Monday, September 7, 2009

Joe the Man

10 years we've been married (as of October 16). It's hard to believe, yet I feel like he's such a part of me that I can barely remember life without him. It's been fun thinking about our 10 years and realizing/remembering all of the many reasons I love that man. He's just good. He's good to others, he's funny, he protects, he enjoys his family. He makes us his first priority (besides God of course). He listens to me. He adores me. I like that. I could have made some really poor decisions before I met Joe, and am so thankful that God just didn't let that happen and He put Joe in my life. He's what I always dreamed about in a husband. I'm so blessed.

I wanted to share a couple of stories that he's done recently. They'll show some of his goodness.

In our neighborhood: He's had a heart for this very difficult family. They have a gazillion kids. They never watch those gazillion kids. It's a miracle none of the kids have been hurt by zooming cars, other people, etc. The adults, I believe, are likely involved in gang or drug-activity. My instinct is to pray for them, but never speak to them. Isn't that awful? I give them the friendly wave, and am kind to their boys (I let them help me plant flowers, give them occasional snacks, etc.) But, to be totally honest, I haven't wanted to do much to help them realize they need God and that they can change. I still, as I write this, don't have the answers for how to help them. But Joe, he's constantly trying to figure out how to reach out to them.

Anyway, one day, he was mowing the lawn, and two of the guys who frequent the house were sitting on the porch. He walked akwardly over to them and did about 30 seconds of small talk and then said, "I think God wants me to pray for you." They looked at him like he was a freak. So he says, "I'm going to go ahead and do that now. Do you have anything specific you want me to pray about for you?" The one guy just shrugs and says, "No Man." The other guy says something about how he could pray for his kids. So Joe prayed for that guy's kids and then prayed that God would haunt these men until they knew Him (outloud, mind you). Then he akwardly walked back and resumed mowing his lawn. Since then, the one that was a little more open to being prayed for has opened up to Joe a couple of times, admitting to some jail history, and that his ex won't let him near those kids. He has asked him to pray for him a couple more times, saying he always feels better. He also told Joe that he's felt "weird" since he first prayed for him, and that on that first day he prayed, he was supposed to fight some guy in the neighborhood, but never left the porch when he drove up. He said, "I just couldn't do it."

We have since learned some very unfortunate news about the main man who lives there (not the guy who let Joe pray), and our answers are fewer. Joe says, "In whatever way I can, I still think I'm supposed to show love and pray with them when I get the chance." I admire him. God protects him.

So, my other story: This one has to do with a redeeming value of our being forced to walk the diabetes road. Joe ran into Walmart one day, and while in line to check-out, the check-out lady next to him passed out. Joe quickly observed another worker saying something to the effects that "she hasn't done this in a long time," and grabbing a packet of Reese's Pieces and trying to shove them in her clamped shut mouth. Joe says to the conscious one, "do you have a pharmacy or a cake aisle?" She looks at him like he was the most insensitive person ever and said, "I don't know, I'm trying to help her here!" He says, "I know, it's for her, I think I can help." So she directs him to the cake aisle. He grabs a tube of cake frosting, and brings it back. He opens it and directs the other worker to rub it on the lady's gums. After a few minutes, the diabetic lady gains enough strength to ask for a soda. One of the other workers quickly grabs a Diet Coke (still they didn't understand what had happened). Because her sugar was low, she had passed out, Joe realized this and knew to help. He quickly realized she needed a real Coke and grabbed her one. She was better and they were grateful for his quick thinking.

It made me cry the next day when I really thought about what had happened. God clearly had Joe next to her when she lost consciousness. He was able to intervene because he knew what to do, and he didn't hesitate.

My Hero!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why Homeschool?

Well, that's up to you...

Why am I homeschooling? I like the weird looks I get from strangers when they say to my daughter, "why aren't you in school?" and I say, "she's homeschooled." It's a thrill.

No really, it's because I like to never shop alone for groceries and just love it when my kids scream at me for a toy...who needs solitude?

Actually, it's because I love being behind in laundry and cleaning all of the time.

No, I's because I am no good at diagramming sentences and don't remember much in the way of history, so I thought, "I should teach my kids. I'd be good at that."

OK, sorry....

Why am I really? Mostly because I fell into it. Now, I'm adopting the reasons why it's good for our family, but honestly, I looked into a gazillion private schools. I applied for transfers into the magnet schools, and even got into one of them, but then decided it wasn't right for us. We couldn't stomach the price of private school for 3 kids. The final straw was when Sophie's preschool suggested we hold her back a year before kindergarten so she could grow emotionally and socially. I thought, I'm not sending her to preschool for another year of ABC's when she's ready to read. She's a smart girl, and it's time to move on.

Her experiences in preschool weren't fun either. She still cried most of the year when I left. She was highly anxious, and struggled making friends. Her main memories are of a girl on the playground who teased her all year long saying she wasn't a girl, and saying she wasn't allowed to play with the others. At 4!! I know I can't protect her forever from pain, but 4 is a little early to just make her figure out how to deal with that level of teasing.

