Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Conversation that Made it Happen

I look back on the conversation that made this all possible.  I'm amazed that I'm here.  I was grossly repulsed by the idea homeschooling just a few years ago.  I thought I'd have to give up so much of myself.  I thought I'd have no time to myself.  I thought I'd crack under the pressure.  I thought so much without consulting anyone.

Additionally, I thought so many incorrect things about homeschooling--many of these erroneous thoughts kept me from homeschooling.  Fear.  Uncertainty.  And no factual background.  No factual background.  Many of my fears were grounded, fashioned and formed out of misinformation.  Misunderstanding.  Untruth.

I remember sitting in the Awahnee Lodge in Yosemite with a group of women I hardly knew at all.  We had been invited to go camping with a family we knew and they had a long tradition of camping with a group of their friends.  We knew couple A, but we didn't know anything about the six other couples.  Each of these families homeschooled.  I remember sitting at the table and just being present as they (just the women) discoursed about their fears, concerns, joys, sorrows, uncertainties all surrounding the topic of their personal journeys as homeschool moms.

At that very moment I had this epiphany.  You mean you don't have full confidence in the work you do?  You mean you need a nap each day?  You mean to say that you're ok with your home being not-so-Martha-Stewarty because you'd rather educate your children at home?  You sweetly, passionately, purely, deeply love your children?  You love this adventure?

It was an interesting conversation to sit in on.  One I am really glad I had listened to.  Very sweet women.  Creative.  Talented.  Beautiful.  Articulate.  Educated.  Imperfect.  Not-put-together.  Uncertain.  Lovely.

THANK YOU, sweet LORD, for this conversation.  The one that reassured me that perfect isn't the qualifier for this journey.  Put-together is not the qualifier.  Excellent is not the qualifier.  Willing, humble, gentle, and imperfect are.

Thank you for giving me the sweet opportunity to serve my family in this capacity for nearly an entire school year.  YOU alone have made this possible.  Thank you for sustaining me.  Thank you for equipping me.  Thank you for giving me an opportunity to serve, love, and teach other women about this beautiful journey.  Thank you for allowing me to live in a community and in a country where this is possible.

Refresh me, LORD, this summer.  Give me sweet and gentle rest with my children.  Energize us to jump into this sweet journey again in August.  You are so good to us.  Thank you for the awesome love relationship I have with my children.  Thank you for the beauty of our relationship.  Thank you, LORD, for that.  AMEN

Humbly, Imperfectly, Sweetly,
Melissa Culver


If they call it homeschooling why aren't you at home?  Some days homeschooling has nothing to do with home.  Some days it has more to do with fun than anything else.  And this was one of those days.

Yet another luxury to homeschooling.  Home?  Schooling.

Joy in the Journey,
Melissa Culver

Dear Melissa: Have Fun

As a homeschool mom it's hard to bounce back and forth between roles.  Am I Mom or am I teacher?  Fundamentally, I'm both.  But, there are times where I need to turn the teacher off.  I don't need to turn everything into a lesson about gravity, Science, Math, Reading, Communication, or the like.  I truly can just sit back, relax, play, have fun, and abandon the 'teacher' hat.  I need to give myself permission to do that more often.  So, this is a memo to me to have fun.
Mel, just play cars with him.  Truly, it's ok.  He'll figure all the other things out on another day.  Enjoy the cars.

Truly Listening,

We Do That Too

I'm hoping you do this in your home.  I did it as a child and loved it.  Honestly, as an adult, I still do it.  Dax has officially joined the ranks as a beater-licker.  Yes.  The other day he came up to the counter (while standing on a chair) and was lapping like a puppy.  It was his way of saying, "Hey, Mom!  I wanna lick that thing!"  So, he's hooked.  I can't help it.

I think the person who invented the mixer made sure there were two beaters so you could each have one.  Maybe not the truth; it's more of a centrifugal force, thing--I'm sure.  But, I like to think it's because you have to share a moment like this with someone you love.

Melissa Culver

Delicious Dessert a la Betty

Yo, Betty!  Thanks for the quick and easy dessert that looks like I worked really hard when I didn't.  You're awesome and you make me look good.

So, dessert.  On average (lately) we have families over for dinner 4-6 times a month.  What's on hand?  What takes little time?  What's easy?  What can spread over 20 people?  Cupcakes.  Here are a few quick and easy cupcake ideas.

