Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Friend Jen

People sometimes ask what got us into homeschooling. It's a funny story really. We have these really great friends--the wife (Jen) and I are like long lost sisters (she has 3 brothers, I have one brother, so why not?). She is the kind of person (and if she's reading this, I apologize for embarrassing her by saying this) that exudes love of motherhood, love of children, love of homeschooling, love of learning, and love of life! She's a wonderful person to be around because it's contagious and you can't help but feel extra animated around her.

So, over the years, we've become quite close--at first mostly through emails and phone calls as we seem to live across the country from each other a lot. She, noticing that we parent similarly, recommended a book to me that she thought I'd love. I ordered it on Amazon (without reading a single review or summary, which I usually do)--that shows how much I value her opinion. We got it in the mail. I opened the package and beheld The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. Oh. My. Gosh. I told my husband we had just purchased a book about [gasp!] homeschooling!! Had I purchased the right book? Had Amazon accidentally sent me someone else's package? Did Jen homeschool?!?!

The next time I talked to Jen on the phone (we were in Arizona and she was in Michigan at the time), I swallowed, tried not to gulp, and trepidatiously asked, "Do you homeschool?" She enthusiastically responded with, "Yes!" and seemed genuinely surprised that I didn't already know that. Somehow it hadn't come up. We talked about it for a while and she told me that she had been homeschooled herself all the way through high school. Really!

I didn't know what to make of it all, especially considering the fact that my husband was thoroughly enjoying the book [!] and telling me how great it is. This shocked me a bit since he loved school and had a great experience. Also, I must admit that at the time we still kind of had a notion that homeschoolers were a little, well, strange? Weird? Socially backward? Remember, we're in our 30s and we grew up mostly knowing some homeschoolers that were a little odd as well as hearing negative comments about homeschoolers. That was in the 70s and 80s. Admittedly, much has changed and it's only gotten better.

So, we started to get on board with the idea of homeschooling as we read this great book and also considered how different the school environment is nowadays compared to when we were kids in school. Plus, we're nerds and the academic aspects of homeschooling appeal to us that way, too.

Well, we visited our friends in Michigan on our cross-country move to Pennsylvania. It was my first time meeting Jen in person (her husband and I knew each other from our teenage years). I loved her immediately. We hit it off and I thought, as I still do, that she was a wonderful person! I admit that I was assuming an observatory role as if she and her family were some strange specimen in a museum box--wow, a homeschooled person now homeschooling her own family! Well, I thought I might see strange behavior or notice a lot of socially backward moments. But I didn't! Her family is open, warm, fun, kind, and refreshingly normal! I later admitted to Jen, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but you are VERY normal!!" She, in her usual easy and warm manner, laughed and waved it off with, "I get that all the time!" I, liking the idea of homeschooling more and more all the time, was happy to hear that.

Well, since then, we have visited with them several times. We've started a fairly yearly tradition of vacationing together at the beach (see picture) in the summer, too. We share a beach house, share the meal and clean up responsibilities, our husbands (who also get along great) golf together, Jen and I enjoy dinner out together, our children enjoy playing together, and we all have a lot of fun together!

We joke about this a lot. We call it our own little "Amway scam." What's funny is the more I know Jen, the more I know that it absolutely was NOT a scam. She is extremely open about and excited about homeschooling! With everyone! We recognized that it hadn't come up in conversation at the time because she hadn't officially started with her children, her oldest being about 4 at the time.

We laugh about it now, but mostly our family feels extraordinarily grateful to her for introducing us to this way of life. We knew that we weren't thrilled about sending our kids to school, but we weren't sure what else we could do! We hadn't even thought of homeschooling! Now, with our trusty book in hand, we thrive on the joy that homeschooling brings to our family. We don't question what anyone around us chooses to do, homeschool or not, but for us, it is SO the right thing for our family. Without a doubt.

What's more, Jen, her husband, and their 5 children are moving here in Spring 2008. They feel strongly about moving close to us and we're thrilled with that! I'm excited to introduce her to the neat homeschooling families we're getting to know here.

If you'd like to see the blog that Jen maintains for her homeschool group in Arizona, click here: Apache County Home Educators

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an amazing write up! :) Yes, we love the family rhythm of homeschool and I promise I've really never tried scamming anyone into it! lol! Thanks for the kind words: Stacy is also a joyful insipiration to me in mothering, life, homeschooling, etc! What a great site: we can't wait to be part of it as well!


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