Tag Archives: character


Even with all of my good intentions, this school year has not been an easy one. Come to think of it, I don’t know that any of them could be classified as “easy.” But as we celebrate the holidays, I am reminded of how thankful I am that we are able to homeschool and educate our children in the way we believe benefits them the most. So even on our “off” days, when things aren’t going as I would like them to, I am so thankful that:

  • I know my children’s academic strengths and weaknesses; while I applaud their strengths, we can focus together on the areas that need improvement.
  • I know their character strengths and weaknesses, and I’m around to help guide them through various situations.
  • I know their friends, their friends’ parents, and their friends’ siblings, and I know what they do when they’re just “hanging out”.
  • They’re learning (albeit slowly some days!) how to accept and get along with one another, as well as how to encourage and support one another.
  • They’re learning practical skills as they help out around the home.
  • We have time to deal with “life” as a family, helping each other when the need arises.
  • We have time to reach out to others in need — to friends, family, and people in the community.
  • We are learning and growing together.
Though many of our friends’ children now attend school, homeschooling has definitely proven to still be the best option for our family. So this season, instead of becoming discouraged by the inevitable “bad” days, I’m going to continue reflecting on all the positives we’ve experienced. And I am so very thankful.
How has homeschooling benefited your family? What are you most thankful for?
Photo by ensignmedia

Are You a Rule Follower – Part 2

I walked the long way back from the car, now hot and sweaty, and the ink on my arm had run so much you couldn’t see what it said. I looked at the employee checking people through and said, “Please let me back in.” The security guard laughed, but he stopped when the beeper went off.

“Do you have anything metal on you?” he asked. “Maybe your keys?”

I handed him my keys, then went through the scanner again. And it went off again. I could feel my already-sweaty palms begin to sweat even more.

“It’s probably just not working right,” said the employee. He was going to let me through.

“Anything else?” the guard asked. I gave him my watch and went through again. It beeped again.

“It’s just not working right,” the employee said again. I liked him.

But the guard said, “Anything else?” I gave him the two rings I was wearing. And it beeped again.

The guard looked at me funny. “Do you have anything else on you that’s metal?” My hand moved towards my pocket, and I pulled out…two packages of tuna.

Now, two packages of tuna aren’t much of  a threat to anyone, unless you’re throwing them in frustration.  But I wasn’t throwing them. I was SO embarrassed, all I could do was turn around, drop them in the nearest garbage can, and move quickly through the detector — again. No beep.

“No outside food allowed,” reminded the guard in a pleasant voice. I gave him a little smile, then scooted away as quickly as I could. I knew my face had to be bright red. It sure felt like all the blood had rushed to it.

As I made my way back to the rest of the group, all I could think of was my sister’s words, “I’m a rule-follower.” My, she could really rub it in if she wanted to! And though I’m usually a rule-follower, to save some money I tried to break the rule…and I was caught.

I debated for a while if I should share the story with anyone, particularly my children. But I did, as it was a good lesson for them too.

There are a lot of rules that are easy to “bend”. Driving a little faster than the speed limit, smuggling snacks into a movie theater, and copying songs from someone else’s CD are all “small” infractions that shouldn’t seem to matter. But they do. They are a reflection of character and integrity, two things we want to hang on to.

It was also a good lesson in kindness, as my sister never did gloat. 🙂


Photo by sideshowmom

Are You A Rule-Follower? – Part 1

Last month, we met with my sister and her family for a fun day at a nearby theme park. We had gone to the same park last year and had such a good time,  and this time my kids were excited about sharing the experience with their cousins. I felt confident about navigating through the park and handling the high food prices — that is, until we went through the main gate.

As with many theme parks, the drinks, snacks, and meal deals weren’t deals at all, but we knew that ahead of time. Last year, we took some snacks along with us to save some money, and no one working at the gates commented on them at all (we did buy our drinks there). Because the park had such a family-friendly policy of allowing snacks into the park, I assured my sister we could do it this year as well.

So, before we headed off to the park, we each packed a bag with snacks and a few extra waters. We were ready for a great day.

That is, until we lined up to go through the turnstile. This summer, as the workers  looked through the bags,  if you had any extra drinks or snacks, they told you to throw them away or take them back to your car, at least a thirty minute walk there and back.

“Really?” I said, incredulous. “Take them back?”

“Yes,” the worker repeated. “You can take your water through this time, but the snacks have to go back.”

My sister went through in a different line. The worker there told her she could keep her snacks just this once, but she had to throw her drinks away. We watched as others had to throw away some of their stuff, too.

Shocked and angry about the randomness of it all, we put a few of our snacks in my sister’s bag, and I headed out with the rest. I wanted to put all of my snacks in her bag, but she insisted that she was a rule-follower, and said that we shouldn’t do it. So we’d eat her snacks, drink my water, and make it through the day without having to spend too much on extra food.

Back in the parking lot, I unlocked the car and put the backpack in the van. I stood there a moment, thinking about all of the snacks in there. Included in the stack of snacks were two tuna packs in foil, the kind you would take if you were camping. I had bought them for my husband, as he’s a big guy and granola bars just don’t fill him up. I thought of him, thought of my sister, then put the packs in the pocket of my shorts. No one would even notice.

On the long walk back into the park, I had a lot of time to think about that tuna. Was it the right thing to do? Was it right to break this rule that just didn’t seem fair? What did it say about my character and integrity?  Could we afford $10.00+ hamburgers for everyone? Did my husband really need that tuna?

I decided he did. After all, it was a bad rule. It was not family-friendly, and I had a family to look after.

On the way out of the park, I had my arm stamped, so to return, I had to go through a special entrance. When I approached the gate, I saw one of the workers and a security guard. I held out my arm to show him the stamp. Then I had to pass through the metal detector.

