Thursday, March 25, 2010

Loving our Village

I think our firstborn was about two hours old before we latched on to the old African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child."
Yes, indeed.
We're pretty grateful for ours.
It's no secret that my boys have a stellar dad.
But all their lives, family and friends have come alongside and shown genuine interest in Bran and Hud, shaping our boys' character along the way.
Papa and Cappy and all the uncles laid the groundwork the moment these kids were born and continue to do so. But just in the last week, spending time with a couple of families, I was touched by the TIME a couple of friends took with Branson in particular.

The kids and I spent Spring Break in Houston with my dear college roommate's family. We took advantage of a few days together, and the Hills were gracious to host our crew. But somehow, squeezed between his own work schedule and the chaos of movies and charades and rainy-day walks, Eric took time out for Bran. To listen, laugh, and get smeared at XBOX. And to play Bran's favorite songs (already on E's ipod) while dancing like a crazy man around the kitchen island before and after meals.
Several times a day.
Clearly, being with Eric was one of Bran's absolute highlights of our time with the Hills. When not attached at the hip to ten-year-old Adeline, he hung with Mr. Eric and soaked up all the coolness he could. After our last breakfast, Eric looked Bran in the eye and paid him a genuine compliment. And guess what - my boy's eyes teared up.
So did Mommy's.
Oh come on, I can't let anyone cry by themselves.

Wilson and Hill kiddos

Eric & Kristin with their charming girls

So we returned from Houston to our home full with the Wolfes - seven, to be exact. That plus our six - do the math - transforms the Wilson home into a par-tay.
And yet the same thing happened. Even with FIVE of his own boys running around, Chris (several times) initiated throwing the baseball with Bran in the front yard. And the timing was perfect. Bran was on the cusp of his first game, more than a little nervous about pitching, and Chris stepped in to coach and encourage and build him up. A tremendous lift.
Branson is named after "Uncle" Chris

Corbin and Chris with the four older Wolfe boys
Chris & Sarah with their handsome crew

I can't tell you what it does to my heart to see these great men take a genuine interest and initiate spending time with my boys.
So to Eric and Chris, a sincere thank you.
Thankful for our village, and that for the last couple of decades you have been such a part of ours.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One reason I haven't blogged all month

Branson, phone in (shaky!) hand, filmed this.
Check out where all four of my dancing, jumping, light-saber wielding kids end up.
At my desk.
But - if you're gonna have four kids around while working, they're pretty darn cute ones.

Monday, March 1, 2010

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool

...that is the question.
What are we going to do next fall?
We're halfway through the year, and this is the question I seem to be getting. And my calculated response:
I don't have a clue!
I'm on the fence about what we'll do next year. My kids are on the fence. We're all on the fence. But here's the good news - at this moment, I haven't felt anxious about not knowing. One day at a time, right?

What I've loved the most about our year at home:
- Relaxed, easy mornings.
- Short school days. We are typically finished by 1:30, if not earlier. It makes it a lot more fun to then head out for afternoon/evening practices or activities.
- Absence of homework. I cannot emphasize this benefit enough!
- Time with our Tuesday friends - science and pizza and Spanish. It's such a relaxed, fun environment with loads of kids to play and learn with.
- Time for "margin" things: playing cards and board games, watching a movie on a school night...
- The Fort Worth zoo and the Museum of Science and History. Both AMAZING. I've renewed our season passes to both - and actually use them - and we're enjoying them so much.
- Traveling outside of peak season. Also cannot emphasize this benefit enough.
- My girls sharing their days with their brothers. Actually, I guess it's little Essie who's benefiting the most - she would have all three siblings at school this year! I love having three days a week with just the boys, but twice a week all four kids get to interact. There are less "I'm-going-to-pull-my-hair-out" moments than I thought there would be. And as I've heard several homeschool moms claim, my kids' relationships with each other have improved from simply being together more.

What I miss about school:
- Seeing school friends and families on a regular basis.
- Knowing that my kids are learning enough. I know, I know, this is what I hear from anyone who teaches their kids at home, and I used to roll my eyes a bit, thinking, "Of course they're learning enough." But now that I'm the teacher and I know the ins and outs of our days, it's something I think about often.
- The classroom experience. This year has been a great reprieve from that, and the benefits of being home have been fully enjoyed. But Corbin and I both envision our kids in school, in classrooms. It might be habit or familiar, so I'm prayerful about an open mind...

With the future unknown (really, it's always unknown, right?) my sights are set on enjoying these moments we have right now. And while there are a lot of things I'm not great at, savoring this year is something I'm doing well.

Basden and I attended a mother-daughter retreat earlier this year and learned a simple song that she asks me to sing with her regularly. It's a rather simple song about wisdom, but one stanza's lyrics ring in my mind an encouragement from the Lord for our schooling this year. The words perfectly illustrate the way I feel about this year with the kids home:

There's a treasure you can't measure
You can't hold it in your hands
But if you will seek this jewel
Someday you will understand.

Someday, someday I'll understand. I'm already grateful for the TIME with my children this year. Thankful the Lord stopped me in my tracks and got my attention and asked me to try something a little different. Grateful for the gratification that comes with seeing my children learn something new or difficult. Grateful for the faith walk this has been and continues to be.

Thank you, Father, for believing in me, and for the gift of this year...