Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Work? or More Fun? ;)

It really kind of interesting to me that there are so many misconceptions about homeschooling.  So many, for instance, have the misconception that teaching at home is harder than sending the kids off to school. 

Funny really, because I am so much less stressed since the boys came home and we left the crazy school schedule behind!  I mean, the first year was sort of crazy, yeah.  I was getting my feet wet, and learning about what it meant to pick curriculum (or find it free online).  And then there is the whole, wait you’re my parent/but you’re my teacher struggle in the beginning.  But all in all, it was a relief to leave the organized (by some one else but me, but I have to follow it or else) school schedule.  I hated that schedule. I loathed it.  Let’s look at the difference, shall we?

School Schedule- Wake up early, rush to school with little ones in tow, still get there at the very last minute or worse, run errands and have lunch, pick up the kids who are tired and hungry, get them a snack, and then prod them to work on homework while I make dinner, Dad gets home, a (very) little time together, then to bed early to do it all over again tomorrow . . . PHEW!

Home School Schedule- Wake up at a natural time, eat and get dressed (maybe), morning devotions and faith talk, school work done either in a workbook or through life experience and reading or all three (after son finishes another chapter of a book about George Washington that he just can’t put down ;), lunch, finish up with school, then unadulterated play and fun and/or a nature walk, Dad comes home, dinner, and then as much family time as we choose (a game of “On Assignment With National Geographic”, or math bingo anyone?), and an appropriate bed time (maybe :)

What sounds like more fun to you?!  Not trying to judge those that don’t home school, but just sayin’ ;)
Hubby and I have been through public school ourselves before putting our own kids in school, and here are other things that I don’t miss about school.  I DO NOT MISS the Gimme Gimme, but they have and I must too MONSTER.  (Not really from my kids, but the others around them!)  We have many social activities with other home school kids and their families.  They do not care what others are wearing.  They don’t have to have what others have.  They are not tearing each other down over trivial things. 

We have some rather generous friends that hand down awesome clothes!  The kids are happy.  I am happy.  I went through the markers that we have and threw out the ones that were dried out.  We bought a pack of glue sticks, and a couple reams of paper.  School shopping is done!  Woo hoo!  Spent all of $3 (after Staples Teacher Rewards)!  I am so loving the change in priorities!  The biggest purchase was curriculum, and that was my choice.  You can home school and give your kids a quality education for next to nothing if you so choose.  (Hint: It involves the library, and the internet)  Really!

We are soooo much happier now ;)

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Journey To The Road Less Traveled

