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I’ve been playing around with the idea of a new blog and realized I never actually posted the update I wrote for this one back in November! So here’s a brand new blog post with some really old news. If you already received this 6 months ago via email, please ignore.
Greetings Family and Friends!
The boys just finished their “Thankful Essays” for school and it made me think maybe I should write one, too. So dear friends, on behalf of the whole McEntee family, here are 5 things we are thankful for this year.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Linda and Alex, who introduced the boys to piano and bagpipes while we lived in Hawaii. This lit a fire that has spread to include such instruments as guitar, bass guitar, violin, mandolin, ukulele and drums. Titus seems to have the ability to master any instrument he picks up and Joel has that rare and potentially lucrative talent of being able to carry on an engaging conversation and play a song on the piano at the same time. With lessons, practice, and impromptu jam sessions, not to mention all that talking, you can imagine we have a pretty noisy household. Which leads me to the the next thing we’re thankful for.
We’re thankful to live in the mountains where there is lots of space between us and the nearest neighbor. Otherwise all that joyful noise over at the McEntee house might be a real problem. We’re also thankful that most of our neighbors are families with noisy kids like ours. So even if the sound of life happens to travel through the forest, across the pond or up the road, chances are it’s going to bump right into the sounds of life emanating from other households just like our own. Oh, and speaking of mountains. Nate happened to summit the highest peak in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney, in August and has been eagerly planning his next climbing expedition ever since.
We don’t actually have one (I’d be REALLY thankful if we did) but we did take advantage of an amazing relocation deal offered by Cruise America and had a fun expedition of our own. No mountain tops on this trip, however. Instead we hit up Joshua Tree National Park, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and finished off with a visit to the fabulous Musical Instrument Museum and an NHL Hockey game in Phoenix. This was probably the trip of Sam’s lifetime considering that in a space of about three days he beat all his older brothers at bowling, mini-golf and was the first McEntee boy to get stitches, thanks to the apparent opposition of forces operating between skateboards and gravity. Hands-down motorhomes are the funnest way in the world to travel with a family. After we dropped off the fun-mobile we met the Langford side of the family in Mammoth to have some together time remembering my Mom in one of her favorite places.
Tom and I are both blessed to have been given the best mothers anyone could ask for. I am so thankful that the Lord brought us back to the mainland so we could have a year close to my Mom before her sudden passing at the end of August. Gideon keeps saying how he wants to go live in heaven with Jesus and Oma but I tell him he has to wait until he’s at least 74 like she did. Now we are relishing in the time we get to spend with Tom’s Mom who continues to rejoice despite the presence of Ocular Melanoma in her life. We are so thankful that our boys have been able to call these godly, loving, amazing ladies, “Oma.”
“This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
(Below is a letter we just sent out to a lot of friends and family. Besides being a general update it also gives some info on a new opportunity for homeschoolers in the state of California. I couldn’t link to the website on my post though so if anyone is interested go to summitacademycs.org)
To our loved ones far and near,
Far and near. While we have been relishing the presence of the latter since our move back to the Mainland, with every relocation we acquire more and more of the former. It’s overwhelming to think of all the friends and family members we have been blessed with in every corner of the country. At the same time we are enjoying reconnecting with folks here in California we feel keenly the separation from our “Ohana” in Hawaii. We wish there was some way to sit down with a cup of coffee (100% Kona, of course) and do some catching up with each of you but instead we find ourselves checking the mailbox with hopeful anticipation and scanning emails for familiar names (yes, we’ve heard of Facebook and yes, we have good excuses for not being on there). So, this is about the best way we could think of to let you all know how we’re doing and what’s been going on with the McEntee clan.
First things first. It’s cold out there! Except for the few frigid moments we spent on top of Mauna Kea back on the Big Island, this is the first taste of winter we’ve had in almost five years. Gideon, who spent the first two years of his life in little more than a diaper and who refused to even have a blanket on him at night has now become an expert snuggler. The older boys are once again experiencing the thrill of snowball fights and sled runs along with the other not-so-thrilling aspects of winter like stacking wood and wearing shoes. In general, we’re all adjusting pretty well to the change in climate, at least once we have a fire blazing.
