Entry for Newbie Triathon Round 2
|The clock chimes nine. The girls are tucked in bed, drifting off to sleep. Outside, the cicadas chirp and traffic rushes along the street. The house is quiet except for the hum of the microwave behind me. I finally have time to think.
I stand at the refrigerator and stare at the Post-it note – The Note I scribbled in crayon while simultaneously washing breakfast dishes, cooking lunch, and overseeing the creation of clay insects. I pull The Note down and absentmindedly scrape at a few bits of dried clay while studying the message.
Mr. Arthur Wright
(215) 555-4562 office
(215) 555-6985 c
It is true. This really is happening. Where do I begin?
The microwave beeps. I remove my mug and drop an orange spice tea bag into the hot water. Still staring at The Note, I make my way to the school room. As the largest room in the house, most people probably would have made it the master bedroom, but we decided the girls needed the larger area for schoolwork. The blue carpet is faded and badly stained. A second-hand throw rug in the center of the room covers a hole the dog chewed in the carpet.
When I walk in the room, the door knocks against the overstuffed, full-height book case. A reading loft takes over the corner immediately in front of me. Two file cabinets crammed with important papers and lesson ideas stand under the loft. The adjoining wall is covered with my husband’s desk and another book case. My desk sits between the far corner and the outside door. The closet, crammed with assorted office, school, and craft supplies, occupies the fourth corner and an entertainment center filled with toys and a seldom-used television covers the last wall.
I kick aside a doll that escaped her crib and wade through a mess of toys and papers as I make my way to the computer desk. I could scold the children for not putting their toys away, but one look at my desk reminds me who is truly at fault.
I pull out the folding chair and adjust the cushion before I flop down at my desk. I bought a small desk on purpose: so it would not collect a lot of junk. The computer CPU sits on the shelf at my feet along with a Sterilite file containing all the paperwork I need regularly. Three spiral notebooks filled with writing ideas are tucked beside the box. Several cartons of three-and-half inch floppy disks support a phone book. A binder of CDs is stashed beside the CPU. I keep a small area free where I can rest my feet when they are not tucked underneath me.
Above my head, the hutch is overcrowded with the telephone, a canister of writing implements, a three-hole punch and the printer. The printer itself is difficult to see through the newspaper clippings and scrapbook items stashed on top so I don’t loose them.
I stick The Note in the center of the monitor, pull out the keyboard tray, and rest my elbows on the edge. I cradle my cup between my hands, taking in the fragrant aroma of citrus and spices. The desktop could not escape the clutter of a too-busy owner. Several educational CDs sit to the right side, waiting my review and filing – either in the trashcan or the appropriate binder. An index card file containing all my exchange student contacts occupies a precarious position on top of the CDs. A pencil sharpener and stapler hide somewhere amongst the mess of unfiled bills, sticker pages, a couple disposable cameras, important messages that I must not loose, and precious notes to Mommy “frum” my four-year-old. The monitor rises like a mountain out of this sea of chaos.
I push aside all these important papers to find a corner for my mug then add The Note to my collection of messages on the vertical support of the hutch. I wiggle the mouse across the pad printed with the faces of my four little angels. The monitor screen flickers to life. A picture of my biggest cheerleader smiles at me. Only one more hour, he'll be off work! I can hardly wait to share my news.
I open the query I sent to Mr. Wright two months and fifty submissions earlier. Where do I start?
I stare at the title for several minutes: Charting Your Successful Homeschool Journey: A step-by-step guide through homeschooling decisions.
“What I need right now is a step-by-step guide through the writing process,” I mutter as I shove in the keyboard tray. I navigate my way back to the kitchen, pull three balls of chocolate chip cookie dough from the freezer, drop them into a napkin, and take them back to the computer. As I crunch on frozen chocolate chips and lick gooey dough from my finger, I browse the proposed table of contents.
Chapter 1: The “Big” Decision: Do I really want to homeschool?
Chapter 2: Setting Your Goals: Why do I really want to homeschool?
Chapter 3: Know Your Children: What do my children know and what will they need?
Chapter 4: Know Yourself: What do I have to give
Chapter 5: Know the Laws: What do I need to do?
Chapter 6: Choosing a Curriculum: Whoa, that’s a lot of choices!
Chapter 7: What do I Really Need?: You do not need it all.
Chapter 8: Starting a New Job: An exercise in grace.
Chapter 9: Answering Naysayers: They will say “nay.” What will you say?
Chapter 10: Enjoy the journey: If you do not take time to love your children, it’s not worth the effort.
