What DOES a Homeschooler look like?

This is what MY homeschool
mom looks like!
Spirit Week is hard upon us here at Bryan and we've had our dress-up themes laid out for us: Duck Dynasty, Disney, Bryan Lions... and oh, what's this? Homeschool day? During the chapel announcement for Spirit Week, one of our prominent students--vice-president of student government--who happens to have been homeschooled, got up wearing a long jean skirt, a sweater stuffed to look like a pregnant belly and a baby sling. (As a nice touch, she was carrying a bag of whole wheat bread.) She introduced us to her children, Prudence Constitution (in the sling) , Liberty Jubilee and Chastity Abstinence (twins in utero). I was in tears of laughter, because the image presented was oh so familiar from years of co-ops and curriculum fairs. It takes one to know one, and I know homeschoolers. I'm not one to be easily offended by the stereotypes given us, and I know when to laugh at a joke made in good fun, but as I started considering what I might do to "dress-up" for Homeschool day, I kind of wanted to stick with my regular wardrobe just to make a point. I was homeschooled. I want to be a homeschool mom. This is who I am, and this is what I look like. Ordinary. I had my awkward days (as does any kid) in middle school when I wore bandannas all the time (my mom even questioned my  fashion then) but I grew out of it.
I even graduated in a cap and gown ceremony with a homeschool umbrella school. Ta-da!

Homeschooling doesn't always mean socially awkward. There are plenty of socially awkward public (and by public, I mean anything not at home) schooled kids too. Homeschooling doesn't mean easy or sleeping in late or doing school in your pajamas or getting perfect grades cause your mom is the teacher.
Learning colors!

fairy princess Fiona
Homeschooling does mean that little birds like my sister can be the free-spirited imaginative 5-year-olds they were meant to be, instead of being packed off to kindergarten. This girl does her book-work one-on-one (best student-teacher ratio ever!) with mom, and still has lots of time to play fairies in the back yard.

To me, being homeschooled is like being a liberal arts major. Your legitimacy gets called into question all the time, and you're the butt of everyone's jokes, but when done right, you come out not only a with a great personalized education, but as a well-rounded, whole person. I am thankful for my homeschool, big-family upbringing, and hope to give the same quality of education to my own kids someday... Once I graduate from Bryan with this liberal arts degree. ;)

But first, I'm gonna go conquer Homeschool Day with my braids and bandanna... It is Throwback Thursday after all!

The Stories that Matter

I'm listening to the rain on my window as I prepare for bed. Sticking to my semester's plan for weekends, I did my work Saturday, leaving Sunday homework free. After church and lunch, I spent the entire rest of the day immersed in watching Lord of the Rings, starting Fellowship at 2:30pm with Sarah and John, taking an hour off for a CLF meeting with my freshmen, then picking back up with the Two Towers.... which I finished at 11pm just half an hour ago. If I didn't have school in the morning, I'd be putting on the coffee and settling in for the long haul with Return of the King. I've never watched all three back to back, but it will happen someday--someday when I'm not trying to graduate from college and still get as much sleep as possible.
But one does not simply return from epic adventures without having to re-adjust to ordinary life, so consider this my day's debriefing.

This semester has been the best for making connections between classes and chapel and life and the crazy wandering thoughts of Sarah Lindsey Peden. Chapel affirms classes, which in turn validate my wonderings, which generally makes life a wonderful thing to be in. If I were to try to explain all the connections I've made, I'd end up sounding like a crazy fool, cause I can't exactly verbalize them yet. It might be years before I can verbalize anything I've learned this year because, as anyone who's ever talked to me (or listened to me trying to talk in Expos) knows, I'm not exactly the best at communicating what I'm thinking. But my heart knows and rejoices at its knowledge, so that's good enough for me right now.

But how does this relate to watching Lord of the Rings? I'll give it a shot--my apologies if I loose you along the way. The grand wonderings I've done recently usually lead back to two things. Ontology and eternality.
My thoughts about my choice of major, about what I read and write and think about, about who I am, where I am in life and how I got to this point, all lead back to that basic question of being. Not only do I wonder who I am, but why I am. Along the way, I forget or remember--depending on the day--my Image-bearing qualities, and the fact that because of those I am part of something so much greater and grander than I possibly could imagine--something eternal. I remember and understand this a little better when I interact with Tolkien's stories.  Sam Gamgee, in his humble gardener's philosophy, shed light on my wonderings tonight with his little speech on stories from the Steps of Cirith Ungol (The Two Towers)

“The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into? …Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it – and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?”

In light of the Great Tale I've fallen into, life seems more secure. The Author know what happens next, and no amount of my squirming around on the page trying to rearrange words is going to change the ultimate end of the story.
                     And on that note, this heroine is going to bed.