Another big change for us has been regarding the boys’ education. All the full-time staff kids up here at Hartland homeschool so it has been a huge blessing to have the added support network and some shared teaching duties. But the biggest blessing has been that with the institution of an online-public-charter school called Summit Academy, we finally get to use our tax-dollars to educate our own kids rather than someone else’s! Summit works kind of like a voucher system would with a set amount of funds being allocated to each student for educational purposes. The parent is then responsible for deciding how to spend the money, choosing curriculum, and overseeing instruction. Basically, we get to keep homeschooling the same way we used to, only now the boys just have to keep a sample of their work from each subject to turn into their assigned “Education Specialist” along with an attendance and PE log every month. The best part is their “Education Specialist” (just a fancy term for credentialed teacher) is one of the other homeschooling Hartland moms who lives just a few doors down. So far we have used our funds to buy a field trip to San Diego Zoo, oodles of science kits, a digital microscope, robotics kits, math programs, and of course, books. And laptops are on the way! If you think Christmas is cool, I’m just telling you a few toys under a glittery tree ain’t got nothing on school supply shipment day.
As for Tom, when he’s not working his tail off at the camp he’s organizing hockey games and dreaming up schemes for an ice-rink. You’ll also be glad to know that he is now overseeing all the boys’ instruction in the literature/grammar department (after all, their mom did use the word “ain’t” a few sentences back). And Julie? Once all the trout in the Hartland pond had been caught there wasn’t much left to do except hang out with the other gals up here, basking in sweet friendships, old and new. She also does some cooking, cleaning, teaching and boy-wrangling on the side.
Yes, life is full of the goodness of God. And you, dear friends and family, just keep our cup running over. During this season when all the world has their eyes turned back to the coming of Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger, it is our hope and prayer that each of our loved ones can look ahead to His second coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords with even greater delight and eager anticipation. We can imagine no greater joy than to say in unison with all those whom we hold dear “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev.22:20, 21)…
… The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all,”
Last Saturday, Nate spent his Birthday working in a booth selling the coloring books he helped make for the Church fundraiser (for more on that click here). Today is Sam’s Birthday and he, on the other hand, has opted not to lift a finger for anyone. While the contrast is clear, it is also inconsistent. Nate is by no means a captain of industry and Sam is hardly a sluggard. I think they are each just the right combination of plough horse and puppy. In fact, if we ere on any one side of the work/play equation in our family we tend to be heavy on the play. Actually, I should probably say since moving to Hawaii we’re leaning REALLY heavily on the play side. Hopefully some good hard work in the mountains of California this summer will remedy that. The point is, there needs to be balance, especially with kids.
The child-labor laws enacted in the early 1900’s did a lot toward bringing some of that balance into children’s lives, many of whom were spending a full days labor in factories and fields for substandard wages. Unfortunately the compulsory education laws that soon followed, however well-intentioned, eventually served to throw off whatever balance was achieved. Today, the average child will spend about 7 hours a day in the classroom with about 20-30 minutes of recess and 15 minutes for lunch. Add to that the typical 1-3 hours they will then spend doing homework and squeeze in an hour of practice if they happen to play a sport, and that 9-5 job with an hour long lunch break Mom or Dad complain about is a cake walk. American children are spending more time in the classroom and other school related activities than almost every other country on earth. With the remaining spare moments devoted to screens of various shapes and sizes, actual play time has become a thing of the past. For all our humanitarian efforts, how much have we really improved the lives of our children in the last 100 years? With obesity rates, behavioral issues, and childhood stress at epidemic levels it seems this new life style is wreaking havoc on the body, minds and souls of our kids. Especially our boys.
I want to pause here to emphasize two things. Number one: I am speaking in generalities. While my own education was exclusively in the public realm, my husband’s was public K-12, private for University, and he has taught in Christian schools, primarily at the high school level, for almost 12 years. That said, the choice we have made for our own family is to homeschool. I do not think this is the appropriate choice for ALL families. The most important thing to me is that families have the freedom and the courage to choose what’s best for their own children. The advent and subsequent evolution of compulsory education has done much to limit and obscure those choices. So when I speak of compulsory education I am not merely targeting public schools. I am targeting the GENERAL practice of forcing children to spend the bulk of their entire childhoods in a classroom and doing school related activities, whether that be in the public sector, the private sector or even in a homeschool setting. Good grief, just how many thousands and thousands of hours should it take to make a kid literate? But I digress. Number two: from now on I am going to be speaking very specifically about the effect compulsory education has had on boys. Now of course, in specifying boys I will once again be speaking in generalities :). There are multitudes of boys who thrive and show great success in the modern classroom setting (I’m related to some of them), but a vast majority do not and those are the ones I am addressing in general. Why just boys? Click here for an explanation.
Now that everyone’s feathers are sufficiently ruffled, I have to leave you all dangling one more time because I have some serious Birthday business to attend to. But before I go I wanted to inform all you kind folks that requested copies of the coloring books the boys made that we have some available for $4 each plus postage. Just email me your request or leave a comment and we’ll work out the details.