Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Encyclopedia of Me - H (Stacy)

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Harry Potter – I’ve read this series three times so far: once myself, once with Kate, and once with Max. I know it’s a little on the nose to say this, but it is magical. I can’t begin to say how lucky I feel to see these books come out and experience the wonder, excitement, and magic of it all. We’ve excitedly anticipated book releases; we’ve attended book release parties; we’ve turned our house into Hogwarts; we’ve dressed up as characters, including Hermione; we’ve attended midnight release parties; we’ve done Harry Potter birthday parties; we’ve read aloud together; we’ve listened endlessly to the audio version (Jim Dale, of course); the list goes on and on. We are BIG fans. I love the Harry Potter series and feel incredibly lucky to be able to share them with my kids and that we’ve been able to experience them in real time!

Home – I love being home. I love hanging out as a family. I love having a place that’s ours, that represents us, that houses us. I like to travel, but I love being home. It’s seriously one of my very favorite things. I love to look at the calendar and have nothing scheduled and know that we can chill at home as a family and eat good food, play games, talk, dance, read, listen to music, watch movies, whatever! Of course, having moved this past year, we are especially enjoying our new home very, very much. To be fair, I have loved every home in which we’ve lived. I like making a house a home. I like putting our personality into it. I love BEING home. I am a homebody. I have friends who go stir crazy at home, but that so isn’t me. I can be home for weeks at a time and not feel one bit of cabin fever. There’s no place in the world that I love more than being in my home with my family. We really try to be smart financially and save money in many ways, but if there’s one area where it makes sense for us to splurge a little, it’s home. It’s where we spend most of our time. We’re happy here, so we don’t go out and spend much money other places! Home, home, home. I love it.

Harper Lee – The author of my all-time favorite novel, Harper Lee, fascinates me. She has published one book (so far, for now). ONE! And a fabulous one at that. To Kill A Mockingbird is such, such, such a beautiful book – it’s beautiful; it’s hilariously funny; it’s spunky; it’s sweet; it’s heartwarming; it’s kind; it’s enduring. I love the characters and I love the story. I’m fascinated by this reclusive author who speaks little, eschews public appearances and interviews, and felt the need to write only one amazing book. I’m not one to reread books, but I’ve read TKAM many, many times, most recently with Kate. I’m so excited to read it with Max when he’s a little older, too. I have mixed feelings about her forthcoming book – I’m mostly excited, though I hope fervently that they are not in any way violating her wishes by publishing it. Also, not to be morbid, but she’s older and has health problems and is frail and I feel like I’m bracing myself for hearing of her passing. I get emotional thinking about her and that beautiful book she’s given us. What a gift! I’m very grateful to Harper Lee for her moving, inspiring work of art and literature.

Homeschooling – We are a homeschooling family. Never in a million years did either Mark or I think we’d choose that for our family. Yet, here we are. And we could not be happier. We really enjoy spending time as a family and we enjoy learning and flexibility and playing games and reading and computers and writing and on and on. This is a natural fit for us. Of course we were nervous to start and of course we had some preconceived ideas.

Growing up, we’d mostly known homeschooled kids to be “weird.” But you know what? There are all kinds of kids in all kinds of educational settings. There were “weird kids” in my public high school – was it because of school? No. You don’t hear people say that, though. You don’t hear people say, “That kid is weird. He must go to school.” Even though there are “weird kids” in school as well as out. Lots of factors go into personalities, and education and social lives are only part of it. We’ve had people say things to us like, “Your kids are so social!” or “Wow, your kids are really great!” or “I’m really surprised at how normal your kids are!” It betrays their judgments. Why would it be surprising that our kids are social, “normal” (whatever that is), and “great?” Oh, because we homeschool? Then those statements say way more about the ones uttering them than they do about us. I get that there are stereotypes and, believe me, I’ve seen many examples of them both in and out of school. We know hippie homeschoolers, weird homeschoolers, super smart homeschoolers, ridiculously creative homeschoolers, super-achieving homeschoolers, relaxed homeschoolers . . . you name it. See? Variety everywhere. There is no “normal homeschooler” or “normal kid.” And anyway, what’s normal? I don’t want our kids to be like everyone else or part of some kind of factory output. They’re individuals like everyone else! And they’re not one bit socially awkward. They’re fine and can hold their own with anyone. Kate hangs out with kids and adults alike with no problem whatsoever – she is hilariously witty, interesting, well-read, funny, thoughtful, and has incredible insights! And, as you already know, she is an amazing writer and story teller. Max talks to anyone. And I mean, anyone. He is very social and makes friends easily EVERYWHERE we go. He is empathetic and a natural leader and younger kids especially gravitate toward him. He is crazy good at logic games and is a deep thinker. He is always, always, always making up games and tweaking games and creating games. He’s got a mind for looking at things differently and approaching stuff in an out-of-the-box way. I love it!

