Archive for the ‘My Family’ category

Looking Forward

May 2, 2015

I’ve known since I was in high school that I planned to homeschool my children someday.  I probably assumed it even earlier, but I think the decision was conscious and concrete in middle or high school.  My own experience of homeschooling was so wonderful that I had no intentions of letting my kids miss out on what I had.

That intention has never wavered.  It was an important question I asked Sir K before I got engaged, especially because he was not homeschooled.  He responded that I myself was a good argument for the lifestyle, and he has supported my desire from the start.  I’m very much looking forward to the day when I begin teaching my own children, while at the same time I am still a bit intimidated by the enormity of the task.

I probably have a head start of a lot of moms who weren’t homeschooled themselves, and quite a few of those who were.  That head start comes from being the daughter of a homeschool mentor.  My mom has helped numerous other moms get started, whether they were starting at the beginning or pulling kids out of school systems.  I also got to see a lot of the inner working of her eclectic system (although we incorporated from some of the more well known prepackaged curriculum, my mother did all her own planning).  As the eldest, I was trusted to check my younger siblings’ work when there was an answer key, and in high school she even let me check some of my own work.  Not like I was going to cheat by then, I really wanted to know the answers!

Mom also included me in the process of choosing curriculum for myself and my siblings.  Letting me help choose my own materials meant that when I had a strong negative reaction to one history textbook’s confusing page layout, she was able to look for other options before the school year began and not wait till the second week when I was suffering through my lessons.  Part of helping children learn is being able to choose curriculum that suits their individual learning styles, and I got exposure to that early on.

Even with all this background, however, I still sometimes think “how on earth am I going to get started!”  What I remember of homeschooling is mostly the last five or six years of it, not the first.  Teaching a child while also keeping track of smaller children sounds like fun of the exhausting kind.  On the other hand, I know from experience how wonderful homeschooling was, and I would never think of quitting, especially not before I’ve begun.  I know that when the time comes in a few years, I will rise to the occasion, just like I did when facing what seemed like tough problems or subjects in my schoolwork.  I’m not always going to swim well, but I know I have a support system that won’t let me sink.

Those few years are going to go by faster than I can keep track.  You see, I can already number them.  Five years from now, I will be making kindergarten plans.  Yes, Sir K and I are expecting our first this Fall.  While various members of both families are exhibiting characteristic excitement or enthusiasm, Sir K and I are already praying for parental wisdom, and I am thinking of the sweet days to come when I can gather my nestlings on the couch for reading time.  You see, as I’ve said many times and probably written at least once or twice, homeschooling is not an educational choice for me.  Homeschooling is a lifestyle, and it’s the best one I know.

The In-Between and the Afterward

December 15, 2014

When my youngest brothers graduate from high school in two and a half years, they aren’t getting a graduation party.  They weren’t keen on the idea anyway, not being social butterflies or party people, but we had a better idea.  Instead, my mother is having a retirement party.

Someone recently asked her what she will do when she’s no longer overseeing their education.  The suggestion was that she might quickly become involved in homeschooling again – her grandchildren.  I was also part of the conversation, and I quickly assured the inquirers that I am planning to homeschool my own children, thank you.  That’s my responsibility and privilege; one which I have no intention of giving up.

This period between being homeschooled and the time when I can begin being the homeschool mom myself is an interesting in-between.  My mother has switched from educator to mentor for me, with the transition lines being very blurry on occasion but nevertheless present.  I am looking forward to homeschooling my children, even though I’m also a bit intimidated because I had such a great mom myself.  I keep thinking that I’ll never be as good as she was/is.  The point, however, is not that I’m as good as she is, but that I do the best I can, and I am trying to keep that in mind.

While my mom won’t be homeschooling my children, I do hope that she and my father can be involved to some extent.  I know of other families in which the children have benefited from taking a subject or two from a grandparent with expertise.  I want my children to know both sets of grandparents well, to respect who they are, and to love spending time with them.  That’s easier to do with my own parents right now, as we live in the same town versus my in-laws, who live 3 hours away.  I intend to give both sets of grandparents their chance to love my children despite any difficulties with time and proximity.

