The one about homeschooling

“I don’t know how you do it”, “I could never do that, I’m not patient enough”, “I don’t want my kids to be weird”, “my kids listen so much better for other people than me”, “I’m not a teacher”…

and{drum roll please}……”what about socialization?”.

I’ve heard them all. But before I go on, let me put out this disclaimer; I am not writing this post with hopes of convincing people to homeschool. Obviously we feel like it’s the best option, or we wouldn’t be doing it, but not everyone feels that way, and the fact is, some people just don’t want to, or their situation truly doesn’t allow them that luxury. I get it.

This post IS for those of you who may be on the fence, thinking about it, considering it, or really would like to do it, but feel like you can’t for some reason.

Our decision to homeschool wasn’t based on a single principal, or issue. Ava went to public school for half of her kindergarten year before we pulled her out, and she was doing great! She had a great teacher, seemed to like it, and was thriving.

However, it just didn’t make sense to me. I had this child with me everyday for the first 5 years of her life, and now I am dropping her off to spend the day with a bunch of people I know nothing about? I have to wake her up, rush her out the door, and she’s exhausted and quiet when she gets home and doesn’t want to talk about her day{repeat 5 days a week}. It really bothered me.

So, I started doing some homeschool research, and the more I learned about it, and what the options were, and how other families were doing it, the more I wanted our family to do it. I quickly went from, “how can I do this?”, to “how can I NOT do this”.

I think a major misconception people have about homeschool families, is that we are seeking to shield our children from the world by keeping them home. Nothing could be further from the truth. We absolutely do have more control over what they see, hear, and learn, but my major motivator in keeping Ava home, was to teach her MORE about the world.

I thought about all the things I hadn’t been taught in school. I wanted her to care deeply for people, and develop her character more than her report card, I didn’t see how I could do that when I would no longer be her primary influence. Her peers would.

So, we pulled her out.

At this point in the blog post, I am supposed to wrap this up with a pretty little bow, and tell you that from then on, it’s been magical, and whimsical, and wonderous. That we spend every moment of every day reading beautiful stories and chasing butterflies while we sing hymns. That would be a lie though. Not every day is like that. In fact, most days aren’t. I struggle DAILY with doubts and fears, and insecurities. It’s very hard, but all great things are, right?

Here’s the encouraging part, you CAN do this. Homeschool moms are NO MORE patient than any other moms in the world. We scream and yell just like the rest of you. We don’t have some secret power that you weren’t given!  And here’s a truth bomb: our kids are crappy listeners too! They do not listen to us any more than yours would listen to you. That’s not why we’re homeschooling. Every child on the face of the planet listens to other people more than their own parents.

Now, let’s put the “I don’t want my kid to be weird/what about socialization?” argument to bed shall we? Public schools are not designed to teach your child how to socialize. It’s actually the opposite. They are taught to sit, listen, absorb, and regurgitate at test time.

What parents really mean{which they don’t realize} when they bring up the socialization argument, is that they want their child to know how to make friends, not be an outcast, be cool, popular, and well liked. Fair enough. We all want our children to have friends. Homeschooling means you are their teacher, and you teach what you want, how you want, when you want. It doesn’t mean keeping them hidden away. I promise you, my kids know how to “socialize”, my daughter does it very well, ask anybody.

Maybe back when you were in school, you remember that there was this new kid and he had been homeschooled. He was probably super weird, and awkward. I hate to be insensitive here, but that’s cause his parents are weird too. And let’s face it, not every “weird kid” we went to school with was homeschooled. There are plenty of government school “weird kids” too, and by the way, most of them grow up to make lots more money than the “cool kids”.

Homeschooling has given us so much freedom, I feel like it’s a fantastic option for ANY family, you don’t have to be more patient, or smart, or have it all together….we are just livin on coffee and a prayer, hoping our kids will turn out ok just like you.

