Okay. After that post a few days ago introducing you to some of our homeschooling philosophies, I'll tell you how we put it into practice.
I won't dazzle you with schedules of getting up at 5:00a.m. with both kids having practiced the piano by 6:00, and conjugated their Latin verbs by 7:00. There are wonderful homeschooling parents who are just that disciplined but it would beg the question about balance in another way. You know by now what my opinion is on that issue: no one does it all.
Without a doubt, there are some who absolutely seem to do it all and have great kids and success to prove it. And there a few, especially those of the "unschooling" philosophy, who would think education just "happens" to children while living life; it doesn't take concerted effort. I have found very little compelling evidence to recommend that opinion.
Most of what is lovely in the world, and which would culminate in full blossom, requires exposure and struggle. But education is only partially available in a textbook. Much of what would add to the loveliness of life takes place in the spiritual, emotional, and social realms. Our lives have been full there because almost EVERYthing interests us. We have gone down more trails and rabbit holes than Alice in Wonderland. We read everything - alone and aloud, turn over all rocks, ask questions endlessly, dissect bugs and ideas, and never cease to be awed and amazed at anything God has created in all of nature. Our only lament is there isn't enough time to take it all in.
And with that said, I have been known to acknowledge I am my children's worst influence. I just get them on task and focused when I say, "Did I tell you guys about THIS?" or "Oh my gosh! Look what I found!" and off we go. I like to think it has taught them flexibility. (More than likely it has taught them to handle frustrating people!) But we certainly haven't lacked for variety and excitement. I used to think of these things as "teachable moments." Not anymore. For lots of years now I have been convinced that everything about life IS a teachable moment. If anything, I have to stop myself from over analyzing all that crosses my path.
I want them to know the beauty and learning in simplicity; of taking in the whole, and not just the sum of the parts; of appreciating, from the heart, the riot of colors in a field of flowers, or the stillness of a mountain sunset as the earth burrows deeply into her cloak of darkness. Two plus two will balance the checkbook, but the poetry built into nature by God, will balance the soul.
And God's Word, learned early and often, will call them and prepare them for an eternal relationship with him and cause them to discover his purposes for their lives. My prayer for them is that, being filled by him, they are overflowing with compassion and hope toward others; that they would be bold in their faith, but not sanctimonious, which is so very repelling and injuring. And that they would never forget to extend the beauty of grace, knowing it was only through grace that they, themselves, found true love and belonging.
And in trying to do all these things I think are important, I have fallen down.....a LOT. I can't tell you how many times I have wondered what in the world I was doing and if all these threads would eventually be sewn into something recognizable in the hands of an inept seamstress. Life interrupted us as it does everyone, in one way or another. Books would be sidelined by illness, or upset, or the needs of others. We certainly weren't free from heartache or drama through the years, or relationship and family trials. But I hung on to my thread and my plan, though it was tattered and frayed many times.
And that plan included where I wanted to see my kids end up. Not what they would be doing, but preparing them to be able to do whatever it is they are supposed to do. And that also meant talking about college early. It wasn't so cast in stone that nothing else would do. But it was discussed as a natural progression just like sixth grade, or ninth, or twelfth.
By sixth grade I was calling colleges to see what their expectations were. I don't do well with things piled on me at the last minute and I wanted time to think, prepare, make mistakes, change my mind.
I was extremely blessed to follow in the footsteps of a very organized homeschooling mom (thanks, Cynthia!) who knew how to blaze trails and open doors. She kept me apprised of websites and current information for different institutions and her daughter was Hannah-Bo's inspiration. (She will graduate from a prestigious college soon - I'm not naming it to protect her privacy - with many honors and an engineering degree, having received a full ride scholarship.)
I downloaded requirements so I had plenty of time to plan. Requirements had to be met in Foreign Language, Social Studies, Math, English, etc. We couldn't afford to find out at the last minute that an institution wouldn't be open to us because we hadn't prepared. Music was a big part of our schooling and both kids play at least one instrument and have been involved in large choirs for years, as well as competitions for both of these activities.
When I was out of my league in any particular area, and I knew I would be as soon as Hannah hit Algebra II, I utilized the community college. Through another friend I found out about our local university offering classes for a low fee to high performing students. So HB took art classes, humanities, and trigonometry in her junior and senior years, through those colleges. (It had the lovely benefit of also earning her college credits for these courses.) We availed ourselves of standardized testing, SAT 9 & 10, PSAT, CHSPE, AP, and SAT because I doubted most institutions would be impressed with a mother issuing her child A's. I knew competition required a level playing field. They would have to perform well on these tests, just like any other student, to be considered for acceptance or scholarships.
