Saturday, March 13, 2010

Family Matters & Happy Spring!

As I'm writing this, I'm looking out my office window at GREEN GRASS (well, as green as is to be expected in March) and chirping birds at my feeder...mostly sparrows I believe, but I just saw a red cardinal and think I saw an interesting finch earlier today. For those of you familiar with Wisconsin weather, this is one step from Heaven! In fact, one of my favorite email forwards is the "You Know You Live In Wisconsin If"... like as soon as the temp goes above 40 deg, everyone is in t-shirts and flip-flops? :) Well, so far we haven't broken out the flops, but the girls have been sneaking their jackets off when playing hoops out in the driveway. Last week we had sun, which raised are tired, March spirits immensely. This whole week, however, has been cloudy, rainy, and dreary. But, still above 40, so I'll take it.

The pictures below spotlight another happiness in my life. My daughter, Alana, has always been a reader/book-lover like her mom. Never fighting me during reading time, and always reading before shutting off the light in bed. Erin, however, was a different story. Not interested. I've struggled to find a subject, author, or series to spark her interest, to no avail. Now, suddenly, it's taken root. Mostly, I think because she's sharing a room with her sister again, and thinks that reading might help her fall asleep.

Anyway, earlier this week, Erin got up early....a little after 7am, versus the usual 8am. I was sitting at the table doing my God Time/Study. She came up the stairs and stopped at the top to pet Zack. Then she spied the pile of books I had piled near the banister (I have books piled everywhere!) The next time I looked, there she was with a book open, reading on the top step, petting the cat. :) Joy.

I recently finished a book called Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. I know why it makes sense for us, of course, but this author has a unique point of view...he's a public school teacher, and he and his wife homeschool their 5 sons. It was very interesting, giving a good history of public it came about, why it's changed, and where it fails and succeeds. Here are just a few of the points I found thoughtful...
*the inherent rigidity of schools...children were not predisposed to long hours of physical inactivity
*schools were basically joyless institutions, serving an education almost entirely divorced from daily life
*In Massachusettes, the literacy rate was higher before compulsory education (possible 98%) than it would be any time after...due to being schooled or tutored at home
*the bureauocracy of the public schools was probably its biggest downfall...when the vision and control shifted from parents and communities to bureaucrats and "professionals"
*homes are no longer the "educational vacuum" they may have once been...we have internet, tv, books, libraries, globes, maps, magazines, homeschool curriculum, etc. Schools, to a certain extent, have become a waste of taxpayer dollars. Let parents teach...
*and finally, towards the end, this one really hit me hard. The author presents human beings (parents) as natural teachers of their young. And in most cultures, this education is reserved for the elders when they are no longer best suited to be out "doing," but have the knowledge and experience to pass on to the next generation. And since we have this "need & desire" to teach our children, a hole is created in our souls when we send the kids to school. He points out that parents quickly become selfish with their time and desires. How many times have you heard moms repeating all summer, "I can't wait for the kids to go back to school!" And we become totally focused on serving our own needs, seeing our kids as an intrusion on our time. This hit me very hard. Pre-homeschooling, I was an obsessed scrapbooker. That's what I did...that's who I was. I recently realized that I didn't NEED to do it daily...weekly...or even monthly, as I had to before. I don't normally feel the need to "get away from my kids." Could it be that my "teaching hole" has been filled now? Wow. He also mentions sports and dads. How many dads find that the only way they have to fill their need to teach is to teach junior how to throw a ball or swing a bat. This is where they bond. How true is that???
Anyway, the book did nothing to make me want to send my kids back to school. :) Family matters...and mine is home where I want them. :)
Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

By Grace Alone

Why a blurry school bus picture???

Well, you see, as a kid, whenever I'd stay home from school (due to sickness, or what my mom called much-needed "mental health days") I'd feel so guilty and regretful when that bus passed by. Was I really sick enough to be home? What was I missing? How far behind would I be? And then in high school, add to that guilt the pressure from missing basketball or volleyball practice. Seriously, people, I didn't even skip class in college! Once a geek always a geek, I guess. But I digress.

I became a mom. And all too soon I was putting my first little girl on that bus. And I cried. Then pretty soon, there were two on the bus. It took me 4 1/2 years of kids on the bus for me to finally have the courage to bring them home (for reasons that I won't get into now). But as I'd watch that bus go by each morning, I'd wonder, was I making the right decision? Would I ruin my kids? It was the same old guilt...the same fear I'd end up regretting this decision.

I still have days of questioning. But now, each day, as I sit over my Bible in the quiet before the kids awake, I thank God that my girls are NOT on that bus. They are home with me...where they belong. Where God has called me to keep them. And I am thankful. And humbled...that He has entrusted me with these precious lives.

And then the precious ones awake, and before long I'm wishing I would have put them on the bus. I might even threaten to put them on it tomorrow! :) Some days are bad days. Really bad. With the words from Ann at Holy Experience, whom I admire greatly,

"Raising your own flesh and blood is this exercise in seeing how dirty your flesh is and how dire you need the blood of Christ. "

It is by grace alone that I'm forgiven of my sins. My mistakes. And it is by His grace that I am entrusted with these precious souls, day after day. And it is by His grace that tomorrow I'll do better. It is through His grace that the bus goes by each morning, just to remind me...