Sunday, 15 February 2009

Why do you do that?

Since I home school I am often asked this question. "Why?" Since I am fairly new to homeschooling I also inevitably get asked, "What made you decide to home school them?" The list is so enormous that it is hard to touch on every little reason, but I will highlight a few here. First off all, I always tell people the worse thing I ever did was work in a public school. I say it was the worse thing only because a second income in our family is not going to be possible for quite a while. But, in all honesty it was probably the best thing that could have happened. God sent me a real eyeopener giving me that job. I saw things that I could not believe. Bullying, backstabbing, sexual suggestiveness by 4Th, 5Th, and 6Th graders, disrespect, lying, cheating, and just out and out immoral and unethical behavior. For these crimes students would get very light punishments if any at all and for the most part teachers would save themselves the trouble and say, "Oh, I didn't see it so there is nothing I can do about it." If I had a quarter for every time I heard that statement I would be a very rich woman. Now, don't get me wrong. Not all children I came in contact with were this way. There were a lot of great kids in the school and wonderful teachers, but it seemed as if they were vastly outnumbered. My son was bullied everyday. Every single day. I gave him coping strategies, talked with the teachers, the vice principal, the principal and was always told the same thing. This is how school is, this is how kids learn to deal with real life. Something did not seem right about that to me. Beat a kid down, get him to the point where he has zero self-esteem and he will thank you for it later as he will be able to "deal" with real life. I am sure their are bullies out there in the work force. I have come across quite a few, but let's face it school is not real life. I am very certain that when my son grows up he will go into the work place and deal with adults that are all the same age. They will all huddle in little groups and kick, spit, and shout names at my son. They will call him fat, ugly, dork, geek, gay, stupid, dumb, butt head, and push him into the floors and walls. Then the boss will respond with "I am sorry, I did not see it happen so there is nothing I can do about it." Um, I really doubt it. I am sure a lot of you who know me realize that the subject of bullying is a fiery one for me. My stance is that it is NOT normal, will never be NORMAL and if schools and parents don't start doing something about it now there will sadly be more instances like Columbine. O.k. off my soap box. But, I am sure I will climb back on soon. I don't home school simply for the bullying factor. I also home school so that I can raise my kids to love God and to be good citizens. I want to be the one to teach them about sex. Not another peer. I want them to have a great education not confined to a uncomfortable chair all day with little or no fresh air and down time. My kids learn about ancient Egypt. I mean really learn about ancient Egypt. We take our time learning things and if they need more time with something we take it. They do not get looked over and we do not move on till they really understand the subject. I have found deficits in both my children's education. So those out there that take the stance that home schoolers will have "holes" in their educations, I would like to say that they would have "holes" if they attended public schools as well. My children however do know that Africa is a continent not a country as most of the children they know insist it is. They know the sequence of mitosis of a cell. They know how cavemen made cave paintings and they have made their own. They know that God wants them to be good people and they learn about him daily. I am not trying to say that my way is better then anyone else's. What i am trying to get across is their is nothing wrong with homeschooling. home schoolers are not "weird" or all religious fanatics. We are parents, that for me by the grace of God, have taken control of their child's education and said Enough! I have always done things differently anyway, Why not this? ;)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Um, WOW!

Part of my journey in learning to be grateful has been finding God again. They just both seemed to have gone hand in hand. I have been "saved" as a lot of Christians refer to accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. I truly believe without a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to come to him again. I have received many "messages" to this effect but none as bold as what happened to me yesterday. I have long suffered form depression. IT comes and it goes and it seems to have reared its ugly head stronger and with more frequency since we have moved to England. There are many things I can blame it on, the long dark winter, the absence of sunlight, the list can go on and on and on. At the core though, the problem lies with me. All of my family members have dealt with depression or are prone to it. I have found that if I fully rely on God though he can help me through even my darkest hours. Yesterday, this was completely affirmed. I was at the library looking through the free book section and I happened upon a book my Corrie Ten Boom. Jason had to read her biography for a curriculum he had been using and I read it as well. Corrie was a very brave woman who helped Jews hide during WWII. She even went to a concentration camp (for her actions) where her sister and father died. I saw the authors name on the book and picked it up. I loved her biography, surely I would love this book. I really didn't read the cover or peruse the inside until I climbed into bed last night to have a look at the books I had selected. I was delighted to see that the book was a collection of daily inspirations written by Ten Boom and supported by scripture. Then I opened it up and right on the inside cover, written in red ink some time ago was this message:

Dear Jenny,
I hope you will find strength in these messages. They have spoken to my heart and my needs these last 2 years and maybe you are at the low point where I was when I begin to read these.

