Monday, April 30, 2012

Dear Doctor (Who)

I was talking with a friend today about those early newborn and infant days of our children.  How lost and confused and overwhelmed we felt with our new little children. Honey, I can still recall those days with perfect clarity, and you are the center of each memory.

Those days.

Days when a moment felt like an hour. I thought those days would never end. I remember holding you and thinking "What am I going to do with this child for the next eighteen years?" What I really wondered was, what should I do with her now?

I recall, with perfect clarity, feeling as though the future was a yawning abyss of fear and the unknown. Feeling as though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Fearing the tedium. Fearing the intensity of the intimacy. Fearing the permanence of parenthood.

Alot of fear. But there was also furious and exquisite love. Profound, absorbing, elated love.

Did I appreciate the moments? Honestly, I'm pretty sure it took me awhile to truly appreciate the loveliness of those exquisite moments of beauty with my daughter. But, eventually, I did learn it. And I am still learning.

Fast forward almost fifteen years, and I am now the mother of a statuesque, striking, amazing daughter who has fire in her heart and intelligence in her head.

How could these years have gone so fast?  How could those inexorable dripping seconds become nearly fifteen years?
The teen years are coming in like a lion.  Will they go out like a lamb?
I wonder. I am lucky enough to have a daughter who challenges and bristles and clashes and struggles. A daughter who feels so deeply. I am truly awed by the depth of it. She is a young woman who yearns and dreams and fears and feels.

How HARD it is.  How PROUD I am.
I wouldn't change a thing.


This post is dedicated to all of the mothers of challenging daughters.
Are you one of them?


Can you believe I have homeschooled my kids for about nine years now and I've never read John Taylor Gatto's "Dumbing Us Down:  The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory School"!  Until now!

I finally read it this week.  It was like reading air.  It was like reading my own heart.  It was like reading the inside of every homeschool family in the world.  Honestly, it was like reading every single conversation I have ever had with another homeschooling parent...and then some!

This book moved me.

I have been homeschooling for nine years and this book still moved me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homeschoolers are Weird

Guest Poster:  Doctor Who

My mother and I recently read a blog post called "Why are Homeschooled Kids so Annoying?" Basically it states that if a long-time homeschooler decides to go to school, they will automatically be tagged as "weird" because they are an actual person. You know, with a personality. I happen to have been one of them. A kid who went to school.

In 2011, I decided to try middle school. I don't know why the thought came over to me; I guess I wanted to see what "pop culture" was and how it worked. I was not impressed with what I saw.

From the moment I entered my first classroom I saw the looks on their faces as most of them judged me. Some of the girls who I sat near were old classmates (from third grade). They didn't recognize me, or they acted like they didn't. Which gave me a hint that they knew I had been homeschooled. Or that they were waiting to see if I was "ok" to be friends with.

I went through the day seeing people who I had gone to school with before and those kids not knowing it was me. The next day was different. I made friends, but not the "higher up" friends on the food chain. The popular kids. The way we said it, the weird, outcasts. The kids who mostly don't even talk to each other. They took me in as much as they could, which was not much. One of the more popular and well-liked girls of the school gave me a test drive, but she didn't really give me a chance.

So, I spent school either seeming to be invisible or with my little group of misfits. Four or five friends from kindergarten (which I tried for about six months) or third grade (which I tried for about two months) greeted me and we caught up a bit. That gave me a little bit more confidence, but not nearly enough.

As I think back on it, I remember the way the kids would look at me or not look at me. I was weird. I was the Homeschool New Kid. I tried to be me when talking to other kids, expressing my love for K-Pop and British sci-fi dramas, but as soon as I did the kids started ignoring me OR tried to get me to love Justin Beiber. Only one girl, in one class, was actually interested in the fact that I knew more about Korea than just it's name. I know it's culture, music, some language, even the time of the day in Korea. Everyone else found it weird.

I'm not even sure some of my teachers liked me.

The thing is that schooled kids don't get individuality, I think. And that's the best thing about homeschooling is getting to be yourself. What I saw in middle school was Justin Beiber, Twilight, and boys who acted arrogant.

K-Pop's biggest boy band: 
Super Junior
The schooled kids always asked about socialization, whether I know enough, and if I have any friends. The truth is, we do have lives and we are actually people! You may find that shocking and totally unbelievable, but you have to face the facts that there are people who live quite happily, thank you, outside of pop culture.

When I went to school, I was immediately discarded. Put into a position that I couldn't talk to anyone without making them weird or making myself more weird.