By now, you’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to go back and answer the initial question about my mother.  What is she going to do after she retires from active homeschooling.  I may have given away part of my answer just now.  She may retire from active homeschooling, but I believe she will remain a willing resource for new homeschooling moms like I hope to be in the not too distant future.  She has a library of materials I hope to borrow when my children become ready for them, and I know she will lend them to others as she feels led in the meantime.  She also has many insights into homeschooling approaches and techniques which I hope to discuss as I am making decisions someday.

Yes, we’ve suggested that she write a book about homeschooling.  She says all the books she would write have basically already been written, so that is probably unlikely.  Not impossible, however!  We joke that she may finally have time to finish all those sewing projects that she has had in the plans but never had the time to make.  We’ll see whether she finds enough other things to keep her busy.  Other things like caring for my grandparents, teaching one of our church’s ladies’ Bible studies, and helping my youngest siblings with their projects, studies, and other endeavors.

There is indeed a life after homeschooling, just as there is one in-between.  Both have a great opportunity for serving and blessing others.  We’re both enjoying the stages of life we find ourselves in right now, and looking forward to the next.  In the Lord’s perfect time, we will find out His will for the next stages of our lives, and I know because He planned them, that they will be amazing!

We Laughed Too

August 21, 2013

. . . I remember the moms of one or two kids, eyes like saucers as we passed them in the grocery store, asking one of two questions: 1 Are they all yours? 2 How do you do it? And Mom laughed. . . .

Phylicia’s post sounded some echos from my own past, so go have a read!

I remember those days, when my own mother would be shopping in the grocery store or the mall, five little munchkins trailing behind.  “Are they all yours” was a common question, at least until people were more distracted by “are they twins?”  The answer to both questions was yes, so at least that was easy…

My siblings and I span ten years from oldest (me) to youngest.  I know that helped a little, since some of us were able to be a significant amount of help when the last two came along.  I know I can’t fully appreciate all the work that went into raising five children, at least not yet, but I know that it was worth it!

We laughed too.  Some days it was little more than a smile, but we laughed.  We sang, we played games, we read books, and we laughed.

Phylicia is right, there is a joy and a peace that transcend circumstances, whether there are five kids, six kids, two kids, or none.  We can encourage it, or we can smother it, so look for the ways that God is blessing your family and point them out.  Rejoice in the family you’ve been given.

And build for the future.  Your future home, your children’s future homes, your future home in heaven.  Rejoice, for the Lord is come.

The Gift of Memory

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  The holiday season is just about over, except for cleaning up the confetti and pine needles, which could take months.  In my house, the only thing left to do is take down the Christmas tree, which will happen today at some point.

Christmas may be over, but I will carry many memories away from this year’s celebration of Christ’s birth.  Some of the stories from this Christmas season are only the prologue to longer tales, and one of these is what I’d like to share with you now.

Remember not so long ago I wrote about the lunch conversations my siblings and I have so enjoyed?  Well, one of my gifts this year consisted of two letters, written by my mother, each sharing some of the wisdom she has previously shared verbally.  Along with these letters was a promise that she is going to add to the collection, sometimes writing to one child, sometimes to another, but we’ll each get a copy to add to our binders.

I can’t begin to express how special this gift was to me.  The memories it conjures up alone are priceless, and when you add in all the counsel the value of this gift skyrockets.  I usually get one gift that makes me so teary-eyed that I cannot speak, and the letters were it this year.

But that’s not the end of the story.

I was not the only one given such a gift.  My sister also got the gift of memories, only in different form.  She has already been dubbed the Family Historian and is the official keeper of the family newsletters, so this year, Mom began writing out the family stories.  Beginning with the story of how our family got started – how she met my dad.

We’ve heard the story before, but it’s special to have it written down in her voice, and we can share it with our own families someday.  Again, the idea is that Mom will continue to write the stories, and we will all get copies of them.  She seems to have found a topic for that book we keep joking that she should write when she retires from homeschooling . . .