The cookie dough sufficiently entices Musey-poo to weave her way through the brain muddle into the front of consciousness. She drags with her the memory of a chick lit book I saw at Sam's Club recently, written entirely in the form of emails. I wonder if that book is still there. What was the name of that book?
To: deborah @ successfulhsjourney.com
From: martha @ woohoo.com
RE: I’m thinking about homeschooling.
I am thinking about homeschooling my three children. My friend, Lori Welch, said you helped her get started and could help me, also. Please let me know if you are available.
Why does Martha want to homeschool? What obstacles will she face? Does her husband agree? Does Martha have a husband?
Note: Create a character sketch for Martha and family.
I glance down the table of contents again and my mind races back to my first homeschool experience five years ago. My oldest daughter, then two-and-a-half, asked me to teach her how to read. I knew she was too young, but we began playing games with letters. She soaked up everything I taught her and was reading beginning chapter books before her fourth birthday. My other three followed suit. I have plenty of advice for the parents of the accelerated learner. What can I offer the parents of a struggling student?
Note: Research teaching resources for learning disabled students and slow learners. Direct Martha to WooHoo group to pull perspective from several moms.
My fingers race across the keyboard as Musey-poo asks questions and offers input on each chapter. The first four chapters guide the reader in constructing an Educational Philosophy. A plethora of worksheets stuffed in my file cabinet will cover this section.
The chapter of legal advice proves difficult. Some states are homeschool-friendly, with little or no paperwork to file and few regulations. Other states require parents to create a private school, take special classes, and submit lesson plans and test scores each year. If I try to cover all the laws, I’ll forget something and get myself sued. Maybe I should drop this chapter. Where does Martha live, anyway? Can I make a whole chapter from a link to the Homeschool Legal Defense Website?
Note: Check-out homeschool books from the library. How do other authors account for the legal differences between states?
The next chapter melts my courage. How do I address the abundance of curriculum choices when I start the book encouraging the reader to find her own teaching style?
I save the document and pace around the house for several minutes. I find myself in front of the freezer again, grabbing two more balls of cookie dough. I toss these in the toaster oven. While I wait for them to bake, I dig in the cupboard for a cup and pour myself some milk.
The timer beeps and I carefully maneuver the cookies to a plate. Back at the computer, I search the Internet for “homeschool curriculum” and receive nearly two million hits. Several of the sites offer reviews of various curricula. If she is part of an email group, someone can point her to a few of review sites. I lick the melted chocolate off my fingers and narrow the search to “homeschool curriculum review.” That’s better. Now I only have seven hundred thousand sites to wade through.
Note: Research curriculum review sites.
Did he want the book finished this decade? If I list curriculum sites, what happens if one goes offline? Maybe I need to create a companion website with current links. And a blog. It might help drive some sales, too.
Chapter seven: Wants versus needs. How can I tell someone else what supplies she needs? Every homeschool has a different focus. Curriculum varies. But so many new homeschoolers waste so much money on things they will never use. How do I help them avoid this trap? I'll bet the ladies in Graceful Homeschooling Support would love to help me here!
Note: Send survey to Graceful HS: “If I could have anything I wanted for homeschool” and “If I had to homeschool on the most meager budget.” Martha can ask her email group.
Chapter 8: Lack of grace – the number one cause of frustration for new homeschoolers. We compare ourselves to other homeschoolers, to the public school, and to our nephew’s friend’s uncle’s daughter who graduated college when she was three. Every time we don’t measure up, we believe we are failing. Account for a learning curve in your new job. On the subject of jobs: is Martha quitting a job to start homeschooling? Do I need a chapter of financial advice?
Note: Chapter eight occurs during Martha’s first month homeschooling.
Added Chapter (8b): Surviving on One Income:
If you have time, pay off as many debts as possible before quitting your job
Ideas of where to cut expenses
Miserly Mom’s website
Dave Ramsey/Larry Burkett
Chapter nine: Dear Auntie calls every week with a new reason why Martha should quit her foolish endeavor. How does Martha answer?
Note: Survey Graceful Homeschoolers for objections and answers. Martha finds support and answers through her WooHoo group.
The dog’s collar jingles as he slides off the couch in the living room. I prance to the front door. Hubby’s key scrapes in the handle before I can unlock it for him.
“You’ll never guess what happened today!” I say as the door swings in.
“I smell cookies. Does it have anything to do with your writing?”
“Come, let me show you.”
End of Entry. Word Count: 1866