I’ve Been A Mom For 8 Years

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Eight years ago, a tiny baby boy introduced me to the maternal instinct by arriving into the world and screaming at the top of his lungs day and night. It was a rude introduction to all things maternal and it did not help that most people around me kept giving me advice and criticizing my choices directly or indirectly. Thankfully, my husband and I constitute a great team and, with God’s help, we made it through the first year just fine.

Then, two more years went by, faster than you can say “I think I want to homeschool.” We had a baby girl. She completed us. I became a mother all over again and discovered it is actually possible to love two children just as madly as you loved the first one when he was your only and you thought, “I could not love another child just as much as this one.”

Back to my eldest. So nine months of worrying came to an abrupt end on the Sunday we turned the clocks back one hour, eight years ago. Just like that, I was a mother. Nobody prepared me for the extent of the changes in my life. I read many books about pregnancy, but not that many about motherhood. Honestly, somebody should warn women about the maternal instinct. I had no idea what it was. Hmmm… do I sense the beginning of another book idea?

Pumpkin tea and cupcake

Pumpkin tea and a cupcake – for me and my mom moment

When I kept holding a screaming baby and walking him up and down the halls, I surprised myself. Then, the realization sank in: this must me what they call maternal instinct. Through potty training, picture book reading, swim lessons, and the terrific two and threes and fours, I got acquainted with my fifth gear – the mommy gear – a.k.a. the maternal instinct. Simply put, the power (the urge, really) to put my needs aside and focus on his needs first.  Continue reading »

When guilt overwhelmed me during the hours he spent in a Mother’s Day Out program, while I frantically worked on chores at home or ran errands in town, I stared the maternal instinct down and said, “There is nothing wrong with a little break for mommy. Besides, it’s not like I am watching soap operas or taking a bubble bath while he is in there.”

And yet, this thing would not let go of me. “Get your son back home,” it seemed to whisper in a still, small voice.

Slowly but surely, my eldest got older and approached school age. I started researching school options and what I found was not bad at all. But, again, maternal instinct kicked in and said, “You cannot put him in a building seven hours a day in the name of education. You must homeschool.”

So I did. I am cutting out a lot of details, because I have covered them several times on my blog. I became a mom eight years ago. Maternal instinct has turned me into a homeschooling, albeit writing mom. I never saw it coming. Growing up, I did not even want children. All I wanted was a career as a French and English professor or translator. In a way, of course, I have made that dream come true through homeschooling.

This year, I made cupcakes for his friends in the Adventurer Club (instead of a LEGO cake like last year). We will have a private celebration as a family of four as he wakes up on his birthday. His extended family will also celebrate him later on. My mom sent him a gift all the way from Spain, which will probably arrive next week. Don’t you love these birthday weeks children seem to have these days? We only got a birth-day, not a whole birth-week.

As I sat down, tired from baking and frosting 48 cupcakes, I drank some pumpkin tea and had a cupcake in honor of me, the mother. I had a quiet moment to myself, to reminisce about the last eight years and how my life has changed because I became a mother. Homeschooling was not even an option in my married-without-children mind. But once I knew my son, my first born, for about three years, I could not separate from him for seven hours a day. I drank my tea and ate my cupcake while thinking, “Happy birthday to my son! And happy mom anniversary to me!”


My Husband Does Not Want Me to Homeschool

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To all mothers who feel called to homeschool but cannot, because their husbands do not approve:

I don’t know what is going on in your marriage. I have no idea how you two make decisions. But I know that God can intervene, based on what happened to me.

Here’s my story in short:

1. I did not want to homeschool.

2. God changed my heart.

3. I wanted to homeschool.

4. My husband did not.

5. I prayed.

6. God changed my husband’s heart.

7. We homeschool.

Want details? Read on.

Don’t want details? Skip to the last paragraph.

Once I decided homeschooling would be the best for the children, I tried talking to my husband about it, to no avail. We covered many angles. We turned the homeschooling lifestyle inside out. Finally, he decided we would not homeschool.

It wasn’t about the money. It was about:

  • the unknown
  • the weirdness factor
  • the fear our children would resent us
  • the conviction our children would turn out as social misfits
  • [insert the usual arguments against homeschooling from people who don’t have much information about it]

I got really, really sad. I felt I lost a dream.

