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Middle School Years

The scene: An eight grade boy sitting beside a fifth grade boy at the kitchen table.

Tension? Oh yes, there is some tension.

Giggles? Yep.

Uncontrollable chit-chat? How’d you guess?

It’s hard to believe that we have finished two years of homeschooling at the Barker Academy of Higher Learning. After last year’s start, stop, and restart execution of home education, I thought I’d keel over from emotional turmoil. Turns out . . . our decision to keep the boys home was a good move.

We are now preparing for our third year. This year the boys will be studying Rome to the Reformation from My Father’s World. The boys are diligently working through the summer with a few breaks here and there. Tristan is finishing up his Pre-Algebra and we are quickly drawing closer to the final week of Creation to the Greeks.

Although I am the Mean ol’ School Marm, I have decided that we all need a break before diving into our study of Rome.

Now, quit the chit-chat and get back to work!

Your favorite teacher,

Mrs. Barker


Bird Brained Theology

Have you ever witnessed something so small and innocent struggling? How about someone not so small and not so innocent?

It’s not for the faint of heart. We immediately want to intervene. We want to stop the pain, stop the suffering, and offer up solutions.

I can imagine an exhaustive list of struggles that we encounter. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some struggle with patience or self control (no more Christmas cookies for me). Still, others struggle to believe that they are loved and forgiven.

I’ve heard it said that “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I think that this sentiment can be true. I don’t think it is always true. If it were, we would all be walking around like superheroes. In contrast, let us consider “Whatever doesn’t kill you, can make you stronger.” The word “can” changes this entire saying doesn’t it? It’s a slight change, but significant, nonetheless.

Flashback: Chicks Hatching

Imagine this: The chicks are just beginning to hatch in the incubator. The conditions are set (humidity & temperature) and now we just watch and wait. Some chicks just seemed to have materialized all on their own. One moment their eggs were intact and then *boom* there was another chick flopping around. And let me tell you . . . I was checking them all of the time.

But then, I witnessed one, two, three chicks struggling. Honestly, I didn’t keep count. There was just too much excitement and anticipation in the air. Their struggles to break out of the eggs, were all different. Some took hours, while others took less than an hour. One even hatched fairly quickly and then died afterward. I asked myself, “How could he have died after all that work to break free?” There were a few other eggs that just weren’t cracking all the way open. I just wanted to open the incubator and help them! I will save you!

One egg I was sure was going to hatch. We could see him in there for two days, trying to bust out. I mean, I could see him, his beak, and half his body. The egg was flexing and contorting. That chick never did hatch.

The struggle to break out of the egg actually strengthens them. It prepares them. When you remove the egg for them, you set them up for failure. I know what you were thinking . . . that I am mean and wouldn’t save the chick.


God sees us struggling. He’s watching us trying to break free. If He intervenes and removes our burden, our struggle, we may not be made stronger. We just might be made weaker and perish. He gives us what we need and that is sufficient. It is important to know, that although we are struggling, we are not alone. Not ever.

Picture me standing over all these eggs. I was saying “Come on little guys. You can do it.” I can just imagine God doing something similar. He’s rooting for us. He wants us to give Him our burdens because His strength is what keeps us moving forward. I can do all things, in Christ, who strengthens me. He is standing on the sidelines, cheering me on. He’s cheering you on. He is your biggest fan! He is the proudest parent!

I guarantee that all of your problems are not going to ever go away. Nope. Sometimes we have to endure the pain. If I have to struggle, I would at least like to know that I have a cheering section.

If you are struggling, please know this. There is no one more familiar with your hardship than the LORD.

The question is, are you going to let your burden wear you down? Because it will if you let it. It can also make you resentful, bitter, and hard-hearted. No warm, fuzzies in that package.

Anyway, this is what was on my heart the other day as I was reading through Mark chapters 6:45-52. Jesus watched the disciples struggling with the boat and waves. He let them struggle for quite a while until He thought they were ready to see Him walking on the water. The Bible says that Jesus was going to walk right past them. But when He saw the terror on their faces, he had compassion on them and calmed the sea.