I currently have some good friends who are going to school after being homeschooled. They are what kids would call weird. They're what I would call "Interesting". Or WEIRD, in a good way. Like something you would call your best friend!

They are throwing themselves into school in the middle of the year, just as I did in 2011. I think about them and their personalities and how they act around people and then I think about the kids at school.
And then I think, 'Oh no, they're screwed."
I don't want these people, these really good people, to get screwed up by school kids who probably don't even know what individuality even means. I fear for them, honestly. I don't want them to go to school, show their true colors, and have people discard them for being weird.

For homeschool kids who are very out there, like my friends going to school, I've been to school and I know what could happen. These are very interesting and nice people who smile and talk to everyone. But when I tried being social, I found myself sitting in the back all by myself.

Even now, I have no idea what "normal" actually means to those kids because I, for one, am not normal. I am as far from normal as you can possibly get. And I'm proud of it and I hope my friends will be proud of their weirdness too.

In school kids eyes, being weird is something to be feared. 
For homeschoolers, it's a compliment.

Even if my friends are sitting alone in the back, I hope they don't dread it, going to school. I hope they think "It's not because of me, it's because of them. They just don't get it."

Dedicated to:  Zoe, Julian, Tyler, Sarah, and Cole


May 8, 2012:  This post is featured in this week's Carnival of Homeschool Blogs!
 This post has also been featured in other homeschool venues.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

EARTH Gratitude

Happy EARTH Day

It's officially EARTH DAY.
I'm NOT going to say it, the obvious question.
Every day is NOT Earth day, so let's be grateful we have this one.

In celebration of Earth Day, here are some things that I am grateful for,
in awe of, and dearly love.

  • A gentle rain, a good book, and hot tea
  • Tiny rivulets of water that lead to larger streams that lead to grand rivers.
  • Horse tail clouds.  Rainbow clouds.  All clouds.
  • Spring time breezy nights through my windows
  • Robin red breasts with extended egg bellies
  • Hyacinths
  • Wild lillies-of-the-valley.  Replanted lillies-of-the-valley.
  • Butterflies on my mailbox
  • Azaleas in their riotous colors and gorgeous shapes.
  • The litter of snow ball bushes after a spring rain...white petals scattered like a carpet...
  • The mourning dove
  • A New Moon Night
  • "Weeds"
  • That musical sound of a creek running over rock
  • Natural crevices and caves and rock overhangs
  • The water cycle
  • Rich, black Illinois dirt
  • Shady-loving hostas
  • Delicate, lacy hydrangeas, with fat leaves that prop back up after a drenching with the garden hose
  • Lady bugs
  • Lightening bugs
  • Those cool spiders that create the web that looks like a tunnel
  • Rainbow trout
  • Hoare frost
  • Plankton, it's life, it's part in the food chain, it's varied forms, it's wonder
  • Clover, that omnipresent little "weed" that bejewels and crowns our heads
  • Snow
  • Rain
  • Animals and all creatures
  • That death ends our lives and each life on earth and that we must, therefore, live our lives with compassion and with love.
  • Waterfalls and all things WATER!


 Happy Birthday to our Earth-Loving friend, 
named after the Earth goddess, Demeter:
Happy Birthday Demetri!

Blog Fun: If I Were...

Totally pinched from:

If I Were, I'd Be....

If I were a month, I'd be the leaf colors of autumn, September

If I were a day of the week, I'd be Sunday afternoon.

If I were a time of day, I'd be 2:00 am, tired eyes, active mind.

If I were a planet, I'd be Saturn, ringed and regal.

If I were an animal, I'd be a robin.

If I were a direction, I'd be in and out.

If I were a piece of furniture, I'd be a park bench.

If I were a liquid, I'd be a tall drink of water

If I were a gem stone, I'd be a pearl, strong and lovely laying over irritation.

If I were a tree, I'd still be an oak.  Stately and home to many.

If I were a tool, I'd be cane, hang on and I'll get you there.

If I were a flower, I'd be a lilac.
If I were a kind of weather, I'd be the dog days of autumn

If I were a musical instrument, I'd be a voice

If I were a color, I'd be all of the greens of nature

If I were an emotion, I'd be unabashed affection

If I were a fruit, I'd be an over ripe banana

If I were a sound, I'd be raucous laughter and gentle kisses.

If I were an element, I'd be calcium, strengthening and supporting

If I were a car, I'd be a mini van

If I were a food, I'd be a bagel.  Crispy outside, warm and soft inside.

