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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homeschoolin'

There are times in our life that we plead for God to show where to go and then there are times that he lays things in our path that are unexpected and make us turn in the direction we are supposed to go.  Our kids schooling was certainly a path that I never foresaw this future.  I always pictured them in public school, just as me and Hubs had grown up in.

Sending Bubby to a "real" preschool was a big deal for us.  I never wanted to pay the outrageous price for preschool, but this summer, I felt that they could offer more for our middle child than I could.  I was convinced that our quiet child needed help coming out of his shell and this was just the place to help him learn to speak up to others.  However, I became unhappy with the school even before school actually started.  I received phone calls and letters saying we owed more money for miscellaneous things that hadn't been communicated before.  It wasn't about the money, I'm all for supporting our child's education, it was this awful feeling of being nickled and dimed for everything and they wouldn't tell us clearly what the money was going towards.  Then, things like this started happening:
I can't believe I'm even posting this.  But this was the point that I started questioning whether they really could do more for my son than myself.  His teacher was sweet but could never answer a question.  Anything I asked her was responded with, "I don't know."  In my short professional career, it was a big no-no to just say "I don't know".  At least give me a "I'll let you know tomorrow" or "Good question, let me figure it out and get back to you."  The day my son's teacher left him in the classroom alone to come get me out of the parking lot to ask me to take him home early from a party, was the last straw.  I wrote a letter to the director informing her of his withdrawal.  There were several issues that lead us to this decision but Hubs pointed out that I would probably always look at the school in a negative light because I never let go of wanting to homeschool.  He knew I regretted sending him and unlike many others, I didn't see it as a daycare and a much needed break.

Shortly after, Princess P started asking me to pick her up early from school.  At first it seemed innocent; Hubs had just gotten home from a trip and she wanted extra time with him.  But when she continued, I began to worry.  This type A little girl never wants to miss ANYTHING...not a second of anything.  If she's supposed to be there, she will be there.  She started complaining of being extremely bored at school and began filling her backpack with extra books and paper so she would have something to do during down times.  She would tell us how much time she spent waiting for the teacher to get other kids to behave or help others with catching on to a subject.  Before I go further, I want to say that I LOVE her school and think her teacher is fantastic.  I think he does a great job with 23 students at a varying educational level and I don't think it is a horrible thing that she has to wait.  But, these complaints from a little girl who adores school made us stop to think about the education system as a whole.

Our school system focuses a ton on standardized testing.  There's practice tests and weeks of real tests and if a couple of kids don't do well on the tests then the whole class stays on that concept until they all get good scores.  My daughter is blessed with her daddy's ability to soak information in very quickly, so to hold her on a single concept for an extended period of time is overwhelmingly boring to her.  I don't like that they are teaching kids for the test, to pass the test.  I want our kids to learn information and soak it up to stay, not to just leave after they get an acceptable grade on a test.

We started to think about how our kids time is spent. So much of our day is filled with getting ready to leave and driving and then they spend their school time just sitting.  By the time Princess P is home from school, she has about 30 minutes of play time after her home work and before dinner and then it's time for bed.  She asked Hubs one weekend why he cooks so much (we do enjoy cooking more on the weekend together, but clearly it was bothering her).  Digging a little deeper in the conversation, she said that she feels like it takes away time from her during our short weekend together.  That little comment made us realize how little time we really have with her.  On the flip side, it made me think about how her time was being spent in school.  What was being poured into her during all that down time? 

Sometime in this continuous school conversation, I had a lightbulb moment.  I wish I could remember what lead to that moment, but I have the worst memory ever...hence the blog to document.  I realized that I've let a lot slide with my boys.  I've had legit excuses; #1 they are boys #2 they are second and third children #3 I have far less undivided attention to give them.  These are my excuses for Bubby not being able to recognize 1/4 of the alphabet and Charlie's vocabulary being below the par.  Eh, they're just slower to catch on, right?  This is what I've been telling myself to make my laziness seem not so bad.  My lightbulb made me see that I want so much more for my boys.  I want them to be smart and successful.  I want them to love reading and more importantly, love learning.

While on a run, I told Hubs that I felt like God was putting it on my heart to homeschool.  He said, "You know, when we're 70 and looking back on our life, I don't think we're going to ever regret spending time with our small children". 

I fear that it sounds crazy, but I really do feel God putting it on my heart to homeschool.  It's not a path I would have chosen myself and I know it will be hard, but I'm so excited to feel his guidance.  I have to honor and obey what He is telling me and by faith I will follow.  I know he will supply the strength that I need.  Just looking at Noah's example gives me encouragement.  I'm pretty sure at some point in building an ark, he thought "I don't have enough patience to do this!" but by faith he obeyed God.  Can you image the comments he must have heard from people.  He definitely got some "you are crazy!" and "you should leave ark building to the experts".   When God called Noah to build an ark, I know he did not feel 100% capable, but God gave him a plan and guided him along the way.

I'm not Noah, but by faith I am following God's calling for our family.  There will be plenty of people who think we are crazy and not capable of teaching our children.  There are definitely people who don't understand and who don't want to understand.  But in the midst of the feathers I am ruffling lately, I pray that the Lord's name with be glorified.

This post was not the best organized, I know.  But I wanted to jot down how I'm feeling now and what brought us here, so on the hard days, I remember why I'm doing this. 

Homeschooling, here we come :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Were I've Been

It's been 4 months since I quit; 4 months since I took a break from everything.  I'll catch you up on what has happened in our life since the last post throughout this post.