I thought we’d do “school at home” and that it would be a ton of work, but it’s really not. Honestly, my friends who are sending their kids to school spend FAR more time in that than I do “doing school” with my kids. We don’t really “do school.” We did, at first. But over time, we do less and less formal schooling and more and more natural learning. It’s evolved over the years for us. School isn’t a separate event from everything else. Learning is life! We love it. I credit homeschooling and its inherent freedom and flexibility with helping our kids love learning and be creative. It’s amazing to watch them find their passions and develop them (writing for Kate and game design for Max). We’re able to pursue their interests through contests, camps, classes, and more. By approaching learning in this way, we don’t have to know all the answers and do all the teaching. We learn together! Yes, we were nervous at first, but the kids consistently test well beyond their grade levels and they are thriving. We can tailor fit their education – it’s awesome!

I was worried, before starting, of the risk of being socially isolated. Well, we’re so so not! If anything, it’s often a bigger challenge to fit the academics into a busy social calendar! I started a homeschool group about 10 years ago and that has helped tremendously, but even aside from that, we are involved with things around us and in our community. Our kids get tons of time with friends and with people of all ages and walks of life. It’s very natural and how life is really. I think school, while a good option for many including myself and Mark growing up, is not a terribly social place, so it’s kind of funny that people worry that kids who don’t attend school miss out socially! Kids are constantly being told to be quiet in school. I know I was always getting in trouble for talking in school. :P We try to make sure our kids have a variety of mentors in addition to us. It’s good. It’s healthy. We don’t homeschool to keep our kids from the world. We homsechool to give them the world.

We all spend a lot of time together, too, so we work well together (we kind of have to! How else could we do this?!?) and there are next to no power struggles or arguments or frustrations among us. Yes, sure, of course there are times here and there when there are – that’s normal. But it is in no way the norm. We’re happy. We’re respectful of one another. We like hanging out. We like learning together and playing games. The kids have a say and a hand in everything we do. They get good sleep. They eat well. They have tons of free time. They aren’t constantly being told what to do or to be quiet. They’re encouraged to explore, to ask, to question, to do, to try, to create. We all cook together, learn together, read together, fold laundry together, go to the movies together, exercise together, attend concerts together, travel together, shovel snow together. We visit presentations on college campuses. We take classes at science centers. We volunteer in our community. The kids work jobs. We visit the library. We all belong to several book clubs. We do a ton of social stuff. We play at the park (a lot!). We get together with friends. We research stuff. We watch movies and documentaries and videos and TED talks and TV shows. We listen to music. We study music. Mark and the kids do taekwondo. They learn instruments, play sports, swim, ride horses, go star gazing, you name it. We have so much flexibility that we get to visit lots of places and do lots of interesting things whenever we want! We talk A LOT. We’re always in the thick of conversation – anything from books to current events to gaming to ethics to healthy eating to pets to any subject whatsoever. There are no limits! I love, love, love homeschooling and am so grateful that we have this option – it is a great fit for our family and I’m sincerely thankful for that. I do not take it for granted. I don’t think it’s necessarily better than other options out there for everyone, but for us, it’s great.

Happiness – One of my favorite emotions (no duh, right?). I love feeling happy. And I am, generally, a very happy person. I like to laugh and joke around. I love to enjoy myself. As someone who has had some very real struggles with depression and anxiety over the years, I treasure feeling happy. I don’t have to feel happy all the time, but I do enjoy feeling happy. I am someone with VERY simple pleasures. I don’t have a lot of grand wants or desires. I like simple things – dinner as a family, playing games, watching favorite TV shows, reading, listening to music, my family, laughing, talking, friends, Scout . . . I love happiness. (By the way, that song “I’m Happy?” It irritates the crap out of me!).

Hot Weather – Oh, yes, I love hot weather. I do not like being cold. I like feeling the sun on my skin. I love going out in the summer. I love not having to worry about a million layers and boots and scarves. Putting on sandals and going out the door? Easy peasy! And sunshine and warmth make my heart happy. I love summertime. I love sunshine. I love summer music. I like visiting the beach. I like when the temperatures are 75 and higher. I love, love, love hot weather! I know so many people prefer colder weather and they say things like, “You can always put layers on! You can only take so much off!” But for me, I hardly ever feel “too hot.” I get cold easily, so hot is fine by me. I hate feeling encumbered by layers. I’m short, so all those clothes are too much for my liking. Warmth and sunshine? Much more to my liking! 

