FUN Writing Exercise

I want to be a writer, pen my own book/s one day. Yet I don’t have much time to sit down and actually take classes and/or practice. This blog is truly my biggest outlet for my writing practice. But every now and then I steal away a corner of time to hone my craft just a bit more.

Writing Challenges podcasts afford me a (free) class that is ready and available when I am. Earlier this week I was able to sit down and give it a go. This is my second such writing challenge from this podcast. This one proved to be rather fun and invigorating. Here’s how it went.

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Imagine if you will the instructions are spoken in an older British male voice. Here’s your assignment:

*Pick a book of your self, poetry or fiction.

*Close your eyes, open the book and point your finger somewhere on the page.

*Take that word, the three words after and the three words before it.

*Write that phrase down.

*Now you have 5 minutes to write. Don’t think (which is harder than you’d think), try to write as fast as you can. You are not producing a work of art.

This was one of the most fun writing exercises I have done. What I wrote completely ended up different than what I started off with. So I am going to put myself out there, be vulnerable before you, my readers.

My word was OBJECT. The phrase: “…down, examined the object and slipped it…” Here it is, as is, no corrections made or revisions done.

Down, examined it and slipped it back into his pocket and walked away. Away from the dark, away from the mess. Away from the noise that seemed to grip him and not let him go. He walked out into the sunlight. Out into the fresh air. He felt alive. He felt free. With a sense of purpose, a newfound freedom, he looked at the forest before him and he just walked. He walked until he couldn’t walk anymore. Then he sat down and took a deep breath. The years had been hard on him. His hair was no longer deep rich brown. It has started to turn gray. His eyes were no longer sharp and bright. And his heart once broken actually felt like it was coming back to life. He took another deep long breath. He filled his lungs with the dewy freshness of the earth. It had just rained the previous night. He felt the moisture of the ground with his fingertips. Some clinging to… (5 minutes is up)

British instructor resumes his instructions; “After 5 minutes you should have covered quite a lot of pages.” Well, not this mama writer. I didn’t cover much ground at all. No worries though. “Now read what you have written, but read it forwards then read through it word for word backward.” No here’s where I had a harder time, “Underline one phrase that strikes you as possessing any one of the following qualities: it has energy, it surprises you, it has never been written before in your language. The phrase must make a kind of sense. It must possess it’s own inner sense, at the very least. That is it must not be completely opaque in meaning. It might be a whole sentence or at the end of a sentence and the beginning of the next.” I had a hard time finding that sentence or phrase. I need it to finish the assignment. As I need to write either a short story or poem in which it occurs without seeming out of place.

So, can you help me and tell me what sentence or phrase fits the bill? Thanks so much. And thank you for letting me put myself out here all of the time without judging me.

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Why I Won’t Homeschool

I get asked every school year by at least two people if I am going to homeschool. I have an 8th, 6th, 3rd graders and a kindergartner. I have two adult children, one who is in college. My answer is always no.

See, I have home schooled. For six straight years and a short stint last year. I have homeschooled full-time and part time three of our six children. I don’t see homeschooling in my future. Just to be clear though, I am NOT against homeschooling at all. I know it is a great and wonderful experience and there are SO many reasons to homeschool.

But here’s my reasons for not:

*I know my limitations, academically, emotionally, mentally, and time wise.

**While I did well in school myself, that was ages ago and many of the things life have filed those academic resources and pushed them far into the recesses of my brain. My ability to figure out language, math, and the like are not as good as they used to be. If my child cannot figure certain things out on their own or we can’t find the help we need (our resources are limited here) then it just won’t get taught leading to educational gaps. While I am sure they learn things they wouldn’t have in public school, having that on my conscience is not good.

**Emotionally and mentally, homeschooling is super fun and rewarding. You really grow closer to your kids and get to experience some things you may not otherwise experience. There’s also that sense of gratification and success when your child finally grabs a hold of a concept they struggled with and you see the lights come on. However, I remember the days when my brain was fried and all of the other things I needed to get done became such a drag for me. I know we all have those days, but there really has to be a balance.

**Time. Can we just stop right there? It really takes a chunk of time out of your day/life to homeschool and to do it right. That amount of time is not a luxury for us at this point in our lives.

Part of me wants to homeschool again…very rarely but I still have that small spark in there that gets excited when seeing curriculum or the shelves of school supplies. My oldest two and I had a wonderful time homeschooling. We have a lot of happy memories. I can point to certain times that our lives were really enriched by the whole experience. But here’s the catch, besides all that I said above, with our older two we had a strong foundation in our relationship from their birth. Not so with our younger four. When I homeschooled one of our sons part-time, I saw that this foundation that we are slowly building upon and forming, weaken under the role of teacher and student that caused me to close my homeschool doors. My intentions were good. I wanted to help our son grow academically and give him that one-on-one attention he needed. In the end our relationship and continuing to grow it came first.

To sum it all up. I loved much of homeschooling. I also love the fact that someone else can teach our kids. I love spending time with our kids. I also love the break. For us, homeschooling is not the best. As a mom, I have learned (okay, am still learning) to set many expectations, sometimes my heart, aside, and look reality in the eye and do what we can do. If you homeschool, good for you. If you private school, good for you. If you public school, good for you. You be the best mom you are able to be for your precious kids.

Achievement

(note: the topic covered here are a bit old)

Two of our kiddos earned awards at school.

 

Let that sink in.

 

Nana and Mr. Bubblewrap earned a place on the Honor Roll.  Mr. B also earned a math achievement…the only one in his class.  Math is one of his harder subjects.  Last year Mr. B failed 2nd grade.  Only 3 months into the new school year and he made the honor roll!!! Miss Nana is also repeating (our choice).

Awards and achievements weren’t something these kids got before coming to live with us.  They were surviving. Now they are starting to thrive. Thank you Jesus!

Is Spelling Really That Important?

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Flashback to when our oldest daughter was in elementary school.  We would drill that week’s list of spelling words, over and over until she could spell her list.  Then forward a bit to homeschooling our oldest son.  Spelling was not his strong point and we had special ways to learn and practice his spelling words.  (I just did a quick web search and golly, there’s a wealth of info of teaching the right-brained child that wasn’t available then.)  All the while giving them grammatical tips that help to spell words.  Today, they are good spellers.  Fast forward to this week.  I am sitting at the bar, kitchen bar, with Mr. Bubblewrap going over his spelling words for the week.  This time I am teaching a bit different.  With technology, spell checks, etc. even bad spellers can write a decent letter, report, etc.

However, I am more concerned if they know what the words mean.  All of our ninos came to us behind on so many varying levels.  A biggie was their vocabulary and comprehension or a lack thereof.  Sure the older ones could read chapter books, BUT seriously only understood 50% of what they were reading.  A lot of life will pass then right on by at that rate.  Chief Potato found reading out loud to me quite a chore.  However, we do see the positive results in most of the kids.

My point?  Sure, knowing how to spell is good, but knowing what the words you’re spelling mean is so much more important.  We still go over the how-to-spell and the grammar side of spelling, but with less emphasis on those and more on their meanings.