Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You Take The Good ~ You Take The Bad

The Engineer and I met up with some teens and moms for lunch today.  We do this every once in a while with a group of local homeschooling teens and their moms.  It's nice for our Engineer to meet up with friends and sit around a table and chat.  The moms are happy to gather at their own table and catch up as well.

The owner of the restaurant asked us what kind of group we were.  We told him we were homeschoolers.  He smiled and announced that we had pretty great kids and were welcome back anytime.  Today the response was positive.  But truth be told, I'm sure each mom braced for the reaction when that question was asked. 

We get that question from strangers almost every time our group meets in public.  Thankfully the response it usually positive, but even in a time when homeschooling is more common, we don't always get a supportive or even neutral reply.

In 2005, Lisa Whelchel wrote a book called So You're Thinking About Homeschooling.  I was thrilled and quickly purchased the book to read.  Lisa played the character of Blair on one of my favorite TV shows when I was growing up: The Facts of Life.  Of course, let's be real....Jo was my favorite character, but over the years I have read articles and learned that Lisa is nothing like Blair. 
It turns out Lisa grew up to become a homeschooling mom, author, and speaker.  In 2007, a special friend of mine, Care Giver, who (just as her name implies) is so wonderful to show care to all those around her, enjoyed the opportunity of hearing Lisa speak.  Care Giver called me all excited about meeting Lisa.  She told me that Lisa reminded her of me.

That meant so much to me, because I was already a fan of the grown up Lisa, having read her book on homeschooling and enjoyed it a great deal.  We were homeschooling our boys at the time and it was awesome to see a celebrity speak out about her own experience educating her children.

Care Giver did something very special for me.  She purchased a book of Lisa's titled The Busy Mom's Guide to Prayer and then waited in line to meet Lisa to have her sign the book for me.  I was so touched when I received the book in the mail. 

Not only did I enjoy Lisa's book on prayer, but I have kept it on my bookshelf as a reminder of another special friendship.  Care Giver and I were neighbors when our boys were little.  She and her husband kept our Scientist the night our Engineer was born.  Not yet parents themselves, they babysat our boys for us many times over the five years we lived across the street from each other. 

I have wonderful memories of late night scrapbooking, laughter over meals, sitting together at church, the excitement of when Carl's Jr opened in our town, visiting a flower farm, and talking, and talking, and talking.  We also prayed through tough times and once even rode out a F-5 tornado together! 

All of these memories came flooding back as I pulled that special book off the shelf today and opened to the page where Care Giver took the time to have Lisa Whelchel sign a book to me.

My copy of So You're Thinking About Homeschooling is long gone - having loaned it out one too many times and it didn't come back to me.  But that's okay, I hope it has been a blessing to many others who may have read it since the last time I saw it.

The book was written about fifteen different homeschooling families.  Each family had different reasons, different needs, and different approaches to homeschooling.  I loved the fact that someone had written about homeschooling in this way.  It really personalized it and offered encouragement and support to those who were thinking about tackling homeschooling and those who had already taken it on.

Today's experience at the restaurant, reminded me of this book, which got me to thinking...I haven't really blogged much about homeschooling, so today I want to share a few...or twelve thoughts with you while we are on the subject.

1. At this point in our lives it seems weird to me that homeschooling is weird to someone else.  It's been a part of our lives for so long, that it still catches me by surprise when someone finds it a strange choice.

2.  We are not your "typical" homeschoolers...although I'm not really sure what that is... I can assure you we do not grow our own wheat, grind it, and then bake it into bread.  I do however, know people that actually do this.  Personally, I buy the lowest calorie bread I can find.  It's an area in my life in which I do not want to waste calories.  Yes, even bread making is a choice in homeschooling.

3.  While I did once own a denim jumper, it was well before we began homeschooling.  On any given day you will find me in jeans and a sweater.  Admittedly I would prefer to spend my day in yoga pants, but (on most days) I force myself to shower and dress even if we aren't leaving the house. *Disclaimer: Snow Days don't count...

4.  Occasionally we have been known to have a jammie day...but come on...who doesn't?  I think homeschoolers are the only ones that actually admit to this.  I mean if we were going to label everyone who spends the day in their jammies, then you can find a lot of "homeschoolers" at our local Walmart.  Trust me...the homeschoolers I know at least dress for Walmart...
*Disclaimer: Snow Days don't count...

5.  I have never asked someone why their child is not in school.  Never.  I find it odd when strangers ask us this question. 

6.  I have never told a complete stranger my uninvited opinion on how they should educate and/or raise their children.  It would never occur to me to share these unsolicited thoughts with others.  Again...happens to us, and again...I find it so odd.

7.  We did not plan to homeschool our children.  The idea to educate our children ourselves came out of need.  We wanted to do the best we could for our boys and felt it was the best option at the time.  Over the years we have sent our children to public schools, a base school, and private Christian schools.  We have also homeschooled on our own and through a Charter school program.  Whatever was/is best at the time.

8.  We find comedian Tim Hawkins jokes about homeschoolers incredibly funny.  We find most jokes about homeschooling laughable.  Sometimes because they are so true, and sometimes because they are so far off the mark.

9.  Some homeschooling days, I spend the day in a state of thanksgiving for being allowed the blessing of being with my child, educating him, and guiding him. 

10.  Some homeschooling days, I want to run out of the house, chase that yellow school bus down, and put my child on it.

11.  There is nothing....I mean nothing like teaching a child to read and write, watching them grow and learn, and knowing you had a small part in it.  When that child is your own....I'm telling you, it's one of the greatest blessings of motherhood.

12.  Each year we evaluate our circumstances, pray for guidance, and do what God calls us to do.  In the end, it doesn't matter what others do...it doesn't matter what others think we should do...it only matters that we follow God's plan for our family.  And when we do...we find beautiful peace.

So, as Hubby goes over our Engineer's math lesson for the day, I can relax, knowing we are doing exactly what God has called us to do.  My lessons with our Engineer will begin again tomorrow morning. 

For now...I think I'll take a few minutes for my March Quest and read a little bit more in my book.

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