And the story is still not done.

3G also got a gift that will be treasured by each of us.  My father has been teaching, whether in a Sunday School setting or a Bible study, for as long as I can remember.  More recently, he began a practice of writing out his notes so that he could share them with our college siblings while they’re away.  So what was 3G’s gift?

3G’s binder was the fullest of the bunch, because he got the first copy of Dad’s notes from the Kingdom books (Samuel through Chronicles).  Once more the idea is that we’ll get installments as the years go by, and we are all excited about this gift too.  By the time he gets done, we may have a whole commentary!

I feel like the cup that is running over with blessings.  With all that blessing, however, comes responsibility.  It doesn’t matter so much how much you’ve been given, but what you do with it.  All these blessings will not do me much good if I do not turn around and use them, and share them.

So, I’d like to leave you with a thought.  As you’re going forward in this new year, what memories of this Christmas will you take with you?  What lessons from childhood?  What teaching that God gave you last year?  How are you different from the person who began 2012?

May God richly bless us in the coming year, and may we learn to appreciate His blessings more fully with each passing day.

Happy New Year!

I Am a Homeschooler

October 16, 2012

Some would think that since I graduated five years ago and am not yet a full fledged 2nd generation homeschooler, I shouldn’t say that I am a homeschooler.  Many would have said “was homeschooled” instead.  Me, I stick with my “am.”

You see, homeschooling wasn’t just an educational option for us.  Homeschooling was and still is our lifestyle.  Although I am through formal schooling, including college which I did online from home, I still have a learning mentality and because I am still living at home, I am participating in homeschooling if only by being a reference for younger siblings.

Besides, I have every desire to become that 2nd generation homeschooler and bless my children with the same lifestyle that blessed me.  I realize that I’m not the only one with a say in that decision, but that’s beside the point.  God has fitted me to be a homeschooling mom in some very specific ways, and He knows exactly what He’s doing by preparing me for it, so I’m trusting to His timing for the rest.

I’ve often wondered where I would be if I had not been homeschooled.  People will ask, as one did recently, whether I felt that I missed out on things by being at home.  I first said no, and then qualified it – I did miss out, but only on things that I wanted to, such as peer pressure and bullying.  I got a wonderful education without all the negatives that the public school system has by virtue of sticking a whole bunch of kids the same age together and expecting one or two teachers to teach them what they need to know.  For that year.

Looking back over the years, I’m pretty sure that I would have foundered in the public school system.  I was a quiet, shy kid who enjoyed books, but who often had trouble talking about what she read.  I was the kid who took a little more time to work out mathematical things and would have been frustrated had not my mother given me the space to make mistakes and understand the concepts without always getting every problem correct the first time.  I was the kid who enjoyed drawing but wasn’t especially good at it as a child.  I was the kid who liked to learn about the way the world worked, but who wasn’t initially very scientific about it.  I was the kid who loved history, but who had a difficult time remembering all the dates involved.

Because my mom was able not only to take the time to work through difficulties, but also to tailor my studies to my personal interests in some places and my strengths in others, I ended up a very good student by the time I was in high school.  I fell in love with Algebra (which I still use every once in awhile, for those of you who think it’s not relevant to anybody not in the math or science realm).  I learned to express what I read in my own words as well as to express my own thoughts both in the written and spoken word.  I pursued drawing, acrylic painting, and several crafts which give me a wonderful release and are avenues for my creative juices (especially around Christmas time!).  I enjoyed Chemistry in highschool, which I never would have guessed, and I liked genetics well enough to take it as a course in college after fullfilling my science requirement with the Biology CLEP exam.  I eventually learned the essential dates through perserverance, but more importantly, I learned the grand sequence of history as well as the prominent characters within time periods, whereby gaining more from biography than I ever could from memorizing a list of dates.

I also overcame the shyness.  Mostly.  I have a feeling that in a public school setting, I would have been the mousy little girl who got picked on, while my studies would have suffered from that and from not being able to ask the questions I needed answered in order to thrive.  I probably would also have picked up a few bad habits from the other children.  You rarely learn how to grow up from your peers – you learn that from those older than yourself by several years or from adults.