In His grace,

Suzanne

 

 

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The One About {our} Marriage

So much has been written on the topic of marriage, commitment, divorce, love, betrayal, and romance. I doubt that I can shed much more light here, so instead, I’ll share only what my experience of marriage has been.

“Do not leave the responsibility of your own personal happiness to your spouse.”

My closest family members and friends had arranged that everyone who attended my bridal shower would write a piece of marriage advice on a small slip of paper for me to read aloud later that day.

The quote above was written down in my grandmother’s beautiful and antique-like handwriting, and when I unfolded the paper to read it aloud,  a sort of hush fell over all in attendance as we let the words sink in. Most of the previous tips and advice I had read were met with laughter and lighthearted agreement. However, this one had depth, weight, and most importantly, truth.

“Wow Grandma. That’s so true. Thank you! I’m going to remember that”, I confidently promised.

{I’m certain her thought at that moment was something like; “I hope you do, cause you ain’t got no idea how hard this is going to be.”

My Grandma is gracious to no end, classy, and gentile, so instead she responded; “You’re welcome sweetie”.}

Casey and I were married on October 25, 2008, approximately 5 months after we learned I was pregnant with our oldest daughter. To say that we were not living for The Lord at that time would be an understatement. We had a lot of fun, but not the kind that honors God. We also fought a lot. Things got pretty ugly several times, and the excessive drinking and partying just added to the unhealthy nature of our relationship. Not a super great start. Casey didn’t have to propose, but because of God’s lavish grace, and because he wanted better for his children than he’d had, he did. {The subtle hints dropped by my Dad might have had some influence, however if you know Casey, he doesn’t do things he doesn’t want to do, or at least that’s what I told myself.}

One of the many challenges I had to face, and still do, was to give up trying to make him understand how hard I had it being home all day. {Yes. 1 single child. A girl. Not yet homeschooling. That was my “hard” back then. Insert big giant eye roll.} Doing the thing where you’re like, “Wow, lunch with clients. No kids for miles. Sounds rough buddy. Hang in there”. I still roll my eyes when he tells me at 5:00 that he’s still full from the steak he ate at lunch. {I had some cold chicken nuggets and some stale veggie straws.}

It’s really hard for me to have a relationship with a man that has really no idea what it’s like to be a decent Mom to 3 kids, homeschool them, do all the chores around here and not gain 500lbs in the process! {Where my chips at?} When we were first married, I almost destroyed us trying to make him understand, but I learned, and am still learning, that he doesn’t have to understand completely. How can he? Here is the truth; Casey is 100% financially responsible for our family, and I have no idea what that pressure is like either, but I’m sure it’s not always fun. It’s all on him. I don’t want to switch places. You can have your steak babe, and you deserve it!

I’m also learning to let. it. go. Let it go lady! 90% of the stuff I was getting upset about, will not matter next year. Some of it won’t matter next week! I can’t control him. I’ve tried. {And tried and tried.} He humors me most of the time and lets me think I am, mostly because he’s super laid back. And by the way, do we women really want a man that does absolutely everything we say, with no objection whatsoever? {Yes. Yes we do.} No, we don’t.

Feelings. I have a lot of them. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest most blessed women on the face of the planet; “Look at my beautiful and well-kempt children and handsome husband. See my perfectly organized and charming little home? It’s all in order, all is well, and the children are learning and loving, and life is grand. The Lord’s favor is shining upon us.”

Other times, I’m like “This place is a dump. Why do we have so much crap everywhere!? These kids are spoiled rotten, they fight all the time. Listen, they’re screaming right now. I’m done. Casey is so clueless. He has no idea what I go through every day. Well, he’s bout to find out tonight, cause I am not cleaning up another thing, and if that child wipes his nose on his sleeve again, I’m taping a cotton ball under his nostrils!” Ya, I can’t trust my feelings one bit. I’m not saying they aren’t important. I want to be heard, and listened to, but making permanent, big decisions about our life, based on my feelings could be really disastrous.

