Watching Between the Lines

We cram-packed last weekend with school-related events, the culmination of a few big projects.

Friday night, Cameron performed his first play – a wacky comedy called Kokonut High – and Sean won his the homeschool spelling bee.  Yay!  Of course, the kids simply glowed with the satisfaction of success.  As a mom, though, I was reading (or watching as the case may be) between the lines, and I noticed something worth celebrating even more than a well-performed play and words properly spelled.  Both boys took gigantic developmental leaps that I’m not sure they comprehend themselves.

Cameron was not afraid of the audience.  I know I’ve written it before, but this is a shy kid.  His Bible class teacher came to watch the play and told me he couldn’t believe it was the same Cameron because he could hardly get Cameron to speak during class.  But speak he did.  He looked the audience right in the eye and delivered his lines with confidence. 

Sean showed self-control.  If you haven’t met Sean (nicknames include Captain Insano, Tigger, Bouncy, and the Atomic Kid), you might not appreciate this.  For 9 years, this kid has never stopped moving at lightning speed.  He didn’t even wait the full 9 months to be born!  He doesn’t think before he acts…he can’t…he never stops acting!  He’s zippy.  He’s nuts.  He vibrates when not moving forward, backward, vertical, or diagonal.  And yet, at the spelling bee when he so desperately wanted to win and had practiced so hard and long for the moment, he stood still, he repeated the words carefully, and he spelled with slow deliberation.  Hints of maturity?  Hints of mind over natural inclination?

I don’t know.  I just know this weekend gave me a lot to tuck away and think about at leisure.  Cameron wants to audition for more plays, and Sean is preparing for the regional spelling bee, so I’ll watch their characters unfold and grow again.


Signs of Spring

Jordi noticed it first.  I don’t know how she spotted it, buried as it was under layers of dead, brown leaves, but there it was.  A tiny green sprout, no bigger than a golf pencil.  Our garden is coming back to life. 

She was standing outside waiting for a friend to show up when she spotted it.  She dashed in to grab my arm and drag me out to show me.  Of course, now we have to clear out the dead leaves and water the ground and prepare for a new season.

Then her friend showed up to take her off to play, leaving me on my dirty knees sweeping up leaves.  How did that happen?  I don’t even like gardening!  Only the sunshine of Jordi’s smile makes it worthwhile to me.  11 years old and in complete control of me.  Today I can see the first glowing purple sprouts of our Wandering Jew and a few green survivors of whatever that perennial was we planted a few years ago.  Science lessons are blooming around us.  Soon we’ll discuss photosynthesis and the differences between bulbs and seeds.  For now, it’s just dirt and possibilities.

And Jordi was back home to smile her radiance of approval.  Spring is coming.  We’ll plant something again.  Maybe it’ll even survive the summer.

Money DOES grow on trees


Mom was wrong.  Money does grow on trees.  You just have to harvest it, sort it, and take it to the Pecan Shed.

Yesterday, 2 of my young capitalists decided to gather up the pecans in our yard.  We don’t actually own any pecan trees, but neighbors on both sides have given us permission to collect whatever we want.  I gave them permission thinking it would be a good economics project in learning the value of labor. 

An afternoon’s labor harvested $17 for the two of them, pretty heady for a 9 and 11 year-old. 

Guess what they wanted to do again today?

We’ve got more neighbors…and they’ve got more trees.  I supervised them knocking on a kind man’s door, and they cleaned his yard for him, as well as going back over our own yard with eyes newly sharpened by profits in the pockets.  At this moment, they’re industriously sorting the good from the bad, picking up some fine science lessons on the types of pecans and the pests that can infect them. 

And they’re already dreaming of next winter’s crop.  Don’t you love optimisim?

Must be doing something right

Sometimes I wonder.   When my boys are competing in the Body Function Olympics at the breakfast table, when the little ones are bickering for the 4,012th time during the same day, when my oldest tries yet AGAIN to whine his way out of algebra, I wonder. 

Will they ever grow up?  And have we completely messed up trying to raise these goofballs into civilized adults?  Is it too late to trade them in?

And then I get blessed with a moment when I know either we’ve done something right raising them, or God has blessed them mercifully with sweetness despite my parenting skills.


My little girl has been sick all week.  6 days straight of lying listlessly on the couch, moving nothing more than a thumb on the remote control, and raising her voice no higher than a pitiful croaking whisper.  And suddenly, my boys are compassionate, dedicated, protective brothers.  They’ve waited on her hand and foot this week, fetching blankets, movies, chicken soup and water bottles at her whim, and giving her piggyback rides to the bathroom so she won’t tire out.  It makes my heart sing to see such sweet moments.

Oh, I know they’re still my boys and not alien duplicates, because back in the living room they revert to picking at each other and suggesting that Valentine’s Day ought to be a holiday from school. 

Jordi will get well, and all will return to normal, thankfully.  I miss my sunshine girl.  In the meantime, I enjoy little peeks into the sweeter side of stinky-head boys.  It gives me hope that someone, someday will marry them and not regret it.

What is it about a big audience?

I discovered something interesting about my son today – he’d rather talk to 400 people than just one.  (It’s one of the joys of this whole parenting adventure – you get to keep discovering surprising new twists in your children.  I wonder if he’s still discovering new things about himself?)

We went to IHOP to eat pancakes for a good cause.  Hey, all causes are good if they let me eat panckaes. 🙂  The IHOP was offering free stacks of pancakes all day and asking people to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network.  Being the Good Homeschool Mom (that’s GHM for short, and I’ve got the badge) that I am, and the dedicated community servant, I signed my kids up for a one hour shift handing out flyers and asking people to make donations to the Children’s Miracle Network.  Hey, it’s 10 a.m.  All the other kids are behind desks.  Since my son’s favorite part of school right  is drama, I thought this would be no problem for him. 


Back to shy mode.  He kept his mouth clamped shut and refused to speak to a single person.  With a bit of nudging, he was able to hand out flyers to everyone in sight, but he wouldn’t speak.  He explained that he’s perfectly willing to get on stage and talk in front of 400 people, but he can’t talk to them one-on-one.  Hmmmm.  Okay.  Now we know his limits.  His current limits, anyway.  Who knows about tomorrow.

He did enjoy the pancakes.

Paper boxes


My son folds paper boxes.

It’s a neat little trick he picked up at art camp last year.  This kid’s hands are always moving – he’s never still unless he’s asleep, and maybe not then – so sometimes when he’s reading or talking he picks up square pieces of paper and folds them into boxes.  I keep finding them all over the house, all colors and all sizes, down to one barely big enough to slip over a pencil eraser.

He doesn’t have anything to put in the boxes, he just keeps folding them.  When we find something that needs to be boxed, he’ll be ready.  He sees no irony in creating boxes with no inventory, it’s simply the joy of creating.

I wish I could be more like that – simply enjoying the beauty and simplicity of creating and doing, with no agenda and no pressing need to be practical.  The wonders of childhood to simply sit and make boxes because it feels good!

Even more…I hope I get the opportunity to be around when he starts filling them.  He’s got a lot of potential in those empty boxes…

I love a good sequel

Awhile back I posted a link to a neat homeschool parable about Mr Pointy Nose whic encouraged me not to follow old standards, but to set new ones in educating my children.

A helpful blog reader tipped me off that the author Tammy Drennan has written a sequel, Mr. Pointy Nose Returns.  Tammy eloquently reminds me WHY I started this whole adventure in the first place.  Good reading!  I recommend it.