worth of silence later) I asked mom to keep the girls a while and she came to get them.

Elisha moaned and cried through the rest of the afternoon, asking for more water on his teabags when they dried out (the swelling was gone from all the stings, but he kept the last two bags on the stings between his fingers.  He indicated more than once that those were the most painful.

Finally– almost 6 hours after his first dose when we got home, Jay and I decided it was close enough and re-dosed Elisha with the (nurse-suggested) larger dose of Ibuprofen.  Jay took a shift of snuggling him while I ate, and maybe 15-minutes later Elisha perked up in the lap and said distinctly,

“I don’t hurt anymore!”

We all cheered and praised Jesus while I watched him adjusting to this new pain-free state.  Jay talked Elisha into a glass of milk and set the boy at the table across from me.  Elisha sat there, a smile spreading on his face. “I don’t hurt any more!”

Then a connection was made.

“God healed me!”

“Yes!” I answered. “We thank God for healing you!”

“God healed me!” he said again, the delight splitting his face into a grin.

The girls came home, everybody went to bed and to sleep.  I responded to a few calls of concern that came in during bedtime, delighted to tell the story of Elisha’s revelation.

His Sunday school teacher filled in the missing piece for me.

All this month (the 2-3 year-olds do the same story every week for a month) his class has been reviewing the story of Naaman (who asked the prophet Elisha for help), talking about how Naaman was so sick his mama couldn’t help him, his papa couldn’t the doctors couldn’t.  Only God could heal him.

And I just marveled at the perfection of God’s timing– that Elisha would be prepared to praise, and be prepared with the words to use.

If Elisha doesn’t remember this on his own, I know this is a story I’ll be telling him: Even when Mama and Daddy can’t fix it, God can.

The current list of praises:

  • The quick reduction of swelling: the nurse said swelling could last up to 2-3 days
  • No threatening reaction despite the number of stings.
    • The nurse said if something *bad* was going to happen it would happen within the first two hours
  • Elisha was wearing long pants and long sleeves, protecting most of his body.
  • He wasn’t stung more.  The grandma watching everybody when it happened said he was swarmed.  A couple wasps even followed him into the church when he was brought to find me.
  • The nest was found by investigating adults who know what to do about it.
  • The teabags were there and they worked so well.
  • Everyone was so respectful and responsive– helping us manage, but not trying to manage us.
  • All the children were asleep by 9 p.m.

“All praise to God who reigns above.”


So I’m working out this scheduling effort, and I’m feeling very inspired by it

(Don’t knock it– any diet can be inspiring before you start.  Almost any.)

One of the unique elements of MOTH is the scheduling not only of your own time, but also of each of the children’s.  You don’t just say go-here, do-this, but you also provide what you both want.

For us:

  • One-on-one time with mama
  • One-on-one time with each sibling
  • craft time
  • read-aloud time

And then you work in the necessaries too:

  • School
  • Chores (the author suggests the label diligence rather than chores, and I like that).
  • Meals
  • sleep

I made a schedule for school time, and see myself starting to implement the applicable (non-school) parts on Monday or Tuesday.

This is just a week-day schedule– guiding our time mainly while Jay’s at work.

The neat thing to me in all this was the sense that it was doable.  The authoress’s reminders that God provides the time for what He wants done

And my own mantra of “God does not depend on human exhaustion to accomplish his will”

Made the whole process very peaceful.

I don’t think I’d feel this way if we were already in the middle of school– it would be too many details to think about and process while my brain was full– but the timing now seems just perfect.

My favorite thing about scheduling– and one of the half-dozen new thoughts this book has planted– is that the point is to reduce your load by reducing the number of decisions you have to make at  any given time.

“Decisions take energy,” like Teri Maxwell says, and the fewer (repetitive) decisions one needs to process the less scattered she is likely to feel.

The card-file system I’ve used for repetitive housework is an example of where I’ve seen the truth of this already.  I like *knowing* what to do next instead of constantly trying to figure it out.

It’s Fun when things Stick

A long time ago I wrote about how I was careful to change the way I told Cinderella to clarify that work is not abuse. (I was not going to train any attitudes to a false martyrdom. Yuck.)