On top of that, Joe and I had to laugh the other day at how early sex education starts among peers. At 4, her classmates had already discussed their privates (though Sophie thought they were calling it a China), and her friends informed her that breasts were called boobies! I can only imagine what Kindergartners are discussing! Ha! Now, lest you think I live in a closet, that wasn't the real reason why we're teaching at home, as I know they will be exposed to goofy things kids say even at church. But, I'm OK with being the primary person exposing her to what she needs to know right now. And before you think I'm that awesome (I know you do), you should know I own a lot of really meaningless Barbie movies that have done nothing but teach my kids how to act like serious drama-queens. So I'm not that righteous.

So, I don't know what the answers are for every parent or child. I know a lot of homeschool families who homeschool some of their kids and public-school the others. I know a lot of very well-rounded families/children who do only public school, and their kids have a great love for God too. So, there's no one right way for everyone.

I have found some things fun about homeschooling, and am hoping that some of my beliefs about our future due to this decision are realized. For one thing, it's a blast watching my child "get-it." When their eyes light up that they know they just learned something they didn't know a moment before, I'm glad that I get to be the one who witnessed that moment.

Another thing, I was never comfortable with letting adults I barely knew, take on the responsibility of rearing my child for most of the day. I'm sure they would have done a fine job, but it felt like my job. I felt like I would be losing so much of my time with my kids. Sophie was supposed to be in school 7 1/2 hours a day at 5. That seemed like a lot of independence and dependence on others for such a young age. I couldn't get over the fact that I only have them with me for 18 short years, and the world has them for the rest of their lives. It doesn't seem like long to get all of my snuggles, and chats, and training in with them. Sigh... I just needed more.

I've heard people's concerns about homeschoolers turning out "weird." I'm thinking, Wow. Do you know how many weird kids I went to public school with...and they're still weird. (Sorry if I went to school with you, I'm sure you weren't one of the weird ones). I guess I believe I can encourage my kids to learn, I can push them to be confident, and I can teach them about life without them automatically becoming "weird." But, if you think Joe and I are "weird," then the apples probably won't fall far. :-)

It was such a relief to be homeschooling last year when Sophia was diagnosed with Diabetes. She needed so much, and I was so uncomfortable with all of the changes. I personally couldn't have trusted a nurse and teacher to know the right thing to do for her, or to notice her among the 30 other kids in the room when she just "didn't look right" and would maybe need to test. I felt like her life hung in the balance, and I was the only person who was going to take it seriously enough. Her endocrinologist thought it was great too..."Oh good," she said, "we don't have to try to educate a nurse or teacher." So, I have much peace from that standpoint.

I gave up on the idea that forcing my kids into all day social and stressful learning was the way to make them get better. I can't tell you how many people suggest that's really what they "need" to overcome anxiety. As a child who needed "to grow emotionally" according to her preschool, I feel Sophie has done just that. With the constant support at home, she's much less anxious, and more easily pushed into challenging herself in social situations. She enjoys friends, and is getting much better at just being a normal kid. (Remember, I'm not saying if your kid's in school, and anxious, that my way is the only way to fix it either...we all have to work these things out and have peace with our decisions).

In the last 2 weeks, since we've started daily school, it has been so much fun to see how crazy fast they are learning things. Jossie's writing her name, which she had no interest in doing before. They're listening to rich literature being read. They've learned about different religions and why it's important to pray for missionaries across the world. They've memorized the 10 commandments, the beginning of the ancient timeline, and they have an understanding of the first nomads. Sophie is starting to be less angry at math. She's reading so much better (in just these 2 weeks).

We're also part of a learning community called Classical Conversations. It is a one-day-a-week school where they learn an immense amount of stuff, and then go home and memorize it all week long. That's where they've learned the 10 commandments, the ancient timeline, the noun endings for Latin, the 5 kingdoms of living things, the parts of a bean, the name of the hair on a spider, how to count by 1's, 2's, 3's, and 4's. (Seriously, even my 4 year-old has it). They can tell you what a preposition is. They're in choir and drama there too. They love it! They make friends just like "normal" kids, and they listen to a fun teacher, just like "normal" kids. I've met the nicest and most "normal" moms you can imagine. No weirdos in sight!

I've had so many people say, "good for you...I just couldn't do it." I had the exact same thoughts up until the moment I decided to try, like Nope! I can't wait for her to go to school. I am NOT a teacher and we butt heads too much, that would NEVER work! I guess God has other plans sometimes, and He certainly equips us.

So, lest you think I'm too awesome again (admit it), I have not done a perfect job in my last year, and these 2 weeks. Someone loaned me a book called "Homeschooling with a meek and quiet spirit," and I have laughed out loud on a daily basis on how far I am from that. :-) But, I still am loving the experience. It's an adventure to carry this responsibility and to watch my little buds blossom. I didn't birth them knowing "I shall homeschool you into awesomeness," but I'm working on truly embracing the fact that I get this unique privilege.

Now someday, if I decide I'm failing miserably and must send my kids to school, I'm sure I'll post on that too, and we can all share a good laugh.

Until that time....

I guess I'll be prayin'