Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa -- at Warp Speed

This year's trip to the North Pole was kind of a last minute decision. On our way home for a church gathering, we swung by the mall to see if the elves were still in operation for the evening. Success! No lines, no tears, no traumatized kids or Clauses. I call that a very merry Christmas.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughts about our Free-schooled family

Hi, everyone.
My name is Amy.
I used to have a blog at this address:)
Perhaps you'll forgive my long absence if you know that I've taken to homeschooling my kids this year. And that's why I'm sitting here musing on my blog again after all of this time -- to parse out a few of my pedagogical ideas, and to share the parselings with the masses:)

Here are the parselings (garnish for an idea feast:):

First, I want to be clear (primarily with myself) that I am not called to homeschool. Actually, I'm not called by God to much of anything. I'm commanded to love, a command bolstered by careful instruction and the impeccable example of an incarnate Christ. I'm gifted with certain inclinations, like reading and singing and talking about ideas. Each time I offer those gifts to God, He uses them to His purposes and my delight. From time to time, He taps me -- in His grace -- to love specific people in specific ways as opportunities arise. Sometimes He taps, and I turn away (and He goes on loving me). Sometimes He taps, and I listen and act and find myself swallowed up by the Great Love passing through me. Sometimes, I'm absolutely sure, He taps, and I'm so mired in outside noise and internal narrative that I miss the tap altogether. Taps are not callings, though. They are just rare moments of wakefulness in my spiritually sluggish days. (I love them.) A calling seems more like a point-by-point job description, and I'm just so doubtful about the prospect of such particular guidance in a faith denoting so much freedom (by virtue of the Cross).

Don't misunderstand me -- the Command is BIG. And I long to live wide-eyed so that I don't pass by anyone without loving. I want to live His command, perpetually. Instead, I seem to sleepwalk from tap to tap, perceiving such a thin fragment of all that He shares with me of His Love.

So, that lets me off the hook. Sending my kids to public school would not be a sin, or a breach of my life's called purpose. In fact, as I wrote about once, it better resembles, in many ways, a visceral exemplification of the Command.

On the other hand, I missed the reading. And I guess, in many ways, it comes down to that. During breaks, we read around 4 hours every day -- together -- and the kids read amply on their own. During school months, our reading sessions were sparse and sporadic. Something about sitting alongside one another looking at life through a common lens helps us see better eye to eye. I'm not sure why, exactly. It's sort of like existential experimentation -- testing life choices through fictional characters, and evaluating outcomes without any threat of judgement. And I do voices:) [In fact, a couple of years ago, when I was deep into The Secret Garden -- rich with all manner of British accents, from classic to cockney -- my husband pulled me aside after breakfast one Saturday with a weird, worried expression on his face. "You did something really weird last night," he stammered, looking more than a little concerned. "What?!" I asked, wondering what could possibly be weird after 8 years of sharing a bed with my crazy, up all night, hijinx, unruffled. "You talked in your sleep," he said. "That's not so weird." After all, I talk in my sleep whenever I'm worried, scared, or medicated -- which accounts for a good portion of our married life:) "You talked in your sleep," he clarified, "In a British accent. It really freaked me out." Ahhh, the many unlookedfor applications of my theater major in action!]

So we're reading, again. I like that. And I'm finally working to memorize my (stinking) multiplication tables, along with my children. And it turns out we all love history and science, if you want to call them that. Mostly, we read....together.

[Last night, Olivia talked in her sleep. More specifically, when I went in to wake her up this morning, she was muttering and crying -- actual tears -- while sleeping. I woke her, and she gasped, "Oh, mama, I had the worst dream!" and curled into my arms. "Can I tell you about it?" she asked. "Of course," I replied (of course). "I dreamed I went back to public school." Okay, so at this point, I'm beginning to formulate my application to return to public school immediately, because this nightmare is sounding very Home School Weird -- see previous posts for clarification regarding HSW. "I went back to public school, " she continued, "And the kids were mean and the teacher was mean, and I handled all of that. But then, they started a history lesson that somehow came around to Archimedes, and I just really started missing homeschool." So that's a good reason to cry -- just missing our Archimedes reading, and our laughter at his bare-bottomed excitement over buouancy, and his crazy geometric tombstone. Archimedes is a good reason to cry. I said, "Well, as of right now, your dad and I have planned to work together again next year doing our school here at home, which means there's nothing here to miss, and everything's okay. It was only a dream." I THOUGHT.....seriously, Olivia. There's no reason to worry even if we decided otherwise. There's no way Archimedes would come up in a public school history lesson.....doesn't my thinking self sound self-righteous and cynical! Now you know why I miss so many taps! It's good that, nearing forty, I'm finally getting a handle on the gap between my thinking self and my speaking self! Apparently, I'm not yet sure where my blogging self fits:)]

I realize, in some ways, that I'm risking everything -- a fact that alternately encourages me (as a risk-lover) and strikes me with motherguilt like a parasite sucking on my soul. I know that Josiah would do well with the order in a public school classroom. It's only Olivia and I who love this learning like buckshot. But he's getting along, and we are reading. In fact, he's turned out to be the most voracious book hound among us, sniffing for biographies among his favorite fare.

As to the little three -- I plan/have planned to start a kind of formal preschool-at-home with them next fall. In the meantime, they're absorbing everything the six of us do together all day with the breathtaking speed at which three three-year-old minds absorb everything. They continue to homeschool me.

I doubt this site will become a repository of reading lists and curriculum reviews anytime soon. I'm still figuring out how to feed them and bathe them while teaching them. I'm not yet aiming to chronicle them. I am, however, enjoying this leg of the journey and the freedom it affords us. And that's really the crux of this uncalled tap-life. Grace, here, means freedom. [My dad once told me, on a day when I was particularly frozen in the post-graduation paralysis of early adulthood, that I was worrying around the edges of God's grace like it was a tent. Like I thought that if I stepped too far in any direction, I would move outside the shelter and into the torrents all around us. He was right (of course). "I tend to think God's will is more like an umbrella than a tent, because of the cross. You have to carry it and open it, but it travels where you do." Whether or not you agree with my dad (and it's always wise to agree with him -- knowing that 20 years ago would have made adolescence less volatile, wouldn't it?), clearly I come by my Uncalled, Always Tapped philosophy honestly!]

That's why I'm calling us free-schooled this year. Not because it's free. The homeschool situation has done nothing to ameliorate my book-thrifting addiction! Because I'm resting on the freedom of grace in making and carrying out this risky decision. I'm clutching my umbrella, and heading, white-knuckled, into the rain.