"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Friday, July 26, 2013

Never Say Never

I used to say to my homeschool friends when they were relating a challenging day with their children or complaining about the hardship of spending 24/7 with the little boogers, “That’s why I put mine in school, so my kids stay alive!” My teasing didn’t deter them from what they believed God had impressed upon them to do, despite the trials of teaching their own.  They pressed on while my two oldest graduated from high school, both earning college scholarships—one now graduated and newly married, the other in her second year of her pursuit of a nursing degree. With 12 year old Maddie bringing up the rear, I planned to continue sending her through public education just like her siblings.

Then I had to eat my words, “I will homeschool when hunger on earth is staved and terrorists don’t exist.” Pretty safe bet that I won’t be homeschooling any time soon. My hubby would occasionally ask, “Why don’t we homeschool?” to which I would sarcastically say, “Easy for you to say—you go to work every day and don’t have to give up ‘ministry’ lunches like I would have to.” And then…and then, I was sitting across from a very dear homeschooling expert asking her questions about uh, you know, homeschooling  when she shrieked in Panera, “Shut up, girl! I thought you were going to ask me questions about Bible study.”  I was exceedingly clear that at this point, we were exploring our options about this strange phenomenon. But, let me back up to what brought about this 180 degree turn.

A string of events instigated this investigation of something I said I would never do in a billion years. To keep it fairly short and sweet, I’ll summarize. An odd conversation I had with Miss Maddie’s teacher originated a germ of a thought in the homeschool direction. She asked me a bizarre question one day, “Is Maddie still on medication for ADD?” What in the world??

“Uh, Maddie’s never been on medication for ADD,” I responded. Not that I didn’t think she could definitely use it sometimes. Heck, I could even use it!

“Oh. Well…” she sounded a bit confused. “It’s just that some of her test scores indicate that maybe she needs special accommodation.  She has no problem with the day to day school work, but…” Oh believe me, I know she needs a little extra help in the focus department! Anyhow, as we continued our conversation, the wheels on the bus began to go round and round in my head.

Add to that a school board survey asking for parental input regarding changing the school year to a more balanced one to which they neglected to consider parents’ opinions and decided arbitrarily to do what they wanted. Not to mention that the board had made decisions the year before affecting the length of the school day without considering parental input. Oh, yes, there was a committee of strategically placed people who perhaps were unmarried university students with no children.  Am I living in Stalin’s Russia, I wonder?  What’s our recourse against a renegade school board?

In addition, Maddie had transferred to a new gymnastics facility an hour away, and we were traveling 4 times a week for 3-4 hour practices each night. As a 6th grader, the late hours were wearing on her small physique. Getting up for school in the morning was a challenge and with junior high just around the corner, she would be forced to awaken an hour earlier. Waking her in the morning was like encountering a wild animal. Thinking the future through to its logical conclusion, even with getting as much homework completed as possible in the hour long car drive to gymnastics, Maddie faced the likely prospect of 6 hours of sleep a night. Sure, many teens survive on that, but they are bears to live with.

Thus, with all those pieces of the puzzle, homeschool was a picture that began to form as a reasonable, even pleasing, solution. Sure, my ‘ministry’ lunches might suffer, as well as my daily routine, but the more I think about it, the more homeschooling just makes sense. To top it off, Maddie is completely on board, excited about it. No homework after school, no in school distractions to distract her, no ISTEP testing! What’s not to like about that?

So, we are taking this scary leap into homeschooling this year, with friends still shaking their heads at the woman who said, “Never, ever will I homeschool.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When My Heart Leaves

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”  ~Frederick Buechner


It’s mind-blowing how a year and a half of planning for a huge event stretches on interminably and yet is over in a blink. When our son, Nick, and new wife Kyla were engaged two years ago, the wedding date June 29, 2013, seemed as far away as the moon. A lot of living happens in two years, and the distant date seems more like a fairy tale. People ask a lot about how preparations are going, and my standard response sounds a lot like, “I don’t really know; I’m the Supporting Actress.” A few months before, the action picks up. I’m ordering tuxes and organizing a rehearsal dinner complete with homemade centerpieces.  (This, incidentally, is a feat in itself for a non-crafty person like me.) And then, in a matter of hours, it’s completed.concluded.kaput. The anticipation and excitement of 9 family members camping in our home for 10 days comes and goes like a streak of lightning.

Actually, when my parents arrive, it feels like it’s going to be forever—like going to Disney World not enduring an Italian opera. It’s important I clarify that. My brother’s family joins us the next day along with my aunt and uncle. We stuff people into three cars to various venues for the rehearsal, wedding and reception. Hours later, after all the posing for pictures, saying “I do”, and dancing of the bride and groom, we crash on couches exhausted yet content. A perfect day complete with the promise of more fun in the ensuing days. I count in my head seven more days of memory making. I open and shut my eyes aware that the days fast forward like a cassette player. Memories of  Lake Monroe in a storm, Kings Island rides and 4th of July bonfire and fireworks imprint on my mind.  Family start dropping off like flies. First, my aunt and uncle, then my brother and his beautiful family. Finally, I drop off the sole survivors, my parents, at the airport. I hate saying goodbye. Unbidden tears flow threatening to ruin my makeup. Not a surprise for such a stoic person as I!

The silence is deafening on the way home, even with magpie Maddie sitting beside me. We feel the letdown of two weeks of nonstop activity. The only word I can think of is one that I hate to hear coming out of my own kids’ mouths—BORING! Now, what will we do? I walk in the quiet house that once held the clamor of 13 voices. I’m not liking it one bit. I text Mom, “It’s too quiet here. Come back.” She’s already flown away, cell phone silenced.

Mess is everywhere, but who cares enough to clean? I don’t even want to get up to pull leftovers out of the frig. Lethargic and listless, that’s what we are. The world stopped for two weeks, and now we can’t figure out what to do with ourselves. Between dad making breakfast and my mom and aunt fixing dinner, I’m pondering how I can approach Tony about hiring a cook. I’m sure it’s a necessity. Even with new pots and pans in the cupboard that the four of them conspired to purchase (something about my old ones being completely inadequate), I’m not compelled to pull out a recipe.

And, who knew that two retired men could fix my oven broken during the self-cleaning cycle and repair a dryer that has been taking an average of two cycles to dry? No wonder I’m crying when they all leave! The bottom line is I pretty much love hanging out with my family that lives a million miles away from me. And, no matter how much time we have together, it’s never enough. I’ve heard horror stories of the family that tolerates each other, overstays their welcome and is skedaddled out the door.

Glad those folks don’t belong to me!