Reclaiming My Life

Photo credit: pwelch84

I have felt the pull of my blog calling to me over the last couple of weeks, but I have clapped busy hands over my ears as I have attempted to tread enough water to stay afloat in the sea of homeschooling -- a body of water that I recently dove into.

Being a bit of a perfectionist, I had hoped for a perfectly-timed and executed and swan dive, but instead I sorta cannon-balled my way into these waters.

People have been asking me how "the home school thing" is going. Honestly, I am still trying to figure that out.

It both amazes and bewilders me that we have been at "this thing" for almost 4 weeks now. I'm honestly not sure where the time has gone.

As you may have read in earlier posts on the topic, our home schooling decision was expedited by several months leaving me without the "prep time" that I had carefully planned where I would read all the appropriate books and carefully plan out my children's educational journey -- all to be undertaken in the fall.

However, I am a fan of the "man plans, God laughs" theology and I have been amazed once again at how wise He is and how faithful He is to catch us when we take the leap into the unknown.

While it hasn't been easy, it's been easier in many ways that I would have never guessed.

Not being a morning person, I have reveled in the "no alarm necessary" life of the home schooling family. While we still have a few places to be in the morning, the digital blat of the alarm clock in my room no longer rules the roost.

But beyond that, we're having a great time.

Following some advice from several home schooling mom and our educational coordinator at the charter school, I resisted the urge to throw down a bunch of worksheets and do "school at home." Rather we took some time to figure things out, to spend the day exploring and not "schooling." Some people call this "detoxing" -- not because school is evil and you have to get it "out of your system," but rather because home schooling can be so drastically different, that it's good to offer a period of transition to your children.

So, we played games -- the game of Life, educational games, go-to-the-grocery-store-and-go-shopping-game -- we watched some documentaries on sea turtles, squids and other sea creatures. We painted a section of our shed with chalkboard paint and had the kids to math outside.

I tried to think a bit out of the box and had the first-grader spell her way to eating her snack with some "Scrabble" Cheez-its.

After awhile, I found the courage to dig into that big tub o' curriculum and figure out where the girls needed to start -- and then we just...started!

It wasn't perfect. But it was progress.  So often we want to wait until everything is just so before we embark on a new venture -- only to miss the joy of seeing God provide for our needs exactly when we need it. To wait for perfection is to miss the miracle.

So the things that have been much more easier than I would have ever dreamed are legion...and here are some of them:

  • We have more time

I know that sounds crazy, but with all the hustling and bustling from here to school and school to home and home to church and church to home and home to school and school to the doctor's get the picture. With all that running, we missed a lot of time that can be spent doing other things. And, more importantly, I have less need to be "Crazy General Mom" in the morning -- screeching out directives to get dressed, get teeth brushed, get breakfast eaten, get bottoms into the van, etc. We no longer need to leave places at 7 p.m. at night to get everyone home and into bed for school the next day. And that's kinda nice.

I am much more calm. And so, they are much more calm. This is carrying over in other areas as well.

  • We are keeping the house cleaner and are getting more organized.

Another benefit of that "found time" is that the house is actually staying neater and cleaner. Yes, we still have a bit of a clutter problem and it seems like little toys are forever littering the hallways. But now we have time to incorporate a "clean up" time into our day before school (which just seems natural). As a result, the kids seem more responsible, they are getting allowance (or "commissions" as Dave Ramsey calls them) regularly, which motivates them to continue doing their part, etc. Another bonus for me, is that I have less of the cleaning burden on me. Now that they are getting older and are not gone for most of the day, I feel like they can help out.

And it's so nice to have to use our weekends to clean up from the crazy of our week. I know my husband appreciates that maybe the most.

  • We're nicer to each other.

I thought it would be the opposite -- the whole "familiarity breeds contempt" line of thinking. But I think that the "we're all in this together" mind-set has brought our family closer. (This really has been a lifestyle change for us in so many ways.) The girls help each other more without as much complaining. I'm not saying we have transformed into the Waltons, but I have seen a marked improvement.

Again...for me...not having as much running around to do, and not having as much cleaning and tidying to do has made me...nicer. It's just the truth. And when I'm nicer to my children, they are nicer to each other and then nicer to their parents and then we're nicer to them....and the circle keeps going.

  • We have made our home a refuge.

I also think having a "safe place to be" (literally to just be...not perform) has greatly helped, and especially the fourth-grader, who was dealing with being bullied at school. When you know that you can be exactly who you are without anticipating fall-out, it changes your demeanor. It's nice to see her embracing who she is without trying to apologize for it is...or worse, hide it away.

  • We have seen God's provision.

Throughout this process, we have talked to the kids (mostly the girls) about how this is a leap of faith for our family and how we are relying on God to lead us where we need to go and provide the things we need. We had a living illustration of this just recently.

As I frequently do, I entered a giveaway on a deal blog that I follow. The particular giveaway was for a Kindle Fire. When I looked at what it was and all that it could do, I asked God to allow me to win so that I could use it in our new home school endeavor. I entered the contest and didn't think about it again....until...I opened my email one morning to read a message from the blog owner telling me that I had won one of the two Kindle Fires (a $199 value!)!!!!

As you can imagine, I was in complete shock! When I verified that it was real and not some hoax or wishful thinking, I immediately called my husband and then told the girls. I shared with them about how I prayed and asked God if we could win so that I could use it for home schooling. They were astounded and watched the mail for days until it came. I'm happy to report we are putting it to good use.

The 1st grader doing math on a Math Bingo app on the Kindle Fire

(I even "happened" to find a case that fit it on clearance for a mere $7....they usually run about $35!!)

I also got on sort of a winning streak. The day I got the Kindle, I entered a contest for a high-end sports bra by submitting a jingle/tag line for their newest one, and I won one of those too! A $65 value and something that I really needed! And then last week, I won a giveaway for some handmade eco-friendly laundry soap (something I really wanted to try -- and maybe make).

I'm not one to win things usually. But, seeing all these "coincidences" over the last few weeks, I do really feel like God is lavishing love upon me and our family. And beyond that, I feel like He has been saying, "See! Trust me! I've got you. You're safe."

He doesn't need to do that. The God of the Universe doesn't need to stop and reassure me of his plans for good for us, but He did and He does...and I'm so very grateful for it.

Do things get crazy loud from time to time? Do the girls still fight like cats and dogs over seemingly petty stuff? Does the house look like a laundry time bomb went off?

The answer is yes. Home schooling has not solve all of our issues and conflicts. We are still human beings...flawed...but on the path to a different way of doing things. I would never want to give the illusion that home schooling has waved a magic wand over our family.

But it's changed quite a bit.

Most's changed me.

And while I may have thought beforehand that it would have changed me by sucking up a lot of my free time (which it has), replacing reading for pleasure with home school theory books (which it has), and making me anxious and stressed out (it's been known to happen here and there), it hasn't been just that.

It's been much more.

I feel like I'm settling...well, into me. Through God's help and gentle and patient guidance, I'm reclaiming my life -- the life that I signed up for when I got married, had children and determined to raise them the best that I could.

Instead of hiding in fear from all the things I felt that I should be and wasn't...that which I feared that I could never be no matter how hard I tried...I've stepped out and stepped forward into the great unknown of Possibility.

And the irony is that my hiding away never actually hid me from anything...instead it kept me from new experiences and challenges and finding that I can't is easily changed into, I could.

It's amazing that as I'm looking back on the last few weeks and thinking about all the ways home schooling has changed our kids and our family, the more I am seeing how much it has and is changing me.

Ahh...God has a great sense of humor, doesn't he?

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