Monday, December 14, 2009

Only at the Post Office

Nearly everyday I go to the post office to check my PO box for book orders and payments. More often than not my box is empty, but lately I've found strange objects in the front seat of my car. The first time it was a package of postage supplies and stamps I had not purchased. Since it wasn't mine and there was no one on the parking lot, I returned it to the postal clerk inside. She knew the purchaser and agreed to hang onto it for her. When I walked back outside, there was a strange woman looking inside my car for the package she had mistakenly left there. It appears she had borrowed a car the same color as mine and had simply dropped the package in the wrong car before walking across the street to a landscape business. My daughter and I got a laugh out of the whole thing and vowed never to leave our car unlocked again.

This morning I made my usual run to the post office and again left my car unlocked for my brief trip inside to check my PO box. When I walked back to the car just moments later, I noticed an older woman about to get in my car! SO funny! Poor thing was embarassed and confused as to why there was a black umbrella on her front seat. She wondered if her granddaughter had left her umbrella in the car. When I looked at her car, which was parked beside mine, it wasn't hard to see why she would get in mine. Identical in size and color, it was an easy mistake for anyone to make.

Next time I go to the post office I'll make sure to lock my car. Or maybe I'll just leave it there unlocked to fool some other unsuspecting soul!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Homeschool or High School? -- Finding Our Niche

Published in The Collierville Herald, 8/20, 2009
as "Finding our niche -- Change of plans is core to homeschooling success"

As summer winds down and the start of a new school year approaches, parents hustle to finish their last minute back-to-school shopping and revamp their schedules to accommodate the schedule changes that are inevitable. Most parents will breathe a sigh of relief when the last child heads out the door to school. However, when my son gets on the bus and heads off to high school, I will be sad because his new beginning will signal the end of one of the best years of my life.

As a family new to homeschooling, we fumbled our way through our first year. My daughter took to the new routine and flexibility like a duck to water. My son, on the other hand, was just the opposite. Although he started out enthusiastic about learning at home, it didn’t take long for him to feel as though he were missing out on something, and for me to figure out that what works for one child does not necessarily work for another.

Homeschool has provided many benefits for our family that extend beyond mere academics. Our children have learned how to work through sibling conflicts, look at others less critically because we have had time to discuss their impressions of other people, and recognize that blessings come in many forms. They have learned that money doesn’t grow on trees and that it is indeed more blessed to give than receive. While most of their learning came from the textbooks and computer programs they used, they developed an appreciation for all they could learn from God’s classroom as we took nature walks and field trips.

As a parent I grew more convinced than ever that my children are special and unique. Not only did the differences in their learning styles present challenges to me as a teacher, but they also helped me understand that in order for learning to be maximized, it should be tailored to the needs of the student. In facing my own challenges, I gained a new appreciation for teachers everywhere and realized that the demands of their career are endless.

Homeschool is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for everyone. But I am absolutely convinced that if your heart leads you to educate your children at home, you should embrace the adventure and see where it will take you. We discovered along the way that our son performs better in a traditional classroom; therefore, we are sending him back to school this fall. Does this mean that we failed as a homeschool family? Not at all. We learned more about each other this year than if our children had been in a more traditional school. Part of that learning involved realizing and accepting that we each have a niche, a place in this world where we can excel and be effective as students, as parents, and as individuals.

Whether you homeschool your children or not, make it a point to truly get to know them this year. Be involved in their education and take an interest in their friends and their activities. If our children are to excel and succeed in their endeavors, whether academically, vocationally, or athletically, they will need the love and support of their parents and family. Help them find their niche and give them wings to fly.

Monday, March 9, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

We arrived back home late last night after a WONDERFUL week in Florida.

God is good and protected us every step of the way, showing Himself particularly faithful when I had a car wreck on our last night in Orlando. Although the guy who hit me suffered some measureable body damage to his car, mine escaped any visible signs of damage, and the kids and I were not hurt. There were a couple of moments when I was afraid he might pummel me in front of my kids, since he was using profanity constantly and opened his trunk to pull out a crowbar so he could pop out his fender. He seemed determined not to call the police, and since there was no damage to my car, I didn't press the issue. I was content just to get away from him. I'm sure he woke up the next morning wishing we had at least swapped insurance info -- his car was a mess.

I know I have to hit the ground running this week as we resume our normal schedule of homeschool, allergy shots, music lessons, and such. I will miss the ocean and my siblings, but truly there is no place like home.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Everything Possibly Cool Or Thrilling

Yesterday we visited Epcot. My son asked me what EPCOT stands for, then immediately came up with his own answer: Everything Possibly Cool Or Thrilling. Clever kid!

We had such a great time. Chris decided that he is a "seagull whisperer." He enjoyed talking with the animals and actually managed to get close enough to almost touch a gull or two.

Today we are headed to Treasure Island for a visit with my sister, Lydia, and a quick trip to the beach. We'll be there less than 24 hours, but no doubt it will be a relaxing visit. After four full days at Disney, we are tired and ready for a little rest (make that a LOT of rest!).

Favorite rides at Epcot: Mission: Earth and Test Track. (We rode both twice.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Feel Like the Energizer Bunny!

We just keep going and going and going. We have been on the move the past couple of days, hitting Disney Hollywood Studios on Tuesday and Animal Kingdom today. Tomorrow we wrap up our four-day theme park vacation with a visit to Epcot Center.

Last night we capped off our Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) tour by attending the American Idol Experience finale show. It was so cool! The set is like the one you see on tv and the program has a host and three judges. Ryan Seacrest makes a couple of video appearances, as do former idol winners who are there to encourage the contestants. There were seven finalists -- all of them very good singers -- selected through an audition process during the day. At the finale show, the audience got to pick the winner using a voting device mounted on the arm of our chairs. It was high-tech and fun. Favorite ride for Disney Hollywood Studios: Rock 'n Rollercoaster.

Today's visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom was fun. What an amazing place! I was so impressed by all the detail given to props, sets, and landscaping. We all enjoyed the Safari. Favorite ride: Expedition Everest (another rollercoaster).

Video Clip of Chris & Joy on Primeval Whirl

Monday, March 2, 2009

Round and Round She Goes

Today we spent our first day at Walt Disney World, visiting the Magic Kingdom. I am proud to report that Joy rode Space Mountain with me first thing this morning; however, she didn't talk to me for 10 minutes afterward and absolutely hated the ride. At least she rode.

Chris, Joy, and I hit the majority of major attractions at the park, including Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, etc. We really had a phenomenal time. I even rode the teacups, which I hesitate to do because of motion sickness on "spinning rides." Thought you might like to see a video of the kids having a really great time!

Tomorrow we head to Disney Animation Studios, then to Animal Kingdom on Wednesday and Epcot on Thursday (Lord willing).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tripped Up

I am writing this from our hotel in Albany, GA (Hilton Garden Inn -- very nice).

After a twelve-hour day, 650-mile drive -- originally was supposed to be about 450-mile, nine-hour day -- we arrived safely at our hotel. Using Mapquest (next time I'm taking a GPS), we took the back roads through Alabama and Georgia. We missed a key turn in Birmingham (my son was navigating from the Mapquest directions) and failed to give me the exit number. I am not blaming him; I must have looked at the directions (in tiny print) about ten times myself. We simply missed it. As we continued toward Atlanta, I told him that I thought we should turn back. We looked at the directions again to confirm it, then doubled back fifteen miles. Finally, we were headed in the right direction.

Oops! We did it again. Somehow we missed another turn, although I was carefully watching for road signs. There was a lot of construction; perhaps somehow it had been removed--I don't know. Anyway, after avoiding going through Atlanta, guess what? We found ourselves IN ATLANTA! How in the world did that happen? Thankfully my sweet husband was on standby and he quickly got out his maps (real ones are still the best) and through a series of phone calls navigated us to our hotel.

The kids never once complained about the ineptness of the driver to follow a simple set of Mapquest instructions. They were really sweet-spirited about the whole thing. At nearly midnight we finally settled in at our hotel.

The children all nestled snug in their bed,
dreaming of Disneyworld.

As I kept asking the Lord, "Why this annoying detour?", I realized that it was His way of including Steve in our vacation and making him feel not only needed, but missed. All's well that ends well.

Collierville (where we live) and the surrounding Memphis metro area is blanketed under several inches of snow. This morning, we are heading south again, with a much shorter drive ahead of us, hopefully.