If I were a place, I'd be home.

If I were a material, I'd be plain old linen

If I were a taste, I would be the taste of rain

If I were a scent, I'd be sunshine and lilacs

If I were a body part, I'd be warm arms

If I were a facial expression, I'd be interested eyes and happy smile.

If I were a pair of shoes, I"d be barefoot with a jute anklet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sissy's Got a Brand New Bag

I had some books sitting around the house.  One day, Dr. Who picked up a book called "Preparing for the SAT".  It changed her life.

She had never been particularly motivated to do any lessons or any work that was "lesson-like".  She was even less happy with anything that *I* asked her to do...a bit of a revolutionary at heart!
Then she read through parts of the book.  "Wow,"  she thought, "Mom told me some of this stuff!"

Suddenly, it all made sense to her; she realized that there was a method to our madness here under this roof.  She began to see the reasons for why certain subjects are focused on and why some subjects are well-covered.
Suddenly, she became a different homeschooling teen.  She is, now, working hard to get her lessons done and to make sense of them.  She wants to know how information is important to her life, to life in general.
Furthermore, she has set some goals for herself.

She has created a plan for college!

Yes, this fifteen year old daughter of mine has decided where she wants to go to college and what she wants to study.  She frequently finds me in order to share new information she has found regarding her perspective schooling, her perspective school town, her perspective FUTURE.
Her focus has changed and her attitude has improved overall.

It's amazing.
Get yourself a "Preparing for the SAT" book and sit it on the coffee table.
Tell me what happens.

Has anything like this happened to your child?
What inspires your child?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby, I Was Born This Way

We all start out as homeschoolers, don't we?

This little capsule of life is born to us, or comes to us in other ways, and we learn every day.  We learn their sounds, their smells.  We learn their cries, their activity level.  We learn medications, when to ask for help.  We learn to ask for help, to take time outs, to find ways to get things done, to get back to the land of the living.
As parents, those early days and weeks and months of our child's life are tremendous learning times for us.  The truth is, we never really stop learning.

Are the stairs safe?  How many steps?  What is at the bottom of the steps?  How high can they climb?  On the his feet or on his bottom?  Are the stairs slippers?  Carpeted?  Are there obstacles?  Is she carrying something on the stairs?  Is he too close to the top of the stairs?  Can she walk up and down?

We learn continually about feeding, care, health, decision making, parenting, balancing, marriage, clothing, home care, finance, relationships, vacations, cooking, cleaning, community, gardening, setting boundaries, rules, comforting, loving, hobbies, and so much more.

Every one of us is a natural-born homeschooler.

Raising our children is the ultimate opportunity for learning, isn't it?
For example, I am far more patient than I ever thought I could be.  I know more about vitamins, minerals, and healthy food choices than all of our parents combined seemed to know, I know about correct medical treatment for many common and uncommon illnesses.  I have learned when to call in a professional for home care, healthy care, and other things as well.  I have taught myself computer skills, banking and business skills, community-building skills, teaching and learning techniques, geography, history, science, literary analysis, astronomy, editing, online apps, photography, many "how tos", and more, so much more.

Homeschooling is completely natural and normal.  It happens daily.
It's the same for our kids, you know.  They learn by doing things.  By having things in front of them that challenge them and interest them and that are engaging. 

Homeschool, Baby, you were born to do it.


Do you find homeschooling to be "natural"? 
I hope you leave a comment.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

OK, People, one more time...

OK, People, one more time.
If someone you know tells you that their feelings get hurt every so often, don't say, "YOU ARE... *frown* ... SO SENSITIVE..." *shaking head*

No, Folks.

Instead, think:

I love this person, I can be a bit more gentle today...  
They had the courage to tell me, and they trusted me enough, 
I can be a bit more kind...

A Moment of Pure Bliss


After my English 1 class the other day, I was taking home a car full of kids.  Seven kids were in my car, talking, laughing, riding.  These kids have gotten quite close over these two semesters and I am full of joy at their friendships.  I looked in the mirror and realized that my car was almost full of homeschooling atheists! 
At one moment, as the car was at pause, one of the 14 year old boys, out of the blue, said, "Yesterday, I had a moment of pure bliss."
The car silenced.
"I was home at the table and, suddenly, I realized how happy I am with my was so clear to me.  A moment of pure bliss."
I looked into his smiling face, that crooked smile, those pools of brown eyes, I looked almost straight into the goodness of his heart.  "How long did your bliss last?" I asked him.
"Ten minutes at least.  Ten whole minutes...and I'm feeling it again...right now."