There have been times when I have {felt} so alone in my marriage. Disrespected, betrayed, and hurt. Times when I have heard the whisper’s of the enemy saying “you two are so messed up, you’re not going to make it, he doesn’t love you, you’re screwing the kids up too”, and my all time favorite….”nobody else struggles in their marriage like this”. {Listen, if you’re one of those magical couples that doesn’t ever fight…congrats….and you’re weird} If I trusted how I felt in those moments, we would have been done a long time ago.

So what did I do? After screaming, yelling, crying, leaving, calling  my mom… eating two combo meals at Mcdonald’s…and coming back…I had to trust God with my marriage, and my heart. I still do. Casey can’t give me all the self-assurance, peace, confidence, comfort, and everything else that I need. He can’t, and he’s not supposed to. That’s too much pressure for one person! I’m not easy to be married to. I’m a perfectionist, and a control freak. {But like, a really fun, easy-going control freak.}

He never left. He could have, we were a mess for a lot of years. But he stayed. That’s one of my favorite things about my husband, he’s not a quitter. He’s tenacious, and unafraid, he’s solid. He didn’t even have the family legacy of commitment to live up to like I did, but he stayed. He always came back after an argument, and he was usually the first to apologize.

Casey and I have grown up in our marriage together, and we have worked harder on our marriage than anything else we have endeavored to do. It’s scarred up and bruised, but it’s our love story. And even though we do love each other, {passionately} it is a story that is so much more about fortitude and discipline than love. We have a history together, and I would do it all again to be where we are now.

We’ve been married almost 10 years, and I’m proud to say that a lot of his friends lost money on how long they thought we’d make it! Suckers!

I believe with all my heart that because we chose to stay the course even when it was very rocky, we have been blessed to now be more in love than we ever have been.

I hope that if you’re in a marriage that seems hopeless and lonely, you know that sometimes, if you can just hang on a little longer, the best is yet to come…

In His Grace,

Suzanne

The One About Being Crazy

As soon as you announce that you are expecting……I mean, the very minute you share the news, inevitably, the comments and advice start a’ flowin’.

It is for this reason, that one would assume, that in the approximately 9 months from the time you go public with your pregnancy , and the time of the baby’s arrival, you would have heard it all, and thusly, be fully prepared, or at least, feel like you know what’s coming.

No. You don’t. You do not have any idea.

For example, you don’t realize it, but you actually have some conditions that you are unaware of, and they will surface once you become a parent. You will most likely develop a very low threshold for loud noises, you’ll have sensory overload difficulties, even if it’s just the voices of your precious children, who are all talking to you and asking things of you all at once.

Why does this make me crazy?! I don’t understand! I’ve spent half my life listening to the radio at maximum volume, going to concerts, clubs, and parties. {Jesus Saves}

It’s not the same, can I get a witness? I’ve literally screamed at my children, “AHHHH! WHY ARE WE ALL BEING SO LOUD?!”, in a fit of absolute sensory overload. Never once did that in high school.

You turn into that detective guy, “Monk”. Ya know, the obsessive compulsive germ-a-phobe? That’s you now. You have hand sanitizer in every bag you own, three in the car, one on your keychain and a variety of sanitizing wipes, some of which are “specially formulated for hands and faces”. When you take your children to a public restroom, they have goals; “touch every. single. surface. and run my hands all across that metal bar next to the toilet”. Yes, you are on high alert and you can actually feel your chest tighten slightly as soon as they ask to go potty. Is it just me?

You might also be prone to fits of frustration over the slightest inconveniences.

For example, I recently purchased a 3 pack of those cheap, plastic shower caps {because, let’s be real, I ain’t got time to blow dry my hair every time I take my weekly shower}. The other night when a certain child (it was Ava) was bathing, she found them, opened the package, and had all 3 floating upside down in the bathtub all slimy and soapy. Folks, this should not be a big deal. However, I was SO irritated! My brand new Wal-Mart shower caps! All wet and soapy!! Those costs like…..$3.00 or something! “This child is out of control! She must be stopped!”, I think to myself.