There were also dates that the message writer wanted the reader to concentrate on. The funny thing is my name, or nickname, is Jenny. I was flabbergasted. I read and reread this message over and over again. I do not believe for one second that it was purely a coincidence that this message was in this book. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that I picked this book up. I believe God placed it there for me to find. I do believe with all my hear that he was sending me a message. That I must always find my strength in him and fully rely on him for everything. I am still in shock over this. God is such an awesome God!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Do unto others.......

Do you remember that saying, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.", or some version of it? Basically it means treat others the way you wanted to be treated. My mother used to say it to me all the time. There are numerous quotes by many famous people that are an extended version of this. So it is packed with a lot of wisdom since so many have learned this valuable lesson and acted upon it, right? Well, I thought I always did treat others well. I was sure of it. But then I read an awesome book by Gary Chapman called Love as a Way of Life. If you have not read it I highly recommend doing so as soon as possible. It will truly change your way of thinking about love and what it means and how we give and receive it. In a very quick summary that does not do the book justice at all, Chapman says that to receive kindness and love we must give kindness and love. In every moment of our lives. Now, if you are anything like me you will think, "Oh, I already do that. I am never mean to people." Well, be prepared for a major upheaval in how you see yourself. If you are anything like me you have some work to do. Not a lot, just some. For instance when you are driving and someone cuts you off, how do you react? Well, I do not react well, let's just leave it at that. Chapman suggests that even in this circumstance you should respond with kindness. Think, "Lord, please let them reach their destination safely", rather then, "********** jerk!". I will admit that even though my kids might be with me I have said some pretty nasty things to other drivers. Though I try and make myself feel better by saying "frickin" rather then the other. Makes no difference though. How about another scenario? You are at the food store and your kids are driving you crazy so you can't wait to get out of there. You get to the check out and end up having to wait in a long line, only to find out that you got into the slowest checker's line imaginable. Your first instinct might be, "I am going to lose my mind." Chapman says that in all instances you should respond with kindness and love. The appropriate response would be to smile at the checker and ask her how she is doing. Easier said then done, right? Now, how about in your own home? If one aspect of love is truth (according to Chapman) then do you always tell the truth? If your child comes up to you while you are in the middle of doing dishes or something else vitally important (not;) ) do you tell that child, "I will do _________ with you when I am done." Then do you forget about it and then move on to your next task continually putting the child off? I will admit I have done this and have done it more then once. But, if you think about it you are not telling you child the truth. If you say you are going to do something with them when you are done with the dishes then that is when it needs to be done. Again, easier said then done I know. When your spouse has come home from work acting like a total you-know-what, do you refuse to speak to him and fall asleep mad, or respond with a kind gesture like a hug or a nice hot cup of tea? If you were going to show love no matter how you were treated it would be the latter. Though I am sure a lot of us would have to grit our teeth. But, this book is based simply on the principle that some of us were taught when we were younger. If you expect people (and that means all people) to treat you with love, then you have to treat everyone with love as well. Love =Love in this book. And though it may seem an easy concept to understand, when you actually analyze your life and see how often you in fact put that concept into action, the results are fascinating. So, today I am grateful for Chapman's book. I am glad I picked it up at the library and I am hoping that with God's help I can implement some of the wonderful lessons from it.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Can I be a Mommy When I Grow Up?

This is a post that is going to have a good amount of ranting in it. So those that are faint of heart ands non confrontational should not read. That being said, here is the big question: When did it become such a bad thing do just be a mom? The reason I am bringing this up is due to something I read a bit ago. Has to do with the Duggar family. If you don't know who these people are, then just type them into Google and read up on them. In short they are a couple in Arkansas who made the pledge to God to accept any children he saw fit to bless them with. And bless them he has! They just had their 18Th child. So I have always found this family to be very interesting. They have just come out with a book and I just had to have it. I read the book in about 2 days and loved it. Now, I am not going to have 18 children and some of their beliefs are not my beliefs, but all in all I say they are a great family who lets God lead them and they have a tremendous faith that I find refreshing. As I was reading the reviews for the book before adding my own, I noticed a few that said that the Duggars were raising their girls to have one occupation, being a mother and a wife. I do not think this is true first of all, but then it struck me. Why is that such a horrible thing, to be just a mother and a wife? Now first of all let's take that word "just" out of the equation all together. As a mother and a wife you are never "just" anything. Your roles that you take on are many and diverse. Let's just list a few here, shall we?

