Thursday, May 31, 2007

And now we know the whole story...

May 31, 2007

At long last…we have finished all four volumes of The Story of the World. What a sense of accomplishment! What a fabulous way to end the school year! I have learned so much in these past two years during Sonlight’s Core 6 and 7 (World History). I minored in history in a college that required a rigorous two-year Humanities course for all its students, so I would have considered myself fairly well-versed in history. “Would have,” pre-homeschooling, that is. I have had innumerable “a-ha!” moments during these past two years. Times when I’ve looked at the kids and said, “I never knew that!” Homeschooling in our home is a certainly total family learning experience.

And so with much jubilation, we put the official “End-of-School” stamp on today, May 31. Tomorrow, June 1 starts our new school year, with Jesse as a full-time freshman (eighth grade this past year included two high school credit courses), Laurel in 5th grade, and Duncan in 1st grade. Swim team, camping, summer camps and long, lazy days make up their June and July; we’ll hit the books again in mid-August.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Approaching Homeschooling: Advice from the Little Blue Engine

May 29, 2007

This is the time of year when we often see questions like, “What is your best advice for new homeschoolers?” appearing on blogs and discussion boards. At Duncan's kindergarten graduation this year, the parents all presented our graduates with a copy of the book I Knew You Could by Craig Dorfman. Subtitled “A Book for All the Stops in Your Life,” this book features The Little Engine That Could from that perennial classic. Of course Duncan begged me to read the book to him the next morning, and as I did, I was struck by how the excellent advice that The Engine gives, meant to inspire graduates of all ages a la Dr. Suess’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go, is perfect for new homeschoolers.

“First of all, you must find your own track,
so you can start right away and not be held back.
But which track is yours? Well, that all depends
On which way it’s going and where it might end.
Different tracks wind around,
Over, under, and through,
So pick out the one
That works best for you.
Though the track you start out on
Will feel like ‘the one,’
You might take a few more before you are done…”

Homeschooling translation: There’s no one right way to homeschool. Find what works best for your family, but don’t be afraid the change “tracks” (i.e., curriculum, approaches, etc.) if something just isn’t working.

“You’ll go through tunnels, surrounded by dark,
And you’ll wish for a light or even a spark.
You might be scared or a little bit sad,
Wondering if maybe your track has gone bad.
So here’s some advice to help ease your doubt:
The track you took in must also go out.
So steady yourself and just keep on going—
Before you know it, some light will be showing.
And then you’ll be out, heading to a new place.
You’ll be ready for the next tunnel you face.”

Homeschooling translation: Homeschooling isn’t a piece of cake. There are days when you will be exhausted and filled with frustration, doubting your decision and sure your kids are learning nothing. That first year is especially hard if you’ve pulled your kids out of public/private school, if you have a new baby, or some other big change in your life. But it does get better! You are not the only one who had hard days. Find a friend, whether in real life or online, who will speak truthfully to you about the hard days of homeschooling, and you’ll find comfort. Homeschooling can be a rollercoaster ride: sometimes it’s tremendously thrilling and sometimes you think you’re going to puke.

“Sometimes you’ll look up and see planes in the sky,
And you’ll think to yourself, ‘I wish I could fly.’
The cars on the roads will see quick and free—
You’ll feel stuck on your track and think, ‘I wish that was me.’…
Don’t worry about not being a car or a plane,
Just enjoy the trip you’ll take as a train.”

Homeschooling translation: Yes, other moms, whose kids are in public/private schools, can go to Starbucks for a leisurely coffee, work-out every day, and get the grocery shopping done solo. But you have the privilege of having your children with you all day. You get to see a light-of-understanding come on. You get to hear their chatter at lunchtime. You get your kids—and your kids get you.

“You’ll follow your track
through twists and through bends,
and stop at new stops and pick up new friends.
They’ll all come aboard with smiles and greetings.
You’ll have such great times
With the people you’re meeting!
On the days when you’re sad and feel you can’t go,
Speak up and ask a friend for a tow.
That’s what friends do, so don’t be afraid.
You’d do the same if your friend needed aid.”

Homeschooling translation:
Find a homeschooling community. Whether its in real-life for those of us blessed enough to have support groups, or an online community, find homeschooling friends! Don’t drop your other friends, but there is something amazingly special about having friends who share your educational philosophy. Open yourself up and share your story, and you’ll be blessed in return. And practiced homeschoolers love to help new homeschoolers!

