Thanksgiving Reflection

What are you grateful for this year? What are you reflecting on as you quickly entertain your kids while you fret over a Thanksgiving meal? What, besides the endless list in your mind, are you working so hard for? For whom are you working so hard…to thank? That’s on my mind this morning. That’s what I’m trying to narrow down, because I have so much to be thankful for.

Last year we were so focused on bringing our second, H, into the world, that Thanksgiving was simply a hi-and-bye holiday. Reflection wasn’t even an option at the time of rushing through our days. But this year, it’s full of reflection, reflection of where we started as a family. The one person it circles back to is my husband. He’s the one I’m thankful for this year, or every year actually, and every day of the year, down to every second of the year. The Lord has blessed us — from the start of our dating days, to marriage, to knowing when the perfect time for us to start a family would be; from enduring miscarriages, to finally getting our Ollie, and repeating the events to get our H, to surprising us with our number three.

The journey has been amazing no matter the event. We sometimes overlook how things go, how long it takes, how difficult a path is, how frustrating, and mind-numbing the challenge can be. But, once we hit the end results, we don’t consider how we arrived at the end. I’ve spent so much time lately focused on “what’s next,” that I forget to look back sometimes and be grateful at how far we’ve come as a family. Until this week. I’ve happily set time aside each day to see our past journeys and see how grandly the Lord has blessed us through each and every one of these journeys, how simply you can see Him playing a part through all of it, how He’s used each and every one of our event as a way to strengthen us as partners, and how us becoming stronger set us up for being the parents we are today and the parents we always will aim to be.

And again, I reflect upon how amazingly lucky and blessed I am for my one and only husband. Without his support I wouldn’t be the person I am today. He’s made me stronger and wiser. Without him I’d never know the unconditional love and security I have in him when things get tough, or have the opportunity to relish my daily joys — from simple events to grand homeschooling home runs.

Every day I’m grateful for my husband; every day I pray to God to bless him and our home. Every day I thank God for him, because without the husband, our home would be quite bare, our boys wouldn’t have a wonderful role model, and without his hard work we definitely wouldn’t be homeschooling. Being able to homeschool because of the hubby’s hard work is what stands out the most these days. Yes, it’d be nice at times to drop H off at a daycare, send Ollie off on a school bus, and get all my errands, chores, and cooking done before they are due back, but those “yearnings” only last for a split second…and then they’re gone because I see the wheels turning in Ollie’s mind connecting the dots, I see H discovering something new and looking at me with excitement. I treasure these moments because I know they’ll be gone soon.

Then, the hubby comes home, and before launching into his day and after giving kisses and hugs all around, he turns to me and asks how my day was. Did the boys and I have a good day? How is H doing, anything new? How am I feeling? Am I overwhelmed? Where can he help? What can he do around the home to help to make my burdens easier? The list goes on and on, and he never complains when I add to his work hours when he comes home. He just keeps going, even when he’s exhausted and the boys hang on him like little monkeys. He never complains as he puts both boys to sleep, knowing soon he’ll be adding a third to the bedtime routine. He never complains when I toss in the towel after a hard day and simply don’t want to lift a finger. He jumps in and takes over, and I’m beyond relieved to have such a helpful partner.

I never take for granted my other half, and I thank him almost daily for his help and support, just as often as he thanks me. Be grateful for your supporters of homeschooling. Homeschooling isn’t an easy avenue. Every day is met with challenges, new or old, but it’s also met with amazing results, knowing our kids are in the best possible situation. From having a gifted child to one who’s struggling in school, we all have our reasons for this journey and we all know it’s the right path for our kids — not the easiest at times, but the right one. I know not everyone may see your choice as the “right one,” but thank the Lord for the ones who support your journey, who cheer you on; thank the Lord, and thank them also. We always need the cheers, comforts, and understanding; otherwise, we probably would toss the idea of homeschooling aside and give up on the path. I sure wouldn’t be on this path without my husband’s support and encouragement. We need the support from each other, from friends and loved ones. But, most importantly, we need it from God Himself. Without feeling God in my heart when we homeschool, I wouldn’t be so certain that is the right path for us. But, I see Him and feel Him in everything we do, and now He plays a hand in us being able to do it.

Reflect on your time homeschooling, reflect on your journey, be thankful for how far you’ve come, don’t think of how far you still need to go, just think of where you are today and bask in it. Victories and failures have taught not only you and your kids so much, but they’ve helped you bond and become closer as a family. Thank your spouse, your best friend, your parents, whomever it is in your life that knows you’re doing an amazing job. Be thankful for them and their support.

Be also thankful for you, yourself! You are doing amazing things, you are working harder then anyone sees, you are doing something to better the lives of your children. You’re giving them a life, childhood, and education all in one swing, and you’re doing a fantastic job at it! Reflect on your journeys. You’ll certainly see your blessings.

Manners in Today’s World


One day at the grocery store, when I was pregnant with our little H, Ollie and I were perusing each aisle, making sure I wasn’t missing anything on my list (swollen feet really don’t like retracing steps). As I walked and he snacked in the cart, we came across two older women who were flipping through their coupon books in the middle of the aisle. I kindly said, “Excuse us, please?” and they smiled and stepped aside. Soon after we came across them again, and before I could say anything, my then two-year-old spoke up: “Excuse us, please?” The looks and praise these women gave my son and me were something I’ll never forget… They began to swoon over my little boy right then and there. They gave him praise for his sweetness and gave me a “You’re a great mom!” compliment. Every time we passed them in an aisle, my son would pipe up again with “Excuse us, please!” just to get the same excited reaction out of these ladies.

I realized soon after, not many kids are polite in this day and age. Not many gestures of please, thank you, excuse me, or even sorry cross kid’s lips — but they don’t cross the parent’s lips either. That’s why these women fawned over him so much, why they praised his little gentleman manners, why they told me I was doing a great job as a mother. It’s the reason why when our son’s friends, who attend school, come home yelling at their parents, swearing like little mini sailors, that our son looks at them with a slight judgment at only the ripe age of (almost) three. I must admit, I do too. Parents barely bat an eye or attempt to correct the behavior; they say, “Oh, they learned it from their friends at school.” It’s why I always need to have a talk with Ollie after playdates on why we don’t say certain things or act a certain way. He simply nods and says something innocent like “That’s a bad word” or “That’s a no-no.”

I have had serious conversations with some of my friends that claim they are embarrassed by their own kids. They hate to go out in public or to another person’s house because of how their kids act. I then hear the words that upset me: “I wish they were more like your kids.” I cringe when I hear this; it pains my heart because no one should wish their child to be like anyone else’s, nor should the child hear those frustrated words of desperation.

At a friend’s graduation party, a professor and I struck up a conversation that soon found its way to the topic of my boys. He was amazed at Ollie’s level of knowledge, and was even more enthusiastic when I mentioned we had chosen to homeschool him. He nodded with a huge smile, “I can always tell the difference when a student enters my class who has been homeschooled rather than meandering through the system. The homeschooled kids are always on top of their work, need little direction, and are so polite!” He claimed that parents with kids in the school system tended to rely on the school to correct their kids’ bad behaviors. They relied on the school to play parent and teacher when education should be their only role, not behavior as well. Kids that were homeschooled tended to have an all around grasp on what’s to be expected, not only in manners but also in school; the parents had combined the two, manners and education, into one and formed a “proper contribution to society.” I listened to this professor discuss how much he admired homeschooled students over the rest, and how many of his colleagues were in agreement.

His words rang true to my ears. I don’t believe homeschooled children are better or worse than the children in the public school systems. Teaching morals and behavior is all up to the parents, not the school. Your own morals and behavior are yours to pass on to your children, and expecting the schools to do it won’t amount to anything. Our kids are growing up in an ever evolving society where bullying is an unfortunate constant. With social media it’s harder and harder for kids to escape a situation they don’t want to be a part of. Do you remember the old saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never break me? I wish it were true… It all comes back to us as parents to bestow the morals and behaviors needed to better our society, one kid at a time. Parenting isn’t easy, and in this day and age, parents rely on the schools more then they should for raising children into well-mannered adults.

And, that is one of the (many) reasons as to why we chose to homeschool our kids. We see it every day with friends and their kids. How rude, immoral, and lost these children are in a world lacking some resemblance of a religion — struggling to grow into good, well-rounded individuals. Some parents have it handled and we praise them, but most…well, we love playdates, but also become exhausted from explaining over and over to our son why we don’t swear, why we don’t throw things or hit. The school isn’t teaching our kids to be good adults; they’re too busy trying to educate them. Good children, religious or not, would become devoured in a system full of kids who aren’t brought up in a household where there is a foundation of principles. These influences would add up, would change our sons, would change their perception of life and morals.

We don’t want to shield them from the world, but would like to prepare them for it; to guard their hearts and their minds, but teach them to respect others and their beliefs; to teach them that respect isn’t given freely, it is earned; to teach them to accept those around them, and understand that no one is like them; and, to not let bullies win at the end of the day in any form. God chose these boys to be ours, just like He chose for you and your kid(s). You’re put in a position now to raise them to be honest, well-mannered individuals. Don’t rely on the schools, don’t rely on anyone else to teach them the things they need to learn from you. Don’t fear the world, but be prepared to help them enter it. 

Satan will do everything he can to devour any child of God. He’ll use their peers, media, and life in general to attack them. It’s absolutely terrifying! But, this is why you have a God who is even more terrifying, who is even more powerful, loving, and grand then anyone you or your kids will face — and He’s on our side. Don’t lose heart with teaching your children in school, life, or religion; don’t let the devil creep in and place doubt. Homeschooling is tough, we have our good days, our bad days, but when that moment comes when your kids say “Excuse us, please?” to some kind ladies, you’ll realize really quickly, you’re doing an amazing job, God is helping you, and His Holy Spirit is putting down roots in your kid’s hearts.

Your Child

You know that moment your kiddo says, “I want to learn to…”? That elated feeling of excitement on this new venture? I couldn’t wait for that moment. I couldn’t wait to sit down with one of my mini’s I created. That day finally came, but not at all when I expected it nor when I was ready for it!

My son was only two and a half when he began trying to read and asking to learn. He was almost three when he began reading the first few pages of Dr. Seuss’ ABC. At first I thought ok, let’s do this, and I worked with him to see what he could grasp and learn. I never in my wildest dreams thought it unusual. It made sense to me. Ollie, my son, made sense to me. He always appeared older then he was (I mean, we left the hospital with him in three-month clothing, for crying out loud), he always acted more mature. He loved to be challenged, loved to learn, and looked at us like we were crazy if we even attempted to baby talk to him. (All the poor Grandma’s…they all thought he hated them because he began crying the moment they started cooing.) He started speaking early on too, knew his ABCs, numbers, colors, shapes; he knew it all, and we never second guessed him.

Some moms look at me like I’m insane for letting my son learn everything he asks to learn. But, if I don’t teach him, what will that say to his future self? Will I smother the flame that burns deep in his soul of wanting to learn? Will he be excited or even willing to finally learn when I feel he’s the “right age”? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I don’t know which is the right path. Many, many, many moms will tell me what they think is the right path and shake their heads in disgust if I don’t choose to take their advice. At the end of the day, he’s my son. He’s mine and my husband’s responsibility — his health, his heart, his spirit, his little brain. It forced us to decided early on to take the dirty looks, the shaking heads, the looks of surprise. I’ll weigh the “repercussions” of letting him learn “too early” if it ends up giving us a happy boy.

In the end, I’m sure he may not remember any of these early days, but he will remember knowing I won’t turn his interests away when he voices them. My goal is for him to know he can come to us with confidence and know he has our support in whatever he wishes to pursue. Not the reading lessons, not the exploration of the solar system, but the comfort in which he’ll seek with us and know we’ll support him no matter what.

I don’t know anyone with a child like mine, just like you don’t know any child like yours. Each and every child is wonderfully unique in their one way. I hear similar stories, similar situations, but no matter how many similarities, they are different in many ways. For starters, this one’s mine.

Let your child lead you in their quests of curiosity. Let them lead you to where they want to explore, what they want to learn. Never shun them for lack of maturity or what you think they may lack mentally. Strive to work with them to help them understand what fascinates them. Help them explore their gifts, their talents, even their “weakness,” and help them grow stronger in every aspect of their life that you can. They may surprise you with how much they already know or how quickly they grasp it. I promise you’ll enjoy them making their own decisions and you’ll enjoy knowing this is building a bridge of trust between the two of you.

Take the path your child leads; God gave you this child specifically. You are their world just as much as they are yours. Enjoy the adventure, enjoy the exhaustion, enjoy the tears, the triumphs and disappointments, because you will learn from them.