1. Maid
2. Chef
3. Chief Medical Officer of your Home
4. Accountant (sometimes, in my house my husband is much better at this than me, but i do keep track of the kid's allowance)
5. Teacher (you are a teacher to your children whether you home school like me or not)
6. Counselor/Mediator
7. Executive Assistant to your husband and children (letting them know what is on the schedule, scheduling things, etc.)
8. Chauffeur
Let's face it this list could go on and on and on. Feel free to comment and add your own. Anyway, back to the original question. There are many varied opinions on the Duggar's and their family. But, leaving that subject for a while let's try and think back to not so long ago when most women did choose to stay-at-home and be full time wives and mothers and it was seen as being an admirable occupation. Right up there with CEO of some fortune 500 company. So why is it now when I say I am a stay at home mom, I have people look at me as if I have two heads? The question that usually follows this is, "Oh, are you in school right now?" Well, no I am not. Do I have plans to do this, yes. I love to learn. But, I will probably only take one class or at the max two classes a semester since my first priority will be my husband and kids. The next statement, not really a question, is usually, "Oh, you must plan to go back to work when your children are older." Um, yes I do but much older, try 18 and in college. I happen to be their teacher, so I will graduate in a way when they do. The thing is, why do we just assume that stay at home moms should be doing something else. Now, I have tons of hobbies. I love to read, cook, and write. So yes I do something else but I just don't get paid for it and I am not the boss of some department. Unless you want to count the Executive Cleaning and Cooking Department of Our House in England an executive department. But, I tell you this. I feel wonderful about what I do. Did I ever think in a million years that God had on his agenda for me to be a stay at home mom, wife, and home schooling mom? Not in a million years. But just as God does so often he surprised me with his plans. I feel very at home in my role and I do feel important. It wasn't always like that for me though. I listened to society to much and felt as if I was worth nothing unless I was working outside the home or going to school to better myself. Am I saying that there is anything wrong with these things? Absolutely not! I think if that is the role a woman finds herself in and she is happy and satisfied, God bless her. But, I have found it is not for me. I remember soon after my daughter was born I thought I need to go back to work, at least part time. For a while I liked it, but I felt a strong pull to be at home with my baby. My husband took wonderful care of her while I wasn't around but I wanted to be there. I felt it was my intended purpose to be there with her. So I quit. And I never felt better. I think it is high time that society realizes that as Moms working or not we have a huge job every single day. It is not an easy job, in fact the ultimate working woman Oprah calls it "the hardest job in the world." Our job is important. It is as important as any job we would be involved with outside of the home, plus we don't get paid for it. Our currency comes not in paper form, unless you count the homemade thank you cards we get from time to time. But, it comes from moments we spend with our kids and know that we would rather be with them then any other place on earth. It comes from the hugs and kisses, and the smiles. It comes from teaching them how to cook zucchini bread and quiet talks about growing up. Our satisfaction as Moms, working or not, comes from all of these priceless moments and many more. Our bank accounts might not be overflowing but our love accounts sure are! I am grateful to be a mother. I am grateful to know mothers and to admire mothers all over the world. God has blessed me with this role. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt!

*****Just to make one thing perfectly clear. I do realize that there are moms out there that must work, even though they would rather be at home. I know this because I have been there and done that. This post is in no way shape or form meant to put you down. You are still a mother and as such I say that role should be seen as important to our society. As important or even more important then the job you have outside of your home. Just wanted to clear that up.;)*******

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy Anniversary!

To my kids and I that is!. I just remembered we have been homeschooling for one year! I never thought I would be here today, but here I am. How blessed I have been to be able to do this. They are learning things that they would never have learned in a traditional school setting, and they are so much happier. Even on those days when I want to pull my hair out of my head, I still would not put them back in. I am so very blessed to have a wonderful husband who though he thought I was nuts, supported me every step of the way and still continues to do so. It means so much to me to have someone love me enough to allow me to follow my crazy ideas and turn them into reality. I do believe he sees the benefits of our homeschooling adventure as well. He commented the other day that our daughter's reading level was great and that our son was learning things he only wished he could have learned about in school. He was shocked the other day when our daughter was knuckle walking around the house and he asked her what she was doing. She told him I am an early human Daddy before they became bi-pedal. He was flabbergasted. We have started a timeline and have started with the early human theory and one of the things they learned was that Homo Erect us stood on two legs which allowed him to develop a whole new set of skills. They love the timeline. I don't know about you my friends, but I remember barely anything from when I was in school. I hope our little school is different. I hope they are able to enjoy learning enough to be able to remember it and build upon it. I am so very grateful to God that I have had the blessing of being able to home school my kids. I am grateful that I have the husband I have who is supportive and allows me to follow through with my crazy ideas. I am so very grateful to have this time with my kids and to be able to instill a love of learning in them. God willing we will be doing this for a good number of years more!