“You might stop at some stops that you never have toured,
And look for new friends, but they won’t come aboard.
So you’ll have to head out with a creak and a groan,
Setting out once again on your track, all alone.
Try to remember that the world is so wide,
Full of all kinds of people with their own trains to ride.
Just stay true to yourself as you travel your track,
With no second-guessing and no looking back.”

Homeschooling translation: New homeschoolers are often so excited that we want to convert everyone we know to homeschooling. Tread carefully! Not everyone wants to hear about your homeschooling adventure. What they hear is: “My way is better than your way.” And don’t let other people talk you out of your choice. You felt called to homeschool. Stay focused and persevere.

“Once you’re on the right track, you’ll probably say,
‘This one is mine—I’m here to stay.’
Try to enjoy the track that you choose—
Stop now and then to take in the views.”

Homeschooling translation: Enjoy the time you have with your children. Relax! Be flexible. Take lots of time to play, to enjoy the world, to enjoy each other. Memorize their faces and the shape of their chubby fingers. As the older folks always say, “They grow up so fast!” They do, but we get more of them than most people. Someday their chubby fingers will be long and slender, and they won’t splash in puddles anymore. Enjoy the journey.

“There’s more about life that you’ll learn as you go,
Because figuring things out on your own helps you grow.
Just trust in yourself, and you’ll climb every hill.
Say, ‘I think I can!’ and you know what?
You will!”

(All excerpts from I Knew You Could! by Craig Dorfman, Platt & Munk Publishers, 2003.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday Memory: Memorial Day

May 28, 2007

Creighton Clarence and Helen May (Johnsen) Firebaugh

Nelson Andrews and Gladys May (Riley) Cummins

Where I come from in upstate New York, the village next to ours, Waterloo, claims that it is the "Birthplace of Memorial Day." My own hometown takes part in the famous Trout Derby on Memorial Day weekend, when Seneca Lake is buzzing with motorboats and regattas. Here in East Tennessee this day is referred to as Decoration Day as much as it is Memorial Day. Local Yokel JennfromTenn blogged today about her family's traditional Decoration Day, which is the epitome of Southern-ness. They really do visit the gravesites of their families and leave flowers. No doubt southern girls QueenoftheHill and Sharon have similar family traditions. But for me, Memorial Day was a day off from school, a parade in our hot band uniforms, and a late afternoon sail.

I grew up over 800 miles away from my extended family. The roots are long and strong in Southern Illinois: Cummins, Rileys, Firebaughs, Johnsens. Most of them immigrated here in the mid- to late-1800s and planted themselves on farms. No one moved around too much. Dix, Illinois is pretty much made up of Rileys. That's where my Cummins and Riley--the Irish-- kin are buried. The Firebaughs and Johnsens--my German kin-- were in the big city of Mt. Vernon next door, and dozens of stones in the city cemetery bear the Firebaugh name, kept abundant through my grandfather Creighton and his 11 siblings.

But when I was a little over a year old, my family moved to upstate New York. The cemeteries there bear names like Fabrizio, D'Amico, Cecere, D'Allesandro, Principio, Scuzzi, Scaramazzinno, Fospero, Ianapollo. (Imagine my midwestern parents learning to pronounce the names of my classmates!)

I have been to my grandparents' graves once or twice. I have traced their names in stone with my fingers and conjured up images of them and the sounds of their voices. I have stood and looked at a stone and thought, "This is my family. I am one of them." It is not enough, though. I have missed some vital connection because of distance. I have missed placing wildflowers on graves and kissing the cheek of a wrinkled third cousin. I have never heard a story told of my father as a little boy--other than by my father.

My friends think I'm funny because I call a certain local family "my cousins." But he is my kin---although we are fourth cousins or first cousins, four times removed, or something like that---and when you don't have the luxury of being in the midst of your kin, you make the most of what you have.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Duncan's Big Day

Friday, May 25, 2007

Excitement abounds in our home today, and it's all about Duncan. As a perfect ending to his kindergarten year, Duncan finished the last lesson of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. There was a time when I thought we would never finish this book, but he has really clicked with reading in the past couple of months, and we flew through the last 20 lessons in about a week. Duncan was actually a wee bit sad to finish this book; he even hid it and said he was keeping it forever. (Don't worry, partyoffive, I know where he hid it!)

But that was just the beginning of the day. The rest of the day was devoted largely to getting ready for Duncan's kindergarten graduation. We didn't have kindergarten graduation where I came from, but I have to say I love it. There is something so precious about seeing these little ones in their gowns, hats askew, and imagining them in 12 years, tall and a little nervous. Now the lump in my throat is about seeing the man he'll be in that baby face; then the lump will be seeing the man himself.