1) Melt the frosting.  Bake 'em right there while your guests are there if you wish.  Have the kids join in if you want (so up to you).  Then when the cupcakes are ready, 20 minutes later, pour on the frosting.  Yes.  Pour on the frosting.  Don't wait for them to cool.  Don't frost them in a cute fashion with sprinkles or this and that.  Just scoop out the canned frosting.  Put it in a class pouring container.  Microwave the frosting.  And pour.  Now, how simple was that?  Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.  Gone.

2) Strawberry shortcakes.  Using white or chocolate cupcakes pile on the freshly cut strawberries and add whipped cream.  Need more chocolate?  Sprinkle on some mini chocolate chips too.

3) Raspberries are delicious.  If you are a raspberry fan, then do whatever you want with those delightfully delicious berries.

4) Don't have fresh?  That's ok.  Use frozen berries.  Whip 'em up in the blender with some Cool Whip.  Add a dollop of your fluffy creation to each of your cupcakes and enjoy.

Melissa Culver

My Husband is AMAZING!

My husband started and powered through a big chunk of laundry today.  The couch is our battle station for laundry.  It's easy to delegate by pile when piles have been made.  The children each take their piles upstairs and put them where they belong.  Or, as you can tell by the hangers on the ground, they hang their laundry and then put it away in their respective closets.

Jason, you rock.  I love you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Dentist

Yes, the dentist.  Great field trip.  Such a wealth of knowledge.  Our dentist allowed all the kids to go back for Big R's visit.  The woman who cleaned Big R's teeth allowed the kids to touch almost everything.

Here you can see where Big R's next tooth is pushing out her existing tooth.  Digital X-rays make it possible for you to view the teeth and their progress instantly.
Here's what the 360 degree X-ray system looks like.
 We got to hold the disposable, rotating head that the hygienist uses during your normal cleaning.
Big K was able to push the X-ray button.
Big K explored the dental tools.
And when we left everyone got a goodie bag of dental products.  Additionally, they each got two toys from the treasure box.

Turning everyday life into fun,
Melissa Culver

Letter Writing - MARS

If you are teaching a child how to write letters, then I strongly encourage you to make it worth their time.  Find out what interests them.  Have them write to companies that will send you FREE stuff.  That's powerful right there.  FREE stuff.  Whoooo!

So, we called the 1-800 number on the M&M package the other day to ask if they had caramel M&M's.  This was a question my six-year-old came up with.  I said, "Call the company and ask them."  Their response was, "We have Milky Way bars."  Sure.  Ok.   Thank you.  But, the gal on the phone went on to say that if we wrote to XYZ address (Click on image below to enlarge and get the address.  After 'North' you'd write America.) then they'd send us some free stuff about how MARS makes candy.  Um, sure!  Thank you.

So, we wrote our letter and we're waiting to see what comes in the mail.  Again, make it worth their time.  Keep 'em interested. 
Keep in mind that if your objective is that they write a letter, then don't freak out about handwriting so much.  If your objective is that that they have outstanding penmanship, then make that your priority--sure.  You'll see that I wrote the sentences.  He dictated.  I wrote.  He traced.  Community effort.  Teamwork.

Enjoy the ride,
Melissa Culver

What to Do on a Windy Day...

You go to the 99 Cent Store and get a kite, that's what you do on a windy day.  It's great exercise.  Plenty of running about if the wind is whipping in circles and doesn't want to carry your kite up for you.  It turns into a great discussion on gravity, weather, wind, rain, clouds, pressure systems, working as a team, helping each other, being careful with the string, vocabulary (taut, wound, propensity, likelihood, etc.), and the like.

If you haven't been out with a kite in a long time spend a dollar on a cheap kite, run around, laugh a little.  You'll be glad you did.

Joy in the Journey,
Melissa Culver


We recently enjoyed a visit to Di'Cicco's Restaurant.  Here are a few of the images I was able to capture.
Rachel took this one of Dax.
Google these for me.  What do they say?

Here's the thank you letter that was printed in the Merced Sun-Star.

It was delicious,
Melissa Culver

One Luxury of Homeschooling

Here is just one sweet luxury of homeschooling.  My parents called us up the other day to see if we wanted to go to LeGrand for lunch.  They love the Pizza Factory and were craving the Awesome Sandwich offered there.  So, we packed up and went to lunch.  When we were finished the kids played in the gazebo just outside.  I was able to capture these unforgettable moments of my parents with my kids.  What sweet treasures.