This song has become my theme song for why I homeschool. Might not make sense to anyone else but it does to me!

Eva Cassidy "Songbird"

For you there'll be no crying
For you the sun will be shining ‘
Cause I feel that when I'm with you
It's alright, I know it's right
And the songbirds keep singing
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before
To you, I would give the world
To you, I'd never be cold
‘Cause I feel that when I'm with you It's alright,
I know it's right
And the songbirds keep singing
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before
Like never before; like never before.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

A blessing?

I gained some knowledge from a pediatrician lat night that confirmed what I have thought for many years. My son has Asperger's. I know I should have been bowled over by this but I can say that when she voiced her opinion all I felt was overwhelming peace. Strange right? Let me tell you how it happened that God brought this woman into my life for a brief moment to share this news with me.

We were invited to our friend's Sally and Steve's for New Years Day. We are so very blessed to have had made such great friends here in the village. Since it is a very tiny village we were not sure that was going to happen. But a little cat named Poppy made sure Sally and I met. When we moved into the house we noticed a very sweet cat hanging around. The kids just loved her and since she looked well fed and cared for we thought she must belong to a neighbor. She came and loved on the kids whenever they were outside and was always around, but we assumed she went home at night. The kids gave her a bit of cat food and plenty of affection and enjoyed her company. One day we were outside and heard a woman calling "Poppy, Poppy!" We assumed that she was looking for her dog that had wondered off and again thought little of it. The next day we did not see the cat which was very strange. She usually came in the morning and stayed all day outside the house with the kids. I began to worry that maybe something had happened to her when my soon to be new friend Sally showed up at our door asking if we had been taking care of her cat. Seems that Poppy liked it so much here that she was not going home at night! We discovered that she was camping out on our old Lazy Boy chair in the garage. Sally of course was beside herself with worry. They had been on vacation and the person caring for the animals reported Poppy missing 2 weeks ago, the day we moved in! So off we went to identify the cat and make sure it was indeed the cat that had adopted us. It was swiftly confirmed and a deal was worked out that we would look out for her and in exchange Sally would bring us eggs from her chickens. That was a great deal and the kids had an animal companion as well. Now she is allowed inside our office area to keep warm and we all love her very much. Without Poppy I am not sure Sally and I would have met. And that would be a real shame since her friendship has been such a blessing. Back to the original point. We went over for New Year's and it was great fun! Good food, great people to meet, and great conversation. When Sally's friend came I immediately liked her straight away. There was such a peaceful energy surrounding her. We began chatting and she told me she was a pediatrician. Then throughout the course of the evening as I am sure most doctors do she casually observed my kids. Just part of her inner workings I am sure. I liken it to my birdwatching. If there is a rare bird around I will have to interrupt whatever it is I am doing and observe it. I noticed that she was watching my son a bit more then my daughter. This is not unusual. We have noticed that the microscope seems to get pulled out so to speak when my son is around those in the medical field. We have long known that he was different. Later in the evening the doctor and I got into a conversation about Jason and she quietly revealed to me that by no means was this an official diagnosis but she strongly suspected he had Asperger's. Now to any other parent I am assuming this would be a great shock. There are many ways I could have reacted. Peaceful is not one of the emotions that comes to mind to often when this news is given. But, that is exactly how I felt. Utterly and peacefully calm. This is not the first time my husband and I have heard this suggested. We know that it is true. But, we have decided together that we will not put a label on him. He is almost 13 years old and is a wonderful child and he copes beautifully on his own. Since this diagnosis was not suggested until he was around 10 he had already learned many coping mechanisms all on his own. The same coping mechanisms that are taught to Asperger's patients all the time. He just came up with them on his own out of necessity. So when she revealed what she truly felt, it was not painful for me or scary. It was really no surprise. I just felt a huge wave of peace flow over me. Now I know why he does a lot of the things he does. Why he seems to be trying to drive us crazy at times. Well, he very well could be doing that. I mean he is almost a teenager. But, when he is truly trying to deal in a "normal" way and just can't, I know now that it is not intentional. And, honestly what is normal anyway really? We have simply come to accept him for who he is. Symptoms and all. He is a gifted child in the realm of history. He loves it and has such a strong passion for it that I am very sure God has given him this gift to help others. There are not a lot of kids out there that want to be a historian. It is unfortunately a dying career. He wants to know history, in and out. That obsessive quality is one of the symptoms of Asperger's but in this case I don't see a symptom but a gift. I know a lot of people may disagree with me but I see what I am already doing being a great way to serve my son's needs. He is homeschooling which helps with his anxiety issues and allows him to work at his own pace. I feed both my kids an organic diet with very few sweets and dyes already. And the most important I believe, I accept my son for who he is inside and out. I strongly feel that he knows this and has found strength in that fact. So I see his semi-diagnosis (not official) of Asperger's as a blessing. I have had to learn acceptance, patience, and unconditional love. I had all of these before I had my son. But, they have been amplified a thousand times. In a way my kids are my greatest teachers. What a truly wonderful thing!

