Friday, May 30, 2008

Confession of a Happy Homeschooler

I have a confession: I think about sending my kids to public school.

It's true.

Sure, I wax poetic about the great times we have together, the learning through doing, the activities, the travel, the time spent together as family, the opportunities we are able to provide our children precisely because they are NOT spending the majority of their young lives in the modern-traditional setting. But once in a while, I get selfish, and I think, "My life would be so much easier, so much more MINE if I just sent them to school in the morning."

I envision walking them to our neighborhood school, then jogging home or going for a bike ride; having time to write; getting the house clean now and again; taking a midday swim; enjoying the occasional movie matinée. I'd get more excercise, get more writing in, have more time to play on my own.

Then again, won't we be on our own soon enough?

Not a day passes without me overhearing someone talking about how much they miss those dayswhen their kids were small, or teens, or home. Those overheard nuggets help put me back on track, though I never stray far anyhow.

And if I need another reminder of how our kids may be better served in their current program, all I have to do is pick up the newspaper, or watch the news, or check the internet for the latest. (This week, a mainstreamed kindergartener was voted out of his class during a demonstration on democracy. Further, his teacher asked each classmate to tell the boy IN FRONT OF THE CLASS something they didn't like about him. He's FIVE!)

Yes, I know there are GREAT things that happen at school, too. But we're all pretty happy with our program which currently affords us the luxury of focusing on art history and geography in addition to math, spelling, reading, writing and cursive, music, history and life skills.


I'm not sure how many people know just how much rejection freelance journalists of any description face. Let me just tell you, if you can't take rejection, this is NOT the job for you!

This week I received a pair of rejection letters. The first was the most recent in a long series from publishers not interested in the childrens' stories I've been submitting in hopes of publication. The second was from a public relations agent for a trailer company.

Trailer company?

That's right. If you've been keeping up with us, you know we'd been looking into a trailer and just about dropped that idea, but I held out one last hope. I had pitched a publicity stunt of sorts with an American trailer company which has just released a super-light-weight, family-size trailer. What better way to publicize this new brand than to have it out on the road, visiting national parks and state parks and points in between throughout the course of the travel season?

The book publishers generally send copied form letters, perhaps with your name hand written after "Dear" in the opener. At least the trailer marketing guru was more personal and offered kind words. So I end the week with rejections, but with this positive comment offered, "Your credentials and work ethic are outstanding."

So...tent it is!

Friday, May 23, 2008

BFA goes Amazon

At long last, Best Family Adventures: San Luis Obispo County has hit Amazon! I've had countless people ask me about putting the book here, but I've resisted. Local bookstores have been so supportive, particularly the independents. But this week two Amazon vendors posted copies of my book available for sale. I figured I might as well (finally) jump on that bandwagon.

With only 800 copies left, we're looking forward to running out of this first print run and moving on to bigger and better things. You can grab yours here. And if you already have one, heck, I hear it makes a great gift for birthdays, weddings, baby showers and graduations! :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Homeschoolers Everywhere

Last weekend we enjoyed Heritage Day at the Dana Adobe in Nipomo. The annual event features actors, volunteers dressed the part, and plenty of hands-on activities for kids including basket weaving with pine needles, washboard laundry, games of the period, roping, spinning and weaving, to name a few. This kind of event is right up our girls' alley.

While we were there, a reporter from the local television station approached Mr. B and me. She was in search of parents of public school kids, she said. Could we help her out? When we told her we homeschool, she was clearly disappointed. As she walked away, she told her cameraman, "There are a lot of homeschoolers here. I can't find any public school families!" In fact, we saw several of our homeschooling friends from throughout the Central Coast, some dressed in costume for the occasion, others just enjoying the day, none taking notes.

The reaction was a far cry from that we received just three years ago when we started. Then it was, "You what?" Now it's, "Man, there are a lot of you," or "I wish I had done that," or other questions related to getting started.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A new season

This week marks the close of the high school swim season, and a return to normal family life...whatever "normal" means. For us, it means no more rushing through dinner so I can get to the pool in time to coach other people's children. For the family, it means more snuggles and storytime at bedtime. It means more sleep for me which means more energy for my own kids by day. It means a return to projects, planning and our own family adventures, uninterrupted by dual meets and championships, parent calls and practice planning.

I've wanted to coach high school swimming ever since I was in high school, but there's a lot to the reality of it about which I never dreamed. I give a lot of time and energy, but I learn a lot - about coaching, swimming, coordinating and dealing with a variety of teens. I hope that, in addition to learning how to deal with teens before MY kids are teens, I also learn to behave as a parent of a teen.

Note to self (and anyone else who's listening) when my children are teens:

--> let them choose their own activities, don't force them to take part in activities in which they are not interested;

--> encourage them to stick with the commitments they've made, don't make excuses for their failure to follow through;

--> when minor conflicts arise with teammates, coaches or team policies, let them try to work it out for themselves rather than whine on their behalf without knowing the WHOLE story.

Keep them warm, keep them fed, give them shelter in all respects and cheer them on, especially when they're in a low spot. No pushing, no shoving, no carrying on.

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