A metal detector…

An Attitude of Thankfulness

When my oldest was small, the Veggie Tales movies were just starting to be produced. One of my favorites is Madame Blueberry. In the video, Junior Asparagus sings this chorus:

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I’m glad for what I have,
That’s an easy way to start!

For the love that He shares,
‘Cause He listens to my prayers,
That’s why I say thanks every day!

I remember thinking how great the lyrics were — so simple, yet so true. I would sing them with my kids, hoping that they would always remember to have a thankful heart.

And then they grew older. While they still enjoy watching Veggie Tales on occasion, now they watch other movies too. We don’t sing the song anymore, and sadly, somewhere among the ever-improving technology and the peer pressure, they forgot how to have a thankful heart. These days, they tell me about all of the things they don’t have — all the gadgets, the clothing, the furniture, the toys — that if I would just buy it for them, life would be much better. But I know that’s not true, and I’ve told them so; over and over and over, I’ve told them so.

And then I wondered — have I had a thankful heart lately? “Be thankful!” I say, while I go through the day exasperated and irritated. Have they seen contentment in me?

I am so thankful for my children — for their personalities, their strengths, their quirks, their thoughts, their talents, their character, their callings — but how often do I tell them? I have to admit, it’s been a while since I mentioned how proud I am of them, or how much I appreciate them. So this Thanksgiving season, I’m going to do more than just tell them to have a thankful heart — I’m going to show them mine.

A Heart Of Gratitude

img-0285This Thanksgiving, we’re spending time with family, enjoying each other’s company. My children will be playing with their cousins, enjoying lots of good meals, and taking a break from school. But it’s hard work getting ready for a trip: making the lists, running errands, washing the clothes and sorting through them, cleaning up the house, and getting the pets settled for someone to care for them. It often seems as if the kids don’t appreciate all the effort it takes to provide them with a nice holiday time. Rarely does anyone ever say, “Thanks, Mom, for getting us ready to go.”

Sometimes I wonder how my children will learn to be grateful. They need this, they want that, and they want it right now! But there must be a better way then giving them lecture…after lecture…after lecture.

Then I wondered, how often do I thank them? Did I thank Cassie for spending extra time cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the craft paint off the cabinet door of the sink? Did I thank Lillie for helping Luke choose which toys he wanted to bring along? Did I thank John for running to his Grandma’s house to borrow some eggs for breakfast? I thank my friends for favors they do for me, but I don’t often thank my husband or children. Perhaps the things we do around the house are expected or required, but it’s still nice when someone appreciates it.

Instead of just telling them to be thankful, I need to show them by example. They need to see me with a thankful attitude. I need to appreciate them not only for what they do, but for who they are. And they need to hear me thanking every day God for all He has given us, not fussing about the things we lack.

They need to see me with a heart of gratitude.

Homeschool Curriculum Advisor

Red BooksOnce again, this year I’ve been searching for some different curricula for my children. What’s worked for one doesn’t always work for the next in line. During my search, I’ve come across a great website called Home-School-Curriculum-Advisor.com. Not only does the site give information about some of the various programs available, it provides practical help in finding which one is right for your family.

Included in the buttons on the left is one entitled “How to Choose.” Following the links provided, parents are given six key steps to take before they look into curriculum. Included in the steps are determining your goals, considering learning styles as well as your own limitations, and several more.

In the “Reviews” section, you’ll find advice regarding several homeschooling resources, including Sonlight, Switched on Schoolhouse, the Robinson Curriculum, and Tapestry of Grace. Here, the author not only tells the advantages of each program, but the disadvantages as well, giving you a complete assessment of how it worked for her family. If you are considering using one of these four types of curriculum, read through these reviews first.

And there’s more. There are links to the various publishers’ websites, including Bob Jones Publications and A Beka Homeschool Curriculum, as well as a number of options online.  You’ll also find articles about unschooling, evaluating learning, and learning styles. An article about homeschooling problems even addresses struggles with developmental and character issues.

The school year has already started for most, but if you’re still struggling as you homeschool your child (which at times has lasted well into the school year for me), read through the information on this site. There are many thought-provoking questions provided that you can ask yourself — questions to help you and your child get back on track.

Homeschooling for Character – Mine!

Last week I had a bad day homeschooling – before breakfast was over, I was already angry and frustrated with my children. They weren’t being obedient, and everything was taking twice as long as it should have. I stormed out of the room, muttering something about how maybe next year they should all attend school.

And then I realized…it wasn’t them — it was me. I hadn’t required obedience. I once heard a speaker say that obedience is doing something right away, all the way (completely), in a happy way. That morning, when I asked them to do something, they whined, argued, and complained. They certainly didn’t do what I asked right away or in a happy way. And while I should have followed through with what I said, instead I gave in…and gave in… and gave in…until the disobedience made me so angry I blew up. And there went the day – it’s hard to recover after that.

I always wonder why they act so surprised when I get angry—they know they’re not following instructions. But then again, why am I always so surprised they don’t obey? They know I don’t follow through with what I say, so they push as far as they can, hopefully not so far that I fuss at them. The problem didn’t start with them – it began with me.

For the first time, I realized that teaching my children at home requires me working on my character as well! It would be very easy to put everyone in school and not have to worry about it. They’re great kids, and most of the time they are respectful, courteous, and kind. If they were in school, my time to interact with them would be more limited, and I wouldn’t have to deal much with the issue of obedience. I’m confident we would get by, and they would turn out fine.

With this new perspective, however, I’m glad we’re homeschooling. The constant interactions with my children are quite revealing, showing me areas where I need to change. And I know that as I do, they’ll change as well. So I told them I don’t plan on sending them to school next year after all – I have a lot more growing to do!