Thanks, mom and dad!

Melissa Culver

He's Almost 2 -- Part 4

I was greeted by Dax like this today:

What was I doing at the time?  The dishes.

What does he have all over himself?  Toothpaste.  He helped me clean it up this time.

Curious.  That boy is just plain curious.  He is living in the 'cause and effect' stage of development.  "What will happen if I...?"  I have been through this before.  I'm sure I'll survive it again. 

LORD, I suppose I should pray that he would no longer be so curious.  But, frankly, I pray that the camera is always nearby, please.  AMEN

Melissa Culver

Friday, May 14, 2010

Santa Fe Pet Hospital

We had an opportunity to visit Santa Fe Pet Hospital the other day.  Here are just a few of the things we enjoyed on our trip.

X-rays of a broken leg (dog).  Jackie (if I remember correctly) was demonstrating what a pin looks like.  In the event an animal has a broken leg, a pin like this is inserted INTO the bone for the duration of healing.  Once the bone has healed, the pin is then removed.

Bladder stones.  These can form in the bladder of an animal on a poor diet.  Form.  Stones.  In the bladder.  Crazy.

C-section.  Rare, but true.  This dog was in for a C-section.  Her puppies went home with her owner.  They had to be bottle fed.  Not something the staff is going to do several rotations during the night.

Neutered.  Poor guys.


The hospital.

Joy in the Journey,
Melissa Culver

Post 100

Can you believe in this short time that I have published 100 posts on this blog?  Wow!  What a ride this has been.  Thank you for journeying with me.  Thank you for your comments and support.  I have loved sharing our journey with you.  I look forward to more posts in the future.  This is a blessing for me.  It's a treasure and a joy.  I love going back and reminding myself about all the various details that our adventures hold.  What a sweet diary this is for me.

Melissa Culver

Family Night

For Family Night the other night we pulled out the old wedding video.  We watched the video together as a family.  When it got to the reception we did the Chicken Dance.  We slow danced with the kids.  Popcorn was our late evening snack. 

Questions.  Questions galore.  Where did you live when you grew up?  Where did you meet?  How old do you have to be to get married?  Why aren't we in the wedding (giggle, giggle)?  Questions, questions.

When it was all done we climbed into our sleeping bags and camped out downstairs--together.

Try something simple.  Enjoy each other.

Enjoying the Journey,
Melissa Culver

Garage Science

Are you desperately in need of some new science material?  Been to the refrigerator too many times for mold spores?  Try the garage.  You might find some amazing science in there. 

Look at what we found the other day.

Curling in my toes,
Melissa Culver

The Good Stuff

You may  be rocketing fast toward some amazing reading goals with your kids.  But, remember to return to the classics.  Go back to the books your kids love.  Rekindle the sweetness of the together time.  Remember the good books.

Melissa Culver

He's Almost 2 -- Part 3

I was into my Exodus lesson the other day with unswerving passion.  I started with prayer.  I asked everyone if they wanted to pray.  We listened.  We lingered with patience.  I had recapped what we had learned yesterday.  I was introducing and teaching the core points.  I was wrapping up with a broad sweeping overview with approachable application.  And SHAZAM!  Look at Little D.

He had gotten into a few pens and had decorated himself up like he was an Easter egg.  And boy was he beautiful.

I tell you, that boy is a Culver.

Melissa Culver

He's Almost 2 -- Part 2

Here we have yet another vivid reminder that Little D is almost 2.

I was mopping the kitchen floor last week.  I don't get to that beautiful task as often as I would like.  And for me it takes a good 40 minutes.  I remove the chairs from the kitchen.  I wipe down the counters before I mop (top down cleaning strategy).  I sweep the floor.  I prepare my bucket.  I get my mop and I mop, mop, mop.  Then I pour out the dirty solution in the sink.  Then I sanitize and scrub the sink.  Forty minutes.

So, what was Little D during that time?  Amazing question.  I am so glad you asked.  He was doing this...

this... (times four)


and this...
(Note: I set him up there for the photo op.  He was NOT up there when this happened.)

With what?  With this.

Unfortunately, I couldn't set boundaries by teaching him to clean up this mess.  Some messes you just can't have a 22-month-old clean up.  You can't.

In love with him,
Shaking my head,
Melissa Culver