Friday, September 7, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal 9/7/12

Welcome Friday...Oh, how I've missed you since last week!
In My Life This Week...
I am ready for a vacation!  Time is just flying and I feel like I am holding on for dear life right now.  I don't like times of the year when everything seems to happen all at once!  
I think we are ready to start our homeshool co-op next week. Then again, it starts...ready or not!  I think I have everything ready for our youth group kick off tonight and I think I will be ready to teach next week's youth lesson before Wednesday night rolls around!   
Thank goodness a vacation is on the horizon!  We are in the process of booking a cabin on an island in the Michigamme river in the
UP of Michigan for October.  Being "stranded" on an island can't come soon enough!  Here's a pic of what the island looks like up there...

In our Homeschool This Week...
One of my boys LOVES to write stories and LOVES his journal. The other boy would rather have dental work done than have to write a paragraph!  :O)  When he asked me if he could have his own blog I thought it would be a great way for him to write.  He decided to start a LEGO blog and write about his creations!  Click the pic below to see his first entry!
Yes, this really is how my living room floor looks sometimes!
Helpful Tips to Share...Take it easy!
I really feel like I am overdoing it with me schedule right now.  To keep from loosing my mind this week I planned in some lighter scheduled days.  Thursday and Friday we split into one day.  It was super nice to be done with school by 10:30!  

Places We're Going & People We're Seeing...
I think we have talked to ALL of our neighbors this week.  My oldest son is selling port a pit chicken tickets for a youth retreat so we have hit all the neighbors up for sales!  

We were invited by some wonderful homeschool friends this week to go boating again!  The kids had a blast tubing and knee boarding while the moms enjoyed an afternoon of talking by the water's edge!  
A Field Trip We Took...
We LOVE the Fort Wayne Children's zoo!  It was the perfect way to spend Labor Day Monday!
We are so glad that they got the Prairie Dogs back!

My Favorite Thing This Week Was...
Hanging out with other moms! Today, I was so content to sit in a lawn chair with my feet dangling in the water!  A Few days ago I had a friend over to can apple pie filling again!  Mmmmmm!

I'm Cooking...
I tried a new Italian chicken dish in the crockpot tonight.  4/5 of the fam liked it.  I'll take that!  I have been bored eating the same old things over and over so I have 3 more Pinterest recipes' ingredients purchased and ready to go!  
I'm praying for...
Our first co-op meeting is next week.  We have tons more kids and new families so I am super excited!  I just want it to run smoothly! 
I'm So Excited for...
My cousin made it through the cuts and is officially on the Colt's Roster as a quarterback!  Yeah for Chandler!
This pic is from a pre-season game against the Redskins.
A Photo To Share...
There was a great lightning show to the south of us tonight.  My future meteorologist took over 300 pics on my camera to try to get a good lightning shot!  This is his best one!  Maybe I'll get him to start a weather blog!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Not My Plan

I typically write more about my kids and homeschooling than about myself in my blog but today I was prompted to talk about homeschooling from a different perspective...from the hesitant, reluctant mom's perspective

Prior to homeschooling my own family I was reluctant to believe that educating one's children at home was best for anyone, let alone best for me and my kids.  Before homeschooling I was pretty sure that it was probably inferior education reserved for super religious families who didn't trust public education.  Prior to homeschooling I assumed homeschooling families were just odd. I mean what could possibly make them want to educate their children at home?  

Prior to homeschooling, I was a public school teacher.  I loved my career. I loved teaching middle school science or anywhere or anyone else for that matter. 

Before becoming a homeschooling family, I had lots of opinions about how and where to best educate youngin's.

Then again, before having kids of my own, I had lots of ideals and opinions about how to (and how not to) raise kids as well.  And we all know how having just one or two or more kids changes many of our preconceived notions about child rearing!  My ideals have definitely been challenged.  Read any of my other blog posts and see that I have 3 "Ideal challenging" kiddos!  :O)

*A small disclaimer before I go on...  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my church and would never really challenge their philosophies in any way but...*

There are just two Sunday's a year that really challenge me more than any others.  The first challenge for me is "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday," which falls in January every year.  Our pastor always handles the topic very gracefully and compassionately.  We lost 2 children early in their pregnancies to miscarriage, so listening to sermons that refer to the taking of these little lives is always hard for me.  

The second Sunday that makes me wish I had slept in is actually harder for me that the one mentioned above.  It is all pride really, but even now that I am living in a time of peace and restoration, the Sunday when our pastor has the congregation stand and pray for all of the public educators in our congregation is very painful for me.  

