Weekly Wrap-Up # 14: The One with Lots of Lessons

Today is September 11. So I'd be remiss in discussing anything about this week without first taking a moment to reflect on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country. In fact, may I be so bold as to suggest you stop reading for a moment to pray for the families of those lost on that day? They still grieve - on the anniversary and every day - and we do well by those whose lives were taken when we pray God's peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4.7) for those they left behind.

I challenged myself to post nothing on my Facebook today that didn't in some way relate "to remembrance of and/or support for victims [and] survivors of 9/11." Beyond my own thoughts, I found lots to share among what my friends posted - and I hope all of it served my intended purpose.

I also watched the morning news coverage of the anniversary with the girls and explained the tragedy with what I hope was the right balance between honesty and age-appropriate sensitivity. I know that seeing me cry off and on was a bit disconcerting for them, but I also think it was good to openly reveal my sadness - as another way to demonstrate to them that feelings are "okay" and as a means by which to show them the seriousness of the day. Rachel was three months old on 9/11, and Abigail was in-utero, so the only way they'll grasp even a bit of the import of it all is through my testimony; that's part of my job as their mom and their primary educator.

Beyond today's "lesson," we had a busy week wrapping up our study of the United States for our focus this year on world geography. Given that we spent all of last year studying U.S. history and geography, the past couple of weeks have been a review in some ways. But, even so, I was more than a little impressed with how much the girls had retained from last year's lessons - most notably on Friday when I gave them a "quiz" on the locations of the 50 states. It was an informal quiz, but I watched carefully as they marked each state when I called out its name...and each of them knew about 45 without hesitation and quickly figured out their errors on the few they initially got wrong. Great-Grandma Hollenbeck - who kept a world map above her kitchen table - would be proud!

We also finished a supplemental read-aloud we've been doing, One Day in the Woods by Jean Craighead George, and enjoyed (it really was quite tasty!) a batch of Southern Cheese Grits Casserole for lunch one day. And the girls each tried their hand at Navajo-inspired sand art.

In addition to all that, Rachel made her project for The Secret School, the book by Avi she finished reading late last week. She made an illustrated timeline by writing a one-sentence summary of each chapter, and then decided to convert it into a neat timeline booklet she shared with us all on Friday night.

And besides our studies, I am thrilled to report that - as of today - I am back on one of my favorite websites, The Homeschool Lounge (THL)! I'd been effectively cut off from THL, which has become my main venue for connecting with other home educators, for the past three weeks due to an issue (which I still don't understand) that prevented me from receiving email notifications of any site activity. Though I wanted to be patient and gracious, and regularly asked the Lord what He wanted me to learn, it was a struggle because THL and I were at the mercy of people on the hosting platform, who didn't seem to take my concern very seriously. And, frankly, I was lonely.

I was given what turned out to be a false hope for resolution on Thursday, which only served to ratchet up my angst about the whole situation. But then, as I wrestled again with those feelings this morning, a new idea popped into my head - I don't believe in chance or coincidence so, in my book, it was simply God's answer - that allowed me to do an "end-run" around the problem separate from whatever the host is or is not doing for me. And it worked!

It still irks me that the issue appears not to have been taken seriously by the host and that it's still not fixed "for real." But the bottom line is that my prayer - to be re-connected with my "sisters" on THL - has been answered, and that's what counts. And, beyond that, I sense that God's lesson for me is at least two-fold. First, there's a reminder that all things work out in His timing, not my own. Second, I think He was trying to get me to see that things don't have to be "perfect" (by my definition) to be good; His way wasn't my way, but it works just fine...and is surely something I'll eventually see as far better in the long run - a truth that, of course, has broad application beyond my interactions in cyberspace.

Speaking of "not perfect," we began the process this week of repairing our living room ceiling, which had suffered water damage due to a leak we could not locate despite months of personal detective work.

"Perfect" would have been a quick, effective, do-it-yourself fix when we first noticed the problem. Instead, we finally had to acknowledge our need for a call to our insurance company. But...our claim was processed that very day, and the company we eventually called to do the work agreed with the insurance company's projected cost.

"Perfect" would have been getting all the work done during the summer. Instead, my fear of what the insurance company might say (i.e., claim denied!) meant the demo work took place this past Wednesday amidst a house full of kids and a full plate of scheduled "school" for them all. But...the guy was in and out by 8:30 in the morning and, of course, his activities were of great interest to all the girls - so add that observation to the list of the day's learning activities!

"Perfect" would have been the worker seeing the leak immediately and getting to repair it on the spot. Instead, we had to wait for rain. But...that came today - in buckets - and revealed the exact location of the leak in minutes. And, in fact, it looks like a "best case scenario" in terms of making the repair.

"Perfect" would have been repair and re-plastering all on Monday. Instead, I'll call on Monday to set up an appointment for the repair work - after which I suspect we'll have to wait for more rain to insure that the fix holds. And then, sometime after that, we'll be able to get our new ceiling laid in - a process I expect will take a good deal longer than the 90-minute demo. But...that'll still be done well before Baby H. begins his tenure here with us on November 1 and, of course, before the year's first snow. Plus, I really do feel okay about juggling our learning situation as necessary; I've done it before and can do it again. And, blessedly, it is fixable for a reasonable cost, and God has provided the means. So it's all good.

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