School Pictures – The Teens

A couple of weeks ago, I officially became the mother of four teens. When this parenting journey began, I would have told you that I loved little children and was, honestly, dreading the teen years. However, reality has been completely different from those clueless thoughts years ago. And I am so thankful!

I have some fabulous young adults in my home that bring much joy and laughter. Daily. Parenting, no matter the ages or stages of your children, is difficult and rewarding. I like to think we lean more toward rewarding than difficult. I’m going to miss these kiddos when they leave home.

So, yes, I compelled my older four to play nice for Picture Day.

Lydia, 13, is one of my beautiful redheads. Even as a young child she valued the quiet and alone time. She still does. I often find her hidden away in her room with a good book. Or with sketch pad in hand. She has aspirations to one day be an artist and I think leans toward illustrating books.

Caleb, 14, bears the burden of being surrounding by all these teen girls. Is it any surprise that he enjoys a good hike in the woods? Well, unless he has a good book on hand. He is a smart, intelligent young man who offers up excellent conversation. His future? There has been some discussion of the military but I’m not confident that it is set in stone.

Mary, 16, is my take charge, get it done girl. She plans to one day teach piano and perhaps do music therapy as well. In her free time she loves to sew, read, and any number of other things. She doesn’t believe in idle hands. Get up and get busy is her motto!

Bekah, 17, is a senior this year. She is taking a couple of classes via dual enrollment but the majority of her studies are still at home. Give her chocolate, a good book, and some yummy yarn and she is a happy girl. You will often find her hanging with Lydia in the their bedroom, quietly, enjoying her current read or knitting project. What does her future hold? She is unsure but with her love of literature, I can see her leaning in that direction.

I think that wraps up the torture we call Back to School Pictures for 2016-2017.  I am sure they are looking forward to a new family picture when we need to update this fall. Ha!

Now back to the books!

Systematic Theology and Ferdinand

My oldest child is heading into her senior year of high school.  While we always knew we were going to homeschool, I never imagined how quickly it would go by. This year I have seven children that are official “school age”. We quite easily cover grades from preschool to high school.

I suppose because as my older ones are getting, well, older, it makes days like today all the more precious to me. It is also a beautiful reminder to me on those challenging days why it is worth every sacrifice made to homeschool my children.

After the normal morning things that must be done like the making of beds and taking of showers, we all settled in the living room to read and discuss a bit on systematic theology. Yes, even the four year old was cuddled with me on the couch learning the importance and value of systematic theology.

But not only do the younger ones sit in on the older kiddos’ readings and discussions, it flips in the other direction as well. I gather up my little ones to enjoy The Story of Ferdinand and do a little craft. And who jumps in the mix? My 10 year old and 12 year old daughters. Yes, they were right on the floor with us. Why? Because who can pass the opportunity to sit with Ferdinand and smell the flowers? Of course there was glue involved. Even at my mature age, I do love using glue.

It goes deeper than just listening and gluing. It truly does. While a lot of what we read on systematic theology was too complicated for my four or six year old, they are hearing and understanding the importance of scripture. Of reading all of scripture, seeking to understand the Word, and knowing God better. Each and every day that we sit, read, and discuss, this truth sinks a bit deeper into their hearts.

And relationships, memories, and connections are being strengthened each day between my children that will stand against time. I see my little ones cuddled up beside my older ones sharing favorite picture books or gathered at the table all drawing and creating together. They garden together, knit together, explore the woods together with no thought to age segregation.

It is by far one of the greatest rewards of this homeschooling journey. Do not let me be deceptive. We deal with grumbling and complaining. People need quiet and space and a break from the chaos that is family. No rose colored glasses here, folks. But at the end of the day, I savor the moments with systematic theology and Ferdinand.

Orbiting Jupiter – Gary Schmidt

A couple of years ago, I read aloud The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt and it instantly was heralded as a family favorite. It is has been re-read quite a few times by various children in the house. I try to keep up with our favorite authors so that we don’t miss any new reads. Somehow I was completely unaware that Mr. Schmidt had a new book, Orbiting Jupiter. (Huge thanks to Sherry at Semicolon!) I quickly added it to my library requests and was surprised to have it in hand just a few days later.

The story is told from the perspective of Jack Hurd (12). Jack lives with his parents on a dairy farm in Maine. His parents are considering fostering a teenage boy (14), Joseph, and they include Jack in on making the final decision.

While Jack has loving parents and a safe, secure home, Joseph’s life doesn’t paint as lovely a picture. Juvenile detention, attacking a teacher, and being a father are all parts of Joseph’s story. Yes, Joseph is a thirteen year old father of a little girl named Jupiter.

Two boys who could not have been more different form an unexpected relationship that proves to be a strong and faithful bond. Despite how others see and treat Joseph, Jack is a loyal and dedicated friend.  A brother who has Joseph’s back.

This book is a surprisingly quick read. It deals with very real, difficult, and  challenging topics. Orbiting Jupiter is heartbreaking and beautiful and real.  Gary Schmidt handles  this so well by allowing the story to be told through the eyes of Jack, who is younger than Joseph.  This is a powerful book that really makes you think.  We are so quick, so very quick to judge. We should all be like Jack. Looking past that outward appearance and seeing the heart.

I highly recommend Orbiting Jupiter. My seventeen year old has already read it and my other teens will be reading it as well. I am debating if I will let my twelve year old read it now or wait a bit.  I would suggest reading it first for yourself and then deciding if it is right for your middle school child. Again no detailed or graphic content; just a very heavy, mature topic.

Have you read Orbiting Jupiter? What did you think?