Thursday, December 30, 2010

Better than coffee!

I usually begin my day with a hot cup of tea.  I turn the burner on under my tea kettle while I pour my girls a bowl of cereal.  It's screams at me just as my butt hits the chair after a morning of scurrying around.  (It's 7:30)
My current rotation is Earl Gray and Constant Comment.  They're stored in a tin canister, exactly like my Grandma's.  I grab for a tea bag, without looking, so my morning starts with a pleasant surprise.  Occasionally, I'll accidentally grab a green tea bag, which I always scoff at and throw back in the tin.
I wait for the tea to steep...sometimes I even get the tea bag out of the water before it turns bitter!  Add half and half and a teaspoon of sugar, and you've got happiness in a cup!  (My best friend is cool enough to enjoy it without sugar.)
My mug of choice is a BEAUTIFUL mug made by Jessy Johanneck. While shopping for Christmas presents for my dear hubby and Mother, I spot this beauty on the shelf.  It was the first thing I saw.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but it's got an earthy vanilla bean glaze and great form.  Just like my Grandma, I'm picky about the cups I drink my morning brew from.  So I wrapped my mug up, placed it under the tree, and acted surprised when I opened it.  I thanked Luke and praised him for knowing my style so well.  He nodded.  (Here's to Christmas shopping for yourself!!)
If you have a tea routine, won't you share it with me?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

But what about SOCIALIZATION?

This post goes out to all you veteran homeschoolers.
"But what about SOCIALIZATION?"
According to my research, this question is the single most irritating part of homeschooling.  Forget crabby kids and dirty diapers...
I wanted to take a stab at this issue, head on, so bear with me.
Being relatively new to this homeschooling thing myself, I believe I can relate fairly well to both the mainstream way of thinking, and the slightly more rebellious.
The conversation almost always begins relatively blandly.  Let's paint a scenario.  Church.  Two people in conversation while volunteering.  After the usual introductions, the "So, what do you do?  Do you guys live nearby?" cycle of smalltalk begins.  It's not hard to be agreeable and nod smilingly throughout a conversation like this.  For the most part you're really not talking about anything at all!  Occasionally, however, someone might ask, "So what school do your kids go to?"  It's a relatively bland question, unless it seems, if the response is, "Oh, well actually we homeschool."
SUDDENLY, a REAL conversation begins.  Interest is piqued.
What about homeschooling is really so shocking?  Well everything, if you're in a mainstream frame of mind.  Dozens of thoughts and questions flood a public schooler's brain.  But the one that almost always comes out is, you guessed it, "BUT what about SOCIALIZATION??"  Sometimes this question is truly pure in intentions, sometimes it's being regurgitated--something they've heard in response before, and sometimes the real meaning is, "How are you going to prevent your children from becoming antisocial freaks?"
I was planning on sending my girls to public school up until about a month ago.  So I know all too well about the thoughts and questions and doubts regarding this homeschooling thing.  I was as much a critic as I was in admiration of this way of life.  My main concern was with my own hypothetical shortcomings as a teacher.  Honestly, how could I be qualified to take on the responsibility of educating my children?  I didn't go to college for this--in fact, I'm a bona fide college dropout!
It wasn't until I took the plunge that I really started to examine the validity of these concerns.
My resolutions go something like this:
"Ya, I'm not a college educated teacher, but you can't tell me that I can't do a better job catering to my two children's needs and aptitudes better than a teacher with 24 restless children in her care."
(How will I know what to teach?)  "If you've done any research on homeschooling, you'll uncover an entire subculture filled with people who have enormous talents.  There's no shortage of brilliant curriculum.  I will choose the ones that fit our family best."
(What about ME time?)  "Well, I don't have much of that to begin with, but ultimately, its not about me.  I'm sacrificing some of me to benefit them.  I think that's what most of us are striving to do anyway.  I always find more peace trying to be my kids' hero than I do trying to be my own."
And somewhere near the VERY bottom of my list, I do address the socialization issue.  My best friend put it this way:  (in regards to awkward homeschooled kids)  "Awkward homeschooled kids usually come from awkward parents."  It's simple but so true!  If you went to public school, you know that there are awkward kids there, too, right?  I can name every socially awkward kid in my graduating class, because, ya, they did stand out.  The same holds true for their socially awkward homeschooling counterparts!  How would you know a homeschooler from a public schooler unless they made a proclamation?  Awkward kids happen.  Period.  Let's keep in mind that these people probably had a hand in developing the computer you're staring at, along with countless other developments in history.
(As for social exposure...)  "My kids have friends in church, playmates at the YMCA, family friends, and absolutely awesome mentors--people who I'm excited get to have a part in shaping my children.  I can assure you that my kids will have no shortage of opportunities to be 'social'."
(Why would you want to homeschool?)  This is something I've been turning over for weeks.  What's going to be my response?  I want something quick, unlike this blog post.  Something a bit witty, and something that shows that the topic is open for discussion, but that I'm firm in my standing.  So far, I've got these responses:  "We want our kids to be REALLY smart."  And, "The schools in our area just aren't all that great."  And on the somewhat more rebellious side, I'd like to say, "We're hoping to turn our kids into weirdos," "I just never want for my kids to leave me."  I think most fitting, though, is "Homeschooling allows us to help shape our children into the people God wants them to be."
And you just can't touch that.