Sarah's List of Books Every Girl Should Read

I started a book list the other day, thinking back upon books I read in childhood that are the ones I end up thinking of when trying to recall a "perfect" book. These "perfect" books all come with great female protagonists, all of whom, I wanted to BE when reading their story. That's what make a good book really great for me. Hemingway put it best when describing good books,
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
So here are some of my favorite books for girls. I'm compiling this list for my own future reference as I build my personal library, but also for the future reading of my baby sister... and my own someday-daughters.
  • The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye 
    • I was watching a Disney movie recently, and getting rather disgusted with the perfect princess image Disney has crafted and the myriads of girls I know who try to find their Disney Princess doppelganger.  ("You are YOU!" I want to shout.) I started thinking "Hmm.. I should write a fairy tale about a princess who's just an ordinary girl." And then I was delighted (and slightly disappointed) to remember that someone had that idea already and did it very well. Amy, the Ordinary Princess, has plain brown hair, and freckles and is just so perfectly ordinary that you can't help but love her!
  • Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards
    • Written by the Julie Andrews, under her married name Edwards, Mandy is one of those magical books that you wish were real. How many girls have played Orphans? My sister and I did... How many girls play House? Well, Mandy is an orphan, but not one that is tragic about her circumstances. One day, she discovers an abandoned cottage, which she adopts and tends. Wonderful things ensue.
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge 
    • There was a 2008 movie titled The Secret of Moonacre, which was based on this book. The movie was good but the book was, predictably, much better. Elizabeth Goudge crafts the perfect whimsical fairy tale complete with love, magic, redemption and perfect names like "Maria Merryweather" and "Miss Heliotrope." Maria has red hair. She is therefore, my perfect heroine. Also, horses. Every girl has her horse phase; this book fits the bill with unicorns and horses and ponies. 
    • J. K. Rowling cites this book as her favorite from childhood. This may be all the recommendation you need. 
  • The Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace
    • Betsy and her friends Tacy and Tib are some of the most real girls in fiction that I know. This series ranges from the time they were 5, to when they all find husbands, so its easily rationed out as your girls grow. The girls are imaginative and fun loving, and get into all sorts of scrapes, but grow up into graceful women. 
  • The Anne Books by L. M. Montgomery (anything by her really)
    • My true literary love, Anne of Green Gables, (and its follow up books) should be read by not only every little girl, but every tween, teen, college student, and grown woman alike. I've read through the series countless times, each time finding my own stage of life mirroring a different Anne book. (I'm currently still in the Anne of the Island stage). Anne Shirley is charming, imaginative and resourceful, and grows up to be an amazing mother of six. 
    • The Emily Trilogy as well as several other stand alone books are well worth reading as well.
  • Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeld (and all the other Shoes books)
    • As a girl who dreamed of being a ballerina, but knew practically that it wasn't an option, I read every ballet story I could get my hands on. Ballet Shoes  is the best of the best. About three orphans (again with the orphans) who become a family and find their strengths (and weaknesses) in the local performing arts school, this book set in 1930's England is oh-so-charming and sweet. Kathleen Kelly, Meg Ryan's character in You've Got Mail even thinks so. There are other books in the series as well, most set in the performing arts community, from Theater Shoes (which actually ties back to Ballet Shoes) Skating Shoes, and Dancing Shoes. 
    • There's an excellent movie adaptation of this book that I highly recommend as well, with Emma Watson as the oldest Fossil sister, Pauline. 
  • The Secret of the Ruby Ring by Yvonne MacGrory
    • My roommate tells me that I read books that no one has ever heard of. In most cases, she's the only one who's never heard of them, but in this case, I've yet to find another person who's read the Ruby Ring books. Originally published in Ireland, this is a mix of Irish history/magic time travel/girl-with-an-attitude-gets-life-adjustment story. Magic=Good. Ireland=good. Heroine with red hair=great! 
  • Moorchild by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
    • This book was probably one of the most influential books in shaping my middle-school to early highschool fairy craze. It's incredibly believable in its knowledge of fairy lore, which is fantastic for the girl who needs to know what happens when a changeling child is swapped for a human child. This book has got raw scots magic, (think moors, obviously!) and bagpipes and adventure. 
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    • While most of these recommendations are good for elementary to middle school girls, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the only one I would recommend specifically for older girls. Francie Nolan's story of growing up in pre-WWI brooklyn is heartachingly beautiful. Here you find love and loss and what it means to live a life of imagination and beauty... and also the best descriptive passages about coffee that I've ever read. 
So, what about you--do you have a favorite book that you think every girl should read? Let me know in the comments!