The graduation itself was beautifully done. Best of all, I didn't have to do anything other than get there and bring my snack/drink contribution. I'm so used to organizing things that it's a tremendous treat to have other people carrying the load. The theme was "I Knew You Could," based on the sequel to classic The Little Engine That Could.

Lots of kids did individual performances; they sang a group song; had a slideshow; and read the book I Knew You Could Do It. The best part is that the parents get to hand the child the diploma and switch the tassel. As each child came up on stage, the Mom/emcee read few things each parent had written about the child (according to a set of questions given by the coordinator). Here is what she read for Duncan: "Duncan's favorite subject is math. He also loves to write and color. His favorite thing to do is play with his friends. He plays soccer and is looking forward to being in Cub Scouts. Anyone who knows Duncan thinks of him with his big smile. He is compassionate and kind and will be a friend to everyone. He wants to be a motorcycle driver when he grows up. The name Duncan is Celtic, meaning "dark warrior." James is a family name. He shares it with a cousin, uncle, grandfather, and great-great grandfather from Ireland (who would have been the Irish version, Seamus)."
It was fun to watch Duncan's face when she read the meaning of his name. He loved the idea of being a Dark Warrior.

After all 17 kids got their kisses and diplomas, we prayed and headed out for refreshments.

It was a beautiful evening. I feel so amazingly blessed not only to be able to homeschool our children, but to be part of this wonderful homeschooling community. When I kissed Duncan good-night, I said, "We sure had a fun kindergarten year." And he responded, "You are the best teacher, Mama." Be still, my heart.

(And while this post is all about Duncan tonight, the one bummer was that Jesse had to miss his little brother's graduation. He had a Boy Scout Board of Review that he had to attend tonight. The awesome news is that he scored very high on his review and has now reached Star rank!)

Heard at My House Much Too Early in the Morning

Daisy, the Dog: (gag, gag, puke, puke)

Me: Aaah!

Son: Hurry, Daisy, eat it up so we don't have to clean it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Quintessential Father

May 22, 2007

I know that Father's Day is still a month or so away, but I just want to say that one of the things that makes my husband so awesome is that he loves to read to the kids. Tonight he finished reading The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh to Duncan. This is somewhat of a sacred moment in our home (kind of like finishing The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings), and I love that Randy came out of Duncan's room, said (with his hand over his heart) "I got all choked up," and blogged about it. Of course, his post made me get all teary-eyed, especially since this may be the last complete reading of Pooh Bear until we have grandkids.

Years ago Randy's brother, Greg, wrote a beautiful children's short story. The cadence was especially beautiful. Greg's comment was, "I wrote it with Randy's voice in mind." He said that he has heard Randy read to the kids so much over the years that it was only natural that he would have Randy's voice in his head when he was writing a children's story.

Reading aloud to our children is the simplest gift we could ever give. My parents were readers, and I treasure the memories of evenings spent reading aloud the Pearl Buck story Bible or selections from The Best Loved Poems. It is not unusual even now for my mother to say "Listen to this!" as she reads a paragraph from her latest novel or for my father to search for a favorite old poem and read to us at the dinner table. For our children to carry the sounds of our voices into their lives is just one way to wrap them in our love.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Week of Blissful Oblivion

May 21, 2007

Dad2Three blogged recently about that delicious abdicating of responsibilities that comes with vacation. I know why Jimmy Buffet was lost in Margaritaville. Even without the margaritas, Florida is like some kind of giant alien that dissolves all one's normal brain function within minutes of crossing into the state. I mean no disrespect to those who call Florida home, but how can you ever have clear thoughts in a land of perpetual vacation? (I know, I know, it's not really vacationland if it's your home....but still!)

Everything about our vacation was perfect. (A weeks' worth of our trip's photos are posted here at my Project 365 Blog.) The theme parks were outstanding, even with their overabundance of shops selling unnecessary plastic objects and their outrageously priced bags of chips. Our condo was amazing--clean, spacious, and quiet. And of course the pool was warm and the weather gorgeous.

Our one day at the beach whetted our appetites for a trip to the Outerbanks, which is next on our list....when we get that vacation fund fattened again....

But now it's back to our regularly scheduled life, except I can't figure out yet what that is. We've gotten groceries and gone to the library. Our week's worth of mail has been delivered and most of it thrown away. I've chatted on the phone and caught up on some emails and blogs. I know I have a few papers yet to grade and some AHG prep to do, but somehow I can't quite give up all that good vacation relaxation just yet....

