End of Our First Year of Homeschooling

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In the next few days we will officially call it an end of our first year of homeschooling. And I am going to celebrate! For so many reasons. A little over a year ago, as parents, Andrei and I made the decision that for the upcoming year I would homeschool our oldest, Nadya (1st grade) and have Nolan do some pre-K work.

Nadya was attending a private Christian school that we absolutely loved.   They were so incredibly helpful and we got a lot of scholarship money.   In spite of that, we had moved farther away, on pretty much the opposite side of town and I was driving 50+miles a day, that’s 250 mile a week for school. As we all know, gas is not cheap these days and that alone was adding up. That one expense would help out with our budget. Besides that, I just genuinely WANTED to give homeschooling a try. I must confess, ten years ago I would have laughed in your face if you had told me I would homeschool my children. But I thought who better than me to teach them while they are still little and young and hang on every word I say. I just saw it as an opportunity to really share a lot with my kids and instill in them principles I want them to know along with reading, writing and math.

So how did our year of homeschooling go?

There were definitely some tense moments. There were tears shed, teeth gritted, days ended abruptly, and harsh words spoken (by me and children). There was frustration and fear – had I made the right choice? But there was also grace and truth. Apologies spoken and hugs given. Wonder and total abandonment of our plans to enjoy whatever exciting topic we found ourselves intrigued by – (who knew Nadya and I would both want to live in the underground houses in Tunisia). And, there was a lot of learning. Thinking back on where Nadya was the first day in terms of reading and how well she is doing it now gives me great pride and joy. Nolan (4) has learned so much just from listening in and surprises me sometimes with the things he knows. I learned their strengths and weaknesses. I learned even more about my own. Homeschooling, or really parenting in general, is truly a work of sanctification in the parent. If I ever thought I had a temper, homeschooling brought it out even more. Same with impatience, laziness, lack of discipline, selfishness and I could go on. Due to all those bad qualities in me, my kids saw it and I hated that. There were also days of very little academic training but more character training. But it brought us closer together. Mama had to apologize for wasting the morning by reading (though, it is good for kids to see us relish a good book, there were definitely days I escaped in that.)Mama had to apologize for raising her voice. You get the picture. But we also got to celebrate some pretty fun milestones together. We learned some cool science facts together. And we had deep conversations that I’m not sure would have surfaced had we not had all day everyday together.

With the good and the bad we have decided to homeschool again this coming year. Surprisingly our reasons this time around a bit different and I’ve learned and grown a lot that will lead to changes I will make in our upcoming year. There are also things going on, potential travelling that is playing a role. I’ll share about those later, but for now, I am going to enjoy these last few days as we wrap up a pretty incredible year in my books. I am so glad I did this.

If you’ve ever had the smallest yearning to homeschool yours I encourage you to really think long and hard about it. It will be hard, there will be days that you decide you were indeed crazy to try it, but for us it was the right decision and it has been well worth it. Let me say that I in no way think homeschooling or even Christian schooling are the only options. There are so many options when it comes to schooling these days and I think each family has decide what is best for them. So many people have said, “Oh I could never homeschool my kids.” To that I say, If I can you can. If the desire is there, I think there’s a reason for that and you should consider it.

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The Past Year

The past year has been a big one. There hasn’t been a big event or even series of events that have made it significant (other than the fact I entered the 30s). No, it has been all the little things that have changed me.  I’ll share the full story of my journey into minimalism soon, but I believe that it was what triggered the importance of this year.  I began purging stuff from our home, which turned into purging things from my life – habits, quirks, thoughts, lies.  Those are not as easy as tossing out the seventh pair of scissors.   I had become bogged down by weight of our things and the responsibility they bring, the stress they cause.  The inner clutter had hidden the part of me that used to dream, dare, go and be. I was a big mess of stress, desperately clinging to anything that would bring joy, and honestly there was little of that.