Our babies died and went to heaven. There was peaceful closure to that time in our lives. When my career died however, I honestly thought that I was hovering near hell itself.  Let me back up and explain why I didn't exactly leave the public school realm content with my decision to do so. 

First of all, I always approached my career as my mission.  From God.  Like many public school teachers I know and worked with, I saw my day to day interactions with both the kids and colleagues as my missionary assignment.  God even laid my first teaching job so easily in my lap that it was evident He wanted me right there, right then.  

Secondly, I LOVE kids and I love teaching them.  How many other careers can you have that lets you teach science and get to act like a kid in the wonder of it all?  And get paid for it!  And have summers off!  Seriously, I loved my job!

Even after our first son was born I had every intention of staying a working mom.  Even after he was born 6 weeks early and I had to extend my maternity leave, I planned on working.  Even after that firstborn son screamed day and night for 3 months straight and I was sleepless when I returned to the classroom, I planned to work on.  Even though he continued to need to eat every two hours through the night after I returned to work, I planned to work on!  Are you beginning to get a glimpse of my determination?  There is a very fine line sometimes between determination and sheer craziness! I was flirting with both!

Within weeks of returning to school I finally came to the place of exhaustion where I had to ask God, "How am I going to be able to continue on like this?"  Little did we know then that the hours of screaming were likely not colic but more neurological in nature.  It would be years before the name autism was attached to our grumpy little man.  That one prayer of , "What now, God?" is still being answered today.  

14 years ago, that prayer was answered in the form of leaving the briefcase behind for the diaper bag.  I was content (and terribly relieved) to leave the classroom behind.  For a while.  I had every intention of having it all:  The diaper bag AND the briefcase.  Just not all at once.  First the one then the other.  And that's what I thought God wanted too.

I just assumed that my calling hadn't changed, just the timing of it all.  So, when child #3 went off to school I assumed that the timing was right for me to go back as well.  The first day I started subbing again at the building where I used to teach was so much fun!  I was instantly welcomed back and was a professional again!  By the end of the day, my former principal asked me to consider filling in for a maternity leave! He even said, "You are the first person I would choose to do this." What a pat on the back! I was hooked!  Apparently God wanted me to go back to work too.

I continued to fill maternity and other short term leaves for the next 5 years.  I also continued to interview at various schools for the next 5 years as well.  I also continued to collect letters and phone calls letting me know that someone else was chosen for each and every job.  Each time I interviewed for a job, someone less experienced (i.e. cheaper), someone who was related to someone or someone who coached was chosen for the job.  I was seriously becoming very tired of it all. But being the determined person I am, I told God that I trusted him and that He must have a very good job in mind for me if HE was letting all of the others go to someone else.  

Looking back, I now know that instead of truly trusting in God, I was trusting in myself to make it happen, even to the point where I had myself convinced that I was being faithful to pursuing His calling.  While all along, I was ignoring His "still, small voice." I wasn't trying to be disobedient, because answering a call to minister in education is not a bad thing in and of itself, is it?  

5 years into my job search, I one day found myself with 2 job offers at the same time!  Whether or not I had started to really hear God or not flew out the window.  This must be it.  My time had finally come.  Neither job was a full time teaching job, both were aid positions, BUT both could likely lead into a full time position with a teaching contract.  Both were from schools I loved, but one was from the school where my kids attended.  I was so excited!  Two dreams were coming true, working and working near my kids.  

I also took the position I did because it specifically was to help kiddos who didn't qualify for special ed assistance but needed some one on one help.  I have a passion for such kids because I have some of those myself.  I was also working on my Master's degree in special ed so didn't it all just make sense?!  

Throughout that year and the few years previous, I experienced many ups and downs not only in my career search but in our family as well.  That kiddo who was born 6 weeks early during my first career, now had a "label." (Asperger's)  Kiddo # 2 was on his way to having one. (Dyslexia) And more were yet to come.  As hard as I was striving to rejoin the public education system, that same system was losing my kids.  

If you are the parent of a "labeled" kiddo, you know there is often extreme anxiety and stress when your child does not reach the top of the bell curve of typical students.  I even knew it was happening.  I knew they were slipping through the cracks, but no one had fallen through the hole yet.  In my opinion I was doing the best thing by staying near them and doing everything in my power to advocate for them to receive the best educational services available.  