As I counseled with a homeschooling mom, she said, “Adriana, the decision to homeschool happens in a split second. All the odds may be against it in your family. Then, something happens. God makes it possible. God changes hearts, you know?”

She was right.

Dad reading to his son and daughter

My husband reads to our children every day. This routine has already created numerous memories.

Just as I resigned myself to visions of PTA meetings and 5K race fundraisers at my children’s future school – because my children were only one and four at the time – my husband said, “OK, let’s homeschool…”

What changed his mind? He said he had this thought: “If homeschooling the kids means so much to my wife, why not let her do it? What harm can it do? If the kids get behind, they can catch up once we put them in school. If she gets overwhelmed with it, it will be her decision to quit. I won’t be the bad guy.”

The Holy Spirit was reasoning with him. I could not win the argument. God could, and He did. My husband listened. Now that’s the key.

God knows your husband. Pray and wait patiently on the Lord. If your husband’s heart does not change about homeschooling, God knows about it. He understands. God knows your heart and He will note your disappointment. Hang in there!


Thanksgiving and Homeschooling

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This time of the year, I reminisce about how, just before Thanksgiving, when my son was one, my heart told me I would homeschool. I did not understand it right then. Hindsight is 20/20. But I should have seen it coming, this desire to homeschool. I should have known it was going to grow and take over my life like few things have conquered me.

You see, five years ago, I scoured the Internet for “Thanksgiving crafts.” I made a list of supplies and bought them dutifully. My son watched me as I printed, measured, cut and pasted construction paper. Of course he could not help. He was one. I made this:

Pilgrim Boy Thanksgiving Craft

Pilgrim boy Thanksgiving craft I made in 2008

A pilgrim boy. I also printed out two Indian children – a boy and a girl – for him to color. Hopefully, they are in the box of early craft projects I decided to keep. My son grabbed the crayon and scribbled all over the coloring page like only a one-year-old can. I felt so proud.

That should have been my first clue that I wanted to homeschool. No preacher or friend pressured me into it. Alas, I don’t read my own heart-directed actions well. At the time, staying home with my child for a few years seemed like the most I could do before running back into the work force. I grew up thinking that exchanging my skills for money was the only dignified way to live my life. Motherhood fulfilled me, but I was programmed to want a career, too.

I discovered that the more time I spent with my son, the less I wanted to leave him. Then, I felt the desire for a second child. We welcomed our daughter and, by then, the little bud, my desire to teach my own, had grown into a plant I could not ignore. And yet, I did. I pushed it to the side, sleep-deprived and up to my knees in diapers and bibs.

The pilgrim boy graced our Thanksgiving table every year. I protected it from chubby hands by placing it on top of a book shelf the rest of the time. It collected dust. I felt it held a secret message, a prediction for the future, but I was not ready for it.

Two years ago, the plant – my desire to homeschool – had become a small tree. God asked me to stop pretending like it did not exist. I researched homeschooling thoroughly. The pilgrim boy craft, with its enigmatic smile, revealed its secret.

I will always treasure this Thanksgiving craft because it was the first inkling my heart gave me that my children have turned a PDA-wielding professional into a craft-seeking, cut-and-paste project preschool teacher. At home. The other grades will come in due time. Wait. Kindergarten already has. We are still at home. I would not have it any other way. This post has been linked to Blog and Tell with @hsbapost Show us your Orange


Homeschooling 101

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You have decided: you will homeschool. Now what?

Let me say this: if the “why” is big enough, the “how” will follow. In every aspect of life. Homeschooling is no exception.

Researching how to get started takes time. Don’t let it get you discouraged. Take it in stride.

Here is a checklist for you to follow, based on what I did:

1. Find out the deadline for registering in your school district. This determines how much time you have to do research and it will keep you focused. I had eighteen months, but a friend of mine said, “That first day of kindergarten will be here before you know it.” She was right.

2. Familiarize yourself with the law in your state. The HSLDA website should give you a great start to this process. There, you can locate your state’s homeschool organization and work with them directly. Whatever you do, don’t rely on word of mouth. Do you own research.

