Wednesday, July 30, 2014

- Really, homeschool? Really! -

Our family’s decision to homeschool has been a bit of a shocker; even to us.  We never would have imagined ourselves walking this path before having children. 
And then we became parents and we did a lot of things we said we would never do.  “We're never going to let our child have a nukky past age two!”  "We will not talk in made up baby words." “We will not resort to bribery.”  “Our children will be intrinsically motivated!” Ummm, well, you know then life happened and reality set in and parenting was much harder than we anticipated.  We’ve eaten our words many times as parents; as humans who feel passionately and sometimes strongly about various topics.  

Something else happened too, parenting was also much more fulfilling and amazing than we expected it to be.  As a couple we have had many in-depth conversations about how we want to raise our children and what we want life to be like for our family both inside and outside of our home.  We’ve discovered that parenting is less about the children and more about the parents.  Motherhood is less about the children and more about the mother.  Fatherhood is less about the children and more about the father.  Nothing in our lives have made us examine and discover who we are and who we want to be more than becoming parents and then suddenly needing to lead by example…to not only tell your children how to act and serve, but to show them by living it out daily in the both the mundane moments and the exceptional moments. 

There are both pros and cons to every single situation we will ever choose for our children.

We feel nervous, excited, grateful and certain about our decision to homeschool.  In all honesty, there is a very slight fear that we might one day regret our choice.  However, we feel that is very unlikely and find comfort in knowing that this choice isn’t permanent.  Though we have hopes to homeschool long term, we will continue to pray, discuss, reflect and will revisit our decision each year.  This is one of the biggest parenting decisions we have ever made.  A decision that we came to partially by leap of faith and conviction and partially by a desire to lead a certain lifestyle...that just so happens to be a little different from the norm.  

Over the past year and a half, we have spent countless hours praying, researching, and talking to parents and educators in our area's private Christian schools, an international school,  a Montessori school,  and even a virtual charter school.  We have talked to homeschooling parents and their middle and high school aged children about both the successes and challenges.  We talked to passionate homeschoolers and to homeschoolers who tried and then decided it wasn’t the right choice for their family anymore.  We interviewed and toured our local public school.  We gained a lot of valuable insight and see the value that each setting has to offer.  We have not come to this decision lightly. 

Sometimes, you have to say no to a perfectly good option, so you can say yes to what really is best for your family. We are confident that homeschooling is the best choice for our family at this time.  

Deep breath…we have chosen to homeschool.

Once upon a time, we scoffed at the idea of homeschooling.  We were opinionated on a subject matter we knew very little about. We clung to old fashioned stereotypes.  We didn’t take the time to understand and learn about it. 

Since then we have learned to never say never.  Ever.  

For a while, we’ve felt that God was tugging at us.  Leading us down a different path.  Telling us to slow down and be intentional with our time, our resources; with each other.  We tried to ignore the tugging.  Tried to slow down by setting boundaries and saying "no thank you" to invitations for get togethers so we didn't feel as if we were constantly trying to "keep up with the Joneses"; constantly trying to play catch up on housework and quality time with our little family unit. We tried to slow down without making any drastic career changes or non-mainstream schooling choices.  We worried a little too relentlessly about how we would be perceived by others.  Worried about our ability to pursue this lifestyle, about our ability to perform up to the expectations of ourselves and others; throwing out excuses without ever seriously considering it.   

After a while we gave in and considered the idea of becoming a homeschooling family.  Prior to that decision, we had already discussed becoming a one income family.  What would that look like, what sacrifices would we need to make, what are the pros and cons, how long before we would be able to safely and comfortably make that leap?  In case you were wondering, the “what would that look like” became very appealing, the pros won out by a long shot and financial sacrifices that do need to be made seem a small price to pay.  Now, after very careful discernment, planning, prayer, and budgeting discipline (tracking everything and aggressively working toward our goals) over the past years we are finally at a point where we are comfortable with our decision to become a one income homeschooling family.

Insert brief moments of doubt balanced with  moments of excitement and anticipation for what our future holds. 

Educational preferences are different for everyone. Situations are different for everyone. School can be an amazing place too.  We are not discrediting it for others at all, or for us, or forever.  There are so many educators we know, respect and cherish as people.  We can’t thank them enough for all that they do, continue to do, and have done for children. It’s a sacrifice and a calling for them. We admire how they pour their time and energy into caring for and teaching children.  We are grateful to live in a place where we have the freedom to choose the educational path that best fits individual families.

If you are curious about something in regards to our decision to homeschool, please ask.  We welcome sincere and respectful questions!  (It sure beats that awkward smile that people keep giving us because they just don’t know how to react or what to say or because we are kind of freaking them out a little…but don't worry; we get it, really!  We’ve been there, done that too.)


"Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole (family).  My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.  Making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”    ~Maya Angelou

-  The world is our classroom! Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL  -


Clementine is truly a gift from God!  We've only had for one night and already we have been blessed!

Clementine is a 3 month old kitten that we adopted from our local animal shelter.  Her mommy was someone else's pet and that someone else wanted to find other families to care for the kittens.  She is as sweet as can be and is dearly loved already.  We aren't exaggerating when we state that we think she may be the sweetest kitten we've ever met! She loves to snuggle, comes running to us when we hold our hands out to her and doesn't mind being picked up and handled by little hands! We have two little girls in our house who are over the moon in love!  

- Clementine's story -
It all started about a year ago when Big Miss first started talking about a kitty.  "Mommy and Daddy since God is telling us "not yet" for a baby, can we get a kitty?"  We have been experiencing secondary infertility as we try for our 3rd baby and though this has been a painful experience we know that God has been using this to draw us nearer to Him and His plan for our lives.  The girls know that God always answers every prayer, and that He answers them in 3 ways...yes, not yet or no.  As we stumble to grow our family, unable to determine whether or not the answer to our question is not yet or no, we have faith that God knows what is best for our family.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  ~ Jeremiah 29:11

In response to Big Miss' question about getting a pet we discussed, with both of the girls, the amount of care, attention and responsibility pets require.  We also talked about character traits that both Big and Little Miss would need to develop before we could bring a pet into our home.  We told them that  mommy and daddy would be watching to see that they were being responsible at home by taking care of their toys and belongings and assisting with housework.  We also talked about the need to be gentle, kind and obedient.  Then over the past year our family continued to discuss whether or not we thought bringing a kitten into our home would be a good idea for not only our family, but also for a kitten.  In the course of this past year the girls have grown, matured and demonstrated responsibility, kindness, gentleness and obedience.  We can offer a warm home, adequate attention and care and an abundance of love, so we agreed that we were ready to make the jump from talking about getting a kitten to actually getting a kitten.

God is so in the details of Clementine's story.  Throughout the many discussions we have had about growing our family and preparing to welcome a kitten we have seen God work on the girls' hearts and their love for Christ deepen.  We  have seen such growth in their prayers and it just warms our hearts.

As we shopped for kitten supplies it down-poured and hailed and we were on a bit of a time crunch to meet daddy and head to the animal shelter.  The girls prayed "dear God please stop the rain for us to get to our car".  He answered their prayers with a "yes' and then as soon as we got all buckled into the van it started to pour again.  The girls were thrilled that God answered their prayers immediately, so they rejoiced and praised God saying "thank you God for stopping the rain"!  We did talk prior and we would have praised God even if He answered no and we had to get a bit wet.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

We had been praying for a while that God would lead us to a warm, snuggly lap kitten who wouldn't be overly shy.  We prayed for the health of the kitten. We prayed for us as owners to show love and compassion, to be gentle and patient.  We prayed that God would show us our kitten right away, but that if their wasn't a good fit at the shelter that He would reveal that to us and we would be able to leave without disappointment, but rather with gratitude that we were able to snuggle kittens that needed snuggling.  God so delivered!  Prior to going to the shelter we had researched what we should look for in regards to health of the kitten and how we should interact with them to try and determine what their temperament might be like.  When we arrived at the shelter their were plenty of kittens to choose from, but as soon as we saw Clementine we were drawn to her beautiful orange color.  We asked to take her into one of the small meeting rooms where you can spend time getting to know animals and immediately fell in love.  She passed all of the physical checks we had done an exceeded our expectations in temperament with the activities we did.  We had predetermined to take at least two kittens into the meeting room to compare and avoid just falling in love with the first kitty we snuggled, but we changed our minds.  We were already in love with her and knew she was the right kitten for our family!  Thankfully we decided when we did because as we were filling our the paperwork another family took Clementine into the meeting room; an oops on the staff's part because there wasn't communication that Clementine's adoption was in process.  That other family also wanted to adopt her (she is so loveable) and was very disappointing when they found out they couldn't.  We pray they found the right kitten for their family!

Alas, here is our Clementine!  We are still unwrapping her gifts and rejoicing!
- In the meeting room, getting to know Clementine! -
- Adoption papers complete, on our way home! -
- Oh my darlin', oh my darlin', oh my darlin' Clementine! -

-These 3 will create so many memories! -
- We are in awe of how social Clementine was on her first night home.  She runs to us excitedly when we stretch out our hands to her! -
-  She is not at all fearful of the girls going right up to her and touching her and kissing her!
- Clementine reaching her paw out to Amelia as if to say "I love you"! "
- Clementine lets the girls pick her up and slide her over, she has such a beautiful temperament! -