Friday, June 5, 2009

Growing Pains

(Portrait of our four kids with their four cousins last summer)

As this school year closes, I am so proud of our kids. They have worked so hard this year in their schoolwork and around the house. They are such a huge help in so many ways.

Benjamin is finishing third grade this year, and he's reading far better now than he was at the beginning of the year. He speeds through his math and has the most lovely penmanship. He has been doing a lot more around the house lately: taking out the trash, watering the garden, dusting the living room. He's my "baby" at nine-and-a-half and is growing soooo big. Benjamin makes the funniest and most expressive faces -- he has had the entire family laughing around the kitchen table at dinner many evenings.

According to our home school group, Jonathan "graduates" from elementary school as he leaves sixth grade behind. He's an instigator in our home, always mischievous and enjoying getting under everyone's skin. But he's an amazing help around the house as he cleans all three bathrooms, dusts, waters, and helps wash my car. Math has been his difficult subject as he juggles the concepts of fractions, decimals, proportions, percentages, algebra, and geometry. He'll catch on, but it's not too easy now. Music is Jonathan's gift as he plays both piano (coming up on three years now) and guitar with Father Acker's Free Teen Guitar Class; he's been playing guitar for almost a year now and has a performance in Alpine tomorrow, playing his red-hot electric guitar, a loaner from the guitar ministry. He's a great all-around student, doing well in all subjects.

Timothy is graduating from eighth grade, and next year he will be in high school. (My mind is still reeling at that thought!) He is doing well in school, successfully completing pre-algebra this year. But his passion is art and design, whether that be drawing amazing creatures or designing robotics. His current interest is rocks and minerals, and he has read all the books on the subject in our library and ordered some more titles from the library system today. He also plays piano, and he works very hard around the house and in the yard. Both he and Jonathan do the vast majority of the gardening work around here, J the mowing and T the weed-wacking. Timothy also vacuums the house for me as well as "cobweb patrol" and does any of the heavy work that I need him to do for me. He's a great help, and his love for all of God's creatures is incredible; he is always bringing in critters from outside like frogs, toads, and lizards -- and today he had fun with the four-foot gopher snake we found on our lawn when we got home.

Elizabeth is completing her junior year of high school and will be a senior next year. (NO WAY!) For the last few weeks, she has been working at the nearby Bible Camp on Fridays, vacuuming and cleaning dorm rooms before new groups come in. She's been working mostly as a volunteer for our friend Teri (the boys' piano teacher) and will interview for a "real" job in the next week or so. She also does the dishes every night and keeps the kitchen clean. Elizabeth is so thrilled to be done with science and math for the rest of her high school career, and tomorrow she takes the SAT for college entrance. She loves writing, literature, and history best in school as she considers possible college majors at local Christian liberal arts colleges. I can't believe that this next school year will be the last one with my girl!

Our kids are growing so fast and it's hard as a mother to balance being proud of our maturing kids and being a little sad at watching our babies grow up. I love being with them and I'm so glad that we have had the opportunity to educate them at home so that I hardly miss a minute.

I feel myself becoming nostalgic as our final year of having all four kids at home nears. It's been a great twelve years of homeschooling so far, and if we keep on homeschooling until Benjamin graduates from high school, I'll end up with a total of twenty years of home education. Whew. We'll see if that's what we end up doing; only the Lord truly knows.

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