Okay, so the extra H-words I wanted to mention: I’ll spare you more about Harry Connick, Jr. as well as great Peter Cetera songs that start with “H” like “Have You Ever Been in Love?”. I’ve already mentioned our new house. I also love my long, dark hair. One of my favorite things to eat at our local Japanese place is a discovered treat: Hamachi Kama – it’s cooked yellowtail with a great dipping sauce and it’s delicious! Also, nostalgia factor here – I remember researching and writing about Harriet Tubman when I was a student in grade school and I also remember, growing up in the 80s, learning about and writing a paper on HIV and how especially scary that was at the time.


Dr. Mark said...

If I hadn't already done "Potter, Harry," then it would have been a clean sweep for our family! I love that we discovered Harry Potter together and have essentially shared it as a family ever since.

So we both love home and homeschooling. I'm so shocked. Great description of schooling, by the way. And your observations about weirdos? Classic. They are truly everywhere. I saw quite a few today, as a matter of fact.

You wrote surprisingly little about Harper Lee, though. I'm a little surprised. ;)

I feel like "Happy" just won't go away. I did a little digging and it was released in November 2013, so it made appearances at the 2014 Grammys and Oscars. Then, a live recording was released in 2014, and it won the Grammy in 2015. I'm waiting for him to remix it and release it again as an EDM track and get another Grammy nomination next year. I'm glad you like being happy anyway!

Jimmy said...

Seriously, you've made me a believer in homeschooling. In fact I've defended it recently with some acquaintances. I can't think of a smart way to put it, but I really admire how you guys have set up your life.

I hate the song "Happy" and it irritates me, too.

I don't know if I've been in NM for too long or what, but I find myself getting tired of long, hot summers and ready for the seasons to change. I like the longer days though.

Siths and Jedis said...

I so knew that you were going to do Harper Lee and Hot weather. I too love Homeschooling, maybe even more than you. I really enjoyed the post. Thank you for posting it.

Emily Foley said...

I love Harry Potter the best. I've read it more times than I can count mostly because I don't remember how many, but it's saying something that I would read it aloud to Noah, then start over after we finish all 7, and start again with Isaac. I've read it three times in a row now out loud, and have been on the same book with two different kids in two different places. Insane. It's that good.

I think I could homeschool one kid at a time. Not all of them.

I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird. Lately I feel like I need to rectify that.

I'm missing the hot weather, especially on this snow day at work with all 4 kids. :)

The Magic Violinist said...

Ooh, Hamachi Kama. Now I'm hungry . . .

I still think it's so cool Max and I were alive to go the the release of HP7. :) I can still remember most of that night (Snape bingo, the spelling bee, the trivia contest where I stumped the judges with my own question, the costume contest, etc.).

I've never had a kid look at me funny upon hearing that I'm homeschooled. They usually think it's cool and have tons of questions. The first one they ask is usually, "Do you get to do school in your pajamas?" Then when I say that we do sometimes, they get really jealous.

LMW said...

I hate being hot! I wake up super hot every morning, no matter how cold it is outside. I even woke up very hot this morning and stuck my feet out from my blanket (notice that I didn't say blankets), even though it had been -21 degrees last night. Bill says that even after I've been gone from bed for a half hour, my side of the bed is still very warm.:) We keep our house at 58 degrees at night on purpose. You would not survive! I guess I'm living in the right state, though the cold temps that we're experiencing are ridiculous and I hate those too. My ideal outside temperature is about 70-74 and my preferred daytime inside temp is 68. Luckily, Bill and I mostly agree on temperature.:)

Boquinha said...

Mark, I love that, too. We're a good team.

Jimmy, wow! Thanks! As for seasons, I started feeling that way after a few years in Arizona. I like seasons and I feel better here than there, even though I don't like being cold!

S&J, even more than I? Wow! Or is this like our "I love you more" contests? ;) And thank YOU for commenting!

Emily, that's a lot of HP reading!! Just think, you've got 2 more kids to whom you can read it! As for homeschooling, people with a lot of kids do it. I don't know how (every family is different), but they do. We're good with 2! :P

Ooooh, yes, read TKAM. It's so great and so funny and sweet and touching and moving and and and . . .

You're at work with all 4 kids?!? Now how do you do THAT?!?

TMV, me, too! SO cool. And our costumes? AWESOME. We should've gotten a family shot, because we all wore such creative outfits.

That's funny. Kids think it's awesome. Go figure.

LMW, wow! Really?!? If I remember correctly, you're petite and tiny, so how did you get such a warm body temperature?!? Most of the people I know who are small are always freezing! 58!! OMG! That's FREEZING! I like it around 70. :) You ARE in the right state. Sounds like I like things about 10 degrees hotter than you, both inside and outside!