Category: homeschool

the heart won’t lie

Before the rain came last Monday (yes. The metaphorical rain I prayed for was delivered!), I made a decision. It was always in my soul to do, but a series of “God winks,” confirmations, and my own heart opening my head up to possibilities, it has been reaffirmed over and over to me over the past weeks.

When we moved to Myrtle Beach, it was a given that I would have a position in our new business venture. It was a new career step for me, and while it was exhilarating, challenging, and at the same time ego-crushing and ego-boosting. And as I recorded here, transitioning from being a work-at-home mom was so hard.

Well, the position seems to have only lasted for awhile (understatement and oversimplification, but whateves). And during that ‘while,’ my little girls had a very adventurous and unforgettable summer with their amazing big sister

and then began attending a truly wonderful school where they have been loved on and where they have grown and learned and made friends. My ‘mommy-guilt’ was replaced by a dependency on their school, as it became one of the few constants in their lives – and mine! – over the past six months.
(the Christmas program)
(The trike-a-thon)

But when it became time to really start thinking about schools for the fall, when Miranda will need to start kindergarten, I found myself dealing with a different frame of mind: avoidance. We had a few options, and none of them were jumping up and screaming, “We are right for you!” There is the public school, and the bus that comes to pick up our sweet neighbor boy at 6:45 in the morning. There are several Christian schools, none in great locations from our current house ‘in the boonies,’ and all with rules about skirts (4 year olds having to wear them and middle-schoolers not being allowed to wear them seems a bit against the laws of nature to me), and the one most appealing to me cost twice as much as the others.

The factors that seemed to surround our decision included our geographic location (we are basically in an unincorporated area that is close or on the way to nothing), our unknown job situations (just a week ago, we were unsure where Rod would be working and whether or not I would need to work and if so where that would be and then what sort of after-care we might need for the girls and of course, whether we could afford private school), and who I have as a support system. Almost every mom I know here works full time outside the home and/or has kids older than mine. All my close friends who are homeschoolers-of-little-ones are back in Illinois. And there is also the question of my own confidence. It’s been a little rocked by decisions gone sour.

Three or so weeks later, I can’t recall the exact moment that it hit me again, like truth. I only remember the series of moments that confirmed it. The sight of Miranda sounding out words with Kirsten on the couch. The friendly librarian who interrupted our reading time to admire it. The preacher whose prophetic words to me were not about my career path or our ‘big thing,’ whatever that might be, but about my own intelligence and ability to train my kids.

You know what my reaction to all this was? Duh.

I am going to homeschool my girls next year.

It’s not all that dramatic. It’s kindergarten, for crying out loud, and I am sticking by my policy that we will take all school decisions one year at a time. But since making this commitment for the fall, I have felt such peace. And, since I made the decision, new projects have been put in front of me to battle for my time commitment. It’s all good. My decision to homeschool is in part so peaceful and comforting because it is a commitment that does not depend on any circumstance:

money? Don’t need it. I already own the curriculum, and even if I didn’t, I’ve learned a lot about homeschooling for free.

– location? Home. The beach. The library. The state park. Trips to Chicago and Florida and Charleston and North Carolina and Lexington and other places when we can. Since we’re learning about the world, why shouldn’t we see it? Nothing I taught Miranda during our home-preschool time came so alive as the first day I was able to show her the horizon line over the ocean. Suddenly, the idea of the heavens and earth being separated was illustrated before her eyes. Homeschool=everywhere school.

– dress code? We are all finding our own style around here. It’s part of learning and part of growing into who we are, for the girls and for me.

work? Thankfully, God has provided a job for Rod that is going to meet our needs and settle our concerns. While I have some opportunities before me, they will have to fit in around the anchor of homeschooing my children. They are my job, they are my calling, they are my ministry, first, for this season of our lives.

support? Well, my HS friends in Chicago are as much an intimate part of our lives as ever, as we can be with 1000 miles between us. I have a strong group of friends here now as well, including past homeschoolers. There is a well-rooted co-op in town that I am reaching out to. And who’s to say which of our family members will be living here by fall…?

time? This is the one that makes me the most nervous, because the projects on the horizon for me will require me to work and meet deadlines. This is the one that I must work through with my husband and ‘support team’ and godly wisdom. And this is also what will show our family’s unconventional tendencies… Because whatever work I do, my kids are going to be a part of it.

There are so many other positive aspects in my head… the freedom of our schedule… the freedom in our finances… the ability to discover so much about nature, culture, industry, history, and faith with my kids… the time to allow them to follow some of their individual interests, like dance and instruments and swimming.

I am so excited about where we are heading.

Six years ago, my life was forever changed by the promise of motherhood. Today, two lively, creative, and smart little girls need to raised up, and I remember more than ever what a blessing and privilege it is to be allowed to be their mama. They are my heart, and I’m grateful I’ve been reminded to follow it. When it comes to my babies,
it hasn’t led me astray yet.

