Salmon, Buoyancy, and Corrie ten Boom

You would think after all these years of homeschooling, I would have gotten everything figured out.  It is true that planning ahead and keeping to a schedule help give our days some direction. This is definitely a responsibility I have to answer to.  However, the existence of some form of structure in our homeschool is not the only thing that keeps me (and therefore us) going…at least, not for this mom.  Over the years, especially in times of messed up schedules and unforeseen interruptions, the way that things somehow magically fall in place becomes confirmation to me that there is someone else orchestrating our days.

I’ve had a lot of these “confirmations”.  Some sort of way I hear God telling me we’re doing just fine.  Whenever I experience this, I make a resolve to record it. But, that never happened and now it will take some time for me to bring them back to memory. There have been numerous small incidents throughout the years.

So, I’m going to make sure I finish this post today.  We’ve been having “unsettled” weeks the past month.  I had just gotten all the grading for the first semester done after the holidays and we were all set to get back to some school routine.  However, we had 2 sets of relatives over in the span of about a week and a half, there were urgent and routine medical errands for the kids and myself, and there were church related activities I’ve committed to that I had to attend to.  Since the beginning of the year too, my husband’s work had taken a new direction (that is, he’s had to be away from home more regularly). Just when I thought things were starting to settle down, my son became ill for a week and passed on what he had to his siblings one after the other…save for the youngest one until this afternoon.

Finally, today, there are no visitors at home.  The kids are feeling better.  Nowhere to go to.  In fact, there are no vehicles in the garage!  Time to concentrate on some school and attend to the kids.  I spend some time looking into my 3rd grader’s Math-U-See Gamma work and decide she should continue mastering her facts before going on with multiple digit addition. Anyway, she is far ahead doing Lesson 22 (out of 30) of her worksheets. I suggest she work on her Singapore Math 3A as well as continue her drill sheets. In the same way, 5th grader and I work on his grammar review in preparation for his middle-of-the-book chapter test tomorrow. I tell him he should make sure to do a lesson a day thereafter to finish his Rod & Staff English 5 text by June or else he’ll be working through his summer break.  I tell myself this is good enough for now for the smaller kids and I will check on their other subjects as the days go by.  Just ease in slowly, as always.

My high schoolers have been keeping up with their scheduled work despite disruptions. A blessing!  They just had their Mao Zedong history discussion with dad (incidentally, dad goes to Hunan, Mao’s birthplace, in a few weeks!) yesterday…more like a lecture because yesterday was the height of their illness.  I’m due to discuss literature with them either today or tomorrow.  The one and only movie assignment for Tapestry of Grace (Chinese movie, “To Live”) fell into this week’s schedule and we were able to watch it together yesterday while the girls were in bed. Another blessing or else I wouldn’t have had time to read a book assignment!

My 3rd grader joins me downstairs as I start thinking up lunch. (Yes, I know I frustrate people with the way I don’t know what’s for lunch until about an hour before 12nn.  I had taken out some salmon and some chicken breasts but I had no idea what I was going to do with them yet.)  She was reading her Sonlight Science 3 book for week 13…


Since we were in the kitchen, it was easy to perform her experiment about salt water and density/buoyancy…


While waiting for our lunch to bake (salmon and some of the chicken breast) and fry (rest of the chicken breast, by request), I read her and her older brother portions of their Apologia Elementary Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day text.  I open the book to find we are to begin reading the section entitled “Bouncing Buoyancy” (as well!…explaining why fish don’t sink when they stop swimming) of the 6th lesson of the book on FISH.  While I read, the kids work on their notebook pages…


We read about how fish smell in the water and how that helped them when they migrate. They could smell with their 4 nostrils in the same way we could detect the chemical smells travelling in air …just like the smell of frying chicken…or is that burning chicken?!  Then, we read about how salmon migrate back to the place where they were born and how some predators know that and wait for them there…