John Lennon "Beautiful Boy"
I would like to dedicate this song to my son. I love you always.

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It's getting better and better,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Jolt!

First of all I have to apologize for my slacking. Things got so busy with homeschooling and Christmas, I put my blog on the back burner. But here I am. And hopefully after I took that sizable break I will get back to it again. Something very strange happened to me on Christmas Day but first some background or it will not make any sense. I went to the doctor the Monday before Christmas due to some strange symptoms I was having. Now I am one of those people that does not like going to doctors, yet I am terrified of something horrible being wrong with me. So I did something before that appointment that I haven't done for a very long time. I sincerely prayed. I prayed that everything would be alright and that the doctor I would be seeing would be able to figure out what this all meant. I have not prayed in a very long time. I will admit that I have strayed from my faith in the past few years. Mostly due to the fact that in my little family unit I only have the support of one other firm believer, my daughter. But, I now realize that that is nothing short of a feeble excuse. On to the morning of the appointment. The doctor walks in all 6 foot 2, red hair, and smiles. He tries joking with me at first to put me at ease, but seeing that is not working asks me what is wrong. I told him I did not like doctors. He said, "No offense taken. But let's try and figure out what is wrong shall we?" So he did a full physical exam then ordered a battery of tests. He told me he did not think it was anything serious and he would call me soon with the results. While most people would have relaxed I of course did not. I think all Moms can identify with the terror of not being able to mother your children due to some terrible illness. I was scared to pieces that something was really wrong with me. Who would do all the things I do? Who would home school my kids, something that is very important to me? Who would braid my daughter's hair? Who would teach my son how to be a gentlemen and how to properly treat a lady? The list went on and on and on. In short, what would this world do without me in it? Well, the simple answer is whether I liked it or not: It would keep on going. That made me stop and think. Why am I so afraid of dying? There I said it the "D" word that I am so terrified of. Then I figured it out on Christmas morning. Why I should not be afraid. The morning of Christmas Eve I got the call saying that all my results were normal and what to do about the problem that was discovered. Then the next day I realized I had not thanked God, the one I had begged and pleaded with for everything to be o.k. I felt terrible. Here he listened and gave me what I wanted, and I hadn't even said thank you. I could use all the excuses in the world. I was busy with Christmas, there was so much going on. But, they were all excuses. So I felt that I needed to go to church that morning and properly thank him by worshiping him. I went by myself since no one else wanted to go and walked, since our local village church is not that far away. I walked along the quiet country lane breathing the fresh air and listening to the birds. All the way thinking to myself just how lucky I am to be able to be here and experience all of this. Then when it came time to take communion I knelled at the altar rail and accepted the wafer and the wine, the body and blood of our savior. As I quietly went back to my seat and sat down, I suddenly felt an electric jolt go through my body. It was so strong it almost made me jump. Then I felt not really heard but felt the presence of God. I felt him say "You are welcome." I felt him say that he was proud of me and I was wonderful because I was his child. I didn't need to be anything but that. His child. His work of art. Then it all made sense to me. No matter where I might travel in this world, even in death, I am his child and he loves me, because I am me. I have no need to be afraid. He is always with me. No matter what. Even when I am not thankful for all the wonderful blessings he has given me I am still loved by him because I am his child, his greatest work. As we all are. Most of us do not realize it and have to be constantly reminded or just never, ever figure it out. My daughter has been memorizing a few verses from the bible as part of her homeschooling. I thought how beautiful and pure she looked as she read it and believed every single word. You could tell that she felt it deep in her heart and soul. It is a beautiful set of verses and now they speak to me in exactly the way they continue to speak to her. Thanks to my jolt from above! Here they are:

Psalm 139 Verses 13 & 14

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's

I praise you because I am fearfully and
wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.