In one last ditch effort, I interviewed for 3 more jobs before the next school year.  I am pretty convinced that those were my last 3 job interviews in public education ever.  One of the interviews was a but shaky.  I didn't feel a groove with the interviewers.  The other two went so well, however, that I knew I had nailed them and they were for me!  

Then the day came that forever changed my career in education.  The last phone call telling me I didn't get the job.  I was just sick after that phone call.  Literally sick.  In the bathroom sick.  I was told that I said something offensive during an interview and would never be asked to teach in that school.  WHAT?!  I still, to this day, have no recollection of what I said, if anything.  All  I know is that I was devastated!  The core of my being was rocked to the point that I did get sick.  To make matters worse, the classroom that I interviewed for was the EXACT one my daughter was placed in for 2nd grade!  What kind of a cruel joke was that?!  I cried for weeks.  We thought about pulling our kids out to go to a different school, but we left the decision up to them.  In the end they wanted to stay put.

Taking them into the building on registration day was the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life.  They were right, the teachers never treated them badly and that's why they wanted to stay, but for me it was excruciating!  While I was in the building one of the nicest ladies was so excited for me.  She bubbled when she told me she had seen where I had resigned, so therefore I must have gotten a full time job somewhere!  I was so embarrassed, not knowing what had been said about me and who believed what.  I told her that I was asked to resign and told that I would never teach there and we both cried.  I had many other similar experiences that fall.  I seriously know it was only through God's strength that I ever walked into the building!  

That was 2 falls ago.  In hindsight I can think of that time without crying now.  Barely!  But I can.  My eyes are dry as I type only because I know the rest of the story now.  

God had been preparing my heart to say goodbye to public education for years prior to that horrible phone call day.  He had been doing it so gently that I barely noticed.  I am actually embarrassed to admit it now that I heard him and just didn't get it.  God is good in keeping his promises and he did have a better thing in mind for both me and the kids, I was just too determined to chase after my own dream that I ignored His for a while.  He did have a job in mind for me that I didn't even have to interview for!

While I was busy striving to continue my career, my oldest son was falling apart emotionally, academically and socially all because the "system" (in general, not just his school) was failing him.  He had too high of an IQ and functioned too high to get the help he needed.  Son #2 was barely reading but passing because he is so smart and could get good grades just by listening.  Neither of them was truly excelling and both felt stupid and inferior.  

When the oldest kiddo finally became suicidal over the stress, it finally hit home with me.  If God hadn't allowed my career to end so badly, I may still be striving to get a job.  If God hadn't really got my attention I would have not been there to catch my son when he needed me most.  I was in a position to give him the one on one help he so desperately needed. We finally had freedom.  We withdrew him from school on a Wednesday morning.  Later that school year the other two kids announced that they wanted to be homeschooled also.  The rest is history!

The rest is history  except for that Sunday each August when Pastor Gary has all the public school teachers stand up to be appreciated and prayed for.  I couldn't wait to be among that group. (Back when I was teaching we didn't have that tradition that I remember.)  So now each year I am reminded that I will never be among the group that I thought I would retire with.  No one stands beside me.  BUT I can't say no one prayed for me! I know better than that!  I have 2 dear friends that knew I was to homeschool even before I did!  God is good!

I'm glad Gary prays for the teachers.  I'm glad the congregation gets behind them and acknowledges their ministry.  It's just that each time that Sunday rolls around I feel embarrassed and have to humble myself.  I will not ever be among them.  

As the years pass on "sanctity of human life Sunday," gets easier to sit and listen to.  I pray that it will get easier on the "Pray for teachers" Sunday too.

We missed 2 weeks in a row in August ~ last month.  I was secretly and pridefully glad that those 2 weeks fell on the Sundays right before the public schools in our area went back to school.  I had likely missed Gary's teacher prayer!  When he mentioned that he needed to do something today that he didn't get to in August, I knew I was in trouble!  Today!? Seriously!  

Just like God gave me the chance to humble myself before him and go into my children's school 2 falls ago and reveal His forgiveness and grace to my colleagues, he gives me the chance to humbly pray for the teachers in my congregation still today.  He did that this very day. He asked me to again set my pride aside and just pray.  So I did.  

I never knew how God would answer the prayers of an exhausted school teacher mom 14 years ago. I just knew he would.  I knew he had my best in mind and he did.  I pray that as you read this that if there is any area you are praying for that you will trust God to carry out His best for you!  And I pray that you will be obedient in His doing so!