Anyway, when we watched the R&H Cinderella last week I was delighted when one of the girls leaned over to the other and said knowingly, “They are unkind not to help her.”

The other nodded knowingly and I just grinned.

This was the exact message I’d been trying to communicate, and I was very pleased they’d internalized it enough that months later they still remembered.

Getting Ready for Homeschool, 2009

We’ve just about finished ordering everything for school this fall.

The girls are very excited.  They’ve asked if we can start early.

Elisha has no clue, and I’m cool with that.  I’ve found a pre-school workbook (50-cents) that we’ll save for him for next year when, as a 4-year-old, he’ll actually be able to do something with it.

For now I expect he’ll do preschool stuff in whatever room we’re working in or else go play/read to himself like he already does when the girls are ignoring him.

At this time we’re planning to use the Tapestry of Grace curriculum with the Well-Trained Mind as another resource for a sort of classical approach in our organizing structure.

Other than Language Arts (Melody’s still learning how to read, and I’ll be requiring more handwriting from Natasha this year) I expect the girls will be using the same teaching time as a class of two.

Jay picked out the Science and thinks he may want to teach the math, and I am wrestling again with how many “extracurriculars” to include.

And by this I do not yet mean any outside-the-home extras.  I mean non-core stuff like Spanish/French, drawing, and musical instruments.  I have resources for any and all of these, I just have to learn where they’d belong.

I have a measure of ability and enjoyment in all of these, and would like to share them with my kids (not a little because that would give me more time with them too), but I know that they could wait, too.

I have a funny little list in my homeschool notebook (apparently reading is such a *given* it didn’t even make the list):

Important to Mother

  • Writing and speaking coherently
  • Understanding, loving music

Important to Daddy

  • Math
  • Science

Important Because They’re Important

  • Study of the Word
  • Study of History

See as Beneficial (if we can fit them in)

  • Foreign language
  • Drawing
  • Musical instrument

~ ~ ~

And that’s the outline of where we’re starting from this year.

I made a little chart to compare what “year” we’d be at for each of the kids’ schooling, and how old they’d be for each pass through the material.

Tapestry of Grace, if you didn’t follow the link, follows a 4-year cycle through history, repeating three times over the 12 traditional years of school, increasing in depth as the children mature.  The progression of time is the organizing structure for the curriculum, with a focus on philosophies and personalities and how they shaped history.

After making the chart I realized I’d be 45 by the time Elisha finished high school (yes, with this system I’d expect to be teaching them through high school), and I felt like writing a letter to my 45-year-old self, begging me to remember I’m not making any of these plans out of any imagined certainty or revealed wisdom, but only doing the best I can do with the understanding I currently have.

You see, anytime I see such farsighted “certainty” (Hi, I’ve decided what I’m going to do for the next 15 years), I get uncomfortable, but at the same time I can only make decisions based on the information I have now.

So here I go.

The Straight Life

I am the regular lawn-mower at our house.

I used to think of it was a man-job, and didn’t really consider doing until my mom asked, somewhat scandalized, why I let Jay keep mowing the lawn when it attacks his allergies so badly.

He had this whole system of putting on long pants, tucking his cuffs into his socks, etc.  Then he still had to shower as soon as her finished if he didn’t want his eyes and skin to be itching horribly afterward.

Honestly, it never entered my mind, and I was happy to take over once I actually noticed.

It’s proven very nice for me too.  I am able to gift Jay with something important to him– a nice-looking lawn, and I get both necessary exercise and time to myself with my iPod (we always use hearing protection, and that goes a long way to putting me in my own little world).

Weekend before last I was mowing along listening to the playlist I have for one of my novels (I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve always loved ordering my music in a sort of home-made soundtrack for the stories in my head), and I came upon a dog-bomb I’d missed in my pre-mow sweep.

Thankful I’d seen it before I mowed it, I stopped the mower and found a shovel to clean up.  As I bent to collect the wad, a Kenny G song reached the vocalist part:

I was thinkin’ that I’d always be lonely but God came up with someone like you… Just to think I had made up my mind love was over…

And I had to laugh, of course.

In a perfect world, this is what all that romanticism leads to: the straight life.  The world where you push a mower once or twice a week all summer and pick up dog poop.

And God knows I wouldn’t want it any other way.