Saturday, February 28, 2009

What I am not sad about giving up

Today in the mail, we received the annual statment from our Christian School association where the kids currently attend pre-school. Included in that was the proposed tuition amounts for 2009-2010. Every family is given the "option" to receive some grants totalling about $1,500, but I thought it would be interesting to post the current numbers for the different grades for the upcoming year. So you will read two numbers--the first is the requested tuition, the second is the required tuition (with the grant money subtracted.)

For 3-day kindergarten $5,905/4,420
Full time grades K-5 $7,730/6,245
Grades 6-8 $8,230/6,745
Grades 9-12 $9,135/7,650

Add to that the fact that we have three kids who are close in age who will all be in school soon and it adds up to a small fortune, a house down-payment per year, a year of college education or a brand spankin' new car. That is something that I am not sad to give up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What I'm Giving up

As I walk more fully into this life that is homeschooling, I am becomming more aware of who I am, how I operate and even what I expect from the world around me. I am thankful for this opportunity for introspection that has me pondering parts of me that previously I had not thought needed to be changed.

For instance, I am now fully aware that I am not supermom and now, more than ever, I do not want to be supermom. I want to be a good mom, maybe even a great mom for the kids that I have--and that definitely doesn't conform to the supermom image. And that's okay with me--for pete's sake, this afternoon, my kids decided to fly on their "airplane" to Indonesia and take all their belongings with them. So they packed up all their clothes into my fabric grocery bags, boarded the couch and flew away. The house was absolute choas and disasterous. I am not supermom.

I also get the opportunity to take my lack of discipline and organization and change it--not just hide it away or spiffy it up a bit, but honestly change. For us to be a successful homeschool family, this is something I feel I have to do. And I don't mind. It's fun to be challenged, even if it is really hard to do.

But I am becomming more and more aware of the things that I am giving up to homeschool my kids. (Don't worry, I don't need to be convinced about the good we will gain, I'm just being real.) These past couple weeks have been exhausting. OG, our littlest who just turned two, hasn't slept through the night for a few weeks. I was, am, and is tired. The other week, when J & K were at preschool and OG was napping, I could take a nap too. It was sorely needed and quite refreshing. I realize that as part of the decision to homeschool comes the loss of those kind of times. Sure, I will hopefully be able to institute quiet times and "breaks" for myself in the day, but it isn't the same as time in a home without the immediate needs of kids to fulfill. Also, I am learning that I have to reevaluate what "me-time" is and learn how to savor what I get. Friends of mine whose kids are all school age are able to go back to school, work out, engage in their favorite activites, as well as keep a clean house. Those realities make me a bit envious--I was secretly looking forward to the time when I had hours each day for my self. But if I am also completely honest, I was dreading that time too!

Ultimately, I know that sometimes to be a better person, to be more of who God calls us to be, we need to sacrifice our own desires, yet not become a martyr. And while this might be a painful, exhausting, and draining time, I fully believe that the outcome is worth the price. Truly.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Be Aware of Wonder

A second note for today. Lest you think that all my love and pride is for my oldest born, I have such strong emotions for my second born. K is such pure, unadulterated joy! Today we watched Disney's Tinkerbell movie and she was enraptured. Every sight was a wonder, even though she had seen them before. She was captivated by the magic of the faries and the thought of spring. At the end, she just danced: twirling, leaping, running while singing the theme song.

This little one awakens in me such awe and makes me aware of the beautiful things around. Not because I don't know that they are there, but because she encounters beauty with such open emotion and joy. She is thankful for so many little things--and acknowledges how unique and wonderful God has made her. She makes me aware of wonder. She makes me want to give her more things to have wonder and awe for, because in this world it is so easy to forget how beautiful God has really made everything. She makes me want to protect her, so the world does not ruin her innocence or contaminate her joy.

Before she was born, Eric and I adamantly declared that she would not be a girly girl, she would not wear pink and hoped she would be the ultimate tomboy. God, in his glorious wisdom, gave us a girly girl who loves pink and princesses. I'm so glad he did. My life would not be nearly so colorful without her!