“Ava, why are these floating in the tub?! These are mommy’s special shower caps! Now I have to pull them out and….let them dry over here on a towel….” {back out slowly, maybe she won’t notice that you’re acting like a lunatic}.

Sometimes you’re like a tyrannical communist dictator.

“The kitchen is CLOSED! No more food! You’re done!! You’ve had enough and I’m not getting up again. I just sat down!”

You’re also a raging hypocrite.

“Do not YELL at your brother like that!!!” {you scream from across the room}

“You can’t eat raw cookie dough, it will make you sick”, you tell them, as you lick the spatula.

“Can you guys share please…..Ava that’s the last piece of pizza and it’s mine.”

Here’s the point; children have a way of bringing out the worst in you…I’m sorry, but I keeps it real.

And the truth is, they also bring out the best in you. They cause you to take a deep, introspective look at yourself. They expose all your weak areas {and I have a lot}, and they make you want to do better, to be better, because you’ve never loved another human being the way that you love your children….

but that’s not enough for me.

I love my children deeply, and fully. I would lay down my life for them without thinking twice. I pray for them every day, and there’s not a single thing they could ever do to lose my love. Casey and I would do anything for them…

but if I’m being honest, sometimes that’s not enough to change me.

Only Jesus can do that.

And the more I press into Him, the more I experience His peace, and grace. He’s wearing away the anxiety, the struggle, the striving, and the worry. I can’t do it without Jesus meeting my needs in this way. He knows I’m a mess, and He’s been so faithful to show himself in ways that I desperately need.

I’m so thankful that when my crazy is showing, Jesus whispers…

“I’m here. I see. I know. Let me help you…”

He sees you too, and He will meet you where you are, if you let Him…

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to The Rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

In His Grace,

Suzanne

The One About Belonging

I didn’t want to go. Not at all. In fact, I asked God to make a way for us to stay, and I have the journal entry to prove it, several actually.

“Longview? Never heard of it, but it sounds awful.”

Sometimes you don’t have to go to a place, or even know where in the world it is, to know that you’ll hate it.

Casey and I had just decided to homeschool, and shortly after that, we found ourselves facing a cancer diagnosis with our youngest son. This was no time to be leaving our family and our comfort zone! (Or so I thought)

God didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted. We’ve been in Longview for over 2 years now and there’s a new prayer in my heart;

“Lord, please keep us here, preferably forever if you can swing it.”

Why? What changed?

BELONGING.

It’s a word that means, “a feeling that one belongs”. It’s a feeling we all seek, because it’s something we were all created for. We long for it.

Belonging. It’s something I feel here. And it didn’t happen by accident. The Lord knew I needed a tribe. A group of people that I could do life with, and that’s exactly what I got! I’m so in love with these friends of mine, that I can’t believe I was living without them three years ago! How was I surviving?!

I hope you have that. I hope you have people to challenge you, and spur you on. To love on you and your family, and share in your struggles and burdens, and to let you know that you’re not alone in them. People that can say “me too” to you.

To come get your kids when you’re feeling overwhelmed and weary, to text you when you don’t show up and tell you that you were missed. To bring you food when you’ve had to be in the hospital for three days and the thought of grocery shopping is just more than you can bear.

To pray with you, and for you. To make you die laughing at random texts and GIFs, and to hold you accountable. People you feel safe being 100% honest with. Friends that YOU can build up and cheer up, and speak life to when they forget, because they need you just as much.

I honestly don’t know how I would homeschool, or survive these parenting challenges, or stay the course in general, without these precious people The Lord has put in my life.

It’s truly a wonderful feeling to belong. I needed that, my family needed that.

And so do you.

“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

In His Grace,

Suzanne