Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creative-Crazy or Crazy-Crazy?

A couple of years ago, my parents bought our son, then two,  a miniature guitar, a 'surprise' after one of their jaunts to the mountains. Etched on the front was a ranch scene with the words, "Home, Home on the Range!" scrawled across the front. A more perfect gift they could not have brought for our son. He was enraptured by this little guitar and has strummed it every day since.

That little guitar has accompanied thousands of songs- those on the radio, those learned in church, those made up by our little musician. He has sung everything from Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire' to 'Jesus Loves Me' while strumming along.

Now, I have to admit- he sometimes sings and plays at times it's inconvenient- while I'm on the phone or trying to get his sister down for a nap. But, for the most part, the multiple-times-daily concerts are delightful. We sing songs that his beloved Mr. Tom at AWANA sings. Sometimes he plays and has me sing. Othertimes, he strums along with the music on the television or radio. And our favorite- his playing for his sister who listens with rapt attention and adoration.

Not only does he love the guitar, he loves the harmonica, and, well, anything that makes music. His poor little harmonica (another gift from his Poppa) had been so well-loved and so often-played with that it fell apart.

One day last summer, before his harmonica was no more, we attended a library reading program. A young man told stories interspersed with songs; the storyteller was playing a guitar and had a harmonica holder around his neck. Our son was mesmerized by this man who told stories, sang songs, and played two instruments at once. When I suggested maybe we should put those things on his Christmas list, he quickly agreed.

He spent the rest of the summer and into the fall, balancing his guitar on one knee and holding his harmonica with one hand, trying to re-create what that young man had done. During those months, his daddy and I would smile and nod to one another, silently agreeing that instruments were on the Christmas list. We could hardly wait for Christmas morning!

A few weeks before the Big Day, my friend and I were out shopping. She was telling me what her boys would find under the tree, and when I told her what our son was getting- a guitar with a strap and a harmonica with a holder to fit around his neck so he could play both at the same time- she said, "You're crazy!"

For a moment I paused, then asked with a smile, "Creative-crazy or crazy-crazy?" I thought it would be the former, not the latter.


"I was hoping you'd say creative-crazy."

"No, crazy- crazy!"

Maybe she's right. Maybe I'm crazy. In fact, I know I'm crazy....about my kids. I'm not alone. Their daddy is crazy about them, too. And we're dedicated to equipping them with whatever tools they need to follow their passions.

Right now our son is a budding musician. In two years, he may not be. Then again, we may be 'upgrading' to a better guitar.

Whatever his (and his siblings' passions) we hope one day, when our children are grown, that they will look back and say, "Daddy and Momma were crazy about us! They encouraged and nurtured our creativity (whatever that may be- music, art, sports,dance, language....). And they never once used earplugs!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lights Out!

Snow is a rarity in our neck of the woods, but when it does snow, what a special event it is! Days before the snow arrives, local meteorologists get in a tizzy with predictions and possibilities of what may or may not happen.
As soon as the 's' word is dropped, folks around here go into a flurry of activity(pun totally intended)- a trip to the grocery store, stocking up on firewood, making preparations for using the grill as an all-purpose stove should power go out.

Those of us here UTRTR are no exception. In fact, my parents watch the weather dilligently and give us reports, urging us to watch the news and get prepared. When they came for a visit the other day before the storm, they were worried we weren't prepared enough and brought more provisions. (Thanks, Momma and Pop!) If it weren't for them, we probably wouldn't have given the snow predictions much thought.

When we awoke on Monday morning, the world around us was breathtaking- in beauty and in temperature! A few trips out to play in the snow, hot chocolate, hearty meals punctuated our day. I cooked all day 'just in case' we lost power. My husband urged me to stop saying that, but I kept saying, "Better safe than sorry. We can heat this up by the fire or on the grill."

Then it happened at 7:48 PM, our power went out. The first few moments, I admit were tense. When it was just the two of us, we made do. Now that there are young ones, we worried about them getting cold and how long the power outage would last.

Okay, so probably more than the first few moments were tense. Our son danced around the living room, excited for the chance to camp out in the living room, complete with roaring fire. Meanwhile, my husband and I were scooping up flashlights, candles, blankets, pillows, and a weather radio and moving furniture to accommodate all of us in the living room for however long.

While my husband added wood to the fire, I turned on the weather radio. God knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. The song playing said something about, "....Everyday's the 4th of July!" We could not have been experiencing anything more opposite than the 4th of July, and we enjoyed a good laugh.

After a moment, I scanned the dial and found our favorite station, a channel that plays Christian music. Something only described as peace came over all of us immediately.

On a cold, dark, snow-turned-ice night, in the warm glow of a fireplace, in the midst of worry, we felt the presence of God. The worry was gone and peace had taken its place.

This is the life! I thought as I spread blankets out.  We are all together. Our bellies our full. We have blankets and fire for warmth. We have a song on the radio reminding us that 'Our God is greater! Our God is stronger!' How blessed we are!

And in that moment I resolved- more evenings like this- lights out!

Because it was when the lights were out, the distractions of the tv and computer were gone, that we were able to focus on what mattered- the presence of God and the reassurance of having each other to make it through the dark and the cold.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Our Journey Begins.....

Five years ago when I was pregnant with our firstborn, before we knew whether we were welcoming a boy or a girl, I would tease my husband by saying, "I'm not ready to let this baby go to school yet! We're going to homeschool."

To this he would shake his head and roll his eyes and assure all the grands-to-be that we were not going to homeschool. They all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. "He will talk some sense into her. He'll never agree to that," I could practically hear their thoughts.

Over the next few years, we gave great thought to school; we talked about it from time to time, both agreeing to pray about his (and any future children's) education.

As we watched our friends and family enroll their children in preschool programs, we waited to see what the next year would hold, then the next and the next. And every year it just seemed like for our family, traditional schooling just didn't seem to be the right fit.

Besides, our son had lots of interaction with kids his age. He and I attended a mother's group where he played alongside/with/despite his little friends while I had time with other moms. We participated in playgroups, visited playgrounds and the local kids' museum where he interacted with kids of all ages.  We became active in church, where he had a classroom-type structure.

Time marched on, and my husband and I discussed, prayed, weighed all the possible options. Public school? Christian school? Even, gulp, the teased-about homeschool option?

Every one of the options had advantages and disadvantages. There were trade-offs for each, but when we weighed all the pros and the cons, the decision was clear.

My teasing had become anything but.

So, we've taken the plunge. Two months after our son turned four, we purchased a curriculum and began.

We're thankful that we live in a country where we have this option, and we realize it's not for everyone. But, it is for us. We're living by faith, not by sight.

This is, by far, the biggest undertaking of our lives- parenting our children and being their teachers. We do not see right now why God is leading us to make this choice. In time, He will reveal His purpose; for now,  we are enjoying the start of our homeschooling journey.