And I have to say, I pushed scholarships hard.
We are not people of means with only one income. The Wild Man isn't there yet being in the seventh grade but when Hannah-Bo was just starting high school, we had a series of serious talks. An honors college she wanted to attend had stringent requirements. I wanted to know if this was her goal or ours. If it was ours, we needed to reduce the pressure and look in different directions. But if it was hers, I would pour on the coal and refuse to let her fail, even if she wanted to quit. After careful thought and prayer for a month, she announced it was definitely her goal. She lived to occasionally lament that proclamation when the going got intensely tough and my lecturing and expounding would begin. (I might hold the Olympic Gold Medal in the Lecture and Expounding event. Just ask my kids.)
But a little over a week ago, those regrets long forgotten and the tape of the high school finish line in her sites, we got a knock on the door.
Our mail lady handed us an envelope with a "Certified Mail" label stuck to it. We had to sign. Signing wasn't as hard as breathing.
We had applied to the college she so wanted to go to and had been awaiting the results for over two months. The application procedure was involved and the requirements were exacting. The competition was stiff with over 550 students from all over applying for 50 total scholarships. Yes, she had high scores and met other requirements. But so did a great many students. God had to open the door.
We looked at the envelope and at each other. "It's here," I said. I'm so eloquent under stress.
"I can't open it!" she pronounced. "I don't want to know! What if it's a no?!"
"Okay." I responded. "I'll tell you what.....I'll just slit it open and we'll lay it on the table and wait until we decide what to do." Like, what ELSE would we do but have to look at it eventually?
"Okay," she agreed. "But don't look at it!" In the meantime, The Wild Man said, "For Pete's sake! What do ya mean you don't want to open it? Haven't you been waiting for this forever?!"
Yes, but of course, reason had nothing to do with THIS moment.
"And let's do this," I offered. "Let's pray. Let's pray that no matter what it says, we have the right attitude. Let's remember that everything will be the same after we look no matter what it says. God has a plan for you and nothing can change that." And so we prayed. And then we paced. And then we looked at each other again.
"Do you want me to look and tell you?" I asked, "or do you want to look and tell me?"
"Let's do it together," she decided.
Very slowly and carefully we slid a group of papers out of the envelope. We looked at each other as we lifted the top flap of the letter. The first word we saw in bold, black letters was, "Congratulations!" and then we screamed and we jumped and we screamed again. And then we shook and we cried and we screamed even more. And then we called Grizzly to tell him. He was laying out some high voltage wire and standing in a trench. We shouted and sobbed the news, and as he stood there, all dirty and manly and sweaty, and proud, he cried, too. The culmination of a very long dream....a blessing poured out on us.
And that's my big news. We are still smiling. She has received a full ride scholarship. College paid for all four years. Dorms, too. A laptop, and she gets to pick it out. And for a girl who is a complete computer geek, that's a really big deal. We are humbled. We are speechless. We are awed that out of 50 students, she will be the only one representing the homeschool community. We are GRATEFUL.
And there you have it. I'm sorry it took so long to tell you. I have struggled with how to tell it. I want it to be an encouragement to anyone who would want to travel this path with their own child, and not a moment of seeming to say, "Hey, look at us! Aren't we great?!"
We are SO blessed to have friends to call and who celebrated with us. One friend wanted to bring Starbucks but we declined because we had so many phones calls to make (thanks anyway, Teresa!). Another friend screamed as loud and as long as we did and then, didn't ask (smart woman!), but jumped into the car, apron and all, and with her three kids raced to our house to jump up and down with us. She also brought a gift she had been saving in anticipation of good news. It had cookies and these socks inside:
These are her three kiddos and my two - The Wild Man is on the far left, and feeling proud of his sister.
These are her three kiddos and my two - The Wild Man is on the far left, and feeling proud of his sister.
And Hannah-Bo teaches a writing class for elementary homeschool students and a dear mom friend made cupcakes and the girls made this sign:
Does it get better then having so much love and happiness sent your way?!
Blessings abound and we are thankful. Thanks to all of you for reading and caring. I can't wait to hear all of your stories. I love to visit your blogs and see the terrific ways you parent and how funny and precious and special your kids are. Or how your path looks completely altered from mine where kids, or marriage, or life is concerned but finding all types of richness in sharing our journeys together. Thank you for being my friends.....old, and new.
With Love and a prayer for blessings in your life,