Things that Warm my Heart

So ever since we decided to do this home school thing, I am noticing that our family does a lot of learning all time. Its like second nature--I don't even realize that we are doing it. Take yesterday, for example. I went to the library to pick up some books--and ended up getting some books on knights and princesses from the Middle Ages. One of them is a book of Medieval art and what it shows about the life and times of being a knight. And why did I get them? Well, Friday is J's birthday party and it is themed on knights, so I thought that we should know some stuff about them. Now we know what the weapons looked like (yeah, like I needed to give any incentive to like violence) and what the different decorations on knight's shields said about them. During church, I went a bit further in my thinking and found a couple passages that talked about God as a shield and putting on the whole armor of God--perfectly related for a boy who loves this stuff. I can't wait to share that with him tonight. We plan to somehow translate that to our party this weekend.

But over the past week, something happened that just warmed my heart and almost made me cry. It also gave me every bit of ammunition that I needed to justify my decision to home school. Friday I was diligently making my grocery list when J said he wanted to help write the list. I thought I would write one word and then he would copy it--not so. I told him that I needed milk--before I could spell it for him, he sounded out the first letter and then wrote it down. He was able to accurately do this with just about all the consonants. I gave him the vowels. I was so proud: to know that the way that we live encourages him try new things, things that are hard; to know that i can guide him to learning new things; just to know that we can do it. K also played along, drawing pictures of the things that I needed for her own grocery list. It is amazing and humbling and wonderful and fantastic to see this growth in them. I am excited for a thousand more moments like this as they each learn something that excites them--whether it be in art or music or math or science or nature or reading or history.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yep, We're Going to Homeschool

I have been intending to write this post for a couple weeks, but until last night, didn't have the words to express what I needed to. So without further ado, we are going to become a homeschool family, starting with J and Kindergarten in the fall.

And now I want to explain our decision.

We chose this path because it is the right one for our family for right now. Knowing who our son is and what he requires, knowing the kind of parents we are and the family that we have, knowing the craziness of Eric's job. It is a good decision for us to make now.

However, as I read more and more, I get the sense that many people assume things about me just because of this decision. So let me also add that:
--I love school and teachers. I have fantastic memories of school and teachers and learning in general. I love the school my kids are at for preschool and would love to send them there for all of elementary. But that is not to be due to school consolidation.
--I believe in the power of Christian education. I was raised in Christian schools and credit them for much of the growth and knowledge that I have. God used those places to reach me during very formative times in my life. He used them to protect me.
--I am not retreating from the culture that we live in. Sure, I may be keeping them out of a school setting for now, but I live near the core city. I want to allow them the opportunity and chance to engage the culture, to transform it--not run away and be afraid of it.

But I also need to add that this is, in some sense a rebellion. We believe strongly in a Christian education especially in the early educational years. As we considered the options around us (simply, the ones in our neighborhood--because for now, we want to be centered near where we live), we found that what we wanted was not reasonably priced. Considering that in the next three to four years we will have three kids in full time school, the price tag (at today's rates) is about $15,000 to $18,000. This is not a responsible amount of money for our family, even if we are eligible for assistance. Faced with the thought of me having to return to the work force or choosing to teach our kids, we are choosing to teach them. For now. As we look into the future, we like what we see with our City schools and are thinking ahead for those in Middle and High School.

I am interested in dialoging on this. I would never suggest that this decision is for everyone. Even I question my sanity, based on the day. But I am excited. I truly feel a sense of purpose and God's call in this.

And, I must admit, that this has probably been one of the most unexpected parts of my life so far. I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Monday, February 2, 2009

This Unexpected Life

I am living a life I never planned. Sure I thought that I would grow up and get married someday, but always in the back of my mind, in my imagination, I was a professional something. Successful and productive. I would enjoy what I did and be really good at it, everyday.

However, even as I professed such grand dreams as a PhD and a nobel prize for some writing, it didn't feel right, it didn't sit comfortably within me.

And so now I shouldn't be so surprised that I am the stay-at-home mom of three kids who are very close in age, that my main roles are those in support of those around me. But I am. And there are many days where I am neither successful nor productive nor do I necesarily enjoy what I do.

I shouldn't be so surprised that God led me to marry a man who brings out the best in me, even when I don't believe that the best is in me. Nor should I be surprised that I live in the core city of a medium sized Midwest city and am passionate about issues of equality and social justice and hunger, both here and around the world.

But I am. I am surprised almost every day that this is the life God has given me, that He has called me to.

That is this unexpected life, my unexpected life. And I am blessed