Sunday, May 20, 2007

We're Home!

May 20, 2007

There is absolutely nothing akin to the feeling of driving in one's driveway after a long vacation. And opening the windows and burning candles to get out the unused smells of the house. A load of wash churning in the washer and one humming in the dryer, and the house starts to smell and sound right again. And the sheer luxury of my own computer!

We had an absolutely spectacular vacation in Florida. Once the pictures are downloaded, I shall provide a grand tour, but for now, the above was taken on Day 3 of our Amazing Theme Park Vacation, this at Epcot. I also read 4 books during this week of bliss, reviews on my previous four posts! But now our regular life resumes, and I'm happy to be back to it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Simple Pleasure Saturday

May 12, 2007

I love Tia's Simple Pleasure Saturdays, and while she's talking to my husband on the phone this moment, I will add one my own: pancakes with peanut butter and syrup. I am unfortunately not a motivated breakfast-maker during the week. I love breakfast. I would love to eat a big, hearty breakfast every morning; however, I prize my morning quiet time more than biscuits and gravy. But on Saturdays, we do breakfast. If Randy is up and about, which does happen now and then, we have a really big breakfast. But most of the time I am at least inclined to make pancakes on Saturday mornings. And while the kids like various things on their pancakes, my favorite is crunchy peanut butter and syrup. This is a combo only acquired in the past 5 years or so, upon breakfasting with my college friend Angie and her husband, Scott. Scott introduced me to the concept of peanut butter on pancakes. I was initially skeptical but hooked with the first bite. And so I do, now, look forward to the simple pleasure of peanut butter pancakes on Saturdays, and having my husband at home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A Night to Remember

May 9, 2007

A couple of weeks ago we decided that Sharon needed to take us all up to Knoxville to Three Rivers Market Co-op, which she and Sarah and Tia always rave about. We all left our kids with their dads and drove up in Sharon's van together (except Tia, who doesn't live down our way anymore). Obviously, six moms in a mini-van are threats to society, because no sooner had we driven two miles when we see flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror.

"But, Sir!" says sweet-as-sugar Sharon, "I was only going 53 in a 50-mile-an-hour zone!" And Mr. State Trooper, who looked exactly like the guy above, says, "I don't care if you were going 51. Don't ever pass a state trooper." Humbled to have received only a warning ticket after Mr. State Trooper ran Sharon's license and discovered that she was not on the FBI's Most Wanted List, we headed up the road to Three Rivers. There we met Tia, who was prepared to bail us out of jail with tofu and xanthum gum if needed. Three Rivers is indeed an awesome natural foods market, and we were all delighted with our purchases of granola, sea salt, and other crunchy delights. By that time we were all starving, so we headed off to Tomato Head on Knoxville's Market Square.

As Blogless Leigh would say with gusto, "Yum-O!" It was disturbing, while waiting for our food to arrive, when this fellow scrambled under our table, or, more precisely, under my chair:

I simply couldn't help squealing and getting my feet off the floor. I really, really couldn't help it. I believe Caroline was squealing, too, although I can't swear to it. All the wait-staff came running and wondering what to do, but fortunately quick-witted Sharon dove under the table with a napkin and smushed that sucker. I believe she even deposited it outside, but I was still hyperventilating. Just then our food came, so all was forgotten. Mostly. Everything was truly luscious, even the corn salsa that tasted like asphalt. (I kinda like asphalt, but everyone else thought it was gross.)

We topped off our meal with slices of peanut butter pie, which the folks at Tomaoto Head graciously provided to us free of charge, since we were such good sports about our friend the cockroach. (The one that was crawling back and forth between my chair and Caroline's chair. Scurrying fast like cockroaches do.)

What a fun, fun night. Seven moms, 21 children between us, 17 of which are boys. We for sure needed a night out. And what would a night out be, for moms of mostly boys, without police cars, cockroaches, and peanut butter? I'm just sorry that Kristina wasn't here to enjoy this night....

Post A Comment!.....


Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Wait, wait!

Posted by QueenoftheHill (IP Not Logged)

You forgot the part where the waitress dumps an entire pizza pie into Sixredheads' lap...

And that Sharonkay was calmly talking on her cell phone with her hubby when she oh-so coolly reached under the table and snatched up that sucker. I don't think she even paused to take a breath.

What the full-of-himself Trooper actually said was "I don't like people passing me." As my mom often says of people like that: It was his one chance all day to play God.

It was a wonderful, adventurous, boy-free night. :-)

Edited by QueenoftheHill on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 8:30 PM

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - Fabulous evening!!