3. Plug into a support system – locally, there should be a homeschooling group you can call upon with questions. These families are usually generous with their time and knowledge, but you must remember that they will tell you what their experience has been. It may or may not apply to your family. Weigh the answers.

4. Gather up all the documentation needed to register. Depending on what you find in the previous steps, you might need a lot or a little. While you’re at it, get organized. Prepare a file strictly for the legalities of homeschooling and keep it where you can easily access it. Guess what? You would have to take this step even if you put your child in a traditional classroom.

5. Read up on homeschooling approaches, curriculum choices and learning styles. Get used to the lingo. Don’t get intimidated. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. This friend of mine told me about her first days of homeschooling: “I kept asking myself, ‘What do I do?'” She had the jitters. She also had a master’s degree in education and several years of classroom teaching experience. It is normal to feel nervous, but don’t let nervousness stop you from enjoying this exciting time.

Even if you are short on time, read the first few chapters of Cathy Duffy’s “101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.” Do you have to read all the reviews? No, you don’t. Thank God. That’s the beauty of this book. Do your homework in the beginning of the book and then you will only have a handful curriculum choices to review.

6. Get curriculum, either new or used. Get school supplies. Don’t shop till you drop. Newbies usually get too much. Rainbow Resource Center, Amazon and homeschoolclassifieds.com are great places. Your local bookstore might have a homeschooling section. Visit the bookstore to hold the book in your hand before you order it online. Used curriculum fairs happen regularly in your area. Check with your local support group.

7. Plan your school year or, at the very least, the first month of teaching. Donna Young will help you there with free planners, lesson plans, nature journals, notebooking pages and any other type of form you can think of. Did I mention they are free? Notebooking Pages might be of interest, as well.

8. Sign up for newsletters and magazines. These resources can get overwhelming. I signed up for three magazines, for instance, and realized I only read two of them. Also, if you find they do not fit your homeschool, unsubscribe. Look for a better fit. Homeschooling happens in so many ways. You will eventually find your style and your clan in the beautiful world of homeschooling.

9. Register.

10. Relax. You are home free.


Deciding to Homeschool

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It took me years to make this decision. Here’s the background…

Back in 1993, I moved from Romania to the United States on a college scholarship. Some of my classmates had been homeschooled K-12. Their maturity level and quality of social interaction were well above average. Mental note #1.

I read Dr. Raymond Moore’s “Better Late Than Early” for my Education minor. Mental note #2.

In 1999 and in 2001, I worked alongside Dr. Moore himself. I understood a bit more about homeschooling as I watched the tutors at The Moore Foundation counsel with parents over the phone. Mental note #3.

A decade, a wedding, and two children later, I started looking at educational options for my children. My private school of choice was one hour away. Not feasible. Our public school system produces National Merit Scholars, but I felt a tug at my heart about teaching my own. Besides the tug, I felt insecurity and fear that I would not know how to homeschool. I prayed for wisdom and figured that if this were a calling, things would fall into place.

I also decided knowledge would be power, so I got knowledge. I spent hundreds of hours pouring over how-to-homeschool manuals, magazines and blogs, over a period of eighteen months. Kind of like a master’s degree in education, but without the $30,000+ piece of paper called “Diploma.”

What I found was inspiring and liberating. I felt I was home free. Literally. Mental note #4.

My husband and I decided it was worth a try. I am leaving out many details, which I will tackle one at a time in future posts.

This blog is my way of giving back to the cyber space which offered me so much information and asked for nothing in return.

2013 may be the year we start homeschooling officially, but we already have eight years under our belts as parent teachers. How so? I hear you ask. Well, tell me, dear reader, don’t we all teach our children since birth? Every step they take, every word they say, every skill they acquire, they all come with guidance from parents. Not to mention colors, shapes, letters, numbers, animals, manners, Latin… Well, maybe not quite the Latin part yet, but you get my point.

Then, I count each child’s age separately, not cumulatively. Why? Because every child is unique. Every child learns differently. That requires different skills and methods from me as their teacher. My children are three and five as I type. As such, I have 3+5=8 years of experience in preschool. Voilà! Eight years in the trenches, molding and shaping little hands, hearts and heads.

My hope for this blog is that it will become a forum where questions can be asked and answered by people interested in home education.

What about you? How did you decide (not) to homeschool?