Bliss in your home?
Do Tell!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Habits for a Happy Homeschool

I am an authority on the happy home.
OK, OK, I know a few thing to NOT's that?  LOL
I’ve been reading around the blogosphere out there tonight (hey, sue me, we’re sick over here!)  and I have read about dozens of amazing mothers out there who, not only create these cool and professional-looking blogs, they also create clever learning experiences daily on a shoe string, put frugal gourmet meals on the table, take amazing months in RVs with their family, and make darling little felted booties with their bilingual children, dress their children in darling outfits, play in clean, running streams, fly kites dozens of times a season (not just once), color-coordinate their supplies, have fantastic organizing weekends, have time to Pinterest, have hipster kids, and have riotous senses of humor.
And while reading these blogs, I reminded myself of rule number UNO of homeschooling, NAY, of parenting:  NEVER NEVER NEVER compare your family to any other!
In honor of the many happy families out there, yours included, here is my brief and well-earned list of RULES FOR A HAPPY HOME.
  • There are no rules.  Seriously, how could there be!  Each family is as unique as each person is. 
  • Give ‘em time.  I mean this one three ways.  When it’s time to change activities, let them know!  It’s hard to switch gears!  Just TRY dragging me away from this pile of white laundry I’ve been working on all afternoon...please…
  • Also, give each person YOUR time.  My best times are mornings with my son and evenings with my daughter.  Each of them has their “peak performance” times.  Lucky for me, they are a number of sleeping hours apart.
  • Also, give them time to grow.  They won't meet your expectations, well, ever, but, given time, they will meet their own.  It, honestly, took me years to learn this one. For my daughter, I remember always thinking She's too big to be doing that.  or She should know that by now.  or When will she ever...  And then, when I look at pictures of her from the time I was thinking those things, I'm in shame.  I don't know why I was so extra hard on my daughter, but I like to think she and I have come to an understanding and that *I* have improved my ways.
  • Listen.  If you seek to understand what is going on before seeking to be understood, your clearer pictures of the feelings of everyone involved will make you look like less of a witless rant and more of a caring mom.  Or so I hear.  I can’t tell you how often I have flown off the handle at a situation that I thought I understood, only to realize that I was waaaay off.
Luckily, this makes a great homeschooling lesson in a pinch.
Have I mentioned the great habits of goal setting, experiencing empathy, supporting your community, learning to manage stress, becoming resilient, getting enough sleep, and brushing twice a day?
Oh, that too.
  • And, finally, Never take advice from anyone on how to homeschool your child, including from me. Do it your own way!

Lessons from "Annie"

Although our family is THRILLED, THRILLED I TELL YOU, that this show is over, we learned many things from the experience.  Here are a few of them, in no particular order.

Beau Brummell
  • Family is a thing that is DONE.  A person is like family when they care for you without reservation or comfort.  While we were freakishly ILL, my father-in-law (the EX husband of my mother-in-law) took immense and wonderful care of us one evening until we all felt so loved.  On the other hand, one of my family members was incredibly unhelpful...  (say no more, say no more)
  • George Bryan "Beau" Brummell is a 18th century man who changed fashion in London.  He started the trend for men to wear tasteful and fashionable clothing as well as to bath regularly. 
  • Children require food often during a long show!
  • Children AND adults could use some positive feedback often.  The amount of work going into a show of this magnitude takes such effort and, indeed, love.  It is easy to find people to appreciate and to honor for their input!
  • Even if you bite off more than you can chew, a committed group of people can accomplish much!
  • Surround yourself with positive people; negative people make group work that much more difficult.  This director did his best in bringing in collaborators who were very positive and buoyant.
  • The show MUST go on!  Although I took a kid out of the show the last day due to a flu, the cast was able to cover her parts admirably!  There were other cast members who dropped out for a variety of reasons and DARNED if the show didn't GO ON!
  • A cast is like a small family.  Each person has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and everyone can work to make things happen.
  • The "squeaky wheel" can be very beloved.  In this cast was a child who was SO unable to focus.  His family life was NOT good.  The cast and crew loved and cared for this child completely.
  • Feverish dreams are NOT improved after having been so immersed in a musical.  All night, all day, feverish dreams involving a red head and orphans singing again and again and again...
  • and Never, ever forget:  Tomorrow is only a day awaaaaaaaay.