All of this is why I am a homeschooler.

Living at Home

October 6, 2012

I’ve been blessed by the ministry of Rachel Starr Thompson in several ways, but most especially by her writings for singles. In the article I’ve linked below, she explores her reasons for staying at home during her single years.  Although my family is significantly smaller than hers, I still benefit from the same things that she does; for instance, instead of spending my money on rent and such, I have been able to save my money for bigger things, like buying my own car.

In her words:

We’re not here because we’re scared of the real world, lack ambition, or just can’t make it out there. Rather, we’ve discovered that living at home is an excellent way to lay a foundation for the rest of our lives. We’re doing our best to take advantage of it.

Read the rest here: 20-Something Reasons to Live at Home.

Busyness

October 2, 2012

Do you ever feel like you don’t have time?

Your day is stuffed full and there are still things that don’t get done because you run out of time.  Whether it’s correspondence, housekeeping, errands, phone calls, or (horrors!) blogging, something has to wait another day because this one has no room left.

Sometimes I feel like that at work.  I stuff everything I can into an 8 hour day, and there’s still stuff left for tomorrow or next week.  It’s a good feeling to know that I have plenty to do.  I like to stay busy.  It’s when I feel like I’m swamped at home as well that I begin to worry a little.

I don’t like feeling like my whole week’s schedule is so full that I don’t have any flexibility.  As you know, I am a homeschooler, so I’m used to being very flexible.  We could shift our schoolwork to another time of day at the drop of a phone call sometimes.  Mom would hear from someone that they needed help, and if necessary we would quickly rearrange our plans to accommodate.   Of course, we didn’t throw out our routine for little things, but we were free to change things on the fly.

I had one semester of school during my junior year of college in which I was taking 16 credits during the week and working 15 or so hours on the weekends.  For ten or twelve weeks straight.  The experience taught me that I need my family time, my friends time, and my hobby time if I’m going to be able to give my best in other areas.

If you are constantly on the go, you don’t get time to recharge.   You might think that you thrive on a fast-paced atmosphere and that you can handle the pressure, but I don’t think I’m on too shaky a limb when I guess that even people who feed off full schedules and interacting with other people need to spend some time apart now and again.

My biggest issue with full schedules is that they don’t leave room for spontaneous acts of kindness or for random phone calls or for chatting with your neighbors.  In a world where we are rapidly becoming connected with everyone except those closest to us – thanks to smart phones, email, and social media – I wonder how much busy-ness has effected our ministries.

I work for a Christian organization where people come first, and that includes employees as well as the people we serve.  I have witnessed my boss take time out of a very busy day to talk with an employee who just needs a pep talk, or who has a family situation they need to talk through.  I’ve tried to adopt this attitude myself, taking time to ask my coworkers how things are going, and being sensitive to responses.  Granted, I do have my own work to get done as well, and sometimes I have deadlines calling, but people come first.

I encourage you to think about your own priorities.  When someone calls you and needs to talk, are you available?  Or do you always have things going on?  I understand that you won’t always be able to take time for everyone.  Sometimes you are already having one of those conversations when someone else interrupts your busy day.  But is your natural response to say, “I’m too busy,” or do you look for a way to fit them in?  Think about it.

Jesus was teaching one day, and a whole houseful of people was listening, when the man with palsy was dropped through the roof by four determined friends.  Our Lord interrupted his teaching to deal with this man.  He could have asked him to wait until he was finished.  He could have asked the man to come back another time when He wasn’t so busy.  But He didn’t.  He addressed him then and there.  He answered the burning questions in the man’s heart when He told him that his sins were forgiven.  And then He told the man to rise and walk (in response to the things the scribes were thinking).  And Mark 2:12 says that those who saw “were all amazed, and glorified God.”

How busy are you?

Too busy to help a friend?  To chat with a neighbor?  To help out at church?  To get together with friends?

Or do you leave yourself time in your schedule for those unexpected ministries that God sends you?

Think about it!


%d bloggers like this: