Monday, April 21, 2008

Going Public

If you send your kids to public school, or are considering sending your kids to public school, you must, must, must read this book.
Going Public - Your Child Can Thrive in Public School, by David and Kelli Pritchard

My friend Heather told me about the Pritchards after hearing them speak at the All Staff Young Life conference in Florida this past January. They had just written this book and it was due out in March. I waited on pins and needles for the Amazon cardboard box to arrive at my door. And even with my (hopeful) high expectations, this book is a gem and so encouraging for parents choosing public school.

A few interesting things about the Pritchards:
- they have eight children, all of whom attend/attended public schools
- while they live in a premiere school district in Tacoma, the Pritchards have deliberately sought and gotten a waiver to attend a school with lower test scores and a higher percentage of "economically disadvantaged" families
- their oldest daughter Alyse, 24, graduated with honors from USC; second daughter Krista, 22, attends Hawaii; and son Tavita, 20, currently plays quarterback for Stanford University
- David and Kelli are careful not to criticize private schools or home schools in Going Public, but instead offer a much-needed tool for encouraging public school parents
- David is the Young Life area director in the south suburbs of Tacoma, WA and manages Young Life's largest summer camp
- Going Public is worth reading even if yours is not a public school family - the solid, practical, Biblical parenting advice transcends all school choices.

Some of my favorite quotes from the first chapter, "You can Do It!" include:
Our approach to difficult people and situations is, We can learn something here. (pg 19)

Starting in the very first classroom, our home, we teach our children to be the influencers rather than the influenced. (pg 20)

We consider ourselves to be our children's number one educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege - even though they spend 30 hours a week in someone else's classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home. We draw frames around their encounters and activities, showing how they fit within God's greater perspective. (pg 21)

We believe... that believing parents can raise kids with strong spiritual roots in the midst of a secular culture. (pg 22)

Other chapters:
Ch 2 - Is Public Education an Evil Plot?
Ch 3 - What the Bible says about Education
Ch 4 - The Most Important Thing to Teach Your Public-School Child
Ch 5 - The Second Most Important Thing
Ch 6 - The Third Most Important Thing
Ch 7 - The Magic of Being Nice
Ch 8 - Submitting to Authority
Ch 9 - Teachable Moments
Ch 10 - Up Close and Personal
Ch 11 - Everybody Should "Homeschool"
Ch 12 - Your Very Best Chance
Ch 13 - For Men Only
Ch 14 - The Nearest Mission Field
Ch 15 - The Moon is Round
Afterword - From our Children

A couple of endorsements sum up what I love about Going Public:
While many Christian families fear the negative influence of public schools, the Pritchards remind us that we don't have to "take God into the public schools," because He's already there! Finally, a positive, practical book that encourages people to work together as a family and impact our schools and communities for Jesus.
Kjel and Leslie Kiilsgaard
Public high school teacher and coach
High school counselor

If you want to find out what marriage and parenting is all about, just watch David and Kelli as they interact with each other and with their children. One of the things that strike me the most is the love and respect their children have for them. If the proof is in the pudding, you only have to watch the Pritchard family to see model of a family that loves each other and the God who created them.
Bill Paige
VP and Special Assistant to the President of Young Life

I wrote on the topic of school choices last month, and what I found was that the comments people left were more interesting than my actual post, Bloom Where You're Planted. This whole school choice can certainly conjure up some friction. As I mentioned before, I see significant beauty in many private schools and home school families. We are taking this one year at a time. But I am so grateful for David and Kelli's blood, sweat and tears in crafting this outstanding, valuable resource. This is a book that I anticipate rereading and referencing many times.
You can read more about Going Public, as well as the Pritchards' family and ministry, at David and Kelli's website and blog. Enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Day in the Life

"Mom! Where's my hat?"
"What? Your hat? You don't have your hat?"
Standing in our doorway, I glanced at Branson climbing into the backseat of my mom's car. My thoughts spiraled and tumbled with the possible hiding place of the black Pirate's ball cap. The one with the bright gold "P" on front and a smaller "Branson" monogrammed across the back. The one I hadn't seen since Tuesday, or was it Monday's practice when I last saw him wearing it? No, it rained Monday. I hadn't seen it since Tuesday. I think. And Bran needed to be at his game in less than ten minutes.
Anticipating our very full - and very fun - afternoon and evening, I thought I'd remembered to set out everything ahead of time: Branson's (clean) baseball pants, belt, socks, cleats (the ones that fit), bats (both of them, since he can't decide which he likes better) glove, batting glove and batting helmet. And a bottle of water. And a zone bar.
Check check check check check check.
So at 5:50pm last Thursday, as I stood in our doorway (in jeans) and needed to be at an event by 6:00pm (not in jeans), and our just-arrived babysitter was focusing her attention not only on Basden and Esther but also on the masses of neighborhood kids in our front yard, and my mom pulled up to take Bran & Hud to the baseball fields by 6:00 for batting practice and the game, and my next-door neighbor's handyman dodged kids on skateboards and scooters (including Branson, who was supposed to be in Mom's car) making his way over to ask if he could cut up the gargantuan tree that had fallen and covered our driveway like a forested canopy from the previous night's thunderstorm...
At that moment, at 5:50pm standing in my doorway, I couldn't find the black monogrammed Pirates baseball hat.
Six minutes later, driving to the banquet (no longer in jeans, but void of freshened makeup or a brush pulled through my hair) I texted the coach and gave him a heads-up about the missing cap. I knew Branson wouldn't have been allowed to play without it. I then texted another friend to let her know I was "unavoidably late" to the banquet, where I had offered to come early to hand out name tags as guests arrived.
I couldn't help but wonder what I'd been smoking when I offered to be anywhere early.
Fortunately Bran's coach had an extra ball cap on hand just in case. I knew that was a possibility, because we've borrowed a red Angels cap from Hudson's coach twice now in their four games this season.
So once at the banquet, during our lovely seated dinner, I processed through the previous couple of hours and emitted a sigh. It felt good to sit down. Glancing at my watch, I realized the neighborhood kids would have filtered back to their own homes for dinner and homework. Basden and Esther would be cleaned up and reading books with Ali before she snuggled them into their beds. Hudson was likely loitering at the concession stand while Branson hit a couple of line drives wearing a borrowed baseball cap.
A day in the life.
More full than normal, perhaps, but certainly not unusual.
While eating my second (not yet on my third) dinner roll, my thoughts traveled to my friend Shelley, who should have been at the banquet with us. But instead she greeted a gazillion family and friends at a funeral home about half a mile to our east, preparing to bury her father the following morning. He died too early at 68 of pancreatic cancer. But in recent years Jesus got him before the cancer did. And instead of giving testimony to this generous, influential man, tomorrow's ceremony would instead point to a gracious, influential Savior who transforms funerals into celebrations.
My thoughts then turned to a sweet family in our neighborhood. About half a mile to our south, they gathered at our former church with people from all over the city to mourn the devastating loss of their eighth-grade son and brother and friend who took his life last Monday night. His death sent shock-waves through our community. I don't know this family. But from all accounts, this young man was well-liked, an honors student, involved in many aspects of his youth group, and played football with passion. Evidently he had a ton of friends. And like with Shelley's father, Jesus got to him before the angel of death came crashing into his home.
It's difficult for me to reconcile a day like this. This normal Thursday. While I spent the evening in a crowded banquet room that offered a lovely, inspiring setting, less than a mile away two camps of people comforted each other, clenched in joy and despair and gratitude and deep grief.
The juxtaposition of this day is too much for my little mind to comprehend, really. But I'm comforted observing our community's response of kindness and compassion to these families. The outpouring of love is deep and overwhelming and beautiful.
Meanwhile, several days have passed.
Still no Pirates hat. Even with a comprehensive search and rescue operation, it hasn't shown itself. I'm expecting to discover it in a diaper bag or the bottom of a jogging stroller or under the dining room table. Or maybe outside on the platform of the fort.
Last Thursday evening, as I stood in my doorway at 5:50 pm, I felt quite frustrated with the fact that the hat was missing. It was a small representation of my life - of not having my ducks in a row, of details spinning out of my control. This was not a welcome feeling. The bigger realization is that even when I try hard and plan hard and work hard, things of life will continue to fall out of my control.
Thankfully, my perspective has shifted a bit. I know I will have to re-learn this letting go thing again and again many times. But at this moment, my thoughts and energies are not held captive by the missing hat, or by my inadequacy to keep it all together. I long to see what's important, to laugh in the midst of chaos. To enjoy today, this day, with it's messiness and order and bickering and beauty.
And to rest in gratitude.
This day in the life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Back to Blogging...

Well, I'm back.
It's Wednesday, and I don't have a "Wednesday Wonder" to offer, and at this point I think they might need to become "Monthly Marvels." Ha.
I find that blogging is kind of like exercising. Once that pendulum is stopped, it's hard to get going again. I wish I had some great reason for not posting in the past few weeks, but that pendulum thing is the best I can come up with. So, I'm back. I know all three of you are thrilled.
Wanted to share a few photos that capture our past few weeks. I would have posted photos from Easter and from our first Sunday in our new church building (Easter Sunday!) if I wouldn't have permanently deleted all eighty of them from my camera.
So, some other Wilson family highlights...

Branson after hitting an OUT OF THE PARK home run. I've never seen such a big grin on my little boy's face as when he rounded second base and headed for third and then home. After all the cheering subsided, I looked down to find Basden crying beside me. "Basden! What's wrong, sweetie?" She said, "Mommy - you knocked me over!"
Oops. At least I didn't accidentally break into a cheerleading jump - not that that's ever happened before - certainly not while watching Hudson make a basket last winter...

Basden at a recent birthday party - Granny would be proud. Adorable smile, adorable party, adorable friend.

Enjoying a couple of days at the lake. Canoe rides are a favorite with Daddy.

One of my favs of little Essie. Her teacher told me this morning during their "buggy ride" at school that they put Esther in the wagon when there are too many children to fit in the six-person buggy stroller, because Esther is one of the only ones they can trust not to jump out of the wagon. Imagine - my active little whirlwind of a daughter can be trusted to sit still... amazing what they'll do for other people. And for those of you wondering how the blanket training's going, well, let's just say Esther was in my ARMS when Bran hit that home run.
Gotta run for now, hope to be back sooner than a month from now!

Btw, just kidding about the Monthly Marvels. While I will continue to highlight people on this blog, it just won't be weekly at this point. Thanks for stopping by!