Cities we didn’t build

Last weekend was a culmination of a lot of decisions, good and bad, through the last eight years for me, and 17.5 years for Rod and Paige.

When Paige asked to homeschool for her junior year of high school, I was hesitant. Though I appreciated her reasons, I thought the jump to homeschool after 11 years of public school might be too jarring to work.

It wasn’t.

A few months in, we had the realization that private school meant she could cut out some of the unnecessaries and go to college early, if she wanted.

She wanted.

So December was a blur of college applications, but she had her eyes firmly set on one place: University of Kentucky in Lexington. The Big Blue.

She was accepted in early March, and almost immediately after, she got a Rock Star Letter; that is, she was invited to a Merit weekend, basically, an early orientation for high-performing incoming freshmen.

Um, woot!!

(Maureen, the cheesy picture is for you :)

We packed up and dropped the littles in Ohio at Mamaw & Grandpa’s on the way. And then we prepared to enjoy a college weekend!

Rod and I were each, in our times, accepted into our dream schools, too. He went to UK (hence, Paige). I went to U of I. We each loved our dream schools, and we each, for various reasons logical and ridiculous, left after one year.

We both regret that choice (though we know if either of us had done the four-year thing, we’d not be together now…)

Anyway, we went full speed ahead into merit weekend. We followed UK stuff on Twitter. We found a cool little Mexican place to have lunch and a sweeeeet coffee shop. We wore blue. We signed up for the Parents Association (though really, I am far too young for such things. The tote bag rocks). And then we walked into Memorial Auditorium for the welcome presentation.

Cue: tears.

As Paige went to take care of this or that, I looked at Rod all shiny-eyed. He laughed, of course. But then I pointed the obvious out to him:

This is what it’s all about.

She’s going to rock this place…

she’s going to be better than we are.

I admit I am envious of what Paige is about to do. College is an amazing time. You get to be focused on one thing: essentially, yourself. Your possibilities for learning are endless. Your possibilities for fun are endless. Your possibilities for new experiences, new friends, and new dreams…also endless. Travel is possible. Money is available (it is, really!) And at no other time in your life can you use one identification card to unlock doors, access your washer/dryer, check out books (from the second largest endowment in the country!), and pay for CHIPOTLE! It is amazing!

But mostly, I am excited for her. She has dreams that are big. I don’t understand them all, but I know from current experience (right, Ma? ) that a good mom, even in absence of understanding, is there to support, love, cheer, console, pray for, love. And that is what I will do for Paige. I am blessed, blessed to get to be a mom to her, not because she is a merit college student or even because she’s a good girl, but because she lets me.

Paige is a product of parents who have made some big mistakes, both before her and since her. I think what is most remarkable about her is not that she has forgiven them (she has), or that she learned from them (she seems to have), but that she has never used them as an excuse. Though she is a Daddy’s girl (and I think sometimes, a Kelly’s Girl, too!), she is making her own path in her own way (otherwise, she’d be going to U of I and majoring in music). She’s not anyone’s spitting image. She is inspired by people or things but not copying them.

She is, by the grace of God, following the way of the Word. And yesterday, I happened to be reminded of this passage that seems so fitting for the journey she’s about to take:

5 Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! 6-9 Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. 10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt. (from Deuteronomy 6, The Message)

We helped build a Paige, but the cities and homes and vinyards she will enjoy…those will just be extra blessings.

Go Blue! ~ Go Paige!

(I can’t wait for that weekend!)

They ARE the dream

Today we had a stellar homeschool day ~

We gathered 10 kids 5 and under and taught them about why we have Martin Luther King, Jr. day.

I have all kinds of thoughts…deep, warm, reflective, etc. about this. My kids have had diverse friendships since they were conscious, whereas I remember ‘my first black friends.’

I am grateful I grew up in a time when I could have black friends –

– but I am so grateful they are growing in a time where they simply have friends, and don’t really notice the differences between them.

Our projects were:

– one mom had them put their hands in a circle, so they could see their differences. Then she read a picture story of Dr. King and showed them a part of his “I Have a Dream” speech.

– the next mom passed out battery-operated candles and taught them to sing “This Little Light of Mine.” She had a great storybook to go along with it that illustrated a little boy shining his light but showing affection to his family and kindness to strangers.

– I taught them (as well as I could) about the Freedom Riders, and how many people of different races came together so that they could all ride the bus together…then we made little pictures with bus stickers and the word “FREEDOM.”

– the fourth mom helped them put together individual pizzas, which started out being “faces” but then just became unique creations, just like all of us.

I’m not sure how much of today’s lesson stuck with my littles, but I do know they listened and sang and had fun with their friends. And I know I was not the only teary-eyed mom in the room when we heard Dr. King say:

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Our kids – and some of their friends who weren’t represented today – are that dream. They are growing and playing and learning together equally and peacefully. I know we have ways to go in terms of understanding each other. I know many are still persecuted or even treated cruelly. But I hope we can agree that we have come a long way…we are free to be each other’s friends.