I go back and forth checking on our food while the kids complete their pages.  While his sister finishes up her work, 5th grader decides to take a peak at his own fishes…something he’s been into since we got the two of them a fish bowl with a few mollies (now a real tank with guppies and their babies and a few shrimp) for their birthdays last December…




And soon it was time for lunch.  We like to keep salmon in the freezer (not only because of dad’s high cholesterol levels recently).  It’s the only fish everyone likes and it’s quite easy to prepare (though I will eat fried fish, I really detest frying fish).  Just sprinkle with salt and pepper – and some chilli sauce on one side for those who like it spicy – and pop in the oven.  Even my only picky eater will eat this…



You may be wondering, like me, where our 4-year old was during all this time.  Well, he wasn’t up to much school this morning and was watching The Reluctant Dragon for awhile. From my recollection, he was doing his own thing most of the time (building legos and building forts out of his small chairs).  I figure he wasn’t feeling too good because his tummy began acting up after lunch. A sign that he got the illness as well.  So, just as relaxed the morning went, I spent a bit of time in the afternoon cleaning up and disinfecting the bathroom toilet and floor which was a mess and making sure the 4 -year old was all cleaned up, changed, and hydrated.  Also made a call to my husband to check if he can be home early just in case (we had no way of going anywhere).

Thus, without that in-between assurance of “you’re doing alright”, this afternoon’s unsettling events would have caused me to be discouraged with questions like: Can we really do this?  Is it really possible to keep homeschooling with so much of life going on?  Will I ever bring myself to start teaching the last child his letters? Am I giving my 3rd grader enough of a challenge when she seems to have so much time in her hands? Will my middle child ever learn to work independently like his sisters or will he always be distracted…or maybe he learns differently and I have to adjust the way I teach him? Will I be able to figure out all the credits my high schoolers will need and will they get into universities? How will we homeschool when I have to spend time getting my order for materials (for 5 children) ready in time for them to arrive for next school year?  How will we ever have time for more extra curricular activities?   Can I just send them to school and not do anything?

But when I open book after book (without scheduling them to be that way) and they seem to teach the same thing…and the kids coincidentally – or not – learn in life what we read in books, I am suddenly ready and inspired to move on.  It’s really not all up to me.  I really can’t do this on my own.

Sometime prior to Christmas, my teens and I spent wonderful weeks reading and discussing The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom is a heroine of the resistance who experiences the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. She resolves to get back into the same work of assisting Jews as soon as she is freed.  She realises, however, that she is no longer equipped with the same kind of courage, abilities, and connections prior to her imprisonment.

Whatever bravery or skill I had known were gifts of God – sheer loans from Him of the talent needed to do a job.  And it was clear, from the absence of such skills now, that this was no longer his work for me.”

In much the same way, the things I’m able to do now, even without my orchestrating, are all His work indeed…and this will be possible as long as He sees fit.



  1. Winnie,
    Have been wondering how you and your brood were doing since Christmas. Because you’ve got 5 children, I love reading your posts and how you juggle everything. Hubby and I have decided to put the children back to school in 2014 because it’s getting to be so complicated for me … also, I though you had help?

  2. Winnie

    Hi Athena! Well, when it’s time, it’s time. You can always supplement or just be involved in their schooling…if this seems best (we are all situated differently). Or maybe, you just need a breather. We all have those days, even weeks, when we are just tired and need to sit back and re-focus…single out the things that make homeschooling difficult (and perhaps make do without them or lessen them?) and those that make it a delight (and think up ways how there can be more of these).

    Lost my last permanent help end of September last year. We’ve had one come in 3 times a week since November, and then recently 4 times a week. It’s been a great arrangement so far. Majority of our school days, we have someone to clean up after meals as well as laundry. And since she works all day when she’s here (only 7:30am – 4:30pm), she is able to maintain the state of our house 🙂 This way I have none of the concerns related to having to manage another brood or coping with the loneliness of just one (since it’s still good training for my kids to do chores).

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