Posted by eclecticityTia (IP Not Logged)

Great pizza, wine, friends, beautiful weather, adventure.....and free pie! It just about can't get better than that!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - yah ... wish I could have been there

Posted by onfire (IP Not Logged)

did I tell you that I emailed my first "book club" person and she said, basically, that evenings wouldn't work for her because her daughter plays hockey in Michigan and her husband works nights and she tries not to use up her free babysitting (she has way older kids ... like, marrying age) unless it is really important.
maybe that explains why there are so many mumblies around these here parts. They were former homeschoolers trying to get people to do things with them ...

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - fyi

Posted by onfire (IP Not Logged)

someone needs to be here to tell me that, truthfully, my house smells like a dog ...

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by skdenfeld (IP Not Logged)

That's a lot of boys! I loved your trooper shot-The roach, mmm...not so much. Glad you had such a good time.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - You know...

Posted by anotherblogonthefire (IP Not Logged)

If you spread a bit of that peanut butter pie on the cracker with that cockroach... Mmmmm!!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - I'm glad you had a good time!

Posted by sharonkay (IP Not Logged)

Oh what a memorable night, for soooo many reasons. You guys are so much fun to hang out with! Thank goodness we didn't have to spend the night is the BIG HOUSE together;)

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - I'm so jealous!

Posted by ThreeLittleLadies (IP Not Logged)

What an awesome night out! I'm so glad no tickets were given...the creep. I bet he had another agenda...
I'd give anything to have a fun night of moms like that. I'm so glad you had a mostly fun time. I'm also relieved that no one found any creepy crawlies in their food!


Are Homeschoolers Difficult?

May 9, 2007

We’ve been talking about this lately around here, specifically in regards to homeschoolers in churches. Several of us have been unhappy or perhaps irritated with our youth programs at our various churches. But we’re all hesitant to speak up because we don’t want to be known as the “complaining homeschoolers.” Recently I read a post here on HSB from a (homeschooling) mom whose husband is in the ministry, and she mentioned that in their experience, homeschoolers are the most vocal critics.

Boy, that stings. My friends and I have been mulling this over lately. Why have we (homeschoolers in general) gained a reputation as complainers in our churches? Recently a homeschooling friend overheard her youth minister talking to another parent about a new program. The parent asked him if he’d received any flak for this particular program (it was an evolution/creation thing) and he replied, “No, only from all the homeschoolers.” The friend later inquired of all but two of the homeschooling families to ask if they’d complained. None of them had. So, at the most, two families had complained. Hardly “all the homeschoolers” at this large church.

So where’s the line? Homeschoolers are generally an independent lot. We probably question the status quo more than the “average” parent; after all, we buck the system every day in a major way by choosing this “radical” form of education. It would stand to reason, then, that if today’s church educational programs follow the trends of society’s educational programs, we, as homeschoolers, will battle dissatisfaction.

What do we do with this? Let’s say that you are in a church where the kids regularly watch a movie during Sunday School. All the parents are fine with this, except for you—the lone homeschooler. Do you speak to the youth director and express your unhappiness that kids are watching TV during Sunday School? Do you decide not to allow your child in Sunday School anymore? Or do you just suck it up and put up with movies during Sunday School? (Remember, you are the only parent who has a problem with this.) Options 1 and 2 may brand you as a complainer or troublemaker. And with Option 3, you have to really, truly suck it up, or your dissatisfaction will lead to anger and resentment.

I read on one blog recently that “homeschoolers are about the worst group to please in a church because they do think.” I really don’t go to church to be pleased. I don’t want my kids to go to church to be pleased. I want my kids to be servants—to learn to shed their own selves and put on Christ. To open up their arms to a world that desperately needs compassionate workers. To seek God’s wisdom and follow His path.

I once had a minister laughingly call me “high maintenance.” I’m not sure he was really joking. That was several years ago, and since then I’ve learned to just let things roll off my back. It’s much easier that way. It scares me that I just wrote that. But still, the conversation inevitably comes back to this: how do homeschooling parents, square pegs ourselves, fit our families into church youth programs that reflect a public-schooled world?

Post A Comment!.....


Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - From a fellow square peg...

Posted by anotherblogonthefire (IP Not Logged)

I found myself coming to the same conclusions about why we may be pegged as complainers. I agree that it is a general dissatisfaction of the system - whether it be the public school system, the Sunday School system or the economic system where we buy what we can't afford with money that is not ours (though I struggle with this one, because I want all the stuff that all the other Christians can't afford either!). I think that is why we have a hard time fitting in at our church. I don't find that there are very many like-minded to us here. We share the same faith, but not all of the same values.
So how do we not come across as complainers? I don't know... I often just find myself saying "Sucks to your ass-mar" and doing what we feel is right and trying to ignore everyone else.
Very Christian of me, eh?

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - We are such an inconvient bunch...

Posted by eclecticityTia (IP Not Logged)

making noise and our presence known all hours of the day, thinking about how we live and what we all gets very much in the way of trying to organize a herd, doesn't it?

OKay, enough sarcasm I suppose. :-) This is frustrating to me especially in churches because it's so ANTI what christianity is about. c'mon?? Movies in Sunday school on the Lord's Day? people pleasing as a modus opperendus? We SHOULDN'T fit in with that stuff because no one should. It reveals how ubiquitous the thinking is that herds should go along with the flow and not raise a ruckus. It's completely contrary to living a deliberate life because the primary need is for no one to question "why" any particular thing is chosen.

And alas, most homeschoolers by their very nature are just not good at that. It's only a tragedy that the same can't be said for "most christians".

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Hm, good thoughts...

Posted by hsmomof2 (IP Not Logged)

I wonder if it's really *complaining* or just "remarking on" something. Sometimes the two are confused - particularly by one who feels they are being criticized. I know at our church one family - homeschoolers - tends to be very thoughtful and will question things that others pass of as "just the way it is."

But you've got me thinking about this and I might have to do some more on this later!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - I would just like to say

Posted by onfire (IP Not Logged)

that most of the problems I have had with regard to homeschooling have been son #1 and son#2 ... NEVER me
the next point I would like to make is that everything else is everyone else's problem ... again, never me.
I do remember being a tad disappointed again this past September when the Pastor's had all the teachers stand up to be prayed for and no one counted me as one.
mostly my response (out loud or inside voice, which by the way are usually both out loud) is "whatever".
I am totally going to eat ice cream and brownies now.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

I agree that homeschoolers are "high maintainence" and harder to please than most. I think this is a good thing! Most people want to be told what to think and how to act. I think it's important to have folks who will stand up and call issues into question... to at least wake up the masses and get them thinking for themselves. Agreeing to disagree is so much better than a society of Stepford people!

Thanks for your encouragement! I needed that!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

The last comment was from me!
Debbie Corley

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Maybe you've tried this...

Posted by QueenoftheHill (IP Not Logged)

Our approach has been to get involved on the front end of the Youth program and be part of the planning and execution of our Sabbath school (um, that would be like your Sunday school) and Children's Church. But our church is much smaller than yours and maybe it is easier to insert ourselves in these processes that we would be most likely to complain about otherwise. We've also been known to change churches over what is offered for children, so we've been the problem homeschoolers -- long before we were even homeschoolers! Perhaps it is a question of what came first -- chicken or egg? Maybe difficult, alert, outspoken, think-outside-the-box people at church tend to decide to also homeschool.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by kateyz (IP Not Logged)

I think that yes we homeschoolers probably are more difficult in some ways. We tend to think more for ourselves and are teaching our children to do the same. We question what's laid out for us rather than following along. It's certainly not a bad thing, but I know others think it is. I've heard many comments made about homeschoolers being pushy, obnoxios and just plain difficult. I'm not difficult! I just have my own agenda!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

You have two options here in my opinion:

1. Take your child out of the class
2. Help teach the class or set the curriculum

All other options will fall short of your intended goal.

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by StillHisGirl (IP Not Logged)

Good discussion! You ask where the line is... I think that is the key question. In my experience (as an opinionated, strong homeschooling mom), there are definitely things I wish were different at my church. However, unless I have been called to be the one to head it up, I feel I need to be respectful of the leadership God has put in place. Obviously, I can voice (respectfully) my concern, and (respectfully) offer to help in any way I can. But I also need to recognize that my opinions are not necessarily always right or even what is best for the majority. So just as in my schooling decisions, I can choose to buck the system and withdraw my kids from church programming, or I can do what I can to make it work and to use opportunities that aren't "my way" to talk things through at home.

I constantly, constantly remind myself that it is NOT the church's responsibility to train my children or to raise them in the Lord. It is MY responsibility. The church is a great resource and can be a place where my children find wonderful friends who love the Lord and the church can give my kids opportunities I can't. (Corporate worship for one). In many ways, it is the church's responsibility to reach those children who DON'T have solid, Christian parents, but not necessarily my children. And those children actually may need methods that my kids don't.

In my husband's experience in ministry with "complaining" homeschoolers, the negative is they often come across as knowing the RIGHT way, and can be judgemental and critical rather than supportive and encouraging and they often offer condemnation rather than another option or offers to help themselves.

As Christians who just happen to homeschool, we have an opportunity to be Christ to others. Even to the people running programs we don't necessarily approve of. By showing the fruits of the Spirit...patience, kindness, gentleness...maybe we homeschoolers could become known more like Christ rather than like the Pharisees. It is a fine line, since we are the ones given responsibility for our children.

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - Yes, I know I am hard to please...

Posted by ThreeLittleLadies (IP Not Logged)

High standards. Yet, I haven't yet pulled my kids from any program, and we try to get involved with gusto. I don't complain, and try to help where I can. Still, in my heart, I wish that the programs were different... I'm not sure what my oldest dd will do during sunday school time next year, as this years option didn't work out very well. Perhaps she will be old enough to be a helper in the young children's classes.

Once in a class every little character flaw my dd had, in one of the teacher's opinions, was due to the fact that she was homeschooled. It was driving me nuts to hear the snide comments. No matter that his son was the biggest brat in the class... anyways... I digress!

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

Sigh. I hate that homechoolers are known as difficult. I am not trying to be difficult. I am trying to be a parent. Sadly, I don't think our society knows what that looks like anymore. I agree with some of the other commenters that there is a right and a wrong way to voice our concerns. But, voice them I will. I've posted about this myself recently.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by chickadee (IP Not Logged)

me? a complainer?
i think that is a trap we can all fall into. i think it's because we are so well-read regarding our children and their education and well-being that it can lead to a feeling of superiority or know-it-allness. (not that i'm speaking from experience or anything).

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Redbud (IP Not Logged)

I think one reason we became home schoolers in the first place is because we are thinkers and analyzers. I don't believe we're known as complainers in my church. A large portion of our congregation's families are home schoolers. But it makes me wonder, so I'll have to ask my pastor about it.

I am, personally, displeased with the geared-toward-public-schoolers youth program. I don't think they have much choice about it, in order to have a meaningful outreach. Gee, I hope the youth minister doesn't think we're complainers. ;-)

Edited by Redbud on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 9:27 PM

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - fascinating

Posted by Jimmie (IP Not Logged)

Great discussion here. Sure, HSers are complainers. But they are also DOERS. So they may complain because they are thinkers who see the contradictions, BUT they are ususally willing to pitch in and make change happen.

I think that complainers who are not willing to affect change should keep their mouths shut. But people who see and want to HELP to improve the situation should by all means speak out!

It's hard to be a thinker in a herd mentality world.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Monday Memory 2: The Magic Garden

May 7, 2007

OK, so my so-called friends and loved ones have accused me of some pretty bad things today, like being delusional. It all started with Laurel making this pretty little garden of magic mushrooms today out of construction paper. They were so pretty and colorful, all lined up in a row. And suddenly I heard these chirpy voices singing, "See ya, see ya" in my head....and I couldn't think of the name of the children's TV show from the 1970s from which this song originated.

So I thought I'd go to my peers--and that was my mistake. My husband looked at me blankly. How could he forget this great PBS classic? And my so-called friends smirked (even if I couldn't see them) when they received my questioning email: "what was the name of that show with the hippie chicks in the garden?" At last, magically, the name of the show came to me: The Magic Garden! Ha! I am not having hallucinations! Except that it wasn't a PBS show. It aired on WPIX out of New York City, which explains why my midwestern friends acted like they didn't know what I was talking about. New Yorkers had it good. I mean, this is the 70s at its finest! And I have discovered a few Magic Garden fan sites, besides some awesome videos on youtube. You seriously don't know how deprived your childhood was until you view the "Hello Song." And the magic mushrooms memory will all make sense with "The Garden of Make Believe." Classics, I'm telling you. Monday Memory at its finest.

Monday Memory: New Orleans

May 7, 2007

Eight years ago this week we began what I think of as Season 3 of our life. Season 1 was our life together before kids, including our three years of dating (off and on). Season 2 was our six years of graduate school and early parenthood. And Phase 3 began when Randy finished his PhD and got that most thrilling phone call from U.T., informing him that he was to be an Assistant Professor of Botany. This week in May 1999, we both graduated from Iowa State University, Randy with his PhD in Botany and me with my M.A. in English/creative writing.

But we didn't stick around for the pomp and circumstance. We celebrated first by buying a van. For 7 years, we'd tooled around in our tiny 2-door Toyota Tercel, purchased pre-kids. Did I mention no air-conditioning? In July? In Iowa? So as an entrance into our new world of Grown-Ups with a Job, we bought an utterly luxurious, barely used mini-van.

And then we headed off for New Orleans. Randy's best friend from high school was getting married, and with a great degree of giddiness, we traveled hundreds of miles with Jesse, 6, and Laurel, nearly 2, from Iowa to Louisiana. It was a fabulous trip. We stayed with Jimmy in his Garden-district-type house right near the New Orleans Zoo. The wedding included a jazz quintet playing the processional, and the reception took place at the New Orleans Botanical Garden. It was all quite a treat for our family.

For all of our dating and married life--13 years at that point--we'd been in school: undergraduate, graduate, PhD. We'd lived in tiny apartments and struggled on a graduate student's meager salary. At last, the long years of late night labs and furious writing had materialized into the Dream. And New Orleans was the perfect place to shed the students' skin and step into Season 3.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Life

May 6, 2007

Our Canadian friends Neal and Kristina have returned back to their cold, windy, sunless, funless, Moon-pie-less country. Last week was a flurry of activities (see the week here at my Project 365 blog). That's us at the Knoxville Museum of Art in the photo above (taken by Jonam, I think), taking a little break before we head off to our next adventure. But now it's time to return to some semblance of reality. Boy, isn't it amazing to make the kind of connection with people that you actually really, really miss them when they are gone? I mean, I've had company before when I was kinda happy when they left--mostly because it was work to entertain them. But I actually get choked up when think, "Oh. We won't see the Campbells in our regular life." Because spending hours and hours talking with friends is one of the gifts of this good life, and a good gift is hard to relinquish.

And so, we'll hit the books again tomorrow. We have only about 4 weeks left of school, and then we take a big, long, relaxing summer break. Maybe we'll go to Canada....

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Life with Canadians

May 3, 2007

So we met Neal and Kristina here on HSB. We clicked, in the way that people do when they think, "If they lived here, we'd hang out with them." So we invited them down for vacation. They took us up on it. Now, some Local Yokels (a-hem Tim), thought we were nuts when we told them that our Canadian friends that we've never met were coming down to stay with us for a week. "What if they are crazy? What if you don't like them? What if la-la-la?" It's hard to explain that sometimes you just know.

And so, we were so right. We have been having an absolutely blissful week. I can't go into it all now because I have to get ready for our Bloggers' Picnic in just an hour, but here are a few photos for bestsister, who is pining for the Campbells....

Tuesday was an action-packed day. In the morning, the Campbells joined about 120 members of our support group for an amazing presentation by Mr. Clayton Narveson. He shared his experiences growing up during the Great Depression and as a Marine during WWII. We were a captive audience, and he was a wonderful storyteller.

That afternoon we headed up to the Knoxville Art Museum, which was....interesting. Then we headed over to McKays Used Bookstore, which is one of our family's favorite venues. We all found treasures there.

And, as if Tuesday wasn't already exciting enough, Kristina joined us for our monthly book club. This month we ate at Salsaritas, which was excellent, and discussed the book Crossing Over (which Kristina is proudly displaying), which was not excellent. The conversation, however, was hilarious as we dissected this atrocious book!

Wednesday we spent at Dollywood. It was a perfect day: great weather, great friends, and happy children. Putting aside all pretense of "schedule" (who needs one on week's like this?), we topped off the day with a late-evening dinner outside by candlelight.

But the week's not over yet! In just a bit we'll head off for the Bloggers' Picnic, which is bound to be entertaining. The sun is shining in spite of a prediction of thunderstorms, and we have a special surprise of Moon-pies for our Canadian friends.....

Post A Comment!.....


Friday, May 4, 2007 - thanks for the fix

Posted by bestsister (IP Not Logged)

You have fed my addiction quite nicely. So glad you are having a great time. I knew you'd love them as much as we do.

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Saturday, May 5, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by JenIG (IP Not Logged)

we had such a fun time meeting them! thanks again for putting the event together.

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Saturday, May 5, 2007 - Wow!

Posted by anotherblogonthefire (IP Not Logged)

Your Canadians look cool. I wish I could have met them, eh?

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Saturday, May 5, 2007 - How fun is that??

Posted by ComfyDenim (IP Not Logged)

What a brilliant idea!
I'm so glad it was such fun!!
Are you guys going to canada the next time?

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Sunday, May 6, 2007 - Good question...

Posted by anotherblogonthefire (IP Not Logged)

Are you going to go to Canada next time?