Honey, I’m Home!

What’s better than pulling weeds in your own yard? Or hanging clothes out on the clothesline that your husband put in? I’m living the dream. Seriously, this is my dream. I have my family, my health, and my own house. What more could a girl ask for? Plus, I think we found a church-home. Skidamarinkydink!

As Matt and I walk around the house our house, I’ve noticed that we have started making plans. Why not? It’s our house. Hmmm, maybe we could do this, add that, or change this.

Homeownership is difficult to describe. There is definitely an emotional attachment and investment already taking place. I guess it’s sort of like parenthood. You think you understand the relationship between parents and kids before you have your own. Then when you have your own children, you realize how clueless you were. Actually, this accurately describes how I feel every night my head hits the pillow.

Okay, so your dream may not be quite like mine. My life experiences and preferences have just gravitated to a more rural lifestyle. I take joy in hearing the neighborhood roosters making their declarations. I love that the people in my neighborhood all wave to you. We even had someone bring us a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” basket of goodies.

Yes. I think I can safely begin to start putting down roots.

And pulling weeds.

Happy Homeowner, G. Bark


Gavin’s New Thing

This school year has been eye-opening. I mean this in an awe-inspiring kind of way. Yes, there have been a few challenges, but not nearly as many as I had anticipated. I have had the privilege to watch my favorite little people grow and make significant academic progress.

Matt and I were blessed with having the option of choosing what the boys studied this year. They each had some input in the decision making process. I decided that among other subjects, Spanish would be beneficial for them both. Given that we hope to someday return to our native land and speaking Spanish is incredibly useful, we thought this selection was wise. Plus, Gavin had some Spanish last year and I was impressed with what he learned.

Fast forward from July to March . . . okay stop. I’m going to be honest here. Brutally honest. It may have seemed “wise”, but it was not a good fit. Ever try to force a puzzle piece into a puzzle shaped hole? Yeah. No.

Continue reading

Update: Salty Science

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It took a long time, but it happened. The water from the salt water experiment finally evaporated. We were left with some serious salt formations. I have to admit that the boys were very patient with this experiment. They checked the progress regularly for many weeks. Honestly, I was ready to be finished two weeks into it. They continue to impress and amaze me. Good work little dudes.



Here are the sleepy pictures of the boys upon discovery of their Easter Baskets. They were getting ready for church, which explains why Gavin was only wearing his undershirt. It was also his idea to set out all the eggs that we dyed. He wanted a beautiful presentation. Now, a month later, we still have Easter candy sitting in bags on the kitchen counter.

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Spring Break

Did you ever go to summer camp?

The only camps I went to were volleyball camps. They were painful, yet lots of fun. The conditioning was painful. The drills and friends were the fun part.

This year for Spring Break, Tristan is going to camp. He’s going with a ton of other middle school aged children. That had me freaked out a little bit. Okay, a whole lot. I thought this spring break thing was like a VBS for middle schoolers. You know, drive them in everyday, they play games, eat snacks, go home, and repeat. I did not realize it was an actual camp. Continue reading

I Homeschool My Kids – I Am Not A Leper

When you think of homeschooling, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

I am going to guess that some negative stereotypes are the first things that pop into your mind. Am I right?

Homeschoolers are weird. Homeschoolers are religious nuts? Hippies? Those weird kids are all maladjusted and unsocialized. Well, I won’t argue that some are. Interestingly enough, an equivalent proportion of public and private schooled children and their families are, as well. I think it has more to do with environment and heredity more than with educational preference.

I won’t argue the first point, my family are weirdos. You bet we are and proud of it. If this is disturbing, then please stop reading now. Continue reading

Salty Science

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This year the kids are learning all about the different ecosystems. This week’s ecosystem is Oceans. This just happens to be my favorite ecosystem. We had the pleasure of experiencing a few years on the Aegean Sea. We spent nearly every summer day at our favorite beach just down the road from our house. We also drank our fair share of sea water – yuck! – when snorkeling & swimming around. The activities we did today were pretty fun and they were a reminder of all of the time we […]