It has been a busy weekend, and a reflective one in many ways as well. I started off Friday night with dinner with a dear friend, one whose insight and wisdom always balance me, particularly when it comes to the kids. We caught up after several weeks of not being able to connect, and my Mom's Night Out was really enjoyable and I hadn't realized how much it was needed.
It is a little weird, this homeschooling thing and this new life of mine. I am home all day, and part of me knows I am working at something very hard which takes an enormous amount of time and energy, but at the end of the day laundry is not caught up, groceries were not bought, house is not picked up, and I feel as if I accomplished absolutely nothing. I look around and try to figure out where the hours went, and why I am not more productive. I think it is because the tangible things are not done, and the intangible is what I have spent most of my day on. Teaching leaves you feeling a bit invalidated, as you don't have a completed project to look at when day ends. I don't have a nice neat stack of folded clothes or a full cupboard to show for my time. It is taking some getting used to and some serious internal dialogue to impress upon myself that what I am doing every day of the week IS accomplishing something. I wonder if every homeschooling mom feels like this or just the lame ones like me.
I also had an interesting thought while at dinner Friday night. We were talking about the kids, how much each has changed, and I was commenting upon the dramatic changes in Matthew after one official year of homeschooling. As I mentioned in a previous post about our small church talent show, he is showing far more comfort with being in front of people, talking with others and being more social. This seems totally antithetical to the whole notion of how damaging homeschooling is to a child's social development. But as I contemplated it further, I realized that I think part of the reason is that in school, kids are so afraid to try things for fear of judgment or failure. They can't take the risk of appearing incapable in front of other kids, who will likely remind them of their inadequacies clear up until graduation day. At home, Matthew has been free to just be himself, to pursue interests, and to share new things. Adults will not ridicule a failed attempt, neither will his siblings. It allows space in a safe environment to take risks, and to build confidence and self-assuredness in the process. I think I am officially throwing out the whole socialization argument.
I have prayed a lot in the direction of Kenny and his challenges, and although not fully where I need to be I am coming to new insights and understandings. As I shared with my adopted sister-friend on Saturday night as we discussed this at length, I need to remember that in many ways, the job that is most important has already been successfully completed and will only continue to blossom. The single most important thing to me with all our children is that they grow to be people of compassion and purpose, who know how to thoroughly give and receive love, who act kindly and want to be of service. Of all our kids, Kenny has already graduated from the LaJoy Character School. Everything else is gravy. He will do marvelous things in this world because he will always be walking with God, of that I am absolutely certain. I have decided to trust in that fully. However, the road ahead with him will be our most arduous in academics, and will require the most of me in terms of patience, diligence and dedication. I won't be able to be passive ever about educating him. But I am oh-so-glad that he is home in an insulated and more nurturing environment. You can bet I will be praying daily for wisdom over the coming years, for I will need that in bucket loads. We will make it though, walking a different path and holding hands, both literally and figuratively.
I have been helped in this area specifically by a longtime internet adoption friend who sent me a link today to an article that did amazing things for lifting me up and pointing me in the right direction. So often one of you will thoughtfully send me links, excerpts or personal narratives which inform me and turn my heart a little in the direction it needs to go. To all of you who have been my teachers over the years, I thank you. I always marvel when others email or comment about my supposed "wisdom", as I truly realize if I have gained any wisdom at all through the years, it has been hard earned through experience...and it has been freely offered up to me a million times by all of you. What you have taught me is worthy of that doctoral thesis I will never be writing!!
iveness, our kid is NOT going to end up a statistic. Just as with Josh and RAD...he ended up with the right mommy if stubbornness is the key :-) And I can laugh as I hear my mom's words when I was a child about "I hope you end up with a child as stubborn as you someday!" and realize that all that hard-headedness might just end up being a "plus" as a mom to our particular children.
I am also reflecting a lot on sermons I have to write, and am finding complete joy in the process, along with a good mixture of fear. I really, really want to take a true sermon writing course someday...heck, I'd like to finally take a writing course at all someday...and I think I would gain more confidence. Hmmm...actually taking Matthew's beginner course from the Institute for Excellence in Writing might be of help, I'll have to see if I can fit that in sometime. I never feel as if I have enough "meat" to my sermons, not having the ability that some have to gently weave history, Scripture references, etc. into a sermon as effortlessly as some do. But I am sticking my neck out to do something terribly uncomfortable and learn from it, and I am using it to point out to the kids that we ALL gain from doing that in our lives. I now am schedule to preach 3 weekends in a row starting next weekend, twice to very small congregations I am unfamiliar with. Being the wallflower I tend to be, this is over the top anxiety making stuff, but good for me as well.
I apologize for having such "dry" posts with few photos these past few weeks. This is due to 2 reasons, one being that there are only so many photos I can stand to take of kids crowded around a kitchen table doing school work (Blah!!!!), and the second reason is my camera has never been the same since Dominick dropped it in Kazakhstan and I think we now are going to be forced to replace it (Another Blah!!!). It is being quite finicky, sometimes deciding it flat out will not take a photo even when I press the shutter release button, the flash refuses to pop up when needed, and my lens is making an uncomfortable grinding noise as it sort of auto focuses. We are also having laptop issues, and mine will need to go in for repairs in the next week or two, thankfully under warranty. I am missing the backspace key and had no idea, sadly, how poorly I type and how often I use it until it broke. Also the wi-fi is not working properly, the battery is dead already less than a year since being purchased and we already threw out the power cord because it too was broken. Yea, I seriously need the Humvee of laptops because this baby goes everywhere with me and is far more important to me to carry around than a purse or lipstick :-) Hahaha! So, it seems to be Tech Break Down Week at the LaJoy's.
As I am typing this, it is fun to hear the kids outside with Dominick, who took the afternoon off to finally put together our new plastic shed. It is a larger one with extensions, so we could have a place for bikes and stuff for the winter. The kids are taking "Shed Building 101" and already worked on creating a gravel and wood foundation and are now learning how to read plans, use basic hand tools, etc. I asked at lunch if they thought they would finish it today and Kenny grinned at me and said "Oh come on, Mom...we're LaJoy's...of COURSE we will finish it today!" Hearing their voices just outside my window as they all work together brings a smile to my face...they surely will have it done today! Matthew is up on a step ladder installing sky lights, Angela is right in there with them screwing together trusses, and Olesya is off to the side building something with hammer and nails that she saw from a craft book. Kenny and Josh are in their Wally World cowboy boots thinking they are the cat's meow...this is a hoot!
So I will get back to writing what I need to get written instead of blogging, and will try and get photos up soon if my camera will cooperate a little. We have a fun day planned tomorrow as we were invited to spend the day with our Resource Consultant from school and can some peaches at her house, which is a first for me too! I had no idea how much I would learn while homeschooling, some of it practical, some of it more academic, and somehow all of it still spiritual.
Ooopsss...being called out to view the work, better get moving!