Nana taught us how to sew
God had been telling me to take a break for awhile, but in honesty, I didn't want to obey.  I felt like a toddler, kicking and screaming in defiance.  But he kept pressing it on my heart.  He was trying to teach me so much, but I didn't want to accept the change that would mean.

 
Daddy coached Bubby's soccer team
He had been revealing to me over the past year that I had a strong addiction to social media.  Perhaps even stronger than my addiction, was my desire for friendships, acceptance and fuel for my pride.  I entered the social media world as a way to have interactions with other adults while I was isolated at home with a newborn in a snow laden state.  It started out innocent, but as the children multiplied it became an escape from a crazy world.  I used it as an excuse to sit down and unplug, ignoring the things I didn't want to deal with...like whiny kids or cheerio filled floors.

Grandpa taught Princess P how to ride her bike

I'm embarrassed to admit how much I was addicted and even more embarrassed to share how much my kids were ignored.  I spent a lot of time praying over sharing this.  It's easier to hide it, but the truth is, many mom's can relate.  There are so many things I wish other women would have shared with me, like how to take care of yourself after having a baby or how acne is worse in your 30's than in your teens or how the week before your husband leaves for a trip is far worse than the actual trip.  There are many hidden things that mom's don't talk about and I'm ready to break that barrier.

We took a trip to the beach with my parents

At first, I tried to set limits on my social media use.  I would tell myself that I would only get on when the kids were sleeping, but the thoughts of "just check it really quick" always popped in my head.  It was so easy and convenient to jump on and I would inevitably get sucked in for at least 20 minutes.  I heard myself constantly saying to my kids, "just a minute" and was more distracted than present.


Princess P started 2nd grade

Bubby started preschool
Every time I got on social media, I felt like poo.  I wished my thoughts were "that's so great that she did that with her kids" and "She really is so blessed to have that husband".  But they weren't.  They were more like "Why didn't I think to do that with my kids and why don't I have my kids in matching clothes all the time?!" and "Sheesh!  My Hubs should know to do that really romantic thing for me too!".
Princess P started Girl Scouts
God began peeling away layers of my heart.  First showing me my struggle with pride and then showing me my search for worth in worthless things.   He was trying to tell me to find my worth only in Him and to love others, instead of judging them. I needed some time to stop worrying about what people thought of me.  I needed to not try to be someone, but just be and see who that is.  I knew the truth that He was calling me to, but I was scared.  I felt like I would disappear if I got off.

Soccer ended and Bubby made great progress over the season
Then there was a pivotal day.  I was extremely frustrated with a "situation" through facebook and was venting it to Hubs, almost in tears.  He looked at me so gently and said, "It's time to stop.  I think you should post that you are taking a break and delete all your apps."  His support and accountability was what I needed.  Though I had done a great job hiding my struggle, he knew my heart well and he knew what I needed.  Praise the Lord for husbands who love you enough to say the hard things and love you through it.

Finish half marathon in 1:54

I cut it cold turkey and the first few days opened my eyes to how much I really was addicted...they were so hard!  Social media had consumed my thoughts for so long. "What should I post?" "Did someone look at my picture?"  "Did anyone send me a message?" "I can't believe so and so said that!"  "Hmm, maybe I should make that for dinner too."  Breaking habits is hard and even harder when you have 3 reality checks starring you in the face.  My escape was gone and I had to face life.

First field trip

So what did I do?  I broke up with my phone.  I cut off my third appendage and made it a home on my kitchen counter.  I even left it there when we went out.  I missed phone calls, text messages and picture opportunities and emails were responded to at a much slower rate.  I also turned off my computer and iPad and left them on my desk upstairs, turning them on only to update our family blog and respond to emails.

As much as this may seem like a social media bash or "poor lonely girl party", quitting was a last straw for me.  The months leading up to this, I felt like God was "clearing my plate" and I didn't understand why.  In the midst of a potential military move, I quit all ministry involvement.  I also stopped teaching at the Y and the pursuit of personal training lead to a big fat closed door.  Several relationships dissolved over that time.  Social media was the last distraction in my life and now that was cleared too.

trip to the pumpkin patch

So what was left on my empty plate?  Something very beautiful.  In honesty, it took me awhile to see the beauty.  There were tears and there was anguish to get there.  Everything that I thought defined me was gone.  But the months of "emptiness" gave me a clarity like I've never experienced.   What was left was my family and that is beautiful, crazy beautiful.

Daddy and Princess P ran the local 5k

It didn't take long for me to see who my real friends were and those relationships got so much sweeter.  Friends actually called to talk or would come over to hang out.  Conversations didn't begin with "I saw on facebook..." but rather we knew what was going on because of our face-to-face discussions.  I savored the true relationships instead of longing for fake connections online.

pumpkin design by the kids

I redefined my down time.  I found a love for piano music and baking during nap time.  If I needed to relax, I would turn on a funny show on Netflix.  One particular week, the kids were extra crazy and I hid a chocolate bar Hubs had brought home from Germany in my bathroom.  I would lock myself in there for just a few minutes and savor the sweet treat.  A little quiet and German chocolate is way better than any social media high.  And I actually read a book!  Several actually.  More than I've read since college.  I reread books that I only half read and learned so much more.  It's amazing the things you can do when your time is not filled with idleness.

Potty trained Charlie

I'm so excited to be here now.  It's awesome to see God reveal things in your life and have clarity.  I'm thankful to be back to blogging; it's an outlet that is often refreshing for my soul.  Coming soon: specific plans for our life that God has revealed to me.