Homeschool is cool?

Well, to make a long story short, Luke and I have decided to homeschool our girls.  I've toyed with the idea for at least a year or so...and I was heavily influenced by a good friend of mine.  She's sort of my hero--kind of the person I'd like to be, and sometimes on a good day, I'm ALMOST like her.  I admire her dedication to her family, her talent, her wisdom, and I value her friendship.  It's like God has set me up with an amazing mentor who He knew I needed.
I watched in awe and curiosity.  Some of the thoughts that went through my head were:
"How do you teach four kids of different ages, abilities, and interests?"
"What about 'me time'?"  
"How do you know what to teach?"
"How do you know that your child isn't behind?"
"How on earth DO you homeschool?"
So for a long time, I just had a "well good for her!" sort of attitude.  As for the Holker house, no.  I was honestly looking forward to letting my big girl Celia on the bus for Kindergarten.  
But then, we signed Celia up for preschool.  It really was bittersweet dropping her off that first day...  I knew she would be fine, and so would I, but DOD (dear oldest daughter) and I have been together from the start.  All almost five years of her life.  I found myself grilling the preschool teacher.
"Are there any children in DOD's class who have behavioral issues?  She's very impressionable."  (As are most four and a half year olds)
"Would you say your class is more like playtime or will you be using a curriculum?  Because we can have playtime at our house for $125 less a month."
I had a sort of out of body experience.  Who was this person interrogating a sweet preschool teacher?  I was surprised at my own no-nonsense approach.  Poor Miss April must have thought that I was going to be one of "those" parents.  Maybe she's right!
Soon afterward, I began to feel bombarded by art projects (and I have quite the little artist!), worksheets, HOMEWORK, and snack sign up sheets, and field trip fees.  
And for reasons I'll probably detail at a later date, I started to feel a twinge of dissatisfaction with this whole "off to school, see you in 13 years!" lifestyle we were about to embark on.  

And so, after a trip to see above mentioned friend, freshly immersed in awe and admiration, a new feeling swept over me.  Acceptance.  The Holker family is going to be a homeschooling family.  Gulp.

First time for everything!

Wow, a blog?  What next?
This might actually be a good thing.  Being a SAHM (apparently, this is short for "stay at home mom") is a full time, 24 hour, 7 day a week gig.  A lot of my day is spent cleaning up spilled milk, doing (avoiding) laundry, planning or making meals, and yes, wiping bottoms.  It's not glamorous, I don't get a lot of pats on the back, but what I DO get are hugs and kisses, and a joy that comes from knowing that my girls will see that I'm here for them.  Forever.
For people like me who are social extroverts, this lifestyle can feel a little stifling at times.  We might only get a 15 minute adult conversation a day, and it's usually accompanied by a symphony of little voices in the background.  It's hard not to pounce on my husband when he walks in the door at night.  There's so much to tell him!  I do generally get a "HI, honey, how was your day?!" in, but it's closely followed by me verbally vomiting on him all the happenings of our day.  He's a patient man for putting up with me.
Anyway, I'm hoping that this little blog adventure will be a good outlet.  I get to ramble on, just as everyone expects me to, use my big girl words, and perhaps the most beautiful part of this is that anyone who reads my blog will be doing so on their own accord!
So if you're the type of person who enjoys verbal vomit, I think you'll like "My Words of Love."