As I began peeling away layers of junk I began to find the old me, or rather perhaps the real me.  I realized I wasn’t sure I would recognize myself if I met me on the street.  What happened to the girl that told every.single.person she met about the people in Belarus?  What happened to the carefree, go anywhere, do anything girl?  What happened to the girl that would sneak outside and enjoy every drop of sunshine she could? What happened to the mom that would sit for more than 5 minutes to just play whatever came into her little ones’ imaginations? Yes, I now have kids and I think there is a reasonable amount of scaling back of adventures that comes with that or rather a different type of adventures. But even with them I was holding back, or maybe shrinking away from living wholeheartedly I could feel that I had become a little lost.  Deep down I still love the people of Belarus and wanted people to know about them.  I still care about the homeless, the orphan, the widows and wanted to do something to help. I wanted to love Andrei and the kids fiercely and soak up the days. Even the hard ones. I want people to know Jesus. Maybe I had let the inner and outer junk push Jesus out.  Very early on in all the purging, last April I believe, is when I also realized that this journey was indeed a spiritual one.  And so, I stopped and I prayed and I began to seek out Jesus in all of this.

The minimalism also led to a bit of a career change for me. I had been discontent for a few months with the direct sales business I was in and had been praying for a change.  I had never heard of Noonday Collection until last July, but as soon as I found them, I was sold.  When you start getting rid of things you also begin to be careful of what you bring in.  Noonday Collection works with artisans in impoverished area by giving them meaningful work in the creation of the products.  The artisans are paid a living wage and this model is impacting whole communities. I knew this was a company I would LOVE to share with people and so this girl who never had time to throw on jewelry began layering up with the best of them and telling the stories of the artisans. It felt so good to advocate on their behalf and to help be their voice in the world. Since discovering Noonday and the many other like-minded companies I began to really consider where things are coming from, who is making it and how they are treated.  Honestly, I have not and probably won’t ever completely shop fair-trade/ethically made companies (is that even possible?) but it is now something I consider when I need to make a purchase.

Lastly, I think the last year has brought a bit more thoughtfulness to my days and how I am living in ALL the moments. I’ve become much more careful about the commitments and activities I take on. Even if something is good that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing I could be doing. The reducing of the things we have in our home has decreased the time I spend on those things whether its cleaning them, organizing them, fixing them, etc. A few months ago I had the biggest health scare of my life and though I was optimistic and had a feeling that I was fine-and I was- it still makes you stop and think for a moment about the what if it’s bad news? My oldest now being 7, I’ve realized there’s only a few short precious years of her truly being a “child.” It is going so quickly and I want to relish in these carefree days of her being little. So I encourage you today, to slow down, after all it is Sunday. Take in the sunset, go for a walk, or just sit down to enjoy your kids. Pick up that paint brush that you haven’t in months or maybe even years. What is something that makes you feel alive that you haven’t made time for? Share in comments if you like.

Welcome!

Hi there!  I know some of you may be wondering why in the world I would start a blog.  And for months I’ve been asking myself that same question but I’ve had this lingering desire.  It hasn’t gone away and so I thought I would take the jump.  Fears and insecurities continue to pop up, but I’m old enough to know that those are no reason to stop.  Others of you may be asking what’s the big deal.  And honestly, starting a blog is not a big deal.  There are thousands out there and will probably be thousands more.  Being a homeschooling mom is a bit lonely at times or isolating.  Sometimes I just want to talk to someone or share something with someone and then a precious little life will interrupt and my moment to share is gone. So this is a way to intentionally share my story.  What is going on in my life, I hope, will serve to encourage, help, inspire, and maybe even occasionally educate anyone who comes across it.  

A few disclaimers here at the birth of my blog.  For the record, I am not and am in no way claiming to be a good writer! Recently my kids and I read A Year with Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill.  Its a charming story about a British woman who goes to teach in a village in Alaska for a year, told through the eyes of a ten year old.   Their previous teachers had always harped on the fact that their English was terrible.  But bless Miss Agnes’ heart because she told those children that there were lots of right ways to talk and said that “what we talked in the village was right…but there’s another way to talk, and that’s what we want to talk when we go to the city or go away to school, and that’s what she said she was going to teach us.”  Can I get an amen for all the displaced eastern Kentuckians?!  I’ve been out of the mountains for twelve years and I still get a confused look or comment for the occasional strange word or phrase that slips out.   We’ll save the topic of my kids’ crazy vocabulary for another day. Someday they will realize what a crazy mix their parents are!
As for the direction of this blog, you can expect to hear about my family and adventures with homeschooling and parenting, my wanderlust and the places I love, my journey into minimalism and simplicity, my Noonday Collection business and my heart to change the world through helping others, and you can expect to hear about Jesus. Though I have not seen Him, I love Him (1 Peter 1:8).
Much love & thanks for joining me!
Robin