So, if I was so happy about sending the boys to school, how in the world did we end up homeschooling?
There are things in life that we do because that’s just what people do in mainstream America.  And there are things that we think we want very much that make us miserable in the end.  School was both of these things for me.  I didn’t really even know that homeschooling existed as an option.
Soon after the school journey began, God began to also bring homeschooling moms around me to inspire me in this new direction.  Incidentally, it’s really pretty amazing how many wonderful things I’ve just kind of “fallen into” by God’s leading in life. 
First Example -When I was younger, a friend encouraged me to apply to work at the drugstore he worked at.  He gushed about what a great place it was to work.  I applied there, but at a different store in the chain, and not the one in my hometown where he worked.  Eventually, the manager had me trained on the photo finishing machine.  And when it needed a repair, the technician really caught my eye.  Two and a half years later I prayed to God for a soul mate, for the man he had meant for me.  About a week or two later I admitted to a friend and co-worker of the photo technician that his friend had caught my eye.  They happened to be living together.  Within a week, I had a phone call from the technician that I liked.  We started to date, and we both knew that marriage was where we were headed.  About 5 months after the first date, we were married.  It was a big church wedding, and everything fell into place.  That was over 11 years ago, and he is still my soul mate!
Second Example -God keeps giving us what we need, not in our timing, but in His perfect timing!  It’s amazing, and I love it.  When our oldest son was 7 1/2 months old, we had this crazy thought that he was getting too big and we wanted another child.  Did I mention that he was only 7 1/2 months old people?!  We tried very briefly to have another child.  Suddenly I had a horrible realization . . . oh no.  I was to be the matron of honor at my baby sister’s wedding about 9 months from then.  We needed to wait before trying again, or else I might be as big as a house at my sister’s wedding!  I shuddered at the thought.  “Of course, you know what this means?”, I said to my husband.  “I’m probably already pregnant!” I said with a nervous laugh.  I was.  But, wouldn’t you know it, one of the other bridesmaids lost a bunch of weight from the time we ordered the dresses until the wedding neared.  We exchanged our dresses, and they fit!  Oh, and my aching back loved the fact that one of my sister’s wedding guests was a massage therapist the day of her wedding, let me tell you!  Now, in home school, our boys are in the same grade, which makes teaching a little easier, and they are best friends!  God’s timing ;) 
Third Example -Then we took a break in having kids.  My hubby wasn’t even allowed to look at me funny, for fear I’d get pregnant.  And then a friend said “You make such cute babies!  You need to have another.”  Enter our little girl.
Homeschooling - God brought at least two wonderful home school advocates into my life around the time we began our journey in the school classroom.  One was a good friend of mine from church before she started homeschooling, and the other had homeschooled before, but felt forced to give it up temporarily for personal reasons.  Both of them are awesome ladies, and very cool.  Yes, homeschooling moms (and dads) today can be very cool!  Really, trust me! 
They inspired me in a time in which I grew more and more resentful of our sons’ educational experience in school.  There are some awesome parochial schools out there.  We were not at one of them.  Sorry, we just weren’t.  We wanted a faith based education for our boys, but the faith lessons were watered down for our liking.  The school had never dealt with food allergies.  Both of our sons have them, and the way of the school handling them was both scary, and isolating for our children.  And we really couldn’t afford the tuition.  Public school was a very poor option for us.  We both had awful, awful experiences in public school.  And the things we saw our relatives’ kids learning in public school were not cool with us. 
So, after two years of “the classroom experience” I began an intense four month odyssey into researching just what homeschooling was all about.  I decided that I would research it thoroughly, and start homeschooling before the regular school year started.  If we liked it, great!  And if we didn’t, we could always send them to school if we had to.
Um, in case you hadn’t guessed already, we LOVED it!  (Figured the title of the blog might have given it away, or something though, LOL)
And now, for your perusing pleasure, a direct link to a very cool comedic home school dad’s videos.  Click Here for Tim Hawkins Videos!  I love Tim Hawkins!  He rocks, and he is so humble about it!  Meeting him in person, is just like meeting the neighbor down the street . . . that rocks!  He laughs at the misconceptions of homeschooling in “A Homeschool Family”.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Help Needed For The Social Stay-At-Home Mom!

If you've read the "About Me" section already you know that I never planned to homeschool in the beginning.  In fact I COULD NOT WAIT to send the kids to school at first!  Sobbing mother at the preschool door?  NOT ME!  I wanted some time to myself, and after I gave my hugs and kisses and "I love yous", I hit the door running!

To say that I am a social person is a gross understatement !  I love people, and I love talking.  Going from young working woman to stay-at-home mom was excruciating for me!  I went through postpartum depression and anxiety, and I hated every minute of it.  My husband received frequent texts during this time saying "Two Little Boys For Sale- Real Cheap!".  This was my way of telling him "Help!  I am drowning in dishes, laundry, toys, and little boy craziness!  My sanity is at risk here!  Reinforcements are needed . . . STAT!!!"

I mean, yeah, my sons are 16 1/2 months apart.  I became pregnant with my second when my oldest was 7 1/2 months old!  But I also didn't venture out to meet with other mothers until my younger son was about 1 1/2 years old.  That was a huge mistake, and it made the depression worse.  I can see that now, but unfortunately you are not always fully able to comprehend these things in the thick of the cloud of depression.  Going into depression is quick and easy, coming out is a different story!

If I could do it over, I would have gotten out to meet other mothers a LOT sooner.  When I finally did get to the library with the boys, I read about their reading times, and play groups with other mothers.  This led to new friendships, which led to a new local chapter of MOMS Club.  The MOMS in MOMS Club stands for Moms Offering Moms Support.  This pretty much says it all!  It's an international club with over 2,000 chapters in the US alone.  This group of ladies and our group play dates, Mom's nights out, and other group activities were like food for the hunger I had to talk with other mothers that were in the trenches with me. 

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is another great international group for moms that has many chapters all over the United States.  They are a great group of women, and worth checking out.

But whatever you do, if you are a social stay-at-home mom, make an effort to hang out with other mothers.  